Stargate Atlantis

Season 4 Episode 6

Tabula Rasa

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Nov 02, 2007 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
367 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

When a deadly infection causes key members of Atlantis to lose their memories, it's up to Teyla and Ronon to find a cure. But when the Marines begin hunting down everyone and no one remembers why, it's hard to work together to cure everyone.

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  • Beautifully basic sci-fi premise with a Stargate twist.

    Wiping the memories of the entire cast is not a new thing in sci-fi. The most recent example I can recall is the episode of BTVS, also titled Tabula Rasa, where the gang didn't know who they were.

    I liked that, finally, the expedition has run into a childhood illness that affects everyone on the base. Fic writers have been playing with the idea since day one, and it was never really done on SG-1 which is saying something considering there were upwards of 200 episodes in that series, but one would have to think that, along with potent alien punch and weird technology there would be something akin to the chicken pox on some other planet that would have an adverse reaction to the people from Earth.

    The fact that everything became very militant was also very sci-fi. Alien plague breaks out, the infected are quaranteened, the military takes over. It's the premise of a hundred movies, not to mention more than a few tv series'. I liked the darker edge that Lorne had in this episode; he didn't have much to do this season, but the few episodes he did appear in he had fairly important parts in the storyline which is encouraging. I'm a big fan of Kavan Smith and I thought he did an excellent job playing a military leader who was not exactly the dry quippy Major Lorne we're used to.

    Clueless Sheppard was a little strange, but panicked Rodney and take-charge Sam were perfect.

    Anybody out there got a count on how many times Ronon's shot Sheppard now?

    Tine Ruamoreless
  • See Summary

    Tabula Rasa, a theme quite popular in science fiction series, was done again here. The episode itself was a little drawn out, but entertaining none the less. I didn't really see any connection from this episode to any major story lines that still exist. The scenery in this episode was cool, with a dark feel to it. I hope we start to see some better stories in future episodes. I feel that Stargate Atlantis is taking an easy route by doing whats already been done. This episode continues to prove that statement. I want to see more challenging situations, more space battles, and more about the Ancients maybe.moreless
  • Superb episode

    This episode - the way it starts - from the some way on the back and like flashes memories of before are coming and coming back until we finally learn the whole story - very well written and made the watching of this episode very exciting.

    I also liked that even McKay was the main char on the focus, it was enough time for everyone else - specially for the new doctor and Carter as they really need more of those melt in episodes and this one worked well.

    And the amnesia thing - it was so great to follow - noone knew anyone and they all acted somehow like little kids. Great idea and great worked with it.moreless
  • Who? What? An amnesiac episode worth remembering

    When the ep first start it look likes we are ending up in the middle of something. McKay is tied to a desk and don't know why. And neither do we, until we are giving flashbacks of what has happened, and then they jump back and fourth in time. An illness is causing people to loose thier memories, and the longer they go without treatment, death.

    Ronon and Teyla are the only one immun, but they are not around to help. Ronon has flown off with Sheppard and Teyla, is helping McKay, or would had helped, she is no where to be found. And to make things worse Lorne and his team are on stimulants and a bit, not quite themself, and are rounding up people and stunning them when not doing as ordered. An order given to them when they had their memory intact an my guess are doing because is the last thing they remember.

    Oh, my, oh my. Seing this ep makes me wonder if they ever gonna catch a break! An illnes that makes you loose your mind?!

    This was an exciting episode, it's shows that nothing in the Pegasus Galaxy is mundane! Not even their own planet!moreless
  • Amnesia, the silent killer you never knew.

    This is a really solid episode! It was so stressful to watch; I loved it. They had some pretty dangerous conflicts central to the plot (the epidemic), and countless obstacles along the way. "How are they going to get out of this?!"

    They all dealt with it in different ways. Personally, I think Rodney should tie himself up more often. Actually, there was a lot of tying up and imprisonment in this episode.

    I loved the whole "Wizard of Oz" vibe I felt running through the episode as a group of "strangers" banded together to look for Teyla.

    This wasn't as good as "33", but I enjoyed the conflicts, and problem solving a plenty!

