Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sine Qua Non

I know she died eventually, but at first when we saw that the Six was still alive after being shot by Athena, I was shocked. One of the Sharon's shoots someone twice, and yet again they survive! The Sharons must be really bad shots!

Dr. Cottle tells Adama something about Caprica Six in relation to Tigh. Now, I was all set to have it be something like his semen was discovered in her or something. They've been doing things in there, and that would make some sense. But no, Adama says that she is pregnant. At this point, I had to blurt out, "That's impossible!" We have been told since the beginning of season 2 that the reason the Cylons were doing their experiments with humans in the first place was their need to procreate. They needed humans because Cylon models couldn't reproduce together. Remember that? That's why Helo and Sharon have a baby. That's why Kara is minus one ovary. But now apparantly Tigh is a Cylon AND he got another Cylon pregnant. NO WAY. They can try to double-talk about the Final Five being different all they want, but as far as I'm concerned the rules were that Cylons couldn't reproduce. To have Cylons reproducing is to break the rules, and throw away any vestiges of what "plan" the Cylons ever had. It's yet one more stupid development this season.

The title is used in the episode by Romo. I must ask, is it straining credibility for the Colonials to know Latin? Or are we to put this in the same box as the fact they speak English. Are we just taking it as legalese or a kind of cognate of English?

Remember way back in the miniseries when I ragged on Apollo for being named Lee? Well, it gets worse. I take that back. Here we learn his full name is Leland. Really, Leland? Apollo is a silly name for a character, but Leland is fine? They couldn't have just stuck with plain Lee? What's next; is Kara really named Karabelle?

The political machinations have gotten to the point where they no longer make any sense. Lee (Leland, snicker) is now the President. ...What? So they are apparently stating that you DON'T need to elect the President, and can instead just appoint whoever you want? REALLY? May I ask how Baltar was ever allowed to serve then? How does this government function? Why would Zerek just roll over and allow this? Then again, why did he roll over and allow Roslin to take over? Everything he argued about dictatorship in "Bastille Day" has come true! And Lee, the one who convinced him that the will of the people would be served by democratic election, has now overridden that system and proclaimed himself President. That's just plain nonsense. There is no way this can end well. I hope Roslin chews him out for it. I don't care if Adama has personal feelings for Roslin. Zerek was President. Heck, Adama showed Baltar more respect! I know Zerek is idealistic, can be a rabble rouser, and was a terrorist. But dang it, he believes in democracy! And who wouldn't be disheartened trying to work in a system that appoints people it likes to the office?

The discovery of the debris and the fact Roslin is missing doesn't worry me. The next episode is called "The Hub" so I assume that it will cover the events we didn't see regarding the base ship. Will Roslin get much more out of the hybrid? I'm inclined to think not. 

Guess What's Coming to Dinner

This may be the cutest title since "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down". 

Much of this episode centered around Roslin having shared visions with the Cylons and Baltar telling the fleet about it. I must confess, it took me far too long to realize that the "visions" in question were the dreams she had at the end of last season with the opera house. Because we'd been away from that story so long, I thought this was new information at first. Also, I don't equate dreams with visions.

The Cylons and the humans must form an unholy alliance. It's interesting that these Cylons are being called "the rebels". This calls to mind other genre stories like Star Wars and X-Files. And of course, everyone plots to double-cross everyone else. I feel like they've done this plot before. I've definitely seen it in something recently, but can't remember what. 

What's going to become of Hera? Why is she doodling Six? (Wasn't that so like The Omen or something? Even down to the three Sixes on the page!) Athena certainly doesn't want to lose Hera again and I can understand that. But she shot a Six! Who wasn't doing anything! Furthermore, it was never going to be THAT Six that takes Hera. Didn't we establish at the end of the last season that it was Caprica Six who was in the vision at the opera house? Didn't she say so herself? 

This episode was decent. I don't really see what Roslin hopes to accomplish by talking to the hybrid, but at least she's smart enough to bring Baltar in on it. I love that after they plug it back in, it just jumps right away. Silly Roslin, thinking everyone plays by her rules. Also, I meant to mention in the other episode, I love the moment when the Sharon is shot and bleeds into the hybrid's pool. Now the hybrid is sitting in a pool of blood, and there's something oddly compelling about that.

They interpret the hybrid's prophecy to mean that the Final Five are among the fleet and know the way to earth because they have been there. Does Tigh know he's been to earth? And Tigh raises some very good objections to this idea. He points out that it doesn't make much sense that they have been there the whole time and only now have the Cylons recognized them. I know he's just trying to hide the fact he's one of them, but really these are good objections. The story is lame.

...By the way, just so we're clear, Baltar did get Sharon to say there were 8 Cylons in the fleet way back in season 2, yes? So, minus D'Anna Biers, that's 7. Minus the Final Five, that's two. Who are these two Cylons? Where are they?? What became of them? And that's even assuming we're counting the Final Five! Odds are, Sharon would not have known about them.

Blowing up the resurrection hub to level the playing field makes good sense. It was interesting to hear the Six talk about death as a good thing. It reminded me of how mortality is called "the gift of Men" in Tolkien's mythology, contrasted with the immortality of the Elves.

They took Gaeta's leg! Poor guy. Well, at least he didn't get airlocked. And he has a lovely singing voice. I like these kind of old-timey folk songs. 


There are several things going on here, but mostly revolve around the notion of faith, hence the title. Some of it works for me, some of it doesn't. At times it felt very slow. 

Hey, it's DS9 alum Nana Visitor! When she is listening to Baltar's broadcast in the beginning, he quotes Shakespeare, referring to death as "the undiscovered country" and follows on with the rest of the line. I have a real problem with this. Should they really be quoting Shakespeare in this universe? Even after the whole "All Along the Watchtower" thing, does it fit? I feel like it doesn't. How would Baltar know this? The suddenness of these broadcasts springing up also bothers me. What is he transmitting from? I feel like I've missed something between episodes. But then, I've been feeling that a lot this season.

There's a very curious moment when one of the Sixes attacks whats-her-face because on New Caprica she had killed her. We learn that it had greatly traumatized Six. But it shows just how ridiculous that whole scenario was. Resistance members were just randomly jumping Cylons and drowning them? Again, what good does that serve? THEY DOWNLOAD. Because of that action, that woman is dead; the downloaded Cylon came back and killed her. So the shadows of New Caprica rear their ugly heads yet again, if I may mix my metaphors. The humans did horrible unjustified things that were wrong on a moral level and a tactical level. 

Now, why is there a cancer ward on the Galactica? How long has that been there? We never saw it before. How long has Nana Visitor had cancer? It seems odd to me that once we need to see cancer victims, we do. But before that, we never did. Are we to believe she was sick before the fleet left the Colonies, or is this a recent development?

On the subject, I've just got to vent about something that constantly bothers me on TV: the head scarves. Now, please don't get upset with me all you cancer patients. I just don't understand the point. You've got cancer and you are bald. We know you are bald. The scarf doesn't hide anything because the only people who wear such scarves are bald. I say just be bald! There's nothing to hide! If you're really concerned, go wigged, but that's it. (and by the way, Roslin's wig is UGLY.) Now, maybe in real life there's some sense to wearing a scarf in public; if nothing else, it protects one's head from the sun. I guess I'm okay with that. But where is the sun on this ship? They are inside! And they're inside all the time! So why is Roslin wearing that scarf? It's not even that it couldn't sometimes be justified as a character thing. That may be. But generally, the "cancer scarf" is TV shorthand for saying a character is sick without saying it. And I'm sick of seeing it. 

The thing about crossing the river of death and the boat has certain mythic overtones. But for me, when I saw them in the boat at the end, the first thing that came to mind was Scully in the boat on X-Files when she was dying. In the same way, it was a kind of metaphoric representation of her spiritual state. Also, the river crossing and the glory on the other shore brought to mind The Pilgrim's Progress wherein Christian crossed the river of death before entering the Celestial City.

The Road Less Traveled

Well, it's been awhile since I posted (okay it's been like a day). I watched four or five episodes in that time, though, so my memory of "The Road Less Traveled" is not great. I don't really have much to say about it. Maybe that's not a good thing. If I can't remember it, it must not have been that interesting. It was mostly just Kara finding Leoban and stuff eventually leading to a mutiny.

Tyrol shaved his head. With his bouts of craziness, especially that moment with the gun, he seemed very Vincent D'Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket. That's what he reminded me of. I don't like that Tory is lying to him, and he should know something is up. It is good to see him concerned and at a loss without Callie, rather than the angry jerk he was last time. I have no idea who this character is anymore.

Leoban is back to babble until Kara caves. What else is new? I like though that they follow up on the Cylon civil war thing that we didn't see anything of in the last episode. Curious that those plots so neatly connect. May I ask... if the way to earth is following Kara, then just what was the point of the whole "Eye of Jupiter" thing in the first place?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Escape Velocity

"The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens." -Jeremiah 10:11

Much of this episode centers around Baltar and his growing cult. I really don't know how to feel about it. The level to which Baltar is embracing his role is scaring me. There's nothing that makes Baltar great. If it is in fact the Cylon god working through him, does not said god deserve the glory? There's an interesting moment when Six points Baltar to a woman with a Scorpius medallian. She apparantly wants to trust in Baltar's god, but wants Scorpius as well. After all, aren't two better than one? This strikes to the heart of the issue; the struggle for the polytheists to grapple with a monotheism. It reminds me of the Israelites who often turned to the Baals and Asherahs of neighboring peoples. They were supposed to serve only one God, not the false gods of others, but they at times tried to have it both ways. Baltar makes clear in this episode that the worship of the many gods who are not real must be driven away. This comes to a head in a scene where he and his followers crash the temple. I don't know how to feel about his actions. They are destructive. But in a way he is right. The scene is reminiscent of Jesus clearing the moneychangers from the temple, though it isn't exactly the same. Jesus wanted the temple restored to its purpose; Baltar wants to expunge the temple of its purpose.

