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mstaken

Daniel Jackson

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Do you love him, hate him or fall somewhere in between?

Daniel Jackson (heh---thanks to Teal'c, I always think of him by both his first and last name!) was not just my favorite character on the series, but soon emerged as one of my favorite TV characters in recent memory. He was highly intelligent yet often naive; earnest and idealistic yet snarky; understanding yet self-righteous; and, rather than being the typically detached academic, was actually quite emotional in ways that were to both his benefit and detriment. In other words, I found him an awesomely developed mixture of both admirable strengths and relatable, consistent flaws.

And, on a hopelessly shallow note, Michael Shanks is probably more my personal physical ideal than, say, almost any actor ever. But I swear that that's not the reason I find Daniel Jackson so compelling! Well, not the MAIN reason... :)

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Shanks is pretty, all right.  Actually it's the development of Daniel Jackson as a character that made him one of my favorites of all time.  He starts out super naive and almost (almost? well there's an understatement) annoying in his inability to perform threat assessment.  At first it's truly about a naivete -- like in Need when he goes rushing out of the bushes to stop the princess from flinging herself off of the cliff.  I was surprised Jack managed to restrain himself from pushing Daniel over on general principle. 

So that's what I've always called The Survival Instincts of  a Lemming and at first it really just was "oh my God, you need to evolve and develop some ability to discern and respect danger before you get yourself and everyone killed" because he wasn't making choices that were "I know this could get my ass killed, by it's the right thing to do, so I choose to do it knowingly."  He would just rush headlong into danger. 

Over time Shanks and the writers realistically morphed that into "Yes, he's still Lemming Daniel, but he's choosing to do this.  It's an active choice.  It's not some ridiculous belief in Good Actions acting as a personal shield."  most famously in Meridian where he actively chooses to throw himself onto what amounts to a nuclear bomb in order to save everyone....but he's actually sort of pissed in the aftermath that "Oh joy, now I get to turn into a melted puddle of skin and organs.  Won't this be fun.  God dammit, why won't anyone ever listen?  Off I go to die, having failed at life.  Gah."  

They took his naivete and turned into a form of cynicism that was believable.  He was detached after he came back from being ascended, but I'm assuming that what amounts to seeing what life is after death...and finding it to be sort of freaking petty and power struggle filled anyway...would make for some detachment. 

Then Claudia Black guest-starred and Shanks just sort of started waking Daniel back up. So that by the end, he was a full-on snarky bastard of a guy...who would still, without hesitation throw himself on a bomb for others.  It was't actually just CB's first appearance, but if you remember when replicator Sam killed Daniel there's a sort of famous screenshot of Stabbed Daniel, kind of expressionless.  Stargate: Where Shanks seemed to run out of reactions to his characters own death. 

But that just fed into Threads, where he hurled himself on Anubis, without a nanosecond's pause, and even though it didn't do anything it still saved them.  I've always wondered if Oma was supposed to be in love with Daniel, or she just loved him because he reminded her of why she started breaking rules in the first place, back when she didn't fear the consequences so much. I think that's it.  I don't think it was a romantic love, but I've no doubt that she loved him. 

Edited by stillshimpy
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but he's choosing to do this.  It's an active choice.  It's not some ridiculous belief in Good Actions acting as a personal shield

What a brilliant analysis. And while it's easy to mourn the loss of Daniel's endearing, earnest naivete, I love the view that while he became more savvy through his experiences, he still always maintained his quintessential Daniel-ness. 

Edited by mstaken
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DanielJackson may be my favorite character (though BB won 'teh prettiness' when Cam came along IMHO). Shanks nailed the sense of horror Daniel had while witnessing the damn distasteful things Jack and the military does. Despite becoming jaded and cynical he was still horrified at the brutal actions required even when he had to do them himself. I don't think Spader could have pulled that off if he had been Daniel in the show.

