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"The Daedalus Variations" is the fourth episode of the fifth season of Stargate: Atlantis.


The Atlantis expedition mysteriously finds the Daedalus, abandoned and drifting in space. When Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's team come to investigate, the ship mysteriously disappears. They soon discover that the ship is actually an alternate Daedalus from a Alternate reality, and the team must find a way back to their Universe or risk being stranded forever in an unfamiliar reality.


In Atlantis, Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and Dr. Rodney McKay are walking into the control room, talking about how McKay accidentally dropped Torren John Emmagan while holding him, and believes that Teyla Emmagan is hiding Torren from him. As they enter the control room, Chuck informs them that a spaceship has just appeared out of nowhere above M35-117, as they didn't detect a hyperspace window. McKay reads the IFF signal, and identifies it as the Daedalus, which they find odd, as the Daedalus has actually almost completed a return journey to Earth. Sheppard calls for anyone on the ship, but McKay finds no life signs on board either, thinking that it is abandoned, or everyone is killed.

Daedalus Variations1

The Puddle Jumper is sent to the mysterious Daedalus.

To investigate, Sheppard deploys his team to the Daedalus via Puddle Jumper. Chuck informs them that he received a communication from Stargate Command, confirming them that the Daedalus is just two days away from Earth. They wonder if the ship is even the Daedalus, but McKay says they wouldn't use their IFF. They notice that the systems are nearly dead, as the ship is barely giving off any energy readings. They notice signs of battle; visible burn marks on the ship's hull from weapons fire. When they almost arrive, McKay notices another energy reading spiking from inside the ship. They enter the 302 bay, and notice no F-302s, but another Jumper is inside. They wonder what it is doing there. They set foot inside the ship and find it freezing. To cover more ground, McKay takes Ronon Dex to engineering, while Sheppard and Teyla go for the bridge.

McKay and Ronon arrive in engineering, where McKay works on restoring power, but discovers that vital systems, including weapons and shields are barely online, not to mention that subspace communications and hyperdrives are damaged beyond repair. In the bridge, Teyla and Sheppard see no bodies on the way at all. Teyla sees the ship's name plate, and confirms that it is the Daedalus. McKay restores lighting and power on the ship. Teyla later finds a recording in the computer; the final entry of the ship's log. It is Colonel Sobel—apparently the commander of the Daedalus—who reports that equipment and supplies have been transported down to the planet's surface, which seems suitable to grow crops and a plentiful water supply. She and her crew hope to survive long enough to be found and rescued, and plans to join them in an F-302 fighter. When the recording finishes, they both say that they never met her before, raising even more questions.

Daedalus Variations2

The Daedalus flashes into another reality.

Soon, the unfamiliar energy reading starts spiking from the center of the ship again. Major Evan Lorne, who is in Atlantis also picks up the energy reading, and informs the team. The ship then starts to shake, which Sheppard believes is a sign to evacuate to the Jumper. However, just as they leave the bridge, they are overcome from a blinding white light. From space, the ship turns white and quickly flashes out of nowhere. After the energy levels drop, the team contacts Atlantis, but there is no response. Meanwhile, Atlantis can't get a response either. According to Dr. Radek Zelenka, the ship has disappeared.

Meanwhile, from the team's perspective, they discover that Atlantis has disappeared; they're over the same planet, but there is no sign of the base, just ocean. McKay sends Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon to the origin of the energy reading. On the way, McKay suddenly notices that the energy readings are very similar to the one when a McKay from an Alternate reality visited Atlantis two years ago, which leads him to believe that this Daedalus is from an alternate reality. The team rush to the location of the energy reading and find a room, where they discover a duplicate version of their team, dead.

The Daedalus Variations 1

The alternate team, dead.

Due to the coldness of the ship, Sheppard believes that the team may have been dead for as long as months. McKay finds a computer tablet from the alternate McKay, and finds out that the team also came to investigate the ship, and when they figured out what was happening, they tried to find a way out, but couldn't. Eventually, they ran out of supplies and starved to death. McKay believes that since the alternate team failed, they will fail too. Sheppard calms the team down, and sends Teyla and Ronon to search for supplies. The two find nothing, and they talk about the dead team. Ronon says he doesn't care about them, since encountering Replicator-based copies. Ronon then tells Teyla that he heard McKay talk about Alternate realities, and knows that supposedly, there are a million different realities, meaning that there is the possibility of a million Torrens, and wonders if she will worry for every one of them. Teyla says she won't, since it's hard enough to worry about the one she has.

