Directors Series: 6.06 "Abyss"
A Goa'uld lord holds O'Neill captive and tortures him for information about the Tok'ra. As O'Neill suffers, Daniel Jackson appears and offers support. Meanwhile, SG-1 races to rescue O'Neill before it's too late.
Guide | Transcript
Note: Italics indicate scenes from finished episode.
MONTAGE OF SHOTS
[Director Martin Wood mugs for the camera.]
[Ulla Friss as Shallan sets up to look down into the cell, camera behind her.]
[Two Jaffa guards drag a walking O'Neill to his cell.]
[Shot of 3-D paper model of the cell set with scale figure inside.]
[O'Neill throws his shoe through Daniel.]
[Monitors show the tail slate clapping.]
[Ba'al presses a button, and O'Neill falls into an abyss.]
[Wood approaches Anderson, who sits in a director's chair.]
[Shanks points off-camera, then scurries out of the shot.]
[Wood lifts Shanks from the waist and maneuvers him so that Shanks's feet touch the wall. Anderson sits against that same wall.]
[Anderson makes a face at the camera as he walks by.]
OPENING CREDITS: SG-1 DIRECTORS SERIES MARTIN WOOD ABYSS
[The sarcophagus lid opens to reveal O'Neill inside.]
What I want to show you right now is I wanna show you a little bit how the prep process goes for a director.
[Wood holds a camcorder to film himself, walking while talking.]
This is my office.
[Various pen and ink sketches of Abyss sets are scattered around the desk. Wood flips through them.]
Here's what happens first. We get preliminary sketches. These are, uh, drawings deciding, uh, sort of where things are going to be, how the sets are going to be put together. The production designer, uh, Bridget McGuire, puts these together. These are her rough sketches when she showed them to me.
[Pauses at a picture of a grid. A clip from the finished episode shows O'Neill lying on the grate.]
Here's a concept picture of the grate that O'Neill's lying against, or will be lying against.
[Wood shows a full color picture of a yellow stained glass styled window.]
A full color rendition of the windows that are going to be in, uh, Ba'al's torture chamber.
[Ba'al picks up a dagger, the windows are visible in the background.]
[Wood holds up another full color picture which shows a wide shot of the torture room.]
And of course, this is the gloss, showing us what actually the torture chamber will look like.
[Ba'al and O'Neill in the torture room.]
Who are you?
You go first.
[Ba'al releases a dagger, which stabs O'Neill in the shoulder.]
Part of the problem, when you're, uh, prepping a show like this is that uh, the set isn't built until often the day before you go in, so you can't spend a lot of time standing on the set figuring out where you're gonna put people, where you're gonna put cameras, things like that, the way you can with normal standing sets on the base.
So one of the other things that happens is that they will build us a "mockette", or a model, of the rooms that we're gonna be using. Now here's an example of a "mockette" of the, uh, torture chamber itself.
[Wood adjusts the camera from his face to show a three dimensional small model of the torture chamber, complete with scale figures of Ba'al and O'Neill. Wood points out the human figures.]
Uh a little O'Neill hanging up over there, a little Ba'al sitting underneath here. So a couple things that this allows me to do. One is, I can see perspective, I can see how big the people are compared to, um, the set itself. It also allows me to do this.
[Wood picks up the section of the "grate" with O'Neill stuck on it. As he turns it, the section is revealed to be multi-layered. Wood sets it on it's side so that O'Neill is lying parallel to the floor.]
Trying to figure out what gonna happen when we actually shoot O'Neill on this set, because we're going to see it…like this. We're going to be shooting O'Neill…from here.
[Ba'al and O'Neill in torture chamber.]
The truth is rewarded.
I don't know anything else.
There may be much more of this Kanan still in your memory than even you know. It'll come to you…in time.
[Ba'al presses a button on the panel. The grate comes apart, and O'Neill falls into an abyss.]
[Wood pans to another small 3-D model set.]
The other set, of course, is the, uh, corridor set.
[Wood takes off the cap of the set to show half a corridor, with an octagonal door in the center leading to a smaller chamber. A small figure is inside the chamber.]
It ends in the cell. In theory, using the mockette as the model, I should be able to bring guards from here around the corner…
[Wood takes the small figure and moves it into the corridor. An episode clip of the guards bringing O'Neill to his cell appears before cutting back to the model. The figure Wood has been handling is in front of the cell door. Another small figure appears to be standing on the "wall" of the model cell.]
