xwacky (xwacky) wrote,

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BSG 4.08: Sine Qua Non

This is rather late, but I didn't have time to post this over the weekend.  Which meant I had additional time to organize my thoughts.

Okay, I admit it.  I cheated!

For reasons beyond my understanding, the UK viewers got to see this episode three days ahead of us.  Lucky them!  Amongst all the tidbit spoilers available online, I couldn't stand it anymore.  It's either get spoiled before Friday night, or get the .avi file and watch it on small screen.  So I downloaded.

Thus, I had an extra day to chew on what I saw.  I still watched the show on Friday night though, twice.  I loved it that much.

Before I go on any further, let me just get my fangirl squee out of the way:  Lee + Red!Shirt = OTP!

I had anticipated this episode the moment I read Olmos, Jamie, and Hogan's work in it had been submitted by TPTB for Emmy consideration.  If nothing else, I hoped for some Lee-Bill goodies for a treat.

Oh, there were more than one good father-son moments here, but they didn't woo me over the moon this time.  What surprised me was Romo Lampkin.  Turned out I savored every second Lee and/or Romo was on screen.

But, lemme start from the beginning: what is sine qua non?

I never had the opportunity to learn Latin when I was a kid.  The geek in me looked it up as soon as I saw it being listed as the title.  Online dictionary says it is a condition, an element -- indispensable and essential:  Without which not.

Well, that was rather vague.  What is this all important element?  For whom or what?  Such were the questions I had before I sat down to watch the show.

Naturally, I expected this episode to show the aftermath of Laura's abrupt abduction.  I was not disappointed.

It opened with a mild surprise.  I didn't think Natalie would die just yet.  Despite being shot twice by Sharon, I thought she would pull through.  Yet, she died, in the same way of her mortal enemies.  From the way she grasped for Cottle's hand, attempting to hold onto life, to the heart monitor's ominous flatline signal; I felt, for the first time, a cylon's life ended no differently than a human's.

In the next scene, we saw Quorum in turmoil.  Everyone thought Laura's abduction was a result of Sharon shooting the Cylon leader.  In truth, I think the two things were unrelated.  They shared nothing but an ill-fated timing.  I couldn't help feeling sorry for Sharon.  She really wasn't responsible for what happened to Laura.

Within the first 5 minutes, the show firmly established Adama was not going to accept Zarek as Laura's successor, even though the law decreed it.  "Zarek can go to hell," Adama had no compunction about his stance.

I, for one, am satisfied Bill was at least being consistent.  His attitude here helped me to understand how Laura became the President again after New Caprica.  I've always had problem with that.  It was very much glossed over.  If it wasn't for helen_c pointing it out, I almost missed Zarek said to Laura he was giving up the position because Adama wasn't going to allow it.

So did Bill push Lee into Presidency as he did Laura?  After all, he forcibly said it was Lee's job to reassure the Quorum.  Also, in the past, he was ready to hand his son the reign of the military when he wanted to quit; why not the head of the civilian government this time?

However, I don't see Adama consciously architect the outcome here.  He simply didn't have the right frame of mind to do so at the moment, I think.  He lost it after Laura disappeared.

I couldn't help feeling sorry for Zarek too, just a little.  Forever the bridesmaid, he has become.  On the other hand, I think he knew, long time ago, that he's consigned to be the VP instead.  He admitted so to Baltar when they ran for offices together.

"You were never elected President."  Lee's excuse for asking Zarek to step down was flimsy in my opinion.  I find myself agreeing with Zarek that he had more legitimate reason to be the President than anyone else, including Roslin, who stepped into the position sans election, twice.  But Lee's "facts on the ground" was a powerful persuasion.  If nothing else, Zarek is a realist.  He knew, from the beginning, Adama is Zeus, his will can override the law if he so wishes for it.  Curiously, in the entire exchange, Lee avoided referring to Adama as "my father".  Was he down playing the relationship here, intentionally?  It was a little jarring for me to hear Lee referring to his father by name, but a smart choice nonetheless.

I'm not surprised by the bitterness that was in Zarek's voice on the radio:  "...Isn't it true the government but a tactic agreement between a military strongman and a political strongwoman to rule together by fiat."  Yes, he pointed out the obvious, the truth everyone avoided to acknowledge.  So Zarek wanted to form his own "army", the Civil Defense Force, to counter Adama's military.  No wonder Lee said "This thing is heading for a show down."

