Solutions Editorial: Season 10 Hopes

Looking Forward: Hopes for Season 10

by Aurora Novarum

First, thanks to the editors of Solutions for allowing me out of the wiki editing database to give my hopes and fears for Season Ten. This is just the opinion of one lowly and mostly unspoiled fan (in the “key” 18-34 age demographic, heh) and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Stargate SG-1 Solutions.

What has kept me coming back week after week for the eight years I’ve been watching the show is the chemistry, interaction, and interesting characters amongst the main cast. Regular people from Earth dealing with science fiction scenarios with an irreverent twist turned my curious interest in what “MacGyver” was doing now into full fan love for a great ensemble. Stargate SG-1 makes a nice blend of angst, humor, action and drama; perhaps not as “dark” as other sci-fi, but that can be a strength. It’s wonderful, fantasy light entertainment for an hour or two with characters you’d feel comfortable inviting into your home (mostly…perhaps it’s best to hide the silver if Vala stops by).

In any case, this is the relatively non-spoilery hopes and wishes regarding characters and arcs for the record breaking tenth season of Stargate: SG-1.

The Arcs

The Ori. This new enemy had great potential in Season Nine. Scary, ominous, mysterious. There was some personal animosity with Daniel as former ascended and the interaction between Daniel and Vala and that Ver Ager Administrator. Even the dry humor of the Prior who interacted with Mitchell in “Origin” created a personal and creepy face to the new enemy. Then the mystery and distance of the Ori created a detachment. The “souls” fueling them took a bit of the “fire” out of them as an enemy, made them more mundane. Even the Priors, the “face” of the Ori, are mere pawns. Perhaps the baby storyline in the works will breathe a personal connection into the enemy once again, and will be the exception to baby storylines not working well for tv.

Other Enemies: The Lucian Alliance could be an interesting new enemy, but their menace has been pretty much muted to date. It’s hard to get too upset about a mafia with addictive maize. And they’ve been pretty much buffoons in every appearance. Give them a bit more menace, and they can be an entertaining occasional thorn in SG-1’s side. Vala’s connection helps create a grey in the SG-1 world of black and white. Interactions with the Lucian Alliance or other newly freed populations would help fuel that. And of course, there’s still a few Goa’uld kicking around to create lots of mischief for the new season.

The Allies. Are we going to see the Tok’ra anymore? Their annoying, self-serving alliance makes a complicated relationship. (And if it’s possible for Jacob to return, there are a lot of people perfectly willing to forget that whole “death” thing of “Threads”). The new Asgard are cute, but like Daniel, “I miss Thor.” Kvasir is great for the snark, but he doesn’t have the panache of Hermiod or the annoyance of Freyr. It would be great to hear what Thor and the other favorite Asgard, Heimdall, have been up to “in another galaxy”, preferably firsthand. At least one of the voice actors is easily available, and the other is much missed in every role she played.

The Main Characters

Daniel Jackson. Daniel’s character has several unanswered questions, like how much does he remember of his time with RepliCarter (including the Ancient knowledge), and does he remember anything about the Astral Diner? Did he ascend/descend again, or was this some sort of concession by the Others because of what happened between Oma and Anubis? Daniel has a very personal stake in these new villains that will hopefully be explored. What kind of impact has all of this past year had on him? He’s always looked for alternatives, unless he hits the full force of evil, originally with the Goa’uld, then with Anubis, and now with the Ori. He’s a bit short-tempered and more snarky than usual as of late (poor Bill Lee). Some is understandable, some a bit more surprising. His character has a lot of potential for the upcoming season based on this past history. How all of these developments will play out in Season Ten will be an interesting dynamic.

Samantha Carter. Missed during the early episodes of the season, Sam often gets caught in the necessary plot device of technobabble exposition of the show (as Daniel’s is in culture/translations), but there were times in Season Nine that it’s shown as a personality trait…like teasing Lee about the anti-Prior weapon or working through the night on Arthur’s Mantle. Her rarely seen humor was also apparent with the Gate technicians in that same episode. It’s good to see the soldier and the person of Carter, rather than just the necessary science exposition or the girl with a really, really bad romance record *cough*black widow*cough*. Hopefully, Season Ten will allow more of the character and personality of Sam, including having her interact with “new girl” Vala; they were both former hosts. Heck, have her interact with everyone. THAT was lacking somewhat upon her initial return to the show.

Teal’c. Teal’c had so much potential for storyline this past season. His eight year struggle for freedom for Jaffa had finally borne fruit. Bids for power, intrigues, conspiracies, the dueling allegiances, disillusionment by Teal’c all were excellent fodder. And some of these ideas were dealt with, but for the most part it fell flat. The Jaffa are warriors, characters of action…what happened in Season Nine was often Jaffa C-SPAN, a telling, not a showing. There were some exceptions to the dullness, like when Bra’tac was on screen (Bra’tac rocks…hopefully the Powers that Be WON’T KILL HIM!), or Teal’c’s showdown with Gerak on Chulak in Fourth Horseman Part Two, which was one of Mr. Judge’s finest performances as that character. That said, there is a sense of peace and satisfaction, almost a relaxation in Teal’c’s nature. He also seems more comfortable with Tau’ri culture without losing his alien perspective. Hopefully more of this interesting figure will appear in Season Ten…and much more “action” from the Jaffa.

Vala Mal Doran. Ms. Black created a nuanced performance of what could have been a stock personality. Vala is very much like Harry Maybourne (the untrustworthy, non-evil, rogue later version, not smarmy early Harry). But Vala’s character, by its very nature, is over the top and scene stealing, and after six episodes in a row, personally, I was very tired of her. (Since they sometimes film out of order, it would’ve been nice to see Vala episodes more interspersed in airing order). When being introduced (or reintroduced) to other characters, it was difficult to get to know them between the entire new mythology and Vala’s strong presence. However, if Vala is toned down to make her full-time cast, hopefully the character doesn’t get too washed out. It’s not an impossible task. The balance of seriousness and humor was excellent in “The Powers That Be” last season, so there is a skeptical optimism that Vala can become incorporated effectively.

