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01 November 2007 @ 09:13 pm
BSG: Razor  
I'm friendslocking this, at least until others have seen 'Razor'. This post is as spoilery as you can get. Seriously don't click if you don't want to know. ETA: unlocked now

Wow. Razor was heavy. I found it very powerful but very dark. (Can you even say that about an individual BSG episode?! The whole show's dark!) I had some misgivings (I'll get to them) and I wanted to like it even more than I did because I found the the premise interesting and the storytelling compelling. It's given me tons to digest and I'd totally forgotten the feeling of having BSG 'butterflies' in my stomach. Oh, the insomnia. I'd forgotten that too! In short, I need to write my way through this in the same way I need to after a regular episode.

Kendra's story
I think Razor worked really well as a standalone piece--Kendra's story was a powerful one and her narrative provided the structure. I liked the character: she had an odd reserve to her that was quietly powerful and she seemed to hold her own counsel in a way that made her inscrutable. She ultimately lived and died by her own conscience, making decisions that were incredibly difficult to live with as well as at least one that was extremely heroic. I liked the restraint in her character a lot--she was haunted by her actions but she carried that privately. Even her drug use wasn't over-dramatised.

Her assertion is that you are the choices you make--that theme was explored on many levels in Razor and it's not easy to either dismiss or agree totally with her assessment. We're given only small details about Kendra's past life, or that of any of the other Pegasus officers, Cain included. We're invited to judge them purely on their actions post the attacks. Before the attacks, Kendra appears hesitant. She's ridiculed by Cain and we really don't get a sense of how well she will perform her duties. After the attacks we quickly see that she's got excellent observational skills and is quick-acting. She correctly detects the reason for the Pegasus surviving the attacks and ensures their continued survival. Although she makes mistakes (giving the codes to Gina) she also makes up for them by acting swiftly as soon as she realises the threat that Gina poses.

I really loved the scene between her and Lee when he offered her the XO position. I liked her calm honesty. Lee is obviously at least slightly angered by her assessment of him (hee!) but he composes himself and offers her the XO position. It's a sensible tactical decision but the personal connection is still missing. Kendra doesn't let him 'in'--she doesn't let him see who she is in any sense other than her actions, and by cutting herself off emotionally like this (snapping the case shut, etc) she makes herself a very isolated figure who is hard to predict. It's hard to blame her for this: she is, as she says, Cain's legacy. The culture that Cain created made it sensible for Kendra to remain emotionally withdrawn, only letting others see her hard edges. When Adama talks to Lee about 'trust', he comments that they trust each other to do their jobs. That's as far as it goes--surface only.

This comes up when Lee asks her about the attacks on the civilian ship. If it's true that we are defined by our actions then Kendra is defined by something she didn't volunteer personally but was recorded in the log (another running theme of the episode--who gets to control the way events are recorded). If Lee assessed her only on these past actions he wouldn't have trusted her on the mission. She gets another chance, and it's one that leads to redemption for her. She may assert that there are 'no do-overs' but Razor also shows that you can always make different, better decisions the next time around.

It's obvious that Cain was a huge influence on Kendra's life following the attacks. From the moment she slapped her back into consciousness, Kendra seems determined to live up to Cain's demands. She's obviously someone who responds well to being challenged in this way and she appears receptive to Cain's message to hang on to her anger to stop her from being afraid ever again. The problem with Cain's influence is that she teaches them not only not to listen to their fear but also not to listen to their conscience.

Aside on trust
In any discussion about trust around this time, it's impossible for me not to reflect on Lee's speech to Kara when she appealed to him to back her up in assassinating Cain. He said that if they don't have trust they don't have anything. I think this is both true and not true, as the events that unfolded following that proclamation show. Circumstances can interfere, and as soon as Lee crashed the Blackbird, it didn't matter whether they had trust or not: he wouldn't be there for Kara. In the end, it's his actions (or non-actions) that speak for who he is, as Kendra suggests.

On the other side of the argument, we see in Razor a clear contrast between Lee and Kara who have a close relationship that despite all odds sustains unbelievable pressure. Kara's life is at stake several times as a result of decisions Lee makes or supports but the two of them retain an air of having an intimate understanding of one another. She's even able to joke about it when she tells him she's requested to be reassigned. Can you call that trust? It's not trust that they won't put each other's lives at stake if the military situation demands it. It's not trust that they won't fight, argue and hate each other at times. But there's a tie binding them despite all that. But when it comes down to it Lee trusts Kara to complete the mission--but fate decides otherwise.

The message from this seems to be very fatalistic--you can place your faith in trust but it can be torn from you or turned on it's head.

Kendra and Kara: parallels and contrast
I think there's a wealth of interesting material in comparing Kendra and Kara. I was interested to note some parallels between them: both have dominant mothers who are dead/dying, both have past interests outside of the soldier's life (Kendra's a lapsed classics major, Kara's an artist). The parallels in the personality stakes are far more obvious. Both are tough and wilful and demand respect from others. However where Kara is inclined to emotional explosions and mouthing off, Kendra is silent, bordering on sullen.

I thought Lee joking about the two of them not getting along was really cute. That seems obvious--two such forceful personalities would be bound to clash and Kara seems to have viewed her as a rival, or at least someone to impress, right from the start. The fact that Kendra seemed completely unfased probably got under her skin. And as is shown it's not really a problem until a decision is made that the other disagrees with. In this case, it's even worse since it directly endangered Kara.

Of course I also liked that Lee calmly defended Kara when Kendra criticised her chatter on the comm system. He knows that Kara's flying makes her other behaviour worth tolerating and clearly Kendra too comes to respect Kara's skill, choosing her for her mission.

The scene between Kendra and Kara in the kitchen was brilliant. Kara's quick to jump on the similarity of their position. She finds common ground with Kendra so that they'll keep each other's secrets. But she also acts as if she's the dominant one in their relationship. I think there's a subtle air of her making a point of her closeness to Lee--she uses his first name, calling Kendra 'Lee's new XO'. The message is 'I've got Lee's ear and I could get you demoted'. Kendra is unflapped, of course. I liked her retort of calling Kara 'Lee's favourite pilot' (hmm, interesting phrasing--not 'Lee's CAG'). It felt like Kendra was replying 'yeah, I know you're his pet pilot but you don't scare me'.

Also I thought Kara looked adorably pretty in that scene. *shallow*

It was interesting to see Kara respond with such vehemence to Kendra's assassination of the man who got captured by the Centurions. While my sympathies are largely with Kara on this (it hadn't been previously discussed and Kendra was reckless in making this her priority--staying in a vulnerable position and getting shot herself), I thought it was interesting in light of Kara's experience on the Cylon farms. She herself will later ask Anders to kill her rather than let her be taken to the farms again. So she's not totally unsympathetic to Kendra's feelings, surely? It seems like she was more just taking issue with Kendra making that call herself without clear direction from their commander.

I love that Kendra gave Kara her knife. And while I hated Cain and what Cain had done to Kendra, I did find Kendra's final re-enactment of Cain's gunpoint orders very poignant. I also felt it was something Kara herself would do under other circumstances. The 'it's been an honour, captain' made me cry on second viewing. I suppose Kara carrying Cain's knife could be read as her carrying Cain's legacy. I'd prefer to think of it as her carrying Kendra's memory, because in the end Kendra redeemed herself, Cain never did.

Helena Cain
I had mixed feelings about seeing Cain's actions in Razor since in many ways I'd found her very powerful as an ambiguous figure. I liked that we weren't ever completely sure how true all the rumours were about her. To some degree seeing her here demystified her in a way I wasn't initially comfortable with. And wow, she really was a bitch! I have resisted viewing her in a truly negative light for a long time but it was hard to do so after this. Even before the attacks started, she was an rendered an unsympathetic character (to me, at least) by her ritual humiliation of Kendra. She's introduced as a workaholic, an eternally driven woman who when invited to 'get off the treadmill' for a break, just drives herself harder; she's also someone who takes deliberate pleasure in dominating and humiliating others, at least emotionally, as we see with Kendra. These traits shape the decisions she makes after the attacks: she acts without consulting others and with a 'dominate or die' mentality that allows no pity.

While Razor does show that the Pegasus was in a very different position to Galactica, it also shows us that her commander was made of very different material as well and ultimately she set the tone for the culture for the entire ship and made a particularly lasting impression on her officers.

