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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.
 
 
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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.
latteaddict: Starbuck boxinglatteaddict on November 2nd, 2007 05:38 am (UTC)
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.

Which way are we dealing with this? Is the argument that Lee's choice was based on emotion and therefore Kara was his emotional choice to choose because, as you said, it's because he knows he can trust her to carry out his orders. Or is it about logical military choices? Because all the disagreements over the season three NC arc have been between how could Lee leave those people (and Kara) to die, versus Lee was making sound military decisions.

So I figured Lee's choice to order Kara to blow up the nuke was a military decision. Which I argue against because Kara is far too valuable a military asset to blow her up when wounded people or a marine can accomplish the exact same job.

And why does Lee need a personal relationship to trust that his orders will be followed? He trusted Kendra with his entire Battlestar without knowing her. He told his father he trusted Kendra to do her job earlier in the episode. So if Lee could put that much faith in a woman he just met, then surely Mathias gets a few extra brownie points for already serving on Galactica and being trained in a very trustworthy environment.

If it was truly about Lee making the decision based on his emotions then it horrible, more horrible than I can imagine, to think Kara is the first person he wants to send to their death. And it hurts more thinking of it that way because I've never seen Kara blatantly and deliberately put him in the line of fire. I read what Asta said about Kara shooting Lee. But that was a complete accident. Kara wanted to save him. Her actions of flying hung over is shitty but still isn't Kara thinking deliberately in her head, you're going to die now Lee, nice knowing you. Kara putting Anders ahead of the Fleet - well if Lee was in danger by that action then it was indirectly and still not the same as Kara ordering Lee to his death. Apples and oranges. Both Kara and Lee have made bad choices. But this particular command choice of Lee's feels vicious and personal. There were two other choices Lee could have made (actually, three. I think there was one more member to the team) and yet Lee decidedly and clearly chose Kara to die. And then told her at the end that maybe she deserved to die. He didn't even crack a smile while saying it.

This is so tough for me to get my head around. I can only see it from Kara's POV and somehow I seriously doubt she thought Lee choosing her showed how much he loved and trusted her. Kara is a natural negative thinker when it comes to her value as a human being and Lee merely confirmed her beliefs. If Kara was truly okay with what Lee did then why would she transfer away from him.

I didn't think it was possible for pilot's relationship to get uglier and darker, but this episode achieved toxic.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee Kara proofbop_radar on November 2nd, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
Is the argument that Lee's choice was based on emotion and therefore Kara was his emotional choice to choose because, as you said, it's because he knows he can trust her to carry out his orders. Or is it about logical military choices?
It's a military decision based on all the evidence that Lee has to hand, including his personal assessment of the individuals. The reason for his decision is not emotional.

Kara is far too valuable a military asset to blow her up when wounded people or a marine can accomplish the exact same job
That can in theory, but the question is WILL they? You assume that any military officer would be willing to commit suicide for a superior officer. That's not the case. There's are a reason that kamikaze fighters and suicide bombers are trained separately from other troops--it takes a different psychology to be asked to go to that extreme in the name of service and duty. To wilfully destroy your own life is very different from dying under enemy fire. Can't you see that?

He trusted Kendra with his entire Battlestar without knowing her. He told his father he trusted Kendra to do her job earlier in the episode.
That exchange was all about how Lee only trusted Kendra to a point. His father told him that the personal relationship was necessary as well for him to be able to truly rely on his XO in that way. So that conversation fits exactly in the overall theme of the way personal relationships intersect with military imperatives and what happens when they do. So we had textual proof earlier in the episode that Lee couldn't rely on Kendra to go beyond the call of duty.

yet Lee decidedly and clearly chose Kara to die
Because it was the right military decision. I'm sorry if my comment above confused you into thinking I meant he had an emotional base for his decision. My point was only that in knowing Kara more intimately, Lee could be absolutely sure that she'd do it. Perhaps if he'd known Kendra for longer he would have got to a point where he could be certain she'd do it. But tat THIS point in time Kara was the only one he had a close enough knowledge of to be sure he'd do it.

