Stargate Atlantis

Season 3 Episode 14

Tao of Rodney

Aired Friday 10:00 PM May 04, 2007 on Syfy
out of 10
User Rating
387 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

While shutting down unnecessary systems in Atlantis, McKay is zapped by a strange Ancient machine. He begins to have superpowers, but things are never as they seem, and Rodney and the team must race against his mutations to save his life.

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  • Inner space instead of outer space

    Wonderfully humanistic episode that addresses inner space instead of outer space.

    McKay's overweaning narcissism is often intolerable. But in this episode it is an integral part of the character arc.

    The scenes where a dying McKay sheds his abrasive egotism and reaches out to his long suffering colleagues from the heart are truly touching.
  • Sometimes there needs to be an '11' score to select.

    ... and this episode is one of those times. The series often features an individual character or even multiple characters and their relationships. This episode is a 'Rodney' episode, and as I, or any of my friends and family will attest too, these are the best episodes, so far, of the series. This installment of the Rodney episode is no exception, the humor, character emotion, and relationship development was above and beyond the call of duty. Well done, looking forward to the next Rodney ep!!!moreless
  • See Summary

    The Tao of Rodney was one of my favorite episodes. It was a McKay focused episode, developing the character more. We get to see the emotional transitions of McKay who has more or less been put on a one way ticket, with no guarantee of success with his plans. We also got to learn more about the process of Ascension, and how it was studied by the Ancients. Rodney was zapped by some Ancient device, which mutated his genes to evolve physically, at a faster rate than normal, giving him super abilities such as telekenisis, mind reading abilities, and his own intelligence increasing. He has a choice, Ascend or Die permanently. It is interesting to watch McKay gain wisdom, into himself, into life, into all. Does he make it? Watch and find out!!!moreless
  • My Favorite Episode of Stargate: Atlantis to date.

    The Tao of Rodney is currently my favorite episode of Stargate: Atlantis to date, moste definitely my favorite of Season 3. It, of course, showcases Rodney McCay and how he would react to getting close to becoming Ascended. When it was done with Daniel Jackson on Stargate: SG1, it just seemed too easy for a character to become a higher being (even though Dr. Jackson had a little help from Oma Desala). With Dr. McCay it was entirely different. When Rodney McCay got subjected to the radiation from the Ancient device, it was more dynamic than Dr. Jackson's path. Rodney develops "superpowers" as he gets closer to the point of where he needs to Ascend or die. This was handled quite well with the character not being capable of concieving of Ascending. With death looming for Rodney, he decides to use what little time he has left to help his "family" as well as humanity. From performing a tea ceremony for Teyla, removing Ronan's scars from his back, or even writing a 500 page book for Dr. Weir, this shows that there is more depth to Rodney McCay that what is seen at first blush. Whereas Dr. Jackson just succumbed to radiation sickness and, after a heartfelt talk with Jack O'Neil, Ascends. Everyone in Rodney's "family" gathers in support for him and shows that although he usually gets on their last nerves at times, they actually care for him. At the telling moment where Rodney either ascends or dies, the solution comes to him and he becomes human again. David Hewlett did an exceptional job with bringing another facet to Rodney McCay and just not leaving the character as a stereotypical "grumpy scientist". As an actor, he is to make the character he plays as believable as possible. He gives a performance where the other actors can interact and work off of which makes this story, to me, have a little more impact than the Ascending on Stargate: SG1. The feeling of family comes forth in this episode (along with the episode "Sunday" that was also in this season) and makes you actually care about what happens next. Isn't that what great Television Shows are supposed to do?moreless
  • Even more brilliant McKay...

