SGA 4.06 "Tabula Rasa" Episode Guide

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With almost everyone on Atlantis infected by an amnesia-causing bacteria, McKay finds himself zip-strapped to his desk with cryptic letters on his arm and no memories of who he is or what has happened.

Guide | Transcript

MGM/ Official Summary

Rodney McKay finds himself in his lab in Atlantis with no idea where he is — or who he is. Waiting on a computer nearby is a video recording of himself from earlier. The McKay on the screen orders him to find Teyla and warns him that hundreds of people will die if he fails. There's a picture of Teyla in the message, which is good, because McKay can't remember who she is, either.

He has barely begun searching for her when he encounters Maj. Lorne and a team of Marines. They don't recognize him; instead, they shoot him with a stun gun and drag him to the mess hall, where they've confined almost the entire Atlantis Expedition. No one remembers anything, and Teyla isn't there. McKay collaborates with Samantha Carter to escape. Once they're free, they join forces with Radek Zelenka, then secretly follow Lorne and his men, hoping to find some answers.

In fact, a survey team has accidentally infected the city's population with a bacterial disease that causes progressively worsening amnesia and is ultimately fatal. Earlier, with the infirmary overcrowded, Carter and Sheppard asked everyone to convene in the mess hall for medical care and ordered Lorne and his men to bring in stragglers.

When Teyla and Ronon realized that they weren't affected, Dr. Keller — already battling the first symptoms herself — discovered that the illness was a mutated version of Kirsan fever, a familiar childhood ailment in the Pegasus galaxy. Teyla and Ronon were immune because they'd had it as kids. Better yet, they knew that the sap of the common Enchuri plant could cure it.

Ronon and Sheppard flew a Jumper to the planet's mainland to harvest the plant while Teyla helped an increasingly forgetful McKay modify the city's ventilation system to distribute the cure. Then Lorne's men — forgetting everything except their orders to round people up — captured Teyla. That's when McKay made his videotaped message to himself, knowing that without Teyla's help, he would soon forget his job.

Now, McKay, Carter and Zelenka — still trailing Lorne's team — arrive at the city's brig. They stun Lorne and discover Teyla locked in a cell. Teyla helps McKay finish the ventilation system modifications, but until Ronon and Sheppard come back, there's little else she can do.

Meanwhile, on the mainland, Ronon returns from gathering the Enchuri plant to find Sheppard aiming a gun at him. Sheppard has completely lost his memory and guesses that it's Ronon's fault. Ronon must win his trust and persuade him to fly the cure back to the city. If he fails, McKay's videotaped prediction of hundreds of deaths will come true.


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Production Notes

  • Title revealed in Joseph Mallozzi's March 9 blog entry. "Tabula Rasa" is Latin for "scraped tablet" (also has been translated to mean "clean slate" or "blank slate") (
  • "Alan worked on his final pass on Tabula Rasa (Lorne fans take note)." (Joseph Mallozzi's March 21 blog)
  • "We discuss Alan’s Tabula Rasa rewrite. How could Lorne top his barefoot scene in Doppelganger? Well how about this meaty role? Oh, and poor Katie." (Joseph Mallozzi's March 22 blog)
  • "Zach Selwyn was on the lot today. For those of you not familiar with the larger-than-life host of G4’s Attack of the Show, he is the star of a SGA rap video that took youtube by storm. In fact, Zach rapped and danced his way into a guest-starring role as episode linchpin Scientist #2 in season four’s Tabula Rasa. His big scene is tomorrow, first up! I wished him luck and assured him that, as much as I would love to watch his early morning performance, I’m the victim of a rare medical condition that necessitates my sleeping in past 7:30 a.m. every morning. Despite the fact that he was celebrating his birthday, he did come in to interview cast members for his show and, God knows why, thought it might be a good idea to interview me as well (a decision, I’m certain, he now deeply regrets). Still, since we were shooting the interview on Stage 3, I did manage to snap some pics of the Daedalus." (Joseph Mallozzi's April 23 blog)
  • "We watched the Day One Mix of Tabula Rasa today. Another winner! The teaser felt like something out of the movie Saw. A very unique-looking episode that Marty G. predicts “the fans are gonna love”." (Joseph Mallozzi's July 24 blog)
  • "This week’s installment, Tabula Rasa, is one of my favorites of the first half, a wonderfully freaky entry that offers up a truly WTF (?!) tease. It’s also one of the most unique-looking episodes we’ve done." (Joseph Mallozzi's October 29 blog)
  • Alex Levine's November 1, 2007, blog entry at covers this episode's writing process and look.

Further Reading

--DeeKayP 07:21, 1 June 2007 (PDT)