The fact that knowing her that well meant he could trust her to do it would have EATEN LEE ALIVE. Don't be any doubt about that. (Pointless words: I know you are.)

then told her at the end that maybe she deserved to die. He didn't even crack a smile while saying it.
I didn't like that line either, but it was clearly intended as a joke. He raised an ironic eyebrow, if not a full smile--neither of them were smiling because they knew the true weight of the situation.

If Kara was truly okay with what Lee did then why would she transfer away from him.
My read on that was that she was ok with it intellectually, but not emotionally. Parallel situation with Kara shooting Lee: Lee knew that it was an accident and was fine with that at a rational level, but emotionally it still hurt. If Kara hadn't been fine with it on a military level, I'm SURE she'd have given him and Bill both a piece of her mind--she doesn't exactly hold back with that stuff, as we saw in this episode.
brokenmnemonic: Silhouettebrokenmnemonic on November 2nd, 2007 11:04 am (UTC)
My read on that was that she was ok with it intellectually, but not emotionally. Parallel situation with Kara shooting Lee: Lee knew that it was an accident and was fine with that at a rational level, but emotionally it still hurt.
I also think that this is a perfect example of why the military has fraternization regs. Lee and Kara both know how Lee feels about her. Kara knows that her being there puts Lee in the potential position of having to face ordering her to her death again - and that their connection, their feelings, could impair his judgement. Lee wouldn't order her away, or at least, he wasn't ready to yet - but sooner or later, he would have too, or he'd have to compromise his performance as a Commander - and the human race needs him to be a Commander first and foremost. By transferring back to the Galactica, Kara makes that decision for him - she does the responsible thing both for him, the military, and the human race. She knows it. He knows it as well, which is why he doesn't even pretend to object.
The First Evil: Lee - close-up - wurlockeasta77 on November 2nd, 2007 01:08 pm (UTC)
On a personal level, Lee wants to have Kara around. And given how much of an outsider he was on Pegasus and that he was suddenly dealing with responsibility he never expected to deal with (this was a guy on his way to quitting the military before the attacks) I think he wanted an ally and friend on board. But after having to make the call to send Kara to her death (and I'm going to tie this into events in 'Maelstorm' at some point), when she informs him of her decision to transfer back to Galactica he knows, as a commander, it's the right decision for them both. Putting aside he believes he won't have to make that tough call in regards to her again, she was awfully casual with her commanding officer and stepping on the toes of her XO, in part, because of her relationship with Lee. Not that she or Lee or anyone doesn't have precedence for acting this way giving how Adama runs his ships.
brokenmnemonic: Trustbrokenmnemonic on November 4th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
I think that one of the things Lee loses in Razor is the idea that he can keep himself distant in any way from the military career he's been forced into. With the casualness that's existed between him and Kara (at least when RDM wasn't shovelling the angst on in steaming spadefuls) it's easy to think "hey, I can be CAG and Kara's best friend rolled into one" because the field on which they're staking their lives is one they share, and are much more equal than that which comes into play when Lee takes command of the Pegasus.

I was trying to remember if Lee's ever had to call Kara on her behaviour towards a senior officer at any point. I remember that in Captain's Hand, he was stuck when Garner and Kara were tearing into each other - and when he did back Garner's authority up, at least some of that seems to have come from the unprocessed anger he was feeling towards her. I think maybe in his own mind that made it seem like it wasn't that important - but as we saw in Razor, the two of them had barely been aboard when he was already having to get between Kara and the XO. I can't see that being a comfortable thing to have to do, but at the same time I think he'd have had to face up to the fact sooner or later that he'd have to try and rein Kara in if he was too keep good order on the ship - because while the Galactica and it's people are a familiar environment, it's one that's already got a Kara-shaped hole in it she fits into. She knows where she is, and everyone else is used to her, for want of a better expression - they've developed a relationship that works, and Kara has shown that when Adama barks, she will back down - she respects him. I think Lee would have trouble with that on the Pegasus, and I think Kara would have trouble with it as well. I don't know what it would mean for their friendship if she'd stayed aboard.
(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)
latteaddict: Bionic bad girllatteaddict on November 5th, 2007 12:54 am (UTC)
It's a military decision based on all the evidence that Lee has to hand, including his personal assessment of the individuals. The reason for his decision is not emotional....
Because it was the right military decision. I'm sorry if my comment above confused you into thinking I meant he had an emotional base for his decision.


