Sunday, July 19, 2009

Impromptu Lecutre of the Week: Olag Gan

From the IMDb, a thread where somebody, quite sensibly, talked about how distressed they were by Breakdown and Gan's sudden outbursts of violence. Specifically, how they'd have liked a nice resolution at the end where Gan apologises to Jenna awkardly - that would have been good, but regrettably TV folk recovered from trauma quite painlessly back then. As it is Breakdown is a cracking episode but falls short of the bucketloads of potential it has.

The conversation, unfortunately, became as predictable to Dilbert to his mother in that episode where she leaves the house and records her entire side of the conversation in advance. Thus, you shouldn't even need to read this quotes, but then I know you're going to..


well Gan is a quite disturbing character- he's a violent deranged psychopath that needed a surgical implant to stop his violent outbursts. In one of a series audio plays (can't remember the exact one) it's revealed his nickname was "cat killer". So yeah he may have seemed the gentle giant, but only because the federation made him such - and they're the bad guys? -slaintemhath (sp? does it matter?)


I thought Gan had the implant put in because he killed one of the Federation's guards who had raped his girlfriend? - DracenWolfe


In The Mark of Kane they say hes some kind of mass murderer or something. I don't really count the audios as cannon though. To me they need to be at least 18mm, armour-piercing with decent ranging shot to qualify. (HAHA, pedanitc joke, that was me. Me being Jared) - sfordcar


Oh, yeah, fucking Olag Gan. Makes me look like a decent bloke, I tell ya! - Adolf Hitler


Word. - Josef Stalin


A mother or so, though, THIS post inspired me to reply..

Gan may be the gentle giant in the series but all indications are that he was a very violent man in his past, not only from the snippits we see in the show but from thae various audio dramas that have come out in the years since. - stormlord-2


Quoth meself:
The audios, of course, being the work of Alan Stevens who has absolutely no official affiliation with this series but has written a lot of material about the idea of Gan being a violent rapist with no foundation. There is NOTHING in the series to back this up, and you need to assume that the Federation chip somehow gave him an entirely different personality for the idea to work.

(May this slip under the radar of certain Google-happy fanaudio writers...)


And today what did I see but the following dismissive response:

Fans have in the past asked why was Gan given a limiter AND sent into life long exile? Why go to the trouble of giving him a limiter if they were going to exile him anyway?

The only good answer (sic - no spelling error, but seriously who writes that?) is that he was given the limiter first, but then commited another serious crime for which he was then sentenced to exile. And if this is the case, who knows what he was like without the limiter. Perhaps the insanely violent lunatic we see in Breakdown is closer to the original Gan than the calm, peaceful Gan we see in Blakes 7? - ewgf


For some reason this provoked me to write quite a bit, which I felt like preserving here because it sums up my view of the character of Gan quite succinctly ie - the spade who was but a spade.


Why go to the trouble of giving him a limiter if they were going to exile him anyway?

1) Escape from Cygnus Alpha is improbable, but far from impossible. The number of spaceships unaccounted for by the Federation is regularly shown to be very high, and there are groups hostile to the Federation who could have similar ideas to Blake.

2) They probably would like some insurance against a man who has killed armed guards with his bare hands in the past doing the same to the guards on the prison shuttle.

3) The Federation does like to sanitize its fascist regime in the early stories to the public - a policy of implanting limiters in all murderers for the exile would be the kind of detail to make the public think they acted in their interests. (Note Gan was the only one who had killed before, prior to the later retcon involving Avon's life as a gangster)

And if this is the case, who knows what he was like without the limiter.

Well nobody on the show says it was the case, and I doubt the answer would be yourself.

(GRATUITOUS CONDESCENSION!)

Perhaps the insanely violent lunatic we see in Breakdown is closer to the original Gan than the calm, peaceful Gan we see in Blakes 7?

Uh-huh. Which beggars the question of how the hell he could not be shot down if he was just rampaging like an animal in Federation territory.

Please note the prisoners spend months together, and Vila has a handle on who has committed what crimes, demonstrating that word gets around about these things. And that the prisoners are more wary of Avon than Gan, who Vila, the ultimate coward, becomes quite chummy with.

