Stargate Atlantis

Season 1 Episode 7

Poisoning the Well

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Aug 20, 2004 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
416 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The team investigates a drug being developed on another world that has the potential to repel the Wraith's feeding on humans.

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  • Thought provoking morality tale

    Thought provoking morality tale that forces one to think about the moral and ethical implications. Reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone and Star Trek series in that respect.
  • See Summary

    This was a very interesting episode. Major Shepards team encounter a civilization remeniscent of our own in the early 1900's. They are working on a drug that may prevent the Wraith from feeding on them, but perhaps this in turn will cause the Wraith to wipe them out. There were a lot of moral dilemas for the main characters in this episode. It reminded me also of our culture today, so quick to treat with drugs with out knowing long term effects. Also the role of government initiating and pushing this on people, even if it is behind the scenes. This episode definitely had underlying significance to the modern viewer.moreless
  • Pretty slow but a possible step forward!

    Regarding previous episodes this one included so far all i've seen were pretty boring episodes. Very few Gate scenes, the wraith don't quite seem the enemy they are supposed to be and not as adventurous as i had hoped. Not no matter what i just said this episode might prove to be a step forward to finding a means of destroying the wraith, we shall have to see. It is just that by this i expected i found out more about who is leading the wraith, still it's only episode 7 so there's plenty of time. It's my first experience with Stargate Atlantis and so far it's been rather nice, this episode was just...lower on the entertainment part.moreless
  • Sheppard's team meets a civilization that has taken a different tack in dealing with the Wraith. This planets people are trying to develop a serum to make them distasteful to the Wraith's feeding needs using scientific methods.moreless

    The second in three civilizations that are dealing with the Wraith in different ways. Where the previous civilization dealt with the Wraith by protecting themselves with a shield and reducing their population, this civilization has tried to keep all of their medical and scientific records intact for each generation to advance their people to the point of developing a genetic way to keep the Wraith from feeding on them.

    Sheppard and his team are looking for allies and people they can trade with. These people are single minded to the point where like the less advanced civilization they sacrificed to keep the Wraith from being successful. In this case instead of reducing their numbers this race believes in sacrificing generations of their people to eventually come up with the right scientific discovery to stop the Wraith from being able to feed on them.

    Of course the problem in this is that it is flawed reasoning. If the Wraith no longer can feed on these people based on the Wraith's actions I think it would be quite correct to assume that they would destroy the civilization completely.

    In an interesting switch once they get Dr. Beckett to assist them they finally get the technology they wanted to work for generations to work but the price is it kills about 50% of the people that are inoculated. Guess what? 96% of the population believed that was worth the risk! So Sheppard and his team leave these people to their own devices. Another by product of this is that they are poisonous to the Wraith so after just a few of them are fed on you know the Wraith will destroy them.

    So we see another side to the solution on how to deal with the Wraith. This time it is genetic and viral. So we have seen a defensive solution with a reduction in population and a defensive solution where we are willing to sacrifice a huge portion of the population to save the rest.

    Interesting episodes with interesting messages I think. Thanks for reading...moreless
  • Something from totally another side of the view and very good side of view. My personal favorite so far.

    This episode - it was incredible. I never thought it to be so good. All the theme around the wraith - it almost gave as a view of him as a someone who we could feel pity but I know, I know, it is too much to ask. But the storyline about the cure - the ethical dilemma haunting every step they make and the prize they are going to pay for that drug - first it sounded like one man life but the way it ended - 50% of people dead. Was it really worth it? And for that question and all others plus the way those people there - they thought it is worth that and they felt that way. The last words of Perna... and that most of this episode was going on around Beckett (adore the accent).

