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Me: I'm not full of virtues

tafkarfanfic in ship_manifesto

Title: You down with OT3? (Yeah, you know me!)
Author: tafkar
Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Pairing: Jack/Sam/Daniel
Spoilers: Complete Series
Thanks to: trelkez for the beta, and fenriss for her neverending support and encouragement.
Author note: A day early and a dollar...long? Sorry guys, I'm out of town tomorrow and must post today. Please note that all footnotes are placed at the end of the section they pertain to, for your reading convenience.

And on the eighth day, God created Stargate SG-1, and there was much rejoicing. And the people watched, and were glad1.

And then some of the people looked at Sam and Jack and said, "Lo, it is the coming of the One True Pairing!" And others of the people looked at Jack and Daniel and said, "No, you have been much deceived. This is the coming of the One True Pairing!"2

And lo, the S/Jers were wroth, and some declared Daniel a whiny, needy demon. And the J/Ders became enraged, and declared Sam a castrating bitch-spawn of Satan. Battles broke out across the Internet, and several mailing lists were knee-deep in blood.

"But wait!" several voices cried out. "If S + J = hot, and J + D = hot, then S + J + D must equal twice the hotness!" For lo, these people had scored above 400 on their math SATs. These people have abandoned their homes and their families3, and many have taken to the roads of LiveJournal with nothing but their words and a few icons to preach their one true pairing coupling um…thingie, which has become known by its followers as OT3.
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1Well, except for "Cold Lazarus", which even God admits was made on a very bad day.
2And a few of the people looked at Jack and Thor and said, "You've all got it dead wrong! They're the coming of the One True Pairing!" But they were roundly ignored, for Thor has no genitals.
3OK, a couple of them have switched their Yahoo! Groups to nomail.


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The Players (and how they play with each other)
"I think I'm in love with you (and your friend)." – Snake River Conspiracy

First, a brief rundown on the characters referred to here. Colonel Jack O'Neill, until last season, was the capable, sarcastic leader of SG-1. More fluent in pop culture than all that scientific stuff, he leaves the intellectual pursuits to two other members of his team, and focuses on strategic objectives, shooting things, and getting his team out safely. He's got an interesting romantic past; he was married, but the marriage broke up after the death of his son (who died while playing with Jack's gun). O'Neill contemplated suicide, nearly blowing himself up on the alien planet Abydos with a nuclear bomb until Dr. Daniel Jackson stopped him, as chronicled in the movie Stargate. He's had a couple of brief romantic entanglements since then, but they've usually involved him being drugged out of his mind or seemingly permanently stuck on an alien world. The most important people in his life seem to be his team. At the beginning of this season, he was promoted to General. He's not very pleased about it; as he says, "I don't know if I can be 'the man'."

Dr. Daniel Jackson (like O'Neill) originated in the film Stargate. Daniel's a pretty sensitive guy, but can give Jack a run for his money on the sardonic front, and does, especially when the two go head-to-head over their goals on a mission. He's a brilliant linguist/anthropologist/archaeologist with two Ph.D's, and a bit on the arrogant side. Daniel joined SG-1 in the hope of finding his wife, Sha're, who had been abducted by the evil alien race the Goa'uld; unfortunately, she died. Much like Jack, Daniel doesn't seem to have anyone that he's close to outside of his team – his wife is dead; his parents are dead; his brother-in-law is, well, Ascended, so he may as well be dead; and his grandfather is off visiting some ancient South American gods, and hadn't been that close to him anyway. He's had several other brief romantic entanglements, but most of them were while he was under the influence of some mind-altering substance or energy. After a period of frustration in which he felt he wasn't having an effect on the world, he chose to become one of the Ascended, a being made of pure energy who lives on a higher plane of existence, in hopes that it would make him more able to achieve his goals. Boy, was he ever wrong! He came back to SG-1 in season 7 much refreshed; apparently spending a year dead has its benefits.

