Following the heels of Scarlett’s Fidelity is a Virtue, if It’s OTP article, which described how writers seem to think unfaithfulness is okay as long as it’s the “meant to be” couple cheating to be together, I wanted to address the issue of whether Sam Carter was a cheater at the end of Stargate’s Season Eight, or just a lovelorn babe. I’m continually struck by how women who criticize her behavior get accused of being judgmental due to jealousy, while male fans defend her honor like knights protecting a damsel. They can’t both be right. And the female fans stand doubly accused: wrong, and motivated by petty jealousy.
Let the Sam Carter cheating trial commence.
Exhibit 1. In Grace (Season 7), Sam decides her unfulfilled romantic interest in Jack is an unhealthy pipe dream, and it’s time to move on and risk a real relationship – a mature, brave decision. She starts dating Pete, and cares for him enough to get clearance to tell him about the Stargate program. Their relationship progresses off screen, with occasional remarks to remind us he’s still in her life.
Exhibit 2. At the end of Season 8, while she’s still dating Pete, Sam makes an unprecedented visit to Jack’s house, tells him how nervous she was about coming, and asks him if he still sees his ex-wife. He refuses to discuss it. Later, we are beseiged with this bit of dialog:
Sam: Sir, at your house before Daniel and Teal’c showed up, what I was gonna say was…
Jack: I know.
Sparks literally fly in the background of the dimly lit scene as they stare at each other in the classic “50/50 shot” this show uses for kissing scenes. I suppose you could convince yourself they were discussing a bake sale, and the question about his ex was totally random, but let’s stick to the obvious. It’s not exactly a deep show.
Anyway, nothing apparently comes of this and Sam continues dating Pete.
Exhibit 3. In Season 8, Pete proposes. Before accepting, Sam chats Jack up to see if he might still be interested in hooking up someday in the future. He deliberately misinterprets her question, so it remains unanswered. She accepts Pete’s proposal. Until now, we were a little confused, but at this point, there can be no question of Sam’s commitment to Pete.
Exhibit 4. In the end of Season 8, Pete transfers his job from Denver to Colorado Springs to be with Sam, and buys her dream home for her. As they’re planning their wedding, she abruptly dumps him to go not be with Jack some more.
The defense for Sam Carter has argued that it’s so tragic and awful for her that she can’t have her dream job, the respect of her peers, and the only man who really makes her toes quiver, that we can hardly expect her to behave rationally. Besides, the defense maintains, Jack was always The One, so Pete can’t expect her claims of love, fidelity and intent to marry to hold any weight. As evidenced by Pete’s dialog in the dumping scene:
I knew from the beginning. Guess I just thought when you said yes that… I hope you get what you want.
Your bad, Pete. How could you think her choice – freely given as an adult – to marry you trumped her romantic destiny? Don’t you know being with The Hero is all The Girl exists for?
The prosecution’s case rests on one simple fact: no matter how you examine the evidence, you must conclude either that Sam cheated on Jack with Pete, or on Pete with Jack. Clearly, she pursues both relationships simultaneously, which is the definition of cheating in a traditional, monogamous relationship. She’s not just confused. She’s not just experiencing an attraction. She went into the relationship with Pete knowing she had unresolved feelings for Jack, and rather than fight those feelings, she pursued them, and in the end, picked the feelings over her existing relationship.
I can only conclude that the male fans who defend Sam picture themselves as Jack: the stud who’s so awesome, he not only wins the girl, but snatches her from the arms of another (loser! ha!) man without lifting a finger, without making a promise, without whispering one arduous word. The man who melts the brain of a brilliant astrophysicist and turns her into a hair-twiddling teenager, drawn irresistibly to him, no matter how she fights it, like a paperclip to a magnet.