And we should be able to see this kind of an "over", where we see O'Neill standing at the back of the, um, of the chamber, on the floor. Now this is really what's going to sell the anti-gravity. Again, this is all in theory.
[The guards press a button outside the cell door. O'Neill gets on his back and slides down the "floor" of the cell. He looks up to see the guards leave. The clip switches back to the model.]
Now this becomes a very complicated shot, the one I've just done with this camera because, uh, in order to bring somebody from here to here, of course O'Neill can't be standing on the floor, back there. That's not going to work.
[Wood shifts the camera to a different model of the cell. It is completely closed in on all sides, and the camera looks down from the ceiling area at the small figure standing inside.]
So the way we're going to do it, we actually take, a gimbaled set right here, which is actually going to be vertical, like this. It's a second set, like the one we built there, and we're going to shoot it from above.
[Shooting clip of monitors showing view of camera on catwalk. Another camera shows where the camera is.]
[Wood lies face down on a small plank that sits over the edge of the top of the secondary cell set. Dan Shea is holding him steady on the plank.]
And I think that we probably lose the perspective on how far from the wall we are. And I think that might be a little bit easier. I certainly covered the whole place.
[The camera pans away from Wood to show O'Neill's stand-in sitting in the cell looking up.]
Hopefully, I'll have this camera, and be able to show you somewhere in this behind the scenes how that actually works.
[Anderson as O'Neill looks up. Ullis positions herself on the plank and looks down at Anderson. A camera shoots from over her shoulder Another camera shows the angle of Ullis/Shallan, the camera over her shoulder, and Wood.]
That's the shot! You've got the shot right there!
[In his cell, O'Neill looks up to see Shallan sitting at the entrance to the cell looking down on him.]
Is it you?
[O'Neill looks up at her in confusion.]
CREDIT: THE RETURN OF DANIEL JACKSON
[O'Neill looks over to see Daniel sitting on the cell bench, waving at him.]
I leave, and look at the mess you get yourself into.
GUEST STAR TRAILER
[Michael Shanks, wearing Daniel's costume, sits in front of a lighted mirror in his trailer.]
Let's talk about the ascended Daniel Jackson.
I'm energy now.
How's that working out for you?
Good. Actually, very…
END EPISODE CLIP
It's not so much, I think, the important part that we're going to see about, is not so much what has happened to him as what he…how it has affected…how he comes back in whatever form he comes back to the show…and I think, you know, we're still in the early days on working out all the kinks of trying to figure out exactly what he is.
It's a shame you're a delusion.
I'm here. I'm really here.
Sure you are.
[O'Neill takes off his shoe and throws it through Daniel.]
My only important part about it is that the character be no different. The character be no omnipotent, um, angelic, uh-uh person. That he's still the pathos-ridden fool that he always was, and uh, we're basically just seeing an old friend come back and talk to a friend, and try and be as helpful as possible. The only difference is that no one else seems to be able to see him.
[While Shanks speaks, footage appears of Shanks and Anderson goofing around during rehearsals on the set.]
What if you did a little scouting for me? That'd be all right.
Then help me!
Not that way.
[Intercuts of Wood's camcorder recording the shooting of the scene.]
They can see you, right?
A distraction. That's all I'm asking for.
[Wood shows the camera panning to Anderson/O'Neill. Shanks steps out of frame to stand behind the camera.]
Or something like that.
[The final episode footage shows the guards approaching the cell door. Panning around, O'Neill is alone in his cell, looking in vein for Daniel.]
INT—STUDIO SET SOUNDSTAGE
[Chuckling can be heard in the background. Various crew members move equipment or mill around. Wood stands in front of the camera, with someone else holding it.]
We've got a problem here.
[He walks over to where Anderson and Shanks sit next to each other in director's chairs, talking.]
Hey, uh, guys? We've got to work on the acting a bit.
[He hovers by Anderson, turning back to make a conspiratorial face to the camera.]
So were we.
Well, we were, actually, until you interrupted us.
[Anderson smiles and playfully shoves Wood back. Shanks laughs.]
(to camera, smiling)
Oops. They were running lines.
Hey, director boy. Just bugger off, eh?
LATER ON SET
[Anderson walks towards the camera, now being wielded by Wood.]
(in low fake ominous voice)
There's a reason some people are behind the camera.
[Wood laughs heartily.]
