Stargate S6 (2002-2003)

Season six of Stargate distinguishes itself by replacing Daniel Jackson with offworlder scientist Jonas Quinn. Which makes this the perfect opportunity to talk about character templates and characters themselves.

Stargate uses the classic four team combo (think A-Team). You have the leader (O’Neill) and the warrior (Teal’c), though both Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter are a mix of the same template (the shaman) and not as clear-cut. Both are knowledge seekers, though Carter is more the hard science type and Jackson the social science type. Both have some unique aspects to their characterization, Jackson often acts as a diplomat and the team idealist (or fool, depending on your POV). Carter, sadly, has to play the women who many male characters can fall in love with. At least she’s more capable than Jackson as a fighter, so at least she isn’t completely typecast.

So, when Jonas Quinn came on-board I was expecting him to fill the role left behind by Jackson, though that wasn’t how it went. Instead he became a gimmick character who managed to be a combined Jackson/Carter substitute with extraordinary learning capabilities across all sciences, often leaving Carter flabbergasted. While it’s never a good way to establish a new character by showing him to be more competent than everyone else (in superhero comics a similar trope is a new villain who kills a few c-grade heroes or villains to show how tough he is). That said, why I found the base concept of Jonas Quinn
unconvincing, I soon started to like him as a character in his own right.

The main difference between Quinn and Jackson was that while both were kind of optimistic about many things, Jackson had this air of seriousness around him at all times (downright gloomy sometimes). Quinn in comparison was enthusiasm pure. Everything was new to him and nothing managed to destroy his high spirits. This was really infectious and I was sad to see him go at the end of the season, when Jackson came back.

One thing about characterization I have to add. While it’s easy to see Jackson as the humanistic influence on the team, it’s easy to forget that sometimes O’Neill filled the same spot on many occasions. The difference was that where Jackson fought for all sentient life, O’Neill was pretty humanoid-centric. If humans were in danger, he easily could muster all his strength to fight for them, but apart from the Asgard O’Neill never rallied to the cause for non-human aliens or artificial constructs. I wonder whether they planned it that way or it just emerged over the course of the show.

As for the season itself: the Anubis arc got furthered, we learn more about the Ancients and so on. Interesting new elements were the first human spaceship, which later allowed more episodes in the vain of classic ship-based shows like Star Trek and the drug tretonin, which became a pretty important plot point for all things Jaffa. Also some very cool replicator-centered episodes (though like on Star Trek with the Borg they had to weaken the concept by giving them human faces). Some good continuity-laden episodes, but no memorable singular one.