Friday, June 20, 2008

I still say I'm not a "geek."

(That picture is frakkin' hilarious.)

A request came in from my friend Raz that I blog about the mid-season finale of Battlestar Galactica. I promised to indulge him (and bi-proxy, myself) if he responded to said entry. So for those of you who haven't seen the episode yet--beware! Spoilers below! And for those who watch, please feel free to enter the conversation.

This discussion is partly due to a wonderful e-mail I received from a long distance friend who occasionally discusses the show with me, and brings me these when he visits. (I also have the Classic Colonial Viper, and the Colonial Viper Mark II. Thanks, Enrique!) I'm going to paste in some of his points (which are great) and expound a bit in some places. So hopefully this will be an interesting dialogue for those of us "in the know."

Okay, so a few huge things happened this episode: 1) The four Cylons in the Colonial Fleet were revealed; 2) The Viper that the resurrected Kara Thrace came back in started receiving a radio signal; and 3) The Fleet finally made it to Earth.

Now, it's interesting that they made it to Earth, considering that has been the goal for the past four years--every episode has dealt with this journey on some level (except maybe "Unfinished Business," though I love that one {and YES: it IS because of the Starbuck-Apollo sex, I'm not too proud to admit it}). We really have come to the conclusion, the journey is over. This of course is paralleled by the fact that this is the last season of the show. But I was really expecting them to hold off on Earth for as long as possible, maybe until the last episode even. So now the arch of the show is not just about getting to Earth, but rebuilding a civilization once you've found a place to settle--and apparently peacefully with the Cylons.

But what an Earth.

I have to say, it's totally true to scifi fashion that they show a desolate, post-apocalyptic Earth, and Ron Moore's hinting over the past two years or so that Earth might not be what they're expecting pretty much gave that away. But this was just so visually desolate a place that it was jarring. Below is a panorama someone on the web made up of the long establishing shot taken down on the planet's surface. It's pretty well done, I think:

The whole place hearkens back to that poster of the colonial soldier on his knees in front of the burning Caprica, the one in the pilot's prep room that they'd all touch on their way to the hanger deck. From one desolate wasteland to another...

It will be really interesting to watch them all deal with the reality of Earth. I'm looking forward to how the civies ("civilians" for all you non-military personnel out there) deal with this--will there be some kind of up-rising? Will/Would Tom Zarek have something to do with it? (I still don't trust that guy a 100% of the time...) And how will living peacefully with the Cylons work out, if at all?

Let's talk about the Cylons for a sec. Worst idea that civilization had (silly Natalie) was to give the Centurians free will. I mean, seriously? That's just "aaaasking for traaaagedy" as an old Bostonian friend of mine used to say (hence the extra "aaaaaaaa's"). Will the Centurians want to settle peacefully with the humans? Will they even want to take orders from their Cylon "masters?" Will the skinjobs and the humans end up bonding together in some kind of fight against the Centurian models? Will they remain loyal to the four, in particular, Torey, who has gone all fanatical about "being with [her] people" but dismiss the others?

And speaking of Torey--I'm excited for someone to kill her off. Not as excited as I was when Cally died, who I just couldn't frakin' stand (next one on my list is one of Baltar's harem, the one with the son and that stupid face). No, with Torey I just see her as being REALLY evil. And I don't see any chance for redemption with her--she's made this choice to embrace her "perfection in the eyes of God," totally abandoning where she came from, and hasn't looked back. It's made her...kind of boring to watch, really. Oh well. In any case, an interesting dynamic to look out for will be how she and D'Anna get along during the rest of the season--if D'Anna will defer to her (being that Torey's one of the five, and therefore some kind of leader to the Cylon race), or try some co-leadership, or if they'll end up having a falling out over their own separate ideas of the chosen fate of the Cylons. And is Tyrol ever going to find out that Torey killed Cally, or what?

Moving along, I loved the reveal of the four, and all their own separate reactions. Torey's was pretty predictable, though I was surprised she didn't just out them all right there on Galactica's hanger deck. I loved Galen's shrug and smile, and Enrique said it pretty well in that, "He knew he’d get found out sooner or later and seemed glad that his fate was no longer in his own hands." So true. (I love Aaron Douglass so much.) Anders's was great--he loves Kara so much and was so worried about her reaction--which wasn't much, considering what she said to him at the top of the season about shooting him in the head if she found out he was one.