In the room, McKay finds an alternate reality drive, which he notices was created by McKay in another universe. The chamber containing the drive has to be closed off from radiation, and uses subspace capacitors to power the drive. The crew from the original reality that the Daedalus belongs to experimented with the drive, traveling to several universes. However they realized that the drive constantly charges up, by which it discharges to other realities, but the drive can't be stopped, and were forced to abandon ship. Soon, the drive recharges, and the ship disappears to another reality.

Daedalus Variations4

An alien fighter heads down to the Daedalus.

Upon reaching the second Alternate reality, they read Atlantis again. Teyla tells the team that Major Kevin Marks taught her how to operate the ship's systems. She then picks up an unidentified Alien ship, which is charging weapons, and is firing at Atlantis. McKay activates the ship's Asgard plasma beam weapons, which Sheppard uses to disable the ship's weapons with three shots. The ship retaliates by launching fighters. Sheppard quickly teaches Ronon how to operate the ship's weapons. The fighters start to attack the Daedalus, quickly depleting what little shield they have left. Ronon and Sheppard use the ship's railguns to defend the ship, but is quickly overrun. One of the fighters is damaged, but crashes into the ship, causing the ship to shake wildly.

McKay tells Sheppard that he could send the ship to the next universe quicker, by sending all of the ship's power to the alternate reality drive. However, the process will make the ship jump faster and faster, and will over-tax it, causing the ship to be set to burn out in just a handful of jumps. Sheppard tells McKay to do it, as the shields are almost gone. As the fighters overrun the ship, it jumps to the next universe. However, the ship's hull temperature is quickly rising. They discover that they are orbiting over a red giant, the same star that should turn into a red giant 48,000 years from now, but is happening sooner in this reality. McKay desperately attempts to transfer all available power to the jump drive before the hull temperature gets too critical and sends Ronon, Teyla and Sheppard down to engineering to transfer the power to the drive.

Unknown Alien 1

An alien confronts Ronon.

Meanwhile, Ronon hears a noise from a corridor and comes to investigate. He arrives in a room and sees nothing. He turns away, and hears another noise. He opens a door to find a mysterious alien, who was one of the survivors from the crashed fighter. The alien proves to be more of a match for Ronon and takes him down, trying to kill him. Fortunately, Ronon manages to alert Sheppard to his position, by using his free hand to fire his weapon in the air. Sheppard goes while Teyla transfers more power, and saves Ronon in time and takes down the alien, but requires a full magazine from his FN P90 Personal Defense Weapon, and a few more shots from Ronon's weapon before finally taking him down. Soon however, they are under fire from two more aliens. Sheppard and Ronon take cover and a firefight ensues. Meanwhile, McKay tells Teyla to drop whatever shields they have left so the power could be transferred to the drive. It eventually works before the hull deteriorates. The drive charges up and jumps to a fourth Alternate reality. Sheppard and Ronon use the flash to their advantage, by getting out of hiding and killing the two distracted aliens.

They discover that M35-117 is nothing but a field of asteroids, most likely caused by an impact several million years ago. McKay figures a way to return to their reality, by using Sheppard's idea and put the drive in reverse. To deal with the Sun, he uses the maneuvering thrusters to move the ship higher so they jump into a higher orbit and McKay will work on fixing the sublight engines to escape the aliens from the second Alternate reality.


A damaged alien fighter zeroes in on the Daedalus.

The ship jumps over the red giant in a higher, more stable orbit. McKay works on the sublight, but gets a power surge. Teyla stops it. McKay realizes that this is about her first mission back. He tells her that he won't make it her last. Suddenly, the drive powers up again, and jumps back to the reality with the aliens. At first, they find no sign of the ship, but realizes that it is behind them. More fighters are launched to attack. McKay manages to get the sublight engines going again, and the ship runs for it while Sheppard and Ronon use the railguns to hold off the enemy fighters who are quickly gaining on them. Soon after the fighters catch up and takes down the engines for good. The Daedalus is outnumbered, with no shields and near destruction, when the Atlantis of that reality launches an F-302 attack, led by an alternate Sheppard to help. Together the Daedalus and the 302s defeat the alien fighters, including one that is about to collide with the bridge. After both Sheppards congratulate each other on their work, the ship jumps back to the first reality they jumped to. They plan to go to the Jumper the second the ship returns to the right universe.

