Fidelity is a Virtue, but Rape Doesn’t Count

Warning, Stargate spoilers.

Something that annoys me about the first three seasons of Stargate is that the writers had this near-obsession with hooking up Daniel with other women, despite the fact he was married. They handily got around the whole infidelity issue by having two scenarios where his consent was, at best, obtained by deception, and a third the episode after his wife’s death. And in that episode she turns out to be a psychopathic maniac in the guise of a young woman. After that episode, they never look at a love-interest for Daniel, unless you count the way Vala toys with him. Which makes me wonder, was Daniel getting laid only titillating when he was cheating on his wife?

Personally, I wouldn’t have thought any less of Daniel if, say, after a year of Sha’re being controlled by her symbiote, he decided to move on, or just that he needed to get laid. After a year of no sex, in limbo between single, married and widowed, I’d be pretty antsy too, and if I were Sha’re, I think I could understand. But the producers couldn’t take such a brave, realistic (IMHO anyway) attitude towards Daniel’s fidelity, applying traditional expectations of marriage and monogamy to exceptional circumstances.

Mind you, Stargate is renowned for taking storylines and standards from other sources and trying to make them fit into their mould.

But what really bothered me was, since they couldn’t be brave and address the fact that, once in a while, a person needs to get laid, married or not, but they still wanted to give Daniel some action, they went about it by a serious of drug-inducements at the hands of deceptive women. To put it crudely, Daniel has to be faithful, but rape doesn’t count as cheating.

Case #1, Hathor. The base is infiltrated by a Goa’uld Queen, who drugs Daniel and gets him to have sex with her in order to create a new species of parasite. There’s been a lot of argument about whether or not this was rape, because technically the victim wasn’t penetrated, rather did the penetrating. I argue that rape is sex without consent, which fits in this scenario. My point is that the producers seem to take the stance that since Daniel didn’t consent, therefor he wasn’t unfaithful. The producers get their action while still maintaining Daniel’s moral high ground.

Case #2, Need. Daniel rescues a princess to an offworld planet, Shyla, who falls in love with him and, in order to coax his loyalties away from Sha’re, gets him addicted to the sarcophagus, so he’ll stay with her. This gets a bit messy because there was probably more consent in this scenario then there was in the Hathor one, and there’s some debate on the Internet about weather it reflected a subconscious desire to cheat on Sha’re, but the producers were still able to get Daniel laid by compromising his judgement and making the validity of his consent tenuous at best.

Case #3, Past and Present. This is the episode directly after Sha’re dies, and Daniel makes a reference to her recent death. He falls for a young woman, Kera, who actually turns out to me an older woman and sociopath who they met earlier in the series, having taken a youth elixir and amnesiac. This is the only time he actually consents, although it’s still under deceptive circumstances. What the hell was that about? Now Daniel’s single, he can consent to sex? It was a stupid sub-plot which served no purpose other then maybe the producers were sick of thinking up contrivances to have Daniel have sex against his will.

Mind you, in regard to the grieving-widower storyline, they did better then most. I’ve seen TV shows where someone’s partner died and the next episode they’re happily courting someone else.

After Past and Present, we never hear about Daniel’s lovelife, ever again, unless you count a couple of references to Sha’re. Could it be that, now Daniel is free, by anyone’s standards, to pursue whoever he chooses, it’s a boring story? Was the notion of Daniel getting some action only interesting while he was married? This makes me think that there’s a considerable amount of people out there who find infidelity far more titillating then the act of sex – or even just a kiss – itself.

I wonder how much of an outrage there would have been if, at some point before Sha’re’s death, Daniel had come out and said, either in words or actions “˜I’m effectively widowed, I’m entitled to see other women’? He actually says something like this in Need, which is probably where the debate about his subconscious desire to cheat came from, and I was sorry they didn’t pursue it further. But I guess all those people were OK with various contrivances of deception, despite the fact I would have thought they would have damaged Daniel’s state of mind far more then him simply accepting Sha’re was unlikely to come back and therefor he was effectively widowed, with the freedom to see other woman that came with it. But no, that’s bad. That’s cheating. We have to think of something else.

The moral of the story? Fidelity is a virtue, but rape doesn’t count.

Comments

  1. Gategrrl says

    Nitpicky me here: the woman he (arguably boinked, it’s up to interpretation) is *Kira*, the younger incarnation of the Destroyer of Worlds, whereas the older woman was called Linnea.

    You’re melding Jack’s “Laira” in there with that name, too. :-)

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think they figured the show needed sex to interest viewers. The first character they tried it with was, as usual, the star, Jack (Richard Dean Anderson). For whatever reason, they later decided to use Daniel (Michael Shanks) as the sex character.

