How many fans said “awww” or “finally!” when Dr. Daniel Jackson first laid eyes on Atlantis from the bridge of the Odyssey in Stargate SG-1‘s Season Ten episode, “The Pegasus Project”? He had been searching for the Lost City of the Ancients ever since he learned of it from that tablet on Abydos from Season Six’s “Full Circle”, and he was the man who discovered that Lost City in Stargate Atlantis‘s premiere “Rising”, but because of the need for him to stay and help in the fight against the Goa’uld and the Replicators, Daniel was kept from leaving with Dr. Elizabeth Weir’s Atlantis Expedition. “I need him here,” Brigadier General Jack O’Neill told Weir. Daniel stood by Jack’s side and watched as the Expedition left without him.
Then, there was that incredibly irritating and nasty encounter with a space pirate/thief/con-artist named Vala Mal Doran who hijacked the Prometheus when it was en route to the Pegasus Galaxy to find out what had happened to the Expedition with whom they had lost contact. Unfortunately, Vala’s little “visit” meant that the crew had to return to Earth because of hull damage that prevented the starship from sustaining a hyperspace window.
And finally, Dr. Jackson missed his ride on the Daedalus when Vala reentered the picture with a tablet in hand that she felt only he could interpret. Their pursuit of the treasure, which Daniel thought meant contact with living Ancients who might share in their knowledge and technology, ended up in a war with the powerful Ascended Beings known as the Ori.
Basically, Daniel just couldn’t get a break, but, ironically, during his time searching for the technology that was said to be able to eliminate the evil Ascended Beings, Daniel finally got to go to Atlantis. His setting his eyes on the city for the first time was bittersweet, for he wasn’t there to explore one of the most astonishing pieces of history, but to “save the galaxy.” Dr. Jackson had to put aside his personal desires to explore and ended up in a small room with Vala and Morgan Le Fay for company. “I think I got my tribute paid in ‘The Pegasus Project’ when Daniel actually got to Atlantis and ended up in a broom closet talking to a hologram, but hey, things happen…..I haven’t been spoken to about anything to do with Atlantis, so I guess Daniel will have to wait,” Michael Shanks told Slice of SciFi back in December 2006.
Recently, in the March/April issue of the Official Stargate Magazine, Shanks explained why it would be difficult for Daniel to make an appearance on the spin-off: “Joe [Mallozzi] mentioned to me that they want the character — I’ve always thought that Daniel had a story to tell when it came to Atlantis. I do understand, though, they’ve already got Amanda [Tapping] over there, and some new characters as well. They’ve got a full complement of cast to service, if you will, and stories of their own to tell. I think people, and even the producers, would like to see a little bit more of the character over there, but in reverence to Daniel, I don’t want to go in there and be just an expository character. I think that would be a kind of disservice, but I also know that’s kind of the nature of the guest star too, so it’s a tough situation. As much as I respect totally what they have to do there, I do have the integrity of this character to protect as well. I don’t wanna go over there and betray the trust I have in myself to support him. That’s not an ultimatum of any kind; it’s artistic mesh and we have to make it work!”
Making it work is a major part of the challenge of writing for one of Stargate‘s most iconic characters. Atlantis co-creator Robert C. Cooper recently described Daniel as having “always been the sociological soul of the series and its conscience.” This is the integrity of the character that Shanks has fought hard to preserve, even if it meant not renewing his contract with the show at the end of Season Five when the producers and he were unable to agree on the character’s role on the team and his place as an actor in the show. His return to Stargate SG-1 in Season Seven was the result of his fans making the actor aware how truly loved and admired he was both as an individual and in his portrayal of the character and of the production’s and his reaching of an agreement that, according to Atlantis executive producer and co-showrunner Joseph Mallozzi, “had everything to do with Michael’s talent, longtime viewers’ familiarity with his character, and the fact that the show was looking at [a] drastically reduced role for Richard Dean Anderson.”
“He’s a fun character to play because he does occasionally get to use his smarts to overcome obstacles where aggressive force wouldn’t necessarily do it, and that’s a wonderful thing to play,” Shanks said in his Official Stargate Magazine interview, and it might be that he’ll get to portray this side of Daniel in Stargate Atlantis‘s mid-season two-parter being penned by Martin Gero. Dr. Daniel Jackson holds three Ph.D.s and perhaps he’s been called to Atlantis to use all of his skills as a linguist, historian, archaeologist, and explorer in the story.
Mallozzi posted about the mid-season two-parter in which Daniel will make his appearance in his personal blog, “So far, we’ve got a terrific, BIG two-parter planned. I suspect that the page count in the Daniel/McKay scenes (featuring the two fastest-talking actors in show business) will have the scheduling gurus doing back-flips.”
Dr. Daniel Jackson and Dr. Rodney McKay have worked together twice before. The first time was when they were conducting research at the Antarctic Outpost where McKay studied the Zero Point Module (ZPM) and Jackson discovered the destination of the city-ship Atlantis. The second time was when Daniel visited Atlantis for the first time, but the two men didn’t share much time together other than at the mission briefing table.
The mid-season two-parter doesn’t have a title yet, but Mallozzi tagged it with “Welcome back to Atlantis, Dr. Jackson.” He also has added the words “so far” when stating that Daniel will appear in two episodes in the upcoming season. His only hint about the plot of the two-parter so far has been “Remember that new enemy I mentioned?”
What will await Dr. Jackson when he steps foot in Atlantis once more? Will he be unwittingly involved in waking a sleeping dragon in the Pegasus Galaxy like he was with calling the attention of the Ori to humanity in the Milky Way? One thing that can be said for certain, however, is that whatever happens concerning this new enemy, Dr. Daniel Jackson will not stop in the effort to overcome them. He was once asked, “Do you ever give up?” and his reply was simple: “Not until I’m dead….And, sometimes, not even then.”