Battlestar Galactica is such a compelling, wrenching series, I feel a little guilty even discussing the show in less than stellar terms – especially when there is so much junk on air, outer space tales or otherwise.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead.
The series is still highly recommended but there are rough spots. Battlestar can be occasionally trite. The writers sermonize. It’s relentlessly humorless.
And watching the screener of the fourth (and final) season premiere, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Battlestar crew members will eventually kill each other off over the Cylons-R-Us conundrum, a kind of…patricide, fratricide, or…
as my husband quipped, “No, it’s FRAK-ricide.”
The long-awaited final season of Battlestar launches tomorrow (Friday) night at 10p and it starts out with a spectacular space battle scene. Space battles are SCI FI Channel’s stock-in-trade. Recently Stargate Atlantis featured a rocking planet-melting clash, too.
The Colonial Fleet is conveniently powered down when the Cylons - resident baddies derisively referred to as “toasters” by humans - launch a surprise attack. The ships can’t hop…er, I mean, “jump" away. They’re sitting ducks. (Think the Starship Enterprise on impulse power.)
Just to be clear - there are two types of Cylons, the original model (featuring a toaster slot-shaped sensor in the helmet) and the more advanced cyborgs (a la Blade Runner).
Kara “Starbuck” Thrace’s (Katee Sackhoff ) mysterious reappearance (at the end of last season) coincides with the Cylon attack, so the weathervane of suspicion swivels her way. Predictably, President Roslin wants Starbuck tossed into the brig ASAP.
Others have faith in Starbuck, including Kara’s husband, Sam. Sam harbors a big secret. He’s one of four crew members who were shocked to discover (last season) that they’re really Cylons. And in the opener, Sam goes into combat against enemy Cylons while simultaneously battling his inner toaster.
In a telling scene, Sam assures Starbuck that it doesn’t matter if she’s a Cylon. “It doesn’t change who you really are,” he says, “it doesn’t change the fact that I love you.”
Starbuck’s response is chilling, perhaps a foreshadowing, “”You’re a better person than I am,” she remarks casually, “because if I found out that you were a Cylon I’d put a bullet between your eyes.”
Uh, oh. This is Battlestar. So, we must be prepared for the worst.
Roslin is on the hunt for the “final five” – the five unknown (to her) versions of the Cylon cyborgs. She interrogates an iteration of Six (a Cylon) chained up in the brig.
All the Cylon versions except one have been revealed to us, the audience. Only one remains. (I’m taking bets. It would be ironic if the last was Roslin, the one so determined to throw Cylons out the airlock.)
From the start of this series, as far back as the mini-series launch, one weak spot in the Battlestar scripting has been the slimy, sleazy, smarmy, sweaty, greasy Baltar.
Now, he escapes into a religious cult/harem decorated with a lot of gauzy material and red, silky floor pillows, and populated by young, naive women. He has sex with an underage girl.
Then, the writers try to redeem him in a maudlin scene during which he sobs over a dying child. Oh, for heaven’s sake!
Three Mary stilettos into the screen for this one.
Part of Battlestar’s mystique is the show’s tone – it’s consistently humorless, relentlessly dour, and funereal. It’s the Oz of science fiction television.
Not that I didn’t love the dreary, tragic Oz. But one morning – literally - I woke up, decided I couldn’t take one more hour of heartbreak, and crossed the series off my list.
Still, in spite of the soft spots, Battlestar remains on my must-watch list - primarily because of Edward James Olmos and Katee Sackhoff. The scenes between the expressive Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos make you want to just melt right into the screen.
Also, to be completely fair to Battlestar, I’m watching a LOT of television these days – from The Wire, The Shield, Breaking Bad, etc. etc. etc.
I think I’ve just gone nova over all the death and tragedy and hearbreak and sadness. Omar’s death on The Wire was expected, yet still very hard to take, but at least we got to watch Bubbles walk up the stairs into the warmth of his sister’s home.
If Olmos’ recent comments are to be believed, Battlestar may not offer any such relief or redemptive moments. So, watch it if you dare.
P.S. This looks kind of fun…a Battlestar cruise.
The season four promo: