Character of the Month: Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama - Jamie Bamber News
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Character of the Month: Captain Lee "Apollo" Adama

Title: Battlestar Galactica
Original Airdate: December 8th and 9th, 2003
Availability: For sale on DVD and Blu-ray and available for streaming on Netflix and Hulu Plus.

Synopsis: Short Version: Robot Apocalypse! Longer Version: After a devastating nuclear assault on the Twelve Colonies by the Cylons, once a race of robots enslaved by humans that now look human themselves, the remnants of humankind form a "rag-tag fleet" and embark on a quest to locate a new home - the fabled thirteenth colony known as Earth. There they hope to find refuge and survive as a species. But along their journey, humanity learns some important lessons about itself and how they may be their own worst enemy.

Worth Watching? Do I really need to answer this one???

Does he live or die? He definitely survives the mini series. ;)

When I had the idea for "Character of the Month", I purposely delayed covering my favorite Battlestar Galactica character because it was safe to assume everyone knew about Lee and it would have been a pretty frakkin' obvious choice. But now Jamie is re-teaming with his old boss, I thought it was rime to revisit the character that made many us take notice of him. As I've admitted before, to my great shame, I did see Jamie in a Hornblower film...or two...years before and overlooked him. Oops! And while he certainly got my attention in the BSG mini series, I didn't fall hard for Captain Apollo and, by extension, Jamie, until "Bastille Day".

I actually had a rather lengthy debate with myself as to how to approach covering Lee Adama. It seemed too daunting a task to cover Lee over the course of the entire series. Technically, the mini is separate from the series. Then there is a major shift for the character in late Season 3. One worthy of CotM Part 2. So, do I pick out a single episode to cover? Favorite Lee Adama episodes will vary amongst us all. Ultimately, I decided to begin with the beginning. The moment when Leland Joseph "Apollo" Adama stepped out of his cockpit and into our hearts. :)

For anyone who has not yet seen the entire series, I did focus on the mini series and only make vague and general references to future developments.

It took nearly 22 minutes, but we finally are introduced to Captain Lee 'Apollo' Adama.

The first two things I noticed about Lee Adama: his portrayer was easy on the eyes and he was clearly not happy to be on-board Galactica. Lee's greeted on the flight deck by Chief Tyrol and we quickly learn Lee is not on a quest to make friends. He manages to insult both his father, Commander William Adama, and the ship in mere seconds. The two are clearly beloved by the Chief and the entire crew of Galactica. Lee doesn't seem the least bit bothered by offending anyone and marches off. The audience is left to wonder what the hell happened with his father and if the stick up his ass will be removed at any point during the next three hours.

Lee, along with the Galactica's viper squadron, is being briefed by the soon-to-be deceased CAG (we hardly knew ya!) as to their roles in Galactica's decommissioning ceremony. Everyone thinks Lee should be thrilled he gets to fly his father's old Viper Mark II. As you can see, he's not. But the reason I shared this screencap is because of the guy sitting next to Lee. It's the first and last time we see (he was likely Cylon Raider fodder in the initial attack), but he spends the entire briefing looking longingly at Lee. It's very odd!

Our first look at the Arms of Apollo.

A much better look at the Arms of Apollo.

Lee and Lt. Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace see each other for the first time in two years. They seem to be looking to make sure everything is still where they remembered it.

Kara is in hack for striking a superior asshole (AKA Colonel Saul Tigh). She asks Lee if he's been to see "the old man" (AKA Commander Adama AKA his father AKA someone he thinks of as a superior asshole and we eventually will too). We learn the last time Lee, Kara and Adama all saw each other was at the funeral of Lee's brother, Zak, two years before. The scene does a lot to help reveal more of Lee's personality. Lee has a lot of anger within him and does a poor job of masking it. He does not easily forgive others. And for reasons we do not yet know, but soon will, Lee holds his father responsible for Zak's death.

Throughout the course of the series, we'll see Lee struggle to let go of the past and how his own, personal pain causes him to lash out at those closest to him. It's certainly one of his less admirable and likable qualities, but it's the character flaws which make him a more fascinating hero.

