When I first met Doctor Daniel Jackson, it was on the big screen and he was played by James Spader. Daniel was cute, innocent and above all, intelligent. By the end of the movie Daniel had new friends and a new wife and I had a small crush. Then many years later I re-encountered the good doctor on the small screen, played by Michael Shanks, and I fell in love. Shanks gave Daniel heart and soul, pushed him beyond the identity of simple archeologist/linguist. So who exactly is Doctor Daniel Jackson and why am I in love with him? Let’s find out.
For Daniel both characteristics are intimately tied together. His biggest strength is his willingness to believe that there is goodness in everything and everyone. It’s also his biggest weakness. In part it stems from a naïveté that is endearing in Daniel. But that naïveté doesn’t last long and it never extends to his enemies, the Goa’uld. (This is evidenced by Daniel’s wanton destruction of a tank of Goa’uld symbiotes in Bloodlines.)
Contrary to fanon, Daniel has always been able to handle a weapon. He uses both a gun and a staff weapon in the movie and shows competence with both (and other weapons) throughout the series. We never know how or where Daniel got this knowledge, but it is canonical fact that he can protect himself.
Daniel is smart, genius level smart. He holds three doctorates (a fact enforced early on in the series). As Daniel is very young (in his late twenties/early thirties at the beginning of the series) this is an extraordinary feat and lends legitimacy to Catherine seeking out his knowledge (and the SGC keeping him around). His doctorates are in archeology, anthropology and linguistics, but he only ever refers to himself as a doctor of archeology. And while he may be book smart, he doesn’t always use his head to think clearly, his naïveté coming into play.
Evolution (from geek to guh)
From a fresh faced floppy haired youngster to the buff, battle hardened, crop haired older Daniel, his character has changed significantly in ten years.
Daniel returned to Earth and joined the SGC to find his wife, Sha’re. She had been kidnapped by a Goa’uld system lord, Apophis. When she was killed in the third season (Forever and a Day), she gave him (through telepathy and a hand device) a new mission, to find her child. Sha’re (or more precisely her Goa’uld host, Amonet), had given birth to Apophis’ child. He did find the child on the planet of Kheb, long thought to be only a myth by the Goa’uld and their servants, the Jaffa. But Daniel handed the child over to Oma Desala, a mystical being, because he knew that she and her kind (more on them later) could better keep the child safe from his father and all other Goa’uld.
For almost a season, Daniel drifts, having no real path to follow. That is until the team is called back to Abydos (Sha’re’s home world) by his father-in-law, Kasuf (Absolute Power). Shifu (Sha’re’s child), sets Daniel on a new path, ridding the galaxy of the Goa’uld and helping Teal’c to free the Jaffa. Then come the Replicators (think evil Lego spiders). By the end of season eight, both those enemies are defeated and Daniel had only one goal in mind, the city of Atlantis. Alas he would not fulfill this dream until season ten (The Pegasus Project) and then only for one episode in which he was trying to find a weapon to destroy the newest enemy, the Ori.
While the weapon was found (well made really) and used in the Ori’s galaxy (successfully as far as fans know), it’s not the end of the threat, nor of Daniel’s journey. With two movies yet to come, there will hopefully be a resolution for Daniel and the rest of SG-1.
Let’s take a moment to discuss Daniel’s death and ascension in season five (Meridian). Daniel has…a thing about dying. He’s died roughly twenty times in ten years. (Only eleven of those are “official”, the others happening to alternate Daniel’s or in other circumstances.) The death in season five was his longest and the most significant. Daniel was exposed to a lethal dose of radiation on the planet of Kelowna, while trying to stop an experiment from overloading and killing everyone.
After a slow decline that devastates the entire SGC, Jacob Carter attempts to heal Daniel using a Goa’uld device. But Daniel appears to Jack in a vision, asking him to stop the attempt. Daniel has chosen to ascend to a higher plane of existence, with the help of Oma (remember her?). Oma is one of the Ancients, the beings responsible for building the Stargate system and the former residents of the city of Atlantis. Daniel is returned at the beginning of season seven, missing his memories. He didn’t exactly follow all the rules the Ancients had and for good reason.
Relationships and Family
In the movie, it’s revealed that Daniel had foster parents. It’s not until the second season that we learn his parents, Claire and Melburn, were killed in an accident at the New York Museum of Art (The Gamekeeper). Canonically, Daniel is an only child. His only other blood family is his grandfather, Nick Ballard who refused to adopt him and let Daniel grow up in the foster system (The Crystal Skull).
Daniel’s non-blood family is the one he married into. Sha’re is his wife, she was given to him in the movie, as a sign of respect from the village elders (which includes her father). Daniel loves her deeply. There is also her father Kasuf and her brother Skaara (who is also kidnapped by the Goa’uld).
Now onto the women in Daniel’s life.
Hathor: the Goa’uld passing as the Egyptian goddess of sex, drugs and rock and roll. She ensnares Daniel using pheromones and for all intents and purposes, rapes him to obtain his DNA so she can produce symbiotes. She eventually meets a nasty end.
