I celebrated Canada Day in typical fashion: rewriting a script and then taking a break to attend some food-related event. We received the last batch of notes on our script for the miniseries early Saturday morning and, since my writing partner, Paul, was (conveniently) out of town and without computer access, it fell on me to start on the blue draft.  I worked through all of Saturday and most of Sunday, but did manage to get down to Steveston Village for the Canada Day Parade Canada Day festivities fish and chips.  Lulu tagged along and had a fantastic time being the center of attention, but I’m sure she’d tell you that it would have gone a whole lot better had the day the been comprised of more chips and less avoiding being stepped on by the crowd.

We parked a good ten minute walk from the village.  I had the foresight to take down the address of the house I parked in front of. And good thing I did too because I ended up having to use the MAP function of my iPhone to find my way back.  Without it, I’m sure we’d still be there today, wandering the neighborhood in search of my Q7.

While everyone else was taking in the parade, we made our way quickly dockside so that we could grab a table and early lunch before the hungry hordes descended.   Along the way, I snapped a few pics:

It’s all fun and games until someone gets pillaged.
This would’ve been sooo much easier with wheels.
Several brightly attired cultural representatives on display.  Please identify.
And here.
Here.  Indonesian, I believe.
And here.  Still Indonesian.
We met up with some of Akemi’s friends and enjoyed a rainy day lunc.
Popcorn shrimp.  And not the dry little nuggets you get at most chain restaurants.
Garlic prawn.  Akemi’s fave.
The best Manhattan clam chowder I’ve ever tasted.
Cute couple, no?
Lulu makes a new friend – another french bulldog named Tonka.
For dessert: a red velvet cupcake.  Maximum icing!
A shot of the elusive White Spot Chicken captured out of its natural habitat.
After lunch, I headed down to the docks and picked up some sea urchin.
Akemi’s uni soufflan.

So I’ve noticed that, over on Gateworld, they’re doing a Stargate Atlantis Season Two Rewatch which is (sort of) coinciding with my trip down SGA memory lane: Stargate Rewatch: Atlantis Season Two Join us throughout July for this month’s leg of the Stargate Rewatch! #SGRewatch   Rather than bull ahead at this 2-episodes-an-entry pace, I thought I’d slow it down a bit so that we could join in on the fun.  I’ll give each episode a more thorough treatment starting today and, in the meantime, you can head on over to Gateworld (http://www.gateworld.net/index.shtml) and start submitting nominations in the following categories:

  • Best Episode (Season Two)
  • Best Sheppard Moment
  • Best McKay Moment
  • Best Teyla Moment
  • Best Ronon Moment
  • Best Weir Moment
  • Best Beckett Moment
  • Best Team Moment
  • Best Alien Race
  • Best Individual Villain
  • Coolest Ancient Technology
  • Coolest Alien Technology
  • Best Guest Star (based on one specific Season Two episode)

So, picking up where we left off on Saturday, we continue our SGA reminiscing by looking back on…


One of the great things about having a franchise run as long as Stargate did was the opportunity we had to create and develop a very rich backstory.  There were seemingly innumerable elements we could draw from in crafting new stories.  While this was hugely satisfying for us as writers and equally rewarding for longtime fans, there was always the risk of confusing or alienating casual viewers.  We tried to keep the two worlds of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis as separate and distinct as possible but, occasionally, there were instances where crossover did occur.  Like in this episode.  I, for one, loved the idea of crossover when it came to characters, didn’t mind it when it came to shared mythology like the Ancients, but wasn’t exactly enamored of it when it came to unique aspects like, say, the goa’uld and the Trust.  I thought it was unnecessarily complex, potentially confusing, and, for lack of a better way of putting it, “wasn’t clean”.  And so, for these reasons, I objected to this story at the pitch stage.  But, as so often happen over the franchise’s 17 season run, I was overruled and they went ahead and produced a pretty damn good episode.

It should be noted that I wasn’t the only one who had issues with this episode in its early stages.  Some of the cast members objected to the introduction of SG-1 elements for completely different reasons: they felt Atlantis had to stand on its own and any crossover somehow minimized it as a unique series.  While I sympathized, I nevertheless felt that crossover was a good thing, strengthening both shows and the franchise as a whole.  Others found the story muddled (as result, the episode was renamed Critical Mess by some).  But, in the end, while the presence of a go’auld on Atlantis still feels strange to me, the story is dynamic and suspenseful, building to a terrific surprise reveal and nail-biter of a conclusion

Rachel Luttrell makes her television singing debut in this episode with a song (“Beyond the Night”) composed by the late Joel Goldsmith and his sister Ellen, with lyrics by Stargate’s own Paul Simon = Carl Binder.

