Monday, August 4, 2014

31 Day Battlestar Galactica Challenge, Day 4: Favorite Cylon

While this may seem to be a non sequitur, I loved Due South. It was almost unhealthy, actually. Given that statement, a big draw for Leoben Conoy was that he was played by Callum Keith Rennie.
Leoben Conoy (Number Two), Played by Callum Keith Rennie
From "The Plan"
I love Rennie. He's kind of like Christopher Walken but with better acting chops: he'll be in a lot of shitty movies and TV shows (Due South, Memento, Battlestar Galactica, and others in exception here, of course) and will steal the show. He does not disappoint as Leoben, as I fully expected.

Of all the Cylon models, Leoben fascinates me: he's duplicitous and conniving, yet very spiritual and connected to the universe as a whole. While his missions usually involve sewing seeds of distrust, he seems to view himself as an instrument through which others can learn truth, which is why he never appears to regret lying (or telling half-truths) to nearly everyone he crosses. It's through Leoben's obsession and interactions with Kara that start her down the path to realizing her destiny. This obviously does not excuse the psychological torture that she puts her through, but as he would say, there is a purpose in all suffering (I'll get back to this in a second).

One of the more interesting turns the character takes is before the beginning of the Cylon civil war. He sides with the Sixes and Eights by voting against lobotomizing the Raiders, who refused to attack the Colonial Fleet after they encountered Anders flying a Viper. It makes sense, given his character's belief that every creature* is a child of God, but it's his willingness to divide the Cylons' unity that's intriguing. The chasm between the different models is evident from the beginning of the third season, where they fight over their actions toward humans and then later, when they box the Threes. But to come to a head and commit Cylon-on-Cylon violence willingly, a prophecy made by a Hybrid in Razor, is truly showing how human the Cylons truly are, something that Leoben would embrace, even if it did mean that there would be a multitude of casualties.

His search for love, which he wanted with Kara Thrace, reminded me a lot of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before he regained his soul. His attempts to force Buffy to love him, particularly in that awful rape attempt scene, and the fact that he represents all the things that Buffy hates about herself and about life, mirror that of Conoy's jailing of Starbuck on New Caprica. Although Spike isn't nearly as manipulative, he also sees himself as the one person who can truly love the strong, yet conflicted woman of his dreams. In both cases, I view Buffy/Kara and Spike/Leoben as perfect matches, had they met and interacted with each other under different circumstances, but their respective issues - Spike's vampirism and Leoben's maniacal fixation and their ways of handling the situation - remove any chance of a relationship to develop in a healthy manner. I don't believe that they should end up together in any form, since there is almost too much to get past, but they can reach a point where they can learn from each other and become better people.

It's Leoben's complexity that intrigues me. He's not someone you can easily pin down or guess what his next move will be, although in retrospect, you can always see the angle at which he was coming. He's hopeful and indescribably patient, wise and cruel, clairvoyant and indecipherable. Even when he was vicious, I couldn't stop watching, just to see the outcome. I wanted to see if what he said or did ("Adama is a Cylon.") was truth or lie, or a mixture of the two, especially if it meant that more character development for the person he was speaking to was on its way (Starbuck, Roslin, Adama, etc.). It almost always did, and the payoff was usually well worth it.

Plus, you know, Callum Keith Rennie.
Love you. Be in more stuff.
* I also find it interesting that Boomer voted for the lobotomization, considering that in the first season, she's seen treating the captured Raider as if it is an animal and encourages Tyrol to act as if it's a "pet."

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