In the Making
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 01.20.06
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 01.29.07
DVD DISC: Season 9, Disc 4
DIRECTED BY: Peter DeLuise
STORY BY: Brad Wright & Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
TELEPLAY BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
By Joseph Mallozzi
Writer and Executive Producer, Stargate SG-1
We were halfway through an exhausting Season Nine and heading toward hiatus. In order to give the various hard-working departments a much-needed break, we had to come up with a story that would take place on our standing sets, requiring no major builds, no major set dressing, and no major costume demands. After some discussion, we dug up an old idea Brad had pitched the year before, a story in which various alternate-world versions of SG-1 come to the base. We spun the idea over lunch, after which I headed off and wrote the outline. While Paul worked on "Collateral Damage," I wrote "Ripple Effect."
It was a lot of fun to write and has become one of my favorite scripts for many reasons, the chiefest of which being: I like alternate reality stories in which one is free to imagine the "paths not taken." But, in the case of "Ripple Effect," I made of point of touching not only "the paths not taken," but "the paths taken" and "the paths to be taken." I referenced many past episodes ("Red Sky," "A Matter of Time," "Out of Mind," "Heroes" I and II, "The Fourth Horseman" I and II, to name a few) and incidents (the quantum mirror, Entropic cascade failure, the Asgard time dilation device), and even dropped a few subtle hints at future episodes ("Ethon," "Camelot," "Counterstrike").
Unfortunately, because the episode was long, some was lost in the editing process. So, for those fans who enjoyed the episode as much as I did (and here's hoping there are a few), here is an extra-long version of my behind-the-scenes installment, in which I give you the lowdown on scenes and sequences you missed ...
In the episode as aired, the action begins with Landry stepping into the control room off Harriman's "Unscheduled off-world activation!" In fact, the episode was scripted to begin with a Landry-Lam walk and talk. After their reconciliation of sorts at the end of "The Fourth Horseman," I thought it important to show father and daughter finally starting to connect. With that in mind, I wrote the following scene which, unfortunately, had to be cut for time. Incidentally, it was also a nod to the infamous "Cheyenne Mountain Zoo" controversy of Season Eight -
- #INT. CORRIDOR - S.G.C. -- DAY
Landry and Dr. Lam head down the corridor. As they walk, Dr. Lam references the medical update file and informs Landry -
DR. LAM: I'm recommending Dr. Reinhart be cleared for return to active duty. Lieutenant Parker's x-rays came back negative, but Colonel May suffered a fractured fibula that should keep him out of action for a while. And it turns out that rash Sergeant Hunter thought he had picked up off-world was -- um, definitely not of alien origin.
She hands him the update. He gives it a once-over, throws her a sideways glance.
LANDRY: What are you doing Sunday?
DR. LAM: No plans. Why?
LANDRY: Want to go check out the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo?
DR. LAM: You know, come to think of it, the last time I visited a zoo was with you. I believe I was ten.
LANDRY: They're not just for kids you know.
DR. LAM: No, I know. Alright. Sunday.
LANDRY: Great. While we're there, we can take a ride on the Shongololo Choo Choo.
Off her look.
LANDRY: I'm kidding.
She smiles despite herself. Suddenly, the ALARMS SOUND.
HARRIMAN: Unscheduled off-world activation.
With all of the different versions of SG-1 coming through the gate, the various departments were as confused as our onscreen heroes. In a revised version, I was careful to carefully label each team by the color of their outfits: Green for the real team, Desert Camo for Janet/Martouf team, Tiger Blue's for the team that steps through the gate at the end of Act I, and, of course, Black for the bad guys.
Now, one of the things I'm sure the nitpickers will seize upon is the change in uniform. The real SG-1 left in greens yet the first return team comes back in black. Surely someone would have noticed. Maybe -- but, in reality, probably not. SG-1 could have headed off-world a day or two prior to returning and there's no guarantee the same personnel would be manning the Gate Room.
I had a lot of fun layering in subtle hints at the various AU relationships, and this was an opportunity to drop a clue about Mitchell and a certain someone-else. Unfortunately, in trimming the episode, the following exchange was lost for time.
- Black #Daniel takes a sip. Green Mitchell settles in, taking the seat across from him.
GREEN MITCHELL: So, can I get you anything else? Something to eat?
Black Daniel sizes Green Mitchell up, considers, then tests him -
BLACK DANIEL: Know what I feel like? The ginger beef from Hunan House.