    This episode was good but I do not think it was so brilliant as many have thought. It offered so much new, opened a new perspective to McKay and show us two new side of him - totally genius and hyper super egoist one and the second one - caring, and really doing and saying what he thoughts. So, for character development it was great. The storyline itself - the way he was gaining more and more.. maybe the irony of you got all the knowledges but you are not able to use them - the beauty of the mind. The story was great but all the wining from McKay - it can drive crazy. And the end - when he was dying, grasped Beckett and then had told what to do to save him.. Great ending.moreless
Joe Flanigan

Joe Flanigan

Major / Lt. Colonel John Sheppard

Rachel Luttrell

Rachel Luttrell

Teyla Emmagan

David Hewlett

David Hewlett

Dr. Rodney McKay

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa

Ronon Dex

Paul McGillion

Paul McGillion

Dr. Carson Beckett

Torri Higginson

Torri Higginson

Dr. Elizabeth Weir

Leela Savasta

Leela Savasta

Dr. Esposito

Guest Star

Donna Soares

Donna Soares

Dr. Coleman

Guest Star

Chuck Campbell

Chuck Campbell


Recurring Role

Kavan Smith

Kavan Smith

Major Evan Lorne

Recurring Role

David Nykl

David Nykl

Dr. Radek Zelenka

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (13)

    • When Rodney is talking to Elizabeth while creating the "new math", we can see a package with Japanese writing and a picture of a lemon next to one of the computers he is using.

      However, Rodney has repeatedly stated that he's deathly allergic to citrus.

    • Weir: Well, unfortunately, there's a whole lot more to Ascension than just being physically evolved.
      Sheppard: Believe me, after spending six months with a bunch of pansy
      wannabes, I know.

      In the second season episode "Epiphany," John Sheppard was trapped in a time dilation field with descendants of the Ancients who were attempting to Ascend.

    • McKay: I mean who knows what kind of long term effects I may be in for?! I mean there's gross mutation, giantism, invisibility....
      Sheppard: That'd be cool, I mean I turned into a bug.

      This is a reference to the Season 2 episode "Conversion" in which Sheppard mutates into a form of the Iratus bug. Rodney's reference to being invisible could be tied in to the "unaired" episode/mission in which O'Neill was invisible that was mentioned on the Stargate SG-1 episode "200."

    • In this episode Zelenka speaks Czech: "Já s ním nebudu dělat. Já se už na to můžu vysrat." which translates to "I will not work with him." and "That's it. Já ho zabiju. To je magor, naprostej idiot." which translates to "That's it. I'll kill him. He is a moron, total idiot."

    • Goof: In this episode Weir and Sheppard both comment on how he helped Ancients ascend in the episode "Epiphany". The people he helped were human not Ancients.

    • This is the first time that we hear McKay mention his sister since her appearance in "McKay and Mrs. Miller."

    • A computer unit in the control room is marked SGA/BLU 02. SGA stands obviously for Stargate Atlantis, BLU stands for, per director commentary on several DVD episodes, Blinky Light Unit.

    • The Puddle Jumper bay shown in this episode appears to be much larger than the one previously seen (as in "Rising"). Presumably, the Asurans reconstructed it to their own specifications along with the Gate Room when it as destroyed by Sheppard in "The Return".

    • Goof: Like in so many other episodes the German flag badges on the uniforms are upside down. The correct order is black, red, gold, NOT gold, red, black.

    • This is episode marks the first mention of Halling since the conclusion of "The Siege" trilogy.

    • McKay determined that an EEG frequency of 0.1 to 0.9 Hz is required for the mind to allow for a person to ascend. Dr. Beckett explains that this level is only exhibited by comatose patients.

    • Several of the silver laptops used in this episode do not feature a black Atlantis logo on their lids. Previously, all such laptops brought from Earth were so labeled.

    • The device shipped from the SGC was nicknamed the "Ascendometer" by Colonel Mitchell in the episode, "Prototype" (episode 909 of Stargate SG-1), where it was used to analyze the evolution of a Goa'uld/human hybrid, Khalek.

  • QUOTES (17)

    • (during the meditation exercise)
      Sheppard: Just...relax, alright? I'm gonna try to remember what the woman taught me.
      (Rodney sighs in frustration.)
      McKay: Alright. (He lies down again.)
      Sheppard: Now -- there's a dark storm swirling around your head.
      McKay (frowning): How is that comforting?
      Sheppard: I'm getting there.
      (Sheppard opens his mouth to continue but Rodney suddenly lifts his head up again.)
      McKay: I just thought of a brilliant adjunct to the Chaos Theory. Look, I should write this down...
      Sheppard: McKay.
      (Rodney looks at him, then groans and lies down again.)
      McKay: Letting it go. Letting it go.