Also, compare to Roj Blake. The Federation's absolute #1 enemy. They DO work on re-building his personality. Does it work? Erm, not really. They're unable to change his basic outlook on the little people, truth, justice any of the things he truly cares about, none of his passions. They need to rely on subterfuge to mislead Blake into thinking that he IS doing right, and it all comes tumbling down like a house of cards quite easily. Presumably the Federation would have had all their best brain experts on the case... and they failed.

And yet... for some reason when it comes to little ol' Olag Gan the Federation are able to ingeniously re-write every ounce of his personality... and strangely instead of turning this muscle-bound killing machine cum psychopath into an agent on their own side, they transform him into a friendly, amicable, slow-witted, patient gent who is very notably nice to ladies and loyal. BEFORE exiling him, which I believe was part of your argument in the first place.

I don't have to mention Occam's Razor, surely?


Really, the idea of Gan's dark and violent past, chock full of broken bones, rapings, pillagings and felinicide is something that I actually find just as equally dreary as repellant, the end result of sci-fi fans who have become so fixated on the ridiculous assumption that grit = quality. Thus Gan is somehow boring until he becomes like every other psychopathic anti-hero to appear... based on NOTHING but scenes where we're explicity told something's gone wrong and his murder impulses are being actively stimulated. To turn this into the bloke wanted to kill and/or rape everyone on the ship, you need a very sad and pitiful one-track imagination or a wanton and morally bankrupt cynicism that stretches across the entire human race.

So stay away from Blakes 7. Assuming Sky ever gets their act together.

15 comments:

Youth of Australia said...

Fucking blogger.

I agree with every way and refer these idiots to the original script for Time Squad where the speech between Gan and Jenna about brain implants goes:

G: If it ever comes to kill or be killed, I can't win on my own.
J: An implant?
G: A limiter. I can defend myself up to a point but the limiter makes me incapable of killing.
J: Even if you were going to be killed yourself?
G: That's what I meant when I said I need people I can count on. If it came to the crunch, I'd just lock, mentally and physically. I'm incapable of directly causing the death of another.
J: Was the implantation ordered by the Court?
G: No, it was done before my trial. They needed humans for their research, so I was just handed over. Most of the time it has no effect, only if I'm involved in a situation where there is violence or aggression. That's when it operates.
J: I suppose it would be no bad thing if we all had implants. I'm surprised the Federation haven't thought of applying it on a massive scale.
G: I think they have. But if you have a total population unable to kill, where do you recruit your armies? What do you do when you're faced with attack by races who don't have limiters?
J: You mean it would have to be universal?
G: And even if it were implanted in every child at birth a few might get through the net. A small handful who were ruthless enough could control everything. And don't doubt it... there were groups in government who would like to achieve that.

So. It was an experiment, not because he was Jack the Ripper (an idea that David Jackson never knew about apparently, as he'd probably have liked to explore it).

BTW, Gan's backstory seems to have been based on The Keys of Marinus, would you believe? That makes Gan the first Voord... but do you every see THAT conspiracy theory on imbd?

Youth of Australia said...

And I did this to lighten the atmos.

Cameron Mason said...


And I did this to lighten the atmos.


Brilliant.

Especially the song at the end.

Cameron

Youth of Australia said...

Thanks. OG finally bought the big one on Sunday, just as I was doing Family of Blood, would you believe...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

I agree with every way and refer these idiots to the original script for Time Squad where the speech between Gan and Jenna about brain implants goes:

Huh, there you go. That explanation makes more sense than the 'only good' one offered by that other bloke, as well.

BTW, Gan's backstory seems to have been based on The Keys of Marinus, would you believe? That makes Gan the first Voord... but do you every see THAT conspiracy theory on imbd?

Doesn't that mean he's also a Cyberman???


To the disbelief of everyone I talked to at TAFE yesterday, I have not actually seen the new Torchwood thing. But have had plenty spoilered for me. Yay.

Youth of Australia said...

Well, I can do a copy of them.

To an extent, it's not really very good. I mean, it's not BAD, but RTD got up one morning and said, "Turn Left wasn't enough like Threads. I want MORE soul-crushing misery and horror. And an alien who headbutts the wall and vomits continuously."

I doubt ANYONE will rewatch the whole series twice. Unless, you know, they're trying to drive themselves to suicide...

BTW, incredibly huge spoilers on my blog.

Or ARE they?

Cameron Mason said...

Unless, you know, they're trying to drive themselves to suicide...


