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18 January 2006 @ 09:33 pm
BSG 2.12 Resurrection Ship Part II  
Gaius

Gaius has not so far been my favourite character on BSG, as those of you who read this will probably know. ;) However, I do find him absolutely fascinating and the Resurrection Ship arc provided a lot of material for reflection about Gaius. It also found me responding to him emotionally more than ever before—he was at his most sympathetic so far to me.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Gaius is how you read Six—-as cylon implant, as god’s messenger or as vision. BSG allows multiple possible readings of her nature. I’ve really enjoyed tracing to what degree she could be interpreted as a form of psychosis. If Gaius suffers from psychosis, Six is a hallucination, a reflected part of himself. Even the fact that she suggests she might be an angel could be taken as evidence to support this reading, since the folkloric interpretation of hallucinations is often that they are messengers from a deity or deities. Gaius is intelligent and would know this, and he may possibly be reflecting this knowledge and self-doubt through Six. If this is so, his conversations are fascinating since they read as inner dialogues.

In Resurrection Ship Part I, when Gaius and Six walk into Gina’s cell, we see their reactions before we see Gina herself. At first, their facial expressions are identical, then slowly Gaius gains control over himself in front of the guard, while Six’s own emotional response becomes more physically pronounced. Could this be read as Gaius ‘splitting’ himself? There is more evidence to suggest this reading in the scenes that follow with Gina, since Gaius asks Six to leave them alone. Six is not useful in this situation because she is too close, too emotional, too confronting.

But this reading doesn’t hold up entirely, because once Gaius is left alone with Gina, a real flesh and bone version of Six, but one so broken as to be almost past recognition, he responds with his own carefully metered compassion and love. I found his speech to Gina deeply affecting and entirely genuine, and I loved the way he talked her round from self-destruction to ‘getting even’. However the consequences of that act were chilling: once again Gaius literally directs the fate of humanity. The loss of Cain, for better or worse, changes destiny. Can we be sure that her death benefited humanity or is Kara right? Did the cylons just win again?

Lee

Lee is my POV character, so the second half of Resurrection Ship was emotionally confronting for me. I think supacat commented that Lee’s revelation that he didn’t want to come back from the dead felt like being punched in the stomach. I’d second that and say that it also left me with a huge black lump in my chest for the next few days. It wasn’t until second viewing that I could really move past a purely emotive reading.

I will be interested to see what is revealed about Lee’s understanding of what he experienced. There are many possible reasons why he may have reached this place emotionally but the following are the most interesting and convincing to me at this stage.

To Kara, Lee says ‘People have to have this: trust. Your word. My word. If we don’t have this, then we really are no different than the cylons.’ Kara interprets his words as a statement of comfort and support for her, since he has just promised to back her up. But Lee doesn’t seem to have intended them that way. He turns away from her repeatedly in the scene and only responds to her with a hug when she moves forward. He does so lovingly but resignedly. He is there for her, but he’s deeply conflicted. I would suggest that his words were intended not so much as a comfort but as an articulation of the deep conflict he feels about the action of killing Cain.

Why does he feel this? Firstly, he has been locked out of the decision-making process. Adama’s only words to him were ‘stay focussed, son’. He hasn’t spoken with the president. I’m assuming that Adama, in the brief time he had with Kara, told her little or nothing of his reasons. They are, at the very least, flimsy when recounted. Cain is being killed without a trial, without justice, without all the things Adama accused her of overlooking when she condemned Helo and the Chief. That his father and the president would act this way, and furthermore give him next to no context or reasoning for this decision, is deeply confronting for Lee. It goes against both the military codes and the democratic codes he believes in.

Lee deliberately seeks out his father and attempts to open a dialogue with him: he doesn’t accuse him or act insubordinately in this scene, he simply opens the door for Adama to provide him with some explanation, some words that will put the act in context. He receives next to nothing: ‘the decision has been made’.

I think Lee feels hollowed out by his predicament. He tells his father it’s not about backing Kara up or not. He would never have a problem doing that because she is more important to him than any moral code, as we saw when she was missing. The issue is the act itself and what it signifies to Lee. I think the absence of trust is at the heart of this—the absence of trust between his father and him (Adama has limited the information he gives his son), between the president and him (she hasn’t contacted him) but also more generally between Cain and Adama, the crew of the Pegasus and those of the Galactica. Lee is right: if no trust exists, they are all monsters, for they will all judge from a platform of suspicion and mistrust and not out of love.

