This article is about the episode. For the city, see Las Vegas.

Gallery Episode Transcript

"Vegas" is the nineteenth episode of the fifth season of Stargate: Atlantis.


In the city of Las Vegas in an alternate reality, police Detective John Sheppard investigates a series of bizarre murders where each body appears to have desiccated. He is soon called to Area 51, where Dr. Rodney McKay explains the situation.


A crime scene in the middle of the desert.

In the middle of a desert, police have cordoned off an area as a crime scene. A car arrives, with John Sheppard inside, who is apparently a detective for the Las Vegas Police Department. He doesn't reveal anything to the female reporter, and simply enters the crime scene. They have found a corpse, the apparent eighth victim of a bizarre serial murder in the space of three months, where the corpse is withered, with the same mysterious chest wound, and traces of radiation in the victim.

Back in Las Vegas, the police discover that the victim was 39 year old Thomas Green, who was missing for only three days. The regular autopsy doctor is replaced by Dr. Jennifer Keller, who says that she didn't find traces of radiation around the wound. Sheppard a little suspicious and still thinking that the radiation poisoning is the key to finding the killer, Sheppard calls someone at a local hospital to see if anyone is being treated for, or is showing signs of, radiation poisoning.

Meanwhile, at the Lucky Rollers Motel, Laurence Foster vomits on a toilet. He calls his wife who he tells that he thinks the cause is food poisoning, but is forced to end the call when he notices his nose is bleeding again. He gets up because the rock music from the next room is getting too loud. He attempts to go next door to tell the occupant to turn down the music. However, he is disturbed to see someone inhuman, stretching out his hand with a notable slit on the palm (a Wraith).

The next day in Police Headquarters, Detective Sheppard is paid a visit by Agent Richard Woolsey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who wants Sheppard's co-operation, and is not willing to tell John the FBI's interest in the case, but knows that the murders are happening more frequently. Sheppard claims that he has picked up no leads and soon leaves to catch a lead he just received from a text message, and doesn't tell Woolsey. Detective Sheppard goes to a hospital, where a Nurse says that just yesterday, a man came in with flu-like systems, but suspects radiation poisoning when Sheppard mentions it, as the nurse noticed the man having nose bleeds. Sheppard traces the man to the Lucky Rollers Motel, where the manager recognizes the man, and gives Sheppard the logs.

The Wraith (disguised as a human.)

Later that night, the Wraith listens to "Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson. He uses makeup, molds and gloves to disguise himself as a Human, to avoid detection by the unsuspecting Tau'ri. He walks out of the motel and heads towards a hotel casino, with Sheppard following. The Wraith enters in a poker game with six men, later joined by Sheppard. For the whole time, the other players notice that one of the players (the Wraith) never looks at anyone, but keeps winning lots of money. During the game, he collects his chips, even though the game has not yet finished. The Wraith gets into a physical altercation with another player and runs away, pushing Sheppard in the process. Sheppard gives chase and picks up a gun from a security guard who fails to capture the Wraith. Eventually, Sheppard corners the Wraith on the rooftop. However, he eludes capture by falling a hundred feet to the street below, which he manages to survive. He gets up and walks away, with Sheppard in total bewilderment.

Back at the Lucky Rollers Motel, Sheppard returns and finds Foster, withered and dead (having been fed on). There, Sheppard finds a bag full of money, and takes it to the trunk of his car. He is then surrounded by Agent Woolsey and three SUVs, who tells him to join them. He joins them, and the SUVs drive to Area 51. En-route Woolsey admits to Sheppard that he is not from the FBI. They arrive in order to tell Sheppard what he is into. However, first he must sign a Non-disclosure agreement, which he refuses to sign.

Alternate Rodney McKay.

Woolsey eventually calls Dr. Rodney McKay to assist.

McKay enters the room and instantly shows that he is not to be trifled with, threatening to ruin Sheppard's life if he doesn't co-operate - even though there is not much to ruin.

