|Original air date|
Neil Jackson as Wraith
|Atlantis Season 5|
In the city of Las Vegas in an alternate reality, police Detective John Sheppard investigates a series of bizarre murders where each body appears to have desiccated. He is soon called to Area 51, where Dr. Rodney McKay explains the situation.
In the middle of a desert, police have cordoned off an area as a crime scene. A car arrives, with John Sheppard inside, who is apparently a detective for the Las Vegas Police Department. He doesn't reveal anything to the female reporter, and simply enters the crime scene. They have found a corpse, the apparent eighth victim of a bizarre serial murder in the space of three months, where the corpse is withered, with the same mysterious chest wound, and traces of radiation in the victim.
Back in Las Vegas, the police discover that the victim was 39 year old Thomas Green, who was missing for only three days. The regular autopsy doctor is replaced by Dr. Jennifer Keller, who says that she didn't find traces of radiation around the wound. Sheppard a little suspicious and still thinking that the radiation poisoning is the key to finding the killer, Sheppard calls someone at a local hospital to see if anyone is being treated for, or is showing signs of, radiation poisoning.
Meanwhile at the Lucky Rollers Motel, Laurence Foster vomits on a toilet. He calls his wife who he tells that he thinks the cause is food poisoning, but is forced to end the call when he notices his nose is bleeding again. He gets up because the rock music from the next room is getting too loud. He attempts to go next door to tell the occupant to turn down the music. However, he is disturbed to see someone inhuman, stretching out his hand with a notable slit on the palm (a Wraith).
The next day in Police Headquarters, Detective Sheppard is paid a visit by Agent Richard Woolsey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who wants Sheppard's co-operation, and is not willing to tell John the FBI's interest in the case, but knows that the murders are happening more frequently. Sheppard claims that he has picked up no leads and soon leaves to catch a lead he just received from a text message, and doesn't tell Woolsey. Detective Sheppard goes to a hospital, where a Nurse says that just yesterday, a man came in with flu-like systems, but suspects radiation poisoning when Sheppard mentions it, as the nurse noticed the man having nose bleeds. Sheppard traces the man to the Lucky Rollers Motel, where the manager recognizes the man, and gives Sheppard the logs.
Later that night, the Wraith continues to listen to "Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson. He uses make up and molds, as well as wearing gloves to disguise himself as a Human to not attract attention to the unsuspecting Tau'ri. He walks out of the motel and heads towards a hotel casino, with Sheppard following. The Wraith enters in a poker game with six more men, later joined by Sheppard. For the whole time, the fellow players notice that one of the players (the Wraith) never looks at anyone, but keeps winning lots of money. During the game, he collects his chips, even though the game has not yet finished. The Wraith gets into a physical altercation with another player and runs away, pushing Sheppard in the process. Sheppard gives chase and picks up a gun from a security guard who fails to capture the Wraith. Eventually, Sheppard corners the Wraith on the rooftops. However, he eludes capture, by falling a hundred feet to the surface, where he manages to survive the fall, gets up and walks away, with Sheppard in total bewilderment.
Back at the Lucky Rollers Motel, Sheppard returns and finds Foster, withered and dead (having been fed on). There, Sheppard finds a bag full of money, and takes it to the trunk of his car. He is then surrounded by Agent Woolsey and three SUVs, who tells him to join them. He joins them, and the SUVs drive to Area 51. En-route Woolsey admits to Sheppard that he is not from the FBI. They arrive in order to tell Sheppard what he is into. However, first he must sign a Non-disclosure agreement, which he refuses to sign.
McKay enters the room and instantly shows that he is not to be trifled with, threatening to ruin Sheppard's life if he doesn't co-operate - even though there is not much to ruin.
McKay says he knows a lot about him; dishonorably discharged from service in Afghanistan for disobeying orders to rescue a medic he was romantically involved with. Four US soldiers and eight civilians were killed after his helicopter was shot down, but he avoided jail time through political reasons. He never married, he became an LVPD cop, and after failing the exam twice, eventually promoted to Detective. However, his arrest record is low due to mishandling of evidence, and he never had a partner because no one can stand working with him. He is also $13,000 in debt due to his gambling problems. Finally, McKay wonders how he lives with himself. However, before McKay turns and leaves, he tells Sheppard that he once met another version of him. McKay is able to convince him that they are not his enemy, and that they want the same thing as him.