As Lee makes it All About Him, Kara points out Zak meant something to her too. Hmmmm....DRAMA ALERT! Kara's past with Zak contributes to very complicated relationships with both surviving Adama men.

Eventually, Lee is forced into a room with the old man...

Lee Adama: Still not happy.

Lee's being paraded out for a photo op with his father. After the room clears, Adama tries to have a talk with his son. He mentions his ex-wife/Lee's mother, how they talked a year ago about Zak's death and apparently have made peace about it. Lee makes it clear he's just there because he was ordered to be part of the Galactica decommissioning ceremony. Having a heart-to-heart with the old man was not part of his orders. Adama starts talking about the accident, while it's clear Lee desperately wants to get out of the room. Adama keeps pushing until Lee reaches his breaking point. Lee says "Good" when Adama tells him he keeps replaying his words to him from two years before.

I have no idea what is going on with his hair here.

At this point. Lee enters into full lashing out mode. He reminds Adama how he told both ha and Zak a man isn't a man until he wears the wings of a viper pilot, but one of them wasn't cut out to be a pilot. One of them wouldn't have even made it into flight school if Adama hadn't pulled strings. Adama says he would have done the same for anyone and Lee accuses him of not listening to a word he's saying (knowing what we know now about Adama, in hindsight I have to agree!). Lee states emphatically Zak did not belong in that plane, he was only doing it to please him and then finishes by coldly, and more than a bit flippantly, stating, "Face it. You killed him."

What I love about this scene is how Lee comes off as hot-headed, cruel and more than a little self-righteous. If you wanted to call him an ass, it would be hard for me to argue with you. This is not the kind of behavior we expect from the typical television hero. Nor is it a moment we would we presume to see between a father and son we've just met. Maybe Lee is right about his father, but there's a lot we don't know about both men at this point. All we see is a young man full of rage. It's a scene where you could turn against Lee. What saves the character, and adds another intriguing element to his development, is the moment the words so confidently come out of his mouth...he regrets it.

When next we see Lee, he's in the cockpit of Adama's viper, following his participation in the decommissioning ceremony, alone with his thoughts and Adama's words as speaks to the Galactica crew and various guests. On the surface of the speech, Adama is addressing their past with the Cylons and Cylon war. But Adama's words take on another meaning, to himself and to Lee, as he discusses humanity's refusal to take responsibility for what they've done and being unable to hide from the things they have done any longer. His father's words seem to have an affect on Lee.

If Lee had any thoughts of talking to his father, he wasn't able to act on them. After the ceremony, he doesn't return to Galactica, but sets off as an escort to Colonial 798 (soon-to-be Colonial One) as it returns to Caprica. Then, of course, is when all hell breaks loose.

Lee successfully defends Colonial 798 (OK, I'm going to start calling it Colonial One!) from a Cylon Raider's nuke attack, but his ship is damaged in the process. He's brought aboard Colonial One where he's greeted by OMG a Cylon! Doral, who has rushed down to the ship's hold to inform Lee there is a crazy lady who has put herself in charge and he needs to wrestle control from her fast! Those may not have been Doral's exact words, but it's the general impression you get. ;)

Lee inspecting the McGuffins, er, electric pulse generators from the Galactica. Because it's important to take notice of things like that immediately after a nuke attack.

Lee Adama, meet the woman who rescued you, Laura Roslin. Sigh.

Disclaimer: I am a Lee/Laura shipper. I will try very hard to refrain from focusing too much on my OTP. However, in my defense, they do have quite a few scenes together that are important to Lee's character development and the overall plot. Really!

Where were we? Laura is in the midst of making plans to create as much usable living space as possible on-board the ship. During the attacks, President Adar called a full stop to ships docking throughout the system. Hundreds of ships are damaged, stranded, etc and she wants to round up as many survivors as possible, with Lee's help, and find a safe place to put down. Doral, once more, questions her authority and voices they should assess the tactical situation. Laura looks to Lee to confirm the tactical situation is they are losing. Lee concurs.