    Amnesiac drugged-up soldiers are fun.moreless
Joe Flanigan

Joe Flanigan

Major / Lt. Colonel John Sheppard

Rachel Luttrell

Rachel Luttrell

Teyla Emmagan

Amanda Tapping

Amanda Tapping

Colonel Samantha Carter

David Hewlett

David Hewlett

Dr. Rodney McKay

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa

Ronon Dex

Zach Selwyn

Zach Selwyn

Scientist #2

Guest Star

Niall Matter

Niall Matter

Lt. Kemp

Guest Star

Joel Cottingham

Joel Cottingham


Guest Star

Kavan Smith

Kavan Smith

Major Evan Lorne

Recurring Role

David Nykl

David Nykl

Dr. Radek Zelenka

Recurring Role

Brenda James

Brenda James

Dr. Katie Brown

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The name of the recurring Head Nurse played by Linda Ko is revealed as Marie.

    • The messages McKay wrote on his arm when he was forgetting his memories include the code to unlock the door to the brig, as well as "little guy with glasses" (Zelenka), "avoid soldiers", "100s will die", "Teyla" and "tablet computer".

  • QUOTES (13)

    • Ronon: You took a picture of him just in case it came to this. I was there.
      Lorne: (to his team) He's telling the truth. (He looks at John.) This is our commanding officer.
      Sheppard: (vaguely) That's right. I am your commanding officer, so you should do what I say.
      Lorne: Yes, sir. What are your orders?
      Sheppard: (Realizing he has no clue what to say, he points to Ronon) what he says.

    • Ronon: Uh, there.
      (John sits down while Ronon takes the co-pilot's seat. John stares at the controls blankly.)
      Ronon: You can fly this thing. It's in your blood, literally.

    • Sheppard: (over radio) Lorne, come in.
      Lorne: Yes, sir, go ahead.
      Sheppard: You seen Zelenka?
      Lorne: As a matter of fact, I have.
      Sheppard: Did you bring him to the Mess Hall?
      Lorne: Uh, sorry, sir, but he gave us the slip. Must have heard us coming. Cracked one of my people over the head with a metal rod and disappeared down a service hatch before I could get a shot off. There's no telling where he is now.

    • Carter: All right. We'll just have to search room by room. I mean, how big could this place possibly be?
      (She walks towards a door, which slides open to reveal an outdoor balcony. She and Rodney walk out and stare, awestruck, at the sight of the city's many towers in front of them. They look at each other in horror.)

    • Sheppard: You showing any signs?
      McKay: Headache.
      Sheppard: Yeah, same here.
      McKay: Five bucks says you start losing your memories first.
      Sheppard: (indignantly) Rodney!

    • McKay: Hey. How're you feeling?
      Brown: I-I don't know.
      McKay: Oh. Well, they brought dinner. It's Salisbury steak – it's actually quite good. Oh, and by the way, I asked Doctor Keller about your friend Doctor Baxter. She says he's asleep but apparently the fever's down.
      (While he has been talking, Katie has been looking around the room, bewildered. Now she frowns at Rodney.)
      Brown: Who?
      McKay: Doctor Baxter. (He hesitates, convinced that – as usual – he's got the name wrong.) That's his name, right, the guy in your team?
      (Katie looks around the room again, still looking confused.)
      McKay: Katie?
      (She looks at him.)
      Brown: Where am I?
      McKay: What do you mean? You're in the Infirmary. I brought you here, remember?
      Brown: Who are you?

    • McKay: It started suddenly, and then it just stopped.
      Keller: OK, well, I appreciate you telling me.
      McKay: Aren't you gonna do anything?
      Keller: To be honest, I don't see how it's relevant.
      McKay: Well, it's a new symptom. I thought it just might be important.
      Keller: I don't see how a tingling sensation in your knees relates to this condition, especially since you're the only one experiencing it.

    • Carter: Major Dorsey and his team just returned from M6R-214. They examined the debris field above the planet and found the parts from one, possibly two, Replicator ships.
      Sheppard: Just a matter of time before the Wraith got organized and started hitting back.
      Carter: I suppose. I mean, they did defeat the Ancients, after all.
      Sheppard: The Replicators may look like the Ancients and they may use the same technology but they're gonna be a lot tougher to put down.

    • Brown: Gerald?
      (Gerald raises his hand to her.)
      Brown: Hey.
      McKay: Who's that?
      Brown: Gerald Baxter. He's on my team. You've met him before. He's got the bug collection.
      McKay: (obviously clueless) Oh. Sure. Right. Yeah, I remember now. (He raises a hand to Gerald.)

    • Keller: Doctor Brown. I see you've brought my number one patient.
      McKay: What? Oh, no, we're not here for me this time. I'm here for her.

