Disclaimer: The following post will include adult language, fictional lesbians, subtextual porn and LOTS spoilers up to episode 2x08. Proceed at own risk.
Introducing the Madonna & the Whore
Legend of the Seeker is based on a series of books by Terry Goodkind. And without spoiling too much, Kahlan and Richard, the two main characters of the show are a canon couple both on the show and in the books. In theory there is no room for any doubt. There are problems along the couple’s way, big problems and obstacles to be overcome, yet they are the definition of a canon pairing. So how come the femslash is so luminescent that it outshines the canon? Lets move towards an answer to that question by introducing the two main players.
Kahlan the Mother Confessor & Cara the Mord'Sith
On the one hand we have Kahlan, the Mother Confessor. A magical/mystical woman with the powers of extracting the truth out of anyone, or enslaving them through a single touch. It’s not a Rogue kinda deal where all skin contact is a no-go, no this is a touch with intent only kinda deal. In many aspects she is the spiritual, virginal and pristine representation of traditional femininity. Yet beneath the surface of her goodness lures a darkness, a power that threatens to tear down her self-discipline and create a dark, but powerful queen of a tyrant. That’s the beauty of her character, in one scene you feel her calm and can see the goodness in her eyes. The next scene you can see the barely controlled raged in those beautiful eyes of hers. Surprisingly attractive actually.
On the other hand we have Cara, a former Mord'Sith currently working as the Seeker’s protector. She comes from a leather-clad sisterhood specializing in homoeroticism and pain. The Whore next to Kahlan’s Madonna. She is portrayed as the carnal woman who lacks inhibitors when it comes to both sexuality and the infliction of pain and death. The blonde femme fatale who will lure you to her bed and strangle you with her thighs after having spent numerous hours giving you an extensive BDSM lesson with her magical
They are part of two sisterhoods that are mortal and historical enemies. And to make matters worse Cara was the one who executed Kahlan’s blood sister. However the mystery that is life has these two women join ranks and battle for the safety of the Seeker. Yeah, I know from a feminist perspective it is a very ugly picture where these two stereotypes of overt and fierce femininity are “tamed” by the patriarch in the form of Richard Cypher, the hero who wields his Sword of Truth (this show is big with the phallic symbolism, more on that later). But if we disregard the problematic aspects of the show and simply watch it out of queer perspective it becomes extremely entertaining.
As I mentioned Cara comes onto the show as an enemy of the main characters. There is great mistrust on Kahlan’s part and she even falls into a vengeful rage where she is forced to be restrained in order to not kill Cara with her own two hands. This intense hatred in itself is more electric and tense than the interactions of the canon-couple that has had a full season to develop. And even during the early times of their relationship they do not appear to be able to keep their hands or eyes off of each other.
Then something happens to Kahlan and Cara's relationship. The two grown closer, they are forced to become allies and slowly the hatred is stripped away, yet somehow the passion never leaves. The passion shrouds them and stays with them like a guardian angel making you wonder whether or not it was ever truly born out of hatred. No, because when you start looking at the cracks (and no that’s not a metaphor for boobgling) you see the story, the true story that is hidden behind the, still rather oppressive, heteronorm.
From the very first meeting Cara shows a great interest in Kahlan and her reactions. And it doesn't take long for her to needle her way under Kahlan's skin, and the way she repeatedly looks at the Confessor can best be described as hungry. Kahlan on the other hand keeps her distance, or tries to, yet there seems to be this invisible attraction that draws her to the blonde's side. Cara represents everything Kahlan is not, and everything Kahlan can never have. There are a lot of hungry looks of unadultured passion passing between them.
Cara and Kahlan’s story is one of forbidden love, on so many levels. Both in the sense that it can and will never happen, because it would be destroying the original material the show is based on. But if you remove reality and look at it from the inside of the verse, it is just as forbidden and impossible. Not only does Kahlan desperately need to take a mate (as in copulating and breeding) in order to make sure her magical powers and the line of Confessors doesn’t die with her. To make matters even more complex, the Confessing (the act of intently touching that I mentioned in the introduction) of a Mord'Sith automatically leads to their death. An extremely painful and anguishing death. Ah-ah, it doesn’t stop there, but if a Confessor is to be intimate with someone they love their self-restraint would be removed and their intimate touch would automatically lead to a Confession of their partner. So you see, these two are fucked. Not just a little fucked, but extremely fucked. The kind of fucked where Romeo and Juliet had nothing on them. In short, so fucked they'll never fuck.
"For someone to look into our eyes and see something worth dying for."
These two star-crossed lovers are forever denied romance and intimacy, both by convention and by the physics of their universe. Sharing an intimate touch would literally mean the death of Cara. But that will in no way diminish the entertainment value or depth of the subtext, rather the opposite. Like how there is a thin line between love and hatred, there is an equally frail thread separating pain from pleasure. And when love is denied and when intimacy and pleasure cannot be found in the more conventional ways, well there’s always an alternative. The administring and enduring of pain become their only way of exchaging intimacies and to let their repressed love climax. Something that can be seen on numerous occasions throughout the show in scenes that can best be described as subtextual porn (with dildos, moaning and climax/release included).
This is definitely not the most obvious case of lesbian subtext I’ve come across and it does exist alongside overt heterosexual canon, but I’ve never seen such passion make its way into the subtext before. And I have definitely never seen subtextual porn before.
So close yet never together.
I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far, how about you? What are your favourite moments of subtext between the two?