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theemdash: (Daniel Intention)
On the off-chance someone new to SG-1 wants to read this post, this contains pretty heavy spoilers for the end of Season 5 and beginning of Season 6.


I watched "Meridian," "Revelations," and the beginning of Season 6 earlier this week and I have to say, this is how you handle character death. It's pretty remarkable that "Meridian" handles Daniel's death, "Revelations" handles SG-1's grief, and then even through the first episodes of Season 6, Daniel's name is not only still being uttered, but SG-1 hasn't moved forward. Through the entirety of "Redemption," Jack still hasn't filled Daniel's position, and it's really only when he's pushed to make a decision or be assigned a Russian that he finally admits he'd rather have Jonas. And while sometimes the writers forget they're writing for a new character, the other characters never forget that Jonas isn't Daniel. They hold Daniel's positive traits up as a measuring stick that Jonas can never meet and they completely ignore all of Daniel's negative traits (like ignoring orders, being argumentative if he thinks he's right, his self-righteousness, sarcasm...). Because he's gone, Daniel becomes defied (okay, maybe rightfully so since he Ascended), and that is so like humans in their grief. Those negative traits lose their edges and often become fond memories, "that's just how he was," or "wasn't that so like him?" But that acceptance comes at a cost for Jonas since he now not only has to be the best Jonas Quinn, but he's also expected to be the best Daniel Jackson. And, well, as much as I love Jonas, he's never going to be Daniel. (Thankfully SG-1 stops treating him as "Daniel's Replacement," and starts approaching Jonas on his on terms. It really starts with Teal'c, which is a different thing I admire and adore.)

But, back to "Meridian," which is actually the whole reason I started this post.

One of the things that is stunning about "Meridian" is that the entire episode is devoted to Daniel's death. Often when characters die it's a sudden moment sandwiched in at the climax or the end of an episode (I'm looking at you, Joss Whedon). But Daniel's death isn't meant to shock the audience. His death is "long" (in canon time he's given about a day to go through radiation sickness vs say, the immediateness of a harpoon to the chest), and the writers make use of the time by intercutting flashbacks to what happened on the planet, giving the viewers a full SG-1 story. But the real craft here is in starting the episode with the culminating event having already happened; it focuses the entire episode on Daniel dying. It is remarkably effective and gut-wrenching to watch each member of SG-1 come to Daniel's bedside to say goodbye. (I mean, Sam gets me weepy every time, but when Teal'c builds up to "And I will have lost one of my greatest friends"? *SOB*)

The very fact that we've spent the last 40 minutes building up to Daniel leaving is part of what makes his farewell with Jack so emotional—and of course Jack is the one he gets to stop the others. The direct route would have been to tap Jacob into the psychic landscape and explain why he should stop, but making Jack understand and agree is key to helping them all heal. It also eases Jack's grief in some way. From that moment on, Jack knows that even though Daniel's gone, this is what he wanted. Compare Jack with the others in "Revelations" and "Redemption." He's taking it much easier than either Sam or Teal'c (even if he doesn't want to replace Daniel on SG-1—anyone suspect maybe that's because he assumes Daniel will be back?). The last time the team buried Daniel, back in "Fire and Water" (whew, that was a long time ago), Jack was a wreck. And then when they assumed him dead in "The Serpent's Lair," they were in mission mode, but you could see Jack was waiting for the moment to fall apart. By the end of "Revelations" when Ascended!Daniel ruffles their hair, Jack's smiling because he knows that whatever else, Daniel's all right.

I often complain about some of the writing in SG-1—and Janet isn't treated as well in "Heroes"—but I have to give "Meridian" and "Revelations" credit for getting major character death right. There's a farewell, there's grief, and there's remembering that this character existed for these people and that they wouldn't quickly forget him—that they'd bring him up, reference his work, and he wouldn't just be gone. It's details and care like this that makes SG-1 feel real and keeps it ranked as one of my favorite shows.

PS There is a reason that no matter what, I will ALWAYS have an icon related to Daniel's self-sacrificing moment in "Meridian." May we all remember our convictions and how to stand by them.

Comments

princessofgeeks: (Dreamteam)
[personal profile] princessofgeeks wrote:
Jan. 12th, 2017 11:28 pm (UTC)
YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES

And in the beginning of Revelations, when Jack refuses to allow a funeral, and Sam doesn't get it, and Hammond and Sam's interactions, about his experience in Vietnam losing his friend, OMG OMG.

And Jack is clearly grieving Daniel's absence, but you're right that he knows he did the right thing, and that's got to comfort him a little, and thanks for the pointing out how differently Jack grieves this time compared to Fire and Water and the other times they thought Daniel was dead. Altho I've always thought part of his extreme reaction in Fire and Water was because he on some level knew something was VERY WRONG. But that ride on the cargo ship, when we see Jack stripping his gun, and Sam and Teal'c are discussing things but Jack has totally shut them out, which Sam does not understand but Teal'c does. EEEEEEE

IAWT. And SG1 is indeed the best thing ever.

(By contrast in Season 7 I think they underplayed Daniel's return. The impact of his amnesia, how he changed, etc. Way underplayed. They did have a couple of episodes where knowledge he gained while ascended was crucial, but they could have really had fun with the amnesia stuff.)

Edited 2017-01-12 11:29 pm (UTC)
theemdash: (Daniel Huh)
[personal profile] theemdash wrote:
Jan. 13th, 2017 01:35 pm (UTC)
The scene with Hammond and Sam is so good!! (There are so many excellent scenes in those episodes.)

Altho I've always thought part of his extreme reaction in Fire and Water was because he on some level knew something was VERY WRONG.

