The upcoming fifth season of SCI FI Channel’s original series Stargate Atlantis will see the addition of a new regular cast member, the promotion of another and the departure of yet another, producers told SCI FI Wire on May 16 during a visit to the show’s Vancouver, Canada, production offices.
One of the biggest changes is the addition of Robert Picardo as a regular cast member in the role of Richard Woolsey, who takes over as the new commander of the Atlantis expedition. Picardo replaces Amanda Tapping (Col. Samantha Carter), who had to bow out of the new season as a regular cast member to devote time to her forthcoming SCI FI series Sanctuary.
Jewel Staite (Dr. Jennifer Keller), meanwhile, will become a regular cast member, a promotion from her status as a recurring cast member. Staite described Keller as growing more comfortable with her place in Atlantis this season. “She steps up to the plate a little bit more,” Staite said in an interview. “She’s becoming more courageous.”
Former regular cast member and fan favorite Paul McGillion, who appeared briefly last season, will return once more to play Dr. Carson Beckett–or at least his clone. (Spoilers ahead!) Beckett was left in stasis at the end of season four, but will reappear for five episodes in the new season.
One cast member who won’t be returning at all is Tori Higginson (Dr. Elizabeth Weir). Producers had planned to bring back Weir in several episodes, but Higginson declined to return. It’s not clear at this point how losing Higginson will affect the ongoing replicator storyline.
Regular cast member Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex), meanwhile, hinted that he’s starting to think about life after Stargate. “Wouldn’t say I’m sick of [Ronon] yet,” Momoa said, “but one more [season] and I’ll probably be good. I’m 28 now. I’ll be 30. … It’s just time to move on, and I’ll want to play something else.”
Six episodes of Stargate: Atlantis’ upcoming fifth season have already been produced, and filming is underway on the remainder. The fifth season kicks off this summer.