Dr. Samantha Carter, over the course of the series, has been promoted from Captain to Major to Colonel. She's an Air Force pilot and brilliant physicist, and unlike Daniel and Jack is generally not sarcastic, preferring a lighter form of humor to match her sunny disposition. Sam was a bit estranged from her father, Jacob, for a while, but then he got an alien symbiote and their relationship became much better. Sam is incredibly capable in all things, from hand-to-hand combat to science to fixing her own motorcycle. The one area where she has issues is love. Over the course of the series she's had romantic attachments to a number of men on a number of different planets, and has left their corpses littered all over the galaxy. She's not a serial killer, mind (unless there's some plot secret the writers have yet to reveal); it's just that the men she gets involved with seem to wind up dying violently. She's currently engaged to police officer Pete Shanahan, and there's probably a betting pool on his predicted death date going on at the SGC. Run, Pete, run!

The two dominant pairings in Stargate SG-1 fandom, to date, have been Jack/Daniel (documented herehere by thefakeheadline), and Sam/Jack. I think Mary covered the J/D pairing so well in her essay that there is no need to recap. To my shock, no one has written up the Sam/Jack pairing, so I will do my best to summarize here.

Sam and Jack is the overtly canon pairing. We've seen an AU on the show in which they were engaged, and another in which they were married. Contact with the latter caused Jack to look at his second-in-command in a new light, and eventually his changed view of her seemed to change her perception of him. And then there was much UST, which has not yet become RST. As Sam and Jack are both military, and he is her commanding officer, it would be breaking regulations for them to get involved. They've got a good rapport and a nice relationship. It's been established that Sam is "way smarter" than Jack, but he doesn't seem to mind so long as she doesn't inundate him with technobabble. They're capable of both fun banter and the occasional deep emotional conversation (although a lot of the content of those conversations is unspoken – see the fact that they are both military).

The problem with both the S/J and J/D pairings is that, because the S/J pairing is canon and the J/D pairing is so close to being canon that even actors and producers joke about it in episode commentary, many writers seem to need to demonize the party that is not part of their pairing. A number of the pairing stories seem to be about not only the happiness of the particular pairing, but about the exclusion of either Sam or Daniel4. For fans that cherish both Sam and Daniel, it's very hard to read about one or the other being demonized, even if the reader enjoys the pairing that's the topic of the story.

OK – we have two pairings that seem to work, even if some of the fans use their OTP to exclude another character. But, I hear you say, Sam/Daniel? Are you on crack? They're the Terrible Twins, for cryin' out loud!

Why, yes, in fact, they are the Twins – they're intelligent in a similar way, often seem to be operating on a similar wavelength, and there's even a bit of a physical resemblance. And where there are twins, there is the pairing some like to call twincest.

The very first hint that S/D could be a pairing was in the first season episode Broca Divide, in which Daniel asks Jack how Sam (who has been struck down with an illness that de-evolves humans) is faring in the infirmary, and Jack becomes enraged with jealousy and punches Daniel. Of course, it's entirely possible that no one thought of S/D as a potential pairing at this stage but Jack. The next hint is in the second-season episode Message in a Bottle. While Daniel and Sam are working in the lab, Daniel notes that Lt. Graham Simmons has a crush on Sam. Brotherly teasing – or the kind of teasing done by someone who himself has a crush? It could be read either way.

The scene that launched a thousand 'ships (okay, the scene that seemed to cause many people to squee in joy) was in the eighth season episode "Sacrifices", in which Daniel and Sam are standing in the greeting room, greeting the about-to-be-married Ry'ac, and holding each others' hands. Granted, they're holding hands in a crushing grip with rictus smiles on their faces because they've just learned that Ry'ac plans to have his wedding in the SGC – but something about the body language seemed to read "Couple! Couple! Couple!" to a number of fans. And hey, wouldn't they make a perfect couple? They get each other! They understand each other so well!

And that's what would probably make it boring in the long term. Just as Jack is not an entirely good match for Sam or Daniel, because their interests don't match his very well, so Sam and Daniel are not an entirely good match for each other, because they're a little too similar.

But, just like a stool will be more stable if it stands on three legs than if it has only two, while D/S, S/J and J/D each have their weaknesses, S/J/D has enough strengths to compensate for those weaknesses. If one starts slipping away, the other two, working together, can pull him or her back. Where in many corners of fandom, S/J and J/D has become in large part about exclusion, both of a character and of the fans that aren't into that group's particular interpretation of the character (for example, the Cult of St. Daniel), S/J/D is all about inclusion. Neither Sam nor Daniel is left out in the cold or alienated. Fans of S/J/D also seem to be open to other pairings, and other groupings, such as Sam/Daniel/Tealc, Sam/Jack/Jonas, Jack/Daniel/Paul, and others.