I've been trying to digest this and I honestly can't get my head around Lee targeting Kara when there were other choices (despite the kind and pleasant way brokenmnemonic tried to instruct me that there weren't).

If it was only Kara on board then the choice would've been taken out of Lee's hands and been more palatable. But it would've been less drama for RDM to play up.

Lee making the right military decision sounds well and good but only if you look at it from a dispassionate place. I realise commenting in the bosom of Lee supporters automatically makes me a target (not from you, but from those who are unable to keep the discussion strictly to the story/characters and have to add comments like 'Chunks of Fandom are tad batshit' to keep the discussions so warm and cozy), but I can't help but wonder how you would feel if the situation was reversed. What if Kara chose Lee to specifically die when other soldiers were at hand? What if she didn't try to soften the blow at the end and simply told him with an impassive face that maybe he deserved to die? It's not so much Lee's action of choosing her to be the one to die as it is his reaction to her in the final scene.

I know you see it as 'shippy. And it was extremely 'shippy from Kara's side. She was all kinds of supportive of Lee throughout Razor and especially with his decision and had the amazingly good graces to not react badly to his stinging comment. I always knew Kara respected Lee as a leader but I never knew until Razor how much. But there was nothing 'shippy at all from Lee except possibly the fact that he'd requested Kara to be his CAG on Pegasus in the first place. And that decision turned out to be a selfish one because it ultimately nearly cost Kara her life three times within the movie.

I wonder if this situation finally made them even with the shooting incident? She recklessly endangered his life and nearly killed him in Sacrifice, despite the fact that her intention was to save him.

Thinking about acting in a purely military fashion instead of an emotional one, doesn't Lee understand that Kara would've broken the rules for him? Besides saving Lee for herself, she would've done it for his father, and for the Fleet. They need their leaders. When Kara disobeyed Lee's authority in the mini and saved him by locking Vipers, I realise the risk she was taking did not directly affect an entire Battlestar and it was only her life and a military asset at risk, but doesn't it count for something? Yes, Kara is a career soldier and knows how things are done, but she always manages to take that extra step to save those around her. It just feels like Lee didn't give enough thought on how he could save her.

I know it's not supposed to be about Lee and Kara, but Ron makes it about Lee and Kara by what he chooses to focus on. From the regular cast it was Lee/Kara and Lee/papadama. As an audience we are supposed to be swept up in the emotional drama otherwise none of us would care when characters die because it was all performed in duty. Ellen Tigh was a traitor so why was her death focused so heavily on how Tigh cried over her body and was devastated afterwards? To simply state that having an emotional reaction to a military show is dumb (like brokenmnemonic accused me of doing when he said "They aren't star-crossed lovers on Star Trek. They are portrayed consistently as living military personnel fighting a war.") shows an unrealistic attitude towards the show. It is about drama and people's lives. Ron Moore has said that many times. We are supposed to care about what happens.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee concentratingbop_radar on November 5th, 2007 01:29 am (UTC)
If it was only Kara on board then the choice would've been taken out of Lee's hands and been more palatable. But it would've been less drama for RDM to play up.
That's true--I definitely think that RDM's love of drama played a part in this. It WAS constructed so that it would be most painful and agonising. However I don't think we're meant to think that Lee made the wrong call. Neither Adama nor Kara criticises him for it.