I agree. I almost included a comment on that, but I feel like there's still a baseline reaction there that is very different than what he goes through here. How he reacts in "Fire and Water" looks more like how he reacts to Kolawski's death and how he explodes at the end of "Window of Opportunity" when he yells about losing his son. And his grief in "Meridian" is angry and vengeful UNTIL Daniel talks to him. Daniel's wants offers an immediate comfort (that I think he loses, especially after "Abyss").

By contrast in Season 7 I think they underplayed Daniel's return.

Oh man, YES. I've never read up on how the production timeline and oversight changed from moving from Showtime to Sci-Fi, but I have wondered if that was part of what changed the precision of the show. I mean, Season 7 is my favorite or second favorite season (I certainly write enough fic in it), and I genuinely love seasons 8–10, but there is a shift after SG-1 moves channels. Things like the naquadah in Sam's blood is basically forgotten and we don't see as many returns to previous storylines (like "Double Jeopardy"). On one hand, by Season 5 the mythology was vast and complicated, so I can see them losing some details, but on the other, they did remember to have Sam try the Goa'uld healing device to save Daniel in "Meridian." Right now it's just a feeling I have, but I'm going to be watching carefully as I continue to analyze if the Sci-Fi years really are different or if that's just my perception.

They did have a couple of episodes where knowledge he gained while ascended was crucial, but they could have really had fun with the amnesia stuff.

Yeah, it was clear the writers found his absence problematic and they needed Daniel fully back as quickly as possible. I might have been able to understand if, like the experienced from "Lifeboat" somehow "fixed" him, but I really think we should have gotten more episodes with him changed and with amnesia. At least we have fanfic for that. :D
kay_brooke: Picture of Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1 looking surprised and curious (daniel)
[personal profile] kay_brooke wrote:
Jan. 12th, 2017 11:36 pm (UTC)
That little arc really is one of my favorites in all of SG-1, and this post is a good articulation of why. SG-1 never handled follow-through that well, but Daniel's death was an exception.

Teal'c's goodbye is the part where I always cry, too.
theemdash: (Daniel Hi)
[personal profile] theemdash wrote:
Jan. 13th, 2017 01:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I always cited SG-1's failure to follow though as the main reason I love SG-1 fic, but this arc is just so good. And truly, it gets a start back on Kheb in Season 3, develops with Daniel's frustration and exclusion in Season 4, and then matures through Season 5, culminating in "Menace," with Jack and Daniel standing on complete opposite sides of the problem. I don't think the writers were always intentionally going towards Daniel's Ascension, but retroactively it's easy to see the path in the form of interpersonal conflict that would position Daniel for making this choice.
jdjunkie: (meridian)
[personal profile] jdjunkie wrote:
Jan. 13th, 2017 11:33 am (UTC)
Loving the Meridian-related thinkies. *g*

As a J/D acolyte, the moment that always get me is where Jack tells Jacob to stop healing Daniel. "Jacob, stop, it's what he wants". AND NOBODY QUESTIONS THIS. Their love ... it is epic and transcends Gaterooms of the Mind.

I'm not sure I agree that Jack takes Daniel's "death" in Meridian better than Sam or Teal'c. That short scene where he's stripping his weapon (fnaaar) speaks volumes. He's retreated into what he knows best, the place he finds comfort - the ritual of the familiar. And that sets the tone for the coming season. I see him as being totally lost in season six. He's angry, taciturn, reluctant to accept Jonas. He looks ... sad. In some ways, Jack's reaction to Jonas mirrors ours (well, some of us; I never liked the Jonas character but that's more about the shortcomings of the actor). I've always loved RDA's decision to play Jack that way.

Meridian is still so hard to watch, all these years later. That must say something, eh?!
theemdash: (SG-1 Jack)
[personal profile] theemdash wrote:
Jan. 13th, 2017 02:25 pm (UTC)
I love that Jack is The Authority on Daniel. Because it's not just that Jack tells them to stop and they know that if Jack's given up, it's over, it's—like you said—he tells them "it's what he wants," and no one asks, "HOW THE EFF DO YOU KNOW?!" Which is what I would be asking.

Seriously, for as "straight" as this episode is played, there is so much slash to be mined. ;)

I agree with you that Jack is totally lost in Season 6, but I think that happens after "Redemption" and is largely a result of "Abyss." During "Meridian," his grief is anger and vengeance, the same grief we've seen before in episodes like "Fire and Water" and even "Window of Opportunity" when Jack yells about losing his son. After Daniel tells him Ascension is what he wants, Jack finds some peace. He builds back up to that anger, and boy-howdy, is it in full force during "Abyss," but in "Abyss" he loses something else (not to mention he later convinces himself Daniel was never there). (Also, I feel like his anger in "Abyss" has more to do with himself than grief over Daniel, but I see "Abyss" as The Last Straw That Breaks Jack for the reason of the season. Like, in "Descent," he does the little loop-the-loop for Jonas and he's smiling—he's trying.)

Jack is all about familiar rituals. Deny, compartmentalize, ignore all the fucked up shit... all reasons I love his character. ;)

Oh geeze, how much do I love talking about SG-1 again?
jdjunkie: (Default)
[personal profile] jdjunkie wrote:
Jan. 13th, 2017 02:58 pm (UTC)
and no one asks, "HOW THE EFF DO YOU KNOW?!" Which is what I would be asking.

I was stunned by that the first time I watched the ep. (by the way, Meridian was the first SG-1 ep I watched "live" having been persuaded of the slash potential by a friend; I no rite, of all the eps *g*) How the very F DID he know? We know ... we know. ;-)

Jack is all about familiar rituals. Deny, compartmentalize, ignore all the fucked up shit... all reasons I love his character. ;)

Me too. Me too. *nods*

Talk away ... I love it. :-))

Edited 2017-01-13 02:59 pm (UTC)

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