Lee's either shocked to find someone keeping a calm head amidst the chaos or a politician doing something constructive in a crisis.

Lee's impressed and Doral's last hope of removing Laura from power and leaving the the scraps of humanity vulnerable to annihilation die. We then have the classic Lee Adama statement:

"The Lady's in charge."

Colonial One receives am automated Code Orange message. (Shouldn't it be Code Red? Or is this like the paper corners and Ron has to be a little be different? :p) Laura's expression tells us that's a very bad thing, but she goes on to share the message means the president, vice president, and many others are either dead or incapacitated. She instructs the pilot to transmit a code on the same frequency. Lee seems to know where this is heading and after she leaves the cockpit, he goes looking for her.

Lee: "How far down?"
Laura: "Forty-third in line of succession."

This is one of my favorite scenes of the entire series. Up until this point, we've seen a cocky, arrogant and even cruel Lee Adama. Here we see empathetic Lee. The Lee Adama who can put aside whatever crap he's dealing with to reach out to another in need. Their worlds are gone. Their existence as they knew it is over. And Laura Roslin just has had the responsibility for the survival of humanity thrust upon her. Of all the caps I took of the scene, the one I selected is of the moment Lee lets out a deep breath. It's the heavy sigh of someone commiserating, showing he knows just how bad this is and that he's there for her.

So, Elosha has barely had time to put the scrolls away from the swearing-in ceremony when Adama announces he has taken command of the fleet (which is, ya know, Galactica now) and orders anyone listening to the station at Ragnar Anchorage to help launch a counterattack. Yeah, that plan would end well.

As you can see, Laura's joined Lee in annoyance with the commander.

Laura asks "Captain Apollo" to tell the commander they are in the middle of rescue operations, they require his assistance and to see how long it will take him to get there? Lee's not sure he'll respond well to her requests. Laura retorts with, "Then tell him this comes directly from the president of the Twelve Colonies and it's not a request." Burn! Lee then points out Apollo is just his call sign, his name is Lee Adama. Laura knows, but she thinks Captain Apollo has a nice ring to it. :)

Lee has an awkward conversation with Adama in which Adama can't quite drop out of commander mode to ask his son how he's doing and Lee informs him he's taking orders from the president, not him. As if the situation couldn't get any worse (we'll learn it can ALWAYS get worse), two Cylon Raiders arrive and launch their nukes. Lee cuts his dad off and tells Laura they need to split. She won't abandon the other ships so Lee is off to the McGuffin!

Lee sets off one of the electric pulse generators conveniently located in the ships hold. The device apparently disables the nukes while also making it appear as if the ships were destroyed. Again, convenient! Lee explains all this to Laura after they wake up. It seems those generators have quite a kick to them! This know how he has was all theoretical stuff he studied in war college and, while it always failed in the simulations, it's a good thing it worked in reality!

While this occurred so Adama, who was monitoring the attack, would be convinced he lost his other son and grieve for three seconds, it also demonstrated Lee is smart and quick to react. And Laura thanks Lee for saving their collective asses.

Lt. Sharon "Boomer" Valarii and her raptor of refugees from Caprica make it's way to Colonial One. She's understandably pissed she had to leave her friend and fellow officer Lt. Karl "Helo" Agathon behind, who sacrificed his place on the ship for Gaius "Oops! I didn't mean to do all this!" Baltar. Lee concurs with her he hopes Baltar is worth all the trouble. Oh, Lee you have no idea!

When Laura learns Boomer's raptor has limited FTL capability, she instructs her to go forth and find more ships. She does, about 60 in all, although only about 40 have FTL capability. This will soon be important. And in the first bit of really good news they've had in the last few hours, she found a trillium refinery ship. Woo!

Lee and Laura take a moment to kick back and enjoy their small victory.

Unfortunately, moments after Boomer returns with her find, a Cylon ship appears. D'Oh!