What the heck is up with Tyrol in this episode? I hate that after the Cylon reveal, I no longer know who the characters are. The only one who seems to be himself is Anders. Tyrol has lost all grounding. It's as jarring as his prejudice against the Taurons in "The Woman King". He seems out of character. During the scene at the bar, he flips out and blasts Callie, saying that he settled for her. She was the best he could get. This is very hurtful, and I don't know how it could even be true. I can't believe he has the level of disdain for her that he seems to have in this scene.

They sneak Ellen back into the show! I like Tigh consulting Caprica Six. But the episode seems based around the notion that pleasure and pain are connected. Is this a Cylon idea? I'm not sure I see why it needed such masochistic overtones. Baltar is beaten by Marines. Six told him he wouldn't get hurt. ...So she's a liar now? 

I don't like Baltar's little speech at the end, nor the direction it may lead things in. Certainly he's parroting some of the things Tory has been saying (shame on you, Tory!). For him to ultimately conclude that "you are perfect just as you are" is nonsense. The logic being that God only loves things that are perfect, God loves you, hence you are perfect. That reasoning is faulty. It leads the Cylon god cult away from Judeo-Christian underpinnings and into realms of eastern thought. Where is it written that God loves only that which is perfect? How can Baltar really believe he is perfect? Loving yourself is one thing, but this is an extreme. I do not trust the Cylon god. There is a certain amount of debate about perfection in Christianity, but it does not come to this level. There are some who argue that when you come to Christ, God sees you as perfect because you have been cleansed from your sin. Though people still sin, "positionally" God counts them as if they haven't. Or something like that. I've not been able to fully wrap my brain around the idea. But it is based on you first acknowledging your wrongs, that you aren't perfect, and giving them to God. Only then does God perfect you. But Baltar is not saying this. Baltar is preaching a message of universalism; that God loves you as you are now and you don't have to do anything but love yourself. After all, God loves you. There's a danger to this sort of thinking, and also a confusion for me. If everyone is perfect, thus God loves everyone, then why bother overthrowing polytheism at all? Those who practice it are perfect and God loves them anyway, yes? It's a feel good message that gets a rousing applause, but I'm wary of what it will result in. I also feel like this is all coming too fast for Baltar, and feels a bit out of character for him. Certainly he likes the attention, and he may even see himself as an instrument of God, but something about this transition feels forced to me.

The Ties That Bind

This episode felt a little disjointed, and ultimately ran a little slow for me. I like Lee in the Quorum. I am liking Roslin less and less as the series goes on.

I really don't like Tory. I don't like where her character is going, and I'm not sure I understand her. She does things that are so... bizarre. This episode is primarily a Callie story. Once again, Callie feels neglected by Tyrol and believes he's having an affair. We get the addition of her on antidepressants. Her spying on the Cylon meeting was interesting. Note that weapons locker 1701D references the Enterprise from Next Generation. And when she learns that they are Cylons... she decides to kill herself and her baby? REALLY? She wouldn't tell Adama? Her first thought is suicide? I don't like it. This episode uses a "hazy lens" technique for Callie's drugged perception. This is the first time we've seen such a thing used on the show. It's miles away from the verite style they usually go for.

Kara and Anders fighting; there's nothing new there. And she says something to the effect of "this is different; I just want to frak." Um.... Kara's ALWAYS just wanted to frak. That's one of my big problems with her, and why their marriage is nonexistent.

I hate that Callie dies. It's ridiculous. Stupid Tory. Why am I still watching this? All the good people are crazy or Cylons or dead! I'm also starting to think it is MUCH too easy for people to gain access to airlock controls. They kill people this way far too frequently.

Not a fantastic episode. It feels slow in places, and deserves no love for killing Callie and leaving Nicky motherless.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Six of One

I am starting to get tired of these stand-offs with characters pointing guns at each other. Though I didn't expect Roslin to actually shoot Kara. It's a shame she missed. The whole notion of "going the wrong way" is frustratingly familiar, but I don't know what it's reminding me of.

In the end, Kara was given a ship to go follow her head-ringing on her own. This seemed to me the obvious solution from the beginning. You don't trust her, and you don't want to endanger the fleet, so you send someone with her to follow her nose. That way she shuts up, and you don't have to worry as much. It all seemed the easiest solution. Why did it take all the yelling and fighting for them to get to that point? Also, if they are taking a sewage treatment ship, will the fleet have another ship to treat their sewage? ...And are we to believe this is all done on one ship? Really??? Is all the waste collected and then shuttled over to the ship? Does the Demetrius make the rounds of the fleet every week, hooking up and pumping their sewage away for them?

Tory with Baltar is an odd combination. I like Tigh's reasoning behind it: Baltar is best at "lying in his cell and lying in a woman". Should that be lie or lay? And there's that beautiful moment when Baltar describes providence as a the melody born from a cacophonous orchestra. I love that we hear that subtly underneath the scene. 

I'm supposed to believe that Baltar is seeing head-Baltar now too?? Who or what is it, already?! And where is Caprica Six? What are they doing with her? While it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, at least the effects are good. BSG has some of the best "doubles" scenes I've ever seen. You believe that the two Baltars are there.

Why is Tory crying? Is she upset about stooping to this level with a man she seems to hate? Or does she truly always cry after sex? It's a curious moment, but nice when Baltar discusses the nature of feelings, and how Cylons have them too.

Meanwhile, the Cylons are in the midst of upheaval. They take a vote, but 3 models vote to lobotomize the Raiders, and 3 vote not to. Only when Boomer sides with Caval does the vote sway. I wonder how Caprica Six would have voted. Can I ask, 1) why vote when there's a possibility of a tie? and 2) when it did tie, why didn't they un-box the Threes and let them vote? Wouldn't that have made sense? Giving self-awareness to the Centurions is interesting, and more in keeping with the older versions of them. But what exactly is to be accomplished by gunning down the Cylons? They will just resurrect! The best thing to do with them would be to forcibly remove them and make them comatose. That way they can't resurrect, but they can't do anymore damage. Why don't the Cylons think this way? I also find it interesting that the issue with the Raiders ultimately becomes something of a discussion on animal cruelty.

I don't particularly understand why discussing the Final Five is forbidden. Someone just programmed that into them? Doesn't every mention of 12 models essentially refer to the Final Five? I think the whole "final five" thing is ultimately lame anyway. If it is forbidden to speak of them, why were they even programmed with the knowledge of them? Would it not have been better to program them to believe there were only 7 models?

I really like Lee's little send-offs. The drinks with the pilots was a nice touch (and did I notice a strip poker game? Or would that be strip-triad? Strip-pyramid?). The moment when everyone saluted was great, and it was good to see Dualla again, though I'm annoyed that their marriage is over, and NOT over because of Kara. Oh, and I hated the kiss in Kara's cell. I'm so tired of it. I don't want the two of them together! I also really loved the new version of "Wander My Friends" that scored the farewell scene.

He That Believeth in Me

They changed the pre-cap again! And it's drastic this time. I think I much prefer the one from season one. This one is solely about the 12 Cylon models. No longer is there any mention of there being a plan. I think they have finally resigned to the fact that there is no plan and never was. ...Though where The Plan fits into that scenario, I don't know. But I stand by my argument that there is no plan and never was.

The number in the main titles also seems drastically low. It's at 39,000+. Now, last time we saw it, there were around 41,000 survivors. So I'd like to know when exactly we lost 2000 people!

I was really annoyed by the Tigh shooting Adama fake-out. It's totally unnecessary for the episode, and I just thought "Again? Seriously? We've seen this!"

It seems the worship of Gaius Baltar is more extreme even than what we glimpsed in "Crossroads". They have their own little commune with a shrine to him! That seems really extreme to me. I suppose it could happen, but it just felt  to me like it rose too suddenly. I do like the return of the woman with the sick boy. The scene where Baltar lays hands on him and prays is very moving and well done. It's good to see people on television praying heartfelt prayers and not being mocked for it. Though I knew that, as in "The Hand of God", as soon as he said "take me instead" it would result in some attack on Baltar's life. This Cylon god is very literal, isn't he? But it's nice that Baltar survived his Sweeney Todd experience. Too bad he now gets all the credit for the miracle, rather than the god who granted the request.

Kara's return, complete with a brand new Viper bears a teeny tiny resemblance to the stories in the original series like "War of the Gods". In those episodes, when Apollo et alia returned from the Holy Kryptonian ship, their clothes and ships were all white and brand new-looking. This reinforces for me that Kara somehow went to the place "between life and death" and that the Leoban with her was some kind of angel being.

