But dionusia has declared this Lee Love Week and I am determined to participate in this most wonderful of causes!
My only problem was coming up with a NEW way to describe Lee's awesomeness, given that I spent most of my time in BSG fandom boring you all senseless on that very subject. But, I can do it! With lists. :) Warning for insane bias and fangirling ahead (and spoilers for 4.0 but no 4.5 please!).
I'm with Jamie--I think the BSG writers didn't love Lee as much as they should have. I have no idea why they didn't, because to me he seems like wonderful material from both a character and plot/narrative perspective. But just because the show has over- or under-used the following, or just used them clumsily, doesn't mean that fandom's creators (writers, vidders, etc) shouldn't exploit the following aspects of Lee's brilliance. I've focused here on the ways Lee contrasts or connects with other characters because there is so much material there for conflict (and eventual resolution).
1. Inter-generational conflict/contrast. Ok, yes, Lee's easily teased for his daddy issues, but having a father-son relationship on the show is powerful material. It's all in how you use it! And personally Lee's daddy issues were one of the first things I fell for. :p
2. Sibling rivalry. Adama considers Kara a daughter, even if she never quite made it to official sister-in-law to Lee. That gives them lots to play with, even without a romance plot. And as it turns out Adama likes to keep his doors open where surrogate offspring are concerned, so Lee's got to stay on his toes!
3. Rebel with a cause! More on this later, but suffice to say that the combination of 'principled' and 'willing to mutiny
4. The second most awesome pilot. Lee has no problem playing second
5. No grand destiny. Lee may yet be given one. I don't know. But I do know that he's always been played as a character who does not believe in his personal destiny and/or 'specialness'. And no, I'm not contrasting him to Kara here. I'm thinking more of Gaius. I don't know how deliberate it is but the show has occasionally produced episodes that invite us to compare the two figures--Gaius, so desperate to believe that there's something 'special' that redeems him, or some mystic destiny guiding his hand; and Lee, who would baulk at such an idea, who believes in free will, rationality and the pragmatic logical decision. I'm a bit of a sucker for that contrast (especially since I'm with Lee all the way on this!).
6. Democracy's advocate. Someone needs to be! (understatement!) The Lee-Laura relationship is obviously the biggest card here, but Lee-Zarek is part of the landscape as well. Much has been written elsewhere (*nods to asta77*) on why Laura needs someone like Lee around, why that works so well--whether they are in agreement or dispute. Lee's ability to argue, to think deeply about the issues and to weigh decisions appropriately is one of his most useful attributes--and through his character the viewer or reader can follow a debate or issue from a different angle.
7. Leadership qualities. I maintain Lee demonstrated leadership qualities from the start--but I also like that he developed them and he grew more confident in this role over time. Characters should grow--and Lee did. Lee's capacity for leadership is, one would think, infinitely useful, and no matter how clunkily it came about it was good to see that recognised in his short stint as Prez.
8. Ability to empathise. I'd argue this is part of what makes him a good leader, but I wanted to single it out because it is pretty damn rare in the BSG cast. Like many of the characters, Lee has had his fair share of trauma and he's battled nihilism, depression and other inner demons for a long time. He knows how hard it is to get up and keep going, even when you maybe don't believe it'll work out. Yes, sometimes he is trapped in his own pain and can't hear the voices of those closest to him, but often Lee's capacity for compassion towards others and his personal experiences combine to make him a very empathetic person. With so many characters emotionally and physically bruised and battered at this point in time that seems to me to be a very important attribute. It also means he doesn't hold grudges with people like Helo or Sam, even though they've crossed each other in the past.
9. Not the Cylons' biggest fan. I stuck this down the bottom of my list as it's a bit controversial. ;) But personally I love that Lee (or SOMEONE) considered annhiliating the Cylons once and for all. Because if offered that option in the middle of a war that could end in human extinction, you would have to consider it. I also like that Lee works (or worked) well as a contrast to Helo, the Cylons' human advocate.
10. Hotness! Let us not forget it! For it is most useful to have a character that looks extremely hot in the following circumstances: in a flight suit, relaxing in the mess, sleeveless, drunk, in a suit, in a red shirt, in a towel, naked, in bed with other characters, in arguments with other characters (particularly on steamy algae planets), when frustrated, when elated, even when he's emo... such flexibility of hotness has got to be admired. AND USED!!!
