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20 October 2008 @ 12:54 pm
The Romance of Sam and Kara  
(and yes, this is lyssie's fault. Shippy "fairy tale" and meta discussion follows. Not your bag, don't read it.)

Once upon a time....

There was a girl. She was a fiesty thing, with a whole lot of attitude. She used that bravado as a shield, to keep people away, because she was, in fact, very hurt on the inside. And so it happened that she was on a quest to retrieve a very important artifact for the queen, and while she was in the land of the monsters, she met a brave warrior, who kept fighting the monsters, every day, even though he knew as well as she did, that one day the monsters were going to win. He loved her for bringing light into his dark world again, and because he loved her, he was prepared to sacrifice himself to make sure she got away with the artifact. She didn't want to give him her heart, since she knew he was doomed, but he was heroic, and he could make her laugh (and he was hot and good in the sack, but *ahem* that part doesn't usually make into the fairy tales), so she couldn't help falling in love with him. So when she left with the artifact, she promised that she'd come back to him. Through the battle with the bad queen and other monsters, she thought of him and the promise preyed on her mind, until the fear that he was dead and she had broken her promise to rescue him, nearly cost her life. When the opportunity came to rescue him, she did. And they were overjoyed to discover they were both alive, and he went with her this time. They (made out a lot, and got drunk and they) were happy. And if this were a usual fairytale, it would end when they were married and they lived happily ever after.

But this is a romance, not a fairy tale, and not even marriage can stop obstacles being thrown between the lovers. The story doesn't end there. The dark wizard, lord of the monsters, kept her locked in a tower, until her husband was able to rescue her at last. But she blamed him for not coming sooner and she was angry at how vulnerable she'd been, and he didn't feel like he was the same either, having killed not just monsters, but humans too. So they went their separate ways. But it didn't last long, and even in their hurt, they kept coming back to each other, seeking that old connection. She tried to avoid it, hooking up with her old crush, but always, always Sam stayed on her mind. After they both narrowly escaped death, she returned the token of her love to him and they were together again. But they had only a short time to be together, because the spell of the dark wizard had never worn off, and it led her into a storm and she was lost.

He mourned her, and in the midst of his grief, he heard a strange song. He followed where the song led, and found out he was truly one of the lords of the monsters, though he'd been raised among the humans. This horrible truth made him question everything about who he was, and he had to keep the secret, fearing for his life. Even when she miraculously returned, he kept his silence, believing she would never accept the truth. Meanwhile, she was so obsessed by her mission, she didn't notice that he wanted desperately to tell her something. The truth came out, as secrets always do, and his fears nearly came to pass. Except she realized he was the same he had always been, as she was too, and she ran to save him. But before they knew if they had found each other again, everything they suffered for turned to ashes in front of them.

It remains to be seen how the story ends.

And now for some meta...

All right, so we all know Sam was meant to be Kara's fling on Caprica. So how did he go from that to an Epic Romance (with caps, even!)?

There's two things going on in the background -- t.v. business, and story. T.V. business is the part that makes it the usual practice to pair off the regulars, because they're all getting paid anyway, whereas bringing in someone new as a love interest means they have to be paid too. The regulars also of course tend to be better developed characters. Especially as part of an ongoing, serious romance, another character is going to have to come back a lot, which unless you're talking about soaps, episodic t.v. frowns on, so the tendency is always to keep the guest stars brief and keep the love affiars within the pool of regulars. So there was that trend working against Sam in the beginning. Trucco was only contracted for two eps at first and that was going to be it.

But the story kicked in to change that intention, when something happened in Season 2 because BSG isn't episodic (as much as Skiffy would've liked it to be): Sam became a part of Kara's narrative, even when he wasn't around. He's woven into Home where she wears the uniform of his team and bounces his ball, in her Pegasus arc, when she asks Cain if they can go back to Caprica, and Scar, when she decides he's probably dead and it nearly breaks her. Plus, he shows up again without her in Downloaded, but still connected to her, through her dog tag. So what happened was that Ron took up what was already hanging around in the background and made it explicit by having her go get him in LDYB. This being BSG, it had to turn awful with the fling with Lee, but it was still a change in Sam's status. In t.v. terms - he went from guest star to recurring character.

Maybe they had her thinking about him originally because to abandon him without thinking of him, would have made her seem too shallow, especially since she promised to come back (I'm not saying that's what happened, but taking even the least 'shippy' sort of view...), but the upshot was that she was thinking about him. And since Kara doesn't spend more than two minutes thinking about things she doesn't care about, he had to come back to pay that off. And then once they were married at the end of LDYB, they were connected in a way that was hard to get rid of. But he was still there for HER.

I think what we as writers of fic sometimes don't remember (including me) because we have a tendency to inflate his importance, but that Trucco himself as an actor was always aware of, is that he was a supporting character to her. When he made the jump from being a one-off love interest in Resis/Farm, to being a character she thought about even when he wasn't present, then he became a part of HER story, so he was brought back as needed for her through Maelstrom. (There's also a thread of resistance which goes through - Dowloaded, NewCap, and the shooting things bit of EoJ/R, but that's recurring in the same way as Racetrack, who's brought back as the situation calls for it. But those two facets overlapped and strengthened his presence.)

But then he jumped again, to becoming a part of the overall story with a story of his own. tSAR was the real bridge IMO - part connecting him to her, and part to keep him in the audience's mind to prepare for Crossroads. Becoming one of the Five gave him independence from her -- his obstacles to the relationship became just as important as hers. Or in other words, she's not the only one driving their joint story anymore. He's now an equal player. One could read their arc in 4.0 on a meta level as the tension between Kara expecting him to be her supporting character and Sam pushing himself into parity until finally, on Earth, they're separate, but the playing field is level. He's not, at that moment, there to support her; he's there on his own. Hopefully Earth serves as the final obstacle that they overcome to be together, and not the thing that drives them apart in pursuit of their own separate stories.

