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McKay works on an idea to escape while Dr. Keller sees to Carter.

Stargate: Atlantis



Production #


Original air date

February 8, 2008

Written by

Martin Gero

Directed by

Martin Wood

Guest stars

Jewel Staite as Dr. Jennifer Keller
Isaah Brown as Caminous
Aidan Drummond as Renord
Nico Ghisi as Kid 1 (Trio)
Alberto Ghisi as Kid 2 (Trio)

Preceded by


Followed by


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

"Trio" is the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Stargate: Atlantis.


While on a mission to evacuate a planet prone to earthquakes, Colonel Samantha Carter, Dr. Jennifer Keller and Dr. Rodney McKay end up trapped in an abandoned, underground mine left behind by the Genii. While trying to escape, the three try to get to know each other better.


Dr. Jennifer Keller and Dr. Rodney McKay report their findings on M5V-801 to Colonel Samantha Carter and Lt. Colonel John Sheppard. The planet has been suffering from tremors for several generations, and experiences around four tremors a day, as the settlement is built over seismically unstable ground. Also, it was a mining planet. Twenty years ago, the Genii came and forced all the inhabitants to work as miners for the Genii's own ends. However, after the Genii got the resources they needed, they abandoned the planet. Because of this, and the unsafe air quality, an abnormally high number of inhabitants are suffering from respiratory problems. They organize a mission to evacuate the settlement into another part of the continent, but in order to do so, the inhabitants have a list of demands a "mile and a half long".


Carter and Keller see McKay through the hole.

Carter arranges for her, Keller and McKay to go to the planet. An hour later, they arrive and are walking to the settlement when McKay steps on a very weak, hollow part of the ground, causing a hole which McKay falls through. Carter and Keller lay on the ground to spread their body weight, and see McKay at the bottom, hurt but alive. However, as the women plan to go back and dial the Stargate for help, the hole gets bigger and they fall through also.

The trio find themselves in the abandoned Genii mining facility. Upon further investigation, they see a massive door, presumably the main entrance and exit. McKay notices a panel of Genii numerals, which requires a code to open the door. However, since they don't know the code, they move on to the next sealed door, painted red, which they surmise most likely means the door was sealed for a reason. Their suspicions turn out to be correct when they notice a very high drop down a chasm on the other side.

With nothing much more to do, they decide to just sit and wait for rescue to arrive, since if they don't report to Atlantis, help will soon be dispatched. However, as they settle in to wait, they feel a ground tremor, and realize that the room they're trapped in is becoming unstable. The facility is only supported by metal stilts, which are starting to give way, since the three people and the earth is putting on more weight for the complex to support. They have to assume that help may come too late, so escape is now imperative. The room has several leftover crates strewn about it, which the Carter and McKay begin to stack up to the opening. Meanwhile, in order to reduce weight, Keller moves the earth down the chasm.


Carter climbs up the crates.

Once the stack of crates is finished, Carter begins the climb up, as McKay and Keller immediately chickened out, each citing a paralyzing fear of heights. As Carter approaches the top, the wood starts to crack below her and give way. However, so close to escape, Carter continues to try to reach the hole and climb up, but before she is able to do so, the crates shatter, and Carter slams into the ground on her stomach. Since that plan didn't work, they have to think up a new one.

Soon, McKay finds something to use as a grappling hook. McKay suggests tying their clothes together to create a rope long enough. He tells them to strip, and Keller starts doing so, but Carter derails the plan by finding an actual rope. Keller then pulls her shirt down and replaces her jacket, while an obvious look of disappointment crosses McKay's face. Carter explains that the rope must be climbable before they can use it, so she and Keller start tying knots in it. McKay reads through Genii files, hoping they could contain the codes to unlock the door. Meanwhile, the women play "Who would you rather...?". McKay overhears the name Neil deGrasse Tyson, whom he claims he once stole an idea from him. He is then forced to play the game with them.


A group of children wonders what is going on down there.

Suddenly, they hear the noise of children playing in the field. Together, they all scream for their help. The children hear, but are just curious why the trio are down there. The trio ask them for their help. However, the children say they can't oblige, because if their parents find out that they are in an area they're not supposed to play in, they'll all get into trouble. This upsets McKay, but Carter attempts to bribe the kids by saying "We'll get you what ever you want." Knowing exactly what a pair of ten-year-old boys would want, McKay states that is a brilliant idea and tells Carter to take her shirt off. Carter says "I think we can reason with them without going into that."