One complaint I have is that we didn't get to really see why Cain's crew admired her so much. The music montage at around the twenty-minute mark didn't cut it for me. Seeing her pat a few shoulders and linger over the dead was obviously an attempt to make her seem more human, as well as to show her as a well-tempered leader. However, I felt that this was greatly outweighed by seeing her act as a tyrant. Personally I needed more if I was to be at all sympathetic to her leadership style. This felt a little tokenistic.

While I'm mentioning the things I didn't like so much, I'll say that I found her crew bizarrely passive in response to the news that the colonies have been destroyed. It's hard for me to imagine that there wouldn't be massive emotional outbursts from at least some of the crew. I know that's difficult to show dramatically, but it just felt a little too easy that they all just listened and bought into Cain's 'don't run and hide' speech. Especially since she was asking them to digest, in a space of 30 seconds, the fact that they had to fight to their deaths.

I thought the speech itself did a lot to explain Cain's position. The choices facing the Pegasus were impossible ones. They were in a completely different situation to the Galactica because they didn't have a civilian fleet or any potential to survive the attacks. When faced with the choice of running and probably being killed anyway or at least waiting to die, or fighting, Cain decided to sell fighting to her crew as a positive alternative--she made it a valiant choice. This far, she held my respect. She lost it when she lied o her officers. She shows herself as a masterful manipulator there--giving her crew a rousing speech, but keeping her officers on side by claiming she won't be reckless, while secretly planning to push for revenge at all costs.

She completely lost it when she murdered an officer who stood in her way and began what was effectively a reign of terror. While Adama may say to Lee that Cain's circumstances were different because she didn't have people like Laura and Lee to remind him of moral and social imperatives, it overlooks the fact that she shot in the head the first person who voiced any such concerns about the weight of human life.

We then see her go on to even greater acts of tyranny. Her revenge on Gina is of the most brutal and extreme nature, going out of her way to emphasise humiliation. This has no tactical purpose--it's pure terrorisation. When they encounter civilian ships, Cain appears to be the only one who doesn't greet it as cause for hope and elation. She sees not the human face, only the possibility of restocking for her own personal war on the Cylons. Her officers follow her orders despite not feeling the same way themselves. No doubt they fear assassination if they voice their true feelings.

The 'Razor' speech itself was very powerful. It's an articulate description of Cain's position and it shows what Kendra bought into. She carried the knife with her as a symbol of that philosophy. While I think it was well expressed, that speech still revolted me, because I'm one of those people who'd rather choose to die at a certain point than live making decisions that result in the deaths of others. While Cain may have been able to live comfortably by those rules, it exacts a toll on Kendra, as I think it would on anyone.

Lee's command
Lee is obviously set up in contrast to Cain. He admits this honestly up front to Kendra and he tells her clearly that he doesn't respect Cain's legacy. Unlike Cain he shares with her the way he hopes to lead the crew. In this way he's more honest with his officers than the crew at large--he wants to send them a message that Cain is respected. Cain, on the other hand, was actually more honest in her speech to the crew at large than to her officers.

The story-telling of Razor depends on drawing comparisons between Lee and Cain and how they respond in different scenarios. Sometimes I found these a little forced, though I can't fault the writers' intentions. The first of these is the search and rescue mission where Kara and Showboat engage with the Cylons. In this instance Kendra takes issue with Lee's defensive position. The situation here would seem to support a more offensive tactic--if they'd launched attack vipers and engaged perhaps they wouldn't have had to fire at close range. However, I don't think that's something Lee could have known in advance and he had adopted a firm line in not pursuing unnecessary engagement. There are pros and cons to both decisions.

We see in flashback that Cain takes the opposite tactical decision--when faced with a clear Cylon trap she considers it 'all the more reason to launch everything we've got'. Where Lee could be criticised for being too cautious, Cain is too impulsive.

Lee cites duty, honour and service as the guiding principles for those serving in the military. In Razor I think he follows these himself, but they exact an incredibly high cost. They demand that he make tough decisions, just as Cain did. Kendra challenges him by saying that Cain 'wouldn't have blinked' about her risky plan. Lee does 'blink', at least metaphorically, but he's not any weaker for doing so: his actions speak loud and clear that he's willing to do whatever it takes to complete the mission successfully, including sacrificing his best friend. Anyone who thinks that was an easy decision for Lee to make is kidding themselves. It's easy to read Lee as 'soft' sometimes because he's a thinker, he deliberates and he doesn't play the hardball dominating games of Cain or Kara or Kendra or Tigh. His source of strength is far more internalised and in this way I think he has something in common with Kendra.

Cain tells Kendra that 'sometimes we have to leave people behind so that we can go on, so that we can fight'. This issue is reflected in Lee's experience in command of the Pegasus when he's faced with the mission to recover their men from the failed Cylon experiment. He has to, as Cain describes, do things that he never thought he was capable of.

I wasn't very happy with seeing Lee deciding to nuke the mission after they lost contact. I can see the tactical reasoning and in some ways I'm proud to see him having the guts to make it. However it was the one part of Razor that felt really forced to me. Ron Moore seems a little too fond of having the Adamas point nukes at people they love, if you ask me! I didn't like it in Eye of Jupiter and I didn't like it here. It felt rushed and unnecessarily melodramatic. Bill is right (I don't often say that!)--it's a last resort but Lee starts preparing for it, just as Bill himself will do in EoJ. Bleugh. I think what I don't like about it in this case is that when you weigh up why it was written this way, it just seems an overblown way of pushing the point the writers are making, comparing Lee and Cain. And I don't think it needed to be pushed that far--the later decision that Lee makes to leave Kara behind to complete the mission is powerful enough, imho. But I guess Ron just wanted to dial up the drama.

And it did make good drama--Adama senior overruling Lee, and Lee asking what he'll do if he's wrong. He would have had to live with it, but he's already been haunted for forty years. He knows he can live with it. Lee doesn't know if he can and he's making hard decision that will haunt him to avoid being haunted by another. As usual he takes the big picture approach and argues with his father that it could be headed for Earth. Bill, however, is determined to hang on, and his decision to do so is validated by them regaining contact with the mission team. It's all a little convenient and Bill gets to play hero again.

Of course my heart bled for Lee in those circumstances. Forced writing or not, I'm glad they showed his strengths as a leader and the way in which his leadership is of a different nature both to Cain's and his father's. They're put in similar positions and they all make hard decisions but the way in which they do so is different. And I would argue that that matters. That it's not just one's actions but the way they're carried out that defines who you are. Cain acts from a position of self-centred emotion--anger driving her to revenge and violence. Lee's point of focus is outside himself--he looks at the big picture, at the survival of the entire race, at overall strategy, and lets that dictate him. In doing so both compromise their humanity. If things had played out how Lee would have had them, he would have lived forever with Kara's death on his conscience, as well as the rest of the crew. It would have been hell personally but he'd have felt he'd still made the 'right' decision. I doubt that would make it that much easier to live with for him though. So I think Razor was effective in showing the way that war, and command positions in particular, force people to dehumanise themesleves and their experiences. Lee goes in with much better intentions than Cain's and I consider the basis for his decision making far more sound. But the end result--the sacrifice of crew members--is the same. Where they differ is in the context of how they handle it and and their consciences.

ETA: It struck me last night that the main reason they wrote in the 'nuking' part was to show the contrast between Bill and Lee. I suspect they wanted to show that as Bill has benefitted from having his son around to balance him, Lee benefits from having his father's experience in a time like this. Unlike Cain, they both allow the other person to challenge them and the end result is good. I like that message but I feel the execution of it was forced.

I didn't have as much issue with Lee asking Kara to complete the mission. That worked for me better than the nuking plot because it felt so much clearer that they really did need someone to stay behind. And she was the best choice on many levels. She was in the best physical shape, but she wasn't the senior officer--Kendra was tactically more important. Also--and here's the tear-your-heart-out part--Kara was the one Lee could most trust to complete it. I loved Jamie's and Katee's performances. Their mirrored facial grimaces conveyed how gutting this was for both of them. But Lee's decision was validated by Kara immediately leaping into action. Damn, that girl's a hero! In choosing her, Lee could be absolutely sure that the bomb would be detonated.

Kara and Lee
I thought Kara's 'no but it will make you feel better' was brilliant. I also thought that it was natural of her to be angry after that experience. Where she crossed a line was in criticising Kendra directly. I thought this was an interesting scene because it showed that although they're close, Lee doesn't always know how to handle Kara. He argues with her directly when I think it would have been more effective to sympathise with her feeling attacked but steer the conversation away from generalising about Kendra's authority. His personal appeal to her, grabbing her shoulders, while it made my shippy heart happy, didn't really do anything to calm her down. It sent a message that she was being unreasonable and that probably pushed her even more into wanting to confront Kendra directly.