But of course Tigh's was the best. One of the most unsuspecting candidates for being one of the final five, watching him struggle with this has been the most interesting to me. It was just the most human, which is ironic, considering. When he finally gets up the guts to tell Adama that he's a Cylon and there's that smile on his face when he suggests the plan to air lock himself, it's just awesome. He's so happy he's found a way to in the end be the man he wanted to be, that he can help his friend. And Adama's reaction was great (although, I think Eddie was pushing just a little...), that total breakdown--I think some people would frown on that sequence, saying it's completely uncharacteristic of Adama, but never has the character had such fundamental parts of his life come totally unhinged. Imagine finding out a friend that you knew for thirty years is actually the thing you've spent your whole life looking out for and fighting, and what you thought they were fighting too? I can't--though part of that is because I haven't lived thirty years yet to know anyone that long.

On a side note, I'm glad they made that timeline distinction: if the Cylon war was forty years ago, and Tigh and Adama have only known each other thirty years, then there's no way they could have known each other during the first Cylon war and have possibly served together during it. This has been a question that's come up again and again this season amongst my friends, so I'm glad that got cleared up. This also means that Tigh could have been "produced" during the first Cylon war, or shortly there after, and then "released" into human civilization.

On another side note, Michael Hogan should have won an Emmy for season three.

And lest we not forget--Caprica Six is pregnant now. That's a whole Cylon baby. True love? Or only true love because Tigh was thinking of Ellen? Or can the Cylons pro-create with each other, but it only works when a final five is part of the equation? Does that link to the Roslin/Athena/Caprica Six joint vision at all? And the opera house is demolished, so, the location is obviously not meant to be taken overly literally, but now that they're at the sight of the place, need we be more wary?

Let's go back to Earth for a bit. They show a Geiger counter in the final sequence, so we know the planet (or at least this immediate area) has been victim to some nuclear bombing. So other questions follow this: who destroyed this last colony of man? Did this colony develop nuclear technology, or were they discovered by something else that used this weapon against them? How long ago did this occur? And why did this happen? And are there any survivors in this wasteland?

And if Starbuck has been here, why the frak didn't she know about this? This also brings up an interesting discussion between Enrique and I, that Kara Thrace is the actual "dying leader," not Roslin, and he writes rather compellingly:

"I’ve said, and many believe, that title of the dying leader as described in the Scrolls of Pythia, was mistakenly attributed to Laura Roslin and that the true dying leader was in fact, Kara Thrace. If this is true, and the rest of the prophecies and writings are true, the dying leader was supposed to lead the way, but never make it. Much of the religion of the Lords of Kobol, though polytheistic, parallels Mormonism and has a lot of references to Judeo-Christian faith. The prophecy of the dying leader has a lot in common with the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt, and though Moses led the people to the promised land eventually, he was not allowed in because he doubted God. If the dying leader is not supposed to make it to Earth, and Starbuck is indeed the dying leader, one of two things must be true: 1. This is Earth and the Starbuck we see is not Kara Thrace; or 2. This is Kara Thrace, but we have not arrived at Earth.
"This becomes exceedingly complex when we consider Kara’s “death.” Her connection to the Eye of Jupiter helped the Colonials get as far as the nebula before she died. But her main contributions that directly led to finding Earth happened after her resurrection. That would mean that the fake Starbuck, the fake leader was responsible for leading everyone to earth.
"But perhaps the writings have been misinterpreted. We already believe that have been since the Colonials believed Roslin to be the leader and we believe Starbuck to be. Perhaps “dying” leader has been misconstrued. Perhaps the leader is one who dies, therefore cannot step foot in the promised land, though the resurrected leader may. What if Kara is like Gandalf – Gandalf the Gray would not see the final fall of Sauron, but Gandalf the White would be instrumental in Sauron’s demise. It’s still Gandalf, but not quite. And maybe the writings intend that but the meaning is lost in endless interpretation by the writer’s of history, who as we know in our own world have used religious texts to say what they want about faith. Could Starbuck have been the dying leader where Starbuck the Gray does die and never makes it to Earth while Starbuck the White passes through time and space to lead mankind to the promised land?"

Ten points to Enrique for connecting more scifi/fantasy lineage here, as well as Moses.

