The seventh episode of season five features a departure from the traditional "sci-fi light" formula of Stargate Atlantis that features elements of light comedy and light drama (hence the moniker) but rarely too much of either one. "Whispers" allows exec-prod Joe Mallozzi to return to his horror roots while also introducing the first ever all-female offworld team, which Joe says was an immediate hit with the other writers.
"I spoke to Will about it and he's like yeah -- Will Waring, who is our Director who directed the episode and he's also a big fan of horror movies -- so, you know, we actually did a little mini horror movie for the episode, Whispers. I pitched stuff to the guys and they really liked the idea." With the departure of Amanda Tapping who left the series in order to headline and produce the Scifi Channel original series Sanctuary, Mallozzi turned the loss a commanding female presence into an opportunity to explore that presence en masse.
"One of the things about TV, episodic television in general is, you know, at the end of the day you kind of know that your heroes are going to come out of it in one piece, more or less, unless you happen to be Carson Beckett (and trend A) or, you know, what have you. So I thought I was important to add this all female team for kind of two reasons. One, with Amanda leaving, I thought there was kind of a gender imbalance in the show that I kind of wanted to address by bringing in, or at least introducing some potentially recurring female characters. And two, have the audience invest in characters that you don't really know whether they're going to survive or not. And, you know, it was just really a fun episode."
Mallozzi, being a fan himself of the horror genre, understands that a basic fact of the human condition is that we fear what we can't see, and says that he uses that to great effect in Whispers with a lot of lingering fog and a few "jump at you" moments that he hopes won't cause too many complaints to the network.
New series regular Robert Picardo was asked about his feelings towards horror and exploring the darker side of people, and while sadly he doesn't appear in Whispers, he did say episodes and roles such as that one can be a great deal of fun.
"I love doing that. One of my favorite Voyager episodes was called The Darkling where my - it was a Jekyll and Hyde, you know, episode for my character and I got to play the sort of pure evil version of my regular program. So that's always a lot of fun for an actor to do. And especially since I worked weeks on the Sensored horror film earlier in the year, I think my dark side is very close to the surface. So I'm longing to bring it out in the Pegasus Galaxy."
Something to look forward to in a potential sixth season, perhaps.
This post is part of a week-long series on Stargate Atlantis. All posts can be found here.