SGA 5.06 "The Shrine" Episode Guide

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Dr. Rodney McKay faces death in the form of a fatal illness, leading to the depletion of his memories, behavioral regression and a trip to a special shrine.

Guide | Transcript

MGM/ Official Summary

En route to check on a missing research team, Lt. Col. Sheppard, Dr. McKay, Teyla and Ronon emerge from the Stargate to find themselves swimming atop a flooded valley. With only the apex of the 'gate accessible above the waterline they cling to it — soaked and bitterly cold — until a puddle jumper can make it through to rescue them.

But during the flight back to Atlantis, McKay inexplicably falls ill and in the days that follow, his condition declines further. Dr. Keller discovers a parasitic organism in his brain that cannot be surgically removed. As a result, his ability to function continues to deteriorate to the point where he has virtually no recollection of who he is or what he is capable of. Soon, his emotions and memories have regressed to those of a young boy and, fearing that he will not pull through, the doctor summons Jeannie, McKay’s sister, to say her final goodbyes.

But it’s too late. Rodney no longer recognizes her or any of his friends. However, Ronon has a plan, albeit a very risky one. He tells Jeannie of a place — a shrine located on the planet Talus — that would grant Rodney one day to be himself again, before he dies. The catch? Talus has become a Wraith outpost.

Modified by Solutions.


