This Mortal CoilEPISODE #410
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 12.07.07
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 11.17.08
DVD DISC: Season 4, Disc 3
STORY BY: Brad Wright, Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
TELEPLAY BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: William Waring
Torri Higginson (Elizabeth Weir), Jewel Staite (Jennifer Keller), David Nykl (Radek Zelenka), Kavan Smith (Lorne), Reese Alexander (Major Jordan), Chuck Campbell (Technician), Tammy Hui (Replicator Gate Tech), Sean Millington (Marine), Ernie Jackson (Replicator)
The Atlantis Stargate has been mysteriously inoperable for more than a week. As Rodney McKay and his team work to try and figure out what is wrong with it, a new emergency strikes: a probe crashes into the city. The gate must wait, as McKay and a science team analyze the probe to try and determine its origins. But when the diagnostic program crashes, McKay offers a startling announcement: he saw a glimpse of nanite programming code just before it went offline. The Replicators may have found Atlantis.
Ronon and Sheppard engage in a sparring match, in which the Colonel is injured. But when they report to Dr. Keller, they find that his bleeding injury is completely gone. Sheppard wonders if he may have been infected with nanites from the probe, or if perhaps the Wraith retrovirus once in his system (“Conversion”) has reared its ugly head again. Though Keller gives him a clean bill of health, he and Ronon suspect there is something else going on.
They find Rodney, and Sheppard cuts his hand with a knife. When it rapidly heals, they know that something much bigger is going on — and it’s not just about Sheppard. The entire team is affected. Furthermore, they believe that several key personnel on the base, including Keller and Major Lorne, have been acting suspicious and secretive lately.
When they begin to investigate, they quickly make one hell of a discovery: Elizabeth Weir, their former leader taken captive by the Replicators months ago (“Lifeline”), has just appeared in the outer edge of the city. Dr. Keller arrives with the explanation: Weir has been recreated there, just like the rest of them. She and many others are themselves Replicators — now able to take the form of real people they know, since Rodney opened the door by altering their base code. Sheppard and his team, as well as Dr. Weir, are entirely organic copies built by Replicator nanites and given memories and personalities recorded when the Replicators probed their minds last year (“Progeny”).
What is the Replicator’s goal in creating copies of the Atlantis team? Where did the probe come from? And how will the real John Sheppard and his people react when their doubles come to them with a warning and a desire to work together?
- The titles for “This Mortal Coil” and the following episode, “Be All My Sins Remember’d,” are from Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1:
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
… Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.
“This mortal coil” refers to the physical body, to be shed at death. In the cast of this episode, it is a dual reference both to the Replicators’ hope for ascension and to the duplicate team’s discovery of their true nature of their own physical bodies.
- “I’m proud to announce, after an intense and complicated labor, the birth of a spanking new baby first draft script at approximately 4:29 p.m. on Sunday, April 14th, 2007. Although the due date was not for another week, and despite the fact that the premature little tyke clocks in at a lighter than average 53 pages, I’m sure he’ll be showered with the love, affection, sarcasm, and criticism that will shape him into a fine and outstanding young episode of Atlantis’s fourth season. I’ve named him ‘This Mortal Coil’ after … well, I don’t need to tell you literati.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “I’m looking forward to seeing all of the first half episodes this season. I think we have an exceptionally strong line-up for Season Four so far. As for which episodes fans should be looking forward to most for each member of the team — it’s tough to say only because my opinion could be very different from fan opinion especially when you start factoring in the different fan factions. But, in my opinion, I’d say: ‘Travelers’ for Sheppard, ‘Miller’s Crossing’ for McKay, ‘Reunion’ for Ronon, ‘Missing’ for Teyla, ‘The Seer’ for Carter, ‘This Mortal Coil’ for Weir, and ‘Missing’ again for Keller.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)
- “When this episode, which is the first of a two-parter, opens, the Atlantis gate has been inoperative for three days and for some reason our people can’t get it working again. An Ancient drone then crashes into the city and they’re like ‘Where did that come from?’ When our heroes start to investigate the drone, they begin to notice that other Atlantis personnel, including Zelenka, Keller and [Lorne] are acting strangely. I don’t want to give too much away, but, again, things aren’t what the seem.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in an interview with TV Zone magazine [Special #79])
- “It was a script that required a lot of rethinking, re-ordering, and dialogue massaging to present a complex story in as concise, informative, and entertaining a way as possible. It was hell, but there are some very touching character moments that I thought turned out very nicely.” (Executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)