My loathing of Lee “Apollo” Adama* is well-known by anyone who talks Battlestar Galactica with me, and I do not apologize for it. He’s one of the most self-righteous, oblivious, childish, back-stabbing characters of the entire series. He spends most of his time trying to figure out a way to not be his dad, which, to be fair, is understandable. When you are eighteen.
For those of you wondering, no; Lee, is not eighteen.
From the second he steps foot aboard the Galactica in the miniseries, he’s acting like a whiny man-baby, complaining he had to land manually, and then proceeds to blame his father for all the ills of the world, specifically his brother’s death, without taking his father’s feelings on the matter into account. He has moments where I question my hatred but ruins it by being himself (trying to pursue a type of weird fatherhood with a prostitute’s child, leading mutinies because of “ideals,” bitching about and to his dad about things he should probably just leave the fuck alone, marrying Dee in response to Starbuck’s own ill-fated marriage to Anders, etc.). There are a few things I agree with him on (Baltar’s treason, Zarek’s demand for a presidential election, the rescue of the deserted on New Caprica, leaving the military), but for the most part, he’s just a rebellious little shit … who, again, is not eighteen.
I just had a hard time caring about what happened to Lee. He was in plenty of situations where he could have died, and I had the feeling of, “Well, there’s always next time,” after every one was resolved. I don’t think the writers necessarily meant to create the character that way – like I said, he had brief bits where he proved to be smart, capable, and self-sacrificing – but he was supposed to be one of the obvious Good Guys, the ones you were supposed to root for. For contrast, let’s look at Karl “Helo” Agathon: he has a lot in common with Lee; he would face down every situation with his moral compass never wavering, even if it meant he ended up in the brig or nearly executed for treason. But his convictions didn’t seem contrived or random. That was just Helo. But with Lee Adama, they seemingly just picked him to be the voice of dissension, especially when they needed someone to go up against Adama (and Roslin wasn’t available at the moment): the black market, the mutiny at the end of Season One, etc. CONFLICT! they said. LOOKS IT’S SON V. FATHER! they announced. Please, give me some nuance here. And it almost always ended with some type of reconciliation. “You’re my son.” Sure, whatever.
I don’t have to like a character’s actions to like the actual character. Baltar is one of my favorites, and he’s a giant self-serving dick. Ellen thinks of no one else but herself (and sometimes her husband), but she’s so much fun to watch. Cavil is a nihilistic douche, and yet, he ranks pretty highly on my favorite Cylons list. Lee is simply unlikable and tedious, and he learns nothing from anything, just bounces from one tragedy to the next, complaining, “Why me, gods?”
And this is what I can’t stand about him: he is one of the most self-unaware people on any TV show I’ve ever watched. He’s just as ill-suited for the military as his dead brother was, and most of his inner struggles stem from what he assumes are his father’s aspirations for him. He knows (or does he? I honestly don’t care) that his relationship with Kara shouldn’t be anything more than a friendship and really isn’t, except they have sex sometimes, and he also knows he is not in love with Dee (you deserved so much better, my dear Dee) but enters a loveless marriage with her … out of spite? A lot of what he does just doesn’t make sense, and that lands squarely on the writers’** shoulders. I couldn’t care less about his development, or lack thereof, in his case.
Art Credit: Wikipedia
* And I enjoy Jamie Bamber, you guys. He’s an excellent actor, and I love him in everything else I’ve seen him in (Law & Order UK was the shit). It saddens me, like in the case of Marc Blucas (aka Captain Cardboard, aka Riley Finn from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), because the character was just that damn unlikable.
** Well, they didn’t really date, per se, but carrying on an affair is basically the same thing, but with negative moral indications.
** Speaking of the writers, one story line I really disliked was Fat Lee from Season Three. First of all, fatness does not indicate someone’s morality or strength of character. And it’s not like Admiral Adama is in his physical prime, either, which just makes his accusation of Lee’s weakness all the more annoying. I hate the writers used Lee gaining weight to show he wasn’t a good leader any longer; he wasn’t that great of one in the first place, so it’s unnecessary and harmful they couldn’t have expressed his “softening” (whatever that means) in a different way.