1. Lee/Kara. I'm biased, obviously. ;) But Lee/Kara offers the attraction of opposites, family politics/history and angst (Zak!), grand destinies, tragedy kinks, death and rebirth, mutual saving-of-each-other (multiple times), the frustration of mistiming and misunderstanding, as well as sparkling chemistry, banter and arm porn. Not to mention boxing, drunken kisses and declarations of love.
2. Lee/Laura. I still can't see what Laura sees in Bill. Sorry Adama/Roslin people! I'd pick the son, any day. And I really like Lee's relationship with Laura. She can talk politics with him, they can disagree and still respect one another, he empathises with her and understands what she's trying to balance. And 'lady's in charge' is probably my favourite line from the mini--the fact that Lee accepted Laura so fast in that role made him infinitely great in my eyes. And if he's to play her successor the relationship has an extra layer of pathos.
3. Lee/Kendra. A ship I'd like to see WAY more of. Kendra is potentially a fabulous character to pair Lee with because they have a lot in common--Razor paralleled their journeys. But Kendra also has some Kara-like attributes and the differences in her circumstances and Lee's would make for very interesting material to explore. I don't think theirs would be an easy relationship (whether romantic or purely as Commander and 2IC) but it would be engaging. Also Kara/Lee/Kendra would have been a Triangle of Awesome (as opposed to a Quadrangle of Doom!).
4. Lee/Dee. Yeah, look, not my favourite ship because I look to fiction for escapism from reality and Lee/Dee is a very 'real life' ship to me. But it does show some attributes of Lee's that I like, including his imperfections. Love is a struggle for Lee and he doesn't always understand it--he thinks he can will it into being by sheer determination. And in real life? He probably could. (But she might still walk out on him anyway.) Something about the pathos of the Lee/Dee ship does tug at my heartstrings--and I think it's the idea of two people trying to snatch some happiness in less than ideal circumstances. It's also the ship that says grand romance is not all it's cut out to be--and that's a valid message.
5. Lee/Helo. Heh heh heh. Um. Totally there for the HOT factor. No, not just that! The potential greatness of Lee/Helo lies in the fact that there is both mutual respect and some rivalry/angst between these two. Lee had a hard time accepting Athena and he disagrees politically with Helo's stance on the Cylons (or did), but they totally respected each other in their roles within the military and were shown as buddies occasionally (random gym scene yay!). As best friend to Kara, Helo's also in an interesting position to observe Lee's rocky love life. Can't buy them as a longterm ship but totally appropriate for one-night-stands. ;)
6. Lee/Racetrack. She brought him back to life! Racetrack is an interesting character to explore in fic because we get only glimpses of her in canon. A pairing that could potentially win me.
7. Lee/Sam. Has been banished far down my personal list due to Sam's complete hopelessness as a character in my eyes in 4.0. But I do understand why people ship them, even if I don't myself. It's the arms, right? No? Lee's compassion for Sam following Kara's death was terrific--and the grounds for the grace with which they treated one another on Kara's return to the fleet. I like that the show didn't stick with adolescent jealousy and rivalry but showed the two men united in grief and then joy instead--and I can see why that's a big turn-on for Kara fans. ;)
8. Lee/Ellen. Because it would be amusing and porny at the same time. Lee discombulated by unwanted female attention is a pretty wonderful thing and there should be more of it.
9. Lee/Shevon. Yeah, yeah, I'm the only person in the world who wants to read fic about them. *ducks thrown tomatoes* But I kind of liked the fucked-up-ed-ness of their relationship and thought she had balls for dumping him after he saved Paya. I wouldn't want to live there forever, but I am kind of fascinated by what was going on there for Lee--particularly the desire to protect others, and the secret yearning for a family and 'normalcy' (tragically transparently unreal).
10. Lee/pregnant Caprican girlfriend. It may have been a bit 'pasted on yay!' but Lee's history with women is intriguing, especially in a longer look at his fear of intimacy, and the way his commitment issues war with his desperation to be someone's somebody.
Feel free to add to the list or reorder it at will! :)
Since I've run out of time today, this post might have to be the first of several. And be warned that the lists may get crazier over time... Aww, I've missed talking about Lee!