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07 February 2006 @ 09:46 pm
Battlestar Galactica 2.14: Black Market  
AKA: K's Lee-rambles
I finally got to see this ep! I can't believe that I was waiting this long on a *Lee*-centric ep! It's a good thing I didn't know. I may have gone out of my mind.

Actually, that might have had some kind of reverse-psych good effect, as being *in* my head was not so great a place when watching this ep. Having run out of meds in truly unforgiveable fashion, I was sitting out the long night of withdrawal before my doc would see me in the morning. Possibly not the best time to watch Lee angst, but hey!

What the... ?
So first of all I am still totally reeling from the fact that somehow or other in BSG I glomped onto the depression-sufferer as my viewpoint character WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT. i.e. it was not apparent he was a depression-sufferer for a season and a half, goddam it! And yet--still my viewpoint character. I've seriously had the 'oh dear god, no! Tell me *this* is not why I identify with him!' angst for two weeks now and I'm just not shaking it... Please tell me that I've been watching too much Smallville and that this is 'coincidence' not 'destiny'! Because it is frakking by brain up. Did I just pick up on some weird sublminal depressy vibe early on? What the...?

So headlong into the Lee-angst... Black-Market was a bit of a roller-coaster for me. I was pleased to see a Lee-centric ep and one that dealt with the complexities and imperfections of his character. I really liked the discovery that he's not the perfect moral-high-ground-rider that he's cast as at times. His turning to Siobhan made a lot of emotional sense, especially assuming that his visits began or at least increased a lot following his near-death experience. And yes (internal groaning aside) I liked the portrayal of someone suffering near-crisis-like depression but continuing to function at a high level in his job, and getting the insight into just how much it costs him to simply keep going, with things getting greyer and greyer.

Of course, I was hampered somewhat in my one-eyed Lee-vision so supacat helpfully pointed out that the entire episode was about how Lee pushes women away. From an external perspective, Lee is incredibly commitment-phobic, so I could understand her confusion as to why he was just so impassioned and emotionally attached to Siobhan and her child. For me, that plot made instinctive emotional sense, but it took a while to unravel the threads.

Unworthiness
Lee is deeply emotional and is suffering the downside of that at the moment in terms of carrying a lot of emotional baggage. At a fundamental level he doesn't feel he's a good person. He doubts his capacity in his job despite all the external validation he receives, he compares himself unfavourably to others (his father, Starbuck), he dwells on his mistakes and he overthinks things. He's also capable of deep-seated anger (notably demonstrated in his relationship with his father). As a hyper-self-aware person, I'd guess he hates these aspects of himself and he's going to be hating himself a whole lot more now for having experienced suicidal emotions. That will only validate his feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

Unworthiness lies at the heart of his relationship-angst evidently. We got frustratingly little information about the blonde woman in his past but what we do know is that he was left with the feeling of having let her down, of having not lived up to her expectations. He was afraid of being a father. Why would that be? Well, he's the child of a broken family and he probably fears making the same mistakes as his father. He fears he won't be a good father, as he showed in his self-conscious 'I've never been good with kids' line (um... showing them cyclops-dollies isn't the way to win their hearts, hon!). There could be a wealth of other reasons as well, but it's clearly not just child-revulsion as he tried so hard with Pyka (sp?).

The near-death experience has prompted a tailspin for Lee and it's revived his emotional experience of failure with unknown-blonde-woman. His final words before losing consciousness were an apology to Kara, the one person who he would never have expected to let down. Earlier he had told her that if they didn't have trust, they had nothing. Yet despite that trust, he failed her. Initially through no fault of his own, through sheer accident. Yet despite himself, he felt relief in letting go, in letting her down, in failing. This emotional experience mirrors his earlier experience with 'letting down' someone he claimed he loved. He must have experienced both relief (at not having to face fatherhood and a further set of standards to live up to) and profound revulsion at himself for that selfish act, as well as simple grief at losing her. Siobhan asks if he loved her and he replies 'I thought I did'. He doubts even the quality of his own emotions in the wake of letting her down--he distrusts himself at a fundamental level.

So it makes sense that Lee would avoid emotional entanglements now. His coldness to Dee, despite being attracted to her, reflects the fact that he is numb inside. He can't even experience his own emotions clearly. He says 'I don't know what you want from me' and this represents a fundamental anxiety for him: he's already anticipating disappointing her. Further, he's so lost he can't even read what he's *supposed* to do any more, let alone live up to it.