I knew Romo Lampkin would pop up in this episode.  I peeked, just a little, at the spoiler from  suffolkgirl.  What I didn't realize was the cat was a ghost the entire time.  Only from the subsequent viewings, I noticed this:  in one shot, Romo's POV, the cat was there; but the next moment, from audience's POV, it was gone.

I squeed when Romo voiced they were "essentially looking for an understudy."  Ha!  The noun described Lee to a tee.  Thankfully, Romo continued to be a perceptive man.  It's only fitting he would point out Lee's repressed ambition.  I love it he saw Lee, like Roslin, always rose up to the occasions.  But Lee didn't want to hear about his lack of aspiration.  He was not ready to face his subconscious yet.  He would though, later in the episode.

The scene of Lee tripping over the empty pet dish was another clue the cat was gone.  However I didn't realize this until later.  Heh, not only there were head!Six, head!Baltar, and head!Carolanne in the show; head!Cat had just joined these head figures.

I love it Lee was very intent on going through the entire list of the candidates.  He wanted to make sure they didn't overlook a potential choice here.  All the bases should be covered when they get to their final pick!  I had to smirk at his scoff at Lawyers as he rewrote the names on the board.

Overall, I liked Adama-Lampkin scene above the Hanger Deck.  Although at first, I thought the mentioning of The Lighter was rather abrupt.  It came out of nowhere.  But then, after I watched the scene more carefully, I began to see the connection:  at the time, they were observing the pilots getting ready for a mission down below.  According to what Kara just said, these pilots felt they were being sent on a suicide mission.  Thus, the bleakness and uncertainty there matched those of Lee's on the eve of his dangerous mission.

The Lighter led to the talk of hope.  Adama thought it was foolish of him to think a hunk of metal could keep his son safe.  Lampkin shrewdly pointed out that's what people do:  "Hang on to hope in every hopelessly irrational way that we can."

It was Lampkin here, reminded Adama hope is one of those things essential in life.  When asked what he could not live without, Adama came to the realization what Laura meant to him.  While it was important for him to hang on to his love, he saw it was unfair of him to rob others' hope.  Lampkin succeeded when no one else could, in making Adama see what his self-willfulness was costing others.

So Adama admitted to Lee that he had lost his objectivity, he was unfit to lead.  But he made Lee to relay the message, to "interface" with the Quorum. Intended or not, he was setting Lee up as what Zarek failed to be -- the person who's able to bridge the military and the civilian.

On his own, Romo came to the realization that Lee Adama was the only choice, that no one else there was better suited as the Chief Executive.  His list of the necessary qualities described Lee perfectly:  honesty, courage, willingness to fight for the unpopular choice and see it through, as well as leadership experiences.  Romo admitted, to his head!Cat, he subconsciously knew this all along.  He just didn't want to face it.  Why?

The confrontation in the Galactica's corridor was my favorite scene of this episode.  I love it like burn.
Romo: "Congratulations, Mr. President."
Lee: "My name was never on that list."
What's interesting was Lee didn't seem too surprised when Romo named him as the perfect choice.  He didn't ask why he was picked, nor say he shouldn't be.  He merely stated his name wasn't on the "ballot".
Romo: "Of course not. That would be too blatant. But it is everything you always wanted, isn't it? Why you had me cross 47 names off that list..."
I noticed Lee didn't deny he wanted to be the President.  I don't think Lee actively sought the position.  However, subconsciously he had to have thought he could do the job, he could make a difference, and better serve the people.  Interestingly, 47 people had to be eliminated before Lee could be considered for the job.  A callback to Laura being 43 in line for the presidency early on?

What happened next blew me away.  I did not expect Romo pointing a gun at Lee!  Whoa, wait a minute, what just happened here?!
Romo: "Why? 'Cause you are perfect for the job of course. Because after the vicious operations that was Baltar's presidency, and the bitter disappointment that was Roslin's, you are the shining beacon of hope. Only hope is the last thing we need. We are a doomed race. It's time we made peace with that essential truth."
To me, these are the words of someone who's utterly bereft of hope.  No wonder he was reluctant  to acknowledge what Lee stood for.  Romo had given up, he wanted to submit to fate.  How did he become this way?

