Our first episode focusing on Captain Carter. Guess what y’all, she’s a woman.
Spoilers below the cut.
The SG-1 team arrives on a planet where Jackson speculates the people descended from the Mongols (complete with Genghis Khan reference). Shortly after arriving, they rescue a young boy from a pack of attacking dogs and learn that he is the son of the chief and totally not cool with Captain Carter being a woman. Colonel Sassmaster O’Neill is all “how observant of you.” Captain Carter is all “Fight me.” Jackson is “Let’s remember the first rule of science is observation, doctor.” And Teal’c wins my affection by looking 110% done with this shit the entire episode. Or maybe it was his eyebrows.
Abu, the boy who was rescued, takes the team back to his people called The People of the Step where Captain Carter is the only one not invited to a sweet bonfire party where they probably smoke the anesthetic drug that gets like two mentions all episode. Instead, she is forced to dress like the locals and gets kidnapped in the night. Her captor is Abu who wants to trade her at a neighboring tribe because the beauty of a white woman can buy nearly anything. Turns out it’s not enough to buy the life of the neighboring chief’s daughter so Carter is left at the camp while Abu leaves before he is killed. Pleasant bunch, this new tribe.
It is at this camp that this new chief, Turgan, learns the value of asking the skills of a woman before setting a price. Captain Carter cannot cook or sew or weave or spin or dye. She is a warrior and a scholar and does “men’s work.” This and her Fight-Me attitude win her the threat of rape, and she’s chucked into Turgan’s harem. There, Captain Carter becomes an inspiration to the chief’s daughter with the help of a few motivational phrases.
“There is absolutely no reason to beat a woman, ever.”
“Nothing is going to change until one of you says no.”
Meanwhile, the dudes with the help of Chieftain #1 (who is supposedly “more tolerant” of women) have tracked Captain Carter to the neighboring tribe. Instead of breaking her free right away, they march right up to the chief and ask “How much for that one?” Again, Turgan gets pissed when he learns that Captain Carter is a chieftain where she comes from (more allusions to “men’s work”) and refuses to make a deal. Colonel Sassmaster himself pulls out a handgun and knocks out a lantern which becomes the item that buys Carter’s freedom.
But the team can’t escape just yet because Abu’s lady love was caught trying to run away and will now be stoned to death. Except there’s a law that says a chieftain can challenge the stoning of another citizen. Guess who’s apparently a chieftain in this world? That’s right, yo, Captain Carter gets to fight Chief Women Abuser himself.
She kicks his ass in a satisfying fight scene. Plot threads are tied up. And everyone walks away happier than they were before the episode. Oh, and the team takes back some samples of a super awesome anesthetic or something.
Overall, this is probably the first of a bunch of self-contained episodes I’ll have to endure until we return to the main plot. Which is great, because that also means character building and adventure and maybe Teal’c will get an episode where he’s not treated like a bad guy or background noise. This is also the first episode that feels as though the show hit its stride.
Everything about this episode screams “Girl Power” which gives me some hope. But this is also from the late 90s so I’m keeping my eye out for The Straw Feminist. Was this episode feminist? I would say so. It didn’t come out and say “feminism” anywhere but it implies that Captain Carter being a woman does not make her a lesser member of the team. It’s a step in the right direction from diverting a conversation to prove she has the right credentials in the first place, credentials that shouldn’t have to be questioned in the first place. But this show is definitely not leading the foray into feminism. At least not yet. It’s trying though, so I will give it a chance in that regard.
Episode loses points for the threat of rape. Two of three episodes so far alluded to rape in some capacity. Blech.
I’d say Captain Carter’s colleagues failed to protect her from the madness that was this episode. Instead of prioritizing Captain Carter’s safety, which was in danger the moment she showed her face, they pushed forward for a drug that’s mentioned maybe three times the entire episode. When she was forced into a ridiculous blue dress, complete with impossible shoulder pads, the only thing they did was ogle her and tell her anthropologists live as the locals all the time, never mind that Captain Carter is not an anthropologist.
I found Captain Carter’s Fight-Me attitude slightly annoying but only because my own reaction to this same situation would have been to roll with it and then sneak in some witty one-liners that exposed your double-standards. Someone direct me to the show where that is how the female character handles this situation.
This episode’s adorable mascot is Teal’c’s perfectly plucked eyebrows.