After the kids leave, the trio talk about Dr. Radek Zelenka, whom Carter was trapped with during the quarantine lockdown, and all agree that they find him weird. The women then wonder what happened between McKay and Dr. Katie Brown during the quarantine. He told her that he needed some time to figure out his emotional problems. However, Katie interpreted that as McKay breaking up with her and she has been put on the list for return to Earth. McKay assumes its for the best, but Keller thinks that she deserves to be with a nice guy like him. This seems to cheer McKay up. They then hear the kids return and become hopeful of rescue, but the children reveal that they only returned to win a bet with their friends. As McKay barks at them, another tremor strikes the area. They have to move fast, as the facility is becoming more unstable.

They finish with the rope, and McKay insists on throwing it through the hole. However several attempts later, McKay still can't do it. One attempt hits a gas pipe, which ignites. Carter quickly stops it. Carter then has a go and succeeds in sending the rope through. Unfortunately, the hook fails to grab, bringing more earth in with it. With this plan in the toilet, McKay has another idea. Tying the rope to the metal beams, they could make a bridge using planks to put up a crate on it, and climb to safety. However, there's a problem, the planks aren't long enough to make it from one metal beam to another and the crates are too heavy.


Keller demonstrates her bar trick.

Keller, however, has an idea on how to make it work, by a simple bar trick: they use three planks in a way that it could support the crates. Keller demonstrates with knives and cups in their packs. After the demonstration, they get to it. They line up the planks to form the bridge, and place a crate in the middle. Afterwards, Carter attempts to get on the crates, manages to reach the hole, and is about to grab hold of it, when the bridge collapses. Carter falls 25 feet down (7.62 meters) and breaks a leg. As Keller tends to her, she estimates that Carter has about an hour until the internal bleeding could get severe.


McKay's idea on the cannon works.

McKay then has another idea on how to escape, by using the hook and rope option, except this time, they use the gas pipe. McKay constructs a cannon and fills it with some gas. He then places the rope on the cannon and then uses a detonator to ignite the gas. As Keller carefully aims it at the hole, the rope is fired out of the hole and catches some ground. McKay pulls the rope, so the hook can find purchase. However, the more he pulls, more earth drops down into the facility, increasing its weight. The facility's metal stilts start to buckle under the strain. Keller falls through the red door and continues falling. Luckily, she has hold of the rope, and McKay manages to stop her fall, causing rope burns on his hands in the process.

As McKay tries to pull her up, Keller tells him to stop, since she can see light, a mine shaft coming out to the open. Keller is able to swing over and makes it into the tunnel. However, this causes McKay's rope burns to open and bleed. Nevertheless, he insists on lowering Carter down, since her leg is broken. McKay makes a makeshift seat for her and ropes her down, where she is able to swing to safety. Once she's safe, it's McKay turn. He goes down the rope, but pauses in exhaustion when it is time to swing. He admits that after four years of "shooting guns, running around, and saving people," he should be better at it by now, but isn't. He swings and makes it to the tunnel with the women. Just after, they see the facility completely collapse and fall down the chasm.


Keller asks McKay out for a drink.

Carter, McKay and Keller make their way back to Atlantis. Keller tells McKay that he lost a bet with the bar trick and that he owes her a drink. However, McKay is, as usual, oblivious to feminine interest. Keller asks him again, clarifying her intent, and they leave together.


Atlantis; Atlantis infirmary; Atlantis transporter; Beer; Katie Brown; Claustrophobia; Commander's office; Dating; Detonator; Ronon Dex; Dollar; Earthquake; Gas; Genii; Genii language; Monty Hall; Ibuprofen; Let's Make a Deal; Lolly pop; M5V-801; Marriage; Mining operations; Morphine; Neil deGrasse Tyson; People of M5V-801; Playing card; Puddle Jumper; Quarantine lockdown; Rope; Arnold Schwarzenegger; Who would you rather...?; Radek Zelenka

Notable QuotesEdit

McKay: No, no. I've never been very good at holding heavy things. I had an old lady's grocery cart when I was in college. It's one of the reasons I didn't date as much as I should have.