I realise commenting in the bosom of Lee supporters automatically makes me a target
Well, I'm sorry about that. I feel the same way when I comment in hardcore Kara fans' journals. Sometimes it almost seems like it's pointless, so I really do sympathise. It's not easy to keep a dialogue open when emotions are running so high. If you are feeling attacked let me know--I'm happy to step in, but you can be pretty blunt and critical yourself. Nothing said here is anything near the kind of vitriol I've seen spewed at Lee elsewhere (not by you) already.

Lee making the right military decision sounds well and good but only if you look at it from a dispassionate place.
Yes. Because that's what officers are asked to be when they're in command: dispassionate. I agree with you--at an emotional level it's very, very hard to swallow and you have a right to your feelings about it. It made me feel sick too.

What if she didn't try to soften the blow at the end and simply told him with an impassive face that maybe he deserved to die?
I've already said that line shocked me. It would hurt worse coming from Kara to Lee, yes. But I was very sympathetic to Kara in Razor and I don't think she deserved that even as a joke. It's not the sort of joke I'd like anyone to make ever. However in terms of if the situation was reversed, I can honestly say (though whether you believe me is another matter!) that I would understand Kara making the equivalent decision. Because it was the right command decision. However I'd probably feel all kinds of bruised and be glad Lee was getting some distance from her afterwards. I felt bruised when she shot him and that was just an accident! I am not surprised by the depth of your emotion about this--I just find it really sad when logic is confused with emotion and people start fighting over it.

I always knew Kara respected Lee as a leader but I never knew until Razor how much.
Same! And I guess that's partly why I came out of Razor feeling better about the ship than you did. I rarely get to see Kara's love and admiration for Lee but I really saw it here. I agree that there was less obvious shippiness from Lee but I saw more than you mention--I saw how delighted he was to have her by his side in the opening ceremony, how he wanted her to tease him, how even when she was criticising his XO he couldn't stop touching her and appealing to her as a friend. And how he didn't call Kara in front of Kendra--he called BOTH of them on not acting like officers, when really it was Kara who was out of line there. He was protecting her as a friend and trying to talk to her as a friend while also being a commander, and it was hard for him and he didn't do it very well but it does show how much he cares for her. And he was incredibly choked up talking to his father about the fact that Kara might have died unnecessarily at his hand--he brings it up himself as soon as Adama mentions mistakes and difficult choices. He's more critical of himself over it than Adama. And you may not have seen it but he was delighted to hear her voice on the comm again, and he could hardly speak/was all choked up. And he let her leave Galactica because he understood it was best and she needed space, and he loved what she said to him in that final scene. And he thinks he's 'got it coming' because of what he did--it will weigh on him forever. Did you read this?

I wonder if this situation finally made them even with the shooting incident?
More than. I hate to play scales, but emotionally it does sort of feel like that between them at times and the shooting never sat well with me--it seemed unnecessary for Ron to have scripted that.
latteaddict: Starbuck boxinglatteaddict on November 5th, 2007 05:48 am (UTC)
I read your extra comments on the Lee/papadama scene. And I think Bill was serving as a conscience of sorts and it I agree that this event would definitely be part of why Lee ultimately leaves the military. He doesn't want to be remembered in history in the same light as his father or Cain.

I hate to play scales, but emotionally it does sort of feel like that between them at times

I started making a list once of parelleles of relationships and events between pilots, and it looks like Ron is trying to keep things pretty even. I think you and I even discussed quite a few of those parallels a while ago. Though I do admit that Kara's tend to be more painful or thrilling and Lee's more subdued. But I wonder if half the time it's because Lee reacts more to what she does which heightens the situation whereas Kara tends to stand still and take it, which lessens the impact of Lee's.
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 06:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee boxing hugbop_radar on November 5th, 2007 01:33 am (UTC)

It just feels like Lee didn't give enough thought on how he could save her.
Ok... I can see what you're saying there. Kara would have rushed in and done something reckless but brave and (probably) pulled it off because that's who she is. While that would have been romantic, it wouldn't have been realistic. I do think they could have shown us a bit more of the reasons WHY there really wasn't another alternative though.