McKay explains that the suspect he is looking for is actually not human, but an alien, a Wraith, who can feed on human beings, but fortunately do not know where Earth is ... yet. However, a few months ago, a Wraith Hive ship attempted to attack Earth, but failed after the weapons platform activated in Antarctica. They used a Control chair, which they now keep in Area 51. However, one Wraith seems to have survived, the one Sheppard has been trying to arrest and that the Wraith is being exposed to high levels of radiation, which is why all his victims had radioactive residue on them. McKay tells Sheppard that Area 51 is also looking for him, since they believe he is going to contact the other Wraith from his home galaxy, Pegasus and inform them of Earth's location.
Sheppard then gets a glimpse of what a Wraith actually looks like, and shows him a cell where one, known as "Todd" is being held. "Todd" has been held in captivity and denied the opportunity to feed to the point where he has become delirious from starvation, turning into somewhat of a poet, albeit a bad one, so McKay claims. "Todd" chants to Sheppard, beckoning him to come inside his cell so he can show him his 'destiny', before saying his full name. After McKay snaps him out of the trance ("they can get in your head"), McKay tells Sheppard that he and his team were called back to Earth from the city of Atlantis to help track down the Wraith due to their experience dealing with them. Sometime later, McKay overhears Dr. Radek Zelenka give a presentation to a team about a worst-case scenario; the Wraith could be building a bomb, but McKay interrupts and rebuffs his statement, saying that the Wraith's intention is to alert other Wraith, and they should focus on that instead.
When they are both outside, McKay tells Sheppard that a little while ago, he and his team accidentally opened a rift in space/time and visited another reality, in which that Sheppard is somewhat of a hero having saved the world several times over. Sheppard says that doesn't sound much like him, to which McKay responds "I don't think there's much difference between you and that other John Sheppard I met. It's amazing how one incident can entirely alter the course of your life. Still, I like to believe you have the same strength of character. That's why I told you the truth." Eventually, McKay lets Sheppard go, giving him his phone number in case he finds anything. Sometime after he is gone, McKay and Zelenka are still arguing about the latter's theory of the Wraith building the bomb. At this point, Woolsey enters and berates the both of them. He says that he has Earth's best mind power the planet has to offer, and yet a "nobody detective" has gotten closer than anyone in this room.
However, Sheppard decides to resign from his job. He packs up his belongings from his office and when Captain Hendricks wonders what he is doing, Sheppard doesn't answer, but just hands him his badge, gun, and his box, keeping only his Johnny Cash poster. He drives out of the city with the money he found, presumably to start a new life. However, while driving, he recalls what McKay said to him, and what John overheard about how the Wraith maybe trying to contact the other Wraith. At that point Sheppard realizes where the Wraith is likely headed and does a 180 deciding to try and stop the Wraith.
Back at Area 51, McKay, Woolsey, Zelenka and other scientists are trying to trace the radiation, which only narrows the search area to several hundred square miles, since the desert was a massive nuclear testing site. CMSgt. Walter Harriman tells the three that Sheppard is calling them. Sheppard tells McKay that he has found the Wraith. He had noticed a trailer at the motel, which he has found connected to some powerlines, meaning the Wraith is using the national grid to power the transmitter he salvaged from parts of his crashed Wraith Dart. Area 51 is able to trace the location and sends two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to the location. McKay tells Sheppard not to engage, but the signal is cut off before Sheppard could hear him. Sheppard slowly approaches the trailer.
Meanwhile, the Wraith had begun dialing up the power to the transmitter when he notices Sheppard's car approaching. The Wraith arms himself with machine guns he acquired, while Sheppard exits his car and loads his pistol. However, as Sheppard slowly approaches the trailer, the Wraith fires a single shot, which hits John's chest. John runs to take cover beside his car as the Wraith opens fire. Sheppard returns fire, but quickly runs out of bullets.
