Actor Michael Shanks ("Daniel Jackson") spoke to TV Zone magazine about his departure from the show: "There were a number of agendas that had to be solved. Not only did they need to finish off Daniel's journey, if you will, but they also had to introduce a new character. With so many things going on it wasn't really clear why Daniel was being written out in this fashion. I thought there was a bit of chickening out with how it all happened.
"The big problem, I think, was they were so intent on saying to the audience, 'Daniel's not dead!' This was mainly for the benefit of the same viewers who apparently got so upset last season when Martouf was killed off in 'Divide and Conquer.' The powers that be wanted to quell any backlash that might take place with the fans concerning Daniel's departure. What they ended up doing lessened the impact of his leaving. They didn't give the viewers a chance to grieve the 'passing' of the character.
"Of course, the dual storyline involving the new character didn't help either. Having said that, I understood why it had to be done, and in all honesty unless I can think of an alternative way of handling something I usually keep my mouth shut and don't gripe. So I didn't really protest and just figured, 'OK, fine.' I knew it was the end of the road. I didn't mind the story. I just wished there was a better way that it could've been done, but that's neither here nor there at the end of the day.
"On my very last day I worked only with the actor that was going to be replacing me, which was a bit ironic. The day before, though, was different. It was my last one working with Christopher and Amanda. We spent a lot of time talking about where we had begun, where we'd ended up and the unfortunate circumstances that led to this particular point. So it was a very emotional day. Funnily enough, I felt more like the dying guy who had to make certain that everyone else knew he was going to be OK. I was being more of the comforting person in the situation."
(TV Zone magazine interview with actor Michael Shanks [issue #146 - December 2001])
Amanda Tapping ("Samantha Carter") also spoke about the episode, and one touching, impromptu scene that didn't make it into the final cut: "I want more with Janet and I want more with Teal'c. ... We've been talking for three years about that, and in fact in 'Meridian' there's a scene. There is a scene where I'm coming out of Daniel's hospital room and Teal'c is about to go in, and the scene is written that Carter and Teal'c pass each other in the hallway and acknowledge a silent glance, and then continue down the hallway. And Chris and I couldn't stop crying for real, so -- and Michael wasn't even in the room anymore, there were just shooting the hallway -- so there was this empty bed and it was symbolic and every time I looked at it I started crying.
"So I turned to Chris and said, 'This our chance. This is our moment to play something organic where it happens. These characters care about each other and we're losing one of our best friends.' So what we did -- and the cameras kept rolling, and it was just so beautiful and so spontaneous -- is I walked out and he's standing there, and he's like 12 feet tall. I just rested my head into his chest and cried and he put his arms around me and I cried and he did his 'Teal'c, I'm about to cry' thing. And it's so moving when he does that, and then we released and I kept walking on down the hallway and he steeled himself and then went in to the hospital room.
"And they cut that, for reasons of timing -- whatever, whatever. I thought that would have been such a crystal clear solidity for that friendship."
"In Season Five, actor Michael Shanks decided to leave the show. When Brad told me, I was shocked. I'd never known him to be unhappy or dissatisfied with the show's creative directions (specifically as it affected his character) but, to be fair, being relatively new to the franchise, I can understand why I wouldn't have been first on his list of people to confide in. I'm sure he'd had many discussions with Brad and Robert, the series show runners, leading up to what was, no doubt, a very difficult decision for him. Anyway, Brad was clearly disappointed and promised Michael his character would have a memorable farewell. Despite what fans may have thought at the time, there was no ill-will, no bad blood -- simply a professional understanding and a desire on both sides to parts ways on good, respectful terms. Which is exactly what happened.
"I remember Michael visiting the production offices to say goodbye and Brad telling him the door would always be open for him to do guest appearances if he was so inclined. Michael voiced his appreciation for the potential opportunity to revisit the Daniel Jackson character. And that, sadly, was that.
"Until word broke and fandom reacted. To say a lot of fans were displeased would be an understatement. The boards lit up! The fans were furious! And I didn't blame them. Daniel had been there from the beginning. Hell, he'd been there before the beginning (as a character in the original Stargate movie, he pre-dated SG-1) and, over his 4+ seasons on the show, had been the team's moral center. Losing him was a huge loss, not only to the fans but the show's creative as well as D.J. had always offered that strong civilian and philosophical counter-balance to SG-1's forceful military approach. More than Teal'c, Daniel was the true fish out of water, braving his strange, often hostile environs in surprisingly spectacular fashion. His absence would hurt, not only his fans, but the show as a whole.
"Realistically, however, there was nothing to be done. The decision had been made and we had to live with it. We also had to live with the fan anger directed at us for letting him go and, more pointedly, for creating the circumstances which, in their minds, forced Michael to leave. To say I was surprised by the criticism -- well, let's call that another understatement. I wasn't aware of any creative issues surrounding the Daniel Jackson character. I went back and looked over the episodes produced to date and, to my eye, D.J. was well represented in episodes like 'Beast of Burden,' 'Summit,' and 'Last Stand.'
"And, as the online outrage swelled, it suddenly dawned on me that there was fundamental difference in the way the Daniel Jackson fans and I saw the show. To them, the relationship between Jack and Daniel was the heart of the series and they felt the show's fourth and fifth seasons greatly lacked in this all-important dynamic. To my mind, however, SG-1 was about the team (although I was always mindful of the print ads for the series that always said: 'Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate SG-1') and, as a result, I measured the success of each season by its ability to shine the spotlight on all four of our main characters in an equitable manner. Clearly, it was a divide that couldn't be bridged and, as Season Five ended and work on Season Six commenced, that divide started to widen."
(Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
"I know, I know. Most of you assume my heart is made of stone. But, believe it or not, the ending of this episode always gets to me, even more so that time has passed. I wasn't a fan of the ephemeral cuttlefish but I did think Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn) gave the best performance of his Stargate run in this heart-breaker of an episode."
(Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)