Some of my favorite parts of this episode have nothing to do with the main storyline.  They all involve Zelenka who gets sent off-world by Rodney to help out those lovable scamps from the Childhood’s End planet.  Zelenka’s angry mutterings “My sister has a child.  He breaks things.  He throws things.  He smears things onto furniture.” fairly encapsulates my feelings toward kids as well.  And the poor guy ends up getting stranded on the planet while Atlantis dealt with more pressing issues.  Come on, fan fic writers!  Where are the Zelenka/Lord of the Flies stories?

Interesting guest stars abound in this episode.  There’s Mitch Pileggi reprising his role as Colonel Caldwell, Ben Cotton returning as the ever-annoying, Kavanaugh, SG-1’s Gary Jones as Harriman, and the great Beau Bridges as General Landry.  I say “great” because, not only is Beau a great actor, but he was truly great to work with.  And then there’s Hermiod, the cranky Asgard, who takes part in one of my favorites exchanges:

Hermiod: Dr Kavanagh?.

Kavanagh: Yes?

Hermiod: Stop talking, please. (Silence) Thank you.

It’s also great to see Bill Dow, a.k.a. Dr. Lee, make a return appearance.  He presides over another great moment when Lee is trying to explain the relay plan to a roomful of scientists.  His first example, “the twilight bark” from 101 Dalmations, receives nothing but blank stares.  But his second example of Gondor’s fire signals from Lord of the Rings has everyone nodding appreciably.  NEEERDS!

In defending Cadman, Sheppard dismisses her as a suspect because she’s trustworthy while Weir initially casts suspicion on Kavanaugh because he’s not.  Given the fact that everyone knows the goa’uld are behind the threat, doesn’t it seem odd that no one ever floats the possibility that someone may have been implanted with a symbiote?

Weir crosses the line, something that makes her uncomfortable and that she readily admits to at episode’s end.  By giving Ronon the go-ahead to torture Kavanaugh, she makes a most uncharacteristic decision under extreme circumstances.  Personally, I don’t blame her. I would have made the same call.  Still, she’s a better person than I am so I hold her to a higher standard.  Thoughts?  Was it the right call?

27 thoughts on “July 3, 2012: My Canada Day Weekend (or lack thereof)! Days of Stargate: Atlantis Past! Critical Mass!

  1. I love this episode for a lot of reasons. I love crossovers when it’s my favorite shows coming together. I’m of the mind that crossing these two specific shows like this was a natural thing to do and I don’t think it weakens SGA at all. It does feel a bit muddled with all that’s going on, but I think it works really well.

    I loved Rachel’s singing and I wish she had gotten more opportunity to flex that talent. I enjoyed the song and how it added to the tension.

    Mitch Pileggi had commented about the strenuous bit of action he did when Ronan threw him around.

    Kavanaugh was such a hated character, I could see why many wouldn’t have a problem with taking the interrogation to the next level. Maybe if it had been someone more likeable, they would have hesitated more than they did. Of course the threat does make them consider it, but I think the decision was easier because of Kavanaugh.

    Also, I think Weir should have acknowledged the real risk of not getting the actual truth. Under torture, a person is likely to say anything just to make it stop even if it’s not the truth.

    This is really a compelling episode that I could watch over and over. It came together quite well.

  2. All that food looks great. The popcorn shrimp and the clam chowder look particularly tasty. I have to say Lulu actually looks a little indifferent to your attempted ear-smooch. She’s probably just playing hard to get.

    Weir’s decision to subject Kavanaugh to “enhanced” interrogation techniques I remember as being a bit of a shock. It was a little Jack Bauer of her, really. However, given what an obnoxious jerk Kavanaugh was, I would have permitted the torture, and when someone asked if that was worth it in order to find the go’auld, I would be all, “There’s a go’auld?”

  3. Yum, on all the food especially the red velvet cupcake and the popcorn shrimp. And I am right there with you on taking down an address. I have problems finding my car in the Target parking lot. In fact, today I was in there with my older son, and when we came out he suggested I needed to planted with a GPS so I could find things. Ugh, teenagers! 🙂

    Critical Mass—I loved that episode. My favorite parts were when Teyla was singing and when Caldwell was outed as the G’oauld. I absolutely didn’t have any idea. And count me as one who didn’t mind Ronon’s interrogation of Kavanaugh either. I didn’t like him at all.

    Have a great night!!
    LIsa R

  4. Personally, I think that Weir letting Ronan loose was absolutely the wrong decision. I felt that the script let Weir get off the hook by having Kavanaugh faint, and thus nothing actually happen.

