Stargate and Eureka Reviews

We can’t catch every episode of every show, so it’s a good thing we’re not the only people on earth getting sick of some of the messages TV puts across.

This week, hsapiens informs us that Stargate has actually found a way to sink to a new low, as Sam Carter gives an enemy (Ba’al) everything he needs to wipe out all life in the galaxy because otherwise he says he will kill one person. Jack would have called Ba’al’s bluff. Daniel would have at least tried to trick him. But Sam’s a Girl with Girly Feelings so she can’t rationalize that the guy Ba’al’s threatening to kill is going to die in either scenario. Girls have trouble with that sort of logic, the poor dears. Fortunately, General Landry assures her she made the right call. Yeeeah. That sound you just heard was your suspension of disbelief whizzing out the window like a popped balloon.

But wait – Sam didn’t used to be that way. As Hsapiens points out, she’s been tortured, experienced someone else’s torture via alien technology in order to rescue her dad, shot and killed a man she cared for because he’d been brainwashed to kill someone else. The writers could have written this episode so that Sam had no choice, or at least tried to trick Ba’al with false information. They chose not to write it that way. And we’re supposed to pretend this doesn’t send meta-messages?

This episode should be retitled to, “How Sam Misses Every Clue and Gives Away Tip Top Secret Data but the Men Pat Her on the Head Anyway.”

Sounds like more than a few viewers thought in the end what she handed Ba’al would turn out to be a trick – not the real data. They were that convinced that Sam still has a brain. Silly viewers. Learn!

And I took a look around for comments on Sci-Fi’s new highly-rated show, Eureka. From TelevisionWithoutPity, we get reports of gender imbalance: the men are all geniuses with skills, the women are mostly brats, ball-busters, and an evil double-agent posing as a sex therapist with prominently displayed breasts. And one poster points out:

“So, the only woman on the show to display some frankness about sexuality turns out to be evil. What a surprise.”

Another poster reports feeling disturbed by a young underage girl character (“cast as too young to be the “hot daughter”) being shown gratuitously in a bubblebath, when she could’ve been doing anything else in the world for the scene to work. So now female characters don’t even have to be eighteen to be exploited in subtle but powerful ways. While I don’t hold TV producers responsible for the rapes their viewers commit, I do think calling attention to young women as sex objects is akin to throwing kerosene on the fire.

Evidently, another plotline finds a male scientist who split with his wife because she wasn’t ready for kids and he was. He somehow made a genetic copy of his wife and had a kid with the copy (guess he fixed the, ahem, “flaw” that kept her from yearning for motherhood). Then somehow the real original wife shows up and somehow gets stuck with the kid – I guess she’s unwilling to ditch a child in need just because her ex is a psychopath. That’s fine, but it sounds like other characters are endorsing what the husband did, and in the end the wife is, too. Guess she learned the error of her ways in refusing her rightful place as baby machine! And you other females better go to your rooms and think twice about doing the same thing, too! As one poster reports:

If someone cloned me, kept the clone somehow sequestered from the rest of the world for seven years (I don’t want to know how he kept her from visiting her friends and family outside Eureka, or for that matter, do anything else that might draw attention to the fact that there were two of her – like, say, pursuing any kind of distinguished career in science, which the original apparently did), used the clone to produce a child, then left me to take care of the kid when he and clone died / were murdered / stuck between seconds / whatever, I sure as hell wouldn’t be smiling and snuggling “our” son when I discovered that he wasn’t quite dead. I think I’d be calling the cops and a lawyer. And if someone told me, “Yeah, sure, he cloned you against your will and seriously screwed up your life for the past few days, but that’s a cute kid, right?” I think it’d be more shocked and appalled than touched and veklempt.

Comments

  1. scarlett says

    Just watched the begining of s2 Battlestar. I love that the female characters, Starbuck especially, are as flawed as they are talented. Writing fleshed-out women who make mistakes and get called on it can be done, SO WHY AREN’T MORE PEOPLE DOING IT???

  2. Jennifer Kesler says

    The answer I always got from the film industry on that question was that it’s not what the audience wants to see. That young men are threatened by strong women, and women would rather drool over cute guys. /rolleyes

  3. sbg says

    I saw that Eureka episode…and I sat there wondering why the heck these people were pressuring the poor woman to pretend the child was her son; she didn’t want children, she was basically violated so her husband could get her to have one (why he couldn’t have just dealt and found a shiny, new spouse to have children with is beyond me), and yet the female Homeland Security lady kept insisting on it. Why? It wouldn’t really help the child any more than putting him in foster care would…it might be added trauma for him.