So commitment-phobic makes sense. But why then, supacat helpfully asked, does Lee end up so emotionally attached to Siobhan? Firstly because she serves as an important emotional outlet for him and once unlidded, Lee has an awful lot of emotion to pour out. This would create a deep sense of intimacy with her, despite her status as prostitute. Lee is clearly overinvested in and overreliant on the relationship. Siobhan accuses him of reliving the past and certainly she fits the mould in terms of having similar (blonde) looks and a child as well. It's clear that Siobhan and her daughter served to help him work through his emotions about his past relationship at a subconscious level. And good on her for telling him to shove off! Because I think that's more demanding and more intrusive than sex, no matter how good a 'listener' she is. (The problem I suspect, is that Lee needed not only to be listened to, but also to act out the fantasy of being a caring boyfriend and surrogate father.)

Lee insists that that is not what the relationship is about. This is important because it indicates not just his denial reflex but also the genuineness of his emotions for Siobhan. I think he genuinely cared for her uniquely, not simply as a reflection of someone else. But this episode was all about grey areas and muddied waters for Lee and that's exactly the problem here--no matter how genuine his concern was, it was tainted by the fact that it was also selfish and self-serving.

A massive contributing factor to Lee's intensity about Siobhan was the fact that she needed something from him. His concern for her child in particular accessed the part of him that wants to be the perfect protecter and that fails time and time again. Once that cycle kicked in, Lee was trapped in reliving his anxiety about letting one more person, one more loved woman (and child), down.

Survival
I was fascinated by the final scene between Adama and Lee. I've rarely seen Lee so much like his father and I think they deliberately sketched the scene that way, with the mirrored slouches and sipping of drinks. Adama tries to reach out to Lee but Lee parrots back to him a platitude from earlier: 'We've all been through a lot'. These are the sort of platitudes that generally serve to frustrate Lee in their emotional simplicity. Yet here he resignedly uses one himself. It's still as much of an understatement as ever, but Lee seems to accept that that's all he's going to get from his discussion with his father. He can't imagine really opening up to him. And that leaves Lee in a situation very similar to that of his father's: steely-expressioned and outwardly unemotional, hiding greater conflict and complex emotions underneath. Lee's been driven there by necessity. If he really opened up about his emotions, he would be unable to continue as CAG. Instead, Adama invested him with even more authority in this ep and Lee shuts down even more, bottles things up even tighter, and keeps fighting on, drawing moral lines where he can in an effort to retain some sense of meaning in life.

Wow, that was bleak, wasn't it?! *g* Sucks to be Lee/me! Hee! (oh that rhyming was HIDEOUS!)

PS I'm actually quite chipper now, but I couldn't resist the subject-appropriate mood icon!
 
 
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
 
 
 
Beckysadface on February 7th, 2006 04:10 pm (UTC)
I *am* going to watch this programme. I am. One day. When I get time.

there should be more time....
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: valentinebop_radar on February 7th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
*hugs you tight*
I know, hon! There should be more time. Definitely! *nods*
The First Evil: Apollo - Decisions - _ebasta77 on February 8th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
The near-death experience has prompted a tailspin for Lee and it's revived his emotional experience of failure with unknown-blonde-woman. His final words before losing consciousness were an apology to Kara, the one person who he would never have expected to let down.

I hadn't thought about this connection before. After seeing 'Black Market' I didn't feel that the girlfriends death on Caprica had anything to do with his letting go and wanting to die in RS Pt2. I tied it to his discovery that Adama and Laura, two people he trusted, respected, and he thought he knew, had plotted to do something that was unconscionable to him. And if these people could be turned into, essentially, murderers, what was there to live for? But now you make an interesting point about letting people down. He's been carrying this burden of running away from his responsibilities before the attack (though, as shown, technically the girl did the running) and then he's confronted with failing to be there for another person he loves (Kara) when she needed him the most.

I also agree that while Lee developed genuine feelings for Shevon (though I wouldn't call it love), his motives for being with her and Paya were initially self-serving. However, I felt his rejection of Dee was selfless. Putting aside she's involved with someone else, Lee knows how messed up he is emotionally right now and I don't think he wants to burden those close to him, or that could potentially close to him, with his baggage.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg kara/lee nakedbop_radar on February 8th, 2006 05:37 am (UTC)
Ha! You have enlightened me as to the spelling of their names. *g* I totally should have checked that out before posting, huh?! I was so sure that Shevon had Celtic spelling (having nearly been burdened with that name myself). And Paya. Who knew! Apparently not me...