And – fair disclosure here – I'm a practicing polyamorist in real life. Therefore, I look at any story in which a character is torn between two lovers, scratch my head, and say, "But why can't they just have both?" For me, OT3 answers that question.
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4 Sometimes it even involves suicides. Of the characters, I mean. I wasn't joking when I said that the lists were knee-deep in blood!


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The Texts
" People they say we are/Crazy the way we are.../They've only got one another/But we got us!" - The Muppets

You may note a theme in these; most OT3 stories seem to involve either an apocalypse or a stranding to force the team together.

The earliest examples of S/J/D seemed to place Sam and Daniel on opposite poles, with Jack in the middle and unwilling to make a choice between them. One of the best examples of this genre is Concessions by elly427. It's simultaneously hot and sad.

The person who really seemed to kickstart the "S/J/D as potential stable romantic pairing" genre was katie_m, whose In the Wrong Story, Needs and Standards and Wakeup Call take place on a post-apocalyptic, post-SGC Earth. The stories show Sam, Jack and Daniel fumbling toward some sort of working relationship between the three. It's rich in emotional detail, and the series you should read if you question how this romantic relationship could come to pass. She's continuing this tale, so keep an eye on her.

Another post-apocalyptic OT3 fic is Cofax's Uncounted Scars, a story that shows the three in a very stable relationship, but also coping with a great deal of loss and pain.

mz_bstone's Wheel is a very sweet, sometimes sad, sometimes funny story in which the three are stranded on a planet without a Stargate, and with no way to get home. Where Katie M. shows the emotional complexity and issues in establishing this sort of relationship, Brighid shows how it can be very simple and beautiful.

If, after this introduction, you're looking for more, there's two good spots to go to. splash_the_cat has a "Three's Company" recs page, that seems to have nearly every story written for this particular OT3. There's also the sg1_beyond_otp community, which is home to every OT3 you can name, plus OT4 and OTMore.

Comments

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Awww. Sweetness. :)

I'd just like to point out that while Jack-in-the-middle (as you've basically outlined it here) is probably the standard approach, some of take others... I'm a S/D and J/D shipper and have problems reconciling the J/S part.

And there are lots of lovely OT3 moments to be highlighted: like Jack not wanting to make the call at the end of "Endgame," or even just the three of them having their night out in "Upgrades."

*squee*
I'm a S/D and J/D shipper and have problems reconciling the J/S part.
I think that's a great take on it, too, and I look forward to reading your stuff! Can you provide some links for me?

And thank you for referencing some lovely OT3 moments. Several people were kind enough to do this for me, and I'm very grateful.
Best. Intro. Ever.

That was cool. Thanks :)

*dashes off to see links*
Best. Intro. Ever.

Thanks! I'm chuffed that you think so.
I don't think I'll ever be able to get into S/J/D, the S/D part is just a little too incesty (and not in a good Firefly kind of way) for me. This is a very well written essay though, neatly explaining why you think they're great together. And that opening was bloody brilliant!
If you'd care to, would you elaborate more on the sibcest thing? I ranted about it here, and why I don't understand why metaphorical incest is a squick... I'd love more thoughts on the matter. :)
I LOVED this essay! I mean I was going to read it anyways, because OT3, oh yeah!

But this was ship essay perfection! Much <3!
this was ship essay perfection!
*blush* You flatter me! Thank you!
I'm not exactly in the stargate fandom, but I've been having a look and finding it hard to see whether I prefer s/j or j/d. At this point, after so many seasons, I love all the characters enough that I don't like pairing them off! So this was a very enjoyable read, thanks :)
I love all the characters enough that I don't like pairing them off!
Well, just wait until next month when I write my sequel to the OT3 essay...the OT4 essay! (Because, you see, sequels always have to go up in number.)