    I was disappointed the original wife suddenly changed her tune. It would have been horrible for her to simply leave…but at the same time, it was horrible to see her change her mind and slip into the role her husband apparently always wanted her to be in.

    It also kind of seemed that now that the real wife was revealed, no one really cared about the clone wife’s murder.

  4. SunlessNick says

    I’ve never seek Eureka, and I might well not do so.

    But wait – Sam didn’t used to be that way.

    “Sam” also used to be “Carter.” I wonder if that’s a symptom.

  5. Mecha says

    I’m going to theorize real quick, but I don’t want to get into a discussion over Eureka too much because I haven’t started watching it and don’t know that I will. BUT. National security situation -> stasis > nonstasis. I imagine it was never about the woman, or the child, to her, but the appearance, and the sanity of their prized scientist. I guarantee you if DHS could make every place look perfect, consistent, and have high output, they’d go for it. In that, as much as the plot feels heavily misogynistic, it is world-consistent (and world-consistency is generally patriarichal in ‘modern day’ settings.)

    It’s the ‘easy’ world-consistent, though. And the fact that the woman went along with it bothers me too. I am hoping for a flip-side, where 1) a guy gets banged around like that (especially the scientist in question: seriously, grow up, this isn’t Weird Science.) 2) the woman here had a little more pressure on her than was evident.

    (Also, he couldn’t just deal because he was an insecure self-centered skilled scientist. The stereotype of ‘male scientist who cannot leave their dead wife/mother/sister behind and so obseses about bringing her back to life/copying her’ is eeeeeeverywhere. Seriously. From Japan to America to Europe, everyone knows that male scientists are creepy/insecure/manipulative/megalomaniacal and will do anything to get what they want. It’s easier to find a well-balanced female scientist than a well-balanced male one.)

    -Mecha

  6. sbg says

    I could buy that, but at the time the DHS lady was pressuring the original wife, the scientist was believed to be dead. I suppose they could still be concerned about that after death, but this is a community that’s totally blanketed and hidden away from the rest of the world; not sure it would matter that much. Even if it did matter, I don’t know how getting the original wife on board with the horrid things her husband did would make things look sane.

    I’d never make it at the Department of Homeland Security. Frankly, the name alone makes me uncomfortable.

  7. Mecha says

    Oog. Yeah, that does sorta shoot that down a bit. It can’t be for straight ‘normalcy’ purposes, then… but…

    … well, about getting her on board, how is that not national security positive (even with the dead husband?) I mean, okay, not pretty, but it’s a lot better than her talking about them. It seems like in a security situation she’s doing ‘appeal to emotion (stereotypical emotion, which is lame and angering that it worked, especially with insufficient character justification)’ in an attempt to keep from having to do ‘appeal to 9mm to the head’. Military situations can be seeeriously messed up like that, in my mind.

    The entire thing makes me think that the woman here really did not have a solid psychological basis in the writers’ minds. Bleh to them, whether the DHS is acting consistently or not.

    At least it’s not ‘Liquidation Department’. Or ‘Government Stuff Department’. ;)

    -Mecha

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    Sounds to more like it’s the writers who want to get the character on board at all costs.

    It sounds to me like all they needed to do was acknowledge that the cloning (or whatever) was a violation of this woman. That alone – being cloned without my consent – would make me feel violated right there. Had they acknowledged how very, very wrong it was, then we’d just be looking at a woman deciding how to deal with a bad situation. Without the acknowledgement, it’s like the writers are perhaps thinking cloning your unwilling wife to get a child she doesn’t want out of her is justified.

  9. Mecha says

    Yeah, I had a discussion with my friend (who actually watches the show) about the meta-message that a lack of recrimination sends. After some discussion, he sorta came to the clarification points of (from an actual viewer) ‘The scientist returned in, perhaps, the last two minutes of the show, and she accepted the kid under extreem duress (from DHS and the plot situation de jour), and he was left with a feeling that she was going to yell at/talk with him, and that it was indeed a horrible decision for her. And that there hasn’t much been time to deal with the issue, at least onscreen, as there are a number of plots going.’ For whatever all that’s worth. Hopefully the issue isn’t closed.

