12/17/2003

This Isn't a Fairy Tale, or, Why I think Sam getting a life is a good thing... for Sam and the ship.

I'm feeling the need to quote that William Shatner SNL skit these days. Not that I didn't expect "Grace" and "Chimera" to get danders up, but whoa. Some of the negativity I've seen directed at Sam is baffling me.

Okay, it's also really pissing me off.

Maybe it's because I've never seen S/J as a happily-ever-after hearts-and-flowers fantasy romance. Not that I don't want them to have a happily-ever-after, in that nebulous after-the-show-is-over sort of way, but right now the thing I love about them most is the deep, enduring friendship and affection that they've built over the years. And what I love best about it is that it's a dynamic that has never been dependant on an ultimate physical or romantic resolution.

Yes, I know, to each their own and so on and so forth, but for the love of little green apples, people, there's no need to pillory the poor woman just because she *gasp* has the nerve to look at another man.

So she meets this guy, falls head over heels with the blush of attraction; it's new, it's exciting, it's okay for her to feel. And it makes her think, makes her revaluate. It makes her start to wonder if she's given up too much. It makes her a woman who could potentially find herself resenting someone she loves because she's waiting for something she might never have. Maybe it's my own projecting, but I can see Sam going through this, making these choices, despite, or even because of how she feels for Jack. Really, it makes me appreciate Sam as a character even more.

Because, to be perfectly honest, Sam waiting or "saving herself" for Jack is hardly romantic. Sure, we the audience have some assurance that they'll get their chance, but the characters themselves aren't so omniscient. From their perspective within the narrative, there's no guarantee that they have a future together and they both know this. So it does sometimes come across that she's been holding a torch for this forbidden love all these years. And within the context of character and narrative development, I think THAT is actually the sort of self-destructive behavior that is the most detrimental to the character of Sam Carter.

And it's not, contrary to some belief, like they're dropping the whole concept on us with no lead up. Given the spoilers for Grace, and all the things that have happened over the course of the show, Sam stopping to think long and hard about her life, and what she wants from it, makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I'd be disappointed if they DIDN'T address it in some manner. As much as she may care for Jack, in Sam-the-character's perspective, anything more than their friendship may as well be a fairytale, given their current situation. And while I don't see Sam visibly whimpering and pining over Jack, I really do think that for her to wait for some romantic ideal the VIEWERS may want is the truly destructive behavior.

THAT, frankly, is what would demean the character and make her into the cliché. And you know, I think it's exactly that which AT meant when she said she didn't want Sam to become "Jack's girl." Because even now, even though there is no direct romantic involvement between the two, it seems like every decision the character makes is evaluated wholly in terms of how it affects Jack.

Seriously folks, there is something wrong with this. Sure, we think it's clear she loves Jack and vice-versa, but they are NOT bound to each other. They haven't professed undying love, exchanged rings, promises, or even an "I love you."

I would even go so far as to say they're not "in love". I mean, really, how can they be, when they've never had a chance to interact outside the bounds of their professional relationship? What they do have is a wonderful affection, friendship and a bond that goes, in my opinion, deeper than any romantic proclamations. They have the potential instead of the kinetic.

And that doesn't mean she can't wonder what she's missing in her life. It doesn't mean she's a bad person, or that she's betraying Jack, or that she's leaping into bed just to get laid. It means Sam is just a woman going out and quite understandably trying to find out what she wants out of her life. It doesn't make her a hussy, a whore, or a cheat (And come on. You can't say she's having an affair when she's not in a relationship now. Oy).

It just makes her a real person, making real choices. It doesn't demean her, it doesn't invalidate the deep and abiding friendship/love she has for Jack, and it doesn't destroy the ship. From a storytelling perspective, it opens a new facet of Sam's character (and trust me, I've got a whole 'nother rant on the "But that's not Sam!" commentary I see going around), and it generates an invaluable dramatic component - conflict. Personal conflict for Sam, which will likely bleed over to a greater conflict, and subsequently growth, for the ship.

Really, people. It's not the end of the world. The sky is not falling, and the ship hasn't sunk. So leave the poor girl alone. She's not doing anything wrong.

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