Danger Gal Friday: Kara “Starbuck” Thrace

For my first official Danger Gal Friday I’ve chosen Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, played by Katee Sackhoff on the SciFi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica.

StarbuckMy favorite Danger Gals are often ordinary women who do exceptional things. Based on last week’s episode, Starbuck might not be an ordinary woman much longer if she turns out to be not only a Cylon (slang: “Toaster”), but one of the Final Five. So, I thought I’d get her into the Danger Gal Hall of Fame before that happens.

For those who don’t watch Battlestar, let me explain. In the original late 1970s version of the series, Starbuck was a male character played by Dirk Benedict. Controversy of the gender change aside, I like that the writers have kept some of the most interesting aspects of the Starbuck character and incorporated them well into a female character. Kara Thrace is, to quote Gateworld.net:

An accomplished viper pilot, Kara is self-reliant — and a bit of a loner. She is tough and rebellious, and not so disciplined as to be able to avoid punching out a superior officer when the situation calls for it. She has a take-charge attitude, and is always hungry for a good fight.

What I like best about this new Starbuck is her ability to make events happen, to shape the world around her, by sheer will and determination. This character is, when committed, deeply loyal and will carry out her orders no matter what. Kara’s best and worst qualities are born from the same source: her sense of inferiority. Starbuck’s swaggering are a compensation for what she perceives as a lack, her determination an effort to cover up the fact that she thinks she’s less-than-deserving, and her loyalty or lack of it likewise.

Kara Thrace would do anything for Lee “Apollo” Adama or his father the admiral because she couldn’t bear to let them down. They’ve given her the family love and acceptance she never experienced with her own family. But she can’t accept that Lee might actually love her, because she doesn’t think she deserves it.

I haven’t painted a picture here of an untouchable hero who can do no wrong and I’ve done it on purpose. The very reason I like Starbuck is because she’s flawed and just never quits. Despite all of these obstacles, including her own critical inner voice, she not only accomplishes her goals but often exceeds them.

Sackhoff has been quoted as saying that Starbuck is the “the best Viper pilot . . . EVER,” and the series so far has shown that to be true. If it turns out that the source of her ability is due to Thrace being a Cylon, then I at least hope that Starbuck will stay true to character—and out of hard-won loyalty to both Adamas—sabotage whatever boons come to her in the Realm of the Toasters. Her flaws make her too human to do otherwise.