Little story 'bout Jack and Carter, two American kids growin' up in the heartland. Yes, I actually penned some goofy lyrics to that John Mellencamp track, Jack And Diane, featuring our Stargate heroes quite some time ago. Alright, maybe I had a little time on my hands that day.
This has been a major work in progress, a labor of love if you will. As a fan of Stargate SG-1 I started Rolodexing my mind for the key moments or turning points in the series regarding the relationship between Samantha Carter and Jack O'Neill. Dissecting this particular romantic through line was a ball, especially when romance is just a very small part of the show.
It's a testament to the layered depth of the series that the creators continually built upon various threads and the Carter/ O'Neill connection is no exception. The romantic element was certainly kept in perspective given the professional military setting of the show, but there were many moments along the way where scenes spoke volumes about O'Neill and Carter's feelings for one another. I wanted to catalogue them in such a way that fellow SG-1 fans could look back season by season and smile.
Amanda Tapping shared her reflections on the Carter/ O'Neill relationship in Sci Fi Magazine in August 2004 with the arrival of Season Eight. "Carter loves O'Neill. She adores him, and she's allowed herself the knowledge that she cannot keep pining away for this man that she can never have. It doesn't mean that she has any less feelings for O'Neill or that she's not attracted to him. She still has deep feelings of love for him, ... and that's never going to go away." We understand, but we can imagine.
Enjoy the moments and the memories.
Children Of The Gods [Season 1] [Episode 1]: The sexual tension between Carter and O'Neill begins.
The Broca Divide [Season 1] [Episode 4]: Ah, the kiss. Well, not exactly of the romantic variety.
Later, the awkward moment.
Solitudes [Season 1] [Episode 17]: Carter and O'Neill are unexpectedly brought together through no fault of their own and grow closer as a result. Destiny? Well, a frozen tundra, ice caves, and a few broken bones leaving one immobile has a way of bringing doing that. There is a lot of emotion in this one.
There But For The Grace Of God [Season 1] [Episode 19]: An alternate SG-1 reality is helmed by a General O'Neill and Carter, as a civilian, hence the lack of any need for military protocol. This story written by David Kemper of Farscape acclaim allows for the tender and hypothetically loving embrace.
Out Of Mind [Season 2] [Episode 22]: The obligatory backside/skin shot. This very sticky situation even permits for a bit of O'Neill carnal, male instinct to creep in despite heavy odds stacked against him.
Point Of View [Season 3] [Episode 6]: O'Neill discovers Carter is married to him at least in another place and time. The alternate reality checks are a constant on Stargate SG-1 and the creators cleverly utilize the infinite possibilities of science fiction to examine their potential for love.
It's so hard to say goodbye...especially with delicate piano playing.
A Hundred Days [Season 3] [Episode 17]: 'The Other Woman'. Of course it's kind of hard not to enjoy the other woman when you're lost and a long way from home with little chance of finding a way back. The other woman here, Laira, was played by none other than Michele Greene [a la L.A. Law fame]. This infamous episode left open the question, did O'Neill [RDA] father a child off world with the other woman? The answer appears to be YES in the closing shot of the episode. Needless to say, it's an ever so slight, but powerful reaction by Carter when O'Neill is bidding farewell to Laira.
Nemesis [Season 3] [Episode 22]: The power of suggestion. Apart from being one of the best episodes ever made for SG-1, there is this moment where it looks like maybe, just maybe, Carter would cross those professional boundaries. There is also the fact that, apart from sweeping her off her feet, O'Neill wouldn't mind if she did just that. A delicious scene.
Divide And Conquer [Season 4] [Episode 5]: This is an extension of Upgrades [Season 4] [Episode 3]. Some fans may have felt a tad too manipulated here, but I like intentional tuggings on the old heartstrings now and again and it's one of my favorite tender moments in the series. This solid entry merely confirmed what fans had hoped for and believed all along for four years. There was indeed a special connection between Carter and O'Neill and for all intents and purposes it looked like the two professional soldiers were prepared to keep their feelings for one another in check for the sake of international...or rather interstellar relations. Again, you can't deny that piano.