  5. Got to admit, this is one of my favorites. The story was complex, but the action flowed well and the story was consistant. Most of the Atlantis team didn’t have much experience with the G’aould as far as I recall. which makes everyone missing the switch understandable. The Zelinka bits are hilarious, Rodtney not at his best because of Cadman, Kavanaugh at his obnoxious worst making a perfect red herring. Then the poignant b story with Teyla, culminating in that wonderful song as the seconds tick away… this episode delivered in the best traditions of the show. As far as Weir’s decision. For me personally, not an issue. The lives of friends and subordinates vs the moral question? I’d accept the consequences of the decision later, if it meant BEING there to be judged by others. And yes, torture can be a dubious source of information. But it can also provide valuable data, if the victim of the torture has nothing left but the truth to offer in return for a stop to the torture. I readily conceed torture is wrong, but with real lives on the line, I’d have to take the dark road on this call.

  6. That chowder sure looks good! The red velvet cupcake as well.

    I liked how SG-1 handled “tortue” better, I forget the ep, but Teal’c just sat across from the guy(from Nellis I think) and broke him. To me, going that route showed deft feel for the pulse of the show(SG-1). The blurry chain of command with SGA hurt it more than it helped, for me.


  7. I think it’s kind of creepy that people don’t mind torturing Kavanaugh because he’s unlikeable. If it was a cute little lady scientist under suspicion would the decision be so much worse? I have no real problem with them doing it here because they were desperate and desperate people don’t always think morally. And I could see it happening. But it’s just as bad to torture a jerk (deliciously played by Ben Cotton) as it is sweet lil’ Suzie Who bn. I thought it in character for Sheppard and Ronon to agree to this, they are military but not Weir, it damaged her in my eyes. I thought she was, for the most part, an ineffective diplomat but an enthusiastic leader of the expedition, but this led me to believe she should step down and reconsider her actions. At the time.
    All in all, a good episode though. I never would have guessed Caldwell was a Goa’uld but it was a good tie in to the SG universe. How long do you think he was inhabited?

  8. Out of town for a bit, so happy to come back to more SGA memories – thank you! Glad you’re slowing down a bit, the more detailed memories the better, for me at least.

  9. I don’t read your blog as often as before
    I can’t say how happy I know that you were very busy this week end with some script. Back to work, but really like you mean it !
    It sucks to not have something to do (professional) and being to long out of work is not good. God speed man, and hopefully you are writing us some awesome scifi gig again !
    Take care

  10. Very tired – work, farmer’s market, cooked dinner (which Mr. Das ranked in my top 5), and walked down to see the fireworks. Mom came along, too, and just to play it safe we took her in a light wheelchair (smaller wheels), which is way harder to push than the regular type. It’s hot, and that half mile walk to the waterfront felt like a 5 day trek through the Sahara. 😛 But once the sun went down everything cooled off and it was quite pleasant as we enjoyed all the pretty fireboomers.

    Anyway, back at the farmer’s market today, I found a BIG buddy for Lulu – Henry the French bulldog. Only Henry is from Europe, where Frenchies are about 10 pounds bigger on average than their American cousins. This pooch was all head and chest! A real sweetie. Took a picture, just in case you wanted to share it with Lulu…



    Have a good night, sir!


  11. Oh, forgot – besides making dinner (which was just simple – caprese salad, and sauteed garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, arugula, and fresh basil over pasta), I also made fresh-squeezed lemon-limeade. This is going to be my new thing. I don’t drink factory-sweetened drinks and I can’t stomach artificial sweeteners (they make me puke), so mostly I drink water, and wine. But mostly water. However, it’s been so hot this past week that I’ve been wanting something more, and decided lemonade would be the best thing since I can control how much sugar I add to it. Well, it came out just perfect! It even passed the mom AND hubby test! I did cheat however – I bought an electric citrus juicer because of my crappy tunnel problem. I wonder if I can write it off as a medical expense? 🙂


  12. Loved Critical Mass. It had so much going on, lots of drama and little stories everywhere. Zelenka was hiliarious with his offworld assignment. Loved the scenes with the SG1 gang (and I usually prefer to keep SGA separate from SG1). I tend to start squirmming in my chair nervously anytime an actor decides to sing in a drama show. But I absolutely loved Teyla’s voice and song and the circumstances behind it. For me, that was the most dramatic (and beautiful) part of the episode when she was singing. I really didn’t have an issue with the attempted torture of Kavanaugh. If he wasn’t such a horse’s ass and presented himself more professional and respected everyone more, then maybe he would get some sympathy. But he set himself up for that. And Weir and Sheppard were desperate for information. Just look how they went after Caldwell. Caldwell had all 3 of them after him. Never once believed Cadman was guilty. it is never the obvious one. Great episode. Great writing.

  13. Oh dear, you are getting old. The fun and games BEGIN with the pillaging!

    Food looks great. I had red velvet pancakes last week, yum. I’d like it in donut form too!

  14. Kavanaugh did himself no favors by being antagonistic and secretive (e.g. he could’ve offered the names of the friends he sent the “secret” communication to for collaboration). He looks like he’s hiding something. Still, although it was a tough decision for Weir to make, given the best information at the time, I probably would have made the same decision.