Turned out his cat had died.  No, not just died, it was murdered, by they, "those debase dregs of humanity out there".  Was it because some people in the fleet were mad at Romo for defending Baltar, and took it out on his cat instead?  Very plausible, I could see it happen.

But the cat was not just a pet to Romo.  All this time, he carried an immense guilt at the choice he made of not staying behind with his loved ones.  The cat was the only other life from his household made it out alive.  It was all he had left of his family.  Its death marked the complete loss of love for Romo.  Without love, there could be no hope.  Without hope, no will to live.  Romo thought himself, along with those who killed his cat, deserved to die.

This time, it was Lee who was the more experienced of the two.  No one understood it better than him of the guilt involved at making the decisions that saved lives at the cost of others.  He's been there himself, many times.
Lee: "...the clean slate, the fresh start, maybe they are the illusions like you said. But at certain point, faith in ourselves, in our right to survive as a species, as a people, that's not a given, that's a choice."
There, this is my favorite line thus far, since the season started.  I'm not one to talk philosophy.  I hardly know that much.  However, I see Lee's choice of words here reflected Existentialistic ideas.  He is saying individuals have freedom of choice, and are ultimately responsible for the consequences of their own actions.

Human existence is unexplained.  Since they are not created by deities or a higher power for a preordained destiny, they have the freedom and responsibility to create and determine the purpose of their own lives.

Such are the ideas I would like to see being explored on the show.  I was less than thrilled with the direction in which the series has been headed lately.  Between Kara's resurrection, Baltar's cult success, Hybrid's mumble jumble, and Laura's vision, the story seems to be hinting a mystical power at play here.  Forget about individual choices, they don't matter because events are occurring in a predetermined pattern anyway.  But here, through Lee's lips, free will and individual choices were once again re-addressed.  Thank goodness!

As I'm writing this, Jamie's answer in a recent radio interview popped into my head.  Toward the end, the interviewer threw in one last question, jokingly:  "What is the meaning of life?"  Jamie, without hesitation, said:  "There is no meaning, but we are trying to come up with one anyway."

At the time, I didn't think too much of this.  Now I wonder if the actor wasn't voicing the fundamental theme of Existentialism here:  that life as an existence, in the absence of a transcendent force mapping out its destiny, has no meaning.  It's up to us the individuals to create and determine the meaning and essence of our lives.

Am I reading too much into nothing?  Quite possibly.  But I can't stop wondering how much Lee is in Jamie, and how much Jamie is in Lee.

Back to the show, I have to say Jamie did a fantastic job here in the scene where Lee was under Romo's gunpoint.  I didn't think he could top Lee's speech on the stand in last season's finale, but I was wrong.  I loved it his eyes were bright with a hint of unshed tears.  Lee's humility and determination here moved me, deeply.

Yay!  Lee was sworn in as the President.  But Leland Joseph Adama?!  What's up with the name change?  I wonder if Kara ever knew about this.  I can't imagine she didn't tease him incessantly with a name like "Leland".  The only way for me to stomach this is to fan-wank it as the name given to him by good old grandpa!  Maybe Bill didn't make it to Lee's birth, and grandpa Joe was there to name the baby.

The scene with the dog made me go awwwww...  Hehe, First Pet!  It was the cutest thing ever when Lee sat next to Jake.  Part of me felt sorry Lee didn't keep the dog.  But I'm really glad he gave it to his BFF Romo.  Yeah, the poor bastard needed Jake more than Lee did here.  I loved the way Lee wished Jake good luck on his way out, and Jake barked right back.  There's a bond between the man and the "man's best friend" right there!

I know why Lee-Bill scenes didn't whoa me in this episode: there was no angst here.  However, I did love the scene on the Hanger Deck where Lee and Kara came to see Bill leave.  I got a kick out of seeing the newly minted President gave Bill the military salute.  And I have to say Olmos looked ten times better in a flightsuit than the drab blue uniform.  The man is hot!

At this point, I came to the realization of what sine qua non meant here:  it refers to "love" and "hope".  Not only that, I see the show went as far as giving concrete personifications of them:  Adama as Love, and Lee as Hope.  Through the story of Romo, where he lost and regained his love thus hope, it showed us these two are the necessary factors in the struggle for survival.
Tags: battlestar galactica, bsg episodereview, lee adama
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