It's really interesting to compare her actions here with the way she deals with Lee putting her in the line of fire later on. His actions are far more extreme--he personally assigns her to be the one to stay behind, sacrificing her life to destroy the station. But Kara's response is so much more subdued. Perhaps she flipped out at Lee offscreen, I don't know. But all we see in Razor is her telling him she's requested a transfer. It's obviously upset her and left her uncomfortable with her position as his CAG, but she does him the courtesy of telling him directly and without direct criticism of his decisions.

There was a remarkable intimacy to that scene that was reminiscent of 'Maelstrom' for me. The surface jokiness was at odds with the dark undercurrents. Kara suggests that Kendra thought she had a lot to answer for or 'she had it coming'. Lee replies to only one half of that ('we've all got it coming') but I think he also means 'we've all got a lot to answer for'. I can't believe that Lee said 'you ever think you might deserve it?' Well ok. I can believe it because it's these two and they are just THAT frakked up that they can joke about it. They both know they live a heartbeat away from death daily.

Gina
Gina was one of the best aspects of Razor for me. I always found her character fascinating and I love seeing Tricia get to play outside the role of Six. She's a completely different character here, but she was played to chilling effect. The audience know that she's a Cylon so there were a lot of very creepy moments where we could see what the other characters could not. Lines like 'we're all human' or 'the best defense is a good offense' were particularly spine-tingly. I liked that Kendra made the observation about Gina's name meaning resurrection, and that she clued on to her relationship with Cain. I also appreciated that in some ways the viciousness of the attacks on Gina are explained. The betrayal was a deeply personal one. I don't think excuses it in ANY WAY. Rather, it reveals Cain's character in it's purest, most vicious form. But it does paint a fuller picture of how that came about. *shudders*

Again the theme of trust comes up here--Cain considers it more important than the access codes. It certainly makes her anger at the betrayal far more personal. Trust is dangerous because it can be broken, because it's a risk.

The reveals in Razor obviously make Cain's death at Gina's hand a lot more powerful as well--she created that situation herself and in the end it was not the conflict from outside her own ship that ended her life but the one from within it. Is there a more generalised message in this? Revenge begets revenge, perhaps? But also a message about those closest to us being our greatest threat, that the damage we wreak on a personal emotional level can have consequences just as dangerous to us as that we wreak on a bigger scale. That's interesting ground for speculation leading into Season four, especially with the suggestion that Kara may be a harbinger of destruction.

How Razor fits with the overall narrative
Firstly, and on a positive note, I think it adds greater resonance to Lee's sacrifice of Pegasus to save New Caprica to actually see him during his first period in command.

I also thought that the flashbacks to the first Cylon war were integrated really well. The actor who played Bill was excellent and it was really great payoff to see him integrated into Razor as well as the webisodes. One of the things I appreciated most of all was getting textual explanation of why Bill was able to guess that the Cylons had taken human form in the Pilot. I always thought it was odd that he was able to guess so easily--now it makes perfect sense.

Finally Kara and that scary scary prophecy. Oh, wow. The harbinger of death? The herald of the apocalypse? I know Lee's wanted to call her a few names sometimes, but nothing that bad! ;) It freaked me the hell out and I'm still digesting it. The first things that spring to mind are that this is probably the lead-in to a Season 4 exploration of whether she's a force for good or evil--is she Aurora bringing the dawn, or is she bringing death to all? The theory that the Final Four are the four horsemen of the apocalypse also has more resonance now. On the other hand, can a Cylon 'God' be trusted?

If Kara IS a threat, then Kendra nearly saved her crew (and humanity) a second time by revealing a traitor in their midst. That would fit with the themes of Razor very neatly but a) it's too horrible to contemplate easily and b) it seems too easy, maybe? too obvious? I'm sure there will be more twists ahead in this plot than a simple 'Kara bad!' for the whole of Season 4. I've got pit-of-my-stomach fear about it any way. If Kara is a threat, Lee will go down with her, despite the fact that he nearly sacrificed her here. That kind of painful irony is what BSG has been built on so far. I just hope there's a light at the end of this tunnel...

'You are stuck with me to the end' was beautiful, so beautiful, but in light of the revelations about Kara it also had a chilly undertone.

Kara Thrace, if you must have a special destiny, please let it be a good one, because my Lee is bound to you and I trust you to lead him home.

Trust is dangerous.
 
 
Current Location: sofa of comfiness
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
 
 
 
The First Evil: Apollo - Smile - gforginaasta77 on November 1st, 2007 02:35 pm (UTC)
I can't read yet, but I'm printing it out to remind me to read and reply later. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
Yay! I am desperate to read your thoughts. I'm quite haunted by this one--so much to think about.
brokenmnemonic: Leebrokenmnemonic on November 1st, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this - it looks like I may be seeing Razor sooner than I intended, and now I can go in forewarned. I see what you mean by melodrama; RDM does seem to like to rush towards artificially generated shock moments, rather than letting things grow organically.

It sounds as if there's going to be plenty for the Lee-haters to seize on and vilify him over. I can also see a whole round of shredding again from the "Lee doesn't love or deserve Kara and her awesomeness" faction - all those who've never understood the idea that missions/duty could possibly come ahead of Kara if Lee really loved her, and will most likely cite Kara asking for a transfer before then later rushing off to get Anders as vindication of this.

It's going to be a long couple of years in fandom.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee dreamybop_radar on November 1st, 2007 06:44 pm (UTC)
If you'll feel more comfortable being forewarned then I am really glad I could help. D

plenty for the Lee-haters to seize on
There is but when is there not? And it was a great performance from Jamie. I am looking forward to the extended version just so I can see more of it--I also hope it turns out the 'rushed' feeling is because there was more to the whole comms-failure thing than 30 seconds of no contact. ;)

- all those who've never understood the idea that missions/duty could possibly come ahead of Kara if Lee really loved her
Right. Whereas I actually found this explored an incredibly deep bond between them. It's a very very dark reading but it seems like they trust each other to death. When Lee asked Kara to complete the mission she, well ok she DID flinch but you could see that there was never a second of not going to do it--it was a 'oh gods, he's really ordering this' flinch.

On a selfish note I'm glad you're going to watch it. *hugs* It's very powerful. Not flawless but fascinating nonetheless.

Oh and it's totally induced my insomnia again. ;)
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on November 2nd, 2007 11:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 1st, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
canadiangirl_86 on November 1st, 2007 05:05 pm (UTC)
Whoa, excellent review/discussion. You've touched on a lot of the same things I did but yours has a lot more depth than mine! I think you've really helped add even more to the ep for me, so thank you! I don't have time to comment extensively on this now but I will tonight!

Overall, though, I'm with you on the fact that it definitely helps me understand Lee more than I ever had before. Which is nice.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 12:40 am (UTC)
Thanks Jo! I'm off to read your thoughts now. *excited* I'm really glad to hear it helped you understand Lee more.
Becky: origami thing of zen like wondersadface on November 1st, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
Was it worth watching? I have become curious. :|
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee smilebop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 12:30 am (UTC)
You are funny! Yes, it was. But it was REALLY dark and has freaked me out.
latteaddict: Meanie [Torn]latteaddict on November 1st, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
I can't believe that Lee said 'you ever think you might deserve it?'

shall we add that to Lee's wanting to hold open the airlock for her?

Lee's such a charmer.

My take on Lee ordering Kara to stay behind is completely opposite to yours. To me the most logical person was Mathias. Lee knew Mathias from Galactica and she's a trustworthy officer. Kendra was XO, but Kara is the CAG and the best Viper pilot and one of the last legitimate flight instructors. Kara's value was much higher in pure military terms that Mathias. So personal feelings aside, Lee's choice of using Kara was completely wrong in my opinion. I have written why I think he chose Kara in my write-up which I'll be posting later.

I haven't given the Cain, Kendra arcs that much thought because I didn't really find their stories very compelling. It was just a rehash of what we already knew about Pegasus. The only new thing was that Cain was a Lesbian. Nothing to stop the presses for.

Pilots on the other hand have freaked me out.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee polite facebop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 12:36 am (UTC)
Sigh.