Lee reads to me as someone who needs a sense of purpose and duty in life. Since the mass genocide, he has managed to keep going and find purpose in doing the right thing by his pilots, the crew, his father, and in upholding democracy. At times, including his mutiny during the military coup, these actions have proved ‘empty’ or pointless. At other times, as when he helped the president escape, they have proved instrumental in the continued survival of the fleet (would Adama have come to the decision to reunite the fleet if his son was not among the deserters?). However, Lee constantly underestimates his own abilities. What he is not looms larger in his mental landscape than what he is, and his achievements must seem like a drop in the ocean in comparison to the destruction of the rest of humanity by the cylons.

In recent developments Lee has lost even these tenuous purposes for continuing. He’s been demoted, his crew are fighting with the crew of the Pegasus, he found himself powerless to prevent Helo and the Chief from being sentenced to death and he only just helped prevent the two crews from opening fire on one another. Things are at breaking point and Lee doesn’t feel like he can contribute much. It is human to feel despair under such circumstances.

One of the things that all the humans are clinging to is a belief that there is something intrinsically unique and valuable about them: something not shared with the cylons. If they are not different, if they are in fact lesser beings, then why are they fighting to survive? This is ultimately the question Lee poses.

The circumstances by which he chose death, at least in the final moments, were superficially random: an accident that resulted in him activating his escape pod, the coincidence of a tear in his suit. Cause and effect. I do not think he himself knew how he would respond to being faced with death. He was shell-shocked afterwards. But what he found was that death was not so unthinkable, that it could in fact be a blessed release. queenofthorns explains this state very clearly in her episode review.

To me, Lee’s reaction is the flipside of Kara’s desperate struggle for survival against all odds when she herself was faced with death. The two responses are at opposite extremes of the spectrum but they reflect two opposing impulses present in the human condition: the will to survive versus the burden of self-awareness and reflection. Kara’s eulogy for Cain also draws on this idea when she says that we (humans) ‘double-guess’ and ‘worry’, and that this weakens us. Lee’s emotional state represents one human response to tragedy and meaninglessness on a grand scale. When a cylon is separated from the others and lives with humans for a length of time, when they become effectively more ‘humanised’, either through love and attachment (Sharon) or through victimisation (Gina), we have seen that they too contain these twin impulses: the desire to give up the fight and cease to exist (both Sharon and Gina seek suicide even more actively than Lee) and yet a survival instinct that defies all odds (both Sharon and Gina have not only lived but are getting what they most wanted: a child/protection/revenge). As always with BSG, the ultimate punch in the stomach is that the cylons are not that different from humans.

I have rambled for long enough, but I do want to briefly discuss the filming of the scene with Kara on Lee’s bunk. The scene was shot at such close range that its intensity was quite confronting. As a viewer it felt like we were overhearing something that we weren’t meant to: it was too intimate and personal. For that reason, having Dee around the corner helped because it showed both the intensity of the connection between Kara and Lee, and the lack of connection with others. Dee is a compassionate figure who would have sympathised with Lee (and appeared to do so when she closed her eyes while evesdropping), but her voice calling to him on the com system was not enough to call him back to himself and to life. The only thread of real connection he has left is with Kara, and the fact that his desire for release in death overrode even his intense loyalty to her will, I believe, haunt him. She may have shrugged it off but he will not.

A final note about trust and connection: BSG repeatedly presents us with situations where the personal bonds between one person and another dictate an individual’s actions and through them the fate of humanity. Lee suggests that meaning and purpose in life are also tied up in these bonds. So there is a doubling here: the survival of the human race comes down to the success and strength of multiple bonds between individuals. It’s a fascinating idea.

That was too long, right? *blush*
 
 
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
 
 
 
(no subject) - bloodygoodgirl on January 18th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on January 19th, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
Thank you--your comment means a lot to me! I definitely had conflicting emotions myself. I watch with someone whose pov character tends to be Kara rather than Lee, so she always prompts me to articulate things from his perspective and vice versa. I found it difficult to process emotionally but I think that's what the writers intended. I found it so frustrating when they cut away from Lee to Dee! But it's very BSG to do that and to leave us wondering.
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg lee/kara hey!bop_radar on January 19th, 2006 12:15 pm (UTC)
*Squee*! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! (And also for bringing the godlike icon of beauty!)

