Fig Newton (sg_fignewton) wrote in redial_the_gate,
Fig Newton

Sha're or Sha'uri?

Too many fans of SG-1 dismiss Sha're of Abydos as nothing more than a quest object for Daniel Jackson: a helpless, passive victim whose importance lies only in giving Daniel a purpose and a tragedy. Even those that remember the vibrant, fiery heroine who sparked a rebellion in the movie tend to dismiss the Sha're of the series as a poor heir to that bold legacy.

But that's selling Sha're short. Whether or not you think the actress that played Sha'uri was more talented than the actress that played Sha're, there is plenty of evidence from show canon that Sha're was a strong, dynamic woman. Let's set aside the events of the movie for the moment, and focus on what we know of Sha're from her appearances in three episodes of SG-1: COTG, Secrets, and FIAD.

[While the events of the ribbon-induced vision in FIAD never actually took place, I have used some of those events to support my analysis of Sha're. Daniel's emotional reactions were all his own, but the vision as presented by Sha're certainly reflected the reality of a burial ceremony on Abydos and her own personal attitudes.]

Before judging Sha're, it's important to consider the culture in which she was raised. Her reactions and fears are a reflection of what she knows and the conditioning of her years as a slave to Ra.

We know that she is the daughter of the ruler of Nagada. Since it's mentioned in COTG, we can add here that she was given as a gift to Daniel, who was then perceived to be Ra's representative. Sam reacted rather badly when she learned of this, but that's because, as a woman living in America in the 1990s, she could. It's a good starting point: for all her royal status, Sha're was essentially property to be given away. Kasuf probably offered his own daughter to Daniel with the assumption that anything less would be insulting, and possibly even considered it an honor; for all his power as ruler of Nagada, Kasuf is still a slave himself under Ra's rule. From her reaction in the movie, it's pretty clear that Sha're herself didn't like the idea of being gifted to Daniel very much... and that her opinion didn't matter in the slightest.

We see further examples of this in Secrets. When Daniel outlines their available options to Kasuf and Sha're, Kasuf turns to Sha're and orders her, "Go with him!" His attitude and matter-of-fact tone make it clear that he not only finds it natural to order her in this fashion – even in her husband's presence – but that he also automatically assumes that she will quietly obey. It is Daniel that protests that Sha're gets to have a choice.

I am not trying to defame Kasuf, who is definitely a supportive father. We see that even when he discovers that Sha're is pregnant by a man other than Daniel, he accepts her defense of being controlled by a "demon" that has "stolen [her] soul"; he comforts her and actually complains that Daniel is not acting as a proper husband. We see a similar reaction later, in FIAD, when Daniel declares at her funeral that any sins she committed when under Amaunet's control ("possessed by a demon") cannot weigh upon her heart. But Kasuf, like Sha're, is a product of his environment, and he expects Sha're to react accordingly.

So, with the understanding that Sha're was raised in a culture that demands passive and meek acceptance from its women, and that her years as a slave would automatically trigger a reaction of timid acquiescence to the demands of others, how does her unique personality assert itself in the show?

There is no certainly no meekness in her relationship with Daniel! Sha're was hardly a doting, dutiful, adoring wife. One of my favorite aspects of Sha're, in fact, is that she treated Daniel as a person, not an icon. She saw her husband as a human being, not as the savior of Abydos - even if the rest of the Abydons treated him that way.

She certainly loved Daniel, of course, but she was more amused than awed by him. "She was the complete opposite of everyone else... She practically fell on the floor laughing every time [Daniel] tried to do some chore they all took for granted, like... grinding yafetta flour." That sense of humor is further apparent in COTG, as Sha're enjoys the joke on Jack with the moonshine as much as anyone else, teases Skaara and strides confidently across the room even when Daniel isn't there, and clearly gets a kick out of reducing Daniel to a pile of mush with that kiss.

