K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick! (bop_radar) wrote,
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!

Battlestar Galactica 3.10 The Son Also Rises

Whoever cares the most wins
There's an interesting statement. From Law and Mind: the mythology of legal practice by Joseph Adama. I have a feeling we'll be revisiting that assertion again in the next couple of weeks. But it certainly had resonance for the content of this, the post-Kara's-death episode. Who did care the most? Can we weigh one person's love (or grief) against another's?

I know there were many fans who wanted to see the Adamas tear themselves apart in grief, and perhaps some of them will be disappointed that there wasn't more outpouring. However in a show that rushes forward headlong at the pace of Battlestar, I think we got the most we could reasonably expect. For some fans it will be too little, for some too much--grief's difficult to pitch correctly because it's so personal. For my part, I was satisfied, and very glad that what we did see was layered and complex.

Adama mourns deliberately: he takes out Kara's file and looks through it. The photo he picks up is a formal portrait of a young pilot. The file contains not just honours but disciplinary notices, and both reflect the young officer that Adama loved like a daughter. He's taken by surprise, though, by a personal card. Like Kara herself, it makes him laugh unexpectedly. And it also prompts acknowledgment of the more personal connection between them.

The photo that Lee carries is different--it's a beaming, cheeky Kara, dressed casually seated at a card table and looking like she owns it; it's the Starbuck that used to heckle him in his briefings; the friend he used to jog with; the happy, life-loving girl he fell in love with. He chose a good photo, though it's as one-dimensional as Adama's more formal view of her. It leaves so much out, but it's a good choice of photo to encapsulate Starbuck (not Kara more fully).

I thought they did a great job of making Jamie look boyish and fragile as Lee in this episode. And his performance was consistent with that impression. As he first pulls Starbuck's photo from his pocket, he looks like he's hiding, from himself as well as from all the watching eyes. He's self-conscious and nervous, his attempt to follow through on his promise to Kara interrupted. But in the fact that he can't fully look at the photo, keeping it close to his side, and in the way he eyes the board nervously, we can see that he is not ready to make this formal gesture. He's struggling with formally acknowledging her loss as much as Sam is.

Sam's grief was somewhat obviously meant to mirror that of the fans. 'My girl's too lucky to check out' giving way to a sad acknowledgment that she is, after all, gone, even if that's hard to face: I'm pretty sure that's exactly where Ron would like us all to be right now emotionally vis a vis Kara's death. While I like Sam and thought the way he grieved was very appropriate, this was probably the scene I felt most distanced from in the whole episode, because I don't think Kara is gone gone, and having a character doubt that in the text did more to make me sure of that. They protesteth too much, methinks.

Having said that, I really liked Lee's exchanges with Sam in this episode. (What?! No, not just because of the slash potential, though hey, I'm not saying I didn't think it with lines like 'let's just go and get some sleep'.) But seriously, I really appreciated the sense that these were two men who could have liked each other a great deal if they hadn't loved the same woman. In Rapture we saw their mutual admiration for each other, and Sam's definitely the sort of person who wants to put bad blood behind him. On Lee's part, I think it's more complicated. I think in many ways, being around Sam is a relief to him. It puts him in a role that he's comfortable with--the supportive, sympathetic leader, watching out for others. And Sam is able to grieve loudly and publicly in a way that Lee can't--Lee understands his need to, and at some level I think it must be cathartic for him to watch someone doing that.

So Lee's genuinely compassionate when he's called in to remove a drunken Sam from the viper deck. I loved the moment when Sam looked into Lee's eyes and lost it. Sam doesn't want a mirror right now, but that's what he gets with Lee, and Lee's eyes say Kara's gone. They work cathartically for Sam, triggering him from bravado into sorrow.

At another level that scene worked subtly to show that Lee's not coping. Sam falls, Lee's attempts to talk him down ending dramatically. He's not hurt but he could have been, which is a good lead in to what we see in the rest of the episode.