To simply state that having an emotional reaction to a military show is dumb (like brokenmnemonic accused me of doing when he said "They aren't star-crossed lovers on Star Trek. They are portrayed consistently as living military personnel fighting a war.") shows an unrealistic attitude towards the show
I don't think that's what Ed meant. Of course we have emotional reactions to the show--and I for one definitely think you have a right to that. Personally I felt sick and drained and insomniac for days afterwards, but I know my tears and my pain about it don't change the logic of the situation. If anything the emotion is more powerful because they do show a realistic situation--it's far more heartbreaking than the simple solutions and happy endings of cheesy tv.

. It is about drama and people's lives. Ron Moore has said that many times. We are supposed to care about what happens.
Yes, we are. And we are manipulated here--he constructed it to be a brutal situation and to show the toughest possible scenario for Lee commanding over Kara, someone he loves. It's natural to be emotional about it, and I can give you all the rational arguments in the world but they won't change your feelings even if you are swayed by them intellectually.

*offers you a hot bath and cocoa instead* ?
latteaddict: Garfieldlatteaddict on November 5th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
and I can give you all the rational arguments in the world but they won't change your feelings even if you are swayed by them intellectually.

that's the thing isn't it?

Even if I can see it from a different perspective unless it changes my gut feeling about the situation it all ends up as semantics. Though I do admit to slowly warming up and not feeling quite so black and white about it all. But ultimately, I think Razor showed why Lee/Kara can never work. They barely function enough as friends.

I think I'll just stick to enjoying and exploring their romantic possibilities in fanfic because I'm just as much as 'shipper as I ever was, but bit by bit the reality of pilots in the show keeps getting uglier and uglier. Neither of them are very good for each other.

It's probably a good thing that there's such a long wait between Razor and season 4. It will give me time to sort it all out and not colour how I see season 4.
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 7th, 2007 08:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 7th, 2007 10:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
latteaddict: Starbuck boxinglatteaddict on November 5th, 2007 12:55 am (UTC)
My read on that was that she was ok with it intellectually, but not emotionally. Parallel situation with Kara shooting Lee: Lee knew that it was an accident and was fine with that at a rational level, but emotionally it still hurt. If Kara hadn't been fine with it on a military level, I'm SURE she'd have given him and Bill both a piece of her mind--she doesn't exactly hold back with that stuff, as we saw in this episode.

This is where we agree completely. Kara never questioned Lee's orders and she was completely supportive of him. But it did hurt her emotionally and her transfer is proof of that.

I still insist that if Lee had softened at the end and been not so hard and cold that I would've felt so much better about what happened and be able to more easily accept it.

But as Razor stands in the timeline, I am now completely baffled as to why several months later Lee's cold hard military persona suddenly wanted to spend his life with Kara.

And if Kara and Lee couldn't work as CAG and Commander on Pegasus, then how did Lee and Dee manage to do it as XO and Commander without any conflict?
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Boppybop_radar on November 5th, 2007 01:43 am (UTC)
I still insist that if Lee had softened at the end and been not so hard and cold that I would've felt so much better about what happened and be able to more easily accept it.
Fair enough--I do think Ron was driving a few extra nails in there and that whole set piece felt quite contrived to work as a lead in to S4.

I am now completely baffled as to why several months later Lee's cold hard military persona suddenly wanted to spend his life with Kara.
He never stopped wanting that. There's actually no clear division between his 'hard military persona' and the loving person underneath, just as Kara is both a tough hotshot pilot and a vulnerable little girl underneath. If anything I think this incident would make him want her more--because he got a taste of what it would be like to lose her, and not just lose her but be directly responsible for her death. (Even though Lee believed he was doing the right thing he would NEVER have let himself off the guilt hook for that.) And I think the realisation that they really can't be together even just as friends and be in the same chain of command would make him long for it all the more--he's a hopeless romantic and the further away from him she went the more he loves her and needs her back. Yeah, it shouldn't take that for him to realise it, but he's a guy and they can be a bit dense. ;p (Although I think Lee DOES know that--at this point in time he thinks she's in love with Anders and he's been rejected by her.)

