Stargate Atlantis

Season 3 Episode 15

The Game

Aired Friday 10:00 PM May 11, 2007 on Syfy



  • Trivia

    • Goof: When Sheppard and Baden are talking in the mess hall, Baden's cup changes position between shots.

    • Among the items seen in the village are an early design for a telescope, photography flash powder and a penny farthing.

    • The ethical dilemma McKay tries to explain in the beginning of the episode is a famous experiment by acclaimed psychologist Marc Hauser. However, McKay does not explain the scenario quite right: there are only 5 people (not 10) standing on the railroad tracks with the train coming at them and one person (not a baby) on another set of tracks. The part about the switch and choosing between who dies is quite correct. This scenario was only one of two in the experiment: in the other one, the only way to save the 5 people is to bodily push another person from the platform and into the train's path. The point of the experiment was to prove that human moral and ethics are instinctive rather than cognitive.

    • Sheppard: Maybe we should stick em in a room, force them to come to an agreement.

      This is probably a direct reference to the SG-1 Season 8 episode "Zero Hour" in which General O'Neill locks two off-world diplomats in a room because he was annoyed with their behavior which was similar to McKay and Sheppard's leaders. In O'Neill's case, it actually worked.

    • There are dozens of countries all over the Pegasus Galaxy under scrutiny from the Ancient Sociology Experiment satellites that relay information back to Atlantis' Game Room.

    • In the beginning of the episode, the team 'discusses' an ethical dilemma which "Katie Brown brought up over dinner [with McKay] the other night". This marks the first mention of Dr. Brown since "Duet".

    • The hairstyle of the Geldar leader, Nola, closely resembles that of Stargate SG-1's Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), short and blonde. Many other Geldars share this similar trait. This trait was "configured" by McKay early in the "game"

    • Geldar is the last name of a girl that McKay had an interest in during his college years, Teresa Geldar, he apparently went on two dates with the girl in question but Sheppard doubts that fact.

    • McKay passed on some of his personal phobias to the people of Geldar, warning them of the "toxicity" of citrus and the dangers of the Sun.

    • When Rodney and Nola are in the mess hall, Nola is eating blue Jell-O and she comments on how delicious it is. This is another reference to Stargate SG-1's Samantha Carter, who is often seen eating blue Jell-O.

    • The scientifically advanced Geldar dress in and use light colors for their nation, whereas the warlike Halonan nation wears and use dark colors.

    • The Geldar national flag was modeled after the Canadian flag with Rodney McKay's face in the place of the maple leaf in the center.

  • Quotes

    • Baden: You are the Oracle?
      Sheppard: I'm your Oracle, yes.(pauses) That doesn't sound right.

    • Nola: You sent crates of citrus fruit! Citrus! Do you have any idea what an insult that is to my people?
      Baden: Didn't used to be.
      Weir: Okay, see, I think I know where that comes from. Did the Oracle tell you that citrus fruit was bad?
      Nola: He made us aware of its toxic properties, yes.

    • Sheppard: The first thing Rodney did after naming his country was stick his face on the flag.

    • McKay: Yeah, don't worry we're gonna stick to chess from now on.
      Sheppard: As long as Rodney doesn't cheat.
      McKay: Oh please, like I need to cheat playing you.
      Weir: OK, I'll leave you to it then.
      McKay: Ha!
      Sheppard: Ha! Check Mate.
      McKay: What? Oh, no, no, no, no, no. What happened there?
      Sheppard: What happened there is I just kicked your ass.
      McKay: No, no, I was distracted. She was, uh...OK were going again. Best of ten.

    • Lorne: What are you talking about! It's a perfectly reasonable request!
      Zelenka: Yeah, perfectly reasonable. I give you all of my food and my people starve.
      Lorne: I'm not asking you to give me all your food! Plus I did say we would make a deal.
      Zelenka: Oh yeah, baskets!
      Lorne: Big baskets! Two dozen of them, hand woven and very nice.
      Zelenka: Very nice? What am I going to put in them? Huh? Certainly not food!
      Lorne: You know what? I think you're holding out on me. I think you have plenty of food!
      Zelenka: Are you calling me a liar!?
      Lorne: No, I think you're trying to squeeze me for a better deal, that's what I think.
      Zelenka: Oh! I've got nothing to hide!
      Lorne: OK! OK! We'll send some of our army troops down and we'll have a look!
      Weir: What the hell are you two doing!?... I thought I gave specific orders to stay away from this device?
      Zelenka: Yes, yes you did.
      Lorne: We just saw that there were some people in trouble and we thought that maybe we could, ah, help.
      Weir: No! No more help, clearly we are not qualified. Now turn this thing off, disconnect the power and seal the room.
      Zelenka: Yeah, but, OK...
      Weir: Now!
      Zelenka: Mmm... yes ma'am.