The idea of trust is a fascinating one. In a very general sense it involves believing the best in others, and when the humans didn't do this in Resurrection, they nearly destroyed one another. A general faith in the goodness and worthiness of humanity/one another is essential for the survival of: a) Lee as an individual experiencing an existential crisis; b) humanity generally. Love/empathy: yes, these demand a certain amount of trust or faith. Actually that makes me wonder about another difference between Lee and Kara. Kara has been shown to have more 'faith' in the religious sense. Lee appears to have a more secular personal belief system--based on trust and honour and so on.

(Now I'm just thinking aloud... there are so many layers to this show!)

Again, thanks for reading! :)
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg kara/lee nakedbop_radar on January 19th, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's really interesting that Lee will put his personal beliefs aside for Kara. I loved how conflicted he seemed after 'You Can't Go Home Again' (wheras Adama was more able to reconcile himself to the paradox of acting outside the rules for 'family'), and I agree that this put Lee in the most difficult position possible. Yes, I would never doubt that he would back her up. But his existence after that would have been tortured (it will be anyway--but, as for Kara, that final act was avoided). I think he'd already made his choice but certainly he would have felt relief at never having to commit the action. The flipside is now he'll feel guilt.

And thank you for the link on galacticanews! I really must get out and about and find more bsg comms and people and so on... could I trouble you for any quick recs? :) *is lazy*
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K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg lee/kara politicsbop_radar on January 20th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
Oh thanks so much for the recs. I'll definitely check all those out. Exciting!
The First Evil: Apollo - Decisions - _ebasta77 on January 19th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)
What he is not looms larger in his mental landscape than what he is, and his achievements must seem like a drop in the ocean in comparison to the destruction of the rest of humanity by the cylons.

Nice way of summing up his feelings about himself. Lee is far from perfect, but he has done many remarkable things and has been instrumental to the survival of the fleet. Yet, it would seem, it's his perceived failures that he most focuses on.

the fact that his desire for release in death overrode even his intense loyalty to her will, I believe, haunt him.

I agree. His final thought before he nearly died was that he let her down, that he failed her, and that had Adama proceeded with the plan she most likely would have been killed. That's a huge burden for him to carry. As well as the fact he shared his death wish with her and he'll be under even closer scrutiny from her from now on.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg lee's answerbop_radar on January 19th, 2006 12:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting!

Yes, I think Lee has shown some evidence of 'distorted thinking': he focuses on the negative about himself, not the positive, enlarging it in his mind until it's the most important thing about him. He is capable of rationality and logical thinking in problem solving, but he doesn't use the same objective logic on himself. And that's such a tragic human failing.

In a way his 'death' completed a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy about himself. He thinks of himself as someone who doesn't live up to others' expectations and since dying resulted in him letting Kara down so drastically, his negative and distorted self-perceptions would have felt justified in his 'final' moments.

It's interesting that you raise the matter of him revealing his pain to Kara as adding an extra layer to his emotional burden from here on. That's true--and it's also interesting because they're opposites. She hasn't spoken about her most emotionally confronting experiences (e.g. the farm). Neither approach is clearly better than the other.

(Btw, your icon is gorgeous and I adore the Lee banner on your LJ--it is so beautiful. I hope you don't mind if I go and stare at it again!)
The First Evil: Apollo - Release - jenahvilleasta77 on January 19th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
He is capable of rationality and logical thinking in problem solving, but he doesn't use the same objective logic on himself. And that's such a tragic human failing.

The mutiny is a perfect example of this. If you asked Lee now if he felt he did the right thing siding with the president or, more precisely, office of the president, I think he would say yes. Even Adama has seen that he overreacted and there exists a need for a civilian government. At the same time, even though his ideological beliefs will tell him that he acted as he should have, the personal issues he's had and continues to have will cause him to cast doubt upon himself.