Anyway, thank you for your comment. I definitely think there are mutliple threads in why Lee wanted to let go in RSII, and Black Market helped flesh out part of it. In RSII, while I understood how confronting 'Adama and Roslin as murderers' would be to Lee, it felt to me like that wasn't *quite* enough to tip him suicidal. I think it's pretty rare for one situation to tip someone over the edge unless there is an underlying discomfort/anxiety/depression/disappointmentwith life, or whatever you want to call it. And some form of devaluing the self. While the events of RSI-II would lead Lee to question himself and his purpose, it's still a bit of a jump from that to certainty of worthlessness. But Black Market helped me see that the sense of failure and worthlessness was there before and so without internal OR external validation of himself/his ideals, it makes more sense that Lee faltered in this way.

You're right that there was a selflessness at play in rejecting Dee. I guess it's in both of their best interests to avoid entanglement, though it's saddest for Lee, who would really benefit from a loving partner. But you're right--he knows his emotional burdens are too much to share with someone right now.

technically the girl did the running
That's an interesting point. Even if it was just badly staged, it is a reminder that Lee's self-involved anxiety about letting people down ignores the person's (woman's) own agency. For example, Kara really was ok. Sure, she'd have liked Lee there, but she coped. That was of absolutely no comfort to Lee, though, when they talked about it. Presumably because he's so used to carrying the blame from the past tragedy, which he has emotionally processed as being *entirely* his own doing, when in fact the woman's own emotional responses and actions played some part too. (I don't mean to sound like I'm letting Lee off the hook because we don't really know much of what happened--but I do think he's expecting too much of himself and holds himself responsible for things beyond his control--typical distortions of the depressed mind.)

I really appreciate you commenting even though it's been ages since the ep aired. It's interesting to think it through...
The First Evil: Apollo - Decisions - _ebasta77 on February 9th, 2006 05:03 am (UTC)
it is a reminder that Lee's self-involved anxiety about letting people down ignores the person's (woman's) own agency. For example, Kara really was ok. Sure, she'd have liked Lee there, but she coped. That was of absolutely no comfort to Lee, though, when they talked about it. Presumably because he's so used to carrying the blame from the past tragedy, which he has emotionally processed as being *entirely* his own doing, when in fact the woman's own emotional responses and actions played some part too.

Lee, for some reason I don't think we are yet clear on, shoulders a lot of responsibility even when it's not entirely his responsibility to bare. He's been carrying a lot of guilt for abandoning his girlfriend. However, from the little we were privy to, it seems that while he may have reacted badly at that moment, she ran off before he could finish what he had to say. And then the world ended before he could try and make things right.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsg Lee iconbop_radar on February 9th, 2006 05:58 am (UTC)
*nods* I agree on all of that. It's very Lee-like to obsess over a momentary slip. And the fact that it became so tragically momentous due to the timing (world ending) is really bad for him psychologically, because he *is* prone to 'over'-shouldering responsibility.
Nora Norwich: Kara Roslin laughingnorwich36 on May 23rd, 2006 05:54 pm (UTC)
Is this the post you were concerned about, in retrospect? Because I really don't think that Lee's depression was telegraphed in season 1, so I doubt that's why you identified with him. I see the depression mainly as a response to everything that has happened since the Cylons attacked.(Of course, my reading of this is colored by the fact that Starbuck has her own meltdown in the next episode, and I watched them back to back without a break).

I pretty much agree with everything you say about Lee's sense of unworthiness and feeling that he let Kara down, and this episode being the emotional fallout of that.

I was wondering what you thought about Lee's decision to execute that black market guy at the end of this episode. I thought it was very interesting how *all* the good characters are shading into ethically problematic decisions this season, even if they have sound pragmatic reasons for it. (Interesting, too, that it was that criminal character--I think?--who pointed out that if they were hoping for a utopia, they were mistaken).

I did think it interesting, at the end, how Roslin has recovered the moral high ground (she's the one who holds to the moral ideal of no black market trading) while Lee is the one pragmatically choosing what is possible over what should be.

