Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
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
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.
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.
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!
" 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.