McKay says he knows a lot about him; dishonorably discharged from service in Afghanistan for disobeying orders to rescue a medic he was romantically involved with. Four US soldiers and eight civilians were killed after his helicopter was shot down, but he avoided jail time through political reasons. He never married, he became an LVPD cop, and after failing the exam twice, eventually promoted to Detective. However, his arrest record is low due to mishandling of evidence, and he never had a partner because no one can stand working with him. He is also $13,000 in debt due to his gambling problems. Finally, McKay wonders how he lives with himself. However, before McKay turns and leaves, he tells Sheppard that he once met another version of him. McKay is able to convince him that they are not his enemy, and that they want the same thing as him.

A swarm of drones destroy the Hive Ship that attacked Earth.

McKay explains that the suspect he is looking for is actually not human, but an alien, a Wraith, who can feed on human beings, but fortunately do not know where Earth is ... yet. However, a few months ago, a Wraith Hive ship attempted to attack Earth, but failed after the weapons platform activated in Antarctica. They used a Control chair, which they now keep in Area 51. However, one Wraith seems to have survived, the one Sheppard has been trying to arrest and that the Wraith is being exposed to high levels of radiation, which is why all his victims had radioactive residue on them. McKay tells Sheppard that Area 51 is also looking for him, since they believe he is going to contact the other Wraith from his home galaxy, Pegasus and inform them of Earth's location.

John meets Todd.

Sheppard then gets a glimpse of what a Wraith actually looks like, and shows him a cell where one, known as "Todd" is being held. "Todd" has been held in captivity and denied the opportunity to feed to the point where he has become delirious from starvation, turning into somewhat of a poet, albeit a bad one, so McKay claims. "Todd" chants to Sheppard, beckoning him to come inside his cell so he can show him his 'destiny', before saying his full name. After McKay snaps him out of the trance ("they can get in your head"), McKay tells Sheppard that he and his team were called back to Earth from the city of Atlantis to help track down the Wraith due to their experience dealing with them. Sometime later, McKay overhears Dr. Radek Zelenka give a presentation to a team about a worst-case scenario; the Wraith could be building a bomb, but McKay interrupts and rebuffs his statement, saying that the Wraith's intention is to alert other Wraith, and they should focus on that instead.

When they are both outside, McKay tells Sheppard that a little while ago, he and his team accidentally opened a rift in space/time and visited another reality, in which that Sheppard is somewhat of a hero having saved the world several times over. Sheppard says that doesn't sound much like him, to which McKay responds "I don't think there's much difference between you and that other John Sheppard I met. It's amazing how one incident can entirely alter the course of your life. Still, I like to believe you have the same strength of character. That's why I told you the truth." Eventually, McKay lets Sheppard go, giving him his phone number in case he finds anything. Sometime after he is gone, McKay and Zelenka are still arguing about the latter's theory of the Wraith building the bomb. At this point, Woolsey enters and berates the both of them. He says that he has Earth's best mind power the planet has to offer, and yet a "nobody detective" has gotten closer than anyone in this room.

John turns around to stop the Wraith.

However, Sheppard decides to resign from his job. He packs up his belongings from his office and when Captain Hendricks wonders what he is doing, Sheppard doesn't answer, but just hands him his badge, gun, and his box, keeping only his Johnny Cash poster. He drives out of the city with the money he found, presumably to start a new life. However, while driving, he recalls what McKay said to him, and what John overheard about how the Wraith maybe trying to contact the other Wraith. At that point Sheppard realizes where the Wraith is likely headed and does a 180 deciding to try and stop the Wraith.

Back at Area 51, McKay, Woolsey, Zelenka and other scientists are trying to trace the radiation, which only narrows the search area to several hundred square miles, since the desert was a massive nuclear testing site. CMSgt. Walter Harriman tells the three that Sheppard is calling them. Sheppard tells McKay that he has found the Wraith. He had noticed a trailer at the motel, which he has found connected to some powerlines, meaning the Wraith is using the national grid to power the transmitter he salvaged from parts of his crashed Wraith Dart. Area 51 is able to trace the location of Sheppard's car, having previously put a tracker on it and sends two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to the location. McKay tells Sheppard not to engage, but the signal is cut off before Sheppard could hear him. Sheppard slowly approaches the trailer.

Sheppard taking cover as the Wraith and his plan is destroyed.