But bouncing off of this for a moment, I just want to point out, referencing major event of the episode #2: No one has addressed the frakking Viper. So it shows up, in mint condition with either a hidden message inside of it, or having some kind of higher technology that allows it and only it to receive the coordinates of Earth. On an apparently demolished society, who sent the message to the Viper? Granted, we only saw one part of the planet, so we don't know that the whole thing was destroyed, but it does raise the question of not only who was there before, but also, who may be there now? I wrote to Enrique:

"Okay, so, Starbuck is some kind of prophet/scriptural leader, whatever, I'll take it. I'll take her as the true dying leader, whose born again self can enter paradise (nice Moses connection btw). BUT: that still does not explain the fucking Viper. Who built this thing? Who put a fucking homing device in it? Did whatever civilization that existed on Earth have the technology to send that Viper back, and also build it, AND also find an unconscious resurrected Kara Thrace to put in it? Something is up there, and I think that a lot of clues as to what happened on Earth will be found in that Viper."

Then of course the question of the fifth and final Cylon comes up. Is the fifth there, on Earth, waiting for them? The five have supposedly been to Earth before, so, it would follow. And D'Anna says distinctly "four are in your fleet" not five, so where's the last one? And was it that final Cylon that sent the signal to the Viper's computer? There is an idea that the identity of the fifth deals with characters from the upcoming Caprica, particularly focusing on that first hybrid we see in Razor--apparently he was once a human named Daniel Graystone, the father of the Cylon race, if you will. If this is true, then it goes beyond humans creating Cylons--in a sense, the Cylons have human blood in them. So that's interesting. Enrique thinks Kendra Shaw may be on the table for being the fifth, as the hybrid in Razor calls her his child, and why else would they spend so much time developing a character like that. He wonders if we'll see her again.

And the unification of two peoples, watching the Cylons and humans need eachother in order to both arrive at Earth, even Starbuck remarking that whoever is sending the signal to the Viper wants the humans to find Earth with the Cylons, is a really interesting theme, and I'm wondering how that will fall together with the show's mythology.

There's a lot more to talk about, but this has already taken about two and a half hours to write, so I'm a bit spent.

An overall criticism of the episode is that I felt it was rushed, that it could have been done in two hours. But because of the writer's strike, I believe that held up its development process, and had the strike gone on any longer I believe the episode was to have actually to have been the show's finale, not just the midway point of a very drawn out season (no new episodes till at least January 1st, 2009--it's going to be an eternity!). That said, I'm glad it's not the end--I was kind of worried Ron Moore would dump them on the planet, show that it was imperfect, and be like, "Well. That's it!" That would have sucked.

I'll be back in the states briefly this winter, so I may catch the first couple episodes over here, but the majority of time I'll be watching in England, however they do it over there. I hope I can find BSG enthusiasts over seas, which I don't think will be too difficult. But it won't match watching it with my friends over here. So guys, please raise your drinks and wish me well next year on your Friday nights, and I'll raise mine to you--give or take five hours.

So say we all!*

(*PS: Did you know that Edward James Olmos ad libbed that line in the mini-series during that final scene, just started yelling it and expecting people to join in {because he IS the commander of the fleet, after all} and then they did? And now it's in every sacred text, every formal toast, every rallying cry of the show. God I love actors.)

1 comment:

Raz said...

Lea, my European Counterpart and long lost friend, I am HONORED to have been a catalyst for your latest blog entry. Such wonderful prose.

All very interesting questions you raised and each one I know we've been asking ourselves back in the colonies, no pun intended.

So, if I may indulge, the first item; The Dying Leader. Who is it? Roslin? Starbuck? Adama? Who? We were so sure it was Roslin because of her "wasting disease" but they reached Earth and.... she's still alive. In The Hub, Elosha told Roslin many things, and glazed over one that made me think "whoa, back up, Ms. Cleo, talk about that one" and that one thing would be "the ancients got a lot of things wrong." Now that can go many, many ways. Perhaps Roslin was the dying leader but wasn't actually supposed to die despite textual prophecy. Or, maybe "The Promised Land" is a state of mind. As in "The Promised Land is an Earth where Human and Cylon live as one". Or your friend's Starbuck/Gandalf Theory is valid as well. They've taken that "Star Wars" approach, you know they one: "This Child will destroy the Sith" only they leave out the part where he becomes a Sith and wipe out 99% of the Jedi before he does so" A prophecy of ends. They never really give you the "how" these days, only how it ends.

