Poisoning the Well

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Poisoning the Well
Backett and Perna working together.

Stargate: Atlantis



Production #


Original air date

August 20, 2004

Story by

Mary Kaiser

Written by

Damian Kindler

Directed by

Brad Turner

Guest stars

Alan Scarfe as Chancellor Druhin
Allison Hossack as Perna
Paul McGillion as Dr. Carson Beckett
James Lafazanos as Steve
Dean Marshall as Sgt. Bates
Edmond Kato Wong as Atlantis Technician
Neil Maffin as Merell
Darren Hird as Dying Patient

Preceded by

"Childhood's End"

Followed by


SGA-poster Season 1
Atlantis Season 1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20
Season 2

"Poisoning the Well" is the seventh episodes of the first season of Stargate: Atlantis.


The Atlantis expedition makes first contact with the Hoffans, who have developed a drug to prevent the Wraith from feeding on their "food supply". Dr. Carson Beckett helps them perfect it, but discovers a few unforeseeable side effects.



The planet Hoff.

Major John Sheppard's team travels to the planet Hoff and discover the Hoffans, a race of humans that have advanced to a technological level similar to that of Earth during World War I. Their leader Chancellor Druhin shows them the Repository of Hoffan knowledge where all knowledge is stored in several hidden libraries to prevent total destruction with each Wraith culling. They have been working on a drug for decades which will prevent the Wraith from feeding on them.


Steve the Wraith in the Atlantis brig.

Sheppard volunteers Dr. Carson Beckett's help, and Beckett helps a Hoffan scientist, Perna, to complete the drug ahead of schedule. To the reluctance of Dr. Elizabeth Weir, they are eager to test the drug, using Merell, a terminally ill Hoffan volunteer as a test subject. They inoculate him with the drug and test him against Steve, the Wraith Sheppard captured a short time earlier. The drug works better than they thought: Steve was killed as the serum combined with the enzyme that is released during the feeding process to create a toxic poison.

Sheppard expresses concern that once the Wraith realize the toxin kills them, they will retaliate with their weapons and destroy the entire civilization, along with any other civilization that has been in contact with them. Druhin does not believe that will happen.

Sheppard speaks with the Governor

Druhin talks with Major John Sheppard and Dr. Carson Beckett.

Beckett wants to run more tests on Steve and Merell but the Hoffans start mass-production and mass-inoculation immediately. It's then discovered that the drug has a severe side effect: a 50% mortality rate including Perna. After a planet-wide vote proves that a 96% of Hoffans are willing to risk it so the Wraith can't feed from them, the Hoffan leader, Druhin, asks for the Atlantis team help distribute the medication to other worlds. The team, appalled and disgusted by the society's ruthlessness, refuses to cooperate and returns to Atlantis.


1918; Area 51; Athos; Atlantis brig; Biochemistry; Winston Churchill; Farrol Mylan; Geneva Convention; Geothermal energy; Hive ship; Hoff; Hoffans; Hoffan Council; Hoffan drug; Jumper Two; Molecular biology; Physiology; Protein; Puddle Jumper; Repository of Hoffan knowledge; Scotland; Star Trek; World War I; Wraith; Wraith enzyme; Wraith fleet; Wraith stunner rifle

Notable QuotesEdit

(Inside the Hoffan secret laboratory)
McKay: Reminds you of Area 51, doesn't it?
Sheppard: Circa 1918.
Ford: I don't think Area 51 was around 1918 sir.
Sheppard: Well the Area was.
McKay: True.

(After opening the holding cell)
Sheppard: Hi Steve.
Ford: Bye Steve.
(Ford knocks the Wraith unconscious)

(Talking about testing the drug on Steve)
Weir: You do understand the Geneva Convention prohibits using prisoners for scientific experiments.
Sheppard: No offense, doc, but had the Wraith attended the Geneva Convention, they would have tried to feed on everyone there.

Beckett: Converting the human body into energy and sending it millions of lightyears through a wormhole. Bloody insanity!
McKay: C'mon, how often do you get to travel to an alien planet?
Beckett: I was already on an alien planet!

