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So my first ever meta post on LJ. 

This is actually my February entry for WOTG's 11 in 11 Challenge ( which challenges people to 11 posts about the ladies of Stargate in 2011).  I thought I would kick things off with an examination of my favourite SG1 female character: Sam.

Samantha Carter is one of the reasons why I love SG1.  Intelligent and kick-ass, on one hand; fallible and struggling with personal issues, on the other.  She remains one of my role models; a woman who made being smart cool.  And, for me, much of Sam's growth both professionally (growing into leadership in particular) and personally (balancing work and play) echoed my own.

The following evolution of Sam I originally posted on GW (although it stopped at S9 whereas this goes onto cover everything up to SGU's S1 Incursion so beware of mild spoilers and some mild Sam/Jack shippiness).

Year 1: Proving Herself


Sam was trying to prove herself, specifically, to her CO, Jack O'Neill. She was proving she was worthy of a place on the team by trying to prove what a good soldier she was as well as demonstrating her technical and scientific genius. Season 1 Carter for me is best encapsulated in Hathor; competent, showing early signs of good leadership yet still reliant on Janet and Teal'c for advice and support, and earning herself a commendation and the approval of her CO.

Year 2: Jolinar


Sam's experience with Jolinar was the major impact to her character; she's left with changed body chemistry and vague fuzzy memories of a life she didn't lead and feelings she didn't feel. She continues to focus on doing the best job she can for the team while dealing with the huges changes Jolinar poses for her and the issues with her father. The Tok'ra Part 1 and 2 encapsulate Season 2 Carter for me; trying desperately to understand Jolinar and what that means for her while dealing with her father's fate and in doing so providing a way forward for the Tau'ri to make an allegiance with the Tok'ra.

Year 3: "Major Carter"


Finally getting comfortable in her own skin again; Jolinar continues to be an influence but Sam is separating Jolinar from herself now. Her promotion to Major gives her added confidence. Sam revels in her trusted position in the team and knowing her own worth. Season 3 Carter for me is encapsulated in Foothold; preventing the base being overtaken by aliens and coming up with the solution to disturb the technology.

Year 4: Mission Before Self


With her professional value established, her feelings for her CO create a personal conflict for her but Sam acts honourably choosing to sacrifice her personal desires and doesn't allow her feelings for her CO, nor for anyone else, to overcome her professionalism in getting the job done. Season 4 Carter is encapsulated in Divide and Conquer; figuring out why they weren't za-tarcs, putting her relationship with Martouf aside to shoot him, and agreeing with her CO to leave their confessions in the room.

Year 5: Doing the Right Thing


With her early experience with Orlin, Sam is focused more on doing the 'right thing' rather than what the official line might be, especially as the way forward is often tainted by those responsible for spying on her such as Simmons and the government. Luckily she's supported in this by her team.  She continues to provide a key contribution in saving them and the world as shecontinues to develop her leadership skills under her CO's watchful eyes. 2001 for me encapsulates Season 5 Carter; trusted by her command to get the answer to the Aschen question in the face of the government's support of a treaty and saving the world from a biological weapon.

Year 6: Second-in-Command


With the death of Daniel, Sam truly excels as O'Neill relies heavily on her in the changed team. She provides him with his main sounding board and becomes his right-hand woman even more so than ever before. Her leadership skills and technical know-how are vital in getting the team in and out of the various situations they encounter. Season 6 Carter is in Smoke and Mirrors; working tirelessly to clear her CO of murder, coming up with the answers and leading the take-down of the evil businessmen behind the NID.

Year 7: Confused


Her professional life progressing nicely (occasional leadership gig of her own, completely trusted in the team, great soldier, her technical know-how contributing to the fight against the super-soldiers), Sam questions the direction of her personal life and whether she needs to move on from the long-held feelings for her CO or not. Season 7 Carter is encapsulated in Grace; strong, trying to find a solution to save her and the crew of the Prometheus while debating her personal choices.

Year 8: Making Mistakes But Finding Her Way


Everything goes a little pear-shaped for Sam; professionally, although promoted and still showing herself to be a good soldier and contributor to working out the solutions, she questions her leadership abilities despite the support of her CO and team; she makes what she seems to consider her worst mistake yet with her Replicator double. In her personal life she agrees to marry Pete yet comes to realise that she still has feelings for her CO and has to deal with the devastation of losing her father. It is only at the end that her life seems to get back on track as she helps defeat the Replicators, breaks off her engagement and settles back into the security of her team. Threads showcases Season 8 Carter; still feeling responsible for Daniel's fate, confused about her feelings and forced to face them with her father's death, she still comes up with a solution to stop Anubis even if its too late...and finally takes solace by going fishing with her team.