I like the exchange between Anders and Kara when he says he loves her even if she was a Cylon the whole time, and she says she can't reciprocate. She tells him if he were a Cylon, she would put a bullet between his eyes. It's great because you know she really would! Poor Anders, what will he do?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Razor minisodes

The minisodes that go in conjuntion with Razor are essentially the Adama flashbacks strung together with a bit more stuff earlier, and a flash forward to the miniseries at the end. As such, there isn't much to say about them. I like the little bits with Billy Adama before he gets in the Viper. I can see why they aren't necessary for Razor (and were shot by a different guy), but they add a bit more texture.

Ultimately, I wonder how I would have felt had I watched these before watching the miniseries. They are set before the miniseries (except for the very end), and I think I would have been more open to the show had this been the first thing I saw. If I ever watch the miniseries again (and that's a big IF), I will watch these first.

I noticed that we heard the screaming when he put his hand in the tank, but didn't see the people or the experimenting. Maybe these things were only put into the extended cut of the movie? I haven't watched the broadcast version, so I can't really comment on how much more is or isn't different.

BSG: Razor

Like the original series did with "Greetings From Earth", BSG has basically made a movie in the middle of it's run. In fact, Razor was briefly screened theatrically as a special event. In retrospect, I wish I had gone.

Wow. After the mess that was season three, it is amazing that they could make this movie. It is truly fantastic. It's great to see the Pegasus again with its familiar faces, along with the new character, Kendra Shaw. Shaw really carries this movie, and it never feels like we are being forced to follow someone new who we don't care about. From the opening images of the blade to the end, I was with this story. 

A number of events we were told about in season 2 episodes play out here. It's good to actually see them, especially for anyone who never saw the extended version of "Pegasus". Some of this story was cut in the broadcast version of "Pegasus", so it's especially nice to see it play out. As the story is for the most part a prop to hang flashbacks on, I worried that it wouldn't hold up on it's own. But it does pretty well. In a way, this whole film is a flashback for us, since it is set at the end of season 2, sort of just after "The Captain's Hand". I like Cain being fleshed out a little more so she isn't such a villainess. She came off really badly in the second season, and we get a bit more of where that came from. It doesn't soften the execution of her XO, however, and that is even more shocking when actually seen.

For the run of the show I've referred to the captive Cylon as "prisoner-Six" rather than Gina. This is the first time we hear her name onscreen, so I can call her Gina finally. I also really like the touch that her name is from the "old Geminon" for "resurrection". Her lesbian relationship with Cain was a bit jarring at first. I'm not sure I get why the harsh women tend to be gay in these sorts of scenarios. Yet it is played discreetly and really enhances the second season in that I never understood why Cain was so harsh to Gina in "Resurrection Ship". What would lead her to spit on Gina as she did? Here we learn that it wasn't just for betraying the ship and humanity, but also for exploiting Cain's affections. Cain must have felt used and dirty; in a way she is a mirror of Baltar. Though Baltar embraced the relationship in his head, Cain hardened, which is how her character would react. I'm curious as to why Gina started this affair. Was it simply to use Cain, as Six used Baltar? Certainly there was no real attempt at the love experiment, since that seems to be about procreation, which in girl-on-girl relationships is impossible. Then again, could it be that Gina wanted to experiment with love wherever she could get it? In any case, this relationship adds a separate dimension to Gina's shooting of Cain at the end.

I like some of the parallels to the Galactica experience. Cain gives a rousing speech as Adama did, but where Adama's was about the promise of Earth, Cain's is about the promise of revenge. Both scenes also involve a rising chorus of "So say we all".

The one possible flaw to this whole story being set in season 2 is that we learn from Sharon about hybrids. Baltar is standing right there. So Baltar knew about hybrids, at least that they were part human and ran the base ships, before he even got to the base ship. This seems wrong to me, and I want to go back to "Torn" and see if it makes sense. But there are very often these sorts of continuity glitches in stories like this (Lost has had several in its last two seasons).

It was great to see the First Cylon War. Young Adama finding the lab was interesting, as we finally were told how the Cylons began making humanoid models: they kidnapped humans and butchered them for their biology. It is a shocking moment, but also makes a lot of sense, answering a question I've had since the show began. I love seeing the old-style Centurions and their Raiders (though the ships are slightly modified). I also like seeing Adama's Viper in action, a ship we haven't really seen since the miniseries. The shootout in free fall was a lot of fun. When we finally heard the "by your command" I squealed with delight. It makes you wonder, though, why didn't they go more in this direction in the first place? Why did the miniseries have to play SO differently? Here they were able to address the original series while toning down the sillier elements. And it works beautifully. More of this sort of thing on the show would have been interesting, and probably would have curbed some of the early criticism.

The one other thing that Razor brings to mind though is how ridiculous it is for Tigh to be a Cylon. We're basically saying that very shortly after the events of Adama's flashback, Tigh is created and put out there on a ship believing he's lived this life, etc. It strains credibility to me.

I wonder how it would have felt to watch Razor back in season 2 when it is set. Would I have felt spoiled at all by the information about hybrids? Would I have been on alert knowing that Kara Thrace is "the harbinger of death"? Probably not, since I never liked her anyway. I wonder if anyone out there watched this movie before season three. 

Razor is easily some of the best work they've done. The action is great, the effects are great. While some of the flashback transition is rocky, the effect overall works really well. As with the best BSG, it all comes down to being about character and never gets bogged down in the explosions and such. Even if the main story of the old hybrid ship is not terribly consequential, the chance to meet this character Kendra Shaw and see things as she saw them; to find a warning about Starbuck that no one else would hear, these things make it worthwhile. I still really dislike the third season, and I think the series has been mediocre overall. But Razor is truly engaging and I think the best work the show has ever done. It is my favorite episode, and if the miniseries had been more like this, I might have been kinder to the show from the outset.

Favorite line: "I'd like to sell tickets to that dance." Adama speaking of Shaw vs. Starbuck. It's great because it implies "dance" in the sense we saw in "Unfinished Business"; a boxing match. If I had seen this before "Unfinished Business", it would have seemed interesting foreshadowing.

BSG: Season 3 review

The third season felt like one big step in the wrong direction for me. I was never a fan of the New Caprica storyline, and it unfortunately informs most of the goings-on here. Rather than follow through with established plot points, they jumped ahead a year essentially in an artificial attempt to create drama. And it very often felt artificial. Halfway through the season, Sharon had all but disappeared. We still don't know who the 7 other Cylons in the fleet are (or, we at least don't know who 3 of them are) or what became of them. 

The ending felt so tacked on that it is laughable. If Tyrol has been a Cylon this whole time, doesn't that mean that his son is also a miracle hybrid like Hera? Wouldn't some kind of medical test reveal this at some point?

The "Final Five" mystery just isn't that interesting to me, and was oddly handled. Baltar has been strung along throughout the season, but he doesn't have much to do; it's like he's a box of disease that no one wants to touch. The search for earth was abandoned for some time, and only slightly gotten to this season. And when in doubt, they killed characters off. Ellen Tigh, Kat, Duck, Jammer, Starbuck (briefly), all were casualties of story. Some deaths were better than others, but that's quite a lot of them.

This is not to say that everything about season three was a total bust. Most of the nauseating zooming camera work in the exterior shots has been replaced by smoother shots that I like better. This makes it all the more jarring when it goes back to super zoomy mode in episodes like "The Woman King". Perhaps these are instances of reused footage from the miniseries. The effects work in general has gotten better. While I hate the New Caprica stuff, the effects in those episodes are some of the best they've done. It was good to see the Hera storyline sort of resolved.

The season is very problematic, and as the first episodes I ever saw were third season, I'm not surprised I was turned off. While no episode stands out as bad as "Black Market", the whole season has a feeling of being not quite there. I sort of hope the last season is better, but given the direction it seems to be going in, I don't expect it. Worst season so far.

Best episodes: "The Passage", "Dirty Hands"
Worst episode: "Unfinished Business"
Worst ending to an episode that ruined an otherwise good episode: "Crossroads part 2"

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'd rather...

After watching "Crossroads", I ranted for some time about things I would rather do than watch those last fifteen minutes again. I thought it would be fun to put up a whole post of things. Anyone is welcome to add their own!

