Monday, July 28, 2008

Carter & O'Neill: Anatomy Of An SG-1 Love Story

Little story about Jack and Miss Sam, two American kids growin' up in the heartland. Yes, you can imagine concocting lyrics to the classic John Mellencamp track, Jack And Diane, featuring our beloved heroes of Stargate SG-1, Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter.

This has been a major work in progress, a labor of love if you will. As a fan of Stargate SG-1 I began 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 thread 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 as we do in this post.

Tapping continued to capture the relationship dynamic rather succinctly and articulated it understandably in Stargate: The Official Magazine. "My character's relationship with O'Neill was probably the most influential. There was a flirtatious side of Sam that she was always afraid to show, and an awkward sexuality to her.... With O'Neill, I think Sam saw the possibility of everything. There was a sexuality to it [their relationship] and a maturity. It was also quite intimate and, perhaps, because it was so forbidden, it was almost safe for Sam to think about because she knew she couldn't act on it. So it could be the ultimate fantasy." (Jan 2010, p.42). Perfect. And thus fandom connected with that as much as Tapping. This potential was indeed a reality in viewer's eyes.

Enjoy the moments and the memories as we search back across Carter And O'Neill: Anatomy Of An SG-1 Love Story.

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 6]. 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, the memories. Carter and 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.


Anonymous said...

A very nice look at the timeline of Jack/Sam. Thanks!

I remember reading somewhere that TPTB (fueled by Richard Dean Anderson) decided that Laira did NOT have a child with Jack. They didn't like the idea of portraying him as an absentee, irresponsible father. So her reaction in that shot is hope but not reality.

Anonymous said...

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SFF said...

Thanks for the input on the Blu-Ray player erasure25. I actually did buy Continuum the other day on Blu-Ray in the hopes of getting a player very soon to check it out. Thanks for the advice.

SFF said...

By the way Sharp2799- glad to hear O'Neill is not an absentee Dad. I feel better about that. : ) Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I think they are perfect for each other

SFF said...

Thanks Caitlyn. I agree. It seemed pretty evident. You made my day.

Anonymous said...

well in fact the only one who's face is shown again in that a hundred days scene is carter's. and after all it seems to me quite strange that she would not show an emotional reaction when seeing him say goodbye like this to another woman.

SFF said...

True. And she does turn away to sort of keep the moment private so as not to show any real reaction she might be feeling to the others.

SFF said...

Not at all, that's what the site is for. Glad you found it. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Seeing anything about SG-1 juxtaposed against Stargate Universe really makes me miss SG-1 that much more. Thanks for the feedback.

Anonymous said...

You should have a look at Stargate Atlantis, there is a deleted scene belonging to Season 4's episode "Trio" in which Carter discusses her love life with another member of the team. There are clear refereces that indicate that she and O'Neill are having a relationship.

Just saying... might not be on screen directly, but it's happy ending after all :D

SFF said...

That is very funny.

If that is true, then that is a truly fantastic observation.

I will definitely update this entry when I get there.

It's funny you mention Stargate Atlantis. I'm currenty in the the thick of Season Two, interestingly just finishing the Carter/ MCKay episode Grace Under Pressure, Atlantis' take on Grace from SG-1.

Anyway I really appreciate hearing this and I look forward to checking it out and updating this accordingly. Cheers for the hapy ending note. :)


Anonymous said...

Great job.

SFF said...

Well, thanks very much for saying so. Best, sff

Anonymous said...

great job....I'm glad someone put this together!

SFF said...

Thanks very much for saying so.

Obviously there are many out there that suggest people are "shippers" and that sort of thing imploring that their relationship was one of a professional nature.

There's no question there was a professional foundation between Carter & O'Neill, but to deny the emotional complexities of their connection and their affections as something that fans were reading into is realy dishonest.

You can't tell me the writers weren't intending certain things and furthermore they did a terrific job balancing that affection with the professional within the context of the military.

It was one of the best on television.

Thanks again for inspiring some additional reflection looking back. Regards, sff

Anonymous said...

I absolutely adore this pairing and this TV show. Of course, the "shipper" in me wishes that there could have been a real show of affection somewhere in the show, with no alternate timelines, alien viruses, or what have you. However, the writers did a fantastic job of keeping this an undercurrent rather than something forced upon the viewers. Stargate SG-1 was a deeply layered show, and this was just one of the layers that makes it still the most interesting show I have ever seen. Thank you for this eloquently written summary of the beautiful relationship between Sam and Jack.

SFF said...

Well said. That relationship was kept entirely in check for substantive reasons. The connection was often subtle and we genuinely appreciated that sense of realism between them given the profession.

I too wished there was something a little more provacative, but then it wouldn't have been SG-1 or authentic.

I couldn't agree more with your terrific comment. Thank you. SFF

Christina said...

This is a great summary! Thanks! I was wondering about a picture you have on your blog about the Best and Worst Episodes where Jack is wearing a cap and kissing Sam and they seem to be smiling about it. Looks like an earlier season?

SFF said...

Hello and thank you for the comment.

That episode is from Season One, Episode 6, Cold Lazarus.

He's kissing his wife there. That's not Sam though I can see where she looks a bit like her in that shot.

All the best -sff

Anonymous said...

I really adore Sam and Jack because even there are rules and regulation they never put away the love they have for each other

Anonymous said...

They are really adorable
I wish Sam Carter and Jack O'neill they could have been real couples.....
I never seen a love team that is adorable as like this

SFF said...

Thanks for writing.

Anonymous said...

Happy to find this page and putting it in my FAV bar whenever the craving sneaks up to see the unbelievable on-screen CHEMISTRY these 2 actors had in their scenes together. There were some favs of mine I didn't see--the lead up to Carter's giggle in "Solitudes", end of "Grace" Jack just bursting cause Sam's OK and did helluva job on board, the 2 of them fishing together, finding Carter alive after Fifth left without her, brief flirtation when Oneill looked at Carter thru magnifying glass, and last one I can think of--how Carter beamed at Oneill at the table after the replicators were destroyed. This was after both broke up with Pete and Kerry and no doubt told each other. I think that's when they finally took the leap THANKS.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sharp2799 about Laira just hoping for a child. After all, it was only the day after she and Jack did it.

Anonymous said...

Lastly, I'd like to know what lines were written for Carter/Oneill that the actors chose not to use--episode was either "Upgrades" or "Divide and Conquer"

SFF said...

Very nice of you to visit and thank you for the kind words.

It was a fun post to make.

I'm not sure of the answer to your third comment. Good luck in seeking them out.