Post Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:04 pm

'The Shrine' is a character study

Wednesday - April 16, 2008 | by Darren Sumner

Beware of SPOILERS for Stargate Atlantis Season Five's 'The Shrine' in the report below.

Cameras are rolling this week on "The Shrine," the sixth episode of Stargate Atlantis's fifth season (formerly titled "The Shrine of Talus"). Written by series co-creator Brad Wright, the episode promises to be a dramatic episode that is heavy with emotion and character moments.

In new interviews with GateWorld, Wright and Atlantis co-star David Hewlett ("Rodney McKay") revealed details about the story and the impact it is sure to have.

"My favorite script of all time is 'The Shrine of Talus,' [which] Brad Wright has just written," Hewlett said. "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."

In the episode, Rodney McKay suffers from an mental affliction that rapidly robs him of his memories and his identity.

"It is the inverse of 'Flowers For Algernon,'" Wright revealed to GateWorld. (In the award-winning novel by Daniel Keyes, a man with an IQ of 68 has experimental surgery to increase his intelligence -- but the effects gradually begin to wear off.) "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.

Kate Hewlett returns as Rodney's sister, Jeannie.
"Interestingly, the first symptom is that he's a wonderful person," Wright said. "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."

The episode clearly gives Hewlett a large range to play, as the most brilliant person in the Pegasus Galaxy loses everything that he feels makes him who he is, and as McKay interacts with his friends and his sister.

"For McKay it's fantastic, because there is this whole deterioration thing happening," Hewlett added. "It is the one that I am, without a doubt, the most looking forward to right now."

"It's a character study for practically everyone in the cast, and David gets to play as an actor in a very big way," Wright said. "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!"

The new season of Stargate Atlantis is expected to begin in July on SCI FI Channel in the United States, meaning "The Shrine" should air sometime in mid-August. Stick with GateWorld and our Season Five episode guide for the very latest!
Matt Snyder
CO, 10th SFS - Tau'ri Furies
the only easy day was yesterday...