    Why they didn’t use Teal’c or Sam is a whole other debate. Sam couldn’t have a sex life (until Season 7): she could only have gentleman aliens courting her in a chaste and wholesome manner.

    Getting back to the Daniel issue, I’m one of those few viewers who actually really liked the Kera storyline, where a week after Sha’re’s death, Daniel’s on the make with this woman. Daniel was a bit over the edge, and Kera was subconsciously reminding him of Sha’re because she had a darkness within that she couldn’t protect him from. It made perfect sense to me.

    After that, they started focusing the romance on Sam and Jack, trying to have it both ways with them: “they’re not together, but they want to be. Well, maybe they want to be, but we haven’t really said it, so you aren’t allowed to get irritable about it”. And so on.

    Must be the least confident production staff ever given control of a TV show.

  3. Lex says

    Once Sha’re had died, Jack was finally free to make a move and Jack and Daniel have been together ever since (hence no more obvious nookie for Daniel). Jack’s spent years fending off Carter, cheated on Daniel when he thought he was trapped off-world forever, and cheated again when he thought Daniel was never coming back. But it’s all okay again now that Daniel’s home for good, although that long-distance relationship thing is hard, poor things.

    And the writers know all this, which is why they haven’t bothered to give Daniel another love-interest – they know Daniel wouldn’t feel the need to pretend.

    See? So simple.

  4. Nialla says

    While I don’t really want to see any of the characters have a significant other that takes up a lot of screen time, it would be strange for them not to have a date now and again.

    For some reason, TPTB linked Daniel’s raison d’etre to the search for Sha’re. Once that was over, they didn’t know what to do with him, and that included something as simple as getting laid.

    Sam couldn’t be the sexually active one, simply because she’s female and would be labelled “space ho” really quickly. Later on, they also didn’t want to show her interested in anyone else, because it negated the Sam/Jack thing they were tap dancing around.

    Jack was the lead and the hero, and normally such romantic stuff would fall to him. They did have a bit of that, but not much. I think this was also part of the Sam/Jack effect. But in Sam’s case, she still had to have random male aliens worship her from afar, to reinforce why Jack would want her, even though he never did anything overt to show that he did. The male alien worshippers were Jack’s proxy in a sense.

    And poor Teal’c. He didn’t get much at all in the early days. Mostly because he was married at the time, but even later, it seems like the only time Teal’c could get laid was when Chris Judge was writing. I think it’s partly because of the “he’s alien” mentality that the writer’s don’t want to deal with. It seems like only after he was more “earth-icized” that he was given more options.

  5. scarlett says

    As I recall, the women he had romatic/sexual relationships with were also aliens :p
    This is getting a bit far from my initial post – abiut the creative ways the writers would find to get Daniel laid without it being infidelity – but a SG discussion is always fun :p

  6. Nialla says

    Ah, but it’s OK for Our Heroes to boff an alien female. Proves they’re Manly Men and all that. It’s when one of Our Heroes is an alien or a female that changes things.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    The whole “odd they never date” thing could easily have been solved by the occasional reference to off-screen dates and relationships. Takes 5 seconds of dialog. I’m not sure why the writers wanted to avoid this. Jack and Daniel are both so cranky, I could believe long term celibacy for either of them, and Teal’c was stuck on base. But Sam? C’mon, one of the four should’ve have a marginally normal life outside the program, or at least attempted to. But they wanted her to be neurotically crushing on Jack, and neurotic people don’t do normal stuff like dating.

  8. scarlett says

    exactly! in law and order:svu olivia mentions a date she’s got from time to time, just something like ‘i can’t stay back I have a date’. Still drifting aay from the origical post but so long as people comment, I’m happy :p

  9. Nialla says

    I’ve never been able to figure out why they never did reference to off-screen life either. It’s like they were allergic to it or something.

    I was really hoping that Mitchell would be married, or otherwise have a recurring SO. We wouldn’t have to see her much, but it could make things a bit different see a team member having to worry about what he can’t tell her.

  10. scarlett says

    For some reason I’m trhionking SVU again, the way Elliot was sometimes stressed out over a crappy case and couldn’t tell his wife. See, THEY can do it and remain a hard-hitting drama, why not SG?

  11. Nialla says

    Odd you should mention SVU, because I recall watching episodes with Olivia mentioning missing a date and Elliot not being able to tell his wife what was going on at work (making a point of not wanting “work” to taint his home life) and thinking, “Why can’t they do that on Stargate?”

  12. SunlessNick says

    As I recall, the women he had romatic/sexual relationships with were also aliens :p

    Not in the sense of not being human, just not from Earth.

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