Hank Landry. Mr. Bridges has filled in the slot nicely as the gruff General Landry, who always seems to know a bit more than he lets on…except for Walter “Radar” Harriman. I still miss Hammond; Don S. Davis’s character was THE General of Stargate, but Landry is different enough to be respected and enjoyed as a different dynamic. The strained relationship with Lam has great potential, but the execution to date has been awkward. Even the nature of her being his daughter was an unnecessary surprise reveal. It would’ve been better to get that backstory knocked out first to show a progression or at least a background to the animosity. Perhaps this will be played out more in season ten, if Ms. Doig reprises her role. The oddly blocked scene in The Fourth Horseman Part 2 was a disappointing resolution to that arc otherwise.

Last, but certainly not least, Cameron Mitchell. “Shaft” overall has been a good addition to the team. It’s great that there is someone there to whom all of this is new. His impetuosity, tenacity and homespun humor are great character quirks; a joie de vivre after so much darkness in his past brings potential complexity to his role. Hopefully, there will be more consistent development of Mitchell’s character in Season Ten…and by development, that does not mean backstory. We’ve learned more about Mitchell’s background in half a season than was revealed about Sam or Daniel in over a year. And what has been learned has been inconsistent, and at times, a turnoff. Mitchell has been a respected squadron leader of Earth’s most powerful space fighters. He’s dealt with a lot of life changing stuff while maintaining “an impeccable service record” and earning the United States military’s highest honor (Avalon). Later, he’s been described as a hotheaded maverick that goes off on his own at a moment’s notice and never learns from his mistakes (Stronghold). Although a flawed hero is a good thing, ones that are inconsistent and worse, unreliable, are not. It’s hard to believe the same guy who tore through Jaffa lines in ”Stronghold” is the same guy who convinced the Sodan the Ori were not gods. Hopefully, Season Ten will show a more consistent and likable, if perhaps flawed, character.

Of course, the inconsistent reactions of the veteran characters to Mitchell was also confusing. At times there is a close camaraderie between Teal’c, Sam, and/or Daniel with Mitchell, at other times, it’s barely concealed annoyance. And there’s no progression or context for sudden switches in these reactions sometimes. Do they like him, hate him, find him bemusing, tolerate him? It’s hard to tell. Different scenarios elicit different responses; obviously, it should not be a static interaction. However, so far, it’s been hard to get the right vibe on SG-1’s relationship with each other as a whole.

The Team

Getting the “band back together” was an interesting subplot for the first six episodes of Season Nine, but then a quick patch scene in “Ex Deus Machina” was the only resolution to the matter—immediately followed by each character going off and doing separate things, Seattle, Washington, Earth orbit, the SGC. The very next episode, Mitchell was separated from the team, and I felt no more concern by the rest of SG-1 for him than for any “redshirt” character. Things were slightly better in “Collateral Damage”. For that matter, the relationship between the three veterans is assumed, but past closeness can only carry so far. New moments need to be shown. Being told they’re a team is not the same as seeing them interact as a team. This was accomplished by the end of Season Nine, such as in “the Scourge”, the General’s office scene in “Ethon” and somewhat in “Arthur’s Mantle”, but it was a bumpy ride for a while. Hopefully, this interplay will be smoother in Season Ten.

As much as I love each of the characters and want to see them interact with each other, I don’t want to see Jack/Sam, Daniel/Vala, Teal’c/Cameron, or ANY OTHER romantic combination of the main cast. The team has gone through that much together and is that close without the distraction of romantic entanglements. I’m a romantic, but that’s not why I watch Stargate: SG-1. It’s for the friendships, for the team, not for the pairings. These moments appeared more in the later episodes, but they are an important element throughout. If we as an audience don’t care about these characters, then we’re not going to care about whatever fantastic science fiction scenario they’ve gotten into, and will be less likely to suspend disbelief, a large obstacle, especially in this genre. The original team gelled relatively quickly, even through some pretty cheesy episodes; we need those gelling moments again, amongst the veteran cast, and between the new cast and old. They’re cheaper than F/X shots, but the payoff is huge.

Speaking of which, hopefully there will be less of the “beam up” to get SG-1 out of a jam. When Thor did it, it was cute, now it’s just getting overused. The ships are okay, but the show has “Stargate” in the title. Every once in a while, a classic, “SG-1 goes through the gate, gets into trouble, gets out of it, and goes home” would be nice. It’s what’s helped keep the show going for over nine years. If Hammond and/or Jack stop by often (with an onscreen explanation of what their jobs are now), that can only be a wonderful bonus.

In any event, congratulations to the writers, directors, producers, cast, and crew for ten wonderful years of an entertaining program and wishes for continued success for many more.

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Women of Sci-Fi Calendar Shipping!

After a delay as the calendar was switched from 2006 to 2007, the Women of Sci-fi Calendar and Behind the Scenes DVD are shipping! I ordered my set only last week and received them today. Here are a few first impressions…

Women of Sci-Fi DVD logo

The calendar is beautiful! It’s bigger than I expected, 11 inches wide by 19 long, almost all picture, and nicely glossy. The pictures are tasteful and focused mostly on the actress’ face rather than her ‘other’ assets. The calendar would be quite appropriate for an office setting, in my opinion. Some of the photos are Sci-fi oriented, while others aren’t. There’s one of Teryl Rothery in a very cute cowboy outfit. :)The calendar spans December 2006 through January 2008, 14 months in all, and each of the seven actresses has two ‘months’ all her own.

Lexa Doig photo shoot

The Behind the Scenes DVD, filmed and nicely produced by Ivon Bartok, is a lot of fun. Forty-five minutes in total, there is a chapter for each actress, nicely scored with rock music. Each chapter has an interview with the actress talking about her experience with the shoot and with acting in science fiction in general. All of the actresses had nothing but praise for Chris’ work, even if they don’t usually enjoy still-photo shoots. Interspersed with each interview were thoughts from Chris on working with that actress, and scenes of her shoot, including nice stills that didn’t make the calendar.

Chris Judge and his lens

The scenes from the shoot show there were quite a few people involved and some quite intricate lighting and sets. The only disappointment on the DVD is that Michael Shanks isn’t on it, but as he’s said in interviews, his money is evident all through it. 🙂

So don’t delay! Visit Women of Sci-Fi.com and order your copy today! The more we buy, the more likely it is we’ll have a Men of Sci-Fi calendar, featuring Michael, Chris, and their friends, sooner rather than later.