Sha're never lost her eager interest in the wonders of a galaxy outside Ra's dominion. In COTG, she's learned enough about her husband's customs to recognize an offer for a handshake when she sees one, and respond in kind; in FIAD, Daniel tells Sam, "Sha're saw me writing in my journal and thought the ballpoint I was using was magic. A little device like this pen was such a wonder to her... The simplest things were a wonder to her." To Sha're, of course, who dared to drag her finger through the sand as an act of rebellion, any form of writing would be the greatest technological triumph.

Sha're retained her wits and her courage, even in the face of all that she suffered. In COTG, she shows more fear for Skaara than herself when she is taken from the main dungeon on Chulak, shouting, "I am not afraid of you!" as she is dragged out. She is the only woman in the private holding chamber - including the nameless female sergeant from Earth, who herself showed daring when she approached the newly-opened Stargate - who thinks to turn her back on Teal'c, doing something to try to avoid being chosen. (The fact that her ploy backfires takes away nothing from her courage in the attempt.) She doesn't blindly agree to Daniel's suggestion in Secrets, but considers the pros and cons before she makes her decision. And, of course, she seizes the opportunity to channel a personal telepathic message to Daniel in FIAD, despite what must have been her absolute horror at being the instrument of her husband's near-murder.

Sha're possessed the same fire and spirit as Sha'uri. She fought against the Jaffa when she was brought before Apophis, even biting one in her attempts to get free. She resisted the final delivery of her child, despite her pain, because she knew it would allow Amaunet to regain control. She had the strength of will to influence Amaunet at the end of Secrets, preventing the Goa'uld from telling Apophis that Daniel was right there. And in FIAD - where she, at least, clearly realized that Teal'c was right there and about to shoot - she managed to keep that knowledge from Amaunet, so that the Goa'uld could not defend herself.

I don't love Sha're for loving Daniel; she's too amazing to be loved for that alone. But her love for him in FIAD is too beautiful and too painful for words. Consider this: she knows that Teal'c is standing right there, armed with a staff weapon, ready to fire a killing shot. We know that she is aware of this, or why else would she incorporate that fact into her vision? She has seconds, at most, to channel a vision to Daniel - what she knows will be her final moments alive, her last opportunity to communicate with him. What is most important to her, under those circumstances? Not her son, who she loves despite his parentage, and not even the chance to give Daniel a mental kiss farewell. No, what matters most is making sure that Daniel is sane and whole enough to keep living after her death.

Think of the pattern of the visions. Sha're leads Daniel down one path - the one where he absolutely rejects Teal'c - and then hits the reset button. She gets him to acknowledge that there is something he can do for her, and for the Earth - and hits the reset button again. She offers him a glimpse of a future with hope in it, in the form of a new quest... and she hits that reset button again, and again, because until Daniel offers his forgiveness to Teal'c - until she is sure he will have his friends at his side, both in support of his new quest and as bulwarks against his grief - she is not willing to give him the name of the planet where her harcesis son can be found. Surely, Sha're must have known that Teal'c might kill her before she can offer that crucial tidbit of information. Yet her love for Daniel precluded her from telling him about Kheb until she knew that he'd be able to find the inner strength, and accept the strength of friendship, to continue his journeys through the Stargate.

That is selfless love from a woman with courage and fire and heart, and every time I watch FIAD, I find myself grieving once again for Sha're when she whispers that final, "I love you, Danyel" - even as I'm glad that she dies free.

Now take that strength and spirit and daring, that humor and passion and fire, and put it together with the Sha'uri who inspired a rebellion in the movie...

How can you not love Sha're, really?

It's true that we got more character development for Sha'uri in the course of a two-hour movie than we did for Sha're in her three episodes on the show. But Sha're of Nagada, wife of Daniel Jackson, was no meek quest object. She was an amazing, inspiring woman, who deserved a happier ending - not just for Daniel's sake, but because she was a fantastic character whose continued role in SG-1 could have only given us an infinitely richer story for her inclusion.

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Tags: 0209 secrets, meta, season two
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