Spoilers for season one of Battlestar: Galactica. No reference to the original series.
There was an uproar in the scifi community when it became known that the creators of the new Battlestar: Galactica series planned to turn the hero, Starbuck, into a heroine. But all but the most puritan of critics have quietened over Katee Sackoff’s interpretation, after the BG PTB went back to the Ellen Ripley School of Scifi Heroines and created a character whose personality traits, assets and liabilities had nothing to do with her gender.
Captain Kera Thrace, aka Starbuck, is a brilliant, daring pilot with a short temper; if the fleet didn’t need her piloting skills so desperately on account of their civilization being in near annihilation, they would have thrown her out already. She carries the remorse of being partially responsible for her lover’s death, but this never comes across as a female-only thing, and it helps that her lover’s surviving brother and father are equally as screwed up over it. In fact, when Thrace goes missing, the two men put the fleet in jeopardy to look for her, stubbornly refusing to let go of their only link to the dead man. This is one of the most stereotyped “˜womanly’ actions in the entire season; stop what we’re doing, put everyone at risk to save one person who’s sentimental value outweighs her strategic value – and it’s committed by the two male leads, and needs to be stopped by the female civilian leader.
Meanwhile, when Thrace is stranded on a hostile planet, we get to see the quick-thinking which made her such strategic value; while everyone else is wasting time and fuel looking for her, she commandeers an enemy ship, gerry-rigs it to work, and flies it home, innovatively marking it so the fleet knows it’s her. If the Stargate PTB had ever shown Carter’s brilliance at work – and her fallibility in the form of acknowledged poor judgement, a nasty injury that takes her out of action for weeks or a murderous temper – there probably wouldn’t be such division among the fans today.
And while Sackoff looks like she could scrub up quite nicely, Thrace is decidedly unglamorous, even when in a ballgown. Several scenes which have her in standard-issue military garb have her looking little more feminine then a small (but still muscly) guy. And don’t even get me started raving about the novel approach of putting muscles on a military women
Thrace is an intellectual match for most of the men on the fleet and kicks most of their asses when it comes to piloting and military tactics. At the end of season one, she’s promoted to a tactical behind-the-scenes position, and unlike Carter, we appreciate that she’s earned the promotion. She’s brilliant – if fallible – at what she does. We don’t need to be told this, as we do Carter; we can see it with our own two eyes.