The Woman Who Lies Even When She Tells the Truth
"Look, I know she's no angel. She has lied. She has stolen. She has cheated. She has misrepresented herself. She has...lied." -Dr. Daniel Jackson
Vala Mal Doran, Stargate SG-1. Human. Alien. Flirtatious criminal. Ending with Vala is equally as fitting as beginning with Aeryn, for not only does the same actress portray both, but Vala transforms nearly as much as Aeryn does. Except Vala's change is opposite to that of Aeryn's, for whereas the Peacekeeper eventually shuns the rules, Vala learns to obey them...to an extent.
When we meet Vala, she's attempting to hijack Prometheus, Stargate Command's newest spaceship, in order to sell it. In the process, she simultaneously beats up and flirts with Dr. Daniel Jackson, SG-1's resident archaeologist and diplomat who has unwittingly garnered Vala's special attention. In the end, she escapes without Prometheus and Stargate Command returns to status quo. Until Vala shows up a year later with a mysterious tablet that conveniently only Dr. Jackson can decipher. The artifact leads them to a long-range communication device that transports their minds into the bodies of a married couple in another galaxy, where they learn that the evil and fanatical Ori are planning to take control of the universe. But perhaps more importantly, Daniel and Vala must rely on each other to survive, and it's the first time we see Vala motivated by something other than self-interest as they try to undermine the Ori.
The experience on the Ori planet marked the beginning of Vala Mal Doran's transformation that I believe peaked at her sacrificing herself to prevent the Ori from entering the Milky Way Galaxy.
Though Vala lived, she was not unscathed--neither physically nor emotionally. After her heroic act, she "grew up," as it were, and realized that fighting for good was more rewarding than fighting for ill-gotten gains. In the end, even moral-high-horse Daniel Jackson falls for her. She'd flirted mercilessly with him, but because she flirted with most males, he disregarded her attentions, believing her to be using him for her own fun. However, in the final episode of the series, their relationship comes to a head. After being stuck on a spaceship for three months, Daniel confronts Vala about her insincere advances and essentially breaks her; it is in this moment, when Vala is genuinely hurt by Daniel's harsh words, that he realizes beneath her playful exterior, her feelings for him are real. I think this is the ultimate proof of how far Vala's come.
Although Vala is initially a self-serving, mercurial, thieving woman who has no qualms using seduction to achieve her goals, there's more to her than meets the eye. She's a liar and a trickster but only because she fears being tricked herself. Her loyalties flit to the highest bidder because that's all she saw from her father, who sold her to a weapons smuggler because the price was right. And she makes light of serious situations because her life's been tragic enough. Yet Vala overcame everything thrown at her without becoming bitter, cynical, or cruel, and she even managed to save the galaxy once or twice. That is why Vala Mal Doran deserves the title of my favorite femme fatale.