    He also thinks that people would have had more of a field day with the fact that the male character has a ‘female’ personified computerized house of some sort, complete with locking him out when he’s late for dinner. Dunno. It’s really hard to analyze these things without watching them, especially when working from quoted TVw/oP snark. ^^;

    -Mecha

  10. DragonLadyK says

    Criminal Minds handled that concept much better. In “Birthright,” one of the women raped by a serial killer decides to keep the baby because it’s half-her and because she doesn’t want to punish the child for his father’s choices. In a truly phenomenal scene, the mother informed her son when he found out what his father was that he “was the only good thing to come out of all of that.” (The other two female guests on the show were the serial killer’s wife, who killed him when she found out what he was so her son wouldn’t turn out that way, and the wife of the serial killer’s legitimate son (who was himself a serial killer), who killed her husband when she found out what he was so that her child wouldn’t be exposed to him.)

    If in Eureka they’d had the woman on her own decide that she was going to “fix” this Creepy Man be damned, then it would have been powerful instead of lame with a side of creepy. But on the other hand, what can we expect of SciFi, the criminal masterminds that brought us Lucius Lavin and McKeller on SGA?

  11. says

    Out of curiosity, DragonLadyK, what was the context they set up for the women deciding to kill these men? Were they thinking, “I can’t rely on the law to handle this, so I have to do it myself?” Or was it all about protecting the kids?

    I’m trying to figure out if, in addition to allowing the female characters more agency than most have, they also allowed for a different motive than the usual (protecting kids, jealous of other woman, etc.).

  12. sbg says

    what was the context they set up for the women deciding to kill these men? Were they thinking, “I can’t rely on the law to handle this, so I have to do it myself?” Or was it all about protecting the kids?

    What I took from it, FWIW, was that the motivation was horror-based more than it was motivated by protecting the young ‘uns. I’m sure there was meant to be an element of that, but I always read the wife dispatching her serial killer husband was motivated by something far more, uh, primal. I might be assigning feelings, but it seemed like she thought of him as an animal that had something irreparable wrong with it and needed to be put down.

  13. DragonLadyK says

    Out of curiosity, DragonLadyK, what was the context they set up for the women deciding to kill these men? Were they thinking, “I can’t rely on the law to handle this, so I have to do it myself?” Or was it all about protecting the kids?

    The men weren’t a physical danger to their children — they weren’t threatening the children or the wives themselves with abuse nor did they abuse their families, so it wasn’t the stereotypical threaten-my-baby (hello, oxytocin, you work so well with adrenaline). The men were killed so that they would be unable to influence their young, something that the courts wouldn’t really be able to prevent: a non-abusive parent may insist on visitation in many states and a living parent would still be known to the child even through media coverage.

    I will say that it would be a mistake to write off any episode or instance of Criminal Minds as clicheed. Even when using common tropes, Criminal Minds doesn’t portray the attitude usually found in those tropes. When it comes to gender issues and roles, it’s as diametrically opposite from Stargate as humanly possible — an irony, considering the subject matter.

  14. says

    The men were killed so that they would be unable to influence their young, something that the courts wouldn’t really be able to prevent: a non-abusive parent may insist on visitation in many states and a living parent would still be known to the child even through media coverage.

    Yep, exactly. Very cool! I haven’t watched CM, but am getting the idea I should (from other posts and comments around here, too).

  15. MaggieCat says

    Were they thinking, “I can’t rely on the law to handle this, so I have to do it myself?” Or was it all about protecting the kids?

    If I recall correctly, there was an even more pointed implication that they couldn’t rely on the law — the victim who had her torturer’s child had moved away after what had happened and moved back after his death, which made it clear that she knew who he was. But she was abducted from a different jurisdiction and been in trouble with the law for drug use so her local cops didn’t take her seriously which meant the cops looking for the killer never even heard about a survivor.

    There’s a real hit-you-in-the-gut scene that’s one of the things I always remember from this show, where the surviving woman goes back to the barn where she was tortured to try and remember something that will help lead the team to where the girls are being kept during the day. She encounters the widow and knows who she is and goes off demanding to know if this woman knew what was happening, knew what he was doing. And that’s when we find out that the guy’s death wasn’t the farming accident it was made to look like but a conscious execution, with this amazing moment where there’s immediate sympathy between the two women because clearly the wife didn’t know but the moment she figured it out she wasn’t going to let it happen again even if she wasn’t the target of his rage. It’s got a very ‘take care of your own’ thread running alongside the ‘protect my kid’ factor, especially when added to the earlier moments of the girls abducted at the beginning talking and trying their best to cope with what’s happening to them.

    Can you tell I have huge amounts of respect for this episode? Bonus: written by two women, Debra J. Fisher and Erica Messer, who are a regular writing team for the show and have written a bunch of my favorite episodes. (Including “The Crossing” which has not one but two separate stories that are polar opposites about individual women and probably deserves its very own post at some point.)

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