I was freaked out by Razor but for different reasons to you. I'll respond to your post as well but I'll say one thing here:

Lee knew Mathias from Galactica and she's a trustworthy officer.
There's a big difference between knowing someone's a good officer and knowing they would lay down their life if you asked them to. Lee had to be absolutely certain the person he chose would do that--the ONLY person he trusts that much is Kara. And I think he's right. It takes someone with an extreme degree of willpower and also a fatalistic streak, someone who is willing to accept this is the end of the line for them. I think the fact that Kara was going to do it makes Kara exceptional. Mathias may be trustworthy in all normal circumstances but we have no evidence that she's exceptional.

I see it as a very dark sign of how much Lee trusted and loved Kara that he chose her. It was only his closeness to her that allowed him to know she would do it.
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 2nd, 2007 05:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 06:59 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on November 2nd, 2007 11:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - asta77 on November 2nd, 2007 01:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on November 4th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 4th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on November 7th, 2007 09:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 7th, 2007 10:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on November 7th, 2007 09:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 7th, 2007 10:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - asta77 on November 5th, 2007 04:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - brokenmnemonic on November 7th, 2007 09:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 5th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 5th, 2007 05:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 06:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 5th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
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canadiangirl_86 on November 2nd, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
Her assertion is that you are the choices you make--that theme was explored on many levels in Razor and it's not easy to either dismiss or agree totally with her assessment.

Sigh. I have a feeling Lee would strongly agree with Kendra on this one, unfortunately for him. But maybe by Crossroads he finally felt like it was something he could change for himself, if he wanted to. He could choose to be the person he wants to be.

Anyone who thinks that was an easy decision for Lee to make is kidding themselves.

Completely agree. I think this may be one of the points that will get Lee attacked once everyone has seen Razor. He keeps his emotions so close to the chest that, unless you really get the character, you won't see the turmoil he's in.

I wasn't very happy with seeing Lee deciding to nuke the mission after they lost contact. I can see the tactical reasoning and in some ways I'm proud to see him having the guts to make it. However it was the one part of Razor that felt really forced to me.

Yeah, I haven't decided yet what my take on this whole thing is. I suppose I can see both sides, but I'm trying to take into account the fact that torture and horrific experimentation by the cylons was a distinct possibility had the rescue team been captured. So it wasn't just about destroying this thing for the sake of Earth but also for the team itself. For Kara.

You're probably right though that his later order for Kara most likely would have been dramatic enough to last us for a while. Heh.

Also--and here's the tear-your-heart-out part--Kara was the one Lee could most trust to complete it.

I really like the emphasis you've placed on trust in this instance, because I don't think that it entered my mind as much as it should have. It's so beautifully tragic that his absolute trust in her could also be the cause of such irreparable harm. Even more so because she didn't have to go through with it.

It sent a message that she was being unreasonable and that probably pushed her even more into wanting to confront Kendra directly.

Really nice read on the scene. He should know better than to get Lee-ish (TM me) on her ass while she's that emotionally volatile. You're supposed to BACK AWAY, MAN!

His actions are far more extreme--he personally assigns her to be the one to stay behind, sacrificing her life to destroy the station. But Kara's response is so much more subdued.

An obvious testament to how much she trusts and respects Lee, and how much she appreciates the fact that it's not an easy decision for him to make. Unfortunately for Kendra, she didn't earn Kara's respect in time to receive the same benefit of the doubt.

There was a remarkable intimacy to that scene that was reminiscent of 'Maelstrom' for me. The surface jokiness was at odds with the dark undercurrents.

Ah, see I compared it to Captain's Hand but Maelstrom is a much better comparison. I can handle the joking because I know that they both get each other on such a fundamental level that they don't always need to say what they're really thinking/feeling. That's not to say that it wouldn't be healthy once in a while to actually be serious. *G*

If Kara is a threat, Lee will go down with her, despite the fact that he nearly sacrificed her here.

Oh! I really hope part of the purpose of the K/L story in Razor was to build up to this possibility, because I love it. I think Lee's given her up one too many times over the years and he's frakkin' done, greater good or not! He's proven himself to the Greater Good, now he needs to prove himself to Kara.

Kara Thrace, if you must have a special destiny, please let it be a good one, because my Lee is bound to you and I trust you to lead him home.

*tear* That was beautiful!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee boxing hugbop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 02:34 am (UTC)
maybe by Crossroads he finally felt like it was something he could change for himself, if he wanted to. He could choose to be the person he wants to be.
Maybe... I'm pretty depressed for Lee right now, still digesting the fact that he's been carrying this added burden all this time. We know from Crossroads that he holds all these things on his conscience so tightly--his speech on the witness stand is testimony to that.

He keeps his emotions so close to the chest that, unless you really get the character, you won't see the turmoil he's in.
Yes, it was played very tightly but it was there. Jamie's performance was excellent, I felt. But it's going to be really easy for people NOT to see that. I do hope the extended version shows us more of his struggle--because I think that will be necessary for many fans.

it wasn't just about destroying this thing for the sake of Earth but also for the team itself. For Kara.
Definitely! And it's also one that she would agree with--because we know she asks Anders to kill her rather than get taken to the farms. I think it's also likely she'd have shot herself rather than be taken by them. That's why I was a little surprised to see her calling Kendra out on her actions.

It's so beautifully tragic that his absolute trust in her could also be the cause of such irreparable harm.
It's ALL about trust for me. The entire Razor episode was about trust. The theme comes up again and again: Gina and Cain, Cain and Kendra, Lee and Kara, Bill and Lee, Kendra and Kara... it's in all of those plots. And it's the darkest exploration of trust I think I've ever seen.

He should know better than to get Lee-ish (TM me) on her ass while she's that emotionally volatile. You're supposed to BACK AWAY, MAN!
Haha, yes! ;)

An obvious testament to how much she trusts and respects Lee, and how much she appreciates the fact that it's not an easy decision for him to make.
That's the only possible reading that I can see and it really gutted me because it's really shown me how much Kara loves and respects him. *weeps* It's incredible that I'm saying that after THIS episode, I think. But truly, I can't think of anything that would show me that quite so much as her willingness to lay down her life if he asked. It's ironic perhaps that the episode that brings me closest to agreeing with Kara fans about Kara is also likely to drive a splinter through fandom in regards to Lee.

I know that they both get each other on such a fundamental level that they don't always need to say what they're really thinking/feeling. That's not to say that it wouldn't be healthy once in a while to actually be serious. *G*
Oh, totally. I'd like to see an equivalent conversation between them as the one in, um, can't remember the episode but where Lee confronts her about her shooting him. I think his subconscious anger about that is a parallel to Kara's subconscious emotions here. They both know they're not logical or rational feelings because the other one wasn't really 'to blame' (well Lee was far more culpable than Kara but she clearly supports his decision) but they have them anyway.

He's proven himself to the Greater Good, now he needs to prove himself to Kara.
*cries actual tears* I couldn't agree more. After Razor I pretty much don't give a shit if Lee fucks off the entire rest of the fleet as long as he stays with Kara and believes in her to the end.

I am torn up by Razor because I'm in two minds about what it means for season four and for Lee/Kara in particular. I think it was anvilly about how tightly the two of them are bound so it gave me a lot of hope that they were going to play that card big. But it was also SO DARK that I worry. And of course it was also Ron giving us more angst for them. Waah! If he tears them apart in Season 4 I'll be ragey. I am trying to remind myself that chronologically Razor falls in the period when Lee and Kara were arcing as far away from each other as they possibly could. Season three brought them back together and if Ron follows classic storytelling, season four will see them overcoming all obstacles together. But I also think he's going to pull out the massive tragedy card, so I'm scared.
The First Evil: Lee B&W - 427_fandomasta77 on November 2nd, 2007 03:38 am (UTC)
I have issues with the scene in which Lee orders the ship nuked and then Kara to stay behind, but the issues are with Adama and not Lee. I think you and others make excellent points as to why Lee chose Kara to stay behind and it was obviously a damn difficult decision, but one he had to make. You know I am NOT a Lee/Kara shipper, but it has always been obvious he does love her. He's also the Commander of the Pegasus and, as such, has to put the well being of the ENTIRE crew before one team or one person no matter who they are. I've already seen around LJ comments about Lee, once again, trying to get Kara killed. Sorry, but didn't she shoot him? And don't get me started on her flying hung over. Or putting Anders ahead of the fleet. These are both flawed people who have made bad choices or choices they felt were right, but turned out bad. Unlike Cain, their heart was always in the right place.

