Once I love a character, once they become a favorite, they’re pretty much stuck with me. My favorite characters tend to be male. Though I've also been known to have no favorite character (Star Trek: The Next Generation), have it be the female lead (Dead Like Me), or even a muppet (Farscape). An actor's attractiveness will play a role in my interest in a male character, but there are many pretty faces on TV and if the person can’t act they won’t hold my interest beyond a few minutes. Of course, if in addition to looks and talent I find out the guy is smart, funny, down-to-earth and a decent human being there is a good chance I become the somewhat obsessive, in-it-for-the-long-haul girl. ;)
All of which brings me back to Lee Adama.
I have to start at a point before I even saw the mini series. I confess, I was one of those people, the ones who had no interest in watching a re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica. I was a devoted viewer of the original series when it premiered, at age six, and watched repeats in the years that followed. It wasn’t sacred to me, but through the eyes of a child it did seem pretty cool. I loved the Cylons. They may have looked clumsy in those silver plastic suits, but when they uttered, "By your command", suddenly they seemed rather menacing. I wanted to see Baltar get his just desserts (some things don’t change). And I was a Starbuck fan, before we learned what an ass Dirk Benedict is. So when I read about the changes - Starbuck was not a girl and the Cylons do not look like us - they seemed very wrong to me.
I refused to watch the mini series and I wasn’t going to watch the series either. A friend told me, repeatedly, how much she thought I would enjoy it and kept after me until I finally relented. I watched a three hour cut of the mini on NBC the Sunday before the Friday premiere of Season 1. Digging out the email I sent to my friend shortly after watching, here were my very first thoughts on Lee:
Unlike the original series, I think I have the hots for Apollo. ;) I really enjoyed the tension between he and Adama. Plus, he followed the chain of command by taking orders from the President rather than his father and, no, it wasn’t to piss him off, but because it was the right thing to do.
Two things strike me about those three year old remarks. First, I swear, I don’t recall being that attracted to Lee/Jamie in the mini. ;) Secondly, "because it was the right thing to do."
It was clear, to me, from the outset that Lee Adama wasn’t going to be the standard television hero. Our first shot of Lee is not the hot shot viper pilot jumping out of his ship, excited to be aboard for the decommissioning ceremony. Instead, Lee Adama removes his helmet and is clearly not happy to be there. He sits in his ship for a moment, his expression not too far removed from his blank stare in ‘Resurrection Ship Pt 2’, lets out a deep sigh, and practically has to will himself to move.
I’m not going to delve into Lee's ‘pissy little bastard’ confrontation with his father. It's an important aspect of his character, but his attitude and resentment there have been discussed at length. What I don’t see people comment on as much is the moment just after he finishes blasting Adama on his responsibility for Zak’s death. With his back to Lee, Adama is unable to see that Lee takes no pleasure in the pain he is causing. I’d even say there is regret on his part.
It should be a cathartic moment for Lee, two years of anger and resentment that he’s kept buried inside finally released, but it’s not. It’s probably the moment where my spark of affection began. Lee had been an ass up to that point, but suddenly I also saw him as a deeply flawed and troubled person. It's the first time we see that when Lee Adama is hurting, he will hurt others. The truth is he acts as so many of us might. He bottles his pain up until he can’t keep it in anymore, then lashes out. It’s not blind rage though, Lee is good at sussing out other’s weaknesses and knowing where to strike. It's probably why he makes such an awesome viper pilot as well. He's all about precision. But his expertise may also be because he is too well acquainted with his perceived failings. While I don’t believe his actions are totally unconscious on his part, I don’t feel they're planned either. Too much experience leads to it becoming instinct, just knowing where and how to strike when the opportunity presents itself.
Set forth from the mini series is that Lee Adama is a flawed character. He can be moody. He can be judgmental. He’s unforgiving, as much of himself as others. He can be self-righteous. While the discomfort after the confrontation certainly softened Lee a bit for me, what really saves him from that label of "ass" is one brief moment in the mini:
Ron Moore, thankfully, decided to balance all of Lee Adama's faults by showing us he was also a deeply honorable man. That it will always come down to, “because it was the right thing to do.” We would come to learn that Lee has the ability to quickly access a situation and decide how to proceed. Give him too much time to think and he’ll dwell on his perceived short comings and wallow in self doubt, but, time and again, he shows he can make the snap decision. As Dorel leads Lee to Laura Roslin, he hope's to influence Lee, manipulate his decision making. But Lee needs only a minute, if that, to see Laura, under the worst possible conditions, already has a viable plan of action, providing them with the best hope of surviving.
