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Battlestar's Back

November 7th, 2007 (09:42 pm)
Tags: ,

current location: London
current mood: contemplative

BSG - Razor
The Good
  • The Gina/Cain storyline was really well handled.  I loved that we had Women! Talking to Each Other!, something I've be longing for, for quite some time, and I loved that Razor didn't shy away from the emotional darkness of their connection.  One moment I particularly loved was when Gina had Cain at gunpoint, and it became clear that Gina, for all her talk of love, would have shot Cain.  I don't mean to suggest that Gina wasn't a victim in her turn (what Cain did went so far beyond the bounds of fundamental human decency that there aren't words for it), but i loved that the show acknowledged that Gina was both a victim, and as much of a murderer as Cain was, ultimately.  Her relationship with Cain though, does put a new light on her relationship with Baltar - did Gina ultimately discover that Cain was her 'one true love' (as horrifying a thought as that is)...did the killing of Cain prey upon her?  I'm not saying it necessarily did, but it adds an interesting angle to why Gina killed herself. 
  • Kendra Shaw.  At first, I must admit, I wasn't too keen on the actress' performance.  She seemed incredibly affectless, and I found it difficult to come to grips with who the character was.  And yet, by the end of the episode, I was devastated to see how worn down and broken she'd become.  That's certainly an experience unique to Kendra Shaw - Tigh, Baltar, Crashdown, Boomer and Starbuck (to name just a few) have all become increasingly damaged, damaged to the point of fracture, throughout the series, but to see that process concentrated the way it was here was very difficult to watch. 
  • Starbuck: Of course I have to talk about my beloved Starbuck!  I remember the recap for LDYB said that Starbuck was 'a woman now' or had grown up at last, (or words to that effect), and while I agreed with that reading, I always sort of wondered...how did she get there?  This episode kind of filled in that blank - the Starbuck who leads the attack on the hybrid (or steps in to lead) is honed and controlled in a way that we (sadly) haven't seen from Kara in a very long time (fuck you very much Leoben).  The other thing that struck watching this is just how right the decision to have Lee command the Pegasus was...Katee Sackhoff just looks way, way, way too young for that role.  I don't know what the actual age difference between Lee and Kara is supposed to be - I've always assumed three or four years, but that is just a guess - but it was really noticeable here.  Lee looks old enough to have that responsibility...Kara doesn't.  Admittedly, the Kara we see here could easily be a commander in a few years, but she still isn't ready at this point, and I'm really glad the writers recognised that.
  • Those black tee-shirt marine outfits.  More please.  It seems to be a BSG rule that everyone looks yummy in them.
  • Why was there no scene between Tigh and Kendra?  Why?  Writers, can't you see a gift-wrapped opportunity when it lands in your lap?

The Bad (or, more accurately, the vaguely dissatisfactory)
  • Not enough Chief,
  • Lee?  You were going to nuke KARA?  WTF?  I'm not saying this was out of character, but having seen him be all 'my life is over, how shall I ever bear to live' after Maelstrom, Lee Nuking Kara almost gave me whiplash.  Mind you, I've long held the belief that Lee didn't admit to himself just how he felt about Kara until after he saw her with Anders (he knew he felt something, he just didn't know he was forever and ever in love with her because he's Lee - repression is like breathing to him), so maybe it makes more sense than I thought.
  • Did the Pegasus have the best hairdressers ever, or what?  Cain's hair was cool.  (Though that doesn't explain the weird squirrel hair Lee was sporting in Unfinished Business).
  • Cain's XO was cute.  I really liked him, and I actually felt the gut-punch when Cain shot him.
  • I liked all of the flashbacks, except for the one to the execution of civilians - I think that was actually more effective as Fisk's story.  Still, they did a great job of balancing all three timelines.

Long-Winded Meta on Lee...or why I don't care if there's no Lee-specific storyline in Season 4

First of all, I like Lee, I really do.  I don't love him in the unconditional way I love Kara, but...that's a feeling only Kara and Roslin and Buffy have ever managed to inspire in me, so it really is pretty rare.  More often than not, Lee's perspective on a particular issue is one I either share, or can respect (a dishonourable exception is Crossroads, but that had more to do with the writers bending the process of the trial (and apparently Roslin's intelligence) until it broke in order to get Baltar acquitted and both Adamas involved).  But Lee as a character isn't someone I want to see on his own. 

