Monday, October 23, 2006

Scattered Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica: Exodus Part 2

This post contains total and complete spoilers for the first four episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Season Three (through "Exodus, Part 2")
Skip on down to the next post if you don't want to be spoiled.

Battlestar Galactica is not, to my mind, quite as good as Veronica Mars or The Wire (the latter of which I see only on DVD, so only through Season Three at this point) -- which are far and away my favorite still-ongoing shows at the moment. But BSG is a very good show, which I am quite glad to be watching and wouldn't want to miss. As I just caught up on the most recent (i.e. as of last Friday) episode of BSG. Herewith a few random thoughts.

* I was sort of surprised that they didn't milk the occupation situation for longer. I had thought that, after going to all the trouble of setting the new status quo up, they would actually run with it for, oh, half a season or so -- really tell some individual, free-standing stories set on occupied Caprica, and use that to reboot the show a bit. They're not back to precisely the pre-settlement status quo -- they lost the Pegasus, of course, and a lot of individual characters are in rather different situations -- but it's fairly close. Given that BSG was definitely drifting in the latter half of its second season, I'm surprised they didn't use the change of pace -- which I, like almost everyone else, found to be a reinvigoration of the show -- to more effect. I'm only slightly worried about the upcoming episodes -- they've clearly got a pretty good grasp on what works and what doesn't -- but I was surprised.

* Anyway, the title for the next episode (don't click unless you're willing to have the title, at least, spoiled) is very promising. So is the fact that Jane Espenson is writing an upcoming episode.

* Baltar's claim that if he didn't stop the nuke from going off no one would get off made no sense at all, given that people had already left. I was rather confused on this point. I think the analysis of the BSG Wiki -- that Baltar simply didn't know the situation (and presumably Gaeta didn't either, since he seemed to buy Baltar's claim (unless he was simply willing to fall for any excuse not to have to kill him)) -- seems like the most straightforward explanation. But it was a bit untidy.

* Several really strong parts of the episode: Tigh's murder of Ellen; the jump of the Galactica right into the atmosphere; the unveiling of Kacey's parentage. (Unlike this blogger, I didn't find the latter to be obvious at all: I thought they might go with the difficulties of having a half-cylon child actually aboard, and use that as a character arc for Starbuck. Though yeah, given the terrible damage that cute kids can do to SF shows, probably a good move.)

* On the other hand, the Pegasus's changed-our-minds-we'll-be-the-cavalry maneuver was not only so obvious that I almost though they were making it a red herring, but it was also a rather silly cliché, frankly. (Shows do that sort of thing constantly.) And the scene that set it up with all the subtlety of a 2x4 to the head -- the opening dialogue between Lee and Dee (Lord, what an awful rhyme -- just noticed that) -- was incredibly flat, by far the weakest scene in the show, probably in the season to date. I think they would have done better just having both ships go in -- or, possibly, have them fake out the viewers (also sort of a cliché (for example, used in the first-season episode "The Hand of God"), but not quite as bad a one) with Lee's ship held in reserve as a deliberate tactical maneuver. (Although then they would have had, as Robert Farley notes, the problem of why they didn't sacrifice the older, clunkier ship -- Galactica -- whereas this plot did explain that. (Apart from the its-the-title-of-the-frackings-show bit, of course.)) But it would have seemed less, well, silly -- having the earnest commander change his mind, make the emotional decision and come just in the nick of time... bah. Humbug. (By the way, that LGM post has an interesting comment thread, too, if you want more BSG blogging.)

* The best story developments they got out of the four-and-a-bit episode stay on New Caprica, of course, are the character changes -- most of the major characters are in very different places than they were. I wonder to what degree this was done deliberately -- i.e. they set up the occupation so as to set up arcs they wanted to do, but couldn't get to in the earlier compressed-timeframe that held up through the end of season two -- and to what degree they simply thought the occupation would be a good story, and then used it to spin the various characters off in different directions.

Overall, a good start to the third season -- a distinct return to the strength of the first season and a half (counting the miniseries as part of season one) after the comparative unevenness of the season 2.5. Let's hope they know what they're doing and can keep it up.

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