Meanwhile, the Wraith had begun dialing up the power to the transmitter when he notices Sheppard's car approaching. The Wraith arms himself with machine guns he acquired, while Sheppard exits his car and loads his pistol. However, as Sheppard slowly approaches the trailer, the Wraith fires a single shot, which hits John's chest. John runs to take cover beside his car as the Wraith opens fire. Sheppard returns fire, but quickly runs out of bullets.

Sheppard proving to the Wraith that he had no more ammunition.

He reaches for the glove box for more ammunition, reloads and fires each shot into the Wraith's chest, but they don't affect him. As Sheppard's injuries start to overwhelm him, having no more ammunition with which to fight, the Wraith attempts to feed on him, but then notices two planes zeroing in on his position.

Sheppard lying on the desert ground, dying.

The Wraith quickly runs to his trailer and powers up his transmitter, which is giving off energy ten times that of an active Stargate, and rising. The two Thunderbolts then manage to destroy the trailer, as well as cut off the Wraith transmission and kill the Wraith. However, back at Area 51, McKay discovers that while there wasn't enough power to alert the Wraith in Pegasus of Earth's location, the explosion has caused a temporary rift in space/time that resulted in Earth's coordinates being sent, amplified, to alternate realities, meaning the Wraith from other realities know of Earth's location. At dusk, an injured Sheppard attempts to get away from the scene, but he slumps to the ground after only a few feet, where he then lies on the ground, and is assumed to have died.


Appearances for Vegas





Sentient Species





Notable quotes

Sheppard: I've got eight bodies in three months and I don't like it when the lead coroner on my case gets replaced by somebody who doesn't look old enough to be in medical school.
Keller: Maybe someone feels the need for some fresh eyes on the case.
Sheppard: They should've just replaced me.

McKay: If you fail to cooperate, I have the power to ruin your life.
Sheppard: Well you don't realize how little I have to lose.
McKay: I know everything about you. You've never been married, the only thing you own is a car, you have 2,363 dollars in the bank, and are 13,000 dollars in debt. Not counting off-the-books gambling losses to a guy named Mikey. What else? You finally passed your detective exam after four years and two failed attempts. And now barely scrape by on quarterly performance reviews. Occasionally, you solve a case. But, unfortunately, the charges don't always stick due to the means in which the evidence was collected. You don't have a partner, because no one can stand working with you. Am I getting this right?
Sheppard: I also like Spearmint gum.
(McKay throws a pack on the table)
McKay: Have some.
Sheppard: I was joking.
McKay: No you weren't. Let's go back further shall we? You were a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, but were dishonorably discharged for disobeying orders and trying to rescue a field medic trapped behind enemy lines. You were shot down, obviously survived, but unfortunately the crash killed four American soldiers along with eight civilians. You avoided jail time, the report was sealed, for various political reasons. These things happen, right? Somehow you've managed to live with yourself since then, but I'm not sure other people would if they knew the truth.
Sheppard: I don't really care.
McKay: Yeah, that's too bad. (Walks towards the door) You know; I once met another version of you. He was very different.

McKay: I suppose it all sounds like science fiction to you.
Sheppard: I'm not really a fan.

Todd's "poetry": Fish in a pond, busy, busy, lots to do here and there...
McKay: This one fancies himself a bit of a poet. Not good...
Todd's "poetry": Dry as a desert outside, no place to go.
McKay: He's also delirious from starvation.
Todd's "poetry": Eat up, get stronger, think and hope, think and hope... Don't look now!... Oh, keep dreaming. There must be some other reason for your existence.
Sheppard: Did you... get anything from him?
McKay: Nothing. Believe me we tried... everything.
Todd's "poetry": Defiance tastes like life itself. No river, no water... dry as a desert! Darkness all around... The harvest moon is rising... Wraith are never ending. I know the future... Come inside... I'll show you your destiny... John Sheppard!
McKay: ...They can get in your head.

McKay: Detective. Remember when I told you I once met another version of you?
Sheppard: Yeah.
McKay: I know you'll probably think this sounds ridiculous, but, a little a while ago we accidentally opened a rift in space-time. Went through to an alternate version of reality. It's very similar to ours in many ways. Met a team, much like the one I work with only, you were the leader. You were a hero. Saved the world, several times over.
Sheppard: Doesn't sound much like me.
McKay: I don't think there's much difference between you and that other John Sheppard I met. It's amazing how one incident can entirely alter the course of your life. Still, I like to believe you have the same strength of character. That's why I told you the truth.

