I’ve never done a deep dive into Stargate fandom and any essays about it, but revisiting “Forever in a Day,” I found myself wondering whether this episode, and the character of Sha’re generally, has attracted much comment from a feminist perspective. She suddenly strikes me as being somewhat problematic. I hadn’t really noticed it before, but I also misremembered the character as having appeared more than she did as well.
Sha’re first appeared in the Stargate film, where she is property to be given away. Recast, she returned in the first episode of the series, having been married to Daniel for about a year. Infamously, she gets the only nude rape scene in the series. Sure, arguably, the takeover of any human character by one of these alien bugs could be construed as a rape, but Sha’re is the only character whose possession is depicted as a sexual act. From there, the character appears twice more: once to have a baby, and once, here, to die. Her only purpose in the narrative is to drive the male character: first to find her, and, after her death, to follow a final message and begin a new search, for her child. Looking back on it, this really wasn’t right. Sha’re should have survived and been afforded some agency and a supporting role in the show.
I have read that “Forever in a Day” is very popular with some fans, and it’s easy to see why. I liked it more the first time around. Michael Shanks gets to play Daniel as grief-stricken but numb, unable to mourn, and the script’s imaginative use of dreams is very clever. I do think that from a broader continuity standpoint, there is a big flaw: they drop an important bombshell here which surely should have been mentioned earlier. This episode tells us that the hosts of Goa’uld are forbidden by System Lord law to have a child together, because the human offspring (a “harcesis”) will be born with all the knowledge of the alien bugs. This is a huge plot point that’s going to drive several episodes over the course of the next year and a half. So you think they’d have mentioned it when Sha’re actually had that baby last season. I guess the producers just hadn’t figured that part out when they made “Secrets.” I bet if they could, they’d have gone back and inserted a shot where Teal’c says “The child will be a harcesis. I am surprised that Apophis would do something so reckless.”
I think I made a mistake in telling our son about the popularity of “Forever in a Day.” From my blinkered perspective, getting around the problematic issue of Sha’re, it’s a good, imaginatively-crafted hour, but it leads with the only explosions and gunfights it wants to give us. The poor kid thought he was getting forty-five minutes of wall-to-wall shootouts, and he got an action-packed pre-credits scene followed by a long, slow meditation on loss. We bought him a wristwatch earlier today. Press one button and you get eight seconds of colored lights dancing around the watch face. He was restless enough to “accidentally” press the button a time or ten. Can’t really blame him, can you?