However, on the way to the hangar bay, they come under attack from the remaining alien, who shoots McKay on the right shoulder. Ronon and Sheppard manage to take him down, but just as he impacts the floor, he activates an explosive device. Sheppard and Ronon hastily leaves the corridor and closes off the section just as the device detonates. However, the explosion blows a hole in the hull that cuts them off from the hangar bay. Ronon plans to use C-4 when they arrive to destroy the drive, but there is a very high chance that this would cause a hole in the fabric of space-time, which will destroy the solar system. They must have a plan, fast.

Daedalus Variations6

The team escape in space suits.

When they eventually jump back to the correct reality, Lorne and Zelenka pick up the Daedalus again on sensors. They quickly board a Jumper to approach the ship. They head towards it, but Zelenka detects an energy spike from the ship and the two see it flash out of existence. They think that they have lost the team, when they detect four life signs - the team managed to escape in space suits before it jumped again.

After recovering in the infirmary, McKay tells Sheppard that the ship will be out of power in just a handful of jumps. He then plans to design his own alternate reality drive, which Sheppard quickly opposes to, despite the fact McKay could remove the flaws. Teyla then comes to the infirmary with Torren, who lets him hold the baby for a minute, believing he would make a great father one day, which apparently scares Sheppard. McKay then hands her back the baby.


Appearances for The Daedalus Variations





Sentient Species



Notable quotes[]

Sheppard: What are you talking about?
McKay: I'm telling you, she's hiding him from me.
Sheppard: She's not hiding him.
McKay: Oh yeah? Every time I go to see him, she tells me that he's just settled down.
Sheppard: Can you blame her? You dropped him.
McKay: I did not drop him. He jumped.
Sheppard: (skeptically) Jumped?
McKay: Well, he wiggled out of my arms. Look, I said I was sorry. Besides, how much damage could I possibly have done? He fell, like, maybe two feet. Stuff like that happens all the time. I was dropped like a dozen times when I was a kid.
Sheppard: Well, that explains a lot.

(The Daedalus mysteriously powers up.)
Sheppard: McKay, is that you?
McKay: Of course it was me. Who else would it be? D'you think we've got a ghost on board or something? (McKay is startled when he hears a noise, only to realize it is Ronon dropping a box) Will you please not touch anything?!

Sheppard: Why is the blast door closed?
McKay: Hello?! Residual radiation?
Sheppard: Oh, right. Have you made any progress?
McKay: As a matter of fact, yes we have.
Sheppard: "We"?
McKay: Me and the other McKay, who, unsurprisingly, is a genius. Not only that, but it looks like the drive was created by yet another McKay from the original reality.
Sheppard: What makes you say that?
McKay: Well, there's a certain, um, elegance to the design that I recognize.
Sheppard: I'm sure that's what the crew were saying when they abandoned ship.

(Ronon is searching containers in a storage area for supplies as Teyla enters.)
Teyla: Have you found anything?
Ronon: (holding up a drill) Not unless you know a way to cook this.

(McKay describes the way in which the subspace capacitor works.)
McKay: Think of it like a-a tap pouring water into a bucket. When the bucket's full, the drive engages. Except this particular tap has no valve.
Sheppard: That seems like a pretty serious design flaw, don't you think?

(Discussing their plans to return)
McKay: In a spectacular feat of multi-dimensional mathematics, I have discovered a way to send the ship back along the path it's previously traveled, bypassing the navigation system altogether.
Sheppard: Wait a minute. You're talking about putting this thing in reverse?
McKay: Exactly.
Sheppard: I just suggested that two hours ago.
McKay: And naturally I dismissed it out of hand, but then I realized that, including the original designer, not one, but two versions of myself have failed to make this thing work. I had to think not like me, in fact, I had to think like the opposite of me, and it doesn't get much more opposite than you.
Sheppard: I'll take that as a compliment.

(Ronon loses his temper over the weapons console and starts punching it)
Sheppard: Easy, Chewie! Those buttons are your friends! Just keep trying!
Ronon: I'M TRYING!!!!

