Gallery Episode Transcript

"Grace Under Pressure" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of Stargate: Atlantis.


Dr. Rodney McKay's Puddle Jumper crashes into the ocean on route back to Atlantis and is slowly sinking. While, Dr. Radek Zelenka and Lt. Colonel John Sheppard find a way to save him, McKay hallucinates Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter to keep him company.


Dr. Rodney McKay and Captain Hugh Griffin are flying from the mainland back to Atlantis. McKay is worried about the ship, considering it's the first flight its had since it was shot down. ("Condemned") He is also getting irritated by Griffin going on about how science is subject to change. As an example, Griffin mistakenly explains that Columbus disproved a flat earth (Everyone knew Earth was round back then).

Otherwise, all seems to be going well until they experience a malfunction and the ship suddenly crashes into the ocean.

Zelanka Looking At Lantea's Ocean

About an hour later, Griffin and McKay wake up to Dr. Radek Zelenka's relentless radio calls. McKay had suffered a blow to his forehead on impact and was bleeding. They realize that the ship had already sunk about 1200 feet while they were out and now sinking at the rate of 20 feet a minute. Suddenly the windshield starts to give way to the pressure of the ocean and begins to crack. McKay immediately heads for the rear compartment and tries to seal the bulkheads, except the switch is damaged and nothing happens. Griffin says he has an idea, stumbles into the forward compartment, and wishes McKay good luck as he closes the bulkhead, leaving McKay in the rear compartment. A moment later, McKay hears a shot and the windshield shattering. Essentially, it seems Griffin has sacrificed himself to give McKay a fighting chance to survive. Griffin is (most likely, as it happens off-screen) crushed by the immense water pressure, not to mention drowning. Up on the surface, Zelenka tries to narrow down and somehow pinpoint McKay's location, while Lt. Colonel John Sheppard tries to find a way to lift the sinking Puddle Jumper from the ocean floor, almost an impossibility from that immense depth and time constraints involved. They both redouble their efforts.

Back in the Jumper, McKay tries to stave off his claustrophobia and think of a way to save himself. Turning on the emergency transmitter, he discovers that he only has 3 hours of power left in the Jumper because the inertial dampeners were using up most of the power. McKay immediately commits to the idea of doom and starts panicking.

McKay and Carter.jpg

Suddenly, Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter appears to McKay in his hallucinations, wearing pink! outfit and unzipped to show some cleavage. After taking a moment to take in the fact that he's hallucinating, and her distracting cleavage, Carter explains to him that she's there as a hallucination to help him and probably due to the rather bad concussion on his head.

Back in Atlantis, Sheppard suddenly has a bright idea. If they can turn the Jumper's cloak into a shield like the Atlantis' shield was turned into a cloak, they could dive even deeper. Zelenka informs him that it would take up a lot of power and shutting down anything they don't need would take hours to reconfigure. Sheppard suggests that they make the changes on the way as they make their way down there. Zelenka is reluctant as he can't even swim, he protests, but is finally convinced to help his colleague.

McKay's Jumper hits the bottom. Just as McKay is elated that finally a bit of luck, at least it's stopped going any further down, Carter unconvinced, points to the bottom of the Jumper. Sadly the Jumper is leaking, probably due to landing impact, and is taking in water. Now McKay is even more pressed for time to find a solution fast. Soon after the level of water is already reaching his knees. Before when he flirted with Carter she fought him off, however now suddenly she's stripped off to just her bra and is swimming around in the 'indoor-pool' provocatively, coming on to McKay saying that since this is his hallucination, and since he's in such dire straits she reconsidered and now thinks he at least deserves a little 'sugar' after all, then much to his surprise starts kissing him. Though he's appreciative and more than eager to flirt back and finally 'get it on' with his beloved Carter, he then also suspiciously fears she might just be distracting him from working on a solution, knowing there's literally minutes only left to do so, so reluctantly finally rejects her, calling her "Lt. Colonel Siren".

Finally onto something, Zelenka manages to get the shield up and running. Under the pressure of the ocean, the shield is continually draining power to fight it. They have about 30 minutes if the shield continues to drain power at that extra rate.


Sheppard notices that the monster (which McKay had heard a little while back, and worriedly thought was a giant whale out to swallow him, Jumper and all) and Zelenka thinks is probably best to avoid, seems to be circling the same area repeatedly, which he quickly surmises is probably because it's found something interesting or annoying. Approaching it they find the Jumper just beneath the area the monster was circling. Pressed for a solution, Zelenka realizes that they can extend the shield between the two Jumpers and just walk between them. They retrieve McKay from Jumper 6, who is reluctant to open the door thinking it might just be another hallucination playing tricks on him, and if he opens the door it will be the end of him. But, after a little convincing hallucination-Carter advises him to let his friends help him, to trust that they came to save him. He opens the door and as they all return to the other Jumper, the gigantic creature, a whale-like repto-cetecean ancient looking leviathan (apparently a Flagisallus, one finds out in a later episode), majestically swims overhead. As they stare on ant-like in a joint expression of awe, Sheppard let's McKay know he has the creature to thank for his life. McKay is amused by the thought as he walks into the rescue ship relieved to be alive. As the door is shutting, he looks across to the shipwrecked Jumper where a smiling 'hallu-Carter' stands waving him off. McKay waves back with a smile of silent thanks as the door shuts between them.


