Gallery Episode Transcript

"Epiphany" is the twelfth episode of the second season of Stargate: Atlantis.


Lt. Colonel John Sheppard is sucked through the event horizon of an entrance to a cave, and cannot get out the same way. Worse, there is a Time dilation field, meaning that minutes in relative conditions could mean hours for Sheppard. If they don't find a way to save him soon, he is going to die of old age.



While scouting a planet by Puddle Jumper, the team notices what appears to be a massive crater on the surface. Dr. Rodney McKay asks to check out the rim of the crater as he has detected energy readings, but once they get there, all they find is a doorway and some Ancient writing. However, the energy readings are coming from the doorway. Just to be safe, McKay ties a camcorder to the end of a stick and puts it through the door, discovering an energy barrier that it must pass through. He then pulls it out and deduces that the other side appears safe, allowing Lt. Colonel John Sheppard to pass through. A problem arises, however, when Sheppard is unable to pass back through the doorway, and suffers injuries from the stresses of the barrier. What is more troubling, though, is that time within the barrier seems to be passing much faster than time outside the barrier, which Rodney failed to realize until further review of the tape after Sheppard passed through. Sheppard could already be starving to death. McKay, Ronon Dex, and Teyla Emmagan quickly toss all their supplies through the portal. Then McKay departs for Atlantis to get help — before Sheppard dies of old age.

Indeed, inside the portal, days have passed. Trapped in a cave without food, water, or word from his team, Sheppard is discouraged. The arrival of the supplies helps, but when more days pass with no further contact, he's forced to seek food elsewhere. He discovers that, on the other side of the immense mountain range above him, the cave opens into a verdant valley. Unexpectedly, a man races up to him, shouting frantically about a beast. Then the beast — a semi-invisible monster — attacks them both, knocking Sheppard unconscious.

Cloister village

He awakens in a tranquil village. The man, Avrid, and his sister, Teer, explain that the Ancients created this valley as a place for people to meditate on spiritual truths and, eventually, Ascend to a higher plane of existence. To Sheppard's horror, they add that, except by Ascending, no one can leave the valley. Ever.

Weeks turn into months as, with Teer's help, Sheppard struggles to adapt to his new life. Then, one day, the mysterious beast attacks the village. To Sheppard's disgust, the villagers hide, leaving him to face the creature alone. He barely survives. Feeling abandoned by his teammates and now by the passive villagers, the deeply frustrated Sheppard tries to make his new friends understand that Ascension won't mean much if they're mauled to death before they can achieve it.

Descent probe

Meanwhile, outside the barrier, only a few hours have passed and the team has returned. Although a descent probe sent through the field is destroyed, it locates the power source of the field and McKay also concludes that time in the field passes about 250 times faster than in real time, which would mean that a single hour in real time would equate to at least 10 days within the field.

Inside the field, Teer confidently responds that her lifetime of spiritual practice has given her clairvoyance. This power warns her that the beast will attack Sheppard's team. But this time he gets help from the villagers who have realized that the beast is only a manifestation of their fears. Now that they have realized this they all ascend – and although they extend an offer to join them, Sheppard declines. Teer then turns to McKay, advising that he not remove the ZPM, for it must remain for others to use. However, they will open the barrier for them to leave.


Appearances for Epiphany



  • Rescue of John Sheppard



Sentient Species




Notable quotes[]

McKay: Why do you have to park SO far away?
Sheppard: This ridge is a little farther away that it looked. You can't just land a Jumper anywhere Rodney.
McKay: It doesn't matter now, I think we're almost there.
Teyla: Rodney, do you even know what it is we are looking for?
McKay: Yeah, well whatever it is, it's around here somewhere.
Ronon: What's around here?
McKay: Whatever it was that was causing the energy spike we detected from the Puddle Jumper.
Sheppard: Any idea what that looks like?
McKay: I'll know it when I see it... and I see it.

McKay: Yeah – I would just like to be able to explain these readings better before we step through. Get me a branch. You got tape? Because I got a camera! (Ronon gives him a huge branch) I didn't ask for a log! (Teyla brings him a better one) Thank you! Okay, so tape it to the stick, we extend the camera through, record for a few minutes, pull it back, play the recorder.
Sheppard: Yeah! MALP on a stick!
McKay: Yes, MALP on a stick. Very clever. Are we done?