Joe Flanigan

Joe Flanigan

Major / Lt. Colonel John Sheppard

Torri Higginson

Torri Higginson

Dr. Elizabeth Weir

Rachel Luttrell

Rachel Luttrell

Teyla Emmagan

Rainbow Sun Francks

Rainbow Sun Francks

Lt. Aiden Ford

David Hewlett

David Hewlett

Dr. Rodney McKay

Alan Scarfe

Alan Scarfe

Chancellor Druhin

Guest Star

Allison Hossack

Allison Hossack


Guest Star

Neil Maffin

Neil Maffin


Guest Star

Paul McGillion

Paul McGillion

Dr. Carson Beckett

Recurring Role

James Lafazanos

James Lafazanos

Steve the Wraith

Recurring Role

Dean Marshall

Dean Marshall

Sgt. Bates

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • When "Steve" is lying on the autopsy table and the camera does a close up of his face, you can see his pulse beating in jugular vein. When the camera pulls back for a wider shot, you can see the actor breathing.

    • When the Wraith feed, they release a poison into the body of the victim, essentially preparing the victim for life-absorption.

    • According to Steve, all Wraith hive ships have become active since Sheppard awakened the first one. They will travel their normal feeding grounds and gather strength, and then they will join force and come for Atlantis.

    • As the Wraith feed on humans, "regular" food offers them no sustenance.

    • This is Dr. Beckett's first trip off world since arriving on Atlantis.

    • Sheppard names the Wraith captured in "Suspicion", "Steve."

  • QUOTES (38)

    • Sheppard: (To Chancellor Druhin) If and when we ever return, I don't imagine you'll be here. I don't imagine anyone else will be either. (Long pause) Good luck.

    • Perna: I would... have liked to have seen Atlantis.
      Beckett: Perna... I'm so sorry.
      Perna: Don't look at me that way. I am at peace with what I have done. As you should be.
      Beckett: I wish I had no part in this.
      Perna: You gave us hope. For years, our people have been working towards this... very moment. We didn't betray the forefathers. We fulfilled their destiny, their promise.
      Perna: Stay. Stay with me.
      Beckett: All right.
      Perna: Stay... with me...
      Beckett: I'm here. It's okay.

    • Sheppard: Weapons come in all shapes and sizes, Lieutenant.

    • Sheppard: Half the people you gave that drug to are dying.
      Druhin: Half of them, Major, half. The statistics are clear and the numbers are holding at that level, it's just been confirmed, which means the other fifty percent of those we inoculated will live, and destroy any Wraith who try to feed on them.

    • Beckett: That it goes against everything I believe in. There's an oath among medical people where I come from. It begins, "First, do no harm."
      Perna: Important words to you.
      Beckett: More than words, Perna.
      Perna: "The battle rages at the very threshold of our laboratory now. Those of us working to the last know that these few final hours have been dearly purchased, yet our concentration has not waned. We cannot hope to save ourselves but we can hope that one last insight, one last revelation before we take our dying breaths, may prevent this terrible day from happening again."
      Beckett: Ferrel's last journal entry.
      Perna: More than words, Carson.

    • Beckett: ... but it's the principle of the thing, isn't it? You can't go volunteering someone for something without consulting them first. That's not even volunteering, is it? It's being pressed into service. Not to mention the fact that I'm not ...

    • Sheppard: You're deliberately sacrificing millions of lives.
      Druhin: An end to the Wraith! You can't comprehend the bargain in that?
      Sheppard: You can't make a bargain like that for your entire people!
      Druhin: You think I'm alone in this conviction?
      Sheppard: I think you're delusional.

    • Sheppard: How many Hive ships have become operational since we awakened the first one?
      Wraith: All of them, Major Sheppard. First, they will travel to their own feeding grounds and gather strength. We are a patient race, Major. When we have taken our fill and gathered our strength, we will join force and come for you.
      Sheppard: D'you have any idea when that'll be? Morning? Afternoon?

    • Sheppard: Which road did you think we were headed down?
      Weir: Not this one. At least, not this fast.

    • Weir: Beckett's report indicates that we have no idea what the long-term effect of this drug on humans might be.
      Sheppard: Well, we know damn well what the long-term effects of Wraith culling are, don't we?