Beckett: It's not that I mind lending people a hand...
Sheppard: No, of course not.
McKay: You're a generous man, Carson.
Beckett: But it's the principle of the thing, isn't it? You can't go volunteering someone for something without consulting them first. That's not even volunteering, is it? It's being pressed into service. Not to mention the fact I'm not...
Sheppard: ...military and I can't give you orders. I know.
McKay: No, no, no, no, he just doesn't like going through the Stargate.
Sheppard: He's worse than Dr. McCoy.
Teyla: Who?
Sheppard: The TV character that Dr. Beckett plays in real life.

Sheppard: Sorry if I woke you. Just came by to see if there's anything you needed. Magazine, fresh towels.
Steve: You hide your fear poorly, major.
Sheppard: You know, we've been having these conversations for a couple of weeks now, and I don't even know your name. You guys do have names right? Let me guess... Steve?
Steve: I am your death. That is all you need to know.
Sheppard: I prefer Steve.
Steve: What do you hope to gain from this?
Sheppard: Just trying to bridge the gap between our two cultures, get to know you better. That and try to figure out how to keep your kind from sucking the life out of millions of innocent people!

Weir: Major, have you made any progress with your prisoner?
Sheppard: Not yet, but he just blinked.
McKay: He blinked? What does that mean?
Sheppard: It means he's still holding on, but he's indicated to me that he may break soon.
McKay: And he indicated this to you by blinking?
Sheppard: Yes.

(Steve the Wraith is on the jumper on his way to Hoff. He is smiling.)
Ford: (to Steve) Hey man, this isn't supposed to be fun.

Perna: I would... have liked to have seen Atlantis.
Beckett: Perna... I'm so sorry.
Perna: Don't look at me that way. I am at peace with what I have done. As you should be.
Beckett: I wish I had no part in this.
Perna: You gave us hope. For years, our people have been working towards this... very moment. We didn't betray the forefathers. We fulfilled their destiny, their promise.
Perna: Stay. Stay with me.
Beckett: All right.
Perna: Stay... with me...
Beckett: I'm here. It's okay.

Beckett: "Victory at all costs." That sound familiar, Major?
Sheppard: Churchill.
Beckett: Aye. Never thought I'd disagree.


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  • This episode takes place approximately two weeks after the events of "Suspicion".
  • Dr. Carson Beckett is compared by Major John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay to Star Trek's Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy for his fear of traveling through the Stargate (Much like McCoy hated traveling by transporter).
  • The Hoffan drug introduced here plays a prominent role in later seasons, when the Human-Wraith Hybrid Michael Kenmore forces a clone of Beckett to produce it on a large scale as part of his campaign against the Wraith, although Beckett is able to reduce the fatality rate to only 30% rather than the 50% presented here.
  • The episode and the disease have many similarities with anthrax. The father of the serum, Farrol Mylan, became very respected as did Robert Koch, who identified anthrax first and got a Nobel Prize in 1905. The time period is roughly the same in both cases. Those who became ill because of the serum, suffered the same kind of symptoms as victims of pulmonary anthrax. As treated both have about 50% mortality rate. Also, the name of female doctor Perna links these two as "Anthrax" is "Pernarutto" in Finnish (literally Spleenplague).
  • According to Steve, all Wraith Hive ships have become active since Sheppard awakened the first one. They will travel their normal feeding grounds and gather strength, and then they will join forces and come for Atlantis.
  • This is the only episode of Stargate: Atlantis written by Mary Kaiser.
  • Allison Hossack (Perna) previously played Zenna Valk in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Cure". Coincidentally, the plot of this episode is in several ways quite similar.


  • The Wraith Steve can be seen swallowing when lying dead on a table when Dr. Carson Beckett and Major John Sheppard discuss the poisoning effects of the Hoffan drug on Wraith. His heart beat can also be seen in his neck.
  • When delivering Steve, Lt. Aiden Ford only dials 6 chevrons instead of 7.
  • When Merell first enters the holding cell, he has his shirt unbuttoned. The next shot shows him buttons closed, then the next shot his buttons are open again.



  • Nominated Leo for "Dramatic Series: Best Supporting Performance by a Female" (Allison Hossack)
  • Nominated Leo for "Dramatic Series: Best Supporting Performance by a Male" (Paul McGillion)

First appearanceEdit



In other languages Edit

  • Russian: Отравленный источник (Poisoned spring)

External linksEdit

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