He reaches for the glove box for more ammunition, reloads and fires each shot into the Wraith's chest, but they don't affect him. As Sheppard's injuries start to overwhelm him, having no more ammunition with which to fight, the Wraith attempts to feed on him, but then notices two planes zeroing in on his position.
The Wraith quickly runs to his trailer and powers up his transmitter, which is giving off energy ten times that of an active Stargate, and rising. The two Thunderbolts then manage to destroy the trailer, as well as cut off the Wraith transmission and kill the Wraith. However, back at Area 51, McKay discovers that while there wasn't enough power to alert the Wraith in Pegasus of Earth's location, the explosion has caused a temporary rift in space/time that resulted in Earth's coordinates being sent, amplified, to alternate realities, meaning the Wraith from other realities know of Earth's location. At dusk, an injured Sheppard attempts to get away from the scene, but he slumps to the ground after only a few feet, where he then lies on the ground, and is assumed to have died.
A-10 Thunderbolt II; Alternate reality; Afghanistan; Antarctica; Antarctic outpost; Area 51; Blackjack; Canada; Johnny Cash; Cell phone; Colt M1911A1 pistol; Control chair; Daedalus; Desert; Dog; Drone weapon; Earth; F-302 fighter-interceptor; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Thomas Green; H&K MP5A3 submachine gun; Helicopter; Hive ship; Influenza; Iratus bug; Klingon; Las Vegas; Las Vegas Police Department; Lucky Rollers Motel; Mikey; Mojave Desert; Nevada; Non-disclosure agreement; Planet Hollywood; Poker; Radiation; Radiation poisoning; Skirmish in the desert; Skirmish over Alternate Earth; Spearmint gum; Star Trek; Star Trek: The Experience; Telepathy; Wraith; Wraith communication device; Wraith Dart; Wraith language; Zero Point Module; QBZ-97B
Sheppard: I've got eight bodies in three months and I don't like it when the lead coroner on my case gets replaced by somebody who doesn't look old enough to be in medical school.
Keller: Maybe someone feels the need for some fresh eyes on the case.
Sheppard: They should've just replaced me.
McKay: If you fail to cooperate, I have the power to ruin your life.
Sheppard: Well you don't realize how little I have to lose.
McKay: I know everything about you. You've never been married, the only thing you own is a car, you have 2,363 dollars in the bank, and are 13,000 dollars in debt. Not counting off-the-books gambling losses to a guy named Mikey. What else? You finally passed your detective exam after four years and two failed attempts. And now barely scrape by on quarterly performance reviews. Occasionally, you solve a case. But, unfortulately, the charges don't always stick due to the means in which the evidence was collected. You don't have a partner, because no one can stand working with you. Am I getting this right?
Sheppard: I also like Spearmint gum.
(McKay throws a pack on the table)
McKay: Have some.
Sheppard: I was joking.
McKay: No you weren't. Let's go back further shall we? You were a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, but were dishonorably discharged for disobeying orders and trying to rescue a field medic trapped behind enemy lines. You were shot down, obviously survived, but unfortunately the crash killed four American soldiers along with eight civilians. You avoided jail time, the report was sealed, for various political reasons. These things happen, right? Somehow you've managed to live with yourself since then, but I'm not sure other people would if they knew the truth.
Sheppard: I don't really care.
McKay: Yeah, that's too bad. (Walks towards the door) You know; I once met another version of you. He was very different.
McKay: I suppose it all sounds like science fiction to you.
Sheppard: I'm not really a fan.
Todd's "poetry": Fish in a pond, busy, busy, lots to do here and there...
McKay: This one fancies himself a bit of a poet. Not good...
Todd's "poetry": Dry as a desert outside, no place to go.
McKay: He's also delirious from starvation.
Todd's "poetry": Eat up, get stronger, think and hope, think and hope... Don't look now!... Oh, keep dreaming. There must be some other reason for your existence.
Sheppard: Did you... get anything from him?
McKay: Nothing. Believe me we tried... everything.
Todd's "poetry": Defiance tastes like life itself. No river, no water... dry as a desert! Darkness all around... The harvest moon is rising... Wraith are never ending. I know the future... Come inside... I’ll show you your destiny... John Sheppard!