I'd rather watch 7th Heaven than watch that again.
I'd rather watch Gilmore Girls than watch that again.
I'd rather read every single book in the Baby-Sitters Club series, including the "Little Sister" and "Friends Forever" spinoffs than watch that again.
I'd rather play a game of Pretty Pretty Princess that was being broadcast live around the globe than watch that again.
I'd rather watch Pink Flamingos than watch than watch that again.
I'd rather sit through a marathon of Wizards of Waverly Place than watch that again.
I'd rather write fan fiction for The Waltons than watch that again.
I'd rather go to a Star Trek convention dressed as Chewbacca than watch that again.
I'd rather make out with Miley Cyrus than watch that again.
I'd rather sell lemonade door to door than watch that again.
I'd rather sing "The Song That Doesn't End" until I pass out than watch that again.
I'd rather have a beer with Barack Obama than watch that again.
I'd rather let Ryan Seacrest give me a makeover than watch that again.
I'd rather watch Zardoz than watch that again.
I'd rather watch Twilight for 24 hours straight with a bunch of giggly girls than watch that again.
I'd rather spend Thanksgiving with the Osbournes than watch that again.
I'd rather rub mayonaisse in my hair than watch that again.
I'd rather shave a portrait of Adolf Hitler into my chest hair than watch that again.
I'd rather go on The View than watch that again.
I'd rather have a phone with a ringtone that is Rachael Ray saying "Delish" over and over again than watch that again.
I'd rather be followed around by a tiny Irishman who keeps shouting "Fight me, Jimmy!" than watch that again.
I'd rather listen to a Kelly Clarkson CD than watch that again.
I'd rather watch My Little Pony than watch that again.
I'd rather go to a church where the pastor is a life-size cut out of David Cassidythat sings "I think I Love You" than watch that again.
I'd rather make an irrelevant list of hyperbole and post it on the internet than watch that again.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Crossroads part 1 & 2

I would describe the two-part finale of season three in this way: You're a man on a date at a fancy restaurant. The best music in the world is playing. Candles are flickering and you're eating the best meal ever set to your lips. You're with a woman who is drop-dead gorgeous but totally relatable, and you are both completely clicking. Everything feels right for once in your life; the awkwardness is over, and you see this woman as someone you can really like. Then suddenly, she punches you full on in the face and your nose breaks; she flips the table over leaving you covered in lettuce and steak juice as hot candle wax has fallen all over you, burning your flesh and searing into your hair. She kicks you in the genitals, and as you are writhing on the floor burned and bloody, she stands over you and urinates all over your face. 
Unless you are a pervert who's intrigued by this scenario, you should understand now how I feel about this episode. But more on that later. We'll start with the steak dinner, then get to the gonad strike.

Interesting that these episodes feature neither the pre-cap nor the opening titles. It must have been cut for time, as they sometimes do on TV (which is one reason TV main titles in general have fallen by the wayside).

Did I miss something somewhere? What suddenly makes Baltar some messiah figure? Even as a mythic figure after his book's distribution, I can't see people wanting him to bless their children. 

The courtroom drama is for the most part very good. I've been worried about the Baltar trial, and I enjoyed it. Most shows do courtroom dramas at some point because they make for good television. Every incarnation of Star Trek did at least one (except maybe the cartoon). This one is nicely executed. 

The prosecution's opening statements make a number of points. We learn of 5000 people being lost on New Caprica. I commented way back about the staggering number change. Though the total number is closer to 8000. This must mean that a substantial number died in the nuking of Cloud Nine. I would be remiss in my nitpicky ways, however, if I neglected another stated point. She refers to the attack on the colonies as being "two years ago". This HAS to be false. Season 1 took place over about 2 months. Season 2 lasted around nine months. That's about a year right there. We know that there was a whole year on New Caprica that was skipped, followed by a skip ahead another 4 months. That's 2 and a half years. Bring that up to the current events, you're looking at almost 3 years at least.

I am so glad that Colonel Tigh finally had to face the facts of killing his wife and ordering suicide bombs. It is absolutely right to point out that ordering men to kill themselves is no different from what Baltar was accused of. These are things that have bothered me all season. I just don't see that these are supportable actions. That's extremist, and it's sloppy writing to me. Michael Hogan plays it all very well; I just don't see why his character ever had to be taken there.

Right around the time that Gaeta committed gross perjury, I started to wonder why they didn't have Caprica Six testify. She was clearly involved. We know she was there with Baltar. We know she was there the day he had the gun to his head. She could have refuted Gaeta's testimony, and if nothing else would have been an interesting witness for either side. Why did no one think to call her? I love it when Tigh punches her, and she socks him right back! Looking back, I'm also a little annoyed that Gaeta never has any consequence of perjury. Why did he do it, and what will become of it?

Of COURSE Roslin's cancer is back! Really, was anyone surprised by this? The cancer in the beginning was a device. The miracle cure was a device to keep her around. The whole cancer story is a device to keep her interesting. For her cancer to be gone forever is to negate the interpretation of the scriptures that say a dying leader would guide them to Earth. If she isn't dying, it's not her. So they HAD to bring the cancer back, in the same way they had to bring Starbuck back; to leave things be would be to negate the established propecies.

I really appreciate a number of things Lee says when finally on the stand. Granted, the set up is convoluted. Normally, these statements would be closing arguments, but perhaps they were trying to avoid that convention. I like that they sum up so much of this season and elements from the whole series; that it all builds up to this one event, and that because of all the unrelated precedent, Baltar has to be acquitted. It's a persuasive argument, and one I fully agree with. I've never seen Baltar as the conniving villain, so it has felt wrong to me all season for the fleet to be so against him. Even as a scapegoat, he seems to easy and unreal a target. I do wish that the "mistrial" stuff wasn't required to get to this point. The whole point of putting Adama on the stand was for him to make a statement as proof of mistrial. But he never makes that statement. He never answers the question. Nor is the matter of mistrial ever really resolved. The defense moves for a mistrial, then after some prosaic words, rests their case. That feels like poor procedure. Maybe some of this was trimmed for time.

Let's look at Lee's speech more closely. I love (love!) that Lee points out how he wanted to take the Pegasus and leave them all behind on New Caprica. We the audience know this is true, but it's been glossed over and the fleet doesn't know it at all. In a very real sense, that would make him just as guilty, if not more, as Gaius Baltar. The laundry list of forgiven offenses also was good to hear, because it shows you just how preposterous some of that was. It reminded me of Boston Public when Nicky Katt fired the gun in class and didn't get fired; for the rest of the show he was "the guy who fired the gun". That bit was harshly criticized after the episode aired, and many never watched again; so they had to point out how preposterous it was, and it became the final bargaining chip in many arguments. "I should have fired you when you shot the gun! Now do as you're told!" Anyway, I thought of that looking back on how often Lee's mistakes were glossed over. But Lee left out one of the more important players: President Roslin! She is a liar and a manipulator. She rigged a Presidential election, yet she still currently holds office. I'm siding with Tom Zerek; bring on another free election. 

Lee's other point, and the one that I feel is most damaging, is that what Baltar did is really no different from any of the other collaborators, and all collaborators were pardoned by the President. This has left me to wonder why this point wasn't the crux of their entire defense. They never should have HAD to play the mistrial card. As a matter of law, Roslin pardoned all collaborators. Therefore, even IF Baltar was a dirty traitor, he was fully pardoned. Then again, maybe they also had to address the charges of genocide for the initial attack on the colonies. Was this actually brought up at trial? I thought they stayed away from it because of Roslin's visions.

The dreams were odd. Curious that we've now seen shared dreams. Why is Roslin sharing dreams with Cylons? How is this possible? Was Hera dreaming too in this scenario? I was really hoping that we would finally get some resolution on the whole "Six and Baltar raise the baby" thing that never happened. It was hinted at here again, as Caprica saw herself with Baltar holding the baby, as the final Five looked on from the balcony. What does this mean? Unfortunately, we don't find out in this episode, because the other shoe drops, and the hot date has started swinging.

The entire last fifteen minutes are a sham. No, no, holy frack no. I've been known to yell at the TV from time to time. I've certainly yelled during BSG. But I have not reacted to anything like this so strongly in a long time. I was shouting "This is ridiculous! This makes no sense! No no no no, no fracking way!" The mystery of the music only a few were hearing? Those few are Cylons. And that music? It's "All Along the Watchtower". Come on! This goes all the way back to season one, when Ron didn't know how to end the season, and was kicking around the idea of Jimi Hendrix playing when Baltar walks into the Kobol opera house. Thankfully, at the time, that raised a lot of questions and they canned it. That should have been that. But no, he decided to bring it back! Ladies and gentlemen, gone is the Ron Moore you thought you knew and loved. The Ron Moore who shot James Kirk in the back rears his ugly melon head once again!

The use of the song opens all kinds of cans of worms. Especially the idea that this was a song that they knew, as if from childhood. Either two separate societies came out with the exact same thing, or it is being heard from those on Earth. So is this the future? What is the relation to our Earth? The issue seemed remarkably similar to me to the use of "Hey Jude" in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series (which I've only half-read, so don't spoil it). There, there were songs that Roland knew that are from our world, but they were old and known in his world too. It's funny. When Tigh first said "There's too much confusion" in the CIC, I thought of "All Along the Watchtower", but didn't think much of it beyond that. Ultimately I hate it though. I hate that these odd middle eastern sounds gelled into a classic Dylan song. It's a song that was used much more effectively in Watchmen (and the book even more than the movie). 

Furthermore, I just do not believe that these four are Cylons. I don't believe it. Maybe this is a way to try and tie in Tyrol's dream from the second season, but come on! It's totally out of character. If they wanted to play this sort of game, they should have done it with Boomer way back at the start of the show and planned it better. There is no way I am believing that Tigh is a Cylon. Nuh uh. He's old! He's got all those years of service! He's known Adama for years! You're telling me the Cylons developed humanoid models and made a Saul Tigh all those years ago? And never activated it? NEVER? This is worse than Baltar being a Cylon! Apparently the writers have decided the show no longer needs to make any sense! So I'm to believe that if Tyrol had died out in space with Callie, he'd have just resurrected somewhere? Furthermore, I hate this because it puts all the key leaders of the resistance as Cylons. This means that the entire struggle over New Caprica is essentially a Cylon civil war. And what's interesting about that? Nothing! 