OFFICE OF BRAD WRIGHT, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
The goal of the entire episode was to come up with a solid reason, uh, for the character to return. Because once, uh, once Daniel ascended, we didn't want him to just be Clarence, the angel that comes by and says "hi guys!" and helps us out with whatever problem we may have.
EPISODE SHOOTING/FINAL VERSION CLIP
I told you I'd come back.
If the Daniel Jackson I knew was really here.
Then do something.
[Anderson swings his legs over some bit of equipment, rolling into a standing position opposite Shanks.]
Listen to me. I don't want to go through that again. I'd have busted you out! Blown this [beep]hole to [beep] all to [beep].
[Shanks turns around to the crew and puts his hand over his mouth, mimicking a horrified expression. The camera pans over to Rick Dean, Chief Lighting Technician.]
You can't say that on DVD.
There's a certain legal practice of these people about how they can interact with other beings, and uh, there's certain rules. And, uh, he cannot betray those rules. But, in this particular circumstance, he's found a little bit of a, as Daniel always seems to do, to find a little bit of a way to use their own…find a loophole in their own rules, Daniel-Daniel being the diplomat and the lawyer that he seems to be all the time. So I think that, you know what, at the ending there, that beat is the, uh, so that's the uh, subtext behind it.
EPISODE SHOOTING/FINAL FOOTAGE
[Camera monitor shows scene.]
You in the place you're at right now, you don't have any other choices!…Except that outfit. Line?
We're not just talking about your…
We're not just talking about your life here…oh, I'm into it…we're talking about your soul!
[Shanks attempts not to laugh at his flub. Anderson stays in character as O'Neill.]
This is it! What I'm offering you is your only way out.
You're wrong about that too.
[Daniel looks at him.]
I'm going away again, and you're…you can put an end to it. You can stop it. You could be the one. Do you know what that means…
[As Anderson rambles these ad libs for pacing, Shanks puts his fingers to his ears and shakes his head, mumbling "No's" so as not to hear "O'Neill's rant".]
[Anderson as O'Neill and Shanks as Daniel immediately fall into character and simultaneously look up towards the ceiling at the cue.]
ON SET, CELL CHAMBER
You know what, they give us a room to act, and they don't give us any damn props. I think it was done on purpose.
Or furniture. Nothing to hide behind, nothing to grab hold of, nothing to play with, just…
Show me how Daniel Jackson disappears in this scene.
[Shanks pauses for a moment, looking serious, then points off camera.]
What is that over there?
[Shanks then scrambles out of view of the camera.]
[Wood shifts the camera to film himself.]
It's like some kinda weird t.v. magic!
[Wood shifts the camera back to Shanks, who is sitting on the cell bench again, looking at a script.]
It is. You should see when you're ascended, you should see the kind of card tricks you can do. It's amazing.
[Wood speaks to Anderson and Shanks. Anderson is sitting on a bench, leaning against the wall.]
…and actually have him walking down this wall at this point.
Here, why don't we just keep going? Or…
If you don't mind.
Get up, if you don't mind.
[Shanks dubiously rises.]
I can't wait to see him walking down.
[Shanks looks very wary as Martin shifts him into a standing position a few feet from the wall.]
We're just going to bend and…now we're going to lift you up. Okay?…
I don't want to play this anymore. I got the job!
And then you just walk down. Ready?
[People are heard snickering off-camera.]
[Shanks obediently bends over. Wood lifts him by the waist and shifts so that Shanks is "standing" on the wall.]
Oh! Damn! Oh.
Okay, and walk!
[Shanks takes a few steps, looking like a puppet in exaggerated step movements. Wood keeps a tight hold of him, but is grinning wildly.]
That's a Rick reverse.
[Shanks walks all the way down the wall and stands on the floor again, groaning in relief. Anderson suppresses a grin.]
I think, uh, to come back in, um, is great, at this particular point. It's early in the season, everybody's still fresh and happy and bubbly…
[Clip of Anderson and Shanks laughing and goofing around while sitting in their director's chairs on set.]
and, you know, cheerful and whatnot. And to come back here is like a homecoming of sorts. It's just, uh, it's different. It's definitely a strange dynamic to uh…it'll be a lot stranger when I-when I leave again, but I think it's always…it's a home, that I love to come back, and see, and see the same faces. Everybody's been great! That's the best way I can put that.
Transcribed for Stargate Solutions by Aurora Novarum, November 2006.
--Michelle 20:25, 3 November 2006 (PST)