It seems that as soon as something useful comes along for our heroes in the Stargate universe, it has to get blown up… Take the midway station, for example. Those poor SGC engineers spent how long getting it up and running? And now here it is, only just fully operational and it’s blown to smithereens…
“We made the midway station happen, and then it just became very, very convenient,â€ writer and producer Carl Binder explains with a chuckle. “They could go home for the weekend. They could actually put in their daily shift on Atlantis, go home for the evening and go back the next morning!â€
The ease with which the Atlantis personnel could now come and go between Earth and Pegasus erased some of the valuable jeopardy that had been created by setting the city in another galaxy. Something had to be done – and what better way to give the midway station a great send off than by incinerating it as part of Ronon and Teal’c’s first meeting?
“We had always talked about doing this episode where we had to destroy the midway station,â€ says Binder, “and then we had also wanted to do an episode where Teal’c comes to Atlantis. We wanted to have Ronon and Teal’c pairing up and doing some fighting together. Those two ideas converged to become ‘Midway’. So it became a matter of how to get Teal’c to Atlantis and how to then get Ronon and Teal’c back through midway, and once they get to midway is when the station is compromised. It was actually the episode that I worked the hardest on last year. It went through the most story changes, and was the most difficult, production-wise, to shoot. It was a big, big episode.â€
Something that wasn’t a problem for Binder – and something he’d been looking forward to for a while – was writing the scenes between Ronon and Teal’c. With both characters, not to mention both actors, being such an integral part of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, it’s not really surprising that putting them together on screen looks almost effortless.
“They knew each other and I could see that they would get along,â€ the writer recalls. “I just loved the idea of Teal’c and Ronon playing off each other. I really liked the potential for that. Ronon is kind of the unwieldy puppy that needs to be shown how to behave. You have these two warriors, both of whom have been through a lot of battles, but the one has the wisdom of many, many years, while the other is a young hot-head. I loved the idea of getting those two together. I tried to throw humor in there too, because one thing I like about Teal’c is the really dry sense of humor. He has a really deadpan quality and I tried to have moments where I could play that off the two of them. We also knew that we were going to have these huge fight scenes, so James Bamford got the two of them together and started rehearsing those fight scenes three or four episodes ahead of time. The first thing we shot was their sparring session, and boy, that was something to behold!â€ he laughs. “The two of them just really went to town on it and had a great time. Chris Judge kept saying, ‘I’ve got to keep up with him, I’ve got to keep up with him!’ So they were both really trying to out do each other.â€
Besides the sheer import of having Stargate SG-1 star Christopher Judge make a guest appearance, ‘Midway’ was a massive show in its own right.
“Paul Mullie (executive producer and co-show runner) was terrified of this episode,â€ Binder laughs. “He kept saying, ‘We can’t do this, we can’t do this…’ But at a certain point we realized we had to do it and then he just said, ‘Well, in for a penny, in for a pound!’ It was always going to be a big episode, which is why we had to do some smaller episodes like ‘Quarantine’ and ‘Harmony’, in order to be able to do the bigger ones. Especially since we knew the whole ‘Midway’ gateroom was a virtual set. We had to create that entire set, so that was a huge deal. We used the SG-1 gateroom. You won’t recognize it, but that’s actually the midway station gateroom. The actual gate and the ramp, that’s the only thing we kept. Everything else was screened out and a virtual set created.â€
‘Midway’ is the first time that viewers have seen inside the newly-completed facility. The last time we got close to it was in ‘Adrift’, before the gravity had been fixed. Now, though, there was a lot more to see.
“It went through various stages of size,â€ Binder confirms, “in that the first time we saw the completed midway station it felt a little small to me. This station has to be big enough for a puddle jumper to fly out of one gate and fly into the next gate. So that gateroom had to be fairly large. Then you have the crew manning the station, and they have to have quarters to sleep. So I tried to play off that, and make the guest quarters very cramped, which adds to the fun of Ronon and Teal’c having to share a room. But it did come off as maybe a little bit bigger than maybe we had intended,â€ he laughs.