It's like they were all called by some demonic pied piper to that one location. It makes me think that instead of "Watchtower", if they insisted on a modern rock song, "Stairway to Heaven" would have been much more appropriate. It touches on the themes of resurrection. It speaks of the piper. Come on, how are lines like "Your head is humming and it won't go, in case you don't know/the piper's calling you to join him" not applicable? And if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last... Then again, I doubt they could have afforded the rights to that song.

And finally, as if all of this wasn't bad enough, Starbuck does make her obligatory "surprise" appearance that I knew was eventually coming. And then we get that horribly annoying pullback Men in Black-style. And we see Earth. But you know what? I no longer care.

I've seen a number of shows that I've had a problem with. I was frustrated that Chris Carter completely threw continuity out the window when he told us on X-Files that Mulder's sister had been dead the whole time. I was angry with Lost for the way the killed Charlie, even though he clearly could have escaped, and it never resulted in Claire getting on the helicopter as we were promised. But I feel really betrayed by BSG. Before, I hated it for nauseating camera work and boring stories. Then just when I was thinking I might have to acknowledge that it's halfway decent, they pull this! I was ready to praise "Crossroads" as the best season finale yet, but after the end, it has become the worst. I should have trusted my instincts. This story now defies all logic. I apologize for anything bad I ever said about the last years of 7th Heaven. That show deserves a Pulitzer Prize compared to this. I didn't think I could have a "wait, what??" moment like I had at the end of Lost's recent season, but this totally trumped it. There was no set-up at ALL to any of this. It was just thrown in to be shocking, and I hate it. I questioned at the end of season 2 whether the show jumped the shark with the New Caprica storyline. Well, suffice it to say, after "Crossroads", consider that shark jumped.

On the commentary for "Kobol's Last Gleaming", Ron also mentioned how one of his ideas for the opera house, besides the Hendrix music, was a cameo by Dirk Benedict as God. I no longer think he's kidding. And it scares me that this may actually be the end of the show.

What started strongly has left me maimed, sore, frustrated, bloody, and stinking of a stranger's urine. Frack Galactica.

Favorite lines: "I will not serve under a man who questions my integrity." Good for Lee! And Adama's back with a witty retort. How long will it be before that's all nicely resolved? I give it a week. ...Wait, if Lee is no longer a pilot, how did he get Viper 3 at the end?

"I don't believe this. I'm not buying this. This is a trick!" Anders expressing my thoughts exactly to the final moments of the show.

The Son Also Rises

I watched this last night. It was late, and I was tired, so I don't have a lot to say about it. I like Mark Sheppard. I know I've seen him in something else, but can't remember what. His face is haunting me with it though.

I'm confused about Lee here. I can't remember what Roslin wanted him for in the first place. Did she want him to represent Baltar? If so, why does he have outside council? Or did she want him to represent the Colonies? If so, why is he assigned to security here? Wouldn't that be a gross conflict of interest? In fact, the conflicts run rampant in this episode what with Adama being a judge. At least he's one of five. (is there any significance to the parallel of five judges and five final Cylons?)

Some of this episode goes on for stretches and I was bored. Baltar's lawyer is a kleptomaniac? So what? Did we really even need the bombs in this episode? It felt a bit like "Colonial Day" with the assassination plot that went nowhere. This came off a bit better, but similar nonetheless. 

It was good to see Caprica Six again. Seeing her here made me question why we haven't seen her at all for so long. She's a captive of interest. You'd think they'd do more than throw her in a cell and forget her. They are giving Baltar and his silly book far more attention. She's a fracking Cylon! She has information! This was a missed opportunity.

Glad the trial is gearing up though, and I hope it's a good one.


The recurring mandala image throughout the episode started to annoy me because it ultimately didn't go anywhere. It was just a visual way to seem like threads were being connected when they were not. I am tired of seeing stories where the character is gruff because of abuse in childhood. That's the default background for many characters. I don't understand Kara's mother as a character. She definitely dreamed something important, and knew something about Kara. I can understand pushing her, since many mothers do that. But why the finger-breaking and all? 

Who is this Leoban that was taking her through her magical mystery tour? Is he another one of those angel Cylons, like head-Six is? I'm bothered by the issue of their not being a Cylon Raider in the storm. The episode seems to say only Kara saw it. But in one of those early shots, we SAW it fly by. Were we in Kara's perspective? I don't think so. I remember seeing it more objectively. This is hard to remember when they go by so fast, but if we did indeed see it, that makes this more complicated.

I am no fan of Kara so I did not enjoy this episode. The saving grace is that she died. Hooray! The worst thing about her death though is knowing that that cannot possibly be the end for her. She has a special destiny, and that is to kill herself on a gas giant? No. This unfortunately will mean some sort of metaphysical return, which means I can only be partially happy she's gone. 

If she ends up being a Cylon, I am crying foul.

regarding book censorship

The other major element that I left out of my discussion of "Dirty Hands" was President Roslin's censorship of Baltar's book. The discussion about labor disputes blew it from my mind. But it was this issue that really made me despise Roslin at the start of the episode. She acted as if Baltar's manifesto was the worst thing in the world; like it was a public health crisis. She confiscated it and lied about it. I don't see what was so dangerous about it. And if it were, why did Roslin not simply circulate a counter-argument to his points? Doesn't the fleet have a free press? I understand that some things can stir up disorder, and perhaps Baltar said some things that may have indeed been dangerous, but he also made some good points and observations.

I am against book bannings for the most part. I don't have a problem with people deciding on their own to shun certain books, but I do when a large entity tells them to. I would have allowed OJ to publish If I Did It. Does it make a mockery of our justice system? Maybe. But if he can't put that out, then what other texts will be outlawed one day? Wouldn't that be a good historical document to have for future study?

This is not to say that there cannot be some censorship in place. If Christian schools don't want to put books promoting homosexual families in their libraries, they shouldn't have to. I think it depends on the situation, but the free market takes care of many of these issues anyway. If a work is repugnant, then put out a counter-argument. Some restriction might be applied for younger or less mature readers on certain things. I don't expect having second graders flip through Mein Kampf. But do I believe it should still be in print? Yes I do. There are some books I flat out hate. There are books that offend me greatly. There are books (An Inconvenient Truth?) that I even find somewhat dangerous. But I don't advocate their destruction. That's the easy way out; the reactionary way out. Christian parents may find that the His Dark Materials series promotes an atheistic worldview. But I think it important that they read them so they can discuss those points properly. I think it best to restrict them to older children, but that's different from crusading against them.

I think next week is banned book week. Think long and hard about your relationship to book censorship. Slander and libel are illegal, but otherwise our press is free. I'm glad Baltar was able to get his book out. President Roslin really needs to sort out her idea of freedom. She may say she cares about the people, but she doesn't care about Baltar, and that's a problem.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dirty Hands

Though I disagree with some elements in it, this is a really good episode, and another strong Tyrol story. I've been wondering what the point was of showing him as a union leader on New Caprica. 

I love the Baltar has become a kind of Karl Marx-Thomas Paine figure disseminating his manifesto from prison. He does make good points. One particular that I have wondered since the start of the show; why is everyone from Caprica? I think I made the point of asking in an earlier post why everyone is Caprican. And now it's finally asked on the show too. I don't see why Roslin is such a jerk in this episode. Yes, she eventually sits down and works out some ideas with Tyrol, but in the first half she's almost dictatorial. I have a hard time reconciling the two. 

Let me say from the outset, that I really don't support unions. Ultimately I think it comes down to what Adama said. Unions make people demanding and whiny to have things their way. Unions lead to inflation. Unions, even with good intentions, end up hurting a lot of fellow workers who have to go along with strikes and such lest they be seen as "scabs". This is not to say there is no place for unionized labor forces. There are times and places for it. Newsies is one of my favorite movies. But I think "unions" and strikes are temporary measures and only for extreme circumstances. I hate the idea of every job you can think of having a union you have to join, and every year some union rep tries to squeeze more money out of management for you. If people are in danger if they continue working, that's one thing; strike. But when the Writer's Guild went on strike over monetary issues (and not that they were wrong; I support the cause), we lost a lot of good TV and a lot of folks lost their jobs. So what good was it?

Anyway, Tyrol's actions in this case were certainly warranted. He was just trying to help the poor guys get a break. That's good. The strike worked in so much as it was a stunt to get attention. He didn't have to drag it out till his demands were met. But Adama was totally bluffing. There is no way he would have killed ANY of the deck hands when they already have a shortage of manpower in all fields. If he just shot those who were insubordinate, he would be just as guilty of rash behavior as the strikers. So I KNOW he wouldn't have done it. That's why he picked Callie first; just to psyche out the Chief so he would yield.

I am also not against child labor. I know it's a tricky issue, but I think it would benefit some to be working. Funny when you say "child labor" everyone thinks of kids in coal mines losing their fingers and getting black lung. No one thinks of the kid with the lemonade stand or the neigborhood babysitter or the boy with the paper route. I think to a point kids want to work because they want money. Is a job any less productive than any extricurricular activity? Certainly I don't believe any child should do something dangerous. Factories are out. Nor should they have unreasonable hours. But if a kid wants to work (and that's the if; no one should be forced to), why can't they? To me, making them productive members of society as early as possible will have benefits. And it would only help our economy. I think there should be more apprenticeships (and not "internships" like come here and bring me coffee). Note that Danny did a good job saving the refinery. Now, he was injured, that's true. And I am against mandatory work like he got. But it shows that there is a place for young people in the workforce.

