All Along The Watchtower

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Recap/Review

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When the concepts for the final five or so episodes of season two were made known a few weeks ago, I have to admit I was most worried about this week's episode. A story that sought to give us the other side of the conflict, to show us things from the Cylon perspective. I began to get a bit worried, fearing we might try and soften the robotic killing machines too much.

I honestly began to fear that they'd pull a Borg on the Cylons. See, back in the early days of TNG, the Borg were the unstoppable, relentless machine foe. The Borg were determined to assimilate the Federation at all costs and they took no prisoners. They were terrifying and wonderful, but the writers made a mistake in their creation--they made them so powerful that there was virtually no way to defeat them without the fans crying "Sheeningans!" So, over the course of TNG, the Borg were slowly de-fanged a bit. In season five, we met Hugh who the Enterprise was able to separate from the collective and then send back in. Hugh "humanized" the Borg a bit, made them less malevolent, less feared and, quite frankly, less interesting. The Borg had lost their bite a bit and even though the big-screen First Contact brought some of that back, I'm not sure the Borg ever regained that "holy sh*t" factor they had back in "Q Who" or "Best of Both Worlds, Part 1."

I will give Ron Moore and company credit. Those who worked on Trek seemed to have learned from that mistake, at least so far. I will credit part of that to working on DS9. DS9 was a show built on the changing face of the villains and alliances growing and breaking down in a natural way. To see this, simply watch the progression of Gul Dukat or the Founders over the course of the show. At first, the Founders were seen as this unrelenting foe who had no interest in peaceful co-existence with the Fedearation. But as the story of DS9 went along, we slowly learne more about them, their society and saw them change, progess and adapt as adversaries. Same thing with Gul Dukat, who changes from antagonist to sympathetic outcast to out and out villian over the show's seven season. I think part of the success of having villians that change is that we, the audience, get to enjoy that journey. It's not like Hugh where he goes off and next time we see the Borg they're...well, not the Borg we once knew.

And that may be what is happening here with Galactica. I'll give Ron Moore and company a lot of credit. It looks like they're taking the Cylons from what appeared to be a unified and relentless foe with a single-minded task and throwing in some wrinkles. We have Six and Sharon who are heroes of the Cylon, both of whom have interacted with humans and understand the survivors. In fact, they've both loved human men and that has changed them as well. So much that the Cylons don't quite know how to deal with them, threatening to box them off from the rest of the collective group for fear of contamination. Six doesn't know that she is a target of being boxed out at first, but slowly comes to realize it over the course of the story. In the end, she and Sharon end up joining forces to try and make some changes to the Cylon masterplan and society in the 36 hours they have before their crimes are discovered when the Lucy Lawless Cylon downloads into a new body.

Since Galactica is clearly built on the concept of a religious struggle between Colonist and Cylons over the number of gods and how they should be worshipped, this development is especially interesting. It's easy for us as the audience to be against the faceless Cylons who are out for out destruction in the same way that it'd be easy to hate all followers of a religious group who have radical leaders who are out to destroy us. But now we've seen that not everyone falls into line and not everyone agrees that this is the best course of action. It's about examining predjuices and not drawing conclusions about an individual just because he or she is of one religious group or another. It's a lesson in understanding who the enemy really is and having tolerance.

Don't get me wrong--I do not want the Cylons entirely humanized. But I do think getting a bit of an understanding of their society worked well here. And I have a feeling that the changes that Six and Sharon are trying to implement may have far-reaching ramifications not only for the season finale but also the rest of the series. I suppose, in a way, it was inevitable that we had to have more depth to the Cylons--something that started in "Scar" and continues here.

I'm interested ot see where Ron Moore and company will continue to take it.

And let me just say this--for a bit, I thought that Baltar was a Cylon. When Six woke up and saw Baltar there, my jaw dropped. But the implication that Six can see a Baltar in her head, one who is every bit as manipulative as the Six in Batlar's head is was a nice twist. James Callis as Baltar does a super job here of creating a character that is similiar to the one we know but also very different enough to be cruel and manipulative. And the echo of the Baltar in Six's head applauding as she made a major step in bringing out a change in Cylon society just as Six applauded Baltar when he declared his intention to run for president last week was a nice, nice touch.

As for the baby plotline, I have a strange feeling this will come back to haunt everyone. I wonder when Helo finds out what was done to him and having his child taken from him if he will start to lose his faith in Adama, much as we saw happen to Starbuck last year when she found out there was no Earth.

All I know is--I think it's going to be one hell of a season finale....

7 Comments:

At 12:14 PM, Blogger newscoma said...

Great recap. I enjoyed seeing things from the Cylong perspective. Actually, I believe there were two perspectives being Six and Sharon's (eight) and then from the Lucy Lawless character's.
All in all, this show is crowding my TIVO menu, as I'm taping everyone of them.
Also, I gotta get me the DVD, as I haven't seen the first season.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger newscoma said...

Cylon, rather. I should edit.

 
At 12:39 AM, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Finally got this watched tonight.

I liked it.

Ever since they began emphasising the Cylons as monotheists vs. the humans as polytheists I started suspecting that there was going to be something doing along the lines of a sympathetic Cylon. So much of western culture is sympathetic to monotheism that the show's writers couldn't keep hammering the point without having an ulterior motive.

Interesting that the woman chosen to raise the Cylonfant was called Maia. I can't help but wonder if there is some degree of foreshadowing to the name.

 
At 7:34 PM, Blogger W said...

Up until now I've been assuming the Six in Baltar's head is not the same Six that was with him from the beginning, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Now we find out she has a Baltar in her head that is the mirror image of Baltar's imaginary Six. Makes me wonder if there is some sort of third entity involved in some way that is manipulating both Six and Baltar.

 
At 5:41 AM, Blogger Barry said...

I missed the first half of this episode - all three airings :( (I finally came in just as Anders blew up the Cylonbot)

I'm confused, though.

Are we to conclude that Cylon society only consists of millions (billions?) of beings who all look/act/think like one of 12 copies? That there are millions of Sharons, millions of Six's, millions of LucyLawless, etc. If so, why are the Sharon and Six stuck in the cave-in considered "unique" in that they can start some kind of Fifth Column within Cylon society?

Maybe that was explained in the first half and I missed it.

About the baby - where was Adama in this decision? Also, do they really think nobody's going to connect some dots eventually and realize the Pres helped in the placement of, and is visiting a little tot the exact same age CapGalSharon's baby would have been? Doesn't that seem a wee transparent? I don't care how "trustworthy" Maia (good catch, W!) is - there are always many, many people around someone who could slip and give it away.

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Mark said...

We don't know what kind of development the baby will have. Typically in SciFi shows any newborn with alien origins shows some kind of special power, often growing faster than a normal human. I fully expect the Sharon-child to exhibit this.

I have my own personal reasons for not being particularly impressed with Moore's handling of the series so far. I've become engrossed enough that I want to see where the series is going, though more often than not I'm a bit disappointed with each episode.

The sympathetic Cylon plot was telegraphed from the beginning. It was patently obvious that Sharon was going to be that Cylon, AND act as the symbol of our prejudices (her rough treatment as a prisoner . . . Abu Ghiraib, anyone?) The writers did well to try and make her earn our scorn by having her act as assassin, however it was clear that we were supposed to like Sharon(S) and never stop liking her.

 
At 8:55 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Barry,

There are only a small number of the Cylons with a human appearance relative to the number of toasters. Each Cylon has a set of unique experiences that are stored in their memory, like we might have the same computer however I have certain programs and files in my computer that makes it different in skills and abilities than yours. So each Cylon's AI is modified which gives them a unique character.

 

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