Appearances for Grace Under Pressure



  • Rescue of Rodney McKay



Sentient Species




Notable quotes

Griffin: So, let me ask you something. As a scientist does it bother you that most of your work, no matter how brilliant, will eventually be considered misguided? 'Cause that would bother me.
McKay: I'm sorry?
Griffin: Well, given enough time, everything's pretty much proven wrong, right?
McKay: No.
Griffin: Everything from the Earth being flat and the sun revolving around us?
McKay: Well, if you wanna go back hundreds of years…

Carter: Why else would I be here?
McKay: I don't know! Maybe one last romp before I die.
Carter: One last romp?! Please, we never...
McKay: Okay, one first romp, but it's romping that comes to mind, not your brains, blondie. Now, you've gotta admit, I am a handsome man standing...
Carter: You're essentially arguing with yourself. You realize that, right?

McKay: We make a good team, you and I.
Carter: Sure...
McKay: No, no I mean it. I really enjoy working with you, always have.
(Carter nods)
McKay: I wonder... I wonder why we never... hooked up?
Carter: Well aside from the fact that you're petty, arrogant and treat people badly?
McKay: ...Yes?
Carter: No, that's pretty much it. Petty, arrogant, bad with people.

McKay: You gonna help me, or not?
Carter: I'll help you stay alive as long as possible, but no – I'm not helping you with this plan.
McKay: So my own hallucination is saying no to me?!
Carter: You must realize subconsciously that you need to be talked out of this.
McKay: I can't even hallucinate right today!

(Carter is pressing herself against McKay)
McKay: What are you doing?
Carter: For warmth...
McKay:'re not physically here, can't transfer any heat.
Carter: Doesn't mean I can't get you hot!

McKay: (about Carter seducing him) I know what you're trying to do!
Carter: Well, I should hope so.
McKay: You're trying to slow me down again!
Carter: Actually I'm trying to do the opposite.
McKay: No, no. You're distracting me. You know I've only got a couple of minutes to execute my plan and you're doing the one thing you know could possibly slow me down!
Carter: You're thinking too much. Come here.
McKay: No. No, I'm not gonna fall for your plan, Lieutenant Colonel Siren!


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • Ernest Hemingway once famously defined "guts" or "courage" as "grace under pressure" in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald. "Grace under pressure" specifically means you show courage when faced with pressures such as death, the public eye, or competition.
  • When Dr. Rodney McKay and Captain Hugh Griffin are debating the progress of science, the pilot brings up, amongst other things, that Christopher Columbus proved that the Earth was round, which is in fact a common myth, and people have known since ancient times that the Earth was round - Columbus merely (and incorrectly) disagreed about its size.
  • The sea monster species is later named Flagisallus and it makes a reappearance in the later episode "Echoes".
  • The Stargate SG-1 episode Season 7 "Grace" involves a similar situation where Major Samantha Carter is trapped aboard the Prometheus and has several hallucinations. It is likely that the title of this episode is a reference to that one (Grace) had to save themselves under strenuous circumstances, and both have sustained head injuries. And, to the fact the Jumper is at the bottom of the ocean (Under Pressure).
  • In a later episode of the season, Jumper 6 is mentioned. This is most likely one of the new jumpers from "The Tower" as opposed to the damaged jumper at the bottom of the ocean, as Dr. Radek Zelenka claimed it would be near impossible to raise given its depth and the fact that it would be full of water once the rescue Jumper's shield was removed.
  • McKay refers to the hallucination of Carter as "Lt. Colonel Siren" when she tries to distract him. This is a reference to mythological Sea Sirens which would tempt sailors towards them causing their ships to crash onto rocks.


  • After the door to Jumper 6 is opened and the water has drained out, the shot shows the Jumper as having no water left inside it. This would be impossible as the Jumper landed on the sea floor with its front end leaning over a cliff at an angle of about 15 to 20 degrees. This would mean that opening the rear doors would only drain water to the doors bottom frame and leave water in the remaining front.
  • At the 25:05 and 27:13 mark into the episode, directly next to the Jumper is clearly artificial wreckage not part of the Jumper in any way. The cause was revealed in the episode's commentary to have been from the original idea that the Jumper had snapped in pieces but it never got taken out.
  • At 9:40 mark into the episode, a shot of McKay's hand terminal is shown as he attempts to shut down the inertial dampeners. The source code shown is clearly C++, specifically an initialization routine for a two-dimensional matrix class. This kind of programming is extremely simple and would be appropriate for a first-year programming course, but not for an interface to futuristic shuttlecraft. A similar thing happens at 11:52, in which the displayed source code is the Bash shell scripting language.
  • After the Jumper crashes it is floating but then starts sinking even though it doesn't take on water.


  • Nominated Primetime Emmy for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)" (Joel Goldsmith)

Other languages

  • Hungarian: A tenger mélyén (Deep Under the Sea)
  • German: Unter Druck (Under Pressure)

External links

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