Speaking of Cain, the one thing that really struck me and will be a focal point of my analytical post is that in her quest for survival so they could regain the "luxury" of being human again, she all but destroyed their humanity. One of the most startling scenes for me was seeing Fisk's reaction to news of a fleet of civilian ships - that there were other human beings out there. The expression on his face was that of joy and, in that moment, he had hope again. Less than a minute later, Cain destroyed that hope. Add that to that the massacre he had to be part of, she destroyed him. I think he gave up on humanity then so that when the black market came calling, he willingly threw his hat in with them. What did he have left to fight for?

Oh, and I think I hate Helena more now than I did before. I didn't think that was possible! I do feel Ron and Co. actually had some success early in the film at humanizing her. But once she so quickly and emotionlessly put a bullet in the head of her XO and friend she went back to being the queen bitch of the colonial fleet to me.

There were many instances of people being shown to be defined by their actions. One thing I found very interesting (and telling) is that being put into a command position, having to make the life and death choices, Lee's mind kept wandering back to the Olympic Carrier incident. What else could he have been referring to when he asks Kendra if she thinks she's the only one to have to make a tough call? Over a thousand people lost their lives because of him and he's facing that kind of responsibility again. I do think he believes, deep down, he made the right decision with the Olympic Carrier. He put the fleet first then and is doing it again (and will do yet again in Season 3) when he's willing to sacrifice Kara and the others.

I'll say that I found her crew bizarrely passive in response to the news that the colonies have been destroyed.

I found that odd too. Now a single person reacted to the news that, gee, their home and family was just wiped out. Adama made it clear to his crew that they had duties to perform and that they would grieve later, but we still saw signs that when they had time to grieve it was going to be devastating for them.

I love how Gina had the gun pointed at Cain and hesitated because she *did* care and how she wouldn't make that same mistake twice.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee concentratingbop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 04:14 am (UTC)
. Sorry, but didn't she shoot him? And don't get me started on her flying hung over. Or putting Anders ahead of the fleet. These are both flawed people who have made bad choices or choices they felt were right, but turned out bad. Unlike Cain, their heart was always in the right place.
I completely agree. And his position as Commander of Pegasus demanded that he made that decision. Whereas the flaws you cite in Kara come more from accident or from recklessness or even wilful selfishness in the case of putting Anders ahead of the fleet. She's human though and as you say it puts her on a par with Lee--not all their decisions are good ones but they both have their hearts in the right place. There's miles of distance between them and Cain for all that Razor tried to show us the similarities.

n her quest for survival so they could regain the "luxury" of being human again, she all but destroyed their humanity
She did. I didn't buy that line at all. She wasn't 'human' to begin with and she wasn't ever going to be afterwards if she'd survived, imho. She always had that viciousness inside her and it shaped her after the attacks.

I think he gave up on humanity then so that when the black market came calling, he willingly threw his hat in with them. What did he have left to fight for?
Great reading on his character and I'd completely agree. That's what made me think of Cain as a dictator, a terrorist. She terrorised Fisk and he lost his humanity. The process was a bit different with Kendra because she held more in reserve while buying into Cain more actively.

having to make the life and death choices, Lee's mind kept wandering back to the Olympic Carrier incident. What else could he have been referring to when he asks Kendra if she thinks she's the only one to have to make a tough call?
You're right. I hadn't thought of it as that specific but at this point in the timeline, it must have been that. I guess that gave him strength in a way, and also defined him early on.

I love how Gina had the gun pointed at Cain and hesitated because she *did* care and how she wouldn't make that same mistake twice.
Great point--I didn't discuss that, but it was a wonderfully powerful exploration of the way we DO sometimes get 'do-overs' and we don't make the same decisions twice.

Thank you so much for reading--it's great to hear your thoughts.

Beckysadface on November 2nd, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
Boppppy, ingridmatthews is looking for people to talk about BSG with because she can't find any (http://ingrid-m.livejournal.com/608936.html?style=mine) but your posts are locked :( could you maybe friend her? UM. I DID NOT TELL HER I WAS SAYING ANYTHING SO YOU CAN JUST DELETE ME AND NO-ONE WILL EVER KNOW, OKAY? :D
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Buffy Willow friends hugbop_radar on November 3rd, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
I too am looking for people to talk to about it! You really want me to delete you? You are so thoughtful!
brokenmnemonic: Leebrokenmnemonic on November 3rd, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
I think Razor worked really well as a standalone piece--Kendra's story was a powerful one and her narrative provided the structure.
Given that BSG is quite an insular show by the very nature of the situation everyone is in, Kendra gave us a valuable chance to see how things look from an outside perspective that we haven't had in a long time.

I liked the restraint in her character a lot--she was haunted by her actions but she carried that privately. Even her drug use wasn't over-dramatised.
That was one thing I liked about her - and I think one reason she reminded me of Lee in some ways. After all the melodrama of S3, to have a character who's restrained even as she's dealing with trauma was very refreshing.

We're invited to judge them purely on their actions post the attacks.
That may change slightly in the DVD release - as I mentioned, there's at least one flashback to Helena Cain as a child during the first Cylon war.

Although she makes mistakes (giving the codes to Gina) she also makes up for them by acting swiftly as soon as she realises the threat that Gina poses.
I think the mistakes that Kendra made are the same ones that many other people probably also made during the attacks - the Cylons seem to be superb at manipulating others, and putting themselves in positions of influence on some level.

There's a parallel between Lee and Kendra here, of course - both have been on the ships they're going to spend the rest of their lives on for next to no time at the start of the attacks. Both of them know very few people aboard, and both are thrust into positions of responsibility they've never had to deal with before under the most difficult of circumstances.

It's hard to blame her for this: she is, as she says, Cain's legacy. The culture that Cain created made it sensible for Kendra to remain emotionally withdrawn, only letting others see her hard edges.
I loved this scene - particularly as the first thought that struck me on seeing it was of another parallel between her and Lee - they both only let others see what they're willing to let them see.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee concentratingbop_radar on November 4th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
After all the melodrama of S3, to have a character who's restrained even as she's dealing with trauma was very refreshing.
It really was. I was surprised by that direction choice, and the casting choice. An Asian Australian (or Kiwi?)! COOL!

That may change slightly in the DVD release - as I mentioned, there's at least one flashback to Helena Cain as a child during the first Cylon war.
I'll be really interested to see the DVD release. Watching this I thought they'd chosen firmly to focus on only who they were after the attacks. I am really looking forward to the DVD even if it ends up being less powerful overall. I want more detail! It was that gripping and engaging, I want whatever else they'll give us.

the Cylons seem to be superb at manipulating others, and putting themselves in positions of influence on some level.
Oh absolutely. I actually found the scene where Cain had them all to dinner and the sense of them being a cosy tight group at that time quite effective (despite the speedy montage way of showing it). Unlike Bill, they didn't know the Cylons could look like humans, she'd known Gina was really gracious and helpful AND she knew she was Cain's lover as well as in Cain's inner circle--trusting her because of that (rather than getting narky about it) would seem like an act that would just draw them tighter together as a working cooperative.

both have been on the ships they're going to spend the rest of their lives on for next to no time at the start of the attacks. Both of them know very few people aboard, and both are thrust into positions of responsibility they've never had to deal with before under the most difficult of circumstances.
True! There's brilliant material there and I'm still digesting all of it. I liked how closed off Kendra was because in many ways I think that's how Lee looks to others. We don't often see him from that outsider perspective because the show lets us into his world so often. And also because he's in a family dynamic on the ship. If he hadn't had that, and if he'd had a commander who was less willing to listen to reason (at least sometimes) then I think he could have hunkered down within himself as much as Kendra did.

they both only let others see what they're willing to let them see.
Exactly! Kendra has a more consistent steely exterior though; Lee is more capable of mediating his public persona. He has a quieter leadership style most of the time but he's determined and stubborn under pressure as well. Perhaps his familial relationship with his commander allowed that to some extent--he shows his emotions with Adama and Kara even in front of others, but that's partly because they're family.
brokenmnemonic: Leebrokenmnemonic on November 3rd, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
When Adama talks to Lee about 'trust', he comments that they trust each other to do their jobs. That's as far as it goes--surface only.
Absolutely - I wonder if Adama realised just how many levels that's true on.

She gets another chance, and it's one that leads to redemption for her. She may assert that there are 'no do-overs' but Razor also shows that you can always make different, better decisions the next time around.
I do wonder at the message that RDM is sending here, and how it'll play into Season 4 - the characters he writes who redeem themselves invariably seem to end up dying as a result. At the same time, it does show that those given a chance to redeem themselves can sometimes do so - adding a layer to characters like Baltar, who consistently fail to take those chances.

