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All ingredients of that TV show were quite good, therefore you can find at the bottom a link to more informations about it. But here I will concentrate on Shane Vansen and how Kristen Cloke portrayed her. You deserve to know, that despite the "top three" of the show, Vansen, Nathan West (Morgan Weisser) and Cooper Hawkes (Rod(ney) Rowland) were written characters, they were allowed to develop own features by the actors themselves(!). This is opposed to Wang (Joel de la Fuente) and Damphousse (Lanei Chapman), who were allowed to develop nearly exclusively to their own, but either way... Especially Kristen Cloke took this chance as maximum opportunity, to go further than original planned.

I have divided this account into several sections --- hoping, that it's useful!

Maturity and Leadership Skills

Forced by (co-)educating her younger sisters, Shane became early in her life very independent and in some way premature, simply a mother-type nurterer (see below). This had consequences: together with her intelligence and ability, to go through also in difficult circumstances, this made her a perfect Marine officer. This was discovered early at graduation (pilot movie): while two immature boys (West and Hawkes) fought for the lead of the cadet group, Shane got afterwards this mostly unwanted job(!). Kristen played great Shanes surprise and disgust of that unexpected moment, when all others wanted her, to lead them. But as in the case of her two little sisters, there was no escape for Shane, and so she did, what she was expected to.

She developed great and was promoted to Captain so early, that she was without any doubt one of the youngest Captains of USMC at that time. Her fellows, still "only" First Lieutenant and her subordinates, but also friends, followed her generally not only because she had the power, to order them, but also out of being absolute convinced about her leadership skills. Shane acted as fast as she thought, and with every more sortie and ground op her intuition for military situations grew further.

In the truely horrible episode "Sugar Dirt" (a reference to a scene within, which I strongly advise you not to watch while eating), one of Kristens most valued episodes (by herself), the members of the 58. squadron suffered in barely imaginable manner, but well played by all of them. At a moment, when the painful hunger drives the four others into animal-like behaviour, eating a remaining mixture of sugar and earth, only Shane has the backbone to keep going her Marine duties: if you have seen her face, you have witnessed, how painful it was for her to see her four friends, for whose fate she was responsible, (ill-)behaving that way, and how it incited anger in her. Kristen played this extraordinary, and for more sensible persons this key scene was clearly an absolutely horrible one --- showing without mercy, what happens with human beings under certain circumstances. Keep in mind, that all were tough, hard drilled and experienced Marines, able to bear a lot...

Later in this episode Shane nearly lost her lead, when she only played to send a message to the stuff, after the equipment was defect, and it came out. Revealing her feelings, she shouted, after being verbally attacked by her Marine fellows and friends because of "lying", that she "doesn't want any more this responsibility" (she thought to do them a favor, too) and that she feared, to lose them all, if they know, that they have no more to do... Again a situation, where she can't escape.

"Motherhood" and Fellowship

Also because of her childhood, which was virtually none, Shane develops some motherly instincts during her stay in the 58. squadron, especially --- but not only --- for the truely immature (psychically only 6 years old) Cooper Hawkes. She tried in vain, not to get too close to the other members of the 58. You can witness her emotions for example in "Stardust", when she gave gifts to the others during another life-threatening situation (Christmas gifts!). And at the end of that very episode she forgave "her little boy" Cooper for being a little inadequate, when he tried to give her a present too (he hadn't be very careful in choosing it). Besides that, all of them were fine comrades, enabled by the true chemistry between actors and makers (Morgan and Wong). So they acted always as a true unit.

"The Dream" (an endless Nightmare) and Shanes Devil

One thing is for sure: Shane was totally unable to sleep comfortable for more than a short period. Due to her childhood traumatic witness, how her parents were shot while she saw it, and being bitten by one of her sisters, who was about to cry (Shane prevented her from doing so, this way she got bitten), Shane developed a nightmare, which she could never get rid off. Absolutely believable: as one of few (and always diffuse) memories of that young age this got control over much of her unconsciousness. And the melancholy displayed often by Vansen ("Never no More", "Choice or Chance") was clearly also partly due to that event and "The Dream". Best this topic was shown in "Dark Side of the Sun". Kristen showed up, not quiet, but moving side-to-side and sweated all over, at the beginning, after another time having "The Dream". Some time later, in "The Enemy", she reveals to be stuck with "The Dream".

And in this first mentioned episode the devil in Shane Vansen came out, only lurking for his chance, after Shane discovered the presence of "the murderers" (the silicates). From that point on she had trouble to lead her fellows further, sometimes helped out by Nathan West, and finally taking the big revenge: killing one silicate after another and blasting away the escape ship with them, not respecting its important load (Helium-3).

