We’re just one day away from the final episode of Stargate Atlantis, airing this Friday night on the SCI FI Channel in the U.S.! While the network airs its five days of marathons this week, we’re celebrating five years of Atlantis with our top five episodes for five team members. Today it’s the snarky and irascible Dr. Rodney McKay. Tomorrow we’ll look at the best of Ronon Dex, and cap things off this weekend with a look at what might have been in a Season Six.
When the script for the pilot episode was written, Dr. Weir’s right-hand man was to be Dr. Benjamin Ingram — an African-Canadian scientist who would provide some key techno-babble exposition, but wasn’t necessarily even a member of Sheppard’s off-world recon team. The producers wanted to find someone like David Hewlett, who had played the arrogant yet brilliant Dr. McKay in three episodes of Stargate SG-1 (“48 Hours” and the two-parter, “Redemption”). Then they hit upon a stroke of genius: Why not just have David Hewlett audition?
The audition was a hit, and Benjamin Ingram became Rodney McKay. Needless to say, it’s a role that will greatly define David’s career among science fiction fans. He had also appeared in films like Cube, and TV series including Traders, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, and guest spots on several network shows. During Stargate Atlantis he married and had a child, and also wrote, directed, and starred in his first film, A Dog’s Breakfast.
Rodney is a condescending, know-it-all, arrogant, lemon-fearing jerk … and once we got to know him, a complex character, a sensitive guy, and a good friend. The writers have loved writing McKay episodes over the last five years, so this list is particularly hard to narrow down. But here are our five favorite:
(Season Two, Episode 4)
McKay and security officer Lt. Cadman are scooped up by a Wraith Dart, which is subsequently shot down. When the team manages to rematerialize Rodney from the Dart’s storage, they find that Cadman’s consciousness is now stuck in his head. Hilarity ensues when she learns that she can take control of his body (and put the moves on Carson Beckett, who she has a thing for). But the two minds in one head thing can’t last, and the two learn that one of them will likely perish.
Playing a socially inept genius with a beautiful woman in his head, who is trying to initiate a relationship with a nice girl while she is jonesing for some Beckett time, leading to a fight over his body, a mental breakdown, and a guy-on-guy kiss is every actor’s dream. Right? “Duet” is a tour de force for David Hewlett, and mixes a hilarious look at Rodney’s personal life with a touching story about sacrifice for another.