To see Lee lose focus at the squadron briefing came as no surprise. Without Starbuck, he's lost, and I was pretty damn certain we'd see that. Everyone aboard Galactica carries silent griefs inside them, and as CAG, Lee's got used to carrying his undemonstratively, so I wasn't surprised that he wasn't sobbing over noodles. Instead, he's sleepwalking through his daily tasks and doesn't even fully realise it. The fact that only two episodes ago we saw Starbuck validate Apollo's 'one is the only number you need to know' speech made his rambling about 'one running into the next' so much more poignant. And as if that wasn't embarrassing enough, he calls Racetrack Starbuck. (Oh, frak, Lee, where were you in your head?) Part of Lee's loss is a loss of direction and focus as CAG without Starbuck to riff off, to balance and challenge him. And while the looks of the other pilots are sympathetic and compassionate, it's publicly embarrassing for him to acknowledge that, let alone the other reason(s) why her loss is hitting him so hard.

Even Lee's attempt at some of his old bitchiness with his father was half-hearted. 'Maybe you should take a rest' doesn't quite carry the right punch when you're biting back tears. And having Adama decide to ground Lee as a protective measure was very very sensitive territory, given that Lee's own decision not to ground Kara led to her death. The fact that neither of them was coping at all came across starkly in their second confrontation where Adama reprimands Lee for not acting like a soldier. Lee goes into attack mode when accused of what is evident to everyone--that grief is making him unfocussed, careless and easily manipulated. The fact that he actually falls back on 'you have no idea', in his attempt to out-grieve his father shows just how far gone he is. (Aside: what does Adama think he's referring to? what does Lee think his father will think he's referring to? It really is stretching credulity that Adama has no idea...) Lee's anger here had echoes of his flip-out at Sam in Rapture when he screamed that he'd known Kara and cared for longer. Though it's ugly, I think Lee does feel that he loves Kara 'more' than Sam, that his grief is greater than his fathers. The secrecy surrounding his feelings for Kara only enhance the sense of injustice, and it becomes unbearable for Lee in grief; he's desperate for the relief that acknowledging publicly that he loved her would give him.

I think that's another reason why Sam is easy for Lee to be around right now. Sam knows and is gracious about it. He's faced that demon--he faced it when he asked his wife if she loved Lee. It's not the issue any more, because Kara's gone. Even so, Sam's admirably restrained in not trying to jostle with Lee for mourning rights.
Did Sam have a photo of Kara to put on the wall as well? Regardless, it's very telling that the show chose to end that scene with Sam staring thoughtfully at Lee's photo of Kara, placed where Kara had requested. Even in grief, there's secrecy there--for Sam wouldn't know that Kara asked Lee to place her photo there. I felt as if not just Sam but the show overall was giving Lee his 'rights' as chief mourner there.

Blink and you'd have missed it, but they actually said Zak's name in this episode! Well, Lee says it. I don't think Adama would ever have admitted on his own that Kara's death has brought up old emotions about Zak's death. But Lee's more comfortable confronting that and he hits close to home, and close to the heart of all his old issues with his father in suggesting that he's being asked to carry on in Zak's place, in Kara's place, as Adama's last precious child. Lee has his own blindness though: he feels he'll never live up to their memories, that Adama's grief for them eclipses his love for Lee. I don't think that's true, but I think that's what Lee feels is true.

Cylon love versus human love
We've seen the Cylons puzzle over love and how strange a thing it is, but we've never had such an open Cylon-human dialogue about it before. Lambkin is interesting because he 'plays' Six the same way he would any other witness in a trial. He manipulates her emotionally by appealing to her love for Gaius, and in doing so he brings to the surface the fact that Cylons and humans alike feel pain in loving. There is no qualitative difference in their love. And it cannot be weighed as 'less' than a human's (any more than it is possible to way one person's grief against another's). That's confronting stuff for most of the humans, but Lambkin has no qualms--he sees 'the machines' are alike in having their 'demons'. They're all equal before the law.

Interesting stuff, and an intriguing starting point for the episodes ahead.

Lambkin and identification
I thought Lambkin was going to be gimmicky at first--that cat?! those glasses?! But I was won over by the writing of his character, which was more interesting than I initially expected.

It's clear that Lee identifies with Lambkin's experience with his wife. Lambkin's words are: 'I thought if I could get over her, I could get over anything, I could endure, conquer, be a man, stand up to any and all punishment.' We see Lee's emotions written on his face: this is exactly what he felt when he left Kara behind on New Caprica and married Dee. But how well did he ever 'get over' Kara? Lambkin's realisation is that if he had to fight that hard not to be with her, he should be with her. Lee made a different decision prior to Kara's death. He was still very much taking the approach that strength would come from managing to live successfully without her.