Shyla: He meets her offworld, saves her life and in return she gets him addicted to the sarcophagus. He recovers and returns to help her recover as well.
Kera/Linea. When she is known by the latter name, she is The Destroyer of Worlds, helping the team escape a prison planet for her own nefarious purposes. When known by the former, she has no memory of her former life and is much younger. She flirts with Daniel and possibly sleeps with him, though there is no concrete proof of that. She loses her memory again and they both move on.
Sarah Gardner. They used to date when they were both in college and met again later when Daniel’s mentor dies. It’s uncertain if they were in love, but they do have certain affection for one another. Sarah is later possessed by the Goa’uld Osiris.
Reese. She created the Replicators and Daniel tries to mentor her, but is unsuccessful. She is killed by Jack when she tries to take over the SGC.
Leda. Helps Daniel when he is injured on her world. She cares for him but the feelings are most likely one-sided. Later he finds out she died when the Ori overtook her planet.
Janet and Cassandra Frasier. Janet is the SGC’s doctor and she and Daniel have a close friendship (some see a mild flirtation as well). Daniel acts as a mentor, almost uncle, for Janet’s adopted daughter Cassie.
General George Hammond. Hammond indulged Daniel a lot, treating him almost like a son. They had a good congenial relationship, rarely coming to disagreements. What few arguments they had stemmed from Hammonds need to provide technology to the bean counters in Washington versus Daniel’s desire to explore worlds just for their cultural significance.
General Hank Landry. Landry is less indulgent of Daniel, focusing more on the problem of the Ori. There is not much canonical interaction between the two so their relationship is hard to define.
Cameron Mitchell. Cam is the person who persuades Daniel (and Sam and Teal’c) to rejoin SG-1. Daniel gives him about as much respect as a rock at first, but they eventually fall into a rhythm of sorts. They very rarely call each other by their first names. I think that keeps a kind of distance between them. A lot of fans point to the resemblance between the two (even Vala points it out) and suggest they may be related (see 200 for the joke).
Teal’c. Daniel and Teal’c share the burden of being outsiders. Even though Teal’c is the person who chose Sha’re to be the host for Aphophis’ queen (Children of the Gods) and eventually killed her (Forever and a Day), Daniel forgives him. Daniel even visited Teal’c (in a dream) while he was ascended to help his friend while he was in crisis. They remain close to this day.
Samantha Carter. Daniel and Sam are the intellectuals of the group. They complement each other’s styles. They support each other during emotional times. There is no evidence in canon that Daniel visited her while he was ascended but I’d like to think that he did.
Vala Mal Doran. They began as adversaries (Prometheus Unbound) and end up being lovers (Unending).Though the latter is erased from their memories, the two have an interesting relationship. They never fully trust each other (until Unending). Always bickering and fighting. But through it all they do form a bond and do care for each other deeply, whether it’s as friends or something else is left up to interpretation.
Colonel/General Jonathan “Jack” O’Neill (two L’s). There is no doubt that Daniel’s relationship with Jack is the most important in his life and to the series. They met on the mission to Abydos and stay bonded until the end of the series. Daniel gave Jack hope, Jack gave Daniel the universe. As Stargate Wikipedia likes to point out: “The word he (Daniel) probably says more than any other, with varying degrees of inflection, meaning, volume and emotional content is ‘Jack’.”
And it’s true. Whole conversations can be had with the simple exchange of names. Go, watch, and see. The bond between these men goes beyond mere friendship and whether the viewer sticks with the canonical bond, or sees something deeper (as many fans do), there would simply be no Stargate without Jack and Daniel.
Who is the first person to greet Daniel when he appears in the ‘gate room at the end of Serpent’s Lair? Jack. Who’s the first person Daniel visits after he ascends? Jack (Abyss). Who does Daniel go to with the information on the Eye of Ra? Jack (Full Circle). Who hurts the most when it revealed Daniel’s memories are gone? Jack (Fallen).
The word that keeps coming to mind when I think of these two (borrowing from Kevin Smith) is hetero-life mates. They fight and bicker and snark like an old married couple. They finish each other’s sentences. They touch a lot. While textually they are nothing more than friends, many viewers see a lot more going on sub textually, and the writers of the series know it. If you have any doubts about that, I point you to a certain scene in 200.
Cut to a garden, members of the SGC are sitting around. Camera pans to the head of an aisle. Daniel and Jack standing there. Daniel clears his throat, facing front. Jack looks around, sigh impatiently and faces front. Daniel sort of leans in and almost whispers to Jack.
“You know, if she doesn’t show, people are going to think that…you and I are….”
Jack looks at Daniel with a funny expression.
They look at each other for a second and Daniel turns to face the front again, exhaling loudly. Jack continues to stare at Daniel, trying to catch his eye.
Even though Jack left after season eight and was no longer a presence in Daniel’s day to day life, he exerts and enormous amount of influence on Daniel and how he acts. And the few guest appearances of Jack just reinforce what a special relationship these two men have.
So there you have it, Daniel Jackson; archeologist, linguist, lover, fighter, intellectual. If you want to know more about Daniel, here are a few livejournal communities that you can visit.