I've always wondered if Oma was supposed to be in love with Daniel, or she just loved him because he reminded her of why she started breaking rules in the first place, back when she didn't fear the consequences so much. I think that's it.  I don't think it was a romantic love, but I've no doubt that she loved him.

 

I think she loved him like a really good friend, but never in a romantic sort of way - he did remind her of why she started breaking the rules and of her humanity.

One of my favorite Oma moments is The Pegasus Project where she appears as one of the many Atlantean form holograms to answer questions and reveals herself to be real. "You have your answer Daniel Jackson. I suggest you act on it."

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That wasn't Oma.  It was Morgan LeFay.  Oma was locked in eternal combat with Anubis at that point.

 

edited because an "L" and a"." look nothing alike and aren't interchangeable

Edited by anstar

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D'oh. I knew that looked wrong. That's what happens when you post at work. Thanks for the correction anstar. Regardless, it's one of my favorite scenes.

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Stillshrimpy you summed up Daniel's character progression perfectly. I adored the character from the movie and adored him at the start of the show and pretty much every place he took us since then but when I look back what I most adore is the natural progression the show allowed to happen.

Ten years later, Daniel is a completely different man than the one we started with and yet he remains Daniel Jackson, just a more concentrated elixir.

It wasn't just the time that allowed for character development. Smallville was on for even a bit longer than SG1 and I swear Clark went two steps forward, one back for half the series then randomly gained and lost characteristics and motivations until they simply slapped an S under his dress shirt and said you are iconic now.

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Thanks, mstaken and BKWurm, I appreciate that. I agree, it wasn't just the passage of time or the number of seasons that brought about that change.  Whe real people age, we carry our experiences with us. It's not a choice to reflect them outwardly to the world, it just is something that we learn over time.  It's a natural process without effort behind it.  Heck, we change even though we don't want to and become altered versions of ourselves.  

For an actor in a role, it is an effort to make sure that a role they are playing reflects all the miles traveled by person throughout their experience.  I'll use me as an example, but this is in no way unique to me:  when I was in my twenties, it was pretty easy to get me to sort freakout and wring my hands with worry, by my thirties my reactions were dialed back by ten years of knowing what those freakout really did to change anything (read: pretty much nothing at all) and now in my forties, man you'd practically have to blow up the house, tear off the roof, or steal my dog to get me to raise my heart rate over a problem.  The only stuff I freakout over now earns the response and it is colored by a) knowing how to direct the energy in a way that will solve the problem b) having a lot better level of discernment over what really matters to me.  I assume that by the time I make it to my fifties I'll calmly stare at the exploded house, check to make sure my son, dog and husband are all right and then shrug and say, "That's why we have insurance, I guess."  

Shanks, and a lot of the people playing parts on SG1 did that with their characters.  They incorporated those miles, experiences and an understanding of what is futile and what warrants the big efforts and reactions.  

It's just an even more challenging thing when the character you're playing has done things like ascended, come back.  Stopped wars. Started them.  Etc. etc. etc.  

And Shanks still had to convey that Daniel thought and continued to think that it was worth the effort, while tempering that effort with the experiences of the character.  

It was good work, I thought. 

Edited by stillshimpy
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Does anyone recall which episode Daniel is injured on another planet (near death, of course) and is nursed back to health by a married red haired woman?

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Does anyone recall which episode Daniel is injured on another planet (near death, of course)

Without the red haired woman nursing him back to health clue, that was nearly an unsolvable riddle. :)

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I liked how he kept the jacket from that episode and wore it in future episodes.

Daniel was always my favourite character because I as the audience could relate to his nerdy enthusiasm. Sam was awkward at best in the beginning, very hardcore in her push/pull with O'neil. Daniel was never perfect though ironically he was probably the character people could argue had Mary Sue qualities.

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I've always liked Daniel. Epecially because of his story arc. He starts off as a neive nerd, who wants to do the right thing to being really badass ;). If you compare him in season 1 to the way he is in the later seasons theres a huge difference. And it makes sense that he'd get more military like because of who he is around everyday. But he also never loses the moral ideals.