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RCC on Character Moments

In a new interview with GateWorld, Stargate showrunner Robert C. Cooper noted that one area where Stargate: Atlantis needs improvement as it enters its third season is in its character relationships. From the interview, which can be read or listened to in its entirety here:

And one of the things we thought we could do better was create the sense of camaraderie and relationships between the team, and that we felt we were getting the action-adventure part of the show right, but that the team itself, the chemistry still hadn’t quite clicked the same way it had on SG-1.

Cooper went on to note that SG-1 did a good job of providing character moments in its early years, pointing out in particular the scene in Season 2’s Need in which O’Neill embraced Daniel as he was suffering from withdrawal from sarcophagus addiction.

It is heartening to see Mr. Cooper acknowledge that Atlantis is in need of more development of character relationships, and fascinating that he used a scene from SG-1 that, as much as it is loved by fans, by all accounts was originally written as much less emotional by Cooper, then changed on set to its dramatic final form by Richard Dean Anderson.

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Stargate Largely Ignored in Leo Noms

Last year, the Stargate shows received 18 Leo Award nominations between them. This year, that number has plunged to 1. We heartily congratulate Jim Menard on his well deserved nomination for Best Cinematography in a Dramatic Series, for “Avalon Part 2”. Stargate veterans like Colin Cunningham are also to be congratulated for nominations for their work on other shows.

However, we’re left to wonder why Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis didn’t receive nominations in other categories, some of which, including lead actor and actress, had only two nominees. There were excellent performances by the Canadian casts of both shows, and certainly the production values of Stargate rivals or exceeds those of nominees like Smallville and Young Blades. Perhaps more insight will be provided by the Stargate production offices.

The Leo Awards celebrate excellence in movies and television shows produced in British Columbia. Read the entire list of nominations for dramatic series here.

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Shipper Monday: What Does It Mean?

U.S. Sci Fi Channel viewers were treated to (or subjected to, depending on your point of view) a “Shipper Themed Four-Play” for the SG-1 marathon on Monday April 3. Sci Fi showed four shippy episodes; interspersed through them were short interviews with the cast about the Jack/Sam ship or ship in general, with relevant scenes flashing on the screen under the voiceover.

Thanks to Elyse at the sg1_spoilme group, we have transcriptions of each of the actor’s answers to the “Jack/Sam ship” question:

Amanda Tapping

“Initially I thought it was kind of fun to play, and then I started to resent it because I didn’t want Sam to ‘the girl’ pining for ‘the guy’ and make it about that where it got in the way of what an incredible, strong and smart and savvy character she was. Obviously there’s a huge attraction between the two characters so now that the commanding officer is not in her direct chain of command, she can… maybe she can have some with him.” (big grin)

Ben Browder

“Shippers seem to exist for every show. Short for relationshippers, so, that raises the O’Neill-Carter question. I think that one of the great things about doing television is you can deviate away from just action, just talking and you know you also have the personal interaction, the romance, which can go on at the same time. I love that, but I don’t know whether we’re going to be seeing any out of Mitchell this year.”

Claudia Black

“Do you give the fans everything they’ve been asking for and everything they wanted and will they be satisfied? Obviously I haven’t been here personally to follow and track the potential relationship between O’Neill and Sam Carter, so the general rule is that the minute the characters consummate their unresolved sexual tension, it’s resolved… if television revolves around drama, you’ve lost your tension and your drama right there, so it’s tricky to keep that spark.”

Chris Judge

“For all you shippers out there. I find it interesting, because I don’t think Teal’c actually realized that Sam was a woman until like Season Four, so the whole relationship between Sam and Jack I think was lost on Teal’c. I think Teal’c is fairly confident that he’s going to wind up with Jack in the end. Wouldn’t that be funny? Wouldn’t that be funny for episode 300 that Teal’c and Jack get married? And produce a symbiote?” (lots of laughter).

We can only hope this particular theme is not a portent of things to come in Season 10, but, coupled with Ms. Tapping’s encouragement of shippers at the recent Creation Convention in Vancouver, it seems the writing is on the screen. We look forward to other upcoming “Themed Four-Play” Mondays; it can only get better from here.

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New Guy! Cameron Mitchell

Half a season in, Stargate SG-1’s Nine is looking mighty fine.

The odds were stacked against it. A natural conclusion to many long-running storylines, the tying of a lot of loose ends, resounding defeat of the biggest and baddest of villains. A shiny new show everyone wanted to play with. Maternity leave. Lead actor exiting stage left, lead character stepping into a new role and off our screens. The end of everything.

Also, the beginning.

In Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, Stargate SG-1 has regained something sadly absent for several seasons.

A team.

Not the team we started out with, but then Stargate hasn’t been about that since the movie. Two became four and the original journey of Jack and Daniel had to be broadened to encompass new players Carter and Teal’c, our first team replacements. A noble sacrifice of self cost the team of four Daniel and saw him replaced by Jonas Quinn, at best complicit in Daniel’s death, whose ‘redemptive’ journey failed to convince. Daniel descended, Jonas exited, Jack was too often missing in action and our team of four effectively became a team of three.

Stargate SG-1 doesn’t have a happy history with replacements. Carter, Teal’c, Jonas, Cameron, Vala — all new and non-original. All replacements. They didn’t open the gate, they didn’t start the journey. But they have continued it. Like or loathe any or all of them, they’re part of Stargate’s history. They’re part of SG-1.

This editorial isn’t about slamming Jack, but it’s impossible to review Cameron Mitchell’s impact and contribution as a character without establishing a baseline. For me, that’s the slow and painful withdrawal of one of the two defining characters of Stargate, the ones who were there at the start to open the gate. Jack’s pale presence in the latter seasons, his broad-stroke humour and ‘Cosmic Giddiness’ materially damaged, if not crippled, the essence and energy of that team of four.

Stargate SG-1 actually *works* with four equal and counter-balancing characters. It’s the exact formula that kept fans from the movie and drew in new fans who’d only ever known the team of four. The quality of ‘team’ is the one most often singled out as the grace note of the golden seasons: One, Two and Three.

Season Nine is a golden season. It has the grace notes of my favourites, Two and Three, and is a more encouraging beginning for a new evolution of Stargate than I even considered Season One to be.

It’s not solely due to Cameron Mitchell, of course. This *is* a team of four: Daniel, Carter and Teal’c leading and new guy Cameron following. A cool, substantive change right there. New guy isn’t laconic, damaged, done it all, cynical, stick-it-to-the-man Jack Jnr.

