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Day 21 goes the "easy" route

I'm fine falling back on the obvious for this one. That way maybe I can keep it short. (<---Not so much, as it turns out. I tried. Sorry.)



Day Twenty-One: Favorite female character screwed over by canon that still, invariably, to the same intensity every time, makes me RAEG SO HARD

Kara Thrace/Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica.

There was of course also Cordelia Chase under consideration, but this all falls out fairly well.

I have spent an astonishing amount of time on the internet reading and participating in rants about the epic doucheyness of BSG's ending, and the screwing over of Kara (and Lee to a lesser personal extent), considering BSG wasn't a show I ever hardcore fangirled. I liked it and was intrigued by it, but it started losing me somewhere mid S2 and I gave up completely after S3, only to come back ages later and watch the final season out of boredom/homework procrastination. At which point I had what was probably one of the most viscerally angry reactions to a story I've ever experienced. And despite the Kara/Lee aspects of it, it wasn't a thwarted shipper's reaction, since I didn't *ship* them at that point. It was the other way around – the POOF was what made me retributively ship them, because SCREW YOU RDM. SCREW YOU SO HARD.

The Kara/Lee aspects (which I rant about here at im_ridiculous's lj) were just sypmtomatic of the wider character issues going on with Kara. And those, in turn, were just symptomatic of the global storytelling problems of BSG becoming little more than solid early groundwork and goodwill dissipating in the miasma of RDM's sustained brainfarts. But Kara was the one who really copped it the most.

Here's the thing with this: the ending makes all the difference. For any story, you can put the characters through any kind of wringer (assuming some level of skill at storytelling), mess them up so bad, take anything and everything away from them ... that's fine. That's conflict, that's journey, that's character arc, etc. Characters getting screwed over by the plot/other characters/the storyteller is, in a way, the whole point, because otherwise what are we watching? Characters sitting around having a lovely time and ... that's it? I mean, that's nice for them and all, but it's not a story and it's not interesting. The part that is vital, the part that needs to pull it all together, make it make sense, be satisfying, be the whole point, is the ending. The final judgement that the ending passes on everything that led to that point, that rewards or punishes what's been done, with whatever measure the story has been using, is the perspective we need on the story as a whole. (Which is not to say that points along the way in the story don't point in that direction, but that's a whole other storytelling meta, and this was going to be short, damnit.) We crave meaning, not ease. Intense suffering for a purpose, self-sacrifice, all variations of that are incredibly satisfying if we're given a framework that makes it meaningful; the more they go through, the more they've earned it when they come out the other side, the more we invest in what they come away with. What's frustrating is not when a character goes through all that, but when a character goes through all that for nothing. It's what keeps people hanging on, following a story or in real life, to see how it all turns out.

So, Kara. The story piled trauma on her from fairly early on, and wasn't subtle about it. Whether it was backstory or current events, she went through hell. Repeatedly. And she came through it, kept fighting, even as she slowly lost her way, and again, it all mostly worked from a story conflict perspective, even if parts of it were kind of stupid. And then, without any apparent plan or reason other than "no one will expect THIS!", tptb (RDM! *shakes fist*) decide to kill her off for the end of S3. With, it should be pointed out, no idea of how to explain her reappearance in S4, and only a few half-hearted nods in that direction before leaving it "open to interpretation". NO, ASSHOLES. IT IS YOUR STORY. THAT WAS A MAJOR PART OF YOUR STORY. IT'S YOUR JOB TO WORK THAT OUT, YOU DON'T JUST FOIST THAT ON YOUR AUDIENCE, DUCK AND COVER, AND PRETEND THE AMBIGUITY WAS ALL PART OF THE "PLAN". ALSO, SCREW YOU SO HARD.

... *cough*

So really, in the end, the POOF shouldn't have been a surprise. It just capped off a series of capricious decisions done for shock factor (even M. Night is shaking his head at you guys SO HARD), with no attention to what they meant for the characters or the structure of the world they were attempting to navigate. I'm not willing to get elbows-deep into discussions of whether Kara's decision-making by the time of her death, and into her return, were right or wrong; she'd gone through so much by then, it's difficult to judge what level of sanity she was operating on (which is not, in itself, a bad storytelling choice). So let's instead look at what the story judged of her and her actions: according to the story, she chose right. Her choices, sane or not (I assume they were trying to invoke the "crazy mystic prophet" trope on some level), led the remnant of humans and cylons to a final destination, to the "promised land" equivalent. The stuff she was put through, the stuff she put herself through, the stuff she sacrificed herself to, led to the salvation of her people. So far, so good, sort of, although it would have been a helluva lot better if she hadn't been basically hijacked for the purpose.

And once she had? POOF. Her usefulness over, she literally disappeared into thin air. The powers in-story and out of story had used her to dig themselves out of the mess they'd got themselves into, to mystically crowbar the fleet to safety, and once that was done and she had regained some level of personhood, her reward? For getting it right? Summarily dismissed. And again, they could have handled this so much better – Laura's arc was, if too drawn out, handled well – but with Kara, the whole vibe was that everything was being torn from her again. She, as a character, was being completely negated again. She wasn't resigned to leaving. She wasn't finished. She wasn't happy. She wasn't shown yearning for the peace of finally laying down her burdens. She wasn't done. But she wasn't allowed to stay and enjoy what she'd earned, wasn't even given the choice; she was just ... given the flick.

ARRRRRGH okay I'm done. *fumes silently some more forever*


master list

Comments

( 6 speakses — have a speak )
workerbee73
Mar. 11th, 2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
Co-signed,

Me.

It will just... never be okay. Ever.


**joins you in Silent Forever Fuming Land**
themonkeytwin
Mar. 12th, 2013 05:36 am (UTC)
It still astonishes me how strongly I feel about it every time I think of it. It's like insta-hotbutton to me. I. just. HAAARRRUGHNGRRRRR!!!!! SMASH!


Other than that, YOU!!!! HI YOU! *GLOMPS* It's nice to see you around these here internets again. :D
workerbee73
Mar. 13th, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
Hi you. <3

It's nice to be here. I feel like I don't get much quality time over here anymore. And that is sad.

Been enjoying your meme from the cheap seats though. ;)
themonkeytwin
Mar. 13th, 2013 06:27 am (UTC)
You are missed! But despite so many scientific advances, there are still only so many hours in a day, unfortunately, and so we understand. ;)

Glad you're enjoying it! It's fun from this end too. :)
bitterlimetwist
Mar. 12th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Here's the thing with this: the ending makes all the difference... What's frustrating is not when a character goes through all that, but when a character goes through all that for nothing.

I was nodding along so hard to this paragraph I think I sprained something.

Current Music: broken wings – mr. mister

Icwydt. (or maybe it's just me. ;p)
themonkeytwin
Mar. 13th, 2013 06:39 am (UTC)
Haha, I thought you might like that paragraph. :D

Oh, you totally saw what I did there. Although it was a little serendipitous, I've been listening to eighties music a bit for the last week. (It's Raining Men! Eurythmics! Tainted Love!) So it sort of just popped up at me and I was all YES.
( 6 speakses — have a speak )

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