Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hero vs. Serendipity: Or Why I Can't Love Lee Adama

This is the second time in a few weeks that I'm making another reference to Battlestar Galactica. Is it because the show has so much wisdom to offer? So many thought-provoking concepts? Or is it simply that we've been watching season 4 (the truncated 2007-2008 season) at an average of four episodes a week for the last three weeks. We just finished the last episode, and I don't think anything I say here will be a spoiler for anyone, since most people are already watching season 5. (And please don't give me any spoilers about season 5, though if you could just let me know if the series ends with season 5, that'd be great.)

In the rushed episode "Sine Qua Non," though Lee Adama is rather anticlimactically handed the presidency (side note: do you think this storyline would have been flushed out if not for the writer's strike?), it was Romo Lampkin, the apparently delusional lawyer, whose words caught my attention. As Romo holds Lee at gunpoint in a hallway, the lawyer points out something I'd completely missed: that Lee never once sought an advancement. He was promoted from captain(?) of the pilots to admiral of his own battleship to council member of the government, with each promotion handed to him on a silver platter, and all he had to do was accept it. The presidency was no different.

I think the writers are trying to make a point--or I hope they are--but I don't get it. Are they trying to show that some people have greatness thrust upon them? That integrity and honesty and being a reliable, trustworthy person will garner you advancements, especially in times of crisis? That some people go through life just doing their job, and are rewarded (or punished, depending on how you view such increasing responsibilities)? Or that some people are simply lucky?

Any way I look at it, I don't like it. I can't completely explain it, either--not even to myself. I think it's part of why I've never grown attached to Lee the way I have other characters on the show. He doesn't fit my version of a hero. Or maybe he only fits part of it. He has a lot of the right traits, but he doesn't have something--the motivation to put himself in a place to put those traits to the best use, maybe?--to make him fit my idea of a hero. I would never write a main character like him. Definitely not a novel's worth. Maybe a short story, but there would be irony in it. I want a main character who is consciously making decisions and putting herself in places where she can do the most good, not passively accepting the offerings of fate like some special chosen one.

And yet, every argument against Lee fitting the role of a hero that I've crafted, I've had to delete, because I do think that he exhibits the traits needed in each role he's fulfilled and has followed the arc of a hero's journey. He's just a passive hero. Though he doesn't ask to be handed more responsibility, he's capable of shouldering it. He had the skill and belief in a military system to carry out his orders as the pilot captain, the knowledge and experience to be responsible for the lives of the men and women aboard the battleship he was handed, he taught himself the laws when he needed to defend Baltar (part of his whole black and white thing, which I don't agree with), and all that experience did make him a very capable president--in respect to a small civilization at war and fleeing across a galaxy (I'm not saying I'd want him for president of the US, though, that's for sure!).

Just the fact that he's had everything handed to him really bugs me.

1 comment:

Cody said...

I think they "the writers" don't want us to like him. It is all balled up so nice and neat for him. Silver spoon kid. Grrrr.. I bet he had a train that he could ride on, and a pony, and a full set of Star Trek action figures... I'm rambling. DOWN WITH LEE!!!