And if Kara and Lee couldn't work as CAG and Commander on Pegasus, then how did Lee and Dee manage to do it as XO and Commander without any conflict?
A. because they weren't in open conflict with the Cylons most of that time. and B. because RDM didn't write it, and C. because Dee has a really different personality. I thought it was very telling that Lee did not let Dee in on his decision to go back to New Caprica. And she was really trying to talk him up as a strong commander who could make the tough decision to leave the NC's behind, remember? I now think that scene and Lee's odd manner in it makes a LOT more sense. He seemed so closed off from her--I think that's because the situation was a strong parallel to this one and he knows that he CAN make that kind of decision (including the decision to leave Kara behind) but he also knows that he regretted it last time and that being a strong officer isn't the only thing he wants to be in his life. That's the beginning of the end between them if you ask me. Dee didn't lose it with him over it--she's far more passive that way and it ended up being a success so she didn't need to. But I don't think they were very strong as commander and XO because they weren't on the same page, and it's probably a REALLY good thing for the survival of the fleet that they didn't continue in those roles because I can't see that it would have ended well for anyone.

latteaddict: Fiercelatteaddict on November 5th, 2007 06:23 am (UTC)
If anything I think this incident would make him want her more--because he got a taste of what it would be like to lose her, and not just lose her but be directly responsible for her death. (Even though Lee believed he was doing the right thing he would NEVER have let himself off the guilt hook for that.) And I think the realisation that they really can't be together even just as friends and be in the same chain of command would make him long for it all the more--he's a hopeless romantic and the further away from him she went the more he loves her and needs her back.

I think you're forgetting that Lee is in the middle of his first flush of romance with Dee during the Razor time period. And haven't you been very careful to support Lee's feelings and not dismiss them like other L/K 'shippers (like myself) do? When a guy has a new woman in his bed, he's usually pretty satisfied and happy for quite a while before developing a wandering eye. And I'd say the time between Captain's Hand/Razor to New Caprica's ground breaking is about six months which is usually when the honeymoon period wears off. I know it's a cynical view, but despite Lee's feelings of friendship for Kara, I don't think at anytime during or after Razor he was wishing to have a relationship with her and worrying that their time was running out.

And she was really trying to talk him up as a strong commander who could make the tough decision to leave the NC's behind, remember?

*hides* I've never watched that scene beyond the first time. And all I remember is that she told Lee she married him because he reminded her of the Admiral. Which got my squick up. But I'll trust your judgment on the Lee/Dee interaction.
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 5th, 2007 06:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - latteaddict on November 7th, 2007 08:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bop_radar on November 7th, 2007 10:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
brokenmnemonic: Silhouettebrokenmnemonic on November 2nd, 2007 11:01 am (UTC)
I can only see it from Kara's POV and somehow I seriously doubt she thought Lee choosing her showed how much he loved and trusted her.
No, you aren't seeing this from Kara's POV. You're seeing it from your POV. I can say this, because you almost never see things from Kara's POV or Lee's POV when it comes to thinking of them as military officers. They aren't star-crossed lovers on Star Trek. They are portrayed consistently as living military personnel fighting a war. More than that, Kara Thrace is a career soldier. She grew up with a Marine for a mother. She grew up knowing exactly what it means to join the military. She knows what it means to be in command, to lead people, to be responsible for others. She didn't object to the order, which she could and would've done if she felt it was an illegal order. She tried to stop Kendra. She knew exactly why Lee gave the order he did, and if she felt it was wrong she would've told him or Adama that at lenght, and we would've been shown it. She's never hesitated to do that in canon before.