Cameron is reverent. Of our team of four, of their characters, history, accomplishments. He’s amazed and awed by them, he wants so badly to learn from them the promise of being one of them was enough of a motivator to get him back on his feet. Literally. He wants SG-1 so completely, so openly, even our favourite all-beautiful sex goddess thinks he should *try* playing hard to get.

Cameron is enthusiastic. Brimming over. In fact, he has a quality of enthusiasm we’ve never quite seen. It’s not based on the beautiful, idealistic academic obsessions of our peaceful explorer Daniel Jackson. It’s not based on stepping into another man’s life, taking his place, his books, his tools and even his fish. It’s the enthusiasm of a military man who hasn’t done the damned distasteful things Jack has done and isn’t soured by what life and service in the Air Force have demanded of him. It’s the enthusiasm of a man who still respects — and salutes — authority. It’s the informed enthusiasm of a smart, accomplished, combat-experienced Type-A personality who wholeheartedly believes what Daniel Jackson does is beyond cool. It’s *fantastic.* Blows new guy away every time. Now, when have we ever seen *that* on Stargate?

Cameron is a hero, but that’s not really the point. His heroism has been tempered by combat, loss and self-sacrifice but because this is a smart man, a thinking man, he understands being a shining example in his conventional sphere doesn’t really mean squat. What he knows, what he’s done, that stops at the gate. On the other side of it, he needs direction. He never meant to be team leader, he meant to learn from the best. And maybe it’s in being open, being willing to learn and take direction, he’ll earn his place as team leader. And not giving in to insecurity, not pulling rank or blindly rushing in where SG-1 fear to tread, admitting to the seriousness of the consequences if he screws up, that’s a different kind of bravery right there.

Cameron doesn’t have all the answers. That sets him apart from Jack and even from Carter, who launched into our team not only with her PhD in theoretical astrophysics, extensive Air Force scientific projects under her belt as well as flight credentials, but also somehow managed to find the time to acquire the self-same skills, competences, confidence and experience in field combat as Special Ops Colonel Jack. You go, girl.

Cameron has energy. He engages. I ached, watching him in action this season. Not firing big honkin’ guns, not the ‘pull the pin and throw’ thing, not even the fancy Sodan kick boxing, but using his intelligence, his life experience, his character and morality not to kill but to influence, to win an enemy over from vengeance to alliance. No ‘Cosmic Giddiness’ in sight, although the guy has a nice line in deprecating humour.

The energy, the engagement are there in his excitement over solving an Ancient puzzle, seducing our favourite stoic Jaffa away from government and back into humping the off-world boonies, getting a rush from his first flight since crashing, touching techno-toys he shouldn’t, demanding respect for a female colleague, playing the archaeologist and the aliens at basketball.

Energy. Commitment. Every day, in every way.

And maybe that’s the essence of this character, who isn’t Jack Jnr or a cannibalised construct of Daniel’s puppyish qualities from the early days. Cameron isn’t a cipher, a constant reminder of another’s absence, or a mere foil for all the ways Daniel and the others have grown up and changed on us over the years, he’s a presence. Real and whole, complex and layered, learning his way, earning his place, instead of having it handed to him pat and whole, gift-wrapped and tied up with a big bow.

As much as Cameron is being affected by his experiences with SG-1, he’s affecting our loved, established teammates. Cameron isn’t taking anything away from Daniel, Teal’c or Carter. He’s helping renew and even build them. His presence enriches theirs. Teasing out new layers in their characters, opening up new ways for all of the four to interact and even counter-act, building an entirely new team dynamic.

Cameron is a replacement. Everyone but Jack and Daniel started out that way. His addition to Stargate SG-1 has helped accomplish something I haven’t felt or truly seen since Season Three.

Synergy.

The sense that the team of four, the team of SG-1, is greater than the sum of its constituent characters.

Season Nine is about a team of four. Not two – not your fave pairing, my fave pairing, or theirs – not three or one. Four. And all of them equal.

Team.

That’s what Cameron Mitchell brings to Stargate SG-1.

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Sex, gender issues and Stargate SG-1

Sex, Gender Issues, and Stargate SG-1
By Charlotte Miller

“…we try to make the stories that we tell within this big franchise as socially redeeming as possible….for our writers and myself, the heart of good storytelling always comes down to, What’s the message that we’re trying to get across here?”–Stargate Executive Producer Michael Greenburg in a recent interview.

Literary science fiction has long proven itself a worthy platform from which to address issues of social concern, and much of television?s science fiction programming has continued that tradition. More than thirty years ago, the original Star Trek ventured where no American television series had gone before to present many viewers sight of their first interracial kiss, and allegories echoing the issues equality and racism. More than a television franchise alone, Star Trek created some of the most culturally significant programming of its time, and, in our modern day, Stargate SG-1–the progenitor of the Stargate franchise–has the potential of becoming a worthy inheritor in that same tradition.

Now in season eight of the phenomenally popular television series, The Powers That Be behind Stargate SG-1 have distinguished themselves with the return of an onscreen relationship that often carries a “not-so-heterosexual” subtext.

The friendship between Jack O?Neill and Daniel Jackson has been, for many viewers, the heart of Stargate SG-1 since the inception of the series, and is an extraordinary supportive and understanding example of intense same-sex bonding. While both men have been married to women in the past, it seems beyond doubt to many viewers that the closest and most important relationship for both men at present is the one shared between them, and, while the bonds forged between Jack and Daniel appear to be particularly strong, they are not the only examples of same-sex bonding on SG-1.

Perhaps the particular strength of the Stargate franchise is the willingness to not rely on gender stereotyping in the portrayal of its male characters. Both Stargate SG-1 and its sister series, Atlantis, boast extraordinarily unique male characters. SG-1’s Daniel Jackson and Atlantis’s Rodney McKay, arguably the most popular characters on both series, exhibit characteristics not often associated with males on action-adventure or science fiction series. Both are emotionally driven. Both are more likely to talk than reach for a gun, and, while brilliant, both are also flawed and very human.

SG-1’s Jack O’Neill, while on the surface cut from the cloth of gender stereotype, becomes something more over the course of the first seasons of the series, emotionally open, communicative, even touchingly vulnerable where children are concerned and in his relationship to Daniel Jackson.

It is perhaps in this bending of gender roles and issues of sexual preference and same-sex bonding that the Stargate franchise has found its forte. Not only are the issues present within the series, but, to the great credit of all involved, they have at times been openly embraced both by the actors involved and The Powers That Be behind the series.

