Wednesday, August 6, 2014

31 Day Battlestar Galactica Challenge, Day 6: Favorite Character All Around

This truly should not come as a surprise to no one.
Capt. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace
Via Tumblr
When my father watched Katee Sackhoff in Longmire, he immediately looked at Three and said, "That's Juju. That person, right there. Does she know this actress?" Hell, I remember her in Fifteen and Pregnant, you guys. Unlike my Favorite Male Character, to whom you were introduced way back on Day 4, however, my love of Starbuck is completely separate from the actress, although I do consider her to be my secret BFF.

I see so much of myself in Kara: highly spiritual, still struggling with my upbringing, out-of-the-box thinking, impulsive, deeply connected to people I love, enjoys gambling* and smoking**, etc. I'm not as self-destructive, but when I overthink things, oh, God: I can come up with any way to sabotage what I'm trying to do better than any Dick Dastardly. Her sincere belief that she is fucked up - and therefore deserving of all the shit that gets piled onto her - was definitely me at a younger age. But she's definitely an idealist, as Leoben tells her: the entire world is actually pretty okay, but she brings on all this hurt and pain and emotive tumultuousness to herself.

Girl. I feel you. She's harder on herself than anyone else could ever be. From the beginning of the series, we're dropped little hints that she feels responsible for Zak Adama's death. It's not that she isn't; I mean, she passed the dude, who bombed the final tests to get his wings, because she had warm, fuzzy feelings about him. She can't bring herself to tell her father-figure, Commander Adama (and her almost-father-in-law), about it, despite the fact that they discuss Zak at least once a year, and it isn't until Lee accidentally reveals it to his father that she actually confesses. Adama's reaction is understandable, since she's effectively been lying for the past two years, but the pain from disappointing someone you truly love? Gah. Their reconciliation scene is quite possibly one of the sweetest things that has ever aired on television: both are trying to be strong and neither really say The Words, but it's pretty obvious that the hurdle has been passed. I wish that they'd actually followed up with this thread, since that sort of thing never really goes away, even if forgiveness has been given. It's almost a Xander-esque way of handling this sort of situation; it never gets mentioned again, not even by Lee, who is the marathon man of grudges.

Speaking of Lee, I never really liked how he and Starbuck paired off. It wasn't even that both were committing infidelity to some pretty awesome people (Dee and Anders, you deserved so much better). They just didn't make sense. I preferred it when they were portrayed as having more of a sibling style relationship. I do think that Kara was definitely transferring her romantic feelings for his now-dead brother onto Lee, which isn't necessarily Lee's fault (although I tend to blame him for things that happen in the series just because it makes me feel better), and I suppose it does hold true with Starbuck's character. Plus, both then go on to emotionally abuse their significant others, and that just makes me incredibly sad. Starbuck and Anders, however, make total sense to me, and not just because they are both Pyramid players. Their personalities just mesh, which makes it all the more difficult to watch as she hurts him.

On Day 4, I said that Leoben is my favorite Cylon, and a big part of that is his relationship with Starbuck. It's such a deep, painful connection between these two, and it seems to affect her much more than it does him. In "Maelstrom," probably one of the best episodes of the series, he is her guide through various old memories of her mother, and he even provides her a sense of closure as she is able to reconcile with her mother as Socrata dies from terminal cancer, an act that she was not able to do in real life. Only when she can accept who and what she is can Kara accept her fate, such as it is, to become the harbinger of the human race. I find it interesting that, during her captivity on New Caprica, she resists her attraction (and dare I say, affection, as was apparent in "Flesh and Bone") to Leoben and kills him six times, only to dream of a sexual encounter with him later on in "Maelstrom." I've had sex dreams about people that I have mild feelings of attraction for but never about people that I loathe as much as she appears to despise Leoben, but, considering her nature, she sees this as a just punishment: the only person she with whom can truly connect isn't human and is everything she is supposed to hate and destroy.

However, despite all of the above, he's also just as abusive as her mother was, although it's definitely more psychological than anything else. He's manipulative and rather stalker-like, despite his assertions that he is in love with her. When she's captured by the Cylons and forced to live a very strange "married" life with Leoben on New Caprica, in and of itself awful, he fucks with her brain by introducing Kacey***, a toddler that was supposedly created using her eggs from her ovary that was removed while she was incarcerated on the Farm ("The Farm") in the previous season. Of course, the little girl turns out to be the daughter of another woman, but it messes with her head enough that it takes a few episodes to examine how Starbuck reacts toward both the real mother of Kacey and to Kacey herself. It's this kind of torture that undermines any type of romance or even friendship that Leoben and Thrace can have.

The final season of Starbuck kind of has me torn, particularly since I kind of wish that Starbuck had been a member of the Final Five, or one of the other seven Cylon models, at least. Of course, it would have been hard to explain, oh, the fact that she had a mother (except that nobody really seems to know of the woman's existence, other than Starbuck and Leoben), but it would make sense, given her connection to grander story of humanity's redemption and evolution. I mean, come on, she knows the song that the Final Five started hearing throughout the ship at the end of the third season.

"Kara Remembers" by Bear McCreary
Battlestar Galactica, Season Four Soundtrack

(Also, Bear McCreary is a musical genius, so listen to the entire series soundtrack when you get a chance. They're all uploaded to YouTube. You are welcome.) Before the show came to a close, one of my theories was that Starbuck was the destroyed Daniel model, but the other Cylons had forgotten that she was actually female (Danielle, I guess?); and Ellen, who favored the model, had located the last copies (possibly just two, the functioning Starbuck and the copy that is resurrected to bring the humans and Cylons to Earth) that hadn't been tainted by Cavil. It would ensure that the entire race of Cylons would have been incorporated into society, something I think that the Final Five version of Ellen would have wanted to see: all of her children reunited. Then we also wouldn't have Starbuck simply vanishing into the ether, which I found to be particularly disappointing in the finale (uh, sorry, spoiler alert?). In addition, we would have seen another human-to-Cylon story arc, where Starbuck would have to come to terms with herself. Perhaps her self-destruction came from deep-seated abandonment issues - Cavil murdered her model out of jealousy - which would explain her dwelling on her "mother's" disapproval and constant harping that she had a destiny. Socrata was her subconscious, albeit a highly abusive one. You know, I think this is going to be head-canon for me now.

To be honest, it's because she has this flawed Destructo Girl (thanks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer!) personality who makes Bad Decisions that she's my favorite character. Like I said above, I feel a kinship and admiration for Kara that goes beyond my love of any other people in the show. She's not beyond reproach and even acts in ways that I find deplorable (joining the Death Panel at the beginning of Season Three, for example), but she's still so incredibly approachable and complex, someone that deserves an in-depth character study. Kara isn't perfect, but in that imperfection, you can explore the highs and lows of your own identity without having to leave your couch. I did, at least.

* I specifically have trained myself not to gamble. Believe me, I would already be broker than I already am.
** Recently quit smoker ... well, cigarettes. My vape - as of this moment filled with the sweet taste of mango - has been instrumental in curbing my need of cigarettes. Now, all I have to do is wean myself off of nicotine, and we'll be good to go.
*** My only qualm with this story line is that Starbuck, being a Viper pilot and all around badass, has not shown any signs that she would ever want to be a mother. While I do eventually want to have a kid, I understand that is not for everyone, and women are often questioned or downright harassed if they have made the choice to be child-free. It's just that type of thinking - that despite her lack of desire to be a parent, Starbuck is still assumed to be biologically predisposed to want to procreate but is only hesitant because of childhood abuse - that irritates me because it's placing certain cultural norms in a story that's at least partly about leaving behind a former way of life.

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