But either way, all of it puts them squarely the middle of an epic romance, complete with ex-lovers (one of which is a murderer!), threats of death, secrets, and other obstacles to overcome so they can finally be together. Sadly, I don't think that makes them safe as it would in an actual Romance, because Ron likes tragedy, so it's more likely that they'll finally get their shit together and then one or both of them will die. (everything you want in the worst possible way, always, with this show).

Unfortunately for the popularity of the 'ship, as far as fandom goes, Sam and Kara are only now reaching what Kara and Lee had all along. Narratively Lee's always had equal weight with her (which despite how the story struggles to find him a story of his own, it's always been clear that he's supposed to have one). I can look at it and say, 'But Lee has no arc, she can't possibly find all that waffling about attractive, and she doesn't seem to think about him when he's not there.' Whereas a shipper thinks, "Lee's a main character, he gets full eps of his own, he's been there from the mini, he's got narrative HEFT that johnny-come-lately FLING can never have, and they are OBVIOUSLY intended to be together from day one because that's how t.v. works!' It's the shipper version of the people who didn't think Sam was interesting until he became a Cylon - they were overlooking all the other things he did, but that's because the narrative and conventions of t.v. were telling them he was just a supporting character of little ongoing importance. So I can't really blame them though I totally, totally do . When Trucco says he's blessed, he means it, because this sort of thing really doesn't happen that often in t.v.

So, in a way, this is all a happy accident of the strength of his performance, the design of his character as someone in the resistance who could do stuff on New Cap as well (which kept him alive post-LDYB), and later the needs of the story to decide who the hell the Final Five were amidst a fairly limited pool of choices. So Sam kept coming back, again and again, with more and more to do.

But chugging along underneath, the seeds of Romance in the purest sense, when their relationship went from fling to love affair of the ages!, were put down when Kara (and the story) didn't forget him after she left in 'The Farm'. She could have, but she didn't. And that's propelled everything that's happened between her and Sam (and her and Lee too, for that matter) ever since.

entertaining in a disturbing waylyssie on October 20th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
ilu. (I also have no brain to do more than beam happily)
cujoy on October 21st, 2008 02:04 am (UTC)
ilu too.
patron saint of neglected female characters: kara has cylon fanboysrose_griffes on October 21st, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
Awesome; this was an excellent summary of those forces dictating what happens to my favorite characters.
lizardbeth: Anders - Leelizardbeth_j on October 23rd, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)
thanks. Lyssie said something that I started to reply to, and then it overgrew the comment limit! So, I figured I better put it somewhere for *cough* posterity. :)
The Proverbial Bull in a China Shop...: Kara and Sam hugsabaceanbabe on October 23rd, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
ilu, 3.

Frak. I have REALLY got to finish that Sam-and-Kara-have-the-conversation-and-he-doesn't-die fic.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders IIlizardbeth_j on October 24th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
Arkady: stayarkady_ on October 23rd, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
*sighs* It's beautiful to imagine it like that. (I mean, with classical monsters and castles and so on.)
lizardbeth: Kara-Sam -Demetriuslizardbeth_j on October 24th, 2008 04:28 am (UTC)
It worked rather well once I started.... :)
star_lace: BSG // Kara Sam star_lace on October 23rd, 2008 10:29 pm (UTC)
Came here from pyramidofdreams and I just had to say this is a fab mapping of how Sam and Kara's relationship progressed. :) I was just talking about this with someone recently and was like, "Do you realize how rare it is that someone goes from a 2 episode stint to being hugely important in everyone's fate?! It just doesn't happen!"
lizardbeth: Anders - no shirtlizardbeth_j on October 24th, 2008 05:32 am (UTC)
it is really remarkable how Sam/Trucco has moved into such importance, and in such a short time as well. Which is just happy-making for him AND for us, because I probably wouldn't be nearly such a crazy fangirl if he'd been two-and-out! :D
scifiaddict86: Battlestar Galacticascifiaddict86 on October 24th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
I like this I tihnk you have a lot of good points. I like this because it makes it makes you consider the Kara/Lee side more. Its easy to say I'd love to see the other side but can't get my head that far up my a*s, and you have hit on some really good points. I actually fell ino some of these traps myself when I first started watching thankfully I watched Collaborators and saw the light.
lizardbeth: Anders - gunlizardbeth_j on October 24th, 2008 06:56 am (UTC)
yeah, I liked Sam in Resistance/Farm but didn't really sit up and notice a bit more until Downloaded when he proved he existed separately, and then in LDYB when it became more clear he was sticking around. So I speak from experience!
greygreycoupon on October 25th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)
Wow. I'm late. How did I miss this?

Also, ILUVU.
lizardbeth: Kara-Anders IIlizardbeth_j on October 25th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
I post late at night my time, so scroll back. :)

heh, I get that a lot with this post.
lucyparavel: Kara n Sam hug by Lyssielucyparavel on October 27th, 2008 02:56 am (UTC)
This is so awesome and well thought out. I agree very much with the second part. Of course Sam was never meant to be more and it's amazing how much he's grown since the start. I'm so glad we got more of him clearly.

As for the first part, wow the parallels really are all there aren't there? I think my favorite bit was calling Leoben "the dark wizard, lord of the monsters". It really was like locking her in a fairy tale tower, huh? Sometimes the evil wizard even wants a baby or gives her a changeling child. OOH, there's a cool add in for Kacey, huh?

But really, it especially makes me grin because of Sea Prince underway. I can't wait until we have more done to share with the world. It's got really strong myth and plot bone structure/foundations and hey, that worked out well for George Lucas after all. Why not us!?