The Blue-Eyed Soldier-Scientist

December 2012 Silmarien Szilagyi

Samantha Carter. Astrophysicist. Brigadier General. Woman. Stargate SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe. Sam's a bit of a chameleon, who's equally comfortable in a physics lab, shooting goa'uld on another planet, and playing foster mother to a young alien girl. When we first meet her, she's still a Captain, but she impresses her male military superiors immediately with her forthright insistence that as a woman, she can handle anything they can. And to top it off, she's cheeky, too: "Oh, Colonel, I logged over 100 hours in enemy airspace during the Gulf War. Is that tough enough for you...or are we gonna have to arm wrestle?"

She joined SG-1 and immediately earned her stripes, developing Earth's dialing computer for the newly-found stargate. The dialing computer is essential to travel through the stargate, because it establishes a connection via a stable wormhole to another planet or galaxy. But Sam didn't stop there; she went on to become Earth's leading expert on said stargate and many other alien technologies. So monumental were her intellectual contributions to the Stargate Program that General Jack O'Neill, then leader of SG-1, proclaimed, "Carter, you're one of this country's natural resources, if not natural treasures." While there may be tiny bit of bias accompanying that statement--Jack and Sam dance around a romance for years--, he is, nevertheless, correct. Every time Earth is at risk of alien destruction--whether it be goa'uld or replicator,--Sam saves it in the nick of time. Granted, she has a fantastic team to back her up, but she's generally the brains behind the operation.

Her mind, however, is not her sole asset. She is unfailingly kind and open-minded. When a tok'ra took control of her by force--an unusual and taboo behavior for the species, not to mention unpleasant--, instead of resenting it, Sam sympathized with its plight. When Jack wants to use force in a situation, Sam, despite her own military training, often sides with Dr. Daniel Jackson in favor of more diplomatic solutions. (That being said, she's amenable to using force if diplomacy fails, but that's simple logic, really.) She tolerates Dr. Rodney McKay--another brilliant though sometimes tedious astrophysicist--, which is more than can be said for most other Stargate Program personnel. Finally, she develops incredibly close bonds with both extraterrestrials (Thor the asgard, Martouf/Lantash the tok'ra, Orlin the ancient) and Earthens (Dr. Daniel Jackson, Jack O'Neill). But the quality that I like best is her independence. She's worked hard for her achievements, has battled much discrimination because she's a woman. She loves, but she won't love for the sake of love; her partner must understand and respect her independence. I admire that about her.

At first glance, her life certainly seems happier and more stable than Aeryn's, initially at least, but first impressions can be misleading. Death of her mother, estrangement from her father, deaths of close friends and lovers, hijacking by a tok'ra, death of her father, near-fatal injuries, averting Earth's destruction. Sam's experienced her share of hardships that have helped shape her into the femme fatale she's become. Yet through them all, she never once lost her hope, morality, kindness, strength, or courage. It is because of her combined intelligence, warmth, and resilience that Sam is such a marvelous and effective character. And of course, why she's a veritable femme fatale.