Saturday, November 24, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor Sharp!

With rumblings that the WGA strike might nuke the 4th and final season of Battlestar Galactica - at the same time as the Sci Fi Channel tells us on the screen to look forward to the 4th season - Battlestar Galactica blasted back tonight with a scalding, clarifying, glistening, bristling two-hour special, that tells the story of the Pegassus, Admiral Cane, and her protege - a new character, Kendra Shaw, powerfully and sensitively played by Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen. We learn some important new things about Admiral Adama's past and Starbuck's possible destiny.

First, Cane. Michelle Forbes gives another superb performance, as she did in the part in BSG two years ago, and, for that matter, as Ensign Ro in Star Trek. Cain is both softer and more vulernable, at the very beginning, before the Cylon attack, and even tougher than I recall her as being two years ago. The strong suit of BSG has always been the agonizingly tough decisions it requires of our humans fighting the Cylons, staying alive, and it was never stronger than tonight. Differences of assessment between well-meaning people - whether Adama and his son, or Cain and her second-in-command, and the response of the other well-meaning people around them - are the basis of profound plots and complex characters, and as always bear irresistible resemblances to some of the current political struggles in our country and world.

Cain was two years ago, and tonight was again, willing to make more brutal decisions than Adama. We learn at least part of the reason - Cain and Gina (Number 6 Cylon) were lovers before the Cylons attacked. (I thought Tricia Helfer never looked better than in that role tonight, before her Cylon identify is discovered). Whatever the horrors in Admiral Adama's closet, he never (as far as we know) had to face something like that. Further, as he points out to his son Lee, Admiral Adama had the advice and orders of the President, usually staying any actions like Cain's that he might ever have contemplated, and, even more poignantly, Lee's eyes that he had to look into. That scene between father and son was one of the best in the entire series.

The pacing of the narrative was excellent - part of the story before Cain is killed by Gina, interspersed with part of the story after. In case you haven't seen it, I won't say any more, except that the ending is motivated and chilling.

So where does that leave us? As the quick preview for Season 4 indicated - the one which said it would begin in March - we have all the Cylons on board identified now, except one. We have a word or two about Starbuck's ultimate destiny that make everything she does, already suspect, even more so.

I wish March were tomorrow. I'm eager to see what the most politically powerful, ethically trenchant show on television has in store for us.

See also Galactica Dylan and listen to a 20-minute podcast about the Season 3 finale, with choice music samples...

And see also Is Mitt Romney a Cylon? (I couldn't resist...)

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