(While discussing where the Wraith could be located)
Zelenka: He could have abandoned whatever resources he had and just gone into hiding.
McKay: (sarcastically) Oh yes, he probably got a job as a Klingon at Star Trek: The Experience.
Woolsey: That shut down.
Zelenka: Really? Damn, I wanted to see that.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • This episodes working title was "CSI: Atlantis" as it is styled after popular crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as they use similar "CSI style" flashback sequences in the beginning of the episode.
  • The logo for the United Earth Federation from the game Supreme Commander is on the morgue's door.
  • The McKay of this universe, at some point, accidentally tore open an inter-dimensional bridge and landed in an Alternate reality, which sounds like our universe from his description. However, due to the fact that the alternate McKay had never met his own universe's Sheppard before, he is not "Rod McKay" from the episode "McKay and Mrs. Miller", but another alternate. That and "Rod McKay" wasnt the cause of the tear in his universe, that was the fault of of the prime universe.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of the new Air Force Battle Dress Uniform, or Airman Battle Uniform. It is worn by Security Forces personnel on Area 51.
  • The McKay of this universe mentions that the field Medic Detective John Sheppard tried to save was a woman Sheppard was involved with. In the prime universe it was his friend Captain Charlie Holland. McKay also mentions that one difference altering Sheppard's divergence being he never saved the medic indicating that in the universe he visited he was able to save the medics life.
  • The alternate Zelenka pronounces "ZPM" with the Zed, much like McKay. This is the second time actor David Nykl used the non-American pronunciation.
  • The way in which "Todd" is imprisoned, along with his words and mannerisms, is highly reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter in the film The Silence of the Lambs, although they speak in poetic ways for different reasons (Lecter being a cruel man, Todd being delirious from hunger).
  • David Hewlett forgot to remove his wedding ring for some of the scenes but the producers decided to keep it on because it gives the impression that McKay and Dr. Jennifer Keller are married in this reality.
  • In this universe the Wraith are able to read the minds of humans. This is not possible in the normal Atlantis universe.
  • The episode is the 20th in production and with the cancellation of Stargate: Atlantis, this is also the final regular episode to be filmed.
  • This episode was filmed partially on location in Las Vegas, Nevada. The casino scenes were filmed at Planet Hollywood with the poker scene being filmed in a suite. In addition to that suite, the production also had to buy out all of the other rooms on that level for filming. While originally planning to film the bulk of the episode in Nevada, budget concerns forced the filming of the desert scenes to be done in Oliver, British Columbia. The Lucky Rollers Motel is a motel in Vancouver.
  • This episode, along with the series finale ("Enemy at the Gate"), was leaked to the internet on December 22, 2008.
  • The Blackberry phone that is used by John Shepherd is the same model as the one that Jennifer Keller borrowed from Terrence Kramer in "Brain Storm".
  • The initial shot of the A-10 Thunderbolt II banking left to attack the Wraith is styled in a similar manner as many of the shots that would later be seen in Stargate Universe, perhaps a stylistic precursor to the then-upcoming series.
  • The ending is similar to the end of the show Breaking Bad: as music plays over the scene following a gun battle, the main character lies down and apparently dies as the camera pans away from him.


  • The sound of the camera in the opening of the episode is one of a film camera, when the actual camera is a Digital camera and should only make a noise of flipping the mirror up and down, not the additional noise of rewinding the film.
  • It was mentioned that the wraith device was attempting to tap into the power grid, yet there was no attempt to shut down power along the lines where Sheppard was. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that the lines it was feeding from would even continue to operate once the power company detected such a significant demand spike as that usually indicates a fault of some sort (necessitating, an often automatic, shut down).
  • The sound effect used for the GAU-8 Avenger at 40:53 is woefully inaccurate, with the stock audio being used not even matching the shown fire rate of the CGI model.


  • Won Leo for "Best Picture Editing in a Dramatic Series" (Mike Banas)

Other languages

  • French: Las Vegas (dubbed in English)
  • German: Vegas (dubbed in English)
  • Hungarian: Vegas (dubbed in English)
  • Russian: Вегас (Vegas)

External links

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