The problem with Cain's influence is that she teaches them not only not to listen to their fear but also not to listen to their conscience.
Cain teaches them to become the enemy, in effect - to fight with the same lack of compassion, mercy or emotion as they do.

I think this is both true and not true, as the events that unfolded following that proclamation show. Circumstances can interfere, and as soon as Lee crashed the Blackbird, it didn't matter whether they had trust or not: he wouldn't be there for Kara. In the end, it's his actions (or non-actions) that speak for who he is, as Kendra suggests.
I think this actually neatly encapsulates one of the problems that Lee is going to always struggle with - and perhaps one of the things that highlights why he has so much trouble with the moral problems he encounters throughout canon. He really believes in that idea, that they either have trust or they don't - and the events that render that moot are the joker that he can't plan for or predict, but which he has to take responsibility for anyway.

It's not trust that they won't put each other's lives at stake if the military situation demands it. It's not trust that they won't fight, argue and hate each other at times. But there's a tie binding them despite all that. But when it comes down to it Lee trusts Kara to complete the mission--but fate decides otherwise.
One thing that does strike me is that Kara never questions Lee's order - and even Adama doesn't try to countermand him, instead urging him to wait. It would seem that Kara trusts Lee enough to know that he wouldn't give an order like that unless it was necessary - although I do wonder how the fandom's going to see it. There's a lot of mileage in debating why Kara looked so taken aback - I think it was that she'd never realised until that point just what it meant for Lee to be the Commander, or that he'd be willing to go that far. Perhaps she hadn't realised how bad the situation was, although I can't see Lee or Adama holding back information on a mission like this. I certainly don't think Kara ever thought she'd hear Lee say something like that to her.

The message from this seems to be very fatalistic--you can place your faith in trust but it can be torn from you or turned on it's head.
It's also something of a lesson in futility, which is very Ron.

The parallels in the personality stakes are far more obvious. Both are tough and wilful and demand respect from others. However where Kara is inclined to emotional explosions and mouthing off, Kendra is silent, bordering on sullen.
Another thing that made me want to see Kara and Kendra in scenes together - because with the silent, tightly controlled feel, Kendra reminded me of how Lee sometimes deals with things, and I wanted to see how Kara reacted to that - perhaps out of a masochistic desire to see if she does treat Lee differently to others.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on November 4th, 2007 05:48 am (UTC)
the characters he writes who redeem themselves invariably seem to end up dying as a result
That bodes badly for Lee, who I can see definitely feeling that death was the only redemption available to him at a certain point.

t does show that those given a chance to redeem themselves can sometimes do so - adding a layer to characters like Baltar, who consistently fail to take those chances.
Yes, and Razor shows us a number of different options of people getting 'do-overs' or rather new situations in which to make better decisions--Cain (who doesn't change), Kendra (who does), Kara (who does--in the sense that she opts away from the chain of command on Pegasus), Lee (implied--since he seems to really take what's happened to heart) and the Pegasus crew themselves who have had so many new starts with commanders. You can't change the past but you can always make a fresh start tomorrow.

He really believes in that idea, that they either have trust or they don't - and the events that render that moot are the joker that he can't plan for or predict, but which he has to take responsibility for anyway.
Yes, I agree that that's the wildcard for Lee and it's the heart of one of his deepest personal crises--one which comes up again and again. We saw it again in Maelstrom when he put ALL his faith in trust and Kara died anyway. I'm not sure how he gets over or past that or if he ever will, or even if I want him to. Because the fact that he really believes that is one of the things that I love most about him, even if it's also a heartbreaker.

even Adama doesn't try to countermand him, instead urging him to wait
And Adama doesn't bring it up later either--I think he knew it was the right decision too but he just wanted to play for time as long as possible, which is I guess often the voice of the person at the commander's side (even if it's their superior).

There's a lot of mileage in debating why Kara looked so taken aback - I think it was that she'd never realised until that point just what it meant for Lee to be the Commander, or that he'd be willing to go that far.
My read's different on that. Because she didn't hesitate even though she looked sickened and shocked. She absorbed it so fast I interpreted her as suspecting that it might come to that and the only shock she had was the 'wow, Lee really IS going to ask this of me' and the shock of hearing those direction in his voice, and also the shock of realising she only has minutes left to live. That's SO much to take in so fast, I sort of didn't think she had any other layers of shock about it. So my read is more that Kara had always intellectually know this was a possibility but wasn't prepared for the emotional whammy, if that makes sense. That's very Kara to me: going into a situation telling herself she can handle whatever it deals out and indeed handling it, but also copping a massive emotional blow that she tries to swallow whole.

It's also something of a lesson in futility, which is very Ron.
Ha! Yes. I fear that BSG is a study in futility sometimes. I guess that's why I don't want Lee to 'get over' his faith in trust. And why I loved Crossroads so much because it was Lee saying 'yes, it IS all futile and everything really is THAT BLEAK, but dammit I'm going to hang on to my humanity anyway'. And by that stage he had every reason to have abandonned the whole trust idea, but somehow I don't think he will have.

Kendra reminded me of how Lee sometimes deals with things, and I wanted to see how Kara reacted to that - perhaps out of a masochistic desire to see if she does treat Lee differently to others.
That would be interesting, yes. I have a hunch that Kara would have an issue with that behaviour in anyone. It's not a type of behaviour she really knows what to do with. Kat, for instance, 'spoke her language', but it wasn't until Kendra volunteered to stay behind in that stoic way that I felt that Kara really saw who Kendra was. And then only briefly. I also think it's only part of the story with Kara's behaviour towards Lee though because it's not just that quietness that Kara doesn't know what to do with--she doesn't know what to do when Lee has his rare emotionally effusive moments either.
the plucky young girl who helps the Doctor: lee - all seriousalissabobissa on November 4th, 2007 02:46 am (UTC)
part one
Okay, so I'm leaving this comment having read some negative thoughts and reviews of Razor, and, lazily of me, not really reading many of the comments posted here already. It's honestly a bit much and my brain already hurts. :)

Oh, and I'm trying to be a good ljer and leave weighty feedback to others who are posting about Razor without actually having to post a giant review/meta on my own journal, so I'm sorry if that is a wee bit selfish or if I get a little rambly here, but I think my own post would be mostly redundant.

Mmkay, justification complete, I'll move on to the actual discussion of Razor.

Her assertion is that you are the choices you make--that theme was explored on many levels in Razor and it's not easy to either dismiss or agree totally with her assessment.
I'm coming at this thing completely from Lee's POV and in his corner, so I would say that Lee, being the incredibly guilt-ridden man that he is, would completely agree but also be idealistic enough to hope that people see him as more than just those actions and choices he has to live with everyday.

I went into this expecting to really dislike Kendra for some reason, but I found her character interesting and compelling with the decisions she faced and how she ultimately became what Cain asked her to be along with the cost.

The message from this seems to be very fatalistic--you can place your faith in trust but it can be torn from you or turned on it's head.
Yes. That's exactly what I got from the episode as a discussion on trust.

Also I thought Kara looked adorably pretty in that scene. *shallow*
Yep, guilty here too. :D

I thought it was interesting in light of Kara's experience on the Cylon farms. She herself will later ask Anders to kill her rather than let her be taken to the farms again.
That stuck out to me too. If they had actually lost communication with Pegasus I think Kara wouldn't have hesitated in setting off the nuke with everyone on board rather than allowing them to be captured in that manner.

I had mixed feelings about seeing Cain's actions in Razor since in many ways I'd found her very powerful as an ambiguous figure.
Yes, definitely. But seeing how much of a revenge-seeking bitch she really was actually pretty frightening. Her treatment of Gina once she's revealed as a traitor is shockingly human and inhumane at the same time.

his actions speak loud and clear that he's willing to do whatever it takes to complete the mission successfully, including sacrificing his best friend. Anyone who thinks that was an easy decision for Lee to make is kidding themselves.
Guh, Lee broke my heart so much in this. I don't fault him for choosing Kara to stay behind -- it makes sense to me and is all the more heart breaking for it.

I love viewing Lee's call to have Kara stay behind as a scary trust issue. I agree 100% that she was the person Lee had to choose professionally, personally, and for his ultimate imperative: the survival of humanity.

If things had played out how Lee would have had them, he would have lived forever with Kara's death on his conscience, as well as the rest of the crew. It would have been hell personally but he'd have felt he'd still made the 'right' decision.
I stand firm on the fact that Lee is very guilt driven by constantly doing the 'right' thing over what would win out for him personally. He can always mentally console himself that the decision he made was right, but emotionally he is haunted by every single 'right' decision that costs lives.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee's farewellbop_radar on November 4th, 2007 05:53 am (UTC)
Re: part one
It's honestly a bit much and my brain already hurts. :)
I understand! I found the 48 hours following Razor were a slow process of digesting and mulling over everything and it definitely made my head hurt and my stomach ache too.