    • (Sheppard is about to help Rodney meditate)
      Sheppard: Find a position that works.
      McKay: Right. Ok. (He promptly lies down flat on his back, clasps his hands together and closes his eyes.)
      Sheppard: Fine. Now, I want you to become aware of your breaths, going in and out of your body.
      McKay (softly): In ... and out.
      Sheppard: Do it without talking.
      (Rodney opens his eyes and looks up at him.)
      McKay: Oh…right.
      (He closes his eyes and settles down again.)
      Sheppard: Now, I want you to think about the things that you worry about the most.
      McKay (opening his eyes again): You mean, like death?
      Sheppard: There's no talking. Think of anything that makes you anxious.
      McKay: Oh, God, there's so many things. (He props himself up onto his elbows and looks up at John.) Not talking happens to be one of them, by the way.
      Sheppard (sternly): Deal with it.

    • Sheppard: I don't think this is gonna work with you hooked up to the machine.
      McKay: How else am I gonna know if it's working at all? Look, you're teaching me how to meditate. Not exactly good odds there to start with.
      Sheppard: I realize that. (pause) Truth is, I was never really very good at this myself.
      McKay: So why am I here?
      Sheppard: Elizabeth made me.
      McKay: Oh. Yeah. Me too.

    • McKay: (levitating Beckett) Believe me, I find this as disturbing as you do.
      Beckett: Like bloody hell you do!

    • McKay: It worked.
      Beckett: Did it?
      McKay: Well I'm alive aren't I?

    • McKay: I'm actually feeling a sense of peace - interspersed with sheer moments of terror, of course.

    • McKay: So, where you off to? Shooting range, a lil' target practice?
      Ronon: I don't need practice.

    • McKay: Carson, I'm still me. Anyway, it's not like you or these guys could stop me from leaving anyway.
      Ronon: No, but I could.
      McKay: Oh, would you care to put that to a test?
      Ronon: Do you?
      McKay: Well, no, not really.

    • Sheppard: Does SuperEgo count as a super power?

    • Sheppard: With great potential comes great responsibility.

    • McKay: (to Ronon) She wants you to shoot me if you think for even one second that I might be trying to take over the city for my own evil purposes. (Ronon and Elizabeth look at each other) I'm kidding, that was a joke (laughing) your weapon set to stun? (pausing) wait, nevermind, (there's a beeping noise and Ronon looks at his gun) there, did it myself, okay, to the chair-room, Ronon.
      Ronon: (to Elizabeth) Can I shoot him now?
      McKay: (walking away) I can hear you...

    • McKay: Look, I don't know how much time I have left so I'm just going to cut to the chase and ask you a rather personal question. Hopefully you wont just hit me in the face. Asking away. Those scars on your back, from your encounters with the Wratih. You know, with the tracking device? Are those like a badge of honour for you, or are they a constant reminder of something you'd rather forget? Now I know it's none of my business. I just...
      Ronon: I try not to let things I can't change bother me.
      McKay: That's very healthy
      (Looks around then gives Ronon a long hug)
      McKay: Hope you don't mind. I just healed them.

    • (McKay steals Carson's donut)
      McKay: You know we could be a team. You could be my sidekick.
      Ronon: Sidekick?
      McKay: Yeah, it'll be like Batman and Ronon. Has a nice ring to it.
      Ronon: Yeah, you keep eating like that it's going to be more like "Fatman."

    • McKay: Radek, I think it's safe to say that I am, at times, a petty, vindictive, even jealous man. I supplement my own anxieties and feelings of inadequacy by creating a bubble of hostility around myself. I know that you probably, more than anyone else, had to bear the brunt of that hostility.
      Zelenka: Rodney, you don't have to do this...
      McKay: Actually, I do. Here's the thing. You're a brilliant scientist and a decent human being. And you should not have had to endure the kind of abuse that you have taken from me in the past two years. I hope that you can find a way to forgive me for all the things I've said and done to you. You deserve much better than that. And I just wanted you to know that.

    • McKay: …now is Sheppard still bugging you to let him use the ancient device to turn himself into some kind of superhero?
      Weir: Oh Yes.
      McKay: …despite the fact that the ancient database states that its effects on people are wildly unpredictable, and that I'm just lucky I wasn't, er, instantly melted down into a pool of protoplasm?
      Weir: Yes.
      McKay: Well maybe, you should let him…
      Weir: I think not.

