BSG: Sometimes a (not so) Great Notion

So, BSG season 4.5 episode 2 has aired in the US, which means that some enterprising (yet, we must remind everyone, criminal) person will have uploaded it to your favourite torrent site and will already have a few co-fans/criminals seeding it too so that the downloading side of criminal BSG watching spectrum can download it at their leisure in a matter of minutes (that’s minutes in the hundreds if you have a connection like mine – not that I download stuff, or would ever sanction the illegal downloading of stuff… ILLEGAL).

So, I downlo- (heh) watched episode 1 the other week and thought that, before episode 2 gets a sound blogging across the globe, I’d write a few thoughts about the first ep in this new half-season.

.: SPOILER ALERT! :.

Firstly, I’d just like to say that I love BSG. LOVE. Never before has a sci-fi been able to penetrate through my titanium-hulled (geek) TV watching mind-set to that deep, dark place that screams “Look! You can see the keying lines!” or “Oh my God the CGI is ropier than a rope-swing between two trees made of ROPE!” (like every time Jean Luc Picard battles alien life from the bridge of the Enterprise (especially that crap with the preggers space-born organism that’s dead but gets a phaser ceserian section – seriously, was the CG done on an ATARI?!), or anytime there was a space battle (or anything in space, come to think of it… Hell, anything at all that involved a blue screen…) in Babylon 5), but BSG manages to cut through my cynicism about TV special effects with a gritty, dirty, far-too-often-sepia/duck-egg-blue-toned realism that none of it’s predecessors (or peers for that matter) have managed to present.

Not only that but the characters are engaging, believable, enjoyable, lovable, hatable (that’s not hat-able – as in, has the capacity to wear a hat – but hate-able, as in, “God DAMN I hate that guy/girl/androgynous robot dwarf thing! (though, as WordPress’ spell-checker doesn’t recognise either, I may have made the word up… )), and (most importantly) relatable; not in that “Kara Thrace is just like me; I remember coming to terms with the fact that I’ve just seen my own dead and decayed corpse on this alien planet” way, but how they act, why they act and how their emotions either drive them or hold them back in that oh-so-very-human way that they all have (even the ‘mother-frakkin” cylons!).

Anyhoo, to the crux, tip and nub of the matter; BSG returns!

At the close of the first half of season 4, we left the BSG-ers looking forlornly, angrily and with acute sadness at the total wasteland that the Earth had become upon landing there full of hope and life, gushing about how their lives had lead to this point and how it was going to be brilliant to be reunited with the thirteenth tribe who, with their far-advanced technology would rid them of the cylon menace and welcome them into loving arms as long-lost brothers and sisters of the human race. I must admit; I laughed.

Firstly, I’d like to say something about the thirteenth tribe. If they left the colonies way back when EVERYONE HAD SPACESHIPS AND COULD FLY AMONGST THE STARS, then spent FRAKKING (sorry, I had to) AGES travelling to Earth, they would (and correct me if you think I’m wrong here) NOT have as far advanced technology as the rest of the sodding colonies! Why, then, is there this belief that getting to Earth and finding the thirteenth tribe spell a cessation to the genocidal wave of destruction that the Cylons are carrying forwards apace? Surely the thirteenth tribe (I’m going to refer to them as TTT from now on to save my poor fingers from the horrors of typing thirteenth – for some reason my ring finger has to interject on the second ‘e’ and I get all tangled…) surely TTT would have LESS advanced weapons and armour and when the Cylons got to Earth, it would be an easy task (what with there being a distinct LACK of a super-fleet of super-battlestars etc. ringing the planet, not to mention orbital defences or at the very least some form of satellite that could throw rocks or sharp sticks at an attacker) to let one teeny, tiny raider swoop down on the unsuspecting planet and blast them all into oblivion with a couple of nukes. Seriously, what was Adama expecting?!

Right, rant over, lets get down to it (again).

So, we find the crew of the BSG and the splinter-cylons (sounds a bit like Splinter Cell, I wonder which one is Solid Snake…) all moody on the lifeless rock that is Earth (standing not too far from the bombed-to-complete-shite wreckage of Brooklyn Bridge (apparently, some guy has worked out exactly where they should have crashed if the landmarks are a correct representation of current Earth… er… landmarkage. When I find out where he has posted this online I’ll let you know) and with the Statue of Liberty’s island pedestal in the near-distance), wondering what the hell they are going to do now that their only (and, I will point out again, STUPID) plan has failed them in it’s entirety (unless of course there are a few of TTT still alive on the planet hunkering in a bunker with a few of their own cylon pals (GASP! The bones are from cylons?! Does this mean that TTT were cylons? Or are the cylons actually what we’d refer to as human and the colonials some lesser race that they founded then left like all good creators/benefactors must, inevitably, do?)).

