I caught a bit of the end of an episode of Stargate SG-1 yesterday, and was instantly reminded of something I really enjoyed about that show: the sexual tension between Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping). The first time they meet, O'Neill is dismissive and condescending toward Carter, but she holds her own. And then slowly, over time, it becomes apparent that they like each other -- a lot. Unfortunately, any relationship between O'Neill and Carter is off-limits because they are both in the Air Force and O'Neill outranks Carter.
Unlike shows like Remington Steele (am I dating myself with this one or what?) they kept that tension simmering for years and me on the edge of my seat through several episodes, while giving me just enough of a relationship to know they wanted to be together. Yet although they shared some passionate kisses, they never actually had a real relationship, off the base or on it.
It helped that SG-1 was science fiction. They could (and did) have a more complete relationship in parallel universes and different time lines -- this is when the kissing happened.
But one of the best episodes for establishing the depth of their unrequited love didn't have such a plot, and they didn't kiss. It featured a device that was like super truth serum and the search for a traitor. It became clear that O'Neill and Carter were hiding something.
What they were trying to hide wasn't betrayal, but the depth of the feelings they had for each other, which they finally had to admit. Oh, be still my heart!
I tell ya, when that kind of conflict and tension is done right? There's nothing like it.