There are almost two seperate issues at work here. One is the basic labor v. management, the other is the more complex class struggle. And as in America, the class system is somewhat racially based. Why can't Seelix become a pilot if she wants to? I know they need people on deck and stuff, but they also need good pilots. I'm sure there are refinery guys who might want to be deck hands. I'm not against parents passing on their trade or any of that. But there should be some equality. Let people go for jobs that will suit them. The aristocracy should remember that everyone who makes their life work has a face. That's one of the good things about Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs series. But the other thing I have long been frustrated by is the "go for your dreams" speeches the aristocracy gives. This inevitably leads to "Be a doctor! Be a lawyer! Find the cure for cancer! Start a million dollar corporation! You can be what you want to be!" My problem with that is that "lower class" positions are denigrated. No one is told they can be a janitor if they want to be. Service jobs are seen as stepping stones to better things. People are not supposed to think about jobs, but about building "careers". Even in service industries, you're nobody unless you're managment. What does that say about our priorities? I think we need to extoll the virtues of hard work in all its forms. Thank those who do the thankless jobs. Recruit others to do them. Esteem these roles for what they are; just as important, and vital to a working community. Just as you want to encourage someone with good medical skills, so you should encourage those with mechanical skills. Or organizational skills. Or people skills. And it doesn't mean they need some high-paying office job. There are more people out there than we give credit for who want to do a hard day's work. What kind of work is up to them. There are still women out there who want to be "home-makers". And you know what? There are men who want to be too. Without one cog, the machine falls apart. So lets take away some of the prestige of "higher" living. I'm happy shelving books. Do work you're proud of, not looking for advancement. Remember that all the cogs are important, but that each one is a person who deserves resepect. Not "oh, that's just the deck hand." Roslin seems to have forgotten that she was thrust into the role of President; she could just as easily have been thrust into a less prestigious position.

On the whole, I enjoyed this episode. My one real concern is that I dislike the ending. Yes, things will become better for the workers, and I'm glad Seelix gets to train to be a pilot. But I don't like the idea of there now being a permanent union with Tyrol as the permanent representative. As an advocate when necessary? Maybe. But that got by without a union before, and I don't know why they can't again. They got what they needed. Now let them shut up and get back to work. But then maybe I'm blinded by my own philosophy. Perhaps if people want to be union men, they should be allowed to be. But as for myself, I have no desire to join a union. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Day in the Life

The bits with Adama and his ex-wife don't do much for me. Taking these imaginary conversations into his house seems far too similar to Baltar and Six. I don't feel like I really ever needed to meet his wife. The fact that it is his anniversary and he is thinking about her is fine. Even the fact that she was a mean drunk is fine. I just don't know that we needed to SEE her and have him argue with her. It was as if she was some demon that he had to exorcise. All that "No! Don't listen to him!" business became laughable. What was it about her that he loved? The revelation of her past was an interesting wrinkle, though not surprising. I don't know that it matters much, except to showcase even more reasons for Lee to dislike his dad.

I like that Lee has an interest in law and I think it is perfectly in keeping with his character to date. We know his grandfather was a lawyer. We know Lee has a love of justice and the democratic process working. Going all the way back to "Bastille Day", I can see a Lee Adama who cares enough for proper legal procedure. The gift of his grandfather's law library was a nice touch. I hope the Baltar trial pays off.

We learn that there is a day care center, which is where the Tyrols put Nicholas, and where the Agathons must put Hera. I don't really see why Callie and Tyrol don't just switch off, since she works for him. But then we got that great bit in the tube where he says he did it just out of selfishness, so he could be close to her. I like all the stuff with them trapped in the tube. It's a bit familiar, but it's well done. We find out about their struggles, which sheds light on the fight we never got to see a few episodes ago. Note however the need for technobabble excuses to set up the rescue. "Why can't we just blow open the glass?" "Well, the glass is made to withstand tillium explosions of blah blah blah." 

I like the scene of Adama shaving early on, as it echoes the scene in "33". There are a few other good beats. Unfortunately, though, most of the day in the life of Commander Adama is not too engaging. I'm getting tired of his flirtation with Roslin (and her silly inappropriate giggles and guffaws are really irritating me). But the Callie/Tyrol story is good. Who can help but be moved by the image of Callie in the iron lung with the hands up against the glass?

Not everything works about this episode, but enough of it is memorable that I wouldn't mind watching it again. It's not entirely cohesive, but it has some standout moments of this season for me. I'd take this over New Caprica any day.

The Woman King

Um... who is watching Hera? How is it that Sharon and Helo can just go off and do their jobs but put their kid in someone else's hands? And considering the last time they took their eyes off her the President did a switcheroo, WHY would Sharon let someone else watch her daughter?

This is a momentous episode. For what reason you ask? This is the first episode in which Helo is referred to by his first name, Karl. Yes, it appeared in captions in the first season, but this is the first time it's been spoken aloud onscreen. For the longest time, every other pilot had a name, but he was always Helo. I've been wondering for a while now if he would ever be called Karl. Even Sharon usually calls him Helo. But those wonderings have finally been silenced.

So... the Sagittarons are basically Christian Scientists? Yeah, like we've never seen that on television before.

Why is Tyrol so prejudiced? I suppose I can understand a little inter-colony animosity, but Tyrol seems to really hate the Sagittarons, and with no motivation. Especially Tyrol of all people. His father was a priest; after all that Eye of Jupiter stuff you'd think he of all people would be open-minded about religious people. I mean, I may flatly disagree with Christian Science on religious doctrinal grounds, but I would never mock them as people the way some of them do here. I think there is a way to make prejudice peek through even with characters you like, but this was poorly done.

Having said that, the episode itself isn't bad. I like that Helo is the main focus for once, and that its a good investigative story. Does it follow some television conventions? Yes. The doctor who's really a baddie and all that has been done. The guy who knows the truth but no one will believe it until the last act has been done. But you know what? It works. They are conventions because they work. And I think overall those elements work. I like the woman because I remember her from the second episode of The X-Files, where she played Mrs. Budahas. I think she also guested on Millennium. She's a good Canadian actress who you don't often see on TV, but always does a good job. 

TV tension is often easy to deflate, especially in predictable scenarios, but I was really worried for Dualla. She's the sort of quasi-ancillary character that very well could have been killed off. Glad she wasn't.

I don't really like the title though. 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taking a Break From All Your Worries

Gotta love a title that references Cheers, even if the resulting episode isn't very cheery. I like Baltar, so I like this one okay since it is Baltar-centric. If Baltar is so concerned that he is a Cylon, why doesn't he just get another warhead and use his little Cylon detector to find out? Isn't this the obvious answer?

I really am hating Roslin more and more. Even as a bluff, her attitude toward Baltar and the threat to toss him out an airlock are not cool. If she's not bluffing, then she is a liar who claims to want fair trials, then goes vigilante when it suits her. So calling her bluff is not so hard as she may think. If she is bluffing, then she's a mean liar. Either way she's lying. How is she still President?

The drug interrogation scenes were interesting. Baltar confesses, but only to the fact that he didn't intentionally do anything. Good for him. The water scenes were suitably unsettling, but I've got a significant fear of drowning, so maybe I'm just extra troubled by them. I hated the dream sequence where he woke up on the base star after his attempted suicide. There is no way I will accept that Baltar is a Cylon. 

Why are Tyrol and Callie fighting? They talk about it, and it's enough to drive Tyrol to the bar, but what's it about? I thought they were great together. And that whole nightmare/beating thing last season was really non sequitur, wasn't it?!

The B-stories about Lee, Kara and their marriages are predictable. I'm glad that the each resolve to stay with their spouses at the end. I was really getting tired of this story going on and on. The scene with Lee having lost his wedding ring was straight out of sitcom 101. Thankfully, it didn't get to the usual end, where the lead gets a replacement ring and the wife never knows the difference.

It is revealed, or suggested, that Baltar knew Gaeta was an informant and allowed it. If this is true, it is great news! It somewhat redeems Baltar. Gaeta may feel personally betrayed, but good for Baltar for calling him out. I like that Baltar talks about literally having a gun to his head. It's a good scene.

Overall, there are engaging moments in this one. Maybe it doesn't all hold together, as the story is a bit drawn out and drags a little, but for Baltar fans there is good stuff. I have vague memories of some of this, so this may in fact be the first episode I saw. 


This is also the title of an episode of DS9. Okay, now that I got that out of my system, let's look at the episode proper.

I find it very funny that they put an onscreen caption listing the location as "Algae Planet". Do we really even need this? Have they decided that's an official name for it, like Sherman's Planet in "Trouble With Tribbles"?

Was anyone surprised about the Eye of Jupiter being a nova? After all those shots of the star in "Eye of Jupiter" it's like they were hitting us over the head with it. And why is there even a temple? You can see the "eye of Jupiter" without being inside. Did being inside really make a difference? Well, maybe for D'Anna. But the logic of there even being a temple there is suspect to me. It was built there because years ago there was a different nova they saw? What is the rest of the temple for? There's a pillar, and some short pillar things that I guess are just decorative? It was all just sort of whatever to me.

