Photos & transcript: http://www.scifiquest.com/stargateatlantis/firststriketranscript-stargateatlantis.php
Meanwhile, comments about Paul McGillion and the episode "Sunday" (yes, chockful of spoilers)
Snippets from Paul McGillion interview in Starburst #347(plucked off a GW thread)
Just as work on Phantoms was ending, McGillion received some news that would affect his future on Atlantis. "We shot most of this story on location, and when we got back to the studio for the final day of filming, of the ADs said that the producers wanted to talk to me," recalls the actor. "I didn't think anything of it. Truthfully, I thought they might be telling me, 'Great job in Phantoms'. However, when I went upstairs and they closed the office door, I knew it was serious. They said 'Stargate SG-1 isn't being renewed, and we're not sure yet if Atlantis is going to be either. We need to shake things up a bit, and the long and short of it is we're going to kill off Beckett.'
"Needless to say I was stunned, for lack of a better word. I didn’t see that coming at all. Personally, I felt like I was doing a good job on the programme and I think the producers thought so as well. I sat there and listened to the reasons behind this move and what they were looking to do. I was sad and disappointed by their decision, but yet this is a business. I understand that and I respect these guys for giving me the chance to play a character like Carson Beckett. I'm not being political when I say that. I'm being honest. Most actors never get a dream job like that in their entire career, and I had it for three years.
"After they told me, I said 'I'm disappointed and shocked, but obviously you're smart guys. The Stargate franchise has been around for a long time, so you know what you're doing. So how do we move on from here? How do you want me to handle this?' We would shoot Beckett's final episode [Sunday] out of sequence, and the producers asked me if I wanted to leave after that. I said that I wanted to finish my contract the way I went into it, with integrity. Not only that but I wanted to honour the character as well as the cast and crew that I had been working with all this time."
After finishing work on Sunday the actor returned to the Atlantis set to film the remaining episodes leading up to Beckett's swansong. "The final story I did this season was The Ark," says McGillion, pausing briefly to collect himself. "Only a few people knew it was my last day, including Martin Wood. He wanted to make a speech about me in front of the cast and crew once we wrapped, but I said to Alex Pappas 'I can't be there on set because I'll break into tears. Just tell everyone that I'll see them at the wrap party and shake each of their hands for being so wonderful to me over the years'. So I just let it go like that and I hope I went out, hopefully, with dignity and class."
In the aforementioned Sunday, our Atlantis heroes are enjoying a rare day off, but it's not long before an emergency arises, and it's one that ultimately takes Carson Beckett's life. "As difficult as it was for me to film this episode, I can only imagine that it must have been equally as difficult for Martin Gero to write it, having been such a big fan of Beckett as well as myself over the past three years. That being said, I think Martin did my character proud." Smiles McGillion.
"That week, people on set had this look in their eyes as if to say, 'Jeez, I feel so sorry for you.' At one point I made a joke out of the situation and referred to myself as 'dead man walking'. I wanted everyone to lighten up and realize that at the end of the day this is a TV show. Our paths will cross again, and what an amazing experience we've had over the past three years. Now let's get to work and make the best damn episode we can. I want to knock this one out of the park, for myself, for the cast and crew, but most of all for the fans because they deserve it. In my opinion they're the ones who 'made' Beckett. He went from a character who the producers didn't even know was going to be Scottish, to one who was only supposed to be in and handful of first season episodes, wound up in 17, and was finally made a regular character last year. That couldn't have happened without the fans, and I'll be forever grateful to them."
To be blunt, wow, doesn't that just SUCK? Carson Beckett bumped off as the sacrifice to the great ratings gods. Perhaps they should sacrifice a writer or two as well? Boot 'em out the door as if they can't increase the level of writing, maybe they should stick with food reviews... ahem, cough cough. The sad thing is you've got a great cast (minus 1.5 now - Beckett's gone and with what they did with Weir in "First Strike," sheesh) who's capable of so much better if the writers would stop retreading SG1 scripts, etc. The quality is uneven. You can get great episodes, then a hideous one.
But they kill Beckett for ratings. Sheesh. Who's next??