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Battlestar Galactica Season 3, Episodes 1-4 Review (New Caprica)

18 Oct

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EPISODES COVERED: “Occupation”, “Precipice”, “Exodus Part 1″, Exodus Part 2”

“The dignity and the integrity of the human race rides with us. Good hunting.”

The Cylons occupy New Caprica. What was once a beacon of hope for so many has become a war zone, a deadly situation in which humans and Cylons live next to each other, but don’t necessarily live with each other. There are a vast number of conflicting viewpoints here, and they eventually clash and escalate the conflict beyond the realm of control; here, we have the Cylons attempting to create a peace between their kind and humankind, but they just don’t realize how difficult a task on that magnitude would be to accomplish.

For, it’s mainly Caprica Six and Boomer who are interested in the concept of peace, and the Cylon population follows due to their celebrity statuses (something we see way too often in life, but what can you do?). Cylons like Doral and Cavill, on the other hand, view the humans as weak, in need of changing, and easily changed; it’s a bit ironic, isn’t it, considering the mindset of the entire Cylon population was shifted by a few people at the top? It seems equally naive to assume that that viewpoint is the correct one as it is to assume that all humans will live peacefully with you if you aren’t happy with the lack of human-killing. And, with poor judgment comes an exacerbation of the conflicts on New Caprica, and with that comes a transition from seemingly proportional responses to out-of-control responses. As the Cylons argue over what they should do to the humans, they haven’t realized that they’ve already allowed the situation to spiral out of control.

On the other side of things, we have Colonel Tigh spearheading an insurgency, ordering suicide bombings, and generally being an ultimate, one-eyed badass. It’s interesting to view his arc here side by side with the first arc of season two; when he took control of the Galactica, he seemed out of place and uncomfortable, but when he’s down in the nitty gritty of war, he understands his place and isn’t afraid to die while fighting. Both instances feature an Adama who’s out of the picture at the moment, and the clear contrast between the two mindsets is beautifully played by Michael Hogan. Speaking of beautifully played, I’d say Hogan’s the MVP of this arc; his reaction to Ellen’s betrayal and the later scene in which he poisons her are some of his best work yet.

Anyway, the problem here is the same problem on the other side: an unwillingness to compromise. The Cylons may say they want to, but when you’re holding a gun to Baltar’s head and yelling at him to sign a death warrant, you don’t have that great of a case. Baltar being there is just a formality, and he knows it; we can see how broken down he is, how his own selfishness has led to the near destruction of the entire human race, how self-gratification is now not the first thing on his mind; in fact, he’s framed so that he looks tiny behind that presidential desk, always sitting as the Cylons stand and exert their control over him.

Elsewhere, we have Leoben, Starbuck, and Kacey, and here’s another illustration of the Cylon mindset, the way they believe change comes to those who wait…plus, you know, a few tweaks here and there that strike at the humans’ deepest emotional levels. The usual stuff. This storyline has its roots in the season two episode “The Farm”, and we reach a point here at which Starbuck is literally trapped, unable to escape like she did after stabbing Simon at the farm; now, even though she doesn’t want a child, it’s understandable why she’d grow attached to Kacey. Add prolonged isolation to Kacey getting hurt–most likely orchestrated–and you’ve created a nightmare scenario for Starbuck. Just like with Tigh, even though everyone’s happy and back on Galactica at the end of it all, she’s been scarred for life by the experience. It’s not so much that she wants the kid as much as the fact that she’s been damaged. The final scene focuses on her and Tigh for very similar reasons.

Of course, before we get to that wonderful scene, we have “Exodus, Part 2”, a true masterpiece when it comes to visuals and the score. From an action standpoint, this is one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever seen on television, and there are countless shots–the Galactica jump from New Caprica, the destruction of the Pegasus, etc.–that would certainly make my “Holy shit, this is awesome” list (should I ever make one). From a character perspective as well, this is Galactica at its finest. When everyone gathers at the end to celebrate the victory, there’s a sense of loss that lingers amidst the joy. All the people left standing may have escaped with their lives, but this becomes, yet again, another battle won during the war. Of course, that’s what keeps them going.

GRADE: A- (A-, A-, A-, A)

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Where do they go from here? I know there are still lingering storylines, but I can’t help but wonder if they jumped the gun a bit on the resolution to New Caprica. It’s damn exciting and maintains that breakneck momentum if you only spend four episodes on it, but I wanted more. Also, I’ve heard that the series takes a turn for the worse in these last two seasons, so.

-This aired during Iraq, so we’d obviously have to look at the episodes through the lens of the times. There are clear parallels and reversals–one of the more overt moments is the “How did you think humans would greet us? With–oh, never mind”, and you can essentially just insert Dick Cheney there–but looking back, it’s especially easy to apply this to current day situations and many occupations in general. That seems to be what Moore’s interested in: exploring humanity and how that both leads to situations like these and influences mindsets during something like an occupation.

-Sharon’s an officer now, and we see the element of trust that’s made its way into her and Adama’s relationship. Of course, “Adama wouldn’t lie to me” takes on an ominous spin, considering what we know about Hera.

-RIP, Pegasus, aka wasted storyline following “Resurrection Ship, Part 2”.

-D’Anna’s dream in “Exodus Part 1″…eh. I’ve never been a huge fan of the mystical stuff, but this just seems like a device by which the show can cut a few corners.

-Starbuck stabbing Leoben, then eating her meal, is just so Starbuck. Ya gotta love her. Also, kudos to Katee Sackhoff, yet again.

-The scene between Roslin and Zarek is nice. The subsequent cliffhanger is exhilarating, and in good TV fashion, they throw it away at the beginning of the next episode? Also, lots of continuity errors with Cally running away and the shots fired.

-I never noticed how attractive Racetrack is, but she is. Evidently, she also played the woman Gus saw through the window in Fargo.

Photo credit: Syfy, Battlestar Galactica

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