Year 9: Unsettled


Sam tries to move on from her life in SG1 taking a new leadership position in R&D, but is ordered back with the threat of the Ori. She continues to contribute to saving the day and in showing good leadership but no longer officially leader of SG1, she initially struggles to find her place again in the new regime while having to deal with some faces from her past. She finally begins to find her place but then the arrival of the Ori happens and she is left hanging in space.  Prototype shows Season 9 Carter for me: not quite comfortable with the new set-up, helping Daniel figure out Anubis's plan and setting up the fail-safe with the planet's unusual DHD so Khalek would not be able to return to the machine and ascend.

Year 10 (including Ark of Truth): Comfortable in Her Own Skin


Sam has settled into the new regime; she's comfortable with both her new and old team-mates, helping to save the world and take on the Ori almost dying in the attempt and getting lost in an alternate reality for a while.  She leads the SGC during Landry's absence, provides the technical know-how to save them and gets to hit Ba'al.  Season 10 Carter for me is encapsulated by The Road Not Taken: saving the world with her brains, taking on the government and knowing who she is at her core, getting herself home to be reunited with her team.

Sam in AtlantisLeading
 

Despite some reluctance about leaving Earth, Sam takes on the leadership of Atlantis when Weir goes MIA with the Replicators.  She knows she has big shoes to fill and that she has to prove herself to her new team but in the end fully grasps the opportunity and settles into her leadership.  While little is known about her personal life, she admits to Jennifer Keller that she is involved with an older man living in Washington but it is complicated given the long distance.  Sam in Atlantis for me is best in The Seer, stepping up to lead during a risky moment with a Wraith hive and putting Woolsey in his place.

After Atlantis (including Continuum): Success


Sam continues to develop as a leader - being so successful in Atlantis that the IOA replace her as the situation in Pegasus is deemed safe to return to civilian command.  While temporarily back with SG1 for Ba'al's extraction, she continues to develop her leadership skills and is appointed the temporary SGC commander while Landry is away in Washington while she awaits the completion of the new ship 'The General Hammond.' 

SGU: Commander of The Hammond

Professionally confident in her role as the Commander of The Hammond, Sam makes the hard decisions during battles with the Lucien Alliance.  No details about her personal life are provided and although she is shown only interacting with Jack O'Neill professionally, my view is that they're happily settled into a relationship with each other on a personal level too.  In other words, Sam has it all!  SGU Carter for me is best shown in Incursion Part 1 where the Hammond attacks the Alliance base and Sam proves herself capable of making the hard decisions.

And that is why I love the character.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
rachel500
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:21 am (UTC)
Thank you for the comment. Yep, I don't think she ever "pined" over Jack but I do think she came close to settling for less than she really wanted (Pete).
campylobacter
Mar. 13th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
The Evolution of Samantha Carter by
BRAVO! Such a fabulous look at an oft-misunderstood character.

The worst of the misunderstandings involve accusations of a "Mary Sue" perfection, but that's because there's a general failure to notice the harder, more profound obstacles Sam overcomes. I agree that in Season 1 she was still trying to "prove" herself in the male-dominated military and the field of astrophysics; it's a relief that the writers stopped focusing on "reproductive organs on the inside" and paid attention to the courage, optimism, and confidence inside her instead.

Sam's character arc is slow and subtle, but that's what makes her worth watching for 10+ seasons.
rachel500
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
Re: The Evolution of Samantha Carter by
I always find the Mary Sue thing weird given all of SG1 is as much of Mary Sue (or rather the make version) as Sam. And Sam is flawed and makes mistakes so she's not perfect - and that makes her a more interesting character in my book.
psychomonkey_29
Mar. 14th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Sam Carter kicks butt! That her character was and is so popular is a testament to Amanda Tapping and the wonderful writers. She is a brain, a solider, and a everyday women.

There can never be too many good stories of Sam( and Jack of course).
rachel500
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
She definitely kicks butt! And I think Tapping did a fabulous job with the character.
sg_fignewton
Mar. 14th, 2011 08:10 am (UTC)
Oh, this is very nice, even if the SGA/SGU stuff is beyond me!