    • McKay: Yeah, well, you know what? I don't care if you don't think I was capable of ascension, I never wanted to do it anyway. In fact, you know what? I'm very happy with who I am. And you love me!
      Weir: What?! I never...
      McKay: You so did! Yeah, I may not be able to understand this new math I created, but I distinctly remember that you said you love me.
      Weir: Actually I said we love you and...
      McKay: And what? You were just saying that because you thought I was dying?
      Weir: No, I said it because ...
      McKay: See, you love me! It's true. You said it, now I know, I always suspected it, in fact, you know what? I've always noticed that there's been an indefinable and yet a magical chemistry between us that I think I covered in chapter 10.
      Weir: hmm, Rodney...
      McKay: You had lunch yet?
      Weir: Yes.
      McKay: Mid-afternoon snack then?
      Weir: (smiling) I will keep you company.

    • Beckett: As far as I can tell he's fine.
      McKay: I was hit by a mysterious energy pulse how can that possibly be fine?
      Beckett: I've run every test I can: blood work, MRIs, X-rays, the lot. I found no anomalies in any of the results.
      McKay: One more time: mysterious energy pulse from a device created by the Ancients. I mean, who knows what the long term effects I could be in for? I mean, there's gross mutation, giantism, invisibility...
      Sheppard: That'd be cool. I turned into a bug.
      Beckett: Alright. Like I said, as far as I can tell, he's as healthy as a horse. (To Rodney) I'm clearing you for active duty.
      McKay: Are you insane?! (He turns to Elizabeth and John.) Look, I need to be put under guard. Who knows what I could become?
      Weir: What are the chances it could make him more pleasant?
      McKay: Oh, thank you!

  • NOTES (5)

    • The "new math" that McKay writes on the whiteboards are actual equations that were written by a physicist the crew brought in to add authenticity to the episode.

    • Martin Wood explains on the DVD commentary for this episode that they had McKay heal Ronon's scars so they could easily show off more of his back in future episodes.

    • Even though it aired before, this episode was actually filmed after the episode "Sunday", making this Paul McGillion's next to last episode to film for this season. The last episode he filmed was "The Ark".

    • Carson's donut is from "Tim Horton's", a Canadian coffee shop chain, originally founded by NHL player Tim Horton, before his death in a car crash.

    • International Air Dates:

      -This episode aired in Canada on December 11, 2006 on Movie Central and January 30, 2007 on The Movie Network.
      -This episode aired in the UK on January 31, 2007 on Sky One.
      -Syndication Premiere: February 9-10, 2008.
      -This episode aired in Australia on May 29, 2008 on Channel 7.
      -This episode aired in the Czech Republic on June 3, 2009 on AXN Sci-fi.


    • McKay: He tries to hide it, but deep down I'm the wind beneath his wings.

      McKay references the song The Wind Beneath My Wings, written by Larry Henley and Jeff Sibar. It was first released in 1982, but the most famous version was sung by Bette Midler for her movie Beaches.

    • Flowers For Rodney?

      The plot of this episode parallels the story line of Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, about Charly Gordon, a severely retarded man who undergoes experimental surgery which makes him super-intelligent. Eventually, the effects of the operation gradually reverse themselves, leaving him unable to understand the studies and discoveries he made while enhanced. Similarly, Rodney ends up unable to comprehend all the discoveries he made while partially ascended. Flowers For Algernon was published as a novella in 1959 and won a Hugo Award for best short fiction. Six years later, it was expanded into a novel and won the Nebula Award for best novel. It was also adapted for the screen twice: for television in 1961 on the The United States Steel Hour starring Cliff Robertson as Charlie, and in 1968 as the movie Charly, again starring Robertson with Claire Bloom, winning the best actor Oscar for Robertson.

    • McKay: Yeah, it'll be like Batman and Ronon. Has a nice ring to it.

      McKay refers to the DC superhero when he tells Ronon that he could be his sidekick like in Batman and Ronon (referring to Batman and Robin).

    • Sheppard: With great potential comes great responsibility.

      This could well be a reference to the Spiderman quote, "With great power comes great responsibility". This reference is fitting since Spiderman is a superhero, which of course is what Rodney believes he is turning into.