One Scene Per Episode → 1x02 Rising Part 2
There is this thing in fic that I encounter all the time that’s just a TRAGIC misrepresentation, I think, wherein Sheppard is the one bound by all these rules (military training, horrible upper class virginian life (DON’T GET ME STARTED), the stress of keeping oneself in the closet, overcompensation in response to one’s black mark, to name a few) and McKay is the loosey goosey creative one, because he played piano at one point and is a supergenius social misfit.
And while all that stuff comes from a perfectly logical place, IT IS ENTIRELY INCORRECT to conclude that Sheppard isn’t the illogical one. Sheppard’s the one who thinks laterally, and he’s ACTUALLY the creative one in their relationship (platonic or otherwise) and over the course of the show the primary reason McKay manages to redeem himself is through putting aside what he sees as logic in the face of irrational situations.
So all these fics where McKay’s the one who gets Sheppard to loosen up and eat cheetos on the couch in his underpants are wrong wrong wrongity wrong. Because Sheppard’s the one who named the Puddlejumpers.
#things I strongly agree with
Okay I’m going to go into this a little more:
Sheppard’s genetically similar enough to the Ancients that he is a lightswitch, and in that terrible episode where he gets stuck in the time dialation field at the end, the glowy tart who wanted his chicken legs all to herself is basically like “hey, you want to ascend? Cuz you can totally hitch a ride with us.” And Sheppard’s like “nah I’m good thxkbai.” And then in the Tao of Rodney (ablooblooblooo) Elizabeth suggests that he help McKay along the path of ascension, and much to his chagrin, it seems like he is, actually, capable of teaching McKay some things along that line.
So you’ve got this character, who has passed *through* the aforementioned gauntlet of restrictions and discipline and limitations and rules, and functions *despite* all of that. Ascension is not presented in a completely consistent manner. And of course neither are the Ancients. For one thing, the Ancients are giant dickweeds who left a universe full of messes they neglected to clean up. But for the Stargate verse, there IS a precedent, that is broken down over the course of SG-1 and Atlantis, but never quite completely dismantled, that ascension IS something to aspire to. Not as an individual, but as a species, or perhaps more as a collective consciousness.
It’s hinted at numerous times that Sheppard could ascend any time he wanted to, and that the people who ascend are profoundly detached from reality. And you see it, not always perfectly written in the show, but it’s certainly something one can choose to interpret, that the moments when John is the *least* attached to the people around him are the times when he’s the *least* logical. It’s even reflected physically. When he’s *flying alone*, he’s usually doing so to save someone’s ass in a totally harebrained scheme, that will most likely get him killed. He pre-releases himself “spiritually”. Teyla calls him on it, and so do other people in the show. McKay doesn’t call him on it so much as react violently every time it happens, turn it around and make it something selfish.
McKay, on the other hand, is thoroughly entrenched in his rules. He’s allergic to everything, labels everything, has diagrams in his mind of everything, hauls all the equipment he might ever possibly need with him all the time. He’s the one who has a cat. He’s got mommy issues out the wazoo and social hangups. You see this all the time in people who are too smart too fast too young, that in order to cope with the overwhelming sensory input of existence, they have to create their own web of personal limitations. It’s not that McKay isn’t imaginative, and it’s not that he’s working by the SAME rules as everybody else, but he’s got his OWN set and they’re elaborate as all hell, BECAUSE he’s so imaginative.
And I don’t want to say that McKay’s logical and precise worldview is bad. It is clearly reciprocal. Do you think that Sheppard WOULDN’T ascend if McKay wasn’t clomping around like an ill-tailored permanent reminder of physical existence? Sheppard’s certainly not sticking around for the protection of Earth and he’s certainly self-aware enough to figure out he’s got options. He doesn’t yearn for normality, because it seems like he’s never experienced it. McKay provides a focus, really, for existing.
This is why there is such a catalytic reaction between Sheppard and McKay. I’m not talking about slashfic here, I’m talking show canon. Sheppard shoots McKay in the leg and pushes him off the balcony in the second episode. McKay is *psyched* about this. Because it is both Science! and completely lateral creative ridiculousness that is past the bounds of normality.