(Er. When was Sam in command of the SGC?!)

Especially year 10, because YES. She is so comfortable and confident then. I wish she could've been official leader of SG-1, but then again, I don't think Sam is actually happiest when she's in charge. It's not a question of ability; it's a question of where her priorities lie.

A question for you: your interpretation of her being relieved of command of Atlantis is a positive spin I've never seen before. While I haven't watched it, most Sam fans are furious that she was so callously dismissed by Woolsey. Is this your own version, or is there canon basis for saying that they returned Atlantis to civilian command because Sam had made it safe enough to do so?

Thanks for this lovely meta!
rachel500
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:32 am (UTC)
Thank you for commenting!

Sam was initially shown in charge (albeit very temporarily) in one of the S10 episodes (while Landry is away at Jack's cabin with Mitchell awaiting the rest of SG1). But she has temporary command of the SGC in SGA's S5 finale Enemy of the Gate (Landry is said to be away in Washington).

There is canon basis for Sam's removal from command of Atlantis in The Seed, the team discuss Sam's departure and Sheppard comments that the success of defeating the Replicators, eliminating Michael and having the Wraith in disarray means the IOA would jump at reinstating a civilian command. Personally, from my own fanon basis, I think this is the reason why the IOA removed her (it's political enough to be true) but I still get annoyed at the way it was done (with Woolsey telling her very bluntly she was removed in Search and Rescue) and would think Sam herself would be annoyed at the how even if she understood the why.


Edited at 2011-03-18 09:33 am (UTC)
lullabymoon
Mar. 14th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
I adore this. It's a brilliant look at Sam over the years.
rachel500
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:33 am (UTC)
Thank you!
anie_chan
Mar. 14th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
Great overwiev on the development of Sam's character. You summed up everything for me rather nicely.

In other words, Sam has it all!
That's what I wanted to hear. XD
rachel500
Mar. 18th, 2011 09:33 am (UTC)
Thank you!
jasminago
Mar. 28th, 2011 07:19 pm (UTC)
Beautiful review of Sam's progress over the years.

She really is one of the best developed female characters in sci-fi.
rachel500
Apr. 1st, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
kaycross
May. 4th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
Yes - I would have to agree with that! Definitely one of the best developed female characters in sci-fi. She has a lot of depth and has shown tremendous growth over the years.

Your look at her evolution as a character are totally in line with what I believe as well. Thank you for writing such a clear and concise look at Sam.

I actually see the punching out of Ba'al as one of the key indicators that she has come into her own. She is so comfortable with herself and her own abilities here - no doubts, no need for approval - just Sam being comfortable enough to show herself. I also put her comfort level down to being happy in her personal life - whether that is with or without Jack - she has finally found peace.

Thank you for posting this.

rachel500
May. 5th, 2011 10:15 am (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback. Have to admit that I love that moment with Ba'al!
stormqueen280
Jun. 16th, 2011 09:52 pm (UTC)
This is absolutely brilliant. Sam is one of the best female characters around, and you really get her. It's interesting to see her evolution in both SG-1 and Atlantis, and I think you picked the right episodes to show her personality. It made me eager to watch SG-1 again, but I am in the middle of my finals in college and I just can't! :-(
rachel500
Jun. 24th, 2011 08:45 am (UTC)
Thanks! Hope your finals are goine (or went!) well!
iyimgrace
Jun. 28th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
I have to say that you're analysis of Sam is dead on. While I've always enjoyed her as one of the strong, smart, kick ass female characters on television, I've never seriously taken such an in depth look into her character evolution before. I've always admired her because of those traits of course, but as never really scratched the surface as to her growth or her motivations for some of the things that transpired.

I've read almost all of your TAG's, (totally in love with them, BTW - so awesome and what an incredible undertaking!) and you truly seem to grasp what motivates each of these amazing people. This retrospective makes sense to me, as you map it out each year, with her transition from a new, eager recruit, for lack of a better term, to a seasoned leader with all of her ducks in a row. Over ten years of growth in some seriously hard rites of passage, she comes out stronger and better for it. If we could all live our life that way. And as a writer, if we could use it as a model for character growth/development, we'd have more interesting heroines.

Thank you for this. It's made me do some thinking!
rachel500
Jun. 28th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the feedback (and the lovely comments re TAGs)! Glad you enjoyed it!
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