So that's the cause of a character suicide in Stargate Universe - the only viewing they end up bringing with them was CoE and someone just had to try and be hardcore and watch it twice...

Cameron

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Heh, thanks, but I do actually have ready access to COE, I just haven't got the copy and watched it yet. And a LOT of people have offered me copies as well. It's damaging my cred!

Anonymous said...

G: If it ever comes to kill or be killed, I can't win on my own.
J: Win? That's a strange thing to say?
G: I mean, survive.
J: Okay, right. So you say you have an implant?
G: A limiter. I can defend myself up to a point but the limiter makes me incapable of killing. If it came to the crunch, I'd just lock, mentally and physically. I'm incapable of directly causing the death of another.
J: But you can fight people, even knock them unconscious. So, why do you feel you also need to kill them?
G: Well, I don't. I'm just saying that if it came to killing, I wouldn't be able to, that's all.
J: Was the implantation ordered by the Court?
G: No, it was done before my trial. They needed humans for their research, so I was just handed over.
J: Handed over by the prison authorities?
G: Yes.
J: And you still went for trial afterwards?
G: Yes.
J: What a very strange thing to happen. And why pick you? What makes you so special that they thought you'd make a good test subject for a device that controlled violent impulses?
G: I did kill a guard. The one that killed my woman.
J: But that doesn't make you a violent psychopath, does it?
G: I'm not a violent psychopath.
J: Then why fit you with an experimental device designed to restrain violent psychopaths?
Also, if we're talking about an experiment, conducted for research purposes, why then send you to a penal planet, where they can't monitor your progress as a test subject? It doesn't make any sense! Tell me again how this limiter operates?
G: Most of the time it has no effect, only if I'm involved in a situation where there is violence or aggression. That's when it operates.
J: But that isn't true, is it Gan? You've been involved in a number of violent confrontations aboard the prison ship and on Cygnus Alpha, and it didn't operate then.
G: What I mean is, if I'm on the point of killing someone it'll cut in.
J: But how can that possibly work? At what point does the limiter know you haven't beaten someone enough to kill them?
G: It just does.
J: Then it must be a very clever device.
G: It is. It's very advanced.
J: So, let me just go over this again. The limiter doesn't stop you from beating people to a pulp, but it does cut in at the point where you might kill them. You were fitted with the device because you killed a guard, who had in turned murdered your “woman,” and this limiter was fitted to you as part of an experiment, even before you went to trial. And after your trial, the Court convicted and sentenced you to a life term on a penal planet. A place normally reserved for hardened felons and the criminally insane.
G: Yes. It was a gross miscarriage of justice.
J: What did your defence lawyer say about all of this?
G: He was also part of the conspiracy. They were all against me. You do believe me, don't you Jenna?
G: [BACKING AWAY] Yes, yes, of course I do. What sane person wouldn't believe a story like that?

Youth of Australia said...

Alan Stevens... is that you?!

Youth of Australia said...

Just as a response to that side-splittingly witty rewrite

q) Why did Gan say "win" in a fight to the death?
a) Because if he "lost" he'd be dead. If he "won", he'd have killed someone. Ergo, he cannot kill someone, he cannot win.

q) Why is Gan worried he can't kill people if he can still beat nine colours of crap out of them?
a) Not everyone is going to be brave enough to put down their plasma rifles and challenge a bloke like Gan to a stiff five rounds. They will probably try and shoot him first. He cannot fire back. In this sitatuation, being worried is rather justifiable.

q) Why was Gan neutered before the trial found him guilty?
a) As "they needed humans for research" the entire legal process seems to be a sham anyway. Be grateful they didn't brainwash some prostitutes to say Gan hadn't raped them (and, Alan, remember TWB states such an act is "quite simple" to do). Gan is not an Alpha Grade and, indeed, legally not human, so they could do whatever they damn well pleased. And refer to Jared's answer of wanting to restrain someone of such terrifying physical strength when he will be in a procedure that, by definition, will remind him of the last time he went apeshit.

q) Why pick Gan specially?
a) Who said Gan was special. Any human was seemingly fair game, as everyone has violent impusles to some degree. He could be a control experiment for all we know. (Ah, so Mr. Violent Analrape O'Nasty is contained by the limiter, we better check it works on nice Mr. Olag Gan as well.)