That's not because I despise Lee - I don't - but because I simply don't think his character works in those 'I Am A Solitary Hero Fighting For Truth, Justice and the COlonial Way' storylines the TPTB come up with every so often (also, Helo, if you could pay attention here, I'd really appreciate it.)  If Kara's story is Self against Self (and I think it almost certainly is - Kara's problems spring from her struggles against her many demons, not against some external oppressor - even Leoben sometimes functions more as an extension of that self than a more usual villain), than Lee's story is Self Against Society.  And I think that's why Kara-centric episodes tend to work where Lee-centric ones don't (the single exception here being Bastille Day).  Because Kara's struggles are essentially Internal, it makes sense to 'study' them in isolation. 

But Lee's demons aren't internal.  That's not to say he doesn't have them, but they aren't bound up in his very conception of self the way Kara's are.  Because Lee is an idealist, because he is someone to whom the political process and a sense of justice matter deeply...it doesn't make sense to explore those issues in isolation.  A single person's belief in democracy is not in and of itself dramatically compelling - but it can become so.  What's commonly held to be Lee's best storyline - his support of Roslin against Adama's coup - is not actually a Lee-specific storyline.  It is a major turning point of the entire saga, to which every single character contributed.  I'm not trying to take Lee's moment of glory away from him, but that moment of glory had resonance because of the way it effected every other character.

To compare him to Kara again, in the early stages of the second season, Kara mainly interacts with what could be called 'blank slates' - Helo, Anders and Simon.  Kara's character is revealed through her interactions with them - on a structural level that is the point of them.  Two of them don't even exist for the audience before they meet Kara, and their purpose is to throw her character into relief.  On the other hand, Lee mainly interacts with Dee, Tigh, Roslin, and Zarek, and while Dee might be said to be a 'blank slate' as Anders and Simon are, Roslin and Zarek emphatically aren't.  Given the storyline, they can't possibly be.  Lee's decision whether to follow his ideals isn't interesting if the competing value systems he's faced with aren't given dynamic and credible voices of their own - if Lee is obviously right, (as he would be if everyone else in the storyline was merely mouthing the required position, rather than having it grow directly from their role in the story - see, for instance, the Woman King) there isn't anywhere for the story to go.  Because he is struggling with 'Society', that society needs to be sharply drawn and realised, and Lee needs to be embedded within it, for the storyline to have any dramatic weight. 

Lee as a 'Central' character (as opposed to an Ensemble player (by which I mean, one of the top four or five characters on the show) doesn't to my mind really work, because he needs that complete structure to play off in order to be interesting - whereas in structural terms, Kara's search for happiness and for her destiny will drive her forward regardless of who or what she plays off, because those are internal issues.  But take away Roslin, Adama, Kara, Tigh, Helo and Romo Lampkin and...how do you construct a story 'about' Lee, without fundamentally altering the nature of the character?  Even their suicide attempts reflect this difference - Lee attempts suicide because of his disillusionment with the political structure, in the leader he had come to trust and in the system in which he has put so much faith.  Kara kills herself (or not) because of the overpowering weight of her personal trauma, and her search for some form of....certainty, of knowledge about who and what she is.  Kara's story is driven by Kara - Lee's both by Lee and by the various political fallouts of the Pegasus' arrival,

That's why I don't especially want or need a 'Lee' storyline for season four.  I don't want him off on his own, doing his own thing, because that isn't interesting.  I want Lee embedded in the other storylines - in the struggle between Roslin and Adama, the aftermath of Kara's return, the danger posed by the Final Four - because for me, that's where he's most interesting.  Fairly often, my favourite Lee moments aren't even in 'Lee' episodes - when he finishes Kara's list in Scar, when he reacts 'Bad Thought, Go AWAy!' to ADama's confession in Hero, when he proposes the Genocide plan in AMOS and blows up the Temple of Jupiter in Rapture, when he tries to help Kara get better in Litmus or tells her he loves her in Home, his response to Roslin's confession that she has cancer.  None of those happen in what would be considered the big Lee-episodes, but those are the ones I think of when someone asks why I love the character,

Well, that and how bitchy he can be.  I love how he's always able to say just the right thing to cut someone to the quick - it really speaks to his observance (though at the same time my reaction is often 'LEE!  Leave Kara ALONE!  And Dee!  Stop acting like Regina George, you're much too good at it!")