D'Anna saw the final five. Does that make her the chosen one? Who was it she saw at the end? I really don't even get the whole Final Five thing. We are being told that they are godlike beings who also appear in the Colonists' scriptures. But how does that make any sense? How is ancient god-beings in any way related to humanoid Cylon models?? And why do they know about them? And why are they numbered non-consecutively? We know D'Anna is a 3, Six is, well, a 6, and Boomer is an 8. I'm not liking where this story is going.

Glad Sharon got the baby back, but I'm disappointed that there is no resolution to what was wrong with her. Was it just really bad constipation, and is she okay now?

Love it when Tyrol clocks Baltar. 

This episode was pretty bland for me. It resolves most of the elements from before, but I don't really care. I didn't expect Adama to nuke anyone. I didn't expect to learn Baltar was a Cylon. I anticipated the nova being the eye. So really, I got little out of this one. And the little bit about Kara's wall-art relating to the mandala is troubling. It does connect with elements dangling from the first season, but also feels very much like an afterthought. If Kara turns out to be a Cylon, I will throw up my hands and cry foul.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

is this where I came in?

I'm still trying to figure out what the first BSG episode I saw was. I know that when I first gave it my test drive, it was in the third season. I believe I am fast approaching that point. The show had moved to Sunday nights at that point, as I recall, and so that would put it after "The Eye of Jupiter". I remember watching a series retrospective special on-demand so that I could catch up. Of course with so much information, I ended up just essentially confused, and hating the zoomy camera work. Watching new scenes was problematic -- "Wait, does Baltar still see a girl in his head? Is that her? Is she really there, or just in his head still?" 

I remember scenes from "Exodus, Part II", and I wonder if I actually watched the episode or not. I'm inclined to say no. If I did, it was on-demand. I definitely remember images of the Pegasus, and the little thing with the salt line on the hangar deck. Did I watch the whole episode, or were these bits in the clip show? In any case, I'm fast approaching the point where I first got acquainted with BSG, and after three or four episodes gave up on it. I'm really curious as to how I will react now. I most vividly remember going "Where's Starbuck?" so that probably has to do with her recent crash on the algae planet. It's funny looking back now. My biggest criticism at the time was the nauseating camera work, and that stuff is relatively tame in season three compared to what it was in the miniseries! Having tried and failed in the third season, I at least have the impetus to start over and try again. I think if I had seen the mini first, I would have completely blown off the series for good, like I've done with Smallville (seen maybe 40 minutes total; sorry, it's NOT Superman). Was "Rapture" my virgin episode, or was it a little later? All this has happened before, and it's all happening again.

The Eye of Jupiter

Kara feels that marriage is sacred, but has no problem with sleeping around. I hate people who have these kinds of flexible morality. And why is it that on television, characters only ever talk about the morality of what they are doing after they've hooked up three or four times?

Things aren't so happy on the base star either; the happy Cylon threesome is becoming a two-some and Caprica ain't happy about it. I suspect neither is Baltar. The episode shows us that three-legged relationships don't work (the mess of Anders/Apollo/Starbuck/Dualla illustrates this as well). Curious that the original series had some shades of Mormonism, and here BSG is sort of denouncing polygamy. (Not that polygamy is exclusively Mormon, or endorsed by many in the LDS church; that's just my brain making connections.)

So Sharon finally found out about Hera. Is she going to get to see her? Why is she sick?

I don't really have much to say about this episode. For the most part it is all set-up for the next one. Will Baltar end up being "the chosen one"? They certainly hinted at that with his growing of that Jesus beard, and meeting with Hera in his glowing white robe. Are they intentionally making him look like a "messiah"? I like the intercutting at the end of the episode.  And I think it's pretty clear that the Eye of Jupiter is involved with that purple sphere glowing in the sky. I don't really buy that Adama will fire the nukes, though. Something will interfere. It does give them a very "Mr Worf, fire" moment to end the episode on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Passage

We finally the get issue of food properly addressed. But I'd like to know how they ended up with a shortage so drastically and so quickly. Do they have a farming ship in the fleet? On the old show, there was a similar issue where the farming ships needed new seed or the food supply would run dry. This episode also references the old series with the story about jumping through the star cluster. In "Lost Planet of the Gods", Vipers were sent out to navigate and guide the fleet through a "void".

Knowing they would jump into a very bright area, why were the pilots not equipped with sunglasses or something? That at least would have cut down on those first few disorienting moments. And can I ask if it's possible maybe to tether the Raptors to the ships so that their location is not so unknown? Maybe I'm just really picky.

I do not like the story on the base star. I so cannot buy that the other five Cylon models are actually fabulous shiny beings akin to Larson's Holy Kryptonians. I don't much like the hybrid either, but at least Baltar is shown to have some smarts and can interpret it (he totally pulls a Mulder here, jumping to conclusions that no normal person could). 

The Kat story is pretty good. I've never cared a whole lot about her, but it was good to see her go out in a very heroic fashion. THAT's a heroic death. Not suicide bombing. But good grief, that's even more ships lost! There's not going to be much of a fleet left by the end of the season.

Helo was concerned for Athena when most others didn't seem to be. Cylons are more resistant to the radiation? I guess Helo is why she didn't lead any of the jumps. Wasn't there something about radiation that was harmful to Cylons way back in the miniseries? Whatever happened to that?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Unfinished Business

I hate this episode. "Hero" had no real B-story, but this one has no real story. It's just people boxing, then flashbacks. So we've finally put New Caprica behind us and it's only now that we find out what happened early on? So much of that New Caprica stuff is just not very interesting. At least we learn that Adama had some reservations about sending all his good people down to the planet. The dancing is all very Irish, Titanic-style. Very Jack and Rose in steerage. But really, what do I care? Even worse, Roslin seems to really embrace the New Caprica experience which makes the difference between Baltar and Roslin kind of moot. It also seemed like an excuse to see Ellen again.

All the main action is set around the boxing ring. The episode feels very much to me like a clip show, but one where the clips are new. It's a similar set-up; everyone's holed up in one place and throughout we see characters flashback to prior events. And that's the whole episode really. So much of it is about the "will they or won't they?" Kara/Lee relationship which I have never cared about. Now we learn that yes they did during that year. And I don't care. Furthermore, they were drunk at the time, and drunks getting laid is far less engaging than characters who are truly there together in the moment. I also hate the shouting to the heavens stuff which I have seen on other shows and don't like. Watching this show was truly a chore (and I had to watch it twice!).

Boring as the show was, there is a longer cut. The longer cut makes the show even more centrally about Apollo and Starbuck. Like that's the driving point. The only positive point of the extended version is that Dualla is involved in it all, rather than just being the third wheel that you never see. In fact, Dualla actually acknowledges that she knows Lee loves Kara. That moment works. But the rest of it just drags on and emphasizes the storyline that really doesn't matter. I don't like these two together anyway, and I don't like characters essentially cheating on their spouses. Boy, I wish Billy was still alive. Even with Tyrol and Adama beating on each other, I'm bored. The show can be summed up with a better title: "Boxing and Boning" and that sounds far more interesting than it actually is. In the end, Dualla bumps the show up ever so slightly in the longer version, but no matter how shiny you polish it, a turd is still a turd.


Was it really a good idea to introduce yet another ancillary character?

This episode was all right. Not fantastic, but all right. Does the Galactica get to keep Bulldog's stolen Raider? There are a lot of ideas floating around in this one but few of them pay off. We know the Cylons let Bulldog go, but why exactly? Just to kill Adama? Just to mess with his head? The D'Anna story was just glimpses that confused me and hasn't gone anywhere yet. I felt like they just threw it in for the sake of having a B-story. What was with the little menage a trois with Baltar? 

And just in case you didn't find the human race entirely culpable in the miniseries, we learn now that humanity may have essentially restarted the war! Were the Cylons gearing up for attack? Of course they were. Any idiot could have figured that out WITHOUT crossing the armistice line. If the actions of the Valkyrie did indeed lead to the destruction of mankind, though, that adds aggravating gravity to everything. That would make Adama almost more responsible than Baltar! It feels like an element just suddenly made up here. Adama has never given the impression of having guilt for starting the war. Moments like this futz with character backstories a bit too much. 

What did the Cylons want with Bulldog anyway? Did he give them information? If they were bent on destroying humanity, why not just kill him? I don't like learning of yet another ship that Adama was on because it throws away some of the established continuity. Why the Valkyrie? Why not the Galactica? I don't really see why they would have given Adama command then over an old bucket for a year before decommissioning it. The way I understood it, Adama met Tigh, they served together, then Adama got on the Galactica. But this throws that into upheaval. 

I do like the slanty point of view of the shots with Bulldog on the Cylon ship. It signals that something about this is askew. I also really like the effect of Tigh's missing eye. I have never seen an empty eye-socket done on TV like this. Usually they just burn the skin over it. This was a great effect. I also like that Tigh and Adama are reconciling; great when he came in to beat on Bulldog.

Besides these spikey bits, the show didn't hold much for me. It was decent, but not terribly engaging for me.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Measure of Salvation

I knew Sharon wouldn't get sick. They were never going to play that. So the miracle baby saves the day again! Something about that seemed familiar to me, and then I remembered a similar occurance on NextGen when Picard and Data found the crew were devolving (terrible episode). Anyway, they were able to synthesize a cure from Nurse Ogawa's pregnancy because the baby was unaffected.