Lee, Laura and a few others including Doral...why is here? As far as they know, he's a PR guy! Oh, yeah, Mr. Hey-they-don't-know-I'm-a-Cylon-yet has to argue for staying put and not leaving thousands to die so they can, in fact, be wiped out. Lee argues thousands may die, but tens of thousands will live if they leave NOW. And he reminds them they're debating a question that will determine the survival of their species. It's the first tough choice Lee (and Laura) is forced to make for the greater good and we'll come to learn that, unlike his father, Lee is incapable of shaking off the choices he makes. No matter if they are the right choice at the time.

Suffice it to say, those learning they are about to be left behind to face a Cylon attack (and their certain deaths) are not happy. It's gut-wrenching to listen to and has an obvious affect on Lee, but he never asks the pilot to silence communications, even as one woman declares she hopes they rot in hell for what they are doing.

Eventually, Colonial One and what will become the Colonial Fleet rendezvous with Galactica. Adama isn't on board which leave Colonel Tigh to greet Lee and Laura. It doesn't go well. Tigh, like his boss, seem to be under the impression they are still fighting a war. When Laura informs him the war is over and they lost, Tigh responds with, "We'll see about that." (Seriously?) Laura demands assistance since they have a fleet full of damaged ships with sick and wounded people aboard. Lee jumps into the fray and asks Tigh if he can provide "us" with a couple of disaster pods. The "us" grabs Tigh's attention and establishes where, for the immediate future, Lee's loyalty will lie - with the president. Tigh relents because the old man will be so happy to find out Lee's alive and then informs Lee he's the new CAG.

Next stop on Lee Adama's Welcome Back from the Dead Tour: Kara Thrace

Kara is at first stunned, then joyful at seeing Lee is very much alive. While the dialogue exchanged doesn't tell you much besides they are happy to see each other and Kara realizes, given Lee's rank, he's her new boss, there's an interplay of expressions indicating a depth of feeling for each other beyond being co-workers and friends. And this could be quite complicated given the alluded to involvement between she and his brother.

This smile? Remember it because it's an all too rare thing on the show.

Also rare? This demonstration of affection between Adama and his son.

Even Lee is shocked by the hug.

Just as Lee has some hope of getting on with what will be the new version of a normal life for them all, Kara, as she prepares for a recon mission to see if any Cylons are in the area, drops a bombshell on him. It turns out Zak failed basic flight training, but she passed him because she felt something for him and she allowed those feeling to affect her judgment.

Say that again?

Lee's shocked and asks why she's telling him this NOW. Kara points out it's the end of the world. Isn't it the time to confess their sins?

The character development portion of the mini series is over. It's now time for the big space battle! Kara discovers a very large portion of the Cylon fleet is waiting for the Galactica and the fleet of ships they've accumulated. After a chat with Laura, Adama decides a counterattack may not be the best idea and along with Tigh, Gaeta and Lee form a plan to jump the fleet to safety outside the system. They're going to jump beyond the red line! I have no idea what that means! But to ensure the fleet can get accurate co-ordinates and make their jumps without getting blown up, the Galactica must act as humanity's shield. Get it? OK, moving on...

During a damn impressive space battle accomplished with a cable TV budget, Lee's ship is damaged. At one point he's a sitting duck for a Cylon missile.

Lee watching the missile approach and believing his time is up. Also, Jamie looks very pretty.

Kara shows up with moments to spare and saves Lee's ass. He manages to stay in the fight, but, eventually, his ship loses power. This is just as Galactica is calling back all vipers and preparing to jump. So, again to the rescue, is Kara, who performs a move with her viper that warrants Lee calling her "beyond insane". She and Lee return to the ship just as the port doors close and Galactica jumps. Phew!

The fleet safely away from the Cylons...or so they think...there is a ceremony for members of the Galactica crew who died during the initial attack and subsequent battle. Adama leads everyone in a rousing chorus of "So say we all!" and announces he knows the secret location of the fabled, long missing thirteenth colony discussed in the sacred scrolls and he's going to lead them all there, to their new home. The place? Earth.