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Production Notes

  • "Brad is, of course, penning #6 (can‘t wait to see the grotto)" — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, February 20, 2008.
  • "Andy Mikita [is the director] for Brad Wright’s as-yet-untitled tear jerker..." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, February 5, 2008.
  • "Brad Wright turned in his first draft of a fun if atypical McKay driven story. — Alex Levine in his blog, March 7, 2008.
  • "We also have a FINAL DRAFT of episode 6, The Shrine of Talus, written by Brad Wright. David H. emailed Brad to tell him how much he loved it. And it apparently made Jewel cry. But, in all fairness, I was giving her a Hertz Donut at the time." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, March 10, 2008.
  • "Just read Brad Wright's latest Atlantis script and can I just say that he’s going to tear your little hearts out?! It’s an amazing story that involves the entire cast and I can’t wait to get shooting it!" — David Hewlett in his blog, March 13, 2008.
  • "Brad and I await the network/studio notes on The Shrine of Talus and Whispers." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, March 13, 2008.
  • "The Shrine of Talus will be a David Hewlett tour de force." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, March 14, 2008.
  • "Brad has the waterfall situation under control." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, March 25, 2008.
  • mom2398 writes: "Any sign of Jeannie Miller in Season 5?" Answer: "The Shrine of Talus." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, March 26, 2008.
  • "There are no finished episodes (we are still several months away from finals). At present, we are shooting episode 5 (Ghost in the Machine) and prepping episode 6 (The Shrine of Talus)." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, April 5, 2008.
  • "The title of Brad’s episode, The Shrine of Talus, has been changed after running into clearance problems. I suggested an alternate, The Shrine of Glapnok, which, alas, nobody else liked. Instead, the episode has been re-titled The Shrine." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, April 11, 2008.
  • "Speaking of Kate [Hewlett], she's just staggered into my trailer after a long flight from Toronto for a wardrobe fitting. I didn't know she was coming, so I forget to pretend I wasn't happy to see her...damn this uncontrollable reality! She's here to shoot the episode we start filming on Monday "The Shrine". This is the Brad Wright penned perfection I was raving about a little while back...can't wait!" — David Hewlett in his blog, April 12, 2008.
  • "Today we begin a new episode, Brad Wright's "The Shrine"...the one I'm so excited about. Kate is here acting up a storm and asking hundreds of irritating questions and generally trying to make people think she's nicer than me...bring it on sinister sibling! We've got Jewel back from her adventures in Australia and she's in fine form, having already had me in stitches a few times and we haven't even shot anything yet?! Jason and Rachel are playing the comedy duo...certainly in the scene we've just shot anyway. I think we should just cave and make Stargate Atlantis an all out many good jokes going to waste off camera...hmmm." — David Hewlett in his blog, April 14, 2008.
  • "It is the inverse of Flowers For Algernon. McKay ends up suffering from the effects of something that is very common among the very old in the Pegasus Galaxy that is equivalent to fast on-set Alzheimer's, that is called 'Second Childhood' in the Pegasus Galaxy. And he very quickly not just loses his memory, but becomes quite childlike. Interestingly, the first symptom is that he's a wonderful person. Nobody notices that there is something wrong at first, because they all like it -- until it is too late to operate. Ronon comes up with an idea, and the story takes off from there. It's a character study for practically everyone in the cast, and David gets to play as an actor in a very big way. I've heard it from a few folks reading the script that it has choked them up. Hopefully it has the same effect on the audience when they see the scenes. It's moving. And everything is OK ... I don't kill anyone!" — Brad Wright, Gateworld interview, April 16, 2008.
  • "My favorite script of all time is 'The Shrine of Talus,' [which] Brad Wright has just written. It's good to have Brad. It is the one that is going to blow everyone away. It's unbelievable. It's a wicked acting piece. Kate [Hewlett, David's sister] is coming back -- we've got Jeannie back. It's just brutal. It's a total tear-jerker. For McKay it's fantastic, because there is this whole deterioration thing happening. It is the one that I am, without a doubt, the most looking forward to right now." — David Hewlett, Gateworld interview, April 16, 2008.
  • crazy mom writes: “What’s Kate Hewlett doing over there these days?” Answer: "Shooting her scenes for The Shrine. And almost running me down in one of those motorized golf carts." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, April 16, 2008.
  • "Kate was shooting and blew us all away with her execution of a very emotional and tearful scene. Naturally she hated her performance. Good actors always seem to hate the work they do, until they get some distance. It's a weird job this acting-thing." — David Hewlett in his blog, April 16, 2008.
  • "I've just finished a nice six-day run out at the Bridge Studio (did you know that the Golden Gate bridge was manufactured in the same building we have our puddle jumper set? - It's true. It was shipped down to San Francisco for assembly) Two episodes in those six days: Ghost in the Machine and The Shrine. Some nice McKay/Zelenka scenes in there. Two great eppies too." — David Nykl in his personal blog, April 16, 2008.
  • "Look at that, off topic again - today we're shooting the entire Atlantis away team, looking like drowned rats, cowering atop a submerged stargate. Okay Joe, Rachel and Jason are crouching, and look more like lithe glistening sea-panthers...but I'm doing my part and representing for the bedraggled geeks with sinus problems. The interesting part of today's filming is that all this takes place in the studio! Jim Menard, who shot our "A Dog's Breakfast" film is having all sorts of fun with little P2 cameras and snorkel lenses and aquariums in a bid to turn our corner of the studio into a massive glacial lake. So they hose us down, we climb up on half a gate and (apart from the fish tank) they put the water and the scenery in cozy! Got to love that green screen technology, otherwise we'd be deep in the heart of nature...and you know how I feel about nature and it's dangers and allergens!" — David Hewlett in his blog, April 16, 2008.
  • "Otherwise, the front half offers up some great team-episodes as well as episodes which go a long way toward cementing the bonds of friendship between our various players (... McKay and the rest of the team - but Sheppard in particular - in The Shrine, ... are a few that immediately come to mind)." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, April 17, 2008.
  • "I've just shot the last two days on Stargate Atlantis' "The Shrine" and I've got to say I already miss this episode, almost as much as my Mum who's flapped her way back to Italy a couple of days ago. ... The Shrine has been such a great experience all round and it is now officially my favourite Stargate Atlantis episode to shoot...let's hope it's as much fun to watch!" — David Hewlett in his blog, April 21, 2008.
  • "We’ll certainly see more of Teyla than we did in season four. As a fan of the character, you’ll no doubt love Search and Rescue, Broken Ties, and The Queen, and no doubt enjoy The Daedalus Variations, Ghost in the Machine, and The Shrine." — Joseph Mallozzi in his personal blog, April 28, 2008.
  • "Well, I finally did make it back to the production offices in time to watch the producer’s cut of The Shrine of Talus (Some really nice moments in this one. And it’s nice to see Jeannie back.)" — May 1, 2008.
  • Excerpt from David Hewlett interview with MGM, published June 3, 2008:
"The episode I’m most excited about so far is called ‘The Shrine,’ which we’ve just finished shooting. It’s Brad Wright’s triumphant return to writing scripts for Atlantis, and it’s just great. It’s a really meaty McKay episode, but the great thing about Brad is that he may write episodes that are kind of McKay-centered, but he’s so good at bringing in all the other characters as well. So it’s just a great ensemble piece where I get to do some acting,” he laughs. “I love running around shooting things and techno babble and all, but it’s just nice to go, ‘Wow, I actually have to act…’ I can’t just have fun I actually have to do some serious work!”
Though ‘The Shrine,’ (which sees McKay have to deal with losing the genius mental capacity that has made him so invaluable to Atlantis) is a particular highlight so far, there have already been plenty of other adventures to keep Hewlett occupied. “I guess upstairs has something to prove,” he says with a laugh. “They’re knocking them out of the park this year, there’s non-stop stuff going on.”
Where Dr. Jennifer Keller is concerned, however, it’s an entirely different story. Could it be that season five will see McKay struggling through yet another hopeless relationship with a member of the opposite sex?
"They are definitely pursuing that,” chuckles Hewlett, regarding the tenuous connection that was established between the two characters in season four. “It’s very funny. McKay just can’t have a normal relationship. It definitely comes up in ‘The Shrine’ ..."
  • "I had some fun on the upcoming episode ‘The Shrine’. I can’t discuss it yet but after it airs we can talk. ... ‘The Shrine’ had me doing more tests than I have in a while and everything worked out great in the end. Brad Wright writes big and it is great to be able to play big." — Director of Photography Jim Menard in Q&A in Joseph Mallozzi's weblog, August 13, 2008.
  • "Watched Stargate Atlantis "The Shrine"...WOW! That is one of the best episodes I've seen! Can't wait for it to air!" — David Hewlett's Twitter, August 18, 2008.
  • "We did one episode where McKay [David Hewlett] loses his, he goes - call it senile, but there’s no real term for it because it is fictional disease. It’s a very good episode. It’s nice to do character pieces with some character development. If you watch the show you’ll realise that a lot of times we’re engaged with some exterior problem on a level where you’re constantly engaged with something and you don’t have time for character development. So when you do get a script that has that it’s kind of nice. And I think everybody did a really amazing job. Everybody has really great moments in that episode." — Joe Flanigan, Cinema Spy interview, August 18, 2008.
  • "Brad came up with the concept while all the writers were in the room spinning ideas. He wanted to do a 'reverse Flowers for Algernon' where McKay starts to lose his mind. In fact, the working title for the episode for a long time was “Flowers for McKay”. And at the start, Brad only had a couple of beats - the one I just mentioned, and the realization that Teyla or Ronon, being native to the Pegasus galaxy, might have a non-scientific remedy for McKay’s ailment. Okay, that's all I'm going to tell you about the episode (because that's all that Brad told me). Except that just before shooting, I ran into director Andy Mikita in the lunch room and he told me the cast was really excited about the episode, especially David Hewlett, who gets to flex his acting muscles in this one." — Alex Levine in his blog, August 18, 2008.

Further Reading

--DeeKayP 16:51, 27 March 2008 (PDT)