I have to say, I thought at first that Lee's whole relationship with the prostitute was part of his undercover persona, and I was surprised to find it wasn't. I don't doubt that he would find it easier to connect with someone that he doesn't have to commit to (even though, having done that, he paradoxically found himself feeling some commitment to her), but it did seem a little out of character, nevertheless. Still, I loved seeing that storyline because it showed us how the black market was affecting ordinary passengers in the fleet.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: bsh lee/kara dreamybop_radar on May 24th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC)
No, this isn't the post I was worried about...

Yes, I think Lee's depression is circumstantial, but I guess watching the Kara ep after this highlights just how different they are as personality types--her breakdown takes a very different form. So it was interesting to me that Lee was the type of person who, under pressure, would tend towards depression and internalising his pain, rather than externalising through anger and aggression or self-destructive behaviour. I feel my love of Lee does say a lot about what *I'm* like. I guess this ep just left me feeling rather exposed! ;)

So, this is one of the 'problem' episodes in Season 2. It wasn't well received, and the writers came out and admitted that it wasn't as successful as they would have liked. I think they *do* show that all characters are being drawn into ethically shady areas--clearly that was something they wanted to explore. Evidently they also wanted to show other layers to Lee, who they felt was seen as the 'good guy' all the time, when he's meant to be flawed and human like everyone else--they had always wanted him to be flawed like this. The fan verdict, which I largely agree with, is that they didn't integrate this well--they had one episode which showed Lee's 'dark side' and then it was like it hadn't happened. There was a lot of anger in fandom. I didn't have it quite as much, but I agree that this section of Season 2 is a bit fragmented and patchy. I don't think the BSG writers are as good at 'character' eps as they are at ensemble eps.

I do think they made the bad guy a bit OTT bad. Child sex slaves?! I guess that was to let Lee off the hook a bit, but I did find him shooting the guy confronting. However I didn't find it that out of character. He's a very passionate person, and when pushed he'll put personal loyalties over political or moral ones. Unlike other characters, he doesn't have a strong religious grounding. The only 'higher law' he believed in was a secular and non-military democracy, and that's been eroded, so yes, I can see him taking the law into his hands this way.

Lee choosing what is possible over what should be is a perfect description of where he is at at this stage in the season. I think they also tried to show that with Kara in the next ep.

I knew straight off that the prostitute was not a cover, but others have said they were surprised, and supacat didn't believe she WAS a prostitute initially. My heart sank, but I found it in character, not because of the commitment thing, but because he has no outlet for his emotions on Galactica--to gain privacy, he has to go elsewhere, and the relative anonymity of a prostitute would allow him to hide somewhat. To me, it seemed clear that what he really wanted was a real connection with someone, but he was too afraid/guilt-ridden/in pain for that. It was definitely a sign of just how black a place he's in right now.

Yes, a good aspect of this ep was seeing something about the ordinary passengers.
Nora Norwich: Lexana lyingnorwich36 on May 24th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)
The fan reaction is interesting to read about, but it makes me realize I'm kind of glad to have a fandom that is all about the source text rather than the fandom itself. I mean, I love SV fandom, but sometimes navigating the currents between the Lana haters and the Chloe haters and the Clark haters and the Lois haters can seem like a lot of work, you know? And it's kind of interesting to just engage with the text without any presuppositions.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: fangirl x-files iconbop_radar on May 24th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
Huaha! So true! I have deliberately only shied around the edges of the BSG fandom. I do find the fan reactions interesting (largely because they're unpredictable) but I agree it's good to have a text-based fandom. SV can be an emotional rollercoaster that way--everyone is so emotionally invested. I think BSG *is* a bit different because it is *cough* a more intelligent show textually.
Nora Norwichnorwich36 on May 24th, 2006 06:33 am (UTC)
::Pauses to think what SV would be like if the BSG writers were writing it::

Damn. I mean, the writing on BSG is light-years ahead of SV in terms of plot continuity, characterization, women's roles, nuanced villains--thinking about they ways they would rip out our hearts and stomp on them if they were writing the epic tragedy that is SV is almost a little terrifying to think about, you know?

And what a writing challenge that would be: the ficathon for "if the BSG writers were writing SV."
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara shootingbop_radar on May 24th, 2006 06:55 am (UTC)
Eh, yes... *ponders* ... yes, that would make for quite the writing challenge. There would be the ripping out of hearts, the stomping, the flaying, the torture... come to think of it, I'm not sure SV could be shown on TV if the BSG writers wrote for it! And I don't want to imagine the pain! But what a great idea!