Window Of Opportunity [Season 4] [Episode 6]: As the title would suggest, the creators and cast got creative with Carter and O'Neill's relationship given the parameters they had established for themselves professionally. Science fiction is a beautiful thing and SG-1's creators began to posit the 'what if' scenarios with this dandy of a time loop episode. O'Neill wises up and takes full advantage of his own window of opportunity knowing his time will loop back again and all will be forgotten.
Beneath The Surface [Season 4] [Episode 10]: This episode is loaded with wonderful, warm orange and brown coloration. Carter, O'Neill and the rest of SG-1 struggle to remember who they are. Their minds have been altered and they work off the chemistry between one another to break through the barricades. O'Neill even recalls feeling for Carter.
Entity [Season 4] [Episode 20]: The emotional connection is subtle. Carter has been overtaken by an alien intelligence that has slipped through the gate and the team makes every desperate attempt to get Carter back.
The creators took a bit of a hiatus from Carter and O'Neill's affections if I'm not mistaken. They had visited a number of different avenues creatively and for fear of beating the proverbial 'dead horse' and repeating themselves the creators literally skipped Season 5 and essentially Season 6 regarding their love connection.
Full Circle [Season 6] [Episode 22]: O'Neill and Carter's friendship runs deep and they even reference their affection at each other's expense.
Grace [Season 7] [Episode 13]: A disoriented Carter suffers from a head injury and the cast and crew really delve into the area of alien isolation with a kind of Nostromo-styled eeriness. Carter's mind manifests itself in the form of a number of visitations that ask her to look at her life choices. A vision of O'Neill has her questioning her relationship with her superior, friend and would be lover. A terrific episode written by Damian Kindler.
Death Knell [Season 7] [Episode 16]: Out of friendship grows love. O'Neill keeps things professional, but never pushes caring for Carter aside.
Heroes Part 2 [Season 7] [Episode 18]: A harrowing firefight nearly tears apart what Carter knows to be a necessary part of her life-O'Neill. She may not be with him, but she's always by his side and she certainly depends on it on an emotional level.
Lost City Part 2 [Season 7] [Episode 22]: Carter and O'Neill have a sort of Princess Leia and Han Solo moment when Sam attempts to share her feelings with O'Neill.
Carter is not digging this. She's got the deer in the headlights thing going here.
Affinity [Season 8] [Episode 7]: A sweet scene. It's not easy keeping emotions in check. By the way, is it me, or does Carter always look amazing in black! Oh and did I mention piano? I love that piano.
Threads [Season 8] [Episode 18] Carter and O'Neill have struggled with their working relationship and the part of their relationship they wish could have been more. This episode handles that thread beautifully. There is real honesty here and eight years on, it further illustrates just how steeped in reality a science fiction show like Stargate SG-1 managed to be. As a fan I wanted something to really 'happen' between them, but the creators fleshed out the dynamic so perfectly it only gave me pause as to why I loved the show so much and why I was always satisfied with how they handled their connection.
Moebius Part 2 [Season 8] [Episode 20] This was a swansong to the show and to the quartet that is Carter, O'Neill, Jackson and Teal'c. It would be the last episode of the established, original quartet as it would see to Richard Dean Anderson's departure. Amanda Tapping would exit on maternity leave for a time and Stargate SG-1 would be reincarnated and revived with a new energy for Season 9. In saying goodbye, the creators offered fans a completely original science-fiction tale within the show. This splendidly wacky finale would give fans exactly what they wanted, Carter in the arms of O'Neill [sort of, as it was strictly within the realm of pure fantasy within the show's established boundaries]. While the episode isn't a personal favorite of mine the closing minutes make it one of the finest moments.
I like the sparks and fireworks that ignite around them. It's all very James Bond moment!
200 [Season 10] [Episode ]. Just when you thought it was safe... the nuptials. Once again, only in our dreams, to celebrate 200 episodes. It was splendid to have RDA back and in the arms of Sam even but for a moment as fans actually got to see them wed.
Ah yes, the memories. Carter & O'Neill were definitely one of science fiction's terrific male-female pairings alongside Mulder-Scully and a handful of others who kept things mostly professional. They were like friends with potential that gave us a glimmer of the possibilities for something more for ten years. Continuum, unfortunately, would add nothing additional to that story. As of this writing Carter and O'Neill would unlikely share screen time again going forward. Let's face it, the screen magic they did share along the way made for a wild ride while dodging all those bullets. If that isn't love for you.