Michael Shanks, the actor portraying Daniel Jackson, openly speaks with fans about the less-than-heterosexual subtext often present between his character and that of Jack O’Neill, and has stated openly on one of the series DVDs that their bantering style of communication is due in part to “homosexual tension.”

The Powers That Be behind the series, such as Executive Producers, writers and showrunners Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright, producer, writer and director Peter DeLuise, and producer and director Martin Wood, have acknowledged, both directly to fans at convention appearances and in the DVD commentaries, the emotional bonding between the two male characters, and the at-times homosexual nature of the relationship as it is seen by many viewers, and they have not been loath to play to this viewpoint.

Perhaps one of the primary charms of the characters of Jack O?Neill and Daniel Jackson, as well as the relationship between the two men, is the fact these same Powers That Be have never found a need to clarify the actual sexual preference of either character, or the true nature of the relationship between them. They are simply male characters involved in a close, caring, often physically demonstrative relationship, not male characters limited by any preconceptions of sexual identity, sexual self-definition, or sexual preference.

This is especially significant considering views expressed by showrunner Cooper concerning his own personal discomfort at seeing men touch other men?s faces, and perhaps it speaks much to events that have transpired on the series throughout the years.

While the Jack and Daniel friendship was a significant part of the series throughout its first three seasons, the opening of season four found the introduction of a red-herring of a relationship between Jack and Sam Carter, the female subordinate in his chain of command as USAF colonel and commander of the SG-1 team.

Concurrently, The Powers That Be behind Stargate found it necessary to begin limiting the role of Daniel Jackson, pushing that character into the background and minimizing or eliminating from episodes the caring relationship that had existed between Daniel and Jack throughout the years.

Instead of the emotionally open, caring Jack whom viewers had come to expect, they were all too often presented with a Jack straight-jacketed into male stereotypes. So too were viewers suddenly presented with a Sam Carter adapted to stereotypical female norms, at the same time they were introduced to a sexily clad female character in an attempt to appeal to a younger male viewing audience.

Michael Shanks, unhappy with the wallpapering of his character and Daniel?s exclusion from the team, left the series at the end of season five, engendering the shout literally heard round the world as an unprecedented groundswell of support rose in demand that he and his character be returned to the series.

Daniel did return after a year, and for a time in early season seven viewers were treated to a resumption of the Jack and Daniel interaction that for many had become the heart of the series, although latter season seven took on a troublingly sexist and latently homophobic feel as, after an extended absence of focus on the Jack and Sam relationship during the year Daniel had been gone and in the early days of his return, the latter half of the season shifted direction yet again back to that heterosexual and admittedly ?unlikely? pseudo-romance.

This shift in focus to “Jack and Sam” occurred yet again concurrently with the sidelining of the Daniel character, and with an elimination of virtually all caring and concern expressed toward Daniel by any of the characters of SG-1.

Early season eight has yet again seen a resumption of the Jack and Daniel interaction, friendship and bantering so often referred to as “like an old married couple,” and to a degree unprecedented since the early days of SG-1.

Daniel has increasingly become the focus of the series as the season has progressed, stepping up to an unacknowledged lead position of Stargate SG-1 in the reduced filming schedule of series lead Richard Dean Anderson (Jack O’Neill), a position likely to continue in season nine as Anderson has yet to sign for a return to the show.

Although the writing and presentation of the character of Sam Carter continues all too often to be sexist in nature, little has been seen throughout the early part of the season to point toward the “unlikely” Jack and Sam romance.

Yet, as the final episodes of season eight unfold, the troubling pattern established in season four, and reinforced in season seven, begins to emerge once more. The focus yet again in the latter season shifts in the episode Citizen Joe to unacknowledged “feelings” between Jack and Sam.

Immediately thereafter Daniel is separated from his teammates in the first half of Reckoning, is considered missing and presumed dead, and yet again the viewer is treated to an almost total lack of feeling in Jack’s response to the assumed death of his supposed best friend.

Of even more concern is that spoilers for the few remaining episodes of the season focus almost exclusively, for the first time ever, on apparently clarifying Jack’s sexuality once and for all, revealing him to be “caught in bed” with a female passing-fling, and yet again kissing Sam, his female subordinate in the chain of command, with a spoiler released by Richard Dean Anderson hinting broadly that Jack and Sam will get together as a couple only for something to yet again intervene.

Most troubling of all is the fact that Robert C. Cooper made mention on the Lost City DVD commentary that they will be dealing with the “Daniel/O?Neill thing”… “at the end of season eight.” As Richard Dean Anderson has made it clear he is unlikely to sign for season nine, the final view Stargate SG-1 viewers are likely to have of Jack O’Neill will be these final episodes of season eight. However, the handling of these few remaining episodes of the season may tell viewers a great deal more about Mr. Cooper than about General Jack O’Neill.

One of the primary appeals of Stargate SG-1 in its early days was the emotional connectivity of the characters. They cared about one another. As actress Amanda Tapping (Sam Carter) said in 1997, “the beauty of the relationship between the four of us on the team is this great friendship that we have, and this wonderful respect and admiration for each other. Adding anything into that mix would be silly, because I think right now it works as a team of really good friends.”

We cared about the characters because they cared about each other. We cried when one of them was hurt or lost because they cried for one another. We worried over them and bonded with them and ultimately loved them because the love was there each for the other within the members of the team, and sex and gender issues, sexual preferences, and sexuality did not enter into the mix.

That, perhaps, is the heart of the promise of the Stargate franchise. Gene Roddenberry’s epic vision of a United Federation of Planets, a moral concept perhaps best typified in the Vulcan mantra of IDIC, “infinite diversity in infinite combinations,” brought real social worth to the Star Trek franchise. Roddenberry’s realization that we’re all the same beneath the color of our skins echoes over the decades since in haunting metaphors many of us are unlikely to forget.

His vision echoes on Stargate even today, in the interracial kisses shared between actor Christopher Judge (Teal’c) and caucasian actresses, and in the Jaffa Rebellion that so often mirrors the struggle for civil rights. While Star Trek’s Lieutenant Uhuru may have served the position of glorified receptionist on the Enterprise bridge, Stargate’s inclusion of Sam Carter as a full member of the team, and now leader of SG-1, and the command role of Elizabeth Weir on Atlantis, shows how far we have come in the decades since.