q) Is Gan is not a violent psychopath, why fit him with a device designed for violent psychopaths?
a) Um... to see if it works? "Hey, Bob, should we try these brand new handcuffs out on a non-violent prisoner to make sure they work or just slap them on Mr. O'Nasty and hope he doesn't kill us the fuck to death?"

q) Why send Gan to a penal planet after getting the chip for an experiment?
a) Because the experiment was ended. Gan notes the reasons why it was a failure. They had no need to continue, so they bundled him off to Cygnus Alpha with no further use for him. Also, they needed to get Blake off Earth ASAP, and logically would have to fill up the London with as many crims as to justify the expense. Hence why blokes like Nova and Selman are there.

q) Hang on, Gan has apparently killed people.
a) Jenna shouldn't know that, so the entire point is invalid... Or, to put it another way "those situations didn't 'come to the crunch'" as Gan describes it. He only threatened a guard on the London, and he is seen fighting with some guards who are trying to murder him (which counts as "defending himself to an extent").

q) How can a limiter know Gan is on the verge of killing someone?
a) How the hell does Google know who Gan is? Clarke's Third Law, people! The Fendahl did it!

q) What are the odds of all this bad luck happening to Gan?
a) About the same odds as him happening to be on a spaceship with the five people needed to save him from Cygnus Alpha, steal an alien spaceship which will conveniently be able to get him to a neurosurgeon when this shitty bit of unreliable software crudely grafted into his skull finally goes haywire.

q) But what about all the evidence as listed in the reasonably-priced but increasingly-hard to get hold of Liberation?
a) Terry Nation was a hack and made mistakes in his scripts that some fans have assumed to be subtext rather than errors. I eagerly await the explanation for the deep hidden meanings to The Android Invasion, and the clear proof Guy Crayford was a necrophiliac with mother issues.

And, seriously, you can use names other than anonymous...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

An experiment is a methodical trial and error procedure carried out with the goal of verifying, falsifying, or establishing the validity of a hypothesis. Experiments vary greatly in their goal and scale, but always rely on repeatable procedure and logical analysis of the results.

A controlled experiment generally compares the results obtained from an experimental sample against a control sample, which is practically identical to the experimental sample except for the one aspect whose effect is being tested (the independent variable). A good example would be a drug trial. The sample or group receiving the drug would be the experimental one (treatment group); and the one receiving the placebo would be the control one. In many laboratory experiments it is good practice to have several replicate samples for the test being performed and have both a positive control and a negative control.


Ahhh, Wikipedia. Clears so many things up. Also, as said, 'somebody special' is generally counter-intuitive when it comes to experiments.

Youth of Australia said...

This was a real blast from the past, I have to say...

Jared "No Nickname" Hansen said...

Lol yes. I had trouble finding the page just then so opted for the direct link from my email. Now I see why, I only posted it three years ago!

But it is flattering to see you're apparently still looking around at the stuff I wrote about Blakes 7..

Youth of Australia said...

Lol yes. I had trouble finding the page just then so opted for the direct link from my email. Now I see why, I only posted it three years ago!
In fairness, Nala Snevets only posted five months ago...

But it is flattering to see you're apparently still looking around at the stuff I wrote about Blakes 7..
Well, with this PGP I'm writing, I need to do research from reliable sources, don't I?

Here's a sample...

Ravelo: All right. You’re the genius, Avon. You must have some way to piece out a trail or something, mustn’t you? Some kind of Plan B?

[Avon thinks for a moment.]

Avon: I might be able to locate Orac, but not like this.

Gamren: Why? What’s stopping you?

Avon: You are, Gamren.

[Suddenly he yanks the rifle from her hand, turns it on her and shoots her at point blank range. The gunshot echoes into the night as Gamren collapses, shock on her face. Avon swings the gun to face Ravelo.]

Avon: Drop it!

Ravelo: What the hell are you doing?

Avon: Getting rid of the obstacles in the path. Now drop the gun, Ravelo or instead die wishing that you had.

[Ravelo does so. Avon darts forward and scoops it up. He aims both guns at him.]

Avon: [grins] Thank you.

Ravelo: We’re on the same side, Avon!

Avon: Are we? You mean you were going to kill Gamren as well to escape? I just happened to do it first, is that what you’re telling me?

[Ravelo stares at him, stunned.]

Ravelo: You’re insane!

Avon: Yes, all the evidence certainly points that way.