    • Ronon: So how do you win this game?
      Sheppard: Its not really about winning.
      McKay: Its more about who's society out shines the other, i mean who creates the better infrastructure, who's better at trade.
      (Rodney looks at John and John gives him a dirty look)
      McKay: What!? Don't start, I tried to negotiate with you.
      Sheppard: Making a list of demands and not giving anything in return is not negotiating.
      McKay: I offered you an entire crop of beans.
      Sheppard: I don't need beans, I need lumber.
      McKay: Oh right! To build defensive fortifications for your army! Which he doubled in size by the way. Surprise. Surprise.
      Sheppard: I only did that after you started cheating.
      McKay: I did not cheat!
      Sheppard: (to Ronon and Teyla) He's giving his people way too much technology for their level of development. (To Rodney) I'm not the only one increasing my army by the way.
      McKay: I had to do something to protect the people of Geldar from you!
      Ronon: Geldar!?
      Sheppard: Its the name of Rodney's country. Named it after a girl he stalked in college.
      McKay: I did not stalk her, we dated twice. Teresa Geldar, very cute blonde. I always thought her name reminded me of a mythical land. The Kingdom of Geldar!

    • McKay: Let me ask you a question. Say there is a runaway train. It's hurtling out of control towards ten people standing in the middle of the tracks. The only way to save those people is to flip a switch and send the train down another set of tracks. The only problem is... there is a baby in the middle of those tracks.
      Teyla: Why would anyone leave a baby in harm's way like that?
      McKay: Well, I don't know. It's not the point. It's an ethical dilemma. Look, Katie Brown brought it up over dinner the other night. The question is: Is it appropriate to divert the train and kill the one baby to save the ten people?
      Ronon: Wouldn't the people just see the train coming and move?
      McKay: No, no, they wouldn't see it.
      Ronon: Why not?
      McKay: Well... Look... I don't know. Say they're blind.
      Teyla: All of them?
      McKay: Yes, all of them.
      Ronon: Then why don't you just call out and tell them to move out of the way?
      McKay: It's because they can't hear you.
      Sheppard: What they're deaf too? How fast is the train going?
      McKay: But the speed doesn't matter!
      Sheppard: Well, sure it does, if it's going slow enough you could out run it and shove everyone to the side.
      Ronon: Or better yet, go get the baby.
      McKay: For God's sake, I was just--

  • Notes

    • The majority of the computer screens in this episode were visual effects as opposed to the usual playback, due to this episode relying heavily on on-screen visuals.

    • A dark haired lady can be seen in the background of three scenes in this episode. This lady was the winning bidder of an auction to be a Stargate Atlantis extra, paying approximately $7,000 for the experience, all of which went to charitable causes.

    • When Laura Harris (Nola) is eating the blue jello during the mess hall scene, her teeth turn a shade of blue. Director Will Waring states in the DVD commentary that he would have initially liked to have re-done the scene but in hindsight he thought it looked funny.

    • Paul McGillion does not appear in this episode.

    • John Shaw (Garth) previously played Dr. Freisen in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Descent".

    • International Air Dates:

      -This episode aired in Canada on December 18, 2006 on Movie Central and February 5, 2007 on The Movie Network.
      -This episode aired in the UK on February 7, 2007 on Sky One.
      -Syndication Premiere: February 16-17, 2008.
      -This episode aired in Australia on June 5, 2008 on Channel 7.
      -This episode aired in the Czech Republic on June 8, 2009 on AXN Sci-fi.

  • Allusions

    • McKay: Her name reminded me of a mythical land. The Kingdom of Geldar!

      Rodney says it's the name of a girlfriend of his, but it can also be an allusion to Princess Bride, where the neighbor country to Florin, with whom Prince Humperdinck wants to start a war, is called Guilder.

    • Sid Meier's Civilization:

      The game that McKay and Sheppard are playing is like Civilization in that you take your civilization through many ages, technologies and make war on each other.

    • Nola: Ask not what Geldar can do for you, but what you can do for Geldar.

      This is an allusion to the speech from the inaugural address of President John F. Kennedy, delivered in 1961 ("Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country").