Getting to Know: Rodney McKay, Resident Esperidoeidiphobic and Genius of Atlantis

May 2012 Silmarien Szilagyi

"Please, I'm Rodney McKay. Difficult takes a few seconds. Impossible, a few minutes."

Yes, he really did say that. And that quote really is the epitome of the man. Dr. Rodney McKay is a remarkable combination of sheer arrogance and intelligence, with generous helpings of loyalty and odd quirks (read: citrus phobia), and a dash of unexpected kindness. And I must admit, albeit reluctantly and unbeknownst to Dr. McKay, that it was a pleasure getting to know him during our interview.

When I sat down in the mess hall in Atlantis, butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and I'd regretted eating those crepes for breakfast. Dr. McKay's arrival was imminent--food was always a guaranteed draw--and I was dreading his customary cracks on my intelligence. I was certainly no astrophysicist. But imagine my surprise when Dr. McKay was all politeness--or at least as polite as he could be--as he sauntered into the mess hall and took the seat across from me.

SSz: Good morning, Dr. McKay, and thank you for sitting down with me!
RM: Oh, it's really my pleasure. There's nothing I love more than talking about me. (grins)

If it were anyone else, I would think he was being sarcastic. But no, he's 100% sincere.

SSz: Let's dive in, shall we? Is it true your name is actually Meredith Rodney McKay?
RM: (mutters) I can never escape that, can I? Yes, it's true, but no one, except my bratty sister Jeannie, calls me that. It's just Rodney. Or Dr. McKay, if you prefer.

SSz: And you have a fear of citrus fruits, am I correct? Col. Sheppard gave me this lemon in case you were rude.
RM: Oh very funny. (recoils from lemon) It's more than a fear--it's a lethal allergy, thank you very much.

SSz: I'm sorry. I had to ask. So tell us about your first day in Atlantis. I hear it was quite memorable.
RM: I suppose you could say nearly drowning to death at the bottom of the ocean is memorable. And we would have, too, had I not figured out how to raise Atlantis to the surface.

SSz: And that marks the first of many times you've saved Atlantis and its occupants. Very heroic indeed.
RM: Precisely! But everyone seems to forget that until they need something from me. At least you understand and appreciate my contributions.

SSz: I'm sure the others do, too. Remember when your jumper crashed into the ocean? Everyone was quite concerned and anxious to rescue you.
RM: (shudders) That was unpleasant, to say the least. But yes, Sam the whale led Sheppard and Zelenka to the jumper. God knows they wouldn't have found it by themselves.

I raised my eyebrows, and he realized his previous comments could be interpreted as ungrateful.

RM: (quickly) I'm grateful, of course. Zelenka rigged their jumper in very little time to function underwater, which is risky at such depths.

SSz: Speaking of Zelenka, would you say there's a professional rivalry between you two?
RM: (laughs) He wishes! Zelenka's intelligent, but I'm brilliant.

SSz: Confident, too. Tell us about the time you destroyed three-quarters of a solar system.
RM: (glares) Alright, I screwed up...big time, but it's not an exact science, as I told Dr. Weir. And besides, everyone's entitled to a mistake or two...

SSz: Of course, but destroying part of a solar system is more than a mistake--it's a catastrophe. But moving on. Who would you say is your closest friend in Atlantis?
RM: (thinks) Probably Beckett or Sheppard. Though I suppose you could say Dr. Keller and I have grown close...

SSz: Yes, so I've heard. Congratulations. She's a phenomenal physician, I'm led to believe.
RM: (smiles) Yes, she is.

Anyone who knows Dr. McKay would realize how truly remarkable that admission is.

SSz: Unfortunately that's all I have time for. I'm scheduled to give a tour of Atlantis in half an hour. Thank you again for sitting down with me. And thank you for helping keep Earth Wraith-free!
RM: My pleasure, Ms. Szilagyi! It's just a shame you're leaving Atlantis soon. It would be great if we could have talked about my latest project.

As I walked from the mess hall to the gateroom, I couldn't help but smile. Rodney McKay is truly one-of-a-kind, in both good ways and bad.

1. Wright, B., and Robert C. Cooper. "Stargate Atlantis." 2004-2009.