Monday, October 5, 2009

"...the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Resistance / The Farm / Home: Part 1

Does the title Resistance refer to the rag-tag resistance that Kara and Helo encounter on Caprica? Does it refer to the resistance of the fleet to Tigh's martial law and Roslin's continued imprisonment? Does it refer to the quite simmering resistance of the crew of Galactica to the actions and reactions of their drunken XO? Three big sides of the story.

I love the resistance that Kara and Helo meet on Caprica. I have always had a soft spot for post-apocalyptic stories - survival without society, fighting an immediate and tangible enemy, but also people coming together to re-build or at least unite in the face of extinction. Suddenly stumbling upon this Pyramid team, who are using scrounged weapons and tactics they learned from the movies, seems to pull Kara out of her moodiness and back to life. She has been shattered: finding out her friend Sharon is a Cylon and a traitor (I can only imagine the thoughts going through her head about Boomer back in the fleet!) then losing her only way back "home" to Galactica to that same traitor, breaking into her old apartment to realize that she never really missed any of it anyways, and hasn't been fighting for anything, just fighting because she doesn't know how to do anything else. (An aside that may be considered a mini-spoiler: I didn't realize that the piano piece that she plays on her battery-operated radio was her dad. Love the strings that this show dangles then ties up.!) I can only imagine her happiness - relief, maybe? - at finding more people who are fighting for their way of life, their freedom, their humanity, just as she has been. And, oh, what a breath of fresh air it must be to see new faces! Someone different, who's every quirk and tick you haven't yet discovered, memorized, anticipated. Perhaps that is why she falls so hard for Anders - he's new.

Dee's quiet resistance to Tigh's Martial Law is seen first in her (presumed) daily conversations with Lee as she escorts him to and from the Brig. She relays information about the health of his father; of Saul's new-found relationship with his flask; and that she wishes Lee Adama was in charge. We start to recognize where Dee's ultimate loyalty lies: to the Adamas. In the Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down, she overlooks off-log calls for the Commander as he looks into Ellen Tigh's credibility. And this week she facilitates Roslin's resistance by covering up scrambled calls to arrange for Lee and Laura's escape. (Plus, she gives Lee's behind a fond glance after one of their chats.)

Jeff, as always, is excited to see Racetrack in any significant role, so to see her aiding Roslin's escape just lit him up!

I love that Lee had to work with Tom Zarek to get Roslin out of prison. After his insistence on a vote within the Quorum for Vice Presidency, he forced her hand to supporting the nomination Gaius Baltar - keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Well, now "it would seem that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.," and this begs the question of what lows Zarek will stoop to for his own gain, or what debt will need to be repaid on either side of this tense peace.

The Farm is necessarily creepy - but again, this is a show that pushes boundaries and asks hard questions. So follow the logic: if the Cylons believe in their one true god, and they take their god's scriptures literally and god has commanded them to be fruitful, then the hardwired, determined, rational, robotic Cylon brain would find it absolutely necessary to procreate at any cost. Unfortunately, the price of that single-minded resolve is sinister - and it elicits an equally resolute response in the resistance that remains on Caprica - to seek out and destroy the remaining Farms.

And again with Kara Thrace and her special destiny. What does Leoben really know? Clearly he shares his opinions of Kara with the other humanoid Cylons, as Sharon references his comments. (Aside: this means that when Leoben was airlocked, he was not - despite Kara's threat - in fact too far from wherever he needed to be to download into a new body, otherwise his experience would have been lost.) But do all the Cylons revere the importance of Kara - whatever that may be? It doesn't seem so, as Simon and Six wanted only to hook her up to the machines - though Simon did express regret.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, Liz. I'm particularly interested in your last paragraph and - mini-spoilers abounding! Cover your eyes, nugget-viewers! - I want to unpack it a little more.

    If Cavell is (as RDM implies in a commentary somewhere...) "the keeper of secrets", Leoben is the mystic. He intuits the answers, but cannot frame the questions with sufficient rationality to understand what he (thinks he) knows. Leoben buys into the prophesies of Earth more than any other cylon, but cannot explain why he knows what he (thinks he) knows. (*Still reading, nuggets? Skip to the next paragraph!*) Consider his ever-increasing veneration of Kara (L: "I see you like an angel, blazing with the light of God", in Flesh and Bone) culminating in utter disillusionment at a very key moment in Season 4 that I don't have the heart to mention here. Significantly, Leoben is only ever partially correct, but is always partially correct. Adama and Roslin discuss early on how Leoben "gets in your head" and "mixes truth with lies".

    The mythological aspect of Kara and Leoben's relationship, one of the uber-academic clout factors that make the two of them so engaging to me, banks on a stroke of genius by RDM in his crafting of Leoben. The Greek goddess Athena was appropriated in the late 19th century by German philosophers and early psychoanalysts as an archetype for the "feminine incarnation of masculine will". The goddess was born not from a mother but from bursting through Zeus' forehead, fully-grown wearing armour and carrying a spear. Her icon is the owl, a symbol of reason. This archetype fascinated 19th century literature and opera: the Brunnhilde of Wagner's epic "Ring of the Nibelung", the champion of the Valkyries, is much closer in spirit to Grecian Athena than the Icelandic princess of the same name from ancient Norse legend. This Brunnhilde, beloved daughter of the sky-god Wotan, carries the same armour and spear as Athena except now she can fly herself (no owls required) and redeems a crumbling world through self-immolation. Enter Kara Thrace: a science fiction Valkyrie if there ever was one. She flies, she fights, she knows more than she lets on. She even has wing tattoos on her arms and is frequently lit intensely from above, giving her a halo-like, vaguely supernatural appearance.

    I'll let BSG vets draw other Kara-as-Brunnhilde comparisons from here on, because I want to get back to Leoben, who, I would like to propose, is the gendered opposite of Kara. Leoben is the "male incarnation of feminine intuition"; the yin to Kara's yang. Kara has questions without answers; Leoben has answers without questions. I cannot think of another male character who has functioned as that mythological corollary, and to do so with such skill. Well done, Mr. Moore.

    Where does this leave the other cylons' feelings about Farming Kara? Hard to say. In their defence (which does not justify the heinousness of the Farms), they most likely had no idea that Kara might be any different from any other Colonial pilot. They didn't know any better. They were only following orders. I suspect "The Plan" will clear this up anyway, so not much use hypothesizing.