McKay: ...They can get in your head.
McKay: Detective. Remember when I told you I once met another version of you?
McKay: I know you'll probably think this sounds ridiculous, but, a little a while ago we accidentally opened a rift in space-time. Went through to an alternate version of reality. It's very similar to ours in many ways. Met a team, much like the one I work with only, you were the leader. You were a hero. Saved the world, several times over.
Sheppard: Doesn't sound much like me.
McKay: I don't think there's much difference between you and that other John Sheppard I met. It's amazing how one incident can entirely alter the course of your life. Still, I like to believe you have the same strength of character. That's why I told you the truth.
(While discussing where the Wraith could be located)
Zelenka: He could have abandoned whatever resources he had and just gone into hiding.
McKay: (sarcastically) Oh yes, he probably got a job as a Klingon at Star Trek: The Experience.
Woolsey: That shut down.
Zelenka: Really? Damn, I wanted to see that.
- Its working title was "CSI: Atlantis".
- The episode is styled after popular crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as they use similar "CSI style" flashback sequences in the beginning of the episode.
- Dr. Rodney McKay mentions Star Trek: The Experience, and Richard Woolsey says it was closing, in this episode. Dr. Radek Zelenka is upset that he missed it. The actor who plays Woolsey, Robert Picardo, suggested these lines be added to the episode. He also appeared in the Borg Encounter portion of the Star Trek Experience as the Star Trek: Voyager Holographic Doctor.
- The logo for the United Earth Federation from the game Supreme Commander is on the morgue's door.
- This episode is one of only two Stargate: Atlantis episodes in which neither a Stargate nor Atlantis itself make an appearance; the other episode being "Harmony".
- The McKay of this universe, at some point, accidentally tore open an inter-dimensional bridge and landed in an Alternate reality, which sounds like our universe from his description. However, due to the fact that the alternate McKay had never met his own universe's Sheppard before, he is not "Rod McKay" from the episode "McKay and Mrs. Miller", but another alternate ("Rod" mentioned knowing his universe's John Sheppard, who was a member of the Atlantis expedition and Mensa).
- That and he said we did it. Rod's universe didn't create the tear it was the prime McKay who did it and only Rod came through, no-one else. He implied his team went through the tear.
- This episode marks the first appearance of the new Air Force ABU, or Airman Battle Uniform. It is worn by Security Forces personnel on Area 51.
- The McKay of this universe mentions that the field medic Sheppard tried to save was a woman Sheppard was involved with. In the prime universe it was a man and his friend. McKay also mentions that one difference altering Sheppard's divergence being he never saved the medic indicating that in the universe he visited he was able to save the medics life.
- The alternate Zelenka pronounces "ZPM" with the Zed, much like McKay. This is the second time actor David Nykl used the non-American pronunciation.
- Writer, director Robert C. Cooper revealed that the Hive ship found Earth "by capturing an Atlantis team and getting the information out of them" during a Q&A on Joseph Mallozzi's blog.
- The way in which "Todd" is imprisoned, along with his words and mannerisms, is highly reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter in the film The Silence of the Lambs, although they speak in poetic ways for different reasons (Lecter being a cruel man, Todd being delirious from hunger).
- The poster of Johnny Cash in Detective Sheppard's office is the same as the one in his quarters in Atlantis.
- David Hewlett forgot to remove his wedding ring for some of the scenes but the producers decided to keep it on because it gives the impression that McKay and Dr. Jennifer Keller are married in this reality.
- Featured music in this episode: "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson, "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones and "Solitary Man" covered by Johnny Cash.
- In this universe the Wraith are able to read the minds of humans. This is not possible in the normal Atlantis universe.
- The Wraith are also evidently stronger as well. Sheppard manages to hit the Wraith at least 9 times at point blank range with his gun yet the Wraith doesn't even flinch. Also instead of becoming weak from malnutrition Todd only becomes delirious.
- The wraith on Earth is constantly feeding whereas the Pegasus wraith have to ration their food. This may account for the increased strength.