Not just because it looks as if he's checking out her legs ;), but because he just knows what she is about to face without her telling him. And he stands by her side, literally and figuratively, through the rest of the mini. Lee Adama shows himself to be stalwart, he'll be there for you no matter the circumstance or the consequence to himself, if you just allow him in.
As much as I found Lee intriguing in the mini series, I can’t say I had yet fallen hard for the guy. Not even ‘33’ or ‘Water’ where we were presented with the CAG, a leader, dealing with so much insecurity and regret. It would be ‘Bastille Day’ and four key moments that would be the turning points for me in terms of Lee, the show, and a ship. ;)
Point the first, I still recall saying to danceswithwords on IM, "He’s not really going to take on twenty prisoners is he?"
As foolish as it was for Lee to fight a fight he couldn't possibly win (and one that may have gotten him killed), the action said a lot about him as a person. No matter the odds, he would not give up. Yes, later in the series he was willing to give up, but it was on himself. For a belief or a cause, he’ll fight to the bitter end.
When Lee pointed the gun at Zarek’s head I didn’t believe he’d pull the trigger. Heroes don’t murder people. (No one bring up ‘Black Market’, Lee gets a get-out-of-jail-free card for killing a murderer and pedophile.) It did, however, show a hint of a darker side to Lee Adama. As Ron said in the podcast, they saw a “scary” Lee, a more dangerous Lee. If you push him in the wrong direction, you may not like what you get.
Which leads me to point the second. While I wasn’t shocked when Lee promised Zarek the opportunity for freedom and elections in six months, it was the moment that I realized, when confronted by a choice between his military duty or doing what he believes is right, his conscience will win out. Lee chose to break away from the role of, not just Captain, but son, by refusing to back down before his father or the president on his decision. He took a stand and showed the man he is. He makes neither happy, almost makes an enemy of his father, but he refuses to budge.
The final two moments that made me realize I loved Lee and was a Lee/Laura shipper come in the finale scene. Lee has this adorable awkwardness at seeing Laura in her quarters, in her robe.
He tries to alleviate the tension (that only he seems to feel) by attempting to be funny, not realizing Laura is about to confess she is dying.
And then as I was looking through screencaps, it struck me just how quickly Lee's emotions and expressions can change (and reinforcing what a great actor Jamie is).
What I just adore about the scene is watching Lee struggle just trying to be Lee. He's so uneasy just trying to be himself, trying to let his guard down. At the same time, when he can fall back to his ideals, he can be so confidant, so passionate. To quote from an old post of mine:
I like the fact that Lee doesn’t come to apologize to Laura for his actions, but to reiterate why he did what he did - that he was simply upholding the law as they all should. I also like that she’s not expecting an apology because, unlike Adama, she understands that he did what his conscience guided him to do and that based on sound reasoning there was only one right course of action. There was nothing personal about his position - Laura gets it, Adama doesn't.
I don’t like Lee all the time. He pisses me off and he frustrates me, mostly because he dwells far too much on his weaknesses and ignores his strengths. The infidelity, or near infidelity depending on how you want to look at it, was a nadir for me with Lee. I hate rationalizing or making excuses for a character, particularly one I like. But then comes a moment like the one in ‘Unfinished Business’ when Adama informs Lee of Kara’s marriage. That look of utter devastation on his face just guts me, as much as seeing a civilian ship destroyed, and suddenly whatever anger I felt towards him fades and only the pain of his pain remains.
I can be like Lee Adama in some ways. Selfish and judgmental. Moody. Holding people to too high a standard. I’ve seen bop_radar and brokenmnemonic talk about Lee being their ‘hook’ into the series. Strangely, I had never thought about Lee in that way, but the truth is I do see events through Lee, his eyes and his conscience. I can’t recall a time, barring the affair, that I’ve disagreed with his choices and actions. I get him in ways I can’t always get the other characters. It also helps to explain why Laura Roslin is my second favorite character for nine times out of ten I will see her point.
Why do I love Lee Adama? Because he's hot. Because he can be an ass, a hero, and humanity's conscience all in the same scene. Because, for better and worse, I see myself in him. Because while Adama, Laura, and Kara may have the flashier, better developed plot lines, I can't image Battlestar Galactica without him.
This is probably lighter on analysis then I had intended, yet you wouldn't believe how much time I've spent on it. At some point it became a writing exercise for me as well. I tend to have wordiness issues, just ask my beta ;), and I really was trying for a streamlined approach to getting across me thoughts. All of which is in prep for getting back to the fic writing.
Also, I'm cutting posting really close. Only one more hour of Joy in the eastern time zone! ;)