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Maybe the question should be: Who was not a Dr. Jackson fanboy/girl?

Even though RDA was my fake boyfriend through Moebius, Daniel always had the most heart. It just occurred to me that the character of Finn on The 100 is probably supposed to be a less educated, teen version of Daniel. They are both all about the ethical thing to do.

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Maybe the question should be: Who was not a Dr. Jackson fanboy/girl?

 

Me? I started watching the Stargate series this year (backwards as it turns out, since I began with Universe and am ending with SG-1), but I never much liked Daniel and was disappointed when he started showing up again after I thought I was rid of him. He's boring to me and his schoolboy earnestness tries my patience. I was surprised when I started reading old forums posts and saw that people also thought the actor was so good looking, because I found him to be forgettably meh.

 

Given that, I did prefer Jonas to Daniel, but mostly stuck it out for all seasons because of Teal'c, Carter and O'Neill.

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YMMV but I never perceived Daniel as jaded or cynical, although prolonged exposure to Jack O'Neill definitely made him snakrier. However, I would nominate Samantha Carter as the character most inclined to look for the good in others, sometimes to dangerous extents. (Gemini, anyone?)

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On 12/21/2017 at 4:09 PM, Idiotboy said:

YMMV but I never perceived Daniel as jaded or cynical,

I'd say he was jaded and cynical because he no longer was surprised by how awful people could be or how often moments of redemption would be squandered by politics or red tape getting in the way.  He'd seen so much and knew that he couldn't count of people's and institutions' better angels to make the "right" choice unless doing the right thing was also serving other interests.  So he learned how to play the game and he learned how to use a gun for the times words weren't going to cut it. 

The episode to demonstrate that for me very vividly was "Prototype" in season 9.  In it, they find a human/Goa'uld hybrid who had been kept in stasis.  Essentially, he's the son of Anubis.  In the early seasons, Daniel would have been his number one champion to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Instead, he was the first to question if he should even be allowed to remain alive (the debate was between putting him back in stasis or not) and never for one second believes there's any good in him and ends up in a shocking scene, being the one to shoot him in the back when he's distracted, the only way he could be hurt (and then both Daniel and Mitchell keep shooting until he's dead.

Daniel had made the right call, that he was too dangerous to be kept alive while the IOC wanted to study him, assuming they could keep the prisoner secure.  Daniel had no such faith and it turns out he'd been right to be so cynical and while he wishes he hadn't been right, Daniel forces Woolsey to see that his naivete is why two soldiers were now dead. 

It would have been unimaginable in the early seasons for Daniel to be the first one suggesting death and then be the more effective soldier when the crucial moment came.  But it was so believable because Daniel has seen it all.  He is the hardened and experienced one now.   

He also I do think disengaged with people after he came back from being ascended.  Both because of the trauma of dying but also as a byproduct of him still working through his wife's death.  Like he said later, the idea of going through that much pain again wasn't something for a long time he was even willing to consider.  He was more content being immersed in work than establishing real connections.  He never lost his principles or beliefs but he picked his battles more carefully and in general guarded his heart both in missions and in day to day life.  He maintained a distance.. 

I do think that he shed some of his cynicism and became engaged in life itself once Vala was in his life.  She pushed him out of his comfort zone and made him look up from his books and he let himself form new emotional connections and deepened past ones. She savored the little things and refused to accept emotional (and physical, lol) boundaries.  He started living again rather than just moving through life. 