- The episode is the 20th in production, and was filmed partially on location in Las Vegas, Nevada. With the cancellation of Atlantis, this is also the final regular episode to be filmed. The desert location shoots made up the last days of filming for the series.
- The poker scene was filmed in a suite at the Planet Hollywood. In addition to that suite, the production also had to buy out all of the other rooms on that level for filming.
- At the end of the episode the Wraith uses a H&K MP5A3 submachine gun and a QBZ-97B to shoot at Sheppard.
- The Lucky Rollers Motel featured in this episode is a real motel in Vancouver, BC. The Las Vegas background was digitally added in post production.
- This episode, along with the series finale ("Enemy at the Gate"), was leaked to the internet on December 22, 2008.
- Several cameo appearances were made in the poker scene in the episode, which included Steve Schirripa and Frank Vincent (best known for appearing in The Sopranos), professional poker players Todd Brunson and Roy Winston, Joel Goldsmith (the composer for Stargate SG-1, Atlantis and Universe) and Charlie Cohen (Senior Executive Vice President of MGM).
- On the casino floor, DVD Special Features Producer Ivon R. Bartok is seen throwing the dice at the craps table, Executive Producer Brad Wright (and his wife, Debbie) are seen at the Blackjack table, and Lynn Smith (wife of Executive Producer, N. John Smith) is seen at the roulette table.
- Rachel Luttrell (Teyla Emmagan) and Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex) do not appear in this episode.
- It is possible they were not part of the Atlantis team as both were recruits and personnel choices by Sheppard. This could also mean McKay was never on an away team as he states he met a team like one he works with, not one he was on.
- Neil Jackson (Wraith) previously played Khalek in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Prototype". He is best known for playing Marcus Van Sciver on Blade: The Series.
- Jody Thompson (Nurse) previously played Female Assassin in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Bounty".
- Carmen Moore (Reporter) previously played Lab Assistant in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Cold Lazarus".
- Paul Jarrett (Captain Hendricks) previously played Special Agent Dave Farrity in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Chimera".
- The Blackberry phone that is used by John Shepherd is the same model as the one that Jennifer Keller borrowed from Terrence Kramer in "Brain Storm".
- The initial shot of the A10 Warthogs banking left to attack the Wraith is styled in a similar manner as many of the shots that would later be seen in Stargate Universe, perhasp a stylistic precursor to the then-upcoming series.
- The sound of the camera in the opening of the episode is one of a film camera, when the actual camera is a digital one (one of Canons APS-C digital bodies - EOS 40D (2007) or EOS 50D (2008) with EF-s 17-85mm lens attached) and should only make a noise of flipping the mirror up and down, not the additional noise of rewinding the film.
- The sound of the A-10 Thunderbolt II's autocannon firing is unrealistic, as the GAU-8 Avenger has a very distinctive sound. As with other modern fighters, the rate of fire is so high that individual rounds can't be heard. Moreover, the rounds are supersonic, meaning that the impact can be seen before the sound is heard. In reality, a much shorter burst would have sufficed to obliterate the trailer.
- Zelenka says the Daedalus reports the massive energy being sent to Pegasus. Despite having the wraith's location, they opt to use A-10 Thunderbolts to destroy the trailer and the Wraith sees them coming; they could have easily taken him out from orbit using the Daedalus.
- It's likely that an A-10 strike was more covert than launching an attack from orbit. In addition, they detected the energy AFTER the Wraith spots the A-10s, because that's when he turned the device on. They knew the location from Sheppard's call, not from the energy spike.
- When the Wraith remembers through flashbacks how he landed on Earth in the trailer, it can be seen his mask was halfway torn down, while later when Sheppard discovered him, his make up was complete.
- Won Leo for "Best Cinematography in a Dramatic Series" (Michael Blundell)
- Won Leo for "Best Direction in a Dramatic Series" (Robert C. Cooper)
- Won Leo for "Best Picture Editing in a Dramatic Series" (Mike Banas)
- Nominated Leo for "Best Make-Up in a Dramatic Series" (Todd Masters, Holland Miller, Kyla-Rose Tremblay, Nicholas Podbrey and Brad Proctor)
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