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Battlestar Galactica 3.01 & 3.02 - "Occupation" & "Precipice"

*** spoilers abound ***

BSG season three certainly opened with a bang - literally, in the form of a suicide bombing. This is a logical progression from the events of The Resistance with Duck having nothing left to live for, except death.

BSG is doing what I've thought of doing myself in a story - putting the 'heroes" into a situation where they are acting exactly like the worst of the insurgents in Iraq in response to an occupation. (It also adds an uncomfortable resonance to the Colonials' religious beliefs brought to the fore in The Resistance.) The moral arguments, made forcefully by Tigh at one extreme, countered in a less strident manner by Roslin and Tyrol (and, ironically, but dramatically appropriately, Baltar), make for compelling viewing, all the more so because the discussions are so relevant today. I think ultimately the writers (rightly) side with Roslin and the Chief (and Baltar!), but it would be interesting if a lack of ruthlessness ended up making things worse. The ethics of war aren't always easy to come to grips with, and neither should stories about them.

The two episodes explore four parallel stories: the increasingly violent actions of the resistance, the preparations to retake New Caprica on the fleet and the conflicts revealed within, the internal debates of the Cylons (with their pawn Baltar now fully aware of the devil's deal he signed), and an imprisoned Starbuck falling under the thrall of a Cylon and the revelation she has a daughter.

When you count out the plot beats, not all that much actually happens in the 90 minutes, but that's not a criticism - it's a sign that the show allows itself to breathe, to "decompress" to use a term currently in vogue in comics storytelling.

I think the four threads were balanced well. I never felt myself getting bored with any of them, though perhaps the Apollo/Adama conflict felt the most perfunctory. I did love the bond between Adama and Sharon on the Galactica - it felt unforced and strangely right. Baltar is finally starting to grow on me - perhaps he just needed to be tortured enough to go to the dark places that make him appealing. Ellen Tigh makes some interesting choices which I expect will pay off not just in terms of her betrayal of the resistance, but also of her personal betrayal of her husband (even if she slept with the Cylon Cavil for reasons which demonstrate she truly does love her husband ... at least, the first time).

With so many regular, recurring and guest characters, it was inevitable that some would get short shrift, and it was Roslin who was most missed. No doubt Mary McDonnell will get more to do in the following episodes. On the other hand it was good to see minor players like Nicki Clyne strut their acting chops. (Can one strut chops??)

What these two opening episodes brought home, even more than last year's finale, is BSG's willingness to embrace not just the moral ambiguity exemplified by the suicide bombing tactics, not just intense, no-holds-barred storytelling, but also change. Not since Buffy has there been a show which has been as willing to mix up its characters and transform them into something new.

Perhaps this is not always for the better in terms of the outcome, but certainly it's consistently rewarding in terms of the creator's willingness to take creative risks.

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» Battlestar Galactica 3.03 - "Exodus Part 1" from world in progress...
Exodus" supplied answer in a by-the-numbers fashion. [Read More]

» Battlestar Galactica 3.05 - "Collaborators" from world in progress...
Philosophically, I liked Roslin's universal pardon. It makes a powerful statement about truth and reconciliation as opposed to justice and revenge. Emotionally and thematically it worked as a cap to the episode. But, unlike last week, I worry now that ... [Read More]

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 9, 2006 1:12 AM.

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