Laura looks like she knows Adama is full of crap (Irony Alert!) and Lee looks like he's just ready for the day to be over. And random Colonial officer behind him is either an awesome extra who can portray post traumatic shock REALLY well or she's just stunned to find herself in such a pivotal scene.

When we last see Lee, he's finishing up a walk and talk with his dad. He's jumping into his CAG duties and shares he's going to begin regular patrols around the fleet starting tomorrow. He also makes an attempt to reach out to his dad, to discuss what went down between them earlier, but Adama wants to "save it for another time". Really? I mean, it's not like something bad could happen to one or both of you tomorrow and you'll never have another opportunity to talk. Hey, I had to get one Adama rant in.

Oh, and Boomer's a Cylon. :)

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19 comments or Leave a comment
shallowz From: shallowz Date: February 28th, 2011 01:46 am (UTC) (Link Me)
What caught me the most in the pilot (besides JB's cheekbones) were the scenes between Roslin and Lee. He wasn't all that likable, but kudos to JB for letting you know there was something underneath all that anger. On Colonial One revealed so much of who this guy really was. I've a weakness for characters who can look at a critical situation, make a difficult decision and go with it - in spite of his father and commander yelling in his ear. It's what endeared me to Lee Adama and Bastille Day - clinched it.

My all time favorite scenes usually had Lee and Roslin. I might not have shipped them, but the dynamics between the two were so interesting.

Although, that hug between father and son, that is right up there as one of the best moments ever.

Gorgeous pics! Makes me want to pull out that DVD.:)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: February 28th, 2011 02:29 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I know many who talk about the Lee/Kara scenes in the mini, but there connection didn't strike me until later in the series. Maybe it's the non-shipper in me. :) But, from the moment Lee and Laura met on screen and he said "The Lady's in charge", I sensed something special there. And I love that he reacted to the situation in such unexpected way. He was jerk earlier, I assumed he would be again.

I'm thinking of doing a another Lee post in the coming weeks. I may hit upon a few more Lee/Laura scenes. ;)

I have BSG on Blu-ray and my computer has a Blu-ray drive, but could I cap the Blu-ray discs? No. :/ So I pulled out the old DVDs. Glad you think the caps turned out well!
shallowz From: shallowz Date: February 28th, 2011 02:47 am (UTC) (Link Me)
The Lee/Kara connection - I'm not sure I ever did see that. Maybe moments when the friendship came to the forefront and not their history, then I could see it. But definitely not in the pilot.

"The Lady's in charge." One of the best lines ever! Forgot to mention that in my earlier comment. I melted into a puddle of happy goo when he said that. One, the way he said it, two, you could see this was a guy who wasn't going to make a bad (non-family) situation worse. He saw who could lead them the right way and followed.

Is it worth it to buy Blue-Ray? Keep in mind I don't even have a Blue-Ray player yet, but I thought Captain Apollo would be worth it. Didn't you just love when Roslin said that?!

I'll look for those posts. I thought Lee/Laura had the most fascinating scenes in the series - before the PTB just kind of forgot about their relationship....
asta77 From: asta77 Date: February 28th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC) (Link Me)
We saw Tigh and Adama were not going to take orders from the Secretary of Education. That Lee, a military man as well, would walk into the room and immediately acknowledge this person knew what she was doing and he was ready to follow her without question is AWESOME.

I haven't gotten beyond the mini in Blu-ray yet and since it wasn't shot digitally there are some issues with the quality. When I move on to Season 1 (very soon :), I'll let you know how it looks.