Perhaps in this time of debate over gay rights and sexual preference issues, when ignorance and homophobia can still cost people their lives and help to decide national elections, when we’re more concerned about what takes place in our neighbors’ bedrooms than on foreign battlefields, Stargate might find its own vision.

You, Mr. Powers that Be of Stargate, are the voice of our time, just as Gene Roddenberry was of his. When you are being discussed thirty years hence, what is it you will you have said?

Discuss “Sex, gender issues and Stargate SG-1” by Charlotte Miller at our SG1Solutions Forum

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Views: Aveo Amacuse

A Fan’s View on the Phrase ‘Aveo Amacuse’
By Alex

Stargate Relevance

In the episode 7.22 “The Lost City Part 2”, “Aveo Amacuse” are the last words that Col. O’Neill utters, his mind totally taken over by the Ancients’ knowledge, to his team mates. Daniel translates it simply as “Goodbye”, but the real meaning of this sentence has created animated discussion in the Stargate fandom ever since. This article tries to shed some light on the possible interpretations, using basic linguistic techniques and Classic Latin.

The Ancients’ Language

According to Stargate writers, Latin was the language originally spoken by the Ancients, and when they left Earth it was left to the Latins as their language. There are some historical problems with this concept: the original Latin speakers were a very small tribe of shepherds living on the hills in central Italy, with a very low level civilisation, that managed to create the Roman empire by being much more bellicose than their more civilised neighbours, like the Etruscans and the Celts. Combined with being very good at assimilating any culture they did come in contact with, this makes them very unlikely descendents of a highly cultured and peace oriented race like the Ancients. But it is the linguistic issues that the PTB theory raise, in particular in the sentence “Aveo Amacuse”, that I will focus here.

Language, like the culture that creates it, evolves from a state of relative simplicity to one of major complexity. If Pidgin Latin was the language spoken by such an advanced culture as the Ancients 10,000 years ago, you would expect Latin to have a widespread influence and complexity early on.

The history of the language tells us however a much different story. The first traces of the language appear in the 3rd Century B.C., much later than the 10,000 years ago the Stargate writers attribute to the Ancients. A massive gap to keep a language alive if we think that the first written text goes back to 240 B.C.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the Latin alphabet is a derivative of the Greek Alphabet with some Etruscan influences and not an indigenous creation. For at least the first three centuries of its recorded history, Latin was a language busy absorbing influences from its neighbouring languages, as young languages tend to do, and not influencing other languages, as established, mature languages with a literary tradition tend to do.

In the 3rd Century BC, when the Romans conquered the Greek-speaking south of Italy, it was said that “The colonisers were colonised by the colonised”, to indicate the influence that the militarily defeated Greeks had on the developing Latin culture and language. It is not a case that the first recorded Latin literary text is the translation of a Greek text by a Greek slave.

Latin did not become an influencing language until much later when history and the evolution of the language led to its transformation into an “Official Language” spoken by the Catholic Church and the Scientists (until well into the 17th Century, Latin was the language in which a Scientist wrote if he wanted to be understood by his peers, a bit like English today) and in the creation of the languages of the so called Neo Latin Family: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Romanian.

The language that these countries and institutions inherited is a very complex and articulated one. However early Latin was a very basic language that borrowed heavily from its neighbours, especially Etruscan and Greek, a language descending from the same Indo-European family. Most Latin grammatical structures are similar to the Greek ones, including Verb tenses and the concept of declinations, that are particularly relevant while analysing Aveo Amacuse.

A Couple of Points on Latin Grammar

Forewarning: This article is written with mainly an English speaking audience in mind, so I will take time to explain some points of Latin grammar that may be new to an English speaking audience.

Latin Verbs: Entire, very boring books have been written on the subject. If you have ever tried to learn French irregular verbs, you may have an idea of the complexity of the language. There are between 10 and 15 different verb tenses, each one with its particularities. To us, only two of them are relevant: the Present and the Imperative. One of the main difference between Latin and English verbs is that English has basically two forms for each tense: one for the third person singular (s/he) and one for all the other persons. Latin has different forms for each of the 6 possible persons. This however does not apply to the imperative, where do we have one form for the single person and one for more than one person, e.g. Vale (I salute you as an individual), Valete (I salute you as a group of people).

Declinations: Where most modern languages (with the exception of German) use articles, other particles and position in the sentence to determine the context of a word in a phrase, Latin uses suffixes. There are 6 basic declinations (types of suffixes) and which ones you use is influenced by the requirements of the verb you use, by the meaning that you are trying to convey, and by the gender and number of people that you were talking to. For example, in Classic Latin, if Jack had wanted to say Goodbye Friend to Daniel he would have said: Ave Amicus. If Jack had wanted to say Goodbye Friend to Sam he would have said: Ave Amica. If Jack had wanted to say Goodbye Friend to the Team he would have said: Ave Amici.

However this would have been in Classic Latin and not Ancient Latin. I will try now, using Classic Latin and basic philological techniques to analyse Aveo Amacuse and come up with its possible meanings. I will analyse each word in itself and then bring everything together.

Aveo

According to the Calonghi Badellino Dictionary, the verb Aveo has two possible meanings:
1. To strongly desire, to crave something or somebody
2. Especially in the imperative form Ave, it was the Latins normal form of salutation.

Whatever interpretation we prefer, the verb tense is clearly the First person singular of the Present. While this does not create problems with the ‘desire’ meaning, Aveo as a form of salutation is extremely rare. Ave, the imperative, is the most commonly used form, the common correspondent to our Goodbye.

Amacuse

Possible derivations: While the root of this word is clearly that of the verb Amo (to love), and there are no recorded instances of the word Amacuse itself, there are two words that could have inspired the Stargate scriptwriters:
Amatus: meaning beloved
Amicus: meaning friend

While the use of the second A (AmAcuse) relates it to the first meaning, the C (AmaCuse) links it clearly to the second option. It is difficult to identify the word as singular/plural and/or male/female, because of the absence of any recognisable markers for the Classic Latin language.

Conclusion

While for the first word (Aveo), my personal inclination would be to follow Dr Jackson’s lead and go for the second interpretation (Goodbye), who exactly Jack was directing his goodbyes (the Amacuse), to his team, his lover (male or female), his friend (male or female) is still open for discussion and interpretation. Every fan is free to make what they want with it and to write stories using their personal interpretation.