Clearly, Green Mitchell doesn't know what he's talking about.
BLACK DANIEL: Hunan House on Academy Boulevard? Your favorite Szechwan restaurant? The first place you and ...
GREEN MITCHELL: Me and ...?
BLACK DANIEL: Never mind. Check it out. I have a feeling you'll love it.
Alternate takes of the team coming through the gate included a confused Tiger Blue Mitchell asking "What the frell is going on here?!" and "What the frak is going on here?!"
This entire scene was lost for time, but it included a reference to this particular AU Daniel's allergies, and a reference to his still very-much-alive wife -
- INT. INTERROGATION ROOM #2 -- DAY
Green Mitchell is seated across the table from Desert Camo Daniel. A glass of water and a pill dispenser sit in front of Desert Camo Daniel.
DESERT CAMO DANIEL: So how do we get back to our reality?
GREEN MITCHELL: We don't know yet, but we're working on it. In the meantime, I'd like to ask you a few questions.
Desert Camo Daniel nods. Green Mitchell turns on the tape recorder sitting on the table. Desert Camo Daniel opens up the pill dispenser, pops a couple, and washes them down. Off Green Mitchell's look -
DESERT CAMO DANIEL: Antihistamines. I have terrible allergies.
Green Mitchell nods, moves on -
GREEN MITCHELL: Where were you gating in from?
DESERT CAMO DANIEL: Abydos, my wife's home world. With her help and the support of our friends there, we were going to try and capture a Prior. But things didn't go as planned ...
This was a great little scene reuniting Teal'c and Daniel with Fraiser (albeit an alternate version of the good doctor). Again, due to time constraints, we had to lose some references to Cassie. Here is the exchange as originally scripted:
- GREEN ##TEAL'C: You have been greatly missed.
Suddenly, she realizes -
DESERT CAMO FRAISER: How's Cassie?
GREEN DANIEL: She's fine. She moved in with Sam after it happened.
DESERT CAMO FRAISER: I can't imagine what she must have gone through.
GREEN DANIEL: It was tough for her -- but she got through it. She managed to deal with her loss by focusing on her studies.(beat) She's majoring in Biochemistry at UCLA.
Desert Camo Fraiser can't help but smile.
DESERT CAMO FRAISER: She's doing well back home too.(then, catching herself) I mean -- my home.
GREEN TEAL'C: Hopefully you will be able to return to her shortly.
DESERT CAMO FRAISER: Hopefully?
GREEN DANIEL: For the moment, it looks like your trip here was only one-way.
This scene, as aired, actually picks up in the middle of the scene as shot. We had to cut about a minute of Carter getting this AU Martouf up-to-speed on how events played out in this reality -
- #INT. CAFETERIA - S.G.C. -- DAY
Green Carter and Desert Camo Martouf re-connect.
DESERT CAMO MARTOUF: So I died, not once but twice?
GREEN CARTER: The second time was the symbiote, Lantash. He gave up his life by allowing himself to be captured so he could release the symbiote poison aboard a mother ship. The first time ... (beat) The first time was the host. You were compromised by a Goa'uld mind control device. I killed you. I had no choice.
She tries to read him. His look betrays nothing.
GREEN CARTER: You died in my arms.
DESERT CAMO MARTOUF: Well, if I had to go ...
She is surprised by his reaction.
GREEN CARTER: It doesn't upset you at all?
DESERT CAMO MARTOUF: Why should it? With all due respect to you and the Martouf of this reality -- it wasn't me. I'm very much alive.
GREEN CARTER: (concedes)I suppose there is no reason why it should bother you.
DESERT CAMO MARTOUF: I didn't say it didn't bother me. To be honest, the prospect of you killing me is very unsettling.
Again, she tries to read him.
GREEN CARTER: So ... How are things in your universe?
In the original script, the scene ended with Landry's "Shut this thing down." However, Ben came by my office and requested Mitchell make some sort of comment on Kvasir. This was, after all, the first time his character had ever laid eyes on an Asgard -- something the other members of the team now take for granted. After giving it some thought, I decided to parallel Sheppard's reaction to Hermiod in "Intruder" -
- GREEN MITCHELL: Even though I read all the mission reports, the Asgard are a whole lot different than I'd imagined them.
GREEN TEAL'C: And what were you expecting?
GREEN MITCHELL: Well, pants for starters.