"Captain Apollo" is one of my favorite things ever about the show. And the way she uses it in Season 3? ::wibbles::
anamarya From: anamarya Date: February 28th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
"Captain Apollo" is one of my favorite things ever about the show. And the way she uses it in Season 3? ::wibbles::

I'll come back later and comment on the wonderful description of the miniseries but right now I just had to subscribe to this part.
shallowz From: shallowz Date: February 28th, 2011 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Which episode was that? I remember Roslin saying 'Captain Apollo' in season three, but that's it. Gimmee a hint? Or better yet, the episode.:)

Good to know about the Blue-Ray. Thanks!
asta77 From: asta77 Date: March 1st, 2011 12:39 am (UTC) (Link Me)
'Crossroads Part 1', as Lee questions her on the witness stand. OMG, IT BROKE ME! And was relieved they reconciled in Season 4.
shallowz From: shallowz Date: March 2nd, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Thank you and how did I forget that?! I'm hard pressed to say which scene of Lee's is my favorite, but this one is in the top five. They were both amazing, but that scene belonged to JB. I've got to believe this episode will show up in a review, yes?

It felt much better once they reconciled. That was one of the most painful scenes in the series to watch, but mind-boggling awesome at the same time.:)

scifishipper From: scifishipper Date: February 28th, 2011 02:21 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Great miniseries synopsis! I loved him in the mini. I love the fact that he was an overgrown adolescent with daddy issues. I was sunk the moment he defied his father to support Laura Roslin. THAT was the moment I knew there was more under that cocky attitude. True love? Well that happened in 33 when Kara was chewing him out for being everyone's best friend. I just love how different he is from the typical action hero who might only show vulnerability if someone died. Here was someone man enough to bring love and fear and vulnerability to a role that required none of it to soar.

I could declare my love for Lee Adama all day. My favorite TV character of all time. <3
asta77 From: asta77 Date: February 28th, 2011 02:40 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Thanks! Lee defying the old man brings me such joy. :) And, yes, it showed there was more to the man than the face and attitude. ;)
anamarya From: anamarya Date: February 28th, 2011 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I love the fact that he was an overgrown adolescent with daddy issues.
you and me both.... Idk what that says about me,

but for it was the grief that he gave Tyrol about the hand-on landing. that "you made ME do that?" attitude sold the character for me. at least for a while because if it would've been only that i would've lost interest kind of fast.
jill1228 From: jill1228 Date: February 28th, 2011 05:11 am (UTC) (Link Me)

I should be fired for this

I am not that much into Sci-fi so I never watched it, even though I thought (think) Jamie is a total hottie!
The husband is a major Sci-fi junkie and told me I would like this.
So now I am gonna have to get them on Netflix
asta77 From: asta77 Date: March 1st, 2011 12:41 am (UTC) (Link Me)

Re: I should be fired for this

I guess it's good I avoided spoilers! I know someone who became a Jamie fan because of his work on L&O:UK and now has to catch up on BSG. :)
(Deleted comment)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: March 1st, 2011 12:44 am (UTC) (Link Me)
You're welcome. :)

OK, fine, it's not odd to be looking longingly at Lee. How about odd looking longingly at your superior officer like that? And in a room full of people! ;)
anamarya From: anamarya Date: March 1st, 2011 06:31 am (UTC) (Link Me)
ok, looking at it like that it is odd
charlsie_esq From: charlsie_esq Date: February 28th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link Me)


I remember watching the mini and thinking, wow, there are dimensional characters in this, I think I'm really going to like this. I loved the Adamas because of how they struggle with how Zak's death left them in shreds. Father and son go back and forth between emotions and in that moment of the hug, I want to wrap my arms around them both.

kaitlia777 From: kaitlia777 Date: February 28th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Great post and awesome caps!

As a fellow Lee/Laura shipper, it's always nice see a post by someone with the same OTP!
asta77 From: asta77 Date: March 1st, 2011 12:47 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Another Lee/Laura shipper! Woo! Honestly, I had to hold back when covering the L/L scenes. I could have gone into much more detail. ;) But I reminded myself that this was a Lee post and not a shipper post. It was hard though!
kaitlia777 From: kaitlia777 Date: March 1st, 2011 01:28 am (UTC) (Link Me)
:) There are so many scenes in the first 2 seasons that involve the two of them, I can see how it would be hard.

I still think they made a better match than the canon ships!
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