Adama commands a lot of respect and it has nothing to do with rank. People don't question his judgement even if perhaps they should at times (as Lee did in RS Pt2) whereas Lee's decisions are constantly second guessed and he often feels he stands alone. I believe that's why he felt so sucker punched when discovering Roslin initiated the assasination plot because he believed they were nearly always on the same page. Lee's an emotional guy even if he chooses not to show it. With another person he loves and trusts not seeing the situation as he does, his hurt disallusionment would lead him to question what failing in him leads him down such a differnt path.

In a way his 'death' completed a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy about himself. He thinks of himself as someone who doesn't live up to others' expectations and since dying resulted in him letting Kara down so drastically, his negative and distorted self-perceptions would have felt justified in his 'final' moments.

Wow. I hadn't thought about that. It's a great observation. And I do feel Lee often traps himself in a cycle self-loathing.

(Btw, your icon is gorgeous and I adore the Lee banner on your LJ--it is so beautiful. I hope you don't mind if I go and stare at it again!)

Hee! I actually had to check which icon I used here since I think about 70% of mine are Bamber related. ;)

And I don't mind you staring at my banner at all (it's courtesy of sdwolfpup :). It's one reason I look forward to opening up LJ everyday. ;)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsh lee/kara dreamybop_radar on January 19th, 2006 11:02 pm (UTC)
I agree with everything you say above about Lee. He feels things deeply--not just that, but he thinks about them deeply and explores them fully as well. So, yes, I think he would have interpreted Roslin not confiding in him as evidence of personal failing and also he would feel so alone and lost.

Good point about Adama in comparison to Lee as well. I see how everyone *needs* to believe in Adama's strength even when he acts out of line, but it's not necessarily right or fair. Lee is far more often questioned, second-guessed and attacked for his actions. When he's already doing all that to himself anyway!
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on May 22nd, 2006 07:04 am (UTC)
I had pretty much the same interpretation of Lee's responses here that you did: that for him, it was the conflict between the moral values and ideals that he *needs* to go on, and his loyalty to his father, Kara, and Roslin. And for him, I thought, the fact that all three of these significant others who help define his moral landscape agreed to assassinate Caine was the tear in his suit that let the oxygen out. Maybe not a large tear, but a significant one.

I actually wrote a lot on this one--I need to clean it up before I post it, but I was interested in the way that all three of the major players in this episode were torn between conflicting loyalties: Kara was torn between her loyalty to Adama and her newfound sympathy for Caine, who she clearly clicked with on a fundamental level and whose philosophy she agreed with; Lee's ambivalence I (and you) already discussed; and Gaius was torn between hallucinatory Six and real Six. (Though unfortunatley he was NOT torn between Six and the human race!!)

The other thing that struck me about this episode was the way Caine mirrored Adama--she was his dark double, the person he might have become if he had made some different choices, and if he hadn't had Roslin to be his conscience. (That to me made it even more striking that she was the one who said Caine had to be killed--I think unlike his son he respected her for making such a hard decision, even though it troubled him morally). I actually *loved* that streak of pragmatism coming out in Roslin, especially when we found out just how Caine had treated the civilian ships.

Ok, I'm falling asleep so I'm going to have to continue the BSG comment fest tomorrow. Now I need to go get some BSG icons!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg lee/kara hey!bop_radar on May 22nd, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
Hooray! I can't wait to read your post on this. You are right--all of the major players were conflicted. And yes, how hilariously Gaius-y that he was torn between two completely selfish interests. Hee! My initial Gaius-rage in Season One has settled into fascinated glee at his sheer and complete immorality (though he still makes my skin crawl at times!).

I wondered what you would think of Roslin's decision here--actually I'm dying to hear your thoughts, as a Roslin afficianado, on her arc in the whole second season. I found her pragmatism pretty chilling. You are right that there was a 'there but for the grace of god...' feel to Caine--definitely Adama's dark double. And that reason, I think there's a lot of doubt to be cast about just how 'evil' she really is/was. Most of fandom, or what I saw of it, seemed to accept that she was a monster. But I've rewatched that arc, and it's not clear cut at all--much of the evidence is hearsay, and if we are honest viewers, we know that Adama himself could have ended up making similar decisions. I think it's telling that you point out that Roslin's always been a balancing force for him. Caine didn't have that check!

And yes, iconage! Whee!
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Roslin pointy shoesbop_radar on May 22nd, 2006 10:58 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, I have BSG glee! *is all happy that you're watching it*

(completely pointless comment)