I feel honoured to have you exploring your thoughts on Pegasus in such detail here so no justifications necessary!

I love viewing Lee's call to have Kara stay behind as a scary trust issue. I agree 100% that she was the person Lee had to choose professionally, personally, and for his ultimate imperative: the survival of humanity.
Yes. I'm glad the trust reading worked for you too. It's very VERY dark but then when is BSG not dark? Lee had to choose her, definitely. It's just heartbreaking to watch that's all. And I think the quietness of the scene between Lee and Kara at the end demonstrates that they both know that too.

He can always mentally console himself that the decision he made was right, but emotionally he is haunted by every single 'right' decision that costs lives.
Yes, and we know that from Crossroads. Just because he always has an intellectual justification doesn't make it easier to bear.
the plucky young girl who helps the Doctor: lee - adama viperalissabobissa on November 4th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
part two
So, some more:

There was a remarkable intimacy to that scene that was reminiscent of 'Maelstrom' for me. The surface jokiness was at odds with the dark undercurrents.
Oh yeah, that scene gave me chills with the creepiness. Yes they deal with death every day, but the way they joked about it had some real depth that obviously affected both of them greatly. A wonderful way to end a dark BSG chapter.

Gina was one of the best aspects of Razor for me.
Hands down the most intriguing part for me. It put her part of the Pegasus arch from season two in perspective for me, a part of that particular story arch that didn't interest me all that much upon my first viewing but has since fascinated me.
The reveals in Razor obviously make Cain's death at Gina's hand a lot more powerful as well--she created that situation herself and in the end it was not the conflict from outside her own ship that ended her life but the one from within it.
So so interesting. I had to go back and watch that part in season two again.

'You are stuck with me to the end' was beautiful, so beautiful, but in light of the revelations about Kara it also had a chilly undertone.
Uh huh, exactly how I felt. Gods, my poor Lee.

LOVE the review. It's always edifying to read your thoughts. :)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee Apollobop_radar on November 4th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)
Re: part two
the way they joked about it had some real depth that obviously affected both of them greatly. A wonderful way to end a dark BSG chapter.
I think I found it both joyful and AGONY because on the one hand I could see how they couldn't talk about this any other way, but part of me still wished they COULD. Probably because I was still in shock from what had happened and was wishing some way for it never to have happened--and that's really effective storytelling because it's probably where the characters were emotionally at that point as well.

a part of that particular story arch that didn't interest me all that much upon my first viewing but has since fascinated me.
I always really liked Gina. She's one of the most interesting Cylons to me and I find her more accessible than the other Sixes. I was delighted to see more of her here and get to see how it all came to pass.

Uh huh, exactly how I felt. Gods, my poor Lee.
I know! As if we didn't have enough to deal with by then. I nearly pressed fast foward on that scene--I just didn't want to know, you know?! It sickened me that they'd even suggest that on the show. I need Kara to be Lee's beacon and I find I don't want it even SUGGESTED that she's anything but the light-bringer, you know?! *is weak*

Thank you for your wonderful comments!
Re: part two - alissabobissa on November 5th, 2007 03:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: part two - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 03:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
brokenmnemonic: Fiercebrokenmnemonic on November 4th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
Kara seems to have viewed her as a rival, or at least someone to impress, right from the start.
That has me wondering about how Kara reacts to those she views as strong individuals; Adama, she supports unthinkingly. Cain seems to receive some sort of measure of respect - she gets under Kara's skin. Stinger, she openly challenges. It's almost as if she can't ignore or just tolerate them - she always has to react somehow.

He knows that Kara's flying makes her other behaviour worth tolerating and clearly Kendra too comes to respect Kara's skill, choosing her for her mission.
This is also good on the storytelling POV of course - it feeds into the impression Kendra has of Kara receiving special treatment because she's Lee's favourite pilot.

Kendra is unflapped, of course. I liked her retort of calling Kara 'Lee's favourite pilot' (hmm, interesting phrasing--not 'Lee's CAG'). It felt like Kendra was replying 'yeah, I know you're his pet pilot but you don't scare me'.
It's the perfect comment to nettle Kara with, of course - because not only is it an insinuation about her and Lee, it's also a subtle swipe against her authority as CAG. I can't think of anything better for tagging Kara so succinctly.

Also I thought Kara looked adorably pretty in that scene. *shallow*
Seconded. I wonder what hte odds are on someone writing a nice bit of fic about how she'd just come from Lee's quarters?

So she's not totally unsympathetic to Kendra's feelings, surely? It seems like she was more just taking issue with Kendra making that call herself without clear direction from their commander.
I like the idea that on some levels, this was a deliberate parallel to the problems Lee and Kara were having/going to have. Kendra and Kara were working well together until Kendra did something Kara took issue with - but as Kendra was in charge of the op, technically Kara shouldn't have objected. It's the same with Lee - technically, he's the Commander and should be the single point of authority, but his connection to Kara weakens that.

I could be imagining things, of course - but it did feel to me like the scene was trying to make a point. Was Kendra shot because she took the shot at the captured marine, or was she shot because Kara distracted her by objecting at a critical second? If it was an intentional message on the importance of the chain of command the risks inherent in having a situation that compromises it, it adds more weight to Kara's decision to go back to the Galactica - before Lee blinks at the wrong second, and ends up dead like Kendra.

The 'it's been an honour, captain' made me cry on second viewing.
Words we've heard echoed by other characters during moments either close to death or in anticipation...

I suppose Kara carrying Cain's knife could be read as her carrying Cain's legacy. I'd prefer to think of it as her carrying Kendra's memory, because in the end Kendra redeemed herself, Cain never did.
I prefer to think of it as a combination of carrying Kendra's memory, and carrying the weight of Kendra's final actions/message - Kendra had been forged into a Razor by Cain, shaped as far as Cain could shape her - but in the end, she finished things on her own terms, doing something that made a difference.

To some degree seeing her here demystified her in a way I wasn't initially comfortable with.
It was a shame that they stripped away some of the supposition and speculation, making Cain seem much simpler and more obvious - but at the same time, I think a lot of people will be surprised to discover that yes, Cain really was that bad.

On a cynical note... I do have to wonder if the femslashers will still be writing Kara/Cain fic after Razor...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on November 5th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
LJ ate my first reply so sorry if I'm a bit incoherent.

It's almost as if she can't ignore or just tolerate them - she always has to react somehow.
Yes, definitely. I think she senses when someone has an alpha personality like hers and she really makes sure they earn her respect, not just automatically receive it. We don't know much about her early relationship with Adama but I can imagine it being volatile but with both of them recognising they're too of a kind and liking each other underneath.

It's the perfect comment to nettle Kara with, of course - because not only is it an insinuation about her and Lee, it's also a subtle swipe against her authority as CAG. I can't think of anything better for tagging Kara so succinctly.
I agree. It's possibly my favourite line in the episode. And I really liked seeing someone who could match Kara without playing the same game as her. I never got much out of Kat and Kara's alpha-ing at one another or Cain's domination games, but it's nice to see Kara run up against a woman who is more restrained but who holds her own really powerfully.

Seconded. I wonder what hte odds are on someone writing a nice bit of fic about how she'd just come from Lee's quarters?
Looks like it would have to come from the Lee contingent if at all. ;) But I'd be very there for pretty!Kara in Lee's quarters...

I like the idea that on some levels, this was a deliberate parallel to the problems Lee and Kara were having/going to have.
I do think it works really well as a parallel. Parallels abounded in Razor and that always sends me into meta overdrive.

Was Kendra shot because she took the shot at the captured marine, or was she shot because Kara distracted her by objecting at a critical second?
I had the feeling it was making a point too--you're not alone there. But I've watched it a couple of times and it's still unclear to me which way we're meant to read it. i think she got shot because she TOOK the shot, but that makes less sense on a meta level. It just wasn't QUITE clear enough, I think.

carrying the weight of Kendra's final actions/message
Yes, and I've been doing a lot of thinking about Kara and the way she carries the memory and/or legacy of various strong women--Kat, Kendra, Cain. It's a repeated theme--they really 'speak' to her in some way but each of those relationships is characterised by conflict, yet she also mourns for them.

at the same time, I think a lot of people will be surprised to discover that yes, Cain really was that bad.
I was surprised at first and wasn't sure I liked that, but now I've decided I'm fine with it because it was showing us that war doesn't make everyone into heroes--it makes some people monsters.