Sources

Calonghi-Badellino Latin-Italian Dictionary
Traina-Pasqualini Morfologia Latina Traina-Bernardi Perini Propedeutica al Latino universitario.

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Views: A Surprise for S9?

This opinion piece has no major spoilers for season 9 of Stargate but if my theory is right, it’s a spoiler. Spoilerphobes, please consider yourselves warned.

From what Michael Greenburg said at London Film & Comic Con, actor negotiations are still taking place (they definitely still were then). He predicted that Richard Dean Anderson would do four episodes in season 9 (although that situation could, of course, change in negotiations). Amanda Tapping is pregnant which may affect the amount we see of Sam in s9. The writers and TPTB certainly have to consider the possibility that we may have less of Sam than usual.

So the predicted situation for season 9 is SG-0.5 and no General O’Neill at the SGC for most of the season.

On the same weekend as LFCC Don Davis was at the Wolf SG-8 con and said that he will not now be doing the art show he was working so hard on because he’d been offered a regular acting job on a television series which meant giving up other commitments for the time being. Don usually gives us details of his projects, but was uncharacteristically quiet about this one.

Now who is the only man fans would accept as General at the SGC instead of Jack? Who is probably the only actor the fans would accept with open arms and no unfavourable comparisons with RDA or Don Davis? And given how hard Don was working on his art show, for what tv show would he be willing to give that up? Don cares about his art, but he also cares about his friends at Stargate very much too, and he cares about the show itself which is why he left in the first place.

TPTB are looking at a season of Stargate SG-0.5 and no Janet (be sure your sins will find you out, boys!), so how can they make fans happy?

Well, why not bring back fan favourite Don Davis? It’s easy to bring Hammond back if Jack isn’t going to be around enough to command the SGC, and since fans of every persuasion love George Hammond, TPTB would actually please everyone for once.

Look at the press release we put up on Solutions recently: “MGM is currently in negotiations with the original cast for their return.” That could easily include Don Davis.

The only way this can’t happen is if Don already accepted a part on another show. If he’s actually negotiating with Stargate, he may well have been asked to keep quiet about it so TPTB can surprise fans by compensating with some good news when they have to announce RDA’s diminished role.

I love watching General O’Neill, but if I can’t watch him I’ll be very happy with General Hammond. Let’s hope that TPTB have the good sense to bring him back.

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STARGATE AND THE US MILITARY

Artistic License and the Reality of the US Military

by Fabrisse

We are living in dangerous times. No one disputes that.

It is a time when the military is being called upon to give its all for our country, and, recently, the stories of what our personnel have been doing have been horrible.

I can only imagine how happy the Air Force must be to have a series like Stargate SG-1 to point to as an example of the finest spirit of our armed forces. Every week we see dedicated people with specialized training fighting an enemy that “the folks back home” are not allowed to know about. It’s heroic, and, thanks to an Air Force advisor, the details are generally accurate.

Where Stargate SG-1 often misses isn’t in the fine details, but in the huge issues. Some of it is done in the name of drama. A completely smooth command would be dull as ditchwater to watch, no matter how pleasant it would be for the people associated with it to be part of that command.

The problem with adding drama is that people believe what they see. Fiction can be taken as a representation of a higher truth. Certainly the award that’s being presented to the program by the Air Force supports the idea that this fiction is serving a higher truth about the bravery of the people serving in our armed forces.

Stargate SG-1 is primarily concerned with one team that is a mixture of military and civilian. Because we see them most often in the field, it is the military part of the culture that we see most often. Beyond that, we are seeing the culture and regulations that appertain to the officer corps.

Chain of command is important. Officers have efficiency reports filed about them by their senior officer once a year. These go up to be reviewed. To use a hypothetical SG-1 example — Lieutenant Hailey will have an efficiency report filed by the commander of her team and, if she is also seconded to the science department, will likely have that efficiency report reviewed by Major Carter as the senior rater. It will also be seen by Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond, and it could make them aware of a problem to be solved or a commendation to be recommended.

The report will then go into Lt. Hailey’s jacket where it will be read again when she’s reviewed for promotion. These reports will remain in her jacket for the rest of her career and will be re-read every time she comes up for promotion.

The issue that is on our minds at the moment is fraternization. That’s unfortunate, because these regulations and the issues around them are not cut and dried.

It’s customary, for instance, for a commanding officer to have junior officers to his house. Depending upon the command style and size, this can be something that happens frequently — say once a month or so — or may only happen toward the beginning of the assignment or as part of a yearly command get together. Back when an officer’s family was part of the total package, it was a way of judging the spouse’s fitness.

Promotion parties have a tradition. Someone being promoted from Second Lieutenant to First Lieutenant is usually expected to buy a drink for his colleagues of the same rank. By the time the promotion is from Full Colonel to Brigadier General, the party, usually held at an Officers’ Club, is for every officer of equivalent or lesser rank and includes hors d’oeuvres. There are also “hail and farewell” parties, and individual commands may have traditions for other types of social gathering. In remote locations, the only social life an officer may have are the fellow officers — perhaps with their families — that share the same lonely posting.

Moreover, the military allows mentoring relationships, as Major Carter attempts with Lt. Hailey, and friendships such as that between Colonel O’Neill and Major Kawalsky. In some ways, it encourages friendship among its officers in the same way that it encourages bonding among the enlisted ranks — it can make for a greater loyalty, and thus a more cohesive unit, in the field.

So with all this socializing, mentoring, and friendship, why are there fraternization regulations that refer to officers relationships with other officers? The answer cuts two ways.

The first is that a commander can cross the line from mentoring to favoritism. This can cause resentment and create bad command decisions.

The second is that “loyalty in the field” from a junior to a senior officer can result in impaired judgment by the junior officer.

No person in any branch of the US military is required to follow an unlawful order. Truthfully, the punishments for enlisted personnel for not following orders in the field are high. It is rare that a corporal, for instance, will even ask that an objection to the order be noted. An officer has the duty to refuse an unlawful order.

There are accepted ways of doing this. The first step, except in immediate combat situations, is to request written orders. This is intended to make the senior officer think about the order that has been given and to assure that the senior officer will not later disavow the order. Many officers see this request as a sign of disloyalty as it implies that the senior officer might in future act dishonorably.

