All Along The Watchtower

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Recap/Review

Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2
If you've not seen the second season finale of Battlestar Galactica, I strongly advise you turn back now. It's got a lot of twists, turns and plot developments that are, quite frankly, better left unspoiled. You have been warned...

OK, still here?

In no way what I expected. After hearing the Ron Moore podcast in which is wife stated the last half hour of the season finale was totally unexpected and would have some fans scratching their heads, I had to wonder--what has Ron Moore got up his sleeve? I'd heard the phrase "series alterting" thrown around for the last segement of the episode, but I had absolutely no clue just how fundamentally series altering this move would be.

Last week, I wondered if Ron Moore would have the gumption to hand Baltar the election and should Baltar win, would they allow him to remain in power. The answer is not only yes but hell yes. To the point that Baltar has lead humanity down the primrose path to occuption and potential destruction. Baltar has been played like a fiddle by the Cylons. It was interesting to see how this episode called back to the miniseries with Baltar. In both cases, Baltar is seduced literally and figuratively by a copy of Six. And in both cases, it's led to the potential destruction of humanity. Before it was the Cylons wiping out Caprica and now, Baltar has led humanity to being the slaves of the machines. Every copy of Six has found Baltar's weaknesses and played them like an aboslute fiddle, manipulating and manuevering him into the position they needed. The thing that works here is Baltar doesn't see himself as a bad guy, but he's do blinded by his own ambition, ego and sense of self-importance that he fails to see when he's being played. Also, it's interesting that this time the Cylons had a more long-term goal. Humanity finds a homeworld, has a year or so to start feeling safe and to let the fleet go into disarray and then they come in force. It's the stagnation of humanity that dooms them to becoming slaves. Without a common, unifying enemy, we see how things descend into squabbles such as Tyrol's organizing the union and Lee hoarding the antibiotics up on Pegasus for what's left of the fighter pilots. Defense has become less of an issue since humanity think they're safe from the Cylons inside the cloud. And then, the Cylons come in scenes that were eery, scary and absorbing. The sense of unrelenting doom and dread that pervaded those scenes was extremely well done.

It's interesting to see Ron Moore take every element and plot thread from this season and tie it all together. And masterfully so. The election, the nuke, Gina, all of them played a role in the first 45 or so minutes (which were no slouch either). I had called last week that Dean Stockwell would turn out to be a Cylon, but how interesting is it that the Cylons would place a religious leader as one of their moles. A leader who is supposed to provide spiritual guidane and comfort to the people and he's a traitor. The scene were Stockwell is brought in to meet himself and realize he's a Cylon was incredibly well done. To see the programming come on-line and then the character to subtlely change...brilliant work. Of course, part of that is Dean Stockwell is a great actor and the other part is you give the man a good role and he's going to really run with it.

A whole lot happened in this one to set things up for the flash forward. The Cylons decide they've hijacked the destiny of humanity and decide to go off and find their own path. As we find out, this path pretty much includes being the masters to the slaves of humanity, but at least it's there own destiny. Love is no longer all they need, I guess, though Six's reaction to Baltar was telling. Will there be cracks within the Cylon community that will be exploited to help humanity escape the oppressive thumb of the Cylons. And do the Cylons now have a new plan--since as we all know every episode starts out telling us "And they have a plan..." It should be interesting to see how the pre-title sequence changes next year to recap and review the basic premise of the show.

Then, we had the election itself. For a few minutes, I really hoped that Roslin wasn't in on the conspiracy to steal the election. I hoped that even though we knew the thought had crossed her mind and she'd planned something, that she wouldn't be in on this conspiracy to put her into power. And to be caught by Gaeta (who I am guessing was rewarded by Baltar with his new high position a year later....either that or no one else can work for Baltar since he seems only interested in the trappings of power--esp. the women. I think Baltar won and had no idea what to do once he won since I get the impression that Six inside his head vanished from speaking to him for that year) was a nice twist. I also found it fascinating that Roslin would hope that Adama would realize what needed to be done and go along in the cover-up. But despite his personal feelings about Baltar, Adama respects the process and he respects democracy. So he calls Roslin on it and forces her to admit her error. And that leads them down a primrose path to... year later.