Starbuck (is she still Starbuck or are all the original callsigns now so much chaff in the face of one more rapidly advancing raider?) wanders off with Leoben to explore the place (odd, really, considering how much radiation there must still be floating about (I presume the ticking, whirring sounds were those made by radiation-detecting equipment (I know there’s a name for it, but I can’t be arsed to go trawling through teh internets to find it right now))).

The Pres and the Admiral go back to Galactica and tell no-one about the mess they’ve found on Earth. Lee (I’m pretty confident he’s not Apollo anymore (and, lets face it, when Dee calls him Apollo in the briefing room we didn’t so much smile as smirk in disgust)) lets the nuked-ball-of-ash cat out of the bag.

Roslin goes all Nazi and burns her book (I thought it might have been a nicer gesture for her to burn the wig and show just how despondent this turn of events has made her, and to show the extent she might go to in forcing a regime change now that the admiral’s plan is firmly out the window, down the hall and suicidally pressing the ‘release’ button on the outer airlock door).

Meanwhile, Dualla and Lee have some alone time, do some talking (I will admit to zoning out throughout this segment) about stuff and then she SHOOTS HERSELF IN THE HEAD!!! Wow! This is the kind of jack-knife writing we have come to expect from the BSG team! People may say; “Why?!” but all we know right now is that she did – and that rocks!

Adama gets pissed, Tigh stays sober. They have a brilliant scene together where Adama, in all-hope-is-lost mode, tries to coerce Tigh to kill him (with one of the best screen-sci-fi pistols in the universe, it must be said – when QMX makes a replica of those I’ll be having one and no mistake!).

Tigh, now resolutely determined to do good in the face of his outing as a cylon, declines the offer and calls Adama a coward. Eventually Adama sees a kind of sense and Tigh (I keep on writing ‘Tight’… I hope that isn’t something to do with my subconscious or I am in trouble with the missus…) is reinstated as XO of Galactica (collective cheers across the BSG-watching world!).

I must point out that one of my favourite parts of this mid-season opener was the fact that, following the terrible news that Earth was not the Eden they had hoped, all of the crew go over the edge into despondency and despair and as Adama walks to Tigh’s quarters he passes a fight, some sobbing crewmen/women, chanters, prayers, all sorts of activity un-befitting to a crew member on the BSG and DOES NOTHING ABOUT IT! Great directing/writing and this really strikes to the core as we are left in awe of just how hard this news has hit the crew and what it now means to them.

On blighted Earth (I’m going to point out that there are people who are saying ‘What if it’s NOT Earth?’ as though they were the only one who thought of that, but they weren’t and I, for one, don’t think that the writers would be daft enough to field such a weak, lame and blindly unoriginal reason for the events taking place), three of the final five cylons (Tyrol, Anders and Tory) are discovering that they have memories – the collective settings for which are located within the landing site (convenient!) – of a time when they lived on Earth, and when Anders entertained them all with his rendition of All Along the Watchtower (which was by BOB DYLAN, not JIMI HENDRIX you musically uneducated simpletons!! (though I will say I prefer Hendrix’s much more popular and more famous version…)). This indicates that their models were alive on Earth around 2000 years previously when the Earth was destroyed (I can’t remember off the top of my head wether or not the ‘2000’ came from the episode, or if I worked it out like that some how… or saw it somewhere else entirely, but that’s a nice round number to go on at the moment so it stays!), meaning that somehow their consciousness (or whatever we’re calling it) has managed to get from those cylon bodies into the bodies of their counterparts millions of lightyears away and a fw thousand years into the future. How this is possible I don’t know. I suppose this could be a feature of the final five; that there is only one model of each and that they don’t require a ressurection ship or a basestar to be within a limited range to have their mind transfer into a new body. Perhaps their consciousnesses can travel an infinite amount of lightyears over time (at lightspeed, or somewhere nearing, over or around there), and that is why four of the final five were only discovered recently  (I am going to throw another assumption out here to make this work; the final five are not as they would have been on Earth but their own mind is inserting their appearance on their memories as the original models were amongst the colonies when TTT left for Earth and have mated and reproduced their way through the intervening time so that their descendents can end up fulfilling the prophecy of the final five) when the bodies of the (then still blisfully unaware) final five/four, whatever, met their long-lost consciousnesses coming the other way (the music ‘leading’ them to the spot where their collective memories could jog that part of their hind-brain that had that teeny, tiny nugget of information handed down to them over the centuries thatd said “You are cylon”) and were transformed. Either way, they know where they came from now and I imagine that their response will be decidedly ‘Emo’ (remember this word, I may come back to it later if I remember).

