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Servalan!

 
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hobgoblin



Joined: 26 Apr 2005
Posts: 819
Location: Brisbane, QLD

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 3:47 am    Post subject: Servalan! Reply with quote

I hadn't posted a new B7 topic for a while, so here we go!

There is surprisingly little discussion of Servalan on this forum, (other than that related to sex appeal!) However, throughout the series quite a lot about the character is revealed, including her past.

Kasabi describes her as spoilt, vicious and idle as a junior cadet yet also noted that she needed help, seemingly forgiving Servalan her sins as she died, perhaps indicating that the Supreme Commander's problems are from a mental problem. At 18, she loved Don Keller (or so she herself claims) and, upon losing him, power became her lover. Was this before or after she was trained by Casabi? It is unclear yet it was Servalan who ultimately informed about Casabi's treasonous activity. This means that resistance to the Federation was already building and that prominent officials like Casabi were already disillusioned with the system and forming resistance groups.

Therefore, the vicious buraucracy of space command is not solely Servalan's creation. It existed before her rise to power.

She is, however, a threat. The President recognises that, hence the work of his underlings in Trial and Seek-Locate-Destroy. Ultimately, the threat is recongnised in the successful coup yet Servalan never cements her position, threatened by Anna/Bartolomew, the rebellions throughout the Federation after the loss of Star One and ultimately finding herself ousted, by what faction we never know.

She gains the goal of ultimate power, yet seemingly achieves little before losing it, other than preventing her empire from crumbling completely. Her proclamation that "I will not be president of a ruined empire" is partly true.

Female megalomaniacs are rare in history yet that may partly be because of the suppressed roles women have held. In the religious wars of the 16th century, Mary and Elizabeth were ruthless in destroying each other's factions but are they recognisable as modern dictators? Perhaps Servalan is more similar to Catherine de Medici during that same period, who like Servalan, had a desire to do everything for the advantage of her (favourite children). This warped maternal desire may be like that in Children of Auron, where horrendous acts of genocide are committed in the name of Servalan's brood. Witness also Mrs Goebbels, who poisoned her own children due to her obsessive ideology. (The Downfall has a good representation of this.)

Most dictators, however, have been male and many psychologists have noted that the likes of Stalin and Hitler shared such traits as bullying, violent fathers, protective, weak-willed mothers and the fact both came from lower classes. Hitler, in particular, had an aversion to being directly involved in violence.

If Servalan is an upperclass villain, perhaps she is more like a feudal warlord, a bourgeouis thug (or greedy gangster) exploiting her underlings and treating them as mere property, to be used, seduced and dispensed with when no longer useful.

A scheming Machiavellian and also with blood on her own hands, yet seemingly not drawing pleasure from killing, more a smug satisfaction that she has outwitted yet another threat, perhaps this is part of Servalan's compulsive desire to win power, to beat all her opponents and prove herself a winer, despite Keller's rejection. It is a game she is addicted to and has made her detached from any feelings of compassion to those she destroys.

Thoughts?
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Cockroach Boy



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 7143
Location: Dancing with the Mara

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think an important part of Servalan's character is denial. She cannot accept the rejection by Keller, and so tries to re-invent herself as a woman that lives purely for power with no need of emotional connection. Both Jarvik and Tarrant break this delusion albeit temporarily and she is noticably less in control inthose episodes. Her attraction to Avon leads her to behave irrationally and she ends up playing games that aren't to her own advantage.

It's also worth noting that she is a truely terrible President. Her reign is very short and is mostly driven by an obsession with capturing the Liberator. She has a huge estate built - again denial, unable to admit the Federation and by extension herself no longer has its old influence - which is then easily overun by rebels who capture her and beat her up.

In fact in 'Rumours' it is Tarrant who perfectly nails her character - to set her free Avon must 'convince her that it didn't happen'.

By season 4, Servalan must live under an assumed identity and faces the daily possibility of discovery. The Federation is growing more powerful - but without her as its figurehead. She becomes a carricature of herself, as all those who denial the reality of their situation inevitably must.
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Futsie
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Joined: 21 May 2004
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Location: The Middle Lands

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With Sand, I tended to go more with Avon's cynical view that Servalan was just gaining Tarrant's sympathy... Perhaps the sand also had some sort of mental effect on them and brought up certain feelings... but is Servalan capable of understanding those feelings any more?
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hobgoblin



Joined: 26 Apr 2005
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Location: Brisbane, QLD

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She is effectively a non-person after losing power, so disastrous her reign has been. It is rather like the Egyptian pharoah (can't recall the name but it was the one who decided to worship the sun as the sole god) who had his figure erased from all statues and his name scratched from hieroglyphics after his reign ended.

Servalan is virtually alone without even a support base of fanatical loyalists in Series 4.

She is indeed obsessed with capturing the Liberator and has fallen for her own State ideology that "things matter more than people." Like Travis, Servalan is the end result of what society has created: a person who acts monstrously and almost undermines and destroys the world that created her.

She can only rule through military strength and fear and, as Avon notes, it is "hard to sustain a military dictatorship when you no longer have a military." She is deluded that by gaining Liberator and Orac she can build a great new empire whilst these alone will not allow her to stop the factions in her own rank. Do not the puppet masters warn her of the threats? Perhaps she has scared and alienated the likes of many others like Carnell. She may have more enemies than friends.

Ultimately, unrequited love, one of the problems of literature with no solution, may indeed have created a monster who can only find pleasure in cynical sex, political games, manipulation and power.
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hobgoblin



Joined: 26 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This one hasn't generated much discussion...
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Janov Seldon



Joined: 16 May 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

S4 - as Servalan she certainly was a non person, but as Sleer? I'm not so sure. We didn't see any of her powerbase so it's hard to judge. We're given some background - Practor says she's highly regarded - but that's about it.
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Cockroach Boy



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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Location: Dancing with the Mara

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Janov Seldon wrote:
S4 - as Servalan she certainly was a non person, but as Sleer? I'm not so sure. We didn't see any of her powerbase so it's hard to judge. We're given some background - Practor says she's highly regarded - but that's about it.


She certainly seems to have been involved in more than just the pacification programme - she even has an eye on flight plans in Animals! The Federation seems to have given her authority but she is also clearly threatened by anyone that knows her secret.

Perhaps the Federation high command knew exactly who she was but let her live in return for the pacification drug, It would be in their interests to strike such a bargain - the drug allows them to rebuild their powerbase. However, they wouldn't want it to be known that they were working with the former President of an overthrown and incompetent administration. Maybe part of the deal was that she maintain a new identity - and deal with anyone that saw through it. It would have been a case of 'If you're foundd out, you are on your own'.
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inge



Joined: 16 May 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By S3 Servalan has become so corrupted that she thinks nothing of killing Hal Mellanby, who is blind, shows how little she thinks of humanity.
Her performance in Sand, when she tells Tarrant that power is her lover is very convincing and well acted.
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Cockroach Boy



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
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Location: Dancing with the Mara

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

inge wrote:
By S3 Servalan has become so corrupted that she thinks nothing of killing Hal Mellanby, who is blind, shows how little she thinks of humanity.
Her performance in Sand, when she tells Tarrant that power is her lover is very convincing and well acted.



Yes Smiley The scene in Aftermath is surprisingly brutal, especially as Servalan clearly enjoys murdering Melanby.

Jackie is very good in Sand - I'm sure I read somewhere that it's one of her favourite episodes.
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