Thematically, this was, in my opinion, the linchpin scene of the entire script. Throughout the episode, we're offered glimpses of the hardships faced by the various AU realities and the seemingly insurmountable odds they are facing. The question begs asking: To what lengths would you be willing to go to save your Earth? In the case of Black SG-1, they're obviously willing to go very far -- but that doesn't make them bad people.
In fact, in the later scene on the Prometheus in which Black Mitchell explains to Green Mitchell why they're doing what they're doing, its very hard not to feel some sympathize with his position. It's clear that when push comes to shove, sacrifices will be made as evidenced by Landry's refusal to delay the mission, thereby stranding these various AU SG-1's and potentially damning their realities. As Fraiser rightly argues in this scene: "How can you prioritize the lives of one group over those of another? What makes my Earth any less important than yours?"
We were watching the dailies of this scene over lunch one day when I saw something that made me choke on my turkey club. In more than one take, Black Mitchell and Black Carter discuss as they head toward the elevator and then, inexplicably, take one another's hand and step inside. As the elevator doors close, they lean in for a kiss ... What the hell? I went down to set and asked Peter DeLuise, the episode's director, what the thinking was behind that scene. He explained that he was just offering up a visual cue to the relationship being hinted at throughout the episode.
Apparently, Peter had assumed that the references to AU Mitchell's dinner at the Hunan House (which didn't make the cut), AU Carter's pregnancy and honeymoon, all pointed to the fact that these two were "an item." An interesting interpretation I'd never thought of -- but not the one intended.
Hated to lose these scenes as they contained a bit of foreshadowing re: a later Season Nine episode. Also, it was fun exploring the feelings of the various SG-1 members to their AU selves, and I liked contrasting the Teal'c's discomfort and refusal to talk with one another with the Mitchell's great comfort and animated exchange.
- INT. CORRIDOR - PROMETHEUS
Green Daniel and Black Teal'c head down the corridor.
BLACK TEAL'C: In truth, the familiar aspects of this world have proven more disquieting than comforting. This ship in particular.
GREEN #DANIEL: How's that?
BLACK TEAL'C: In our reality, the Prometheus was recently lost in battle.
Before Green Daniel has a chance to follow up with a question, the real Teal'c (Green Teal'c) turns the corner in front of them. He informs Green Daniel -
GREEN TEAL'C: We should be arriving at the singularity shortly.
BLACK TEAL'C: I will inform the others.
As Black Teal'c moves off, he and Green Teal'c exchange the briefest of looks. Green Daniel and Green Teal'c make for the bridge.
GREEN DANIEL: Can't help but notice you and the other Teal'c haven't exchanged a word since he got here.
GREEN TEAL'C: Why would I wish to engage him in conversation?
GREEN DANIEL:I don't know. You guys must have a lot in common.
GREEN TEAL'C: So much so that I'd imagine it would be not unlike talking to myself. I fail to see the point.
GREEN DANIEL: Okay. Never mind.
They continue on their way.
Here's another scene I hated to lose. The Black Team has just sprung their trap, assuming control of the ship. But I wanted to make it clear that, rather than being evil versions of SG-1, this team has simply been pushed to the point where they have no other option if they are to save their galaxy. But it doesn't sit well with Daniel who, ever the voice of reason, even in an alternate universe, makes his feelings known.
- INT. CORRIDOR - PROMETHEUS
Black Mitchell rejoins the rest of his team waiting out in the corridor.
BLACK MITCHELL: Alright. We did good.
BLACK DANIEL: Did we?
Black Daniel walks away. Black Carter moves to go after him, but Black Mitchell stops her.
BLACK MITCHELL: I've got it.
He goes after him.
BLACK MITCHELL: Jackson, hold up!
He catches up with him.
BLACK MITCHELL: What's wrong?
BLACK DANIEL: What's wrong? How about what we're doing. What we're about to do.
BLACK MITCHELL: Come on. We're not the bad guys here.
BLACK DANIEL: Oh. And you're telling me that they are?
BLACK MITCHELL: It isn't that easy on this one. There's no black or white here. Just a whole lot of grey.
Black Mitchell turns and steps in front of Black Daniel, stopping him.
BLACK MITCHELL: If there was any other way to save Earth, we wouldn't be here -- but the fact is we're out of options and we're running out of time. So I'm sorry if our tactics don't mesh with your code of ethics, but we don't have a choice.
BLACK DANIEL: Yeah. I'm sorry too.
Black Daniel walks off. Black Mitchell glances back down the corridor at Black Carter and Black Teal'c watching. He slams his fist against the wall in frustration.