Lambkin's manipulations are obvious--removing his glasses before speaking (lying) to Caprica Six about Gaius's feelings for her. Lee sees his duplicity, and yet he's still sucked in by it because there are so many reasons why Lee Adama would feel this pull right now. Lambkin claims that the law is a way of exorcising one's demons (something Lee desperately needs), and the significance of this for Lee is doubled by the fact that Lambkin says he learnt this from Lee's grandfather.

Lee: 'What I don't understand is why he put himself through so much abuse' *frowny face*
Bop: Oh, Leeeeee!! *headdesk*
(Because, er, Lee, you're pretty frakking good at putting yourself through abuse, of making yourself the 'bad guy' while holding yourself tightly to some internal code of ethics that others find absurd in its obscurity. Guess it runs in the fam.)

Serial contrarian is one of the most apt descriptions for Lee ever, and I think that call is one of the things that most sold me on Lambkin. Appropriately, we learn that Lee 'hated' the law, as well as once having wanted to follow it as a calling. He hates and loves the military. He hates and loves his father, he hated and loved Kara ... as soon as he said he hated law, it was a dead cert he was going to pursue it. Lee's a problem-solver --he worries away at things until he can make sense of them and find a clear path through, and that's never more true than when the problem is in his own mind as it is here.

If we believe Lambkin, Lee's grandfather 'defended the undefendable' in order to understand why people do what they do. That's something that's really going to hook Lee in. It offers a chance to make sense of the world. It was clear that Lambkin was still manipulating Lee here, with the existential questions he brings up, such as 'why we go to war, sacrificing our lives for lost causes?' This is all obviously targetted at Lee. And he ends with 'why we forgive, defying logic'. Again, this has resonance with what Lee has to 'work through' about Kara. He forgave her, his love for her defying his logical, rational nature. He talks about working with the damaged and the flawed, about wanting to know why we're all flawed: this is what will appeal to Lee about this journey. He needs to solve the problem of his own flaws and find compassion for others.

How far should we trust Lambkin? Not very far, I suspect. Yet, like Lee, I found myself sucked in despite my suspicions. He proves himself genuinely insightful with the objects that he steals from others, objects that tell him something about the owner. He provides insight into Adama that Lee was unable to see: that his father isn't feeling very soldierly himself right now. The fact that what Lambkin would have stolen from Lee is Kara's photo tells us what we've already seen--that he's using Lee's grief at Kara's death as his way 'in' to Lee's psyche. It's a detail that Lambkin can use. Even his compassion may be a manipulation, but I liked it anyway. He says, 'you've had enough stolen from you already'. These are very healing words for Lee, whose feeling like his own grief has been stolen from him by others, even though he can only kick himself for that.

Looking ahead
The final reveal was a great touch--we see how Lee plays into Lambkin's overall plan for Baltar's trial. And I am REALLY looking forward to this now, tangled and strange as it will no doubt be. It's going to be an intimate affair with Adama as judge, Lee on the Defence team and Roslin watching over the outcome. But I can deal with the improbability of that since it reflects a major problem for the fleet: the key players do all know one another and the personal and the political are entangled. This is reflected in Caprica and Gaius's relationship as well, so I'll be really interested to see how that has bearing on the trial.

Other random reflections
For a moment I thought that wisteria_'s poll suggestion that Kara may be reincarnated as a kitten to haunt Galactica had come to pass. Actually, a cat with nine lives is a pretty good metaphor for Kara. A cat that's an escape artist, that leads to the lucky timely discovery of a bomb--yup, very Kara-like. Lambkin refers to the cat as being his wife's and jokes about it not biting and scratching like she did. With Lee identifying so heavily with Lambkin's relationship, that connection's a bit hard not to miss. *giggle* I kind of enjoyed this absurdist light relief.

I love that Roslin is so determined to have a rigorous fair trial to the point where she apologises to Lee for the delay in receiving the files, even though Lee himself appeared ridiculously distracted. And I really hope Laura gives Lee a nice cup of tea and a chat when he goes to return her glasses. Though I guess presidents have more important thing to do.

Poor Helo, once again getting promoted and then demoted. But now he's CAG, for a while at least!

Poor Dee, having to wire through her husband's (second) demotion from CAG, wondering what the hell is going on. She wasn't really in this episode. Guess it was easier for them not to tackle what's going on in their marriage yet. (Let's hope 'yet' is the appropriate word.)
Tags: bsg_meta, bsgseason3

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