McKay: Are you talking about Neil deGrasse Tyson? He once stole an idea from me. Did I tell you that story?
Carter: Only about a dozen times, McKay.

Carter: (to the two boys) Do you need something? Anything. We can get it for you. If you help us, we'll get you whatever you want.
McKay: Oh, yes, good. Great idea, yes.
Carter: Thanks.
McKay: (imitating lifting up his shirt) Maybe you should show 'em your...
Carter: Excuse me?!
McKay: Hey, I was once a ten year old boy too. I know what gets their attention.
Carter: McKay!
McKay: What? D'you wanna get out of here or not?!
Carter: I think we can reason with them without resorting to that, thank you.
McKay: If you say so.

Keller: You owe me a beer, by the way.
McKay: Hey, if this works, I'll buy you a keg.

McKay: The grappling hook didn't work because the hook wouldn't hold our weight in the soil; the crates didn't work because Sam was too heavy... (Carter looks at him indignantly) Oh, well, we all would've been, I mean our weight in general. Nothing to do with you, you just... I mean, you're in very good shape, seriously. You have like, uh, the perfect body. (Keller glares at him) Oh, not that you don't. Oh, no, no, I realise that your bodies are different and, uh, uh, maybe that would mean that I think that your body is imperfect but that is not the case. No, no, far, far, far from it. That is a sweet... uh, which is to say, I mean, it would be impossible for me to choose which of you...
Carter: Rest assured, you're never gonna have to.

Keller: Hang on, wait a minute, don't pull me up!
McKay: What?! Why?
Keller: I see light!
McKay: No no no, don't go toward the light! You want to stay in the land of the living!!

Keller: You're up, McKay!
McKay: Oh great. You know what I was just thinking would be awesome? More physical exertion.

McKay: This is not gonna scar, is it?
Keller: Chicks dig scars.
McKay: Not the chicks I dig.


Gate Logo
Stargate Wiki has 13 images related to Trio.
  • This is the first episode involving the interest between Dr. Rodney McKay and Dr. Jennifer Keller. This episode also confirms the final breakup of McKay and Katie Brown due to a misunderstanding leading to McKay later pursuing Keller instead.
  • When they are playing the game Who would you rather...?, Colonel Samantha Carter always picks the older, more distinguished of the choices offered.
  • According to Martin Gero on the Season four DVD special features, this episode was meant to be one of the cheapest, but ended up as one of the most expensive instead.
  • This is not the first time McKay refers to his sixth-grade science project. In the episode "Underground" he recounts how he built a model of an atomic bomb and was subsequently interrogated by the CIA for several hours.
  • The set used for the Genii mining facility, was previously used as a set for the Achilles during the filming of Stargate: Continuum.
  • At one point, Carter decides to see what's behind "Door Number Two," to which McKay replies "After you, Monty." This is a reference to Let's Make a Deal, a game show which aired in various forms from 1963 onwards. Its most famous host (among several) was Monty Hall. Contestants were given a choice between several doors or curtains, with prizes of varying value behind them, including a "zonk," or a prize of low or questionable value, such as a live llama.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, who was mentioned in this episode, made an appearance later in the season five episode "Brain Storm".
  • Rachel Luttrell (Teyla Emmagan) and Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex) do not appear in this episode.


  • When Keller and Carter fall too in the hole you can see at least half a meter of earth on the edge into the hole while before the hole was around 10 cm of earth and another ten of building material.
  • When the building is tilting over Carter says that the "superstructure over this room must have buckled". This is inaccurate as the superstructure is the room itself and is therefore above the substructure. What Carter was meant to say was the "substructure of this room must have buckled". Even in saying the superstructure above this room (i.e. a room on top of this room) must have failed is also flawed as they were walking in an open field and there was no other superstructure.
  • Dirt falling into the chamber cannot increase its weight, since it was already on top of it. It can at best slightly change the center of gravity of the chamber, but in the grand scheme of things, it really wouldn't contribute to the supporting structure failing in any significant way.
  • When McKay is holding the rope so Keller can swing to the other shaft, some shots show the rope not at taut as it should be.



  • Nominated DGC Craft Award for "Direction - Television Series" (Martin Wood)

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