    • Beckett: Converting a human body into energy and sending it millions of light years through a wormhole. Bloody insanity.
      McKay: Come on, how often do you get to travel to an alien planet?
      Beckett: I was already on an alien planet.

    • Druhin: I am told you are leaving.
      Sheppard: Yes, we are.
      McKay: (sarcastically) Not that it hasn't been... lovely.

    • Sheppard: Listen, I know how passionate you are about this; this drug is sort of your Holy Grail, but you're gonna have to shelve it till we get a better idea...

    • Teyla: Once they learn you possess a weapon such as this, the Wraith will wipe your people from existence in retaliation for the Wraith deaths.
      Druhin: Or they may simply leave us alone once they learn we are unpalatable.
      Sheppard: 'Cause they're such an easy-going live-and-let-live kind of race.

    • Beckett: Major. I was just about to cut him open.
      Sheppard: Then... I was just leaving.

    • Weir: Be safe, Major.
      Sheppard: That's the plan.

    • Weir: Jumper Two, this is Weir. What's your status?
      Sheppard: Nice and cozy in here.

    • Sheppard: Hi, Steve.
      Wraith: More samples?
      Sheppard: I was thinking more along the lines of a field trip.

    • Perna: Such a thing is possible?
      Beckett: Anything's possible if you're willing to give it a go. C'mon then, a baldhead is soon shaved.
      Perna: You speak differently than the others.
      Beckett: Noticed that, did you? Sorry if I confuse you. Trust me, where I come from, it all makes perfect sense.

    • Perna: What is it like?
      Beckett: Scotland? Oh, I think it's beautiful. But I'm told it's something of an acquired taste.
      Perna: I meant your world. It must be so peaceful there, knowing that the Wraith will not come.
      Beckett: Oh, you'd be surprised how not peaceful it is. We're spoiled rotten, now that I think of it.

    • Sheppard: Doctor.
      Beckett: (about the Wraith) Is he... I mean, you're certain he's...
      Ford: He's down, Doc. Do your thing.
      Ford: Almost looks peaceful, doesn't he?
      Beckett: Peaceful?! You're out of your bloody mind!

    • Weir: I agree. Major, have you made any progress with your prisoner?
      Sheppard: Well, not yet, but he just blinked.
      McKay: He blinked? What does that mean?
      Sheppard: It means he's still holding on, but he's indicated to me that he may break soon.
      McKay: And he indicated this to you by... blinking?
      Sheppard: Yes.

    • Wraith: What do you hope to gain from this?
      Sheppard: Just trying to bridge the gap between our two cultures; get to know you better. That and try to figure out how to keep your kind from sucking the life out of millions of innocent people.

    • Wraith: Hello again, Major Sheppard.
      Sheppard: (voice full of sarcasm) Sorry if I woke you. Just came by to see if there's anything you needed; magazine, fresh towels.

    • Beckett: I saw it with my own eyes, Doctor Weir.
      Weir: Yes, in a Petri dish.

    • Beckett: (to Perna, nervously) Carson. Beckett. Doctor. I mean, call me Carson.

    • Weir: Okay, Major, you have a go. But if the drug really is just a pipe dream...
      Sheppard: Our Doctor Beckett's already volunteered to help us find that out.
      Weir: Oh, he has, huh?
      Sheppard: (shrugging) He will.

    • Weir: Do we even know for certain that the Wraith are an immediate threat?
      Sheppard: We can probably bet they don't have fifty years.
      McKay: Hence Major Sheppard has generously offered our help to the Hoffans.
      Weir: Has he?

    • Druhin: (showing Sheppard a test tube) Major Sheppard, I think you'll find this intriguing.
      Sheppard: Okay, I'm intrigued. What is it?

    • McKay: You haven't told them that we practically woke the Wraith from hibernation, have you?
      Sheppard: Well... I really haven't had the chance.
      McKay: We've been here two days!
      Sheppard: One and a half, really.