Incidentally, I think Vala was good for the rest of the team and also Landry and probably the rest of the SGC.  Teal'c and Sam both seemed to be more humanized.  Sam getting to enjoy something as simple as dressing girly and shopping.  Teal'c becoming more playful and trying out new entertainments.  Landry getting involved in the emotional well being of his team to a degree I hadn't seen with the previous General in charge.  Vala just came to the team with different expectations and behavior and was looking for family and friends as much or more so than the mission and that different perspective and motivation was a much needed reminder to the those around her that they needed to be and COULD be individuals with feelings and wants and needs rather than just the perfect soldier or teammate.  She was a much needed bit of chaos in their lives that made them enjoy life more.  But Daniel was the one that had shut down the most, so she IMO affected him the most.  Also probably because he clearly was instantly entranced even if he fought it out of fear for a long time.  

Edited by BkWurm1

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On 12/23/2017 at 5:52 PM, BkWurm1 said:

She savored the little things and refused to accept emotional (and physical, lol) boundaries. 

And if it was a man doing that to a woman, we'd all be squicked out, right? So why is it ok for a woman to do that to man? And why do so many people defend this behaviour?

Edited by marina to

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16 hours ago, marina to said:

And if it was a man doing that to a woman, we'd all be squicked out, right? So why is it ok for a woman to do that to man? And why do so many people defend this behaviour?

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She didn't molest him, lol.  Well,  she shot him and they beat each other the first time they met up but the one kiss they had (in the normal timeline) I'd call mutual even if antagonistic. Then when she first showed up in season 9, she said and did outrageous things.  It's not a case IMO of it being ok for a woman vs a man but it being the behavior of an alien, former host, thief.  It wasn't behavior that the show defended.  The first time they tossed her in the brig and the second time she only avoided a similar fate because she redeemed herself by her actions.  But while her behavior wasn't given a pass, it was behavior that was explained and put in perspective in light of the life she'd been leading. 

She had a lot of unacceptable behaviors she had to learn to moderate before she joined the team and even then it was a learning curve, but before she did, she got under Daniel's skin and forced him to react in a manner that was good for him in the long run because it forced him to feel outside of his comfort zone, made him stop playing it safe and pushed him to start moving forward in his life.  He let himself react.  He got mad.  Petty even.  Let himself be imperfect and messy.  And no one else in his life would have pushed him like that.  So I appreciate the push her earlier bad behavior gave him.

But through it all, Daniel was never put in any danger of physically or mentally being forced against his will.  Nor did he act like he perceived any danger.  She was to him a nuisance, not a threat.  She couldn't force herself on him physically and she had no power over his job.  Daniel was physically stronger than her and he was the one with the full backing of the SGC.  She's not the one in a position of power in the relationship.  

 I do disagree about if her earlier bad behavior was treated in show as OK but Daniel never being at any real risk or under any mental pressure by her actions and comments is probably the answer to why her actions were not treated as squicky.  Inappropriate, offensive even, but not sexually coercive or inflicting real or perceived harm.  Again, she had no power in the relationship to put his job or person at risk, at least not in connection to any sexually suggestive behaviors and since that was what we were discussing, I'll just leave the use of the bracelets in a different category of bad behavior.    

Vala early on used suggestive comments as a defense mechanism.  To get someone off balance or as a means of pushing back when she felt cornered or trapped.  But she was called on her behavior and she did drop it pretty much before she ever got sucked into the Ori Galaxy.  

She did though remain a person that had a different standard of what was acceptable when it came to physical boundaries but that was more akin to a cultural thing.  She treated the team in a different, more open and affectionate manner than was customary in a military setting.   Nobody else in the SGC was going to be so casual or affectionate with each other.  Daniel was a bit more like that when he first joined the military led team.  He wasn't used to following the military protocol that formalized so many interactions.  So even after Vala stopped hovering too close or making passes, she still treated the team like one would actual friends rather than work associates.  She was cuddly with Sam and playful with Teal'c and had emotionally charged conversations with Gen Landry in her bedroom while wearing curlers and a robe.  So yes, she came with different rules about boundaries even once she learned to respect boundaries.  But while different, they were acceptable to the ones around her once they had the kind of relationship that allowed for the more close, casual affection.  

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