On a cynical note... I do have to wonder if the femslashers will still be writing Kara/Cain fic after Razor...
Heh. I think there was a mountain of femslash material in Razor to keep them occupied elsewhere--with Kara/Kendra especially. But yeah, I suspect that ship will be less popular now. Cain revolted me--I don't want to see her with anyone.
brokenmnemonic: Hidingbrokenmnemonic on November 4th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
These traits shape the decisions she makes after the attacks: she acts without consulting others and with a 'dominate or die' mentality that allows no pity.
I wonder if they meant for Cain to come across as harshly as she did even before the attacks. It's hard to imagine her XO inviting her back to stay with his family (and not for the first time) if she was already as hard-edged as it seems - at the same time, I have to wonder if perhaps she was so hard on Kendra because she really was a harsh taskmaster. I've worked with officers who'd prefer to push someone as hard as they can to start with, to "see what they're made of." That doesn't make it a nice trait, but it is an understandable one.

One complaint I have is that we didn't get to really see why Cain's crew admired her so much. The music montage at around the twenty-minute mark didn't cut it for me.
Agreed. From what we saw in Pegasus, with pilots from Cain's ship boasting about kill numbers, I expected to see something like Cain leading a number of successful strikes against the Cylons - earning some sort of veneration for giving the crew a purpose and a sense that their deaths would mean something. Instead, we didn't see a single successful op on the part of the Pegasus - they gave us the rousing speech, and some shoulder-clapping and presumed words of inspiration, and that was it. It rang very hollow.

Especially since she was asking them to digest, in a space of 30 seconds, the fact that they had to fight to their deaths.
Again, I think I'm a little bitter at this in part because of my own expectations - I've been toying with writing something similar on the Vic board for my main character (the CAG) and the way I felt it working was by getting the crew through the initial shock through anger - channel all the trauma into something that felt strong, and then use that to work people through grief by giving them a purpose. Cain seems to have followed that initial shock with an attack that killed some substantial portion of the crew, and then capped it off by stripping civilian ships. This is perhaps the part of Razor that was least successful for me.

She lost it when she lied o her officers. She shows herself as a masterful manipulator there--giving her crew a rousing speech, but keeping her officers on side by claiming she won't be reckless, while secretly planning to push for revenge at all costs.
I'm undecided on exactly how to view this aspect of her character. On the one hand, I can understand her lying to her officers, but at the same time, the way in which she lied to them was as a part of creating a particular atmosphere - and idea that while she was leading, they were all somehow inside her plans, included in the running of the ship and achieving objectives. It was an odd scene, given how autocratic Cain is shown as being almost immediately later. Was she really manipulating them? Or did she actually believe what she was saying at the time?

it overlooks the fact that she shot in the head the first person who voiced any such concerns about the weight of human life.
Yes. To be honest, Adama's speech felt a little like retconning to me - Adama spoke about having people to remind him, but was RDM trying to distract us a little from how extreme Adama appeared in S3?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara can't notbop_radar on November 5th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC)
It's hard to imagine her XO inviting her back to stay with his family (and not for the first time) if she was already as hard-edged as it seems
Yeah from that scene I got the feeling they were TRYING to show her as likeable but the editing got in the way. The extended cut will be interesting.

because she really was a harsh taskmaster. I've worked with officers who'd prefer to push someone as hard as they can to start with, to "see what they're made of." That doesn't make it a nice trait, but it is an understandable one.
I definitely think she was that type. And yeah, it's a technique some people use and it really works with some people--I think Kara, for instance, responds really well to it and seems like Kendra does too. But like all leadership styles, it's not one that will work with all people and it sets a certain tone which allowed Cain to shift into true autocracy easily after the attacks. It was perhaps hard to discern the extra edge on top of her normal stern approach at first.

I expected to see something like Cain leading a number of successful strikes against the Cylons - earning some sort of veneration for giving the crew a purpose and a sense that their deaths would mean something.
Yes. I think I also needed to see her crew actually respond to the news of the attacks--then I could really buy that she won them over with her speech. But they just ... didn't react. It fell flat for me.

Cain seems to have followed that initial shock with an attack that killed some substantial portion of the crew, and then capped it off by stripping civilian ships. This is perhaps the part of Razor that was least successful for me.
Yup, I couldn't understand how anyone could think that was strong and would motivate people--I ended up feeling the crew was bound together by terror alone and that's not as interesting storytelling.

Was she really manipulating them? Or did she actually believe what she was saying at the time?
I'm not completely sure. The end result was a betrayal of that intimacy (ohhh interesting parallel with Gina's betrayal--both were keeping their own counsel), but at the time maybe we were meant to think it was genuine. Here Razor would have benefitted from more time, I think--extended cut could be interesting.

but was RDM trying to distract us a little from how extreme Adama appeared in S3?
Heh well that scene didn't work for me at ALL first time around because it was so at odds with the Adama of S3. But I honestly have lost all sense of WHAT RDM wants to do with Adama. I think he's a little too fond of him and doesn't see him objectively if you ask me. But then I have Bill issues. ;)
brokenmnemonic: Risebrokenmnemonic on November 4th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC)
She sees not the human face, only the possibility of restocking for her own personal war on the Cylons. Her officers follow her orders despite not feeling the same way themselves. No doubt they fear assassination if they voice their true feelings.
Her own expression didn't even seem to flicker at the news - that still amazes me. This scene also highlights what I think is one of the weaker points of the Pegasus story RDM forged - why did none of her crew rebel? We saw one of the marines question the order to Kendra and Fisk on the Scylla, but nothing anywhere else. I could understand it if, for example, the entire Marine contingent on board was somehow totally loyal to Cain - but I find it hard to believe that there wasn't anyone prepared to raise a hand against her. I think that's weak storytelling on RDM's part - he needed to either show us why the crew was so loyal no-one would question her, or show us why the crew was so terrified no-one would go against her. As it was, she never seemed to evoke any particular loyalty from her crew, and without that, how could she have stayed in charge?

While Cain may have been able to live comfortably by those rules, it exacts a toll on Kendra, as I think it would on anyone.
Perhaps that was Cain's final lesson - to live like that, you have to be inhuman.

Cain, on the other hand, was actually more honest in her speech to the crew at large than to her officers.
This is a very fundamental difference, of course - Lee starts his command by working with/through the officers first. He's talked about duty, honour, service... and you can tell how important the chain of command is too him because he doesn't begin with appeals for mass popularity, but instead tells his officers how it's going to be and then expects them to implement those ideas, those instructions. Lee delegates. Cain went straight to the crew directly, cutting out all of the officers - she was trying to evoke the loyalty of the crew directly, as an individual. Lee wants to evoke loyalty to the service, to the ideal.

The situation here would seem to support a more offensive tactic--if they'd launched attack vipers and engaged perhaps they wouldn't have had to fire at close range. However, I don't think that's something Lee could have known in advance and he had adopted a firm line in not pursuing unnecessary engagement.
This scene is deceptive - for a combat scene, the CIC seems almost deliberately relaxed, creating the impression that perhaps the ship isn't in danger - if you ignore the way that the engines failed and dragged Lee away, something that shouldn't have happened unless it was critical. RDM was a little off with his storytelling there, at least when it comes to communicating what his idea was to me.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee thinking hmmbop_radar on November 5th, 2007 03:41 am (UTC)
As it was, she never seemed to evoke any particular loyalty from her crew, and without that, how could she have stayed in charge?
Aha. Well, yes, that's why I ended up concluding that she just terrorised everyone because we saw her terrorise her officers--it was a natural extension of that. But RDM didn't show us that effectively and I think it would have been better storytelling to show that a really strong leader like Cain CAN pull a crew together in adversity, but the price is just really really high for that.

Cain went straight to the crew directly, cutting out all of the officers - she was trying to evoke the loyalty of the crew directly, as an individual. Lee wants to evoke loyalty to the service, to the ideal.
Mmm, yes that IS a crucial difference--and yet he ends up running up against the fact that you're judged on your acts not the way you go about them or the ideal you try to fight for. Whereas Cain was only concerned with action and abandonned ideals considering them a 'luxury'. Living either way is tough because both actions and the manner in which you serve are important.

RDM was a little off with his storytelling there, at least when it comes to communicating what his idea was to me.
Yeah, I see what you mean. It is deceptive.
(no subject) - jehnt on November 16th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC) (Expand)