Two's company and three is definitely a happy crowd, especially when it comes to Amanda Tapping returning to the SG-1 fold.
What a difference a year makes. During production of Stargate SG-1's eighth season, the sign on the outside of actress Amanda Tapping's trailer door read 'Carter', referring to her SG-1 alter ego, Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter. This year, however, that sign has been changed to 'Carter and Co', which refers not only to Tapping but also her new baby girl Olivia and the little girl's nanny. On this rainy Thursday afternoon, all three are inside the actress's trailer where she's using a break in filming to play with her daughter. Judging by the expressions on both their faces, mother and child couldn't be enjoying themselves more.
"This past Spring I really did question whether or not I'd made the right decision as an actor, a mom, and a person to come back to work," says Tapping. "Character-wise, I definitely felt Sam Carter needed to return. For me, though, as I sit here now with only seven days left until we finish filming Season Nine, I know that, yes, I made the right choice. This season of SG-1 has gone really well, and I've had my daughter here with me every day and we have a wonderful nanny on set. I'm lucky in that Olivia is such an easy-going baby and is much-loved as well as treated wonderfully by this cast and crew.
"One of the things I have missed are the Mommy and Me classes and meeting other moms, both of which I did during Olivia's first month of life. I had a day off recently where I got together with a group of moms that I'd gotten to know and I was like, 'What have all of you been up to? What exactly is Gymboree,' and what's this and that? Fortunately, with our hiatus coming up I'll have the chance to get up to speed and learn about all those types of things."
While Tapping sat out the first five stories of SG-1's ninth year to spend time with her then newborn baby, her character's absence on the show was due to Carter being reassigned to Area 51 to work on a project. However, in the episode Beachhead, the colonel and her technical expertise are needed back at Stargate Command when the Ori attempt to construct their own Stargate in an effort to invade Earth's galaxy. After helping foil the Ori's plan, Carter remains at the SGC and soon rejoins the SG-1 team. Certain things have changed, though, in her absence, and that takes Carter a bit of getting used to.
"Acting-wise, this season has been about me trying to figure out how Sam fits into this new dynamic without making it obvious that I'm trying to do so, if you know what I mean," smiles Tapping. "My character has always been so centred at the SGC. Sam is comfortable there and so aware of her surroundings and how she deals with those surroundings. It felt good for her to walk back into such a familiar place again.
"Conversely, there's this brand new dynamic she's dealing with when it comes to the Colonel Mitchell character and what he's all about. At times, he'll say something and Carter will think, 'What?' and then other times she'll be like, 'OK, I get it'. It's interesting because he leads very differently than Jack O'Neill [Richard Dean Anderson] did, and then, of course, there's the question of why is Mitchell and not Sam in charge of SG-1. That's something I hope the writers will explore further next season. After all, it could be an ensemble team where there is no patriarchal line of command, or maybe Mitchell and Carter could share the leadership responsibilities. However, because Sam is military and a good military girl, she will do exactly what she's ordered to do. It wouldn't be so bad, though, to see her rebel every now and then against an order she truly does not agree with."
Continuing to look ahead to next season, Tapping would also like to see more emphasis placed on developing the relationships between the new characters and the more established ones. "That didn't happen all that much this year, and I think a big part of that was because the stories we've been telling are so big, and there's also the overall arc with the Ori and the brand new mythology we're dealing with," notes the actress.
"One relationship I thought was going to be fleshed out and explored in Season Nine was the one between Carter and Dr Lam [Lexa Doig]. The show's producers and writers had talked about doing that but, again, there just wasn't time. I'm hoping we can address that next season because I always enjoyed the dynamic between my character and Teryl Rothery's [Dr Janet Fraiser]. They had such a beautiful and special friendship and I think it would be neat if Sam could strike up a similar type of rapport with another woman at the SGC."
At that moment there's a knock on the actress's trailer door. A shuttle is waiting to whisk her back to the set where she and the rest of the SG-1 cast are shooting the ninth season ender, Camelot. "Today we're way out here at Maple Ridge Studios," explains Tapping on the short ride to the soundstage. "None of us had ever worked on this set before. It's actually left over from a series called Young Blades, which was done here in Vancouver last year. Its village set was still standing and it seemed a shame to waste it, so here we are.
"The SG-1 episode we're filming at the moment is big, really big. I was speaking earlier with [director] Martin Wood and we have something like a half-million dollar visual effects budget. This is also an interesting story in that, and I don't believe I'm giving away any spoilers by saying this, it's a cliffhanger in the truest sense of the word. Any number of things could take place. It could signal the end of a particular character or even characters, and then again, everyone could survive."
Steven Eramo - TV Zone Special #67
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