Alternate-Sheppard All right, looks like that's the last of 'em, so, uh, so what happens now?
Sheppard: Well, we go our own ways.
Alternate-Sheppard: Just like that?
Sheppard: Pretty much.
Alternate-Sheppard: Well, the thing is, we do have a few questions. See, the Daedalus we know was destroyed two years ago in a battle with Replicators.
Sheppard: Sorry to hear that, but this isn't exactly our Daedalus. We're just ... borrowing it for a while.
Alternate-Sheppard: OK, I have no idea what that means.
Sheppard: Like I said, it's a long story.
Alternate-Sheppard: All right, Daedalus, good luck.
Sheppard: Thank you, Colonel. And one last thing: it's been a pleasure. You're obviously a man of great integrity here, and a dedicated commander, and a very skilled pilot.
Alternate-Sheppard: Well, that's funny. I was gonna say the same to you.

(McKay is holding Torren)
Teyla: (to McKay) I think you'll make an excellent father someday.
Sheppard: (stands up, in shock) I've seen a lot of scary things in my time but that thought scares me the most.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • The working title for this episode was "The Flying Dutchman".
  • This is the third episode, after "Sateda" and "Phantoms" in which Dr. Rodney McKay is shot. This gives him the Atlantis trifecta of being hit with an arrow, a bullet, and a laser.
  • Lt. Colonel John Sheppard again refers to Ronon Dex as "Chewie", after he becomes mad at the controls, which Chewbacca does during some of the space battles in the Star Wars films. Also, the scene where the alien ship almost crashes into the bridge is very similar to the scene in Star Wars VI in which the Executor is destroyed.
  • In the second alternate reality, alternate Lt. Colonel John Sheppard states that their Daedalus was destroyed during the attack of the Asurans in 2006. This implies that some events played out in that reality sooner. In the prime 2006 (our 2006), the Atlantis expedition had just discovered the Asurans. It is possible the Daedalus was destroyed during their events of "The Return, Part 2".
  • The chart behind the alternate Daedalus' captain's chair is set at a different angle (at about 90 degrees) and is orange, instead of green. This was simply a means to differentiate the alternate Daedalus from the prime, as confirmed by the episode's writer Alan McCullough.
  • On Joseph Mallozzi's blog, the writer for the episode, Alan McCullough, said that in one of the alternate realities that was discussed the Ancients won the war against the Wraith; it was decided that this would detract from the story and it never made it to production.
  • The consoles on the alternate Daedalus are denoted as those belonging to the Odyssey in the upper left corner in many shots throughout the episode.
  • The scene where Ronon opens the door to find a tall, bald alien on the other side echoes a similar scene in 1951's The Thing from Another World.
  • This episode takes place over the course of just a few hours.
  • This episode takes place at least 16 days after "Broken Ties".
  • This episode appears to take place a short time after "Broken Ties" as this is Teyla Emmagan's first mission since she rejoined the team, an event that occurred at the end of "Broken Ties".


  • The plaque on the Daedalus bridge reads "Advanced Tactical Deployment, Deep Space Defence, U.S.S. Daedalus, Fast Attack Wing". Being a ship of United States of America make and service, "Defence" should be spelled "Defense".
  • When Dr. Rodney McKay powers up the systems in the alternate reality drive room, the two levers in the panels are twisted sideways. McKay is only seen turning one of them upright but in the shot he does so, the other one is upright as well despite not having been just a moment before. Also, the one he turns is not the same one he was just shown grabbing.
  • After the Daedalus jumps back to the first reality, McKay uses the sensors to scan the planet for any signs of an alternate Atlantis. However, moments before the jump, the screen clearly reads "sensors offline", meaning McKay wouldn't have been able to use them to scan the planet. While he could've brought them back online, it is highly unlikely that McKay could've fixed the system that quickly.
  • At the 30:15 mark (approximately), McKay says the words, "To get past those aliens, we're going to need sublight engines, and I'm going to need to fix them in time," but these lines are clearly edited in. In fact, McKay is walking away when he speaks the second half ("...and I'm going to need to fix them in time"), and his lips do not appear to be moving. This may not be a goof, but it's an oddly altered audio moment; the quality of David Hewlett's voice changes when he first speaks the words, "To get past those aliens..."

Other languages[]

  • Hungarian: A Daedalus változatok (The Daedalus Versions)
  • German: Die Daedalus Variationen (The Daedalus Variations)
  • French: Tous les possibles (All the possibilities)

External links[]

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