It is possible to request that the senior officer note that the order is being complied with over the moral or other objections of the junior officer, too. This notation, provided both officers survive, will be placed in the same jacket as the efficiency ratings and may prove either helpful or detrimental in future promotions.

The big guns start to come out when the junior officer informs the senior officer that the junior officer will not comply with the order. At this point, the junior officer is risking court-martial, career, and, depending upon specific circumstances, life.

In the farthest extreme, the junior officer — usually with the consent of other junior officers — relieves the senior officer of command. This is mutiny in the navy, and, if the senior officer is NOT found to be at fault, every officer taking part is risking his or her life. Cowardice, which refusal to follow a lawful order in the field can be construed as, is still a capital offense.

The question remains: What is a lawful order?

A lawful order does not knowingly violate any order given by a higher ranking officer.

A lawful order does not violate the rules of war or the rules of engagement.

A lawful order does not violate international law. Genocide is covered here.

A lawful order does not violate the Geneva Conventions or its annexes.

Welcome to “Scorched Earth.”

The season 4 Stargate SG-1 episode, “Scorched Earth” is one of my favorites. It deals with issues faced by field troops in repatriating or relocating refugees. In addition, it has the unique perspective of other life forms and the ethical questions of terraforming.

However, as much as I love the episode, I find it deeply troubling because it touches on the same fraternization issues currently in the news.

The imperatives of drama require conflict and the two alien societies with specific needs and limitations provide this conflict beautifully. Additional conflict was provided by having Colonel O’Neill so identify with one of the two alien societies that he cannot recognize the other society as equally valid.

There are good reasons for this. SG-1 has helped the Enkarans find this world and relocate to it. We’ve had indications that his past in “Black Ops” has not given him many chances to see happy endings for the people with whom he has interacted. Colonel O’Neill is personally invested in helping the Enkarans keep this world that he and his team have found for them. In addition, the Gadmeer are so alien — sulfur breathing, somewhat lizard-like in appearance, and currently mere petri dish samples — that he can’t see them as equivalent to human.

Dr. Jackson immediately sees the Gadmeer as sentient beings. He accepts the word of their AI — based on the technology he sees around him — that the civilization was sophisticated. And the Gadmeer ethics, as described to him by their AI, ultimately allow him to find a solution for all of the participants involved.

Teal’c has very little to do, but seems to support Dr. Jackson’s efforts and respect the choices that Dr. Jackson makes. He never speaks against Colonel O’Neill or the decisions that Colonel O’Neill makes.

Major Carter does not seem to respect Dr. Jackson’s choices, but implies by tone of voice that she also doesn’t agree with Colonel O’Neill’s.

After the first meeting with the Gadmeerian AI, there’s a meeting back at the SGC. Every member of SG-1 is present at the meeting. Colonel O’Neill requests weapons and personnel to fight against the Gadmeer’s ship. General Hammond not only refuses, but issues a direct order for Colonel O’Neill to find another way.

Back on the planet, Colonel O’Neill looks at the devastation and asks Dr. Jackson to find him another way. In the meantime, the Colonel asks Major Carter some pertinent questions about the explosive potentials of naquada generators.

Colonel O’Neill then gives Major Carter a direct order to cause the naquada reactor to explode and destroy the Gadmeerian terraforming ship.

The Colonel has at this point violated General Hammond’s order. Major Carter would be well within her rights to refuse the order on this point as she was present when General Hammond gave the order.

More than that, Dr. Jackson has made the point that the entire Gadmeer civilization is aboard the terraforming vessel. Colonel O’Neill’s order violates international law because it is genocidal.

When the explosion occurs it may be uncontrollable. This would mean that the very non-combatants whom SG-1 purports to help will be at significant risk. This violates the rules of war.

Major Carter seems hesitant and reluctant, but not once does she inform Colonel O’Neill that she won’t be following the order. The order is unlawful three different ways and yet she complies.

Colonel O’Neill indicates that he knows Major Carter will have a problem with the order — it’s why he makes it clear that it is an order rather than phrasing it as a request. His expectation of compliance with an order that he should know is unlawful and has reason to suspect that the person being ordered will object to on moral or other grounds, indicates that Colonel O’Neill is staking the order on personal loyalty rather than adherence to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Major Carter’s compliance with the order over her own moral objections and her duty to recognize and refuse an unlawful order indicates that she can no longer separate her friendship for the Colonel from her conscience.

This is why fraternization is forbidden. Impaired judgment by a commanding officer should not lead to impaired judgment in those under his command.

There may be those who think that I’m stating my case too strongly. Or that “since it’s only a television show, why does it matter?”

The answer is that fiction reflects life, and good drama reflects our difficult moral choices.

The United States’ military is all volunteer. Those who wear the uniform do so out of choice. Most who serve consider it an honor and comport themselves honorably. They will be put into morally difficult situations and asked to kill and die for their country, and they do it so that I can stay home and watch TV and live my life.

Again, why am I letting a television show bother me so much?

Because the horrors of war have been increased by the pictures that have come back to us from Abu Ghraib. Because I have heard a General state that she was “only following orders” in allowing the mistreatment of prisoners. Because it was a Specialist who came forward and said, “It is the right of every soldier to refuse an unlawful order,” thus beginning the investigation that has led to three courts-martial to date and probably more to come. Because recruitment ads for the Marine Corps, Air Force, and occasionally the Army, Navy, and/or National Guard run regularly on the syndicated screening of Stargate SG-1 every week.

Divide and Conquer doesn’t bother me. Adults work together and deal with their attractions to each other all the time. Had the situation with the Zatarcs not occurred, the subject might never have come up. Since it did, the team had to worry about the appearance of impropriety. As honorable officers (and two very interested other parties), I hope that we can assume that the situation was discussed and judged by the team, not merely ignored.

Even after the issue came to the fore in the early episodes of season 4, the important part of the fraternization equation is whether or not the closeness of the relationship impairs the judgment of either party.

“Scorched Earth” is the answer to that question.

Officers are supposed to be the highest military standard — this is doubly true for graduates of the academies. Both Carter and O’Neill have been established as graduates of the Air Force Academy. As fans of Stargate SG-1, we should demand that the officers we see on the screen hold fast to that standard.

About the Author Born into the military, Fabrisse’s father retired as a full Colonel after 29 years of service. Fabrisse completed course work in the comprehensive and specialty subject, Security Studies: Just War theory, and pursued a Master’s degree in International Relations.

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