    • Brown: Rodney! Hey, what are you doing here?
      McKay: Well, I heard you were back and I hadn't seen you for a while, so ...
      Brown: I know. We have this whole new mainland to explore and I've been bringing back samples all week.
      McKay: So I see. Anything interesting?
      Brown: Uh, well, it's all pretty similar to what we found back on Lantea. We found a few new species ... oh, which reminds me. I've got a surprise for you.
      McKay: Ooh!
      (Katie giggles and leads him over to a table nearby. She picks up a pot containing a tall cactus with feathery fronds growing out of the top of it.)
      Brown: I found this guy hiding in some shrubbery.
      (Rodney looks at it, not very impressed.)
      McKay: What is that?
      Brown: Well, it doesn't have a name yet, but I'm thinking of calling it ... (she hesitates for a moment) ... rodneyanivalosa ... after you.

    • McKay: I once forgot Mother's Day five years in a row.
      Teyla: What's is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter?
      McKay: Well, that's pi. 3.141589265, etc., etc. That doesn't count, that's easy.
      Teyla: You are a scientist, Rodney. That is what you care about, that is what you will hang on to the longest.
      McKay: Right. Right, so… wait a minute. Doesn't that make me a really bad person.
      Teyla: It makes you the type of person who is going to save all our lives.
      McKay: Oh. Okay.

    • McKay: (McKay is in his lab tied to his desk with no memory of who he is) Hey! Hey, is anyone there? Look, I need some help in here!(He looks at the desk and sees a computer tablet in front of him and a sticky note has been attached to the side of the tablet saying, "PRESS HERE." The tablet begins playing a video message from McKay.)
      McKay's Image: All right. Look, I know you're probably panicking right now, but there is no time for that. You need to focus. I'm sure you're wondering who tied you to the desk. Look, the truth is, it was you ... I mean, me. I did it 'cause I needed you to get this message. It would take too long to give you the full explanation and you wouldn't remember it anyway, so you're just gonna have to trust me on this. Now, you'll find a knife taped to the underside of your chair. Find it and cut yourself loose. (Rodney reaches under his chair and finds the small knife. Pulling it free, he cuts through the tether on his wrist.) Now, I need you to listen. It is vitally important that you find this woman.(On the screen, Rodney swings the camera across to show the computer tablet. On it is a still photograph of Teyla Emmagan.)I don't know where she is, but you have to find her. She can help. Check the Mess Hall, or maybe they took her to the Brig. I don't know, but you just have to keep looking. Don't worry about anything else – and for God's sake don't trust anyone. Just find her and do it fast, because if you don't, hundreds of people are gonna die – including you.

  • NOTES (4)

    • Alan McCullough was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series for this episode.

    • Richard Garriot's new MMORPG Tabula Rasa was released on the same day as the premiere of this episode. The game is centered around an interdimensional gate that allows humans to travel great distances. In the game, you fight in a war that has be raging for thousands of years between different alien species. Richard Garriot is best known for Ultima Online, another MMORPG.

    • Zach Selwyn from Attack of the Show makes a cameo appearance. He had made a rap video for Stargate Atlantis and the producers decided to offer him the part. While he was there, he did a set report that aired on May 10, 2007.

    • International Airdates:
      Canada: November 5, 2007 on The Movie Network and Movie Central
      UK: November 13, 2007 on Sky One
      Syndication Premiere: October 25-26, 2008
      Czech Republic on July 15, 2009 on AXN Sci-fi
      Australia on November 19, 2009 on 7TWO


    • Total Recall:

      At the beginning when Rodney sees a message to himself explaining everything, it is very similar to the movie Total Recall, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger's character finds a package with clues to his identity including a taped message from himself.

    • Cube:

      McKay (David Hewlett) writing on the pillars to indicate corridors already traveled is very similar to the sci-fi film Cube in which the characters (one played by Hewlett) have to navigate their way out of a massive cube, the boxes/cells of which are constantly moving.

    • Memento:

      McKay writing reminders on his arms and Sheppard's polaroid are reminiscent of the film Memento, starring Guy Pearce, in which the main character has no long-term memory and has tattoos on his body as reminders.

    • Clean Slate:

      McKay's message to himself is similar to the film Clean Slate starring Dana Carvey, in which the main character looses his memory when he sleeps and has an audio tape that tells him who he is and what to do.

    • Title:

      Tabula Rasa is Latin for "scraped tablet". It also has been translated to mean "clean slate" or "blank slate".