This episode makes the scenario even more like "I, Borg" with the discussion centering around whether or not to intentionally send Cylons back to infect them all. The only differences were that this discussion centered more on genocide, and in the end the Borg actually sort of did infect the others, though in an unintentional way.

It seems both humans and Cylons tend to give Gaius Baltar a lot more credit than is due. They make him out to be this great evil mastermind, when really he's an opportunist who just wants to be left alone, but is easily manipulated. 

There are also shades of War of the Worlds when we find out that the disease infecting the Cylons is an old human disease. Essentially, they've all caught a really bad cold or flu. Tell me, do they look to you like they've all got the flu? We are told humans built an immunity to this disease a long time ago, but that doesn't explain everything. Where did the Cylons get their genetic material to make humanoid models in the first place? How recent was that? Is there something about Cylon blood that is susceptible? And why doesn't the baby's miracle blood have the same healing properties for them? Surely it was the Cylon blood that cured Roslin's cancer. Why then can't Cylon blood fight a cold? I also fail to see how this infected the ship itself and all the Raiders.

D'Anna or someone says they are going to Earth because they want a new beginning. Really? That's it? Well frack, why didn't they just stay on New Caprica then? Or on all the other twelve colonies they nuked? The humans want a new beginning too; one WITHOUT CYLONS. Take the hint, guys!

I don't especially like the genocide angle for a number of reasons. First, I think that's a word that is bandied about far too easily. Are they truly a specific race? They certainly aren't a species as they aren't reproductively isolated. Maybe we can call them a race. Does this virus, which is biological in nature, affect the Centurions? They seem to be purely mechanical. If so, doesn't that mean they WOULDN'T be destroying the entire race? And after all, I highly doubt they were going to kill Athena in this plan, so the ENTIRE race wouldn't be gone. And Cylons live seemingly forever. Besides all this, while I agree with some of Helo's arguments, I wish he didn't come across as the lone voice of dissent. His interest in sparing them is primarily personal; his wife is a Cylon. I wish there was a conscientious objector on philosophical grounds. I also think there is a big difference between "genocide" just for the sake of killing a people you don't like (the Holocaust) and genocide born out of war (like the Israelites versus the Amalekites). In any case, Roslin is proving over and over that she is a bad President. What makes her so much better than Baltar again?

I got to thinking about Cylons today and the nature of their faith. Primarily they are similar to evangelical Christians with their monotheistic views that they want to share with everyone. Granted, many models are of the more extreme variety. Still, I find it fascinating that Christianity hinges upon a coming resurrection, but for Cylons resurrection is a part of their existence. Faith for them is a faith in what is beyond resurrection. That is an intriguing thought. It reminds me of the tree life of the pequininos in Speaker for the Dead (which, if you've never read, you really should). 

Anyway, not sure I like the way this all came out, as much of it felt recycled from other stories I've seen. Granted, "there is nothing new under the sun" but sometimes it is too obvious to me. There were some good developments, but I'm tired of obvious moral dilemmas that don't ultimately hold much consequence. What did it cost Helo to kill the Cylons? Nothing.

Favorite line: "I don't know, but their frakkin' resurrection ship's gonna overheat."

The Lee Adama Fleet Exercise Kit

To all of you out there in the Colonial Fleet! Are you a 20-stone fatty? Have you gone soft from your experience on New Caprica? Are you just not up to the challenge of serving on Galactica these days? Does your Viper fly extra sluggishly with your added weight? When you step onto your Raptor, is there no room for a co-pilot? Well, worry no more friends, because have we got a product for you! 

Introducing the Lee Adama Fleet Exercise Kit: all the material and information you need to be all you can be for the human race (jump rope not included). Every bit of it designed by Lee Adama himself, so you know that it's quality. Get abs like Apollo! Muscles like the Major! And shrink your face to impress Kara Thrace!

Following Lee Adama's patented system, you literally wish the pounds away. That's right. Wish them away. In just the time it takes to jump rope a few days and get really sweaty, you will soon have that slim attractive frame you had before the occupation! Why look for a gym when all you need comes in this kit? No need to shuttle to neighboring ships; do it all in the relative comfort of your own cabin!

That's right, the Lee Adama Fleet Exercise Kit! It's the only training you'll ever need. Have you tried other systems that just didn't work for you? Have you been unable to keep the weight off? Well, all this may have happened before, but it will NOT happen again! Not with the Lee Adama Fleet Exercise Kit. We provide everything for you, and we never cut corners (except on our paper). And for the low low price of 25 cubits, it can all be yours. Reasonable barters acceptable (sorry, no children). Send payment c/o Felix Gaeta to the Battlestar Galactica. Order today!

seriously, how did Lee lose all that weight so quickly? If only he were my personal trainer!


Before I get into the episode proper, there's some unfinished business from yesterday. I wondered about the origins of Kara's tattoo. I realized last night that she and Anders have matching tattoos. Did they do this when they got married? Anyway, that explains it.

Now, why do the Cylons want to go to Earth, exactly? Either they want a world to live on in peace (shades of New Caprica?) or they want to wipe out the rest of humanity (...shades of New Caprica?). I can't see it ending well. If Baltar were smart, he wouldn't help them. How long have they wanted Earth? Is this a new goal? I'm still waiting for signs of that master plan we've been promised at the front of every episode.

This episode reiterates the idea that fantasy Six is "an angel of God". I think it dumb, but that seems to be what they are going with. I suppose that would make her the connection to the angel beings on the original show. They also could not be seen by other people outside their ship. Though where do the fantasy locations fit in? Are they indeed projections like the Cylons use? I sincerely hope Baltar is not a Cylon. That would be ridiculous. The whole point of the character is that he's a human traitor. To make him a Cylon is to whitewash that. That does beg the question of the fantasies though. Are they part of the angel Six's work? When Caprica was seeing Baltar, was he an angel too, or was she just crazy?

We gain a lot of insight into the interiors of the base stars here. My lingering question, though, was why it didn't look anything like the one we saw Boomer and Racetrack land on in "Kobol's Last Gleaming". There, we saw organic walls like on the Raider, reminiscent of Alien. But the base star we see here is all lit walls and corridors. There is still the connection of it being alive. I like the pulsing red on the walls, analagous to the red eye. Thankfully, when Baltar landed on the other ship, we saw the organic walls. Maybe that's just how the hanger area looks. 

The introduction of the "hybrids" really annoys me. Firstly, hybrids of what? But second, the whole concept of a being floating in a white pool hooked into a computer and spouting prophecy is completely ripped off from Minority Report. There is a lot of further comparison to the Borg. Take the following dialogue:
BALTAR: She controls the base ship?
SIX: She is the base ship.
Almost this very same exchange was used of the Borg Queen in the Ron Moore-scripted Star Trek: First Contact

The Borg comparison gets stickier when we learn of the man-made disease infecting them. This is essentially the plot of the episode "I, Borg", wherein Geordi developed a program to infect the Borg that would spread to the entire collective and destroy them. I recall comparing other episodes to "I, Borg" as well. I don't completely understand how the Cylons are connected to things. Maybe if it's an airborn virus or something that would explain it. I don't understand how downloading in the resurrection ship will infect them all, though. That would imply that the ship itself would become infected, and that that infection would spread when they downloaded. I guess I answered my own question. But sometimes I don't understand the nuances of the Cylon humanoids in relation to the rest of the Cylons. 

We learned in this episode that the Cylons obtained some Colonial raptors during the war. This seems a terribly convenient development. If they've always had Colonial ships, why have they never used them? They could sneak in surreptitiously and infiltrate the fleet again! Or use them as traps. They seem a useful tool that have been wasted. And it's too bad they set it on autopilot, otherwise Baltar could just jump to Galactica and tell them all about the disease.

Does the disease infect the organic material, or does it infect the cybernetic material?

The confusion over what to call Sharon just got that much more complicated because she got a new call sign. And it's Athena! So now this version of the show finally has an Athena. I've actually been thinking about this for some time. When they chose to make Starbuck female, they also ultimately gave her a relationship with Adama. He even says she was like a daughter to him. So I realized that Kara Thrace is not Starbuck. She was a composite of the original Starbuck and the original Athena. This odd mix may be why I was so hesitant to like her -- strike that, I still don't like her. But a curious thing happened. She came back from New Caprica emotionally scarred and Adama said he no longer considers her is daughter. The Athena side of her is dead. The show has replaced it with a new Athena, Sharon Agathon. She is the Athena not only in name, for it is Sharon who is now in the good graces of Adama. It's an interesting dynamic. Now let's hope this Athena gets more screen time than Larson's did.

Who are the "final five" and why aren't they spoken of? I'd really like to know what became of the 7 Cylons in the fleet. Did they join their Cylon brothers during the New Caprica occupation, or have they been assimilated back into the fleet to carry out their nefarious purposes? It seems like a real waste of a reveal for Baltar to get Sharon to tell him there are 8 Cylons in the fleet, and then we only meet one of them.

The lingering question now becomes whether Athena will be infected. My gut says no. But we'll see. As usual this one is "to be continued".