I'm glad you liked it. Thank you for your feedback!
This was an absolutely perfect OT3 essay, really very well written and fun to read.
Thank you for your feedback. I'm very glad you liked it!
Hee! Your intro cracked me up. Wonderful. Nice job on explaining the dynamics between the three.

I'm trying to figure out why react so strongly negatively to just Sam/Jack. Partially it's because I'm all 'poor lonely Daniel'. I think another part is I have this perception that it lessens her somehow, which is just ridiculous. (Perhaps it's a Michelle needs therapy thing.) Anyway, I like them all together, it seems to negate whatever my anti-S/J thing is.

Now I need to figure out how to fit Teal'c into everything for this story I'm working on. It's a prezzie for someone I know. *whistles innocently*
Your intro cracked me up.
You know, I've been waiting for someone to come down on me for it, and to my shock, no one has! Man, if blasphemy isn't going to get me flamed, what am I gonna have to do? *g*

I don't have a problem with S/J - it just seems to lack a little sizzle for me. Maybe it's that most of the S/J I read is so fluffy it's astounding.

Now I need to figure out how to fit Teal'c into everything for this story I'm working on. It's a prezzie for someone I know. *whistles innocently*

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
And a few of the people looked at Jack and Thor and said, "You've all got it dead wrong! They're the coming of the One True Pairing!" But they were roundly ignored, for Thor has no genitals.

True Love Doesn't Need Genitalia!

(Nice summary. Love the footnotes.)
True Love Doesn't Need Genitalia!

But them make it all jiggly and fun!


I love anyone who can work a Muppet quote into an essay on three-way sex. :)

It's one of the great poly songs of all time, I think...but I'm perverse.

Thank you for your feedback!
Great essay! The het pairing I ship is actually Sam/Daniel, so adding Jack into the equation (also loving the Jack/Daniel, you understand) makes me even happier.

And we all know that Thor has a huge crush on Jack.
I'm glad you liked the essay! So, have you written some S/D? g0t links?

And we all know that Thor has a huge crush on Jack.
Yes, yes he does. But does Jack feel the same way? Or does he just look on Thor as a buddy? Hmm.
Ok I ship both pairings equaly, but never saw D/S as a possiblity. But this has some interesting possiblities, i am going to suttle off to read th links now. Oh and Thor is so crushing on Jack.
Yay! Glad my essay inspired you to read the links!
Hee, awesome essay. I love the OT3, though I prefer OT4 - 'cause otherwise, poor Teal'c!

Other Sam/Daniel moments of squee: "Meridian," where Sam says "I don't know why we wait to tell people how we really feel. I guess I hoped that you always knew." And in "Fallen," Daniel says, "Was there ever anything...between us?" and seems disappointed when she says no.

And also, thank you. :)
Yes. OT4. I think I speak for the author when I say that there is a good argument to be made for the Whole Team Together. But more on that another time.
...apparently spending a year dead has its benefits.

And not just taxwise, either!

*putters off to throw out more obscure Hitchhikers references at an unsuspecting LJ public*

(Oh, another S/D ep? First season ep, the one that introduces Cassie--Daniel's oozing compassion all over the place at Sam in the sweetest possible manner. And then at the end of "In the Line of Duty" in the second season when he walks into the infirmary with the absurd fishbowl of flowers--they ain't roses, but they are as heck are a Daniel sort of thing to do.

I can't believe I'm listing off S/D eps...but then, I'll take just about any pairing/grouping/what-have-you. *sunny smile*)
The Cassie ep is "Singularity", and yeah, it just radiates S/D. There's also "Holiday", with the added fun of body-swapping.

Of course, I may be a wee bit biased towards my favorite het ship. ;-)

But yay for OT3!
Loved the essay.

Am not getting sucked into the OT3 madness ;-)
We'll suck you in, girl. You know we will. *g*

I'm glad you liked it. Thank you for the feedback!
I was meant to be doing the SJ essay but unfortuantly my entire rl went KABLOOM! There was much screaming and blood so the essay got scrapped for someone else to attempt.

The OT3 essay is just the freakin' best! :D OT3 is the only OTP in stargate. Why not have the best of both worlds? :D
I'm so glad you liked the essay! And yes, OT3 is a neat solution to the S/J - J/D dilemma.
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