Phoning it in, too

I forgot to mention the first time I phoned it in that my phoning in inspiration was Richard Dean Anderson. In TV, as in parenting, there’s just no substitute for being there. What I’ve seen of seaon 7 so far has disturbed me with its lack of RDA. When he is on screen, he seems out of it, like an Ascended Daniel who can’t quite figure out whether he’s still in the cast or not. I strenuously object to the de-Mulderization of the show. I hate being strung along with crumbs of Jack. I want Jack back full-time.

And then there’s “Grace.” I have to agree with KC on this one - the episode dragged like a paralyzed spice worm in Great-great-great-great-granchildren of Dune. I meant to check the credits to see who the writer was because the writing was so bad, especially when Sam was dictating her logs. Dangling modifiers, poor word choice, and a stunningly obvious mistaken use of “nebulae” for “nebula” might be excused by the concussion, but it didn’t feel that way while I was watching.

Speaking of which, nebulae are the kiss of death in science fiction. They make insultingly stupid movie physics look good. Real nebulae are, surprising as it may seem, nebulous. Even if you call them “gas clouds,” there are still certain physical properties they cannot have in the vacuum of space. They won’t hide you from Khan. They won’t form an entire new planet when you set off a genesis device in one. They most certainly will not glow like a neon sign, leak through your shields, stall your engines, or corrode your hull.

And by the way, what’s up with that hull and those shields and the impulse/warp drive (sorry, sublight/hyperdrive) and that ship full of people in blue pajamas? Did I miss the Frankenstein episode in which the fresh brain of Stargate was implanted into the stitched-together corpse of Enterprise? And the only things on this show that should be glowing are those beady Goa’uld eyes. It hurt me to have to listen to Sam, my Mulderless Scully who’d always been so rational and believable back in season 4, stand there and spout technobabble that was tired and old when Spock first said it.

So, as an episode, “Grace” was a wash for me because of the technical flaws. Yes, Sam works through a puzzle and a lot could be read into the clues, but I was too distracted by the problems. Why is Sam counting her rations? How the heck does she find the alien ship? Why does this feel like a bad episode of Voyager? And what about the alleged deep insight into Sam that I was promised? Where’s the Real Sam?

Well, I despaired of her for quite a while there. Sam’s interaction with Teal’c, Daniel, and Grace didn’t reveal anything about hidden Sams. All the shadow characters were completely in character, rather than showing us the Teal’c side to Sam, etc. For me there was only one redeeming element to “Grace,” and that was the shippy element, starting with Jacob’s appearance.

I wasn’t particularly pleased by Jacob’s without love you may as well toss yourself out an airlock attitude. I don’t think Sam really believes that - it’s the near occasion of death speaking. Sam’s beliefs correspond to what Jack says; it’s not Grace who’s Sam, it’s Jack. He openly admits to being a figment of her imagination. They have an obscure conversation that I at first put down to more bad writing, but the truth this episode is a lot like “Divide and Conquer” - a lot of silly tech nonsense surrounding a kernel of intentionally ambiguous ship. Jerie is definitely right about the Sam/Jack scene. They’re not saying what it sounds like they’re saying.

For one thing, Jack asks her what’s stopping you if you really wanna know? Even though for the rest of us this scene is about Sam finally admitting how she feels about Jack, after having her side of the story cut in both “Divide and Conquer” and “Beneath the Surface,” that’s not what it is for Sam. Sam knows how she feels and she only incidentally shows it by admitting that leaving the Air Force is an option and with her fantasy kiss. What Sam is forced to confront here is how Jack feels. She says I’d let you go right now if I knew. But honestly, even stumbling around hallucinating with a concussion, how can she not know? Everyone who’s ever watched the show knows how Jack feels about Sam. He admits he’s not that complex. So Sam’s subconscious is more than enough to get her to face the fact that Jack loves her, to inform her that he’s not going to provide the easy out of letting her give up her career, and to assure her of his undying devotion. Even though she’s just psychobabbled herself into going after someone else, because she wants something more and she doesn’t know what else to do.

And so Our Hussy is born, though she’s not happy about it. That leaves me one last question: who is Grace? Some have associated Grace with the Christian notion of unmerited favor, but this is Stargate, not The Passion of the Christ. For me, Grace represents the Graces of Greek mythology, who personified splendor, mirth, feasting, joy, peace, and most importantly, happiness. They are also the attendants of Aphrodite. Grace brings food, sings songs, blows bubbles, and says we need to talk - but when it comes down to talking, Grace turns into Jacob and talks about love.

So Grace isn’t the cloud - the cloud is just another badly-written sci-fi nebula. Like the other hallucinations, she’s Sam, but while Teal’c, Daniel, and Jacob are Sam giving herself grief, and Jack is Sam trapped in her impossible emotional circumstances, Grace is a happy Sam. Grace is Sam’s inner hussy.

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