    Also, it seems Weir had more to say in her “we’re no better than…” line. Was there some dialog cut due to time?

  15. Definitely not the right call. They don’t know Kavanaugh’s the guy (and of course, he isn’t); information obtained under duress is always suspect; they don’t even try anything else first (truth serum? hypnosis? the Ancient database, aka Weir’s usual suggestion?); yes, they should consider the possibility of a Goauld or similar; and yes, we are supposed to be better than that. (Thanks for having Shephard encourage her – way to reinforce a stereotype. GRRR.)

    It’s a pity, because it mars what would otherwise be a really good episode. Well, that plus Teyla taking leave of her senses. Atlantis is about to explode and you have a memorial service? It couldn’t wait a day? Charrin seemed to have her head on straight, I’m sure she would have understood.

  16. Debra wrote:

    Oh dear, you are getting old. The fun and games BEGIN with the pillaging!


    /blog … there’s just nothing more to be said. 😆


  17. Happy Canada Day Joe, Akemi and doggies! 🙂 Looks like you had a blast at the festival. Love fish and chips! 🙂 I love the beer batter fish. so yummy!

    Love Critical Mass! 😀 Great episode! Quite epic in fact. I always loved the crossover (with SG-1) episodes. 🙂 I loved the back and forth between SGC and Atlantis. Love seeing Landry and Walter and Dr. Lee. And…the witch-hunt on who was the Goa’uld spy was just fascinating. I was soooo hoping it was Kavanagh. And…when Weir suspected him…I was hoping that it was him so they could have a reason to…um…get rid of him. He was such a pain in the ass. But…the twist where Caldwell was the Goa’uld mole was a complete surprise. I didn’t see that coming. Nice twist! But…my favorite moment was Teyla singing “Beyond the Night”. That was just so beautiful! Rachel did such a amazing job on that song. Plus…the montage that went with it was just spot on. Good episode! 🙂

  18. I don’t get what you’d even do with information obtained under torture. Maybe for the one in a million chance he’d slip some detail that could be verified, I’d pretend to let Ronan loose. Then I’d still be suspicious of that detail and treat any plan stemming from it as pretending to bite as a fake-out or just some guy who would say anything you’d believe, like a verifiable detail, to get the torture to stop.

    I’m really creeped out by the kind of personality that manipulates a supply of reactions out of people then constructs a reality out of it.. I can see those people being motivated to look past the cognitive dissonance of torturing for “information”. I haven’t seen evidence Weir is this type of person.

  19. Cadman, the tap-dancing explosive expert is my favorite part of this whole episode.

    The parade looks lovely!

  20. OMG, are you wearing a jacket?! I noticed you mentioned rain also, rub it in why don’t ya…… It’s hot as hades here and it hasn’t rained in three weeks.

    Loved the food pictures, cute pug pics, and the commentary for all. I did like Critical Mass. If only we could torture all the jerks! Wait, I’ve been a jerk a time or two, so never mind.

  21. Gotta say it, man. That picture of you and Lulu, downright adorable.

    Always liked Col. Caldwell, a hard-ass, yes, but a stand up guy. This episode was twisted sometimes and hard to follow as well, but it made sense.

    I have to agree with you on the whole crossover thing. It was one of the things I truly enjoyed about SGA, that it was 95% completely autonomous from SG-1. Yes, there were names dropped here and there and mentions of goings on at SGC by those on the Daedalus, but all in all, it was separate and different. Same kind of show, but still different. That’s why it worked so well for me and I’m sure thousands upon thousands of others.

    Even for First Contact and The Lost Tribe(two of my favorite episodes of the whole franchise, BTW) where DJ shows up on Atlantis, it’s still all about a story line for SGA, not a recon mission or constant yammering on about SGC and Gens. Landry and O’Neill and Sam and Teal’c.

    I always felt like DJ would have been a good fit on Atlantis. Especially from the inherent knowledge he had of Atlantis’ innerworkings, a la the time he called out Atlantis’ “helpful hologram” as the ancient she really was. I love how he figures that out and corners her to where she looks him right in the eye and says, “You have your answer I suggest you go and use it.”, or something like that.

    That’s when you fist pump the air and say something to the effect of “Get her Daniel! Hell yeah!”

    Great TV moments……..

    That and seeing Zalenka’s face all painted up and hair all funky braided and stuff. Was there ever a log kept of all the things he said in Czech? I’m sure there was some pretty funny stuff.

    -Mike A.

  22. I’m starting to think Pugs are the new fashion or something, keep seeing people around with them lol. Cute animals though.

    Oh Critical Mass, I remember that. If any other actor was playing Caldwell it wouldn’t of surprised me if he was killed off, Mitch Pileggi, being the kind of actor he is was clearly worth keeping around.

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