I find it intersting to skip a year. I'm a huge fan of Peter David's New Frontier Trek novels. And after 18 books, last year David took the series forward three years with no explanation. Which leaves the wonderful fun of his slowly filling in pieces and revealing how characters moved into new situations. It's a big risk, but in the hands of the right writer, it can work. And I think it did here. It allowed us to move the storyline forward and not be there for the nitty-gritty. I am fascinated to know how some of the characters got where they are now and why and I have a feeling Ron Moore will fill in these details. Also, I have to wonder--where is Sharon in this? Is she still a prisoner up on Galactica. And did she know the Cylons were coming? Did she betray humanity over the pain of losing her baby? And will the Cylons figure out that the baby is still alive and that will play a role in things to come?

I also find it interesting that note that Ron Moore worked heavily on DS9. DS9 was a show that in the early stages, showed the aftermath of one people being subjigated by the other. Now with the new direction of Battlestar, I feel like we might get the story of the group being conquered and forced to overthrow their oppressors and just how could that work.

It's a new direction for the show and I can see why they may need a longer break to map out where it's all going to go. I will admit I'm a bit wary--this could be the turning point where Galactica goes from brilliant to merely good. Or it could achieve new heights of greatness. Either way, all I know is when it comes back in October, I'm there.


At 7:57 AM, Blogger Barry said...

It's the stagnation of humanity that dooms them to becoming slaves.

Good analysis. Although after seeing the conditions on the planet after one year, I can't imagine why they hadn't made better progress in housing and civilization. There were at least 40,000 people on the planet - in one year they should've all built housing units of some kind for themselves, or at least lived inside the parked ships until shelters were built. What in the world was the need for tents? That made no sense...

The scene were Stockwell is brought in to meet himself and realize he's a Cylon was incredibly well done.

I think rather that GalCavil knew full well he was a Cylon up to the point where he saw his other self and realized the gig was up and there was no more need to pretend. He knew he was a Cylon on a mission last week while talking to Tyrol.

Will there be cracks within the Cylon community that will be exploited to help humanity escape the oppressive thumb of the Cylons.

Since Leoben was looking for Starbuck at the end it gives me hope that there's something more going on here. My theory is that GalBoomer and CapricaSix were the two that visited Baltar on his plane (Galactic Force One?) and they're working from the inside against the Cylon establishment. In fact it reminds me of Martin and the Fifth Column on "V" lo these many years ago (now THERE was a show!). I think we'll see GalBoomer, CapricaSix and the Leoben (and others?) helping the colonists survive and resist. Apparently the little insurrection agreed to in "Downloaded" didn't quite work out the way they'd planned (especially if the resurrected D'ana squealed on them), and they had to figure a different way to change things from within. Work with them for a while, then turn on them.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Maybe stagnation isn't the right word. The Cylons allowed humanity to relax a bit. Six left the marker of how to find them, but it took a year for them to come in. In that time, we can see the zeal for defense fell off a bit. They weren't on high alert as they were when they left Caprica. So, the humans were lulled into a false sense of security and it was easier for teh Cylons to swoop in and take over.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger W said...

I think there's some sort of mysterious third party in all this. Since it was revealed that the Six that origianlly corrupted Baltar was having visions of Baltar in her head it's just hard to not think something is going on. That vision of Baltar has the same personality that Baltar's vision of Six has. And they're both constantly talking about God.

Someone is manipulating things and I think they're independent of both the humans and the Cylons.

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Sarcastro said...

I didn't see any trees on New Craprica. Constructing new shelters without lumber or other raw materials is gonna be tough.

The Tent City aspect is revealing in that it makes it look like a refugee camp, not a colony or a budding city/state. Having said that, would it be beyond Ron Moore to have the next season be a Holocaust analogy where the humans are planning to escape from their "death camp"? How they are going to get off of New Craprica will take the entire third season.


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