While Shane, again well played by Kristen, showed deep satisfaction about killing all silicates, her comrades watched that behaviour in horror. Keep in mind, that Marines are no killers, but have to kill, when they are ordered to. And the Corps doesn't want members, who enjoy killing...

An adored Woman with a Strong Edge

As all attractive women learn earlier or later, she was also able, to dismiss the not seldom advances of males. While all male members of the 58. feeled being (more or less) slightly in love with her, this was also shown several times: even the first Lieutenant, later Captain Oakes "Never no More", who was really close to her, experienced a bad time, when he asked her for marriage. Shanes fear to develop again a too close relationship may have had to do with that. In the pilot Cooper suffers a major teeth damage, when he tried unexperienced in an unfamiliar situation to kiss Shane: she beated him very hard into his mouth. Since them, even Cooper had the necessary respect, but it stopped him not to feel a desire for her: "Who monitors the Birds" (one favorite of Kristen Cloke herself) shows clearly, that she was the main reason for him not being 100% focused on the success of his extremely dangerous mission and to get out of the Corps, as he originally intended. When he was tired, exhausted and begun to hallucinate due to drug usage, he day-dreamed of an obvious Vansen-like Femme Fatale. Prior he had trouble, to say not good-bye to her, just before he flew to his mission, despite he was not allowed to tell the others about it. In "Never no More" you can see him and even Nathan watching in disgust, how she departed together with her former(?) love, Captain Oakes; the crossed arms of her two friends betrayed their (little) jealous feelings! They considered it not only as being "not faithful" to them...

In "R & R" Shane made an unusual game of billard with a silicate(!), portrayed by David Duchovny (you may consider that as counter visit, for Kristen was also in "Duchovnys" X-Files as guest). While the short, black dress she wore, created admiring reactions in the public, she showed immediately her not very nice intentions: to beat the best player around. During that, the silicate surprised her by revealing it's nature, and for a moment she lost concentration. But her male admirers helped her out with money, finally she made it, again full of satisfaction, obviously thinking (and prior even saying) "I have shown it to this shit silicate"...

Life and Death --- Shanes Fate

The only more delightful experience in this regard was in "Dear Earth". By chance Shane saw her already married sister to give birth to a little daughter, the last offspring of the nearly wiped out Vansen family. Interestingly, the clearly sensible Shane couldn't cope with this unfamiliar situation, to much changed by her duty as Marine --- an example for Commodores Ross' insurance, "you are no more the same people, as when you left your home on Earth". Again great played from Kristen Cloke: confuse and usure how to react...

In the final (double) episode Shane tells with her "patented" melancholy, how she watched as a child the last Panda in San Diego: "he knows nothing, only eating up his food and sitting around". Obviously another important life/death experience for her (and by the way, a far-too-realistic perspective, because the survival chances of that WWF symbol species are no good).

Far too early acquainted with the death (of her parents), Shane developed a very special relationship to life and death. Once she told Damphousse, that "Marines are out there, to die". Despite this has some truth in it, especially in war times, this is a very negative posture anyway. And maybe this may have had to do something with the events in the final episode. Nathan was nearly like a brother to her, sharing as well two younger brothers with her (she had two younger sisters) and also sharing a major loss (the parents respective the brother). Besides Nathan has a good relation to women in general and especially to Shane, this created an extremely strong readiness, to die for the other: Nathan saved her several times as well Shane did it for him. When Shane, really no happy person, smiled at all, than mostly, when Nathan was around.

In "Toy Soldiers" you could especially witness Shanes sympathetic pain, when Nathan hold his dead brother in his arms...

And then the moment Shane had feared, but also calculated it could happen, occured in the final episode: a situation with an alternative, that she feeled forced to order to "my friend", that he has to fulfill his duty, either way, what is happening to her (and the unconscious Damphousse). Shanes tears were clearly not sentimental (at least Kristen mastered it that way), becaue she gave her friend the worst order possible: to sacrifice her... (probably he only complied for a similar good reason: his girlfriend was also due to being saved by him). She knew very well, that this very last moment had come --- her statement, eventual to survive, was only due to the typical, Marine optimism, without they can't do their job, and to make it a little more bearable for Nathan, who understood nevertheless very well the situation in its full extent (saw you sweat him, by the way?).

In Memoriam

Glen Morgan, James Wong and of course Kristen Cloke created one of the greatest personalities ever in TV show history: Shane Vansen (and of course one of the best TV series ever). And they were not shy, to kill her in the end... (at last Shanes horrible "Dream" vanished also this way...) The only words, which remain to say, are from Latin:

Semper Fidelis, Shane! (always faithful) and
Resciat in Pacem (R.I.P., rest in [eternal] peace).


 

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