Okay. I made a deal with myself that I would avoid all newsblogs and unvetted episode reaction posts until the end of the season, in the hopes of remaining unspoilered. Shockingly, I actually did it -- would have done better except for someone posting one of the very spoilers I was trying to avoid in a comment to one of my episode reaction posts a couple of weeks ago. Oh well.
But the season is done, and I know I can't make it 'till the start of season 5 without looking at any promo pictures or reading any discussion posts, so I decided to rip off the band-aid and spoil myself on the biggies.
So. There is really no way I can warn anyone outside the cut about which spoilers are under it, obviously, so please do not click on it if getting ANY casting spoiler for next season would spoil your day.
The one that I found out early was about Carson. I guess you can see why I was especially ticked about that, moreso than just about anything else I could have been spoiled on, because knowing McGillion's in the cast next year meant that I watched "Kindred II" with that in mind, and it pretty much took all the emotional impact out of the ending. It's actually a classic example of why I hate getting involuntarily spoiled, because I think that a lot of my general lack of squee for the episode had to do with knowing things were going to turn out okay, and frustration that I wasn't getting to watch it unspoiled.
Anyhow, I hope they really deal with the implications of Carson being a clone, and a clone of a dead man. I don't want to see him slotting back into the group dynamic like he never left. I'd like the show to at least pay lip service to having to deal with paperwork reinstating him into the land of the living (or keep him legally dead, even). I'd like to see him struggling with knowing that the memories he has aren't real. I just ... hope that they deal with these things, rather than waking him from stasis and having him pop back to being Rodney's buddy and everyone's confidante just like he never left.
Casting spoilers 2 & 3 are Sam's departure (I have no idea how many episodes she'll be in next season, and would rather not know if I can help it, please) and Woolsey in charge of Atlantis. About that last one, my reaction is basically a gigantic SQUEEEE. I am THRILLED TO BITS, not just because I'm awfully excited at the prospect of watching his character develop, but also because he'll have an utterly different and, I assume, much more adversarial managerial style than either of his predecessors. I'm already head-over-heels with squee in expectation of the ways this is going to shake up and restructure Atlantis.
'Cause, see, one of the things I really LIKE about this show is how it changes over time. So far, in the long run, I don't think I've been genuinely unhappy with any of the changes they made. I loved season 4 and right now, I actually do have confidence in the writers to deliver good things from this. (Teyla's arc notwithstanding, but my problems with that are personal ones.) Just like I was cautiously excited and optimistic about the changes in season 4, I'm excited and optimistic about season 5, and really looking forward to seeing what they do with this!
About Sam -- I really like Sam, as a character, and I liked her on Atlantis, and I'm thrilled that she got to be in charge of the city and run her own battle cruiser, even! But having said that, the whole season I've felt bad for her being separated from her team and her world, and I'm really happy for her that she's, presumably, going to be reunited with them. (Well, I hope they're reunited, anyway. I hope they don't kill her! But I really doubt if they'd summarily execute her like that.) What I want most for Sam is to see her to ride gracefully off into the sunset and enjoy a happy off-camera life with the rest of SG-1 -- just as what I want most for SGA, when it finally wraps up, is to end with the characters looking forward to a future together.
One final comment -- when the casting spoilers were first announced, the way people were reacting, I thought at first that they were going to kill off one of the core team. It's a tremendous relief to know we're getting our team back next year! I really do think I'd still watch and enjoy the show if they took one of them off, even John or Rodney ... but I'm selfishly glad that I don't have to find out the hard way. At least not yet!