    • Teyla: Are you not concerned that your efforts will attract the attention of the Wraith?
      Druhin: Yes... but we refuse to let that stop us from striving to reach our potential. To do otherwise would simply mean victory for them. However, we currently are working on a viable defense.
      Sheppard: Defense? Really? We've been here for two days before you mention that?

    • Druhin: Reliable power generation is one of our greatest concerns. With this project, we hope, soon, to be able to convert and utilize the intense heat trap beneath the surface of our planet.
      McKay: Geo-thermo energy. What? Using this? Huh! Do you have any idea how complex geo-thermo energy is?
      Sheppard: McKay ...
      McKay: I mean... It's gonna work like a charm.

    • Weir: You do understand the Geneva Convention prohibits using prisoners for scientific experiments?
      Sheppard: No offense Doc, but had the Wraith attended the Geneva Convention, they would have tried to feed on everyone.

    • McKay: Reminds you of Area 51, doesn't it?
      Sheppard: Circa 1918.
      Ford: I don't think Area 51 was around in 1918, sir.
      Sheppard: Well, the area was.
      McKay: True.

    • McKay(about Beckett): No, no. No, he just doesn't like going through the Stargate.
      Sheppard: He's worse than Doctor McCoy.
      Teyla: Who?
      Sheppard: The TV character that Dr. Beckett plays in real life.

    • Sheppard: Hi Steve.
      Ford: Bye Steve.
      (shoots the Wraith with the Wraith stun gun)

    • Beckett: 'Victory at all costs', does that sound familiar, Major?
      Sheppard: Churchill.
      Beckett: Yeah, I never thought I would disagree.

    • Sheppard: You guys do have names, right? Let me guess... 'Steve'?
      Wraith: I am your death! That is all you need to know.
      Sheppard: I prefer 'Steve'.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Awards:

      -Allison Hossack was nominated for a Leo Award for Best Supporting Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series for her performance in this episode.
      -Paul McGillion was nominated for a Leo Award for Best Supporting Performance by a Male for his performance in this episode.

    • Allison Hossack (Perna) previously played Zenna Valk the Stargate SG-1 episode "Cure." Coincidentally the plot of this episode is in several ways quite similar.

    • International Airdates:

      -This episode aired in Canada on August 23, 2004 on The Movie Network and Movie Central.
      -This episode aired in the UK on November 23, 2004 on Sky One.
      -This episode aired in Australia on April 28, 2005 on Channel 7.
      -Syndication Premiere: November 5-6, 2005


    • The Holy Grail:

      According to a cryptic Welsh poem, the Grail was a magic cauldron that King Arthur and his men searched for. Later, the story became identified with the silver chalice that Christ used at the Last Supper. It was capable of enlightening the masses.

    • Weir: You do understand the Geneva Convention prohibits using prisoners for scientific experiments?

      The Geneva Convention was a formal agreement between European nations at Geneva, in 1864, establishing rules for the treatment of the sick, wounded, and prisoners during war. Ratification of the First Geneva Convention by the United States took place in 1882. By the Fourth Geneva Convention some 47 nations had ratified the agreements.

    • McKay: Reminds you of Area 51, doesn't it?

      Area 51 (also known as Dreamland, Watertown, The Ranch, Paradise Ranch, The Farm, The Box, Groom Lake, and The Directorate for Development Plans Area) is a remote tract of land in southern Nevada, owned by the federal government of the United States, containing an airfield apparently used for the secret development and testing of new military aircraft. It is famed as the subject of many UFO conspiracy theories.

    • Beckett: Victory at all costs - does that sound familiar Major?

      It was taken from Winston Churchill's famous "Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat" speech to the British House of Commons on May 13, 1940.

    • Sheppard: He's worse than Doctor McCoy.

      Referencing Star Trek and the popular physician played by DeForest Kelley. McCoy couldn't stand being transported either.