Also on the planet, Kara Thrace finds parts of a crashed Viper, weirdly bearing her Viper’s designation (though uncomplete, we can surmise it is hers because the remaining numbers all coorrespond correctly). She continues her search and eventually comes across a largely intact (though badly damaged) cockpit. She investigates and finds that there is a body inside with long, white-blonde hair and her dogtags. Suitably distresse by this she tells Leoben about the ‘harbinger of death’ speil the hybrid gave her not too long ago. My thoughts on this are that, as the parts are quite scattered and largely burned up, the Viper couldn’t withstand re-entry into the atmosphere and disintegrated in very-low orbit (the armour and chassis alloys may have held out longer as they are more advanced, so the cockpit could conceivably stay together as it did rather than spilling the pilot and breaking up entirely), or was shot down at a couple of ten’s of thousands of feet by a ground-to-air missile (most likely automated – though if this is the case, why didn’t the landing party come under fire?). By the rate of decay of the body, I’d say that she hadn’t been there when the Earth was destroyed (if, indeed the 2000 year number is correct) as she would be nothing but dust as the body was rolled over to the side, close to the ground, and not preserved in anything lasting (I’d say that while the pilots’ flight suits are far in advance of what we have now, they wouldn’t last a couple of millenia). So, it looks as though she may have crashed (or been brought down) here around the time when she went missing in the wormhole or whatever it was. However, this isn’t the most spooky aspect – that honour goes to the fact that SHE IS LOOKING AT HER OWN DEAD BODY! How is this possible? She’s not a cylon (and, if she is, she isn’t one of the final five (more on that in a few seconds)), she remembers everything, and seems normal (for a given value of ‘normal’). So, what happened when she vanished? Did she crash on Earth and get found (or was destroyed and recovered) by TTT (whoever they are), have her memories, emotions and personality implanted into a new body and get sent back (in that pristine Viper, remember?) by this highly advanced race of super-beings (humans ftw!) for the express purpose of leading the rest of the fleet to Earth, only to find it a wasteland? I think that most of this theory is a given, but whys and wherefores I’m not going to guess at. Kara burns the body on a pyre.

Adama, in the CIC with Tigh at his side (more cheers) tells the fleet about Earth (but not about TTT apparently being cylons) and says that they will find a new home for the fleet. Some new guy replaces Dualla (R.I.P.) and informs the cylons.

D’Anna tells Tigh she’s staying behind (in behind-the-scenes-speak this means; “We’re not done with Earth by a long shot”). Tigh buggers off for a stroll along the beach. He gets a flash of memory when (apparently without rhyme or reason), standing knee-deep in the sea, he pulls out an American-style letter (sorry, mail)-box. He sees Ellen (yep, the missus he poinsoned on New Caprica!) telling him that they’ll be together again before Skynet unleashes the nukes – wait a minute, lets try that again – before a nuclear blast decimates the pair of them. THATS RIGHT FOLKS! Ellen Tigh(t), the ‘fun’-loving milf, the galactic slut, the murdered traitor-wife of a one-eyed, cylon husband, is THE FINAL ONE of THE FINAL FIVE! I, for one, never saw that coming.

Bravo, a pretty good episode to open the new half-season with folks!

My only real beef with the episode, indeed the past three seasons of the show, is that it feels like a bit of an ‘Emo’ (there it is! were you watching?) – fest. Everyone has problems, their lives are crashing around their feet, all their hopes and dreams have been dashed, and not even Adama and Roslin’s burgeoning love can get in the way of the ever-growing black-died fringe that is descending inexorably over my beloved sci-fi show. Babylon 5 was never this emo, there was always a ray of hope. Star Trek was the same; even when it looked like Riker was going to have to kill Picard when the Borg nabbed him and made him into Locutus, Data was unknowingly cracking jokes, Geordi was working on some Deus Ex to save the day, and we could always chuckle at the maguffin that reared it’s ugly head in every episode (even in season two there was hope; you never knew, Pulaski might get her face bitten off by a Binar!). But in BSG there seems to be declining hope with every minute. Everyone is giving up, even the announcement by Adama at the end felt hollow and self-serving, as though he didn’t believe it himself and, pock-marked-veneer cracking, was finally letting his total despair show to the entire crew and audience. I suppose that what I’m saying, in a nutshell, is; “Is one joke, just ONE, too much to ask for?!”.

And I think I’ll leave it at that.

I’ve rambled on for far too long and if you’ve stayed this far should get a prize! I haven’t got any, but surely knowing that you deserve one is more than enough for now.

Cheers!

NBM

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~ by ninjabreadmen on January 27, 2009.

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