Ronon: Ascension?
McKay: To a higher plane of existence. The race of people who built the Stargates -- they eventually evolved to a point where they ascended to a state of pure energy.
Ronon: That'd be great!
McKay: Yeah, well, sadly it's a matter of, uh, evolution. Anyway... I'm sure we've got more than enough now. (He pulls the camera back through the doorway.) There we go. And... have a look, shall we?

McKay: Just back out if you encounter anything problematic.
Sheppard: Problematic?
McKay: Yeah, like poisonous atmosphere, acid atmosphere, no atmosphere - hey, it's MALP on a stick, only shows you so much.

Weir: And why not assume that he'll make his own way back through the portal?
McKay: Because Colonel Sheppard would have already had hours to try to make it back through the portal in the time I wasted explaining the situation to Conan and Xena!

Sheppard: Thank you.
Teer: It is we who should thank you for saving our brother from The Beast.
Sheppard: That's funny, I don't remember winning.

Ronon: You wanna pick up the pace, McKay?
McKay: Hey, he's waited for months, another half-hour isn't gonna kill him.
Weir: Well, we don't know how long it's gonna take to find him.
Beckett: Aye, and besides I have a date planned with Lieutenant Cadman for tomorrow night.
McKay: Oh no, so we've only got twelve years in here.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • From Sheppard's perspective, this episodes takes place over the course of approximately six months. However, for the other Atlantis personnel, it takes place over the course of about 6 hours.
  • This episode bears comparison to the Stargate SG-1 episode "A Hundred Days" in which Colonel Jack O'Neill is stranded on an alien planet for three months and becomes part of the local society. It also bears a certain similarity with the Stargate SG-1 episode "Paradise Lost" which plot unfolds in a shelter for those who wish to find peace of mind with entrance masked under the one-way portal.
  • At one point, Sheppard says into his radio, "This is Sheppard. I'm pretty sure you can't hear me, but I don't have a volleyball to talk to, so what the hell." This is a reference to the movie Cast Away, in which Tom Hanks is stranded several years on an uncharted island, and spends his time talking to a volleyball he names Wilson.
  • The idea of a monster created from the subconsciousness of human beings with enhanced mental powers is rather similar to the plot of the classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet. The plot also resurfaces in a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Storyteller", though in that episode, the creature was created with a spiritual object.
  • The basic plot concept of a team member spending a disproportionately large amount of time in an alien culture while the rest of the team tries to quickly save them is similar to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode of "The Inner Light" where Picard spends a lifetime in a virtual reality created by an alien probe.
  • When the villagers ascend at the end of the episode, they do not leave their clothes behind. This differs from every other time a person is seen ascending in the Stargate franchise.
  • Joe Flanigan (Lt. Colonel John Sheppard) helped write this episode. Joe originally pitched a story where Sheppard and McKay find themselves being treated like kings while on a mission. That idea was rejected at the time because the plot had been used for the Stargate SG-1 episode "It's Good to Be King". His second pitch was spun into "Epiphany." It is the first of two episodes written by Flanigan. Although this plot was later revisted under a similar guise in the season 3 episode "The Game", where the duo become worshipped as gods by two primitive civilizations.


  • Dr. Rodney McKay said that one hour would give them months inside the field. This is incorrect because the ratio of time is 1:250 which would give them 250 hours in the field which is only ten days and ten hours. Similarly, the six month figure given by Sheppard would translate to over 17 hours outside the field, not two.
  • McKay is fluent in the Ancient language, and the Wraith language, and yet he made no effort to read or translate the Ancient warning. Later, Dr. Elizabeth Weir translates the warning herself and insists to McKay that she needs to travel through the field in case more translations are needed.
  • In the ending scene where the field inhabitants ascend, they coerce the team into not taking the ZPM maintaining the field (so that it may remain operational). Although beyond this there was nothing stopping anyone (including the Atlantis expedition or the Wraith should they discover it) from returning through the gateway on foot and disabling the field after the former ascended. This is because the Ascended Ancients would forbid the now ascended field inhabitants from interferring due to the former's laws regarding ascension, with this rule also being a known fact to the Tau'ri due to Daniel Jackson. Despite this, the planet is never revisted again for its ZPM (in spite of pressing needs requiring one).

Other languages[]

  • Hungarian: Megvilágosodás (Enlightment)
  • German: Offenbarung (Revelation)
  • French: Tempus Fugit (Tempus Fugit, latin meaning "time is running out")

External links[]

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