Which brings me to the The Fifth and final cylon. D'anna said there were 4 in the fleet. Was that because one is dead or one was on the baseship? Baltar, Adama, Roslin and Helo were on the baseship, is it one of these? And if it were, why would she let them go back into the fleet? She didn't release anyone but Adama before she and Lee struck that deal. Though her comment would explain why only those 4 met via the song in the nebula. If the fifth is dead they wouldn't have had the chance to meet in the gym, so who are the dead candidates? Kendra Shaw, Ellen Tigh, maybe even Billy? I don't think they fifth is dead. If I had to guess, I'd say its Roslin. D'anna told her she was, then turned it into a joke. When she first saw Roslin while attending to Baltar, she had a very, very curious look on her face. Was it just the actresses choice or was it because the Character just saw one of the final five? The Fifth may be different from the four if they were on Galactica at the Nebula. Perhaps Roslin, The Dying Leader is the fifth, and she did not need to meet the other 4. If the dying leader is the fifth, and the five and the dying leader will both take the humans/cylons to earth, it would stand to believe that the leader is the fifth, born to die. She did have that very, very visual reaction after the jump to the nebula just before the blackout. I've always wondered about that. Maybe the ancients left out the part where the dying leader is also a cylon. or maybe leoben was right when he said "Adama is a Cylon" and wasn't just frakking with Roslin's head.

Leoben once said "To see the face of God is to know madness" which is what D'anna said about the Final Five. Maybe he saw just ONE of the final five during a download, and that ONE was Kara Thrace, which is why he was obsessed with her. Its just a theory, though not the strongest one. To me, Roslin makes the most sense. Maybe that's why that seat is open in The Last Supper photo, because the fifth is indeed supposed to sit there are RDM said, but can't because they're already in the photo at another spot. He said the fifth isn't in the photo, but he lied before publicly about several things: Including Kara won't die, Kara isn't coming back, Season 4 isn't the last, Roslin won't live to reach Earth and even that Dean Stockwell isn't playing a cylon when it was learned he would do a guest spot. I hope its not Baltar, as i think that would ruin his character for various reasons and that's a discussion all its own.

Which brings us to Earth. I do think very much that they're on Earth. I've long suspected that they're very much just in our future. in our timeline, something goes down about 1000 years from now, we leave Earth, go to Kobol for about 3 thousand years, shit goes down there, we go to the 12 Colonies, 1 tribe goes BACK to Earth. 3000 more years on the 12 colonies, cylons attack, okay, back to Earth. So, if that's the case, I don't think nuclear radiation would still be around after 6000 years, let alone 3000 years if the 13th tribe just blew themselves up again.

So, let's talk about the 1st option; the 13th tribe never made it back to Earth and something else happened to them. What was it? Too vague to discuss right now. So, option 2; they got back to earth, did the same shit for 3000 years, war came about and boom, all dead. If the final five ARE indeed from the home of the 13th, as the hybrid said, then this disaster on earth happened at least 30 years ago, as that how long Adama knew Tigh. So they would have had to leave Earth to go to the Colonies... but why? There were only 5 beings left after this last calamity so they knew about the 12 colonies, went back and what? made the other cylons look like humans, orchestrated the attack all in order to leave humanity back to Earth and then just inserted themselves into human society erasing their memories of the events? I don't know the answer, but again, if they did it to lead humanity back to Earth, then Roslin or Kara being the Fifth does make a lot of sense. Or, if Kara is the dying leader, that would make Roslin's visions (the 12 snakes, the opera house [which i think represents Galactica] and other visions) just a device to get them back to Earth, it was her "song".

SOOOOOOOOOOO many theories and I have a few more, but these seem the most valid. I don't think the truth about Earth is hidden among my prose or i stumbled onto the truth but won't know till Jan 2009. I think maybe SOMETHING could be right, but the rest is just far too complicated to nail down.

So Say We All

(P.S., Bear McCreary is a musical GENIUS. between the choral before/during the jump to Earth and the last 7 minutes of "Guess What's Coming To Dinner" just before our hybrid yelled "JUMP!" was inhuman, only a God could write such melodies"