Friday, March 02, 2007

No More Nails

Metaphorical ones. They'd all been bitten down to the quick within the first half-dozen episodes of Battlestar Galactica Season 3. We've reached what must be the halfway mark by now and even if things settled down a bit, with a few 'ordinary' episodes here and there, I find even a standard BSG episode has more than enough to grip me. (Spoilers will undoubtedly follow for BSG Season 3, but I'm going to try to stay brief!) Woo hoo. I love this show.

One of the especially welcome touches in a recent 'ordinary' episode was the flashback to the earlier stages of the settlement of New Caprica. Intercut with uppercuts in the boxing ring, this episode could so easily have been BSG's TKO (a particularly poor B5 episode, the memory of which still causes a shudder or two). But since one of my 'gripes' about Season 2 was the One Year Later... jump to the set-up on New Caprica and the Cylon occupation, this provided some welcome colouring in of the gap. Of course, it had the ambivalent side effect of making me think what a great story that settlement would have made if properly explored and given air to breathe. Maybe just a matter of three episodes? Not too much to ask.

What was a big ask at the time was the dramatic adjustment the viewer was required to make, from military to civvy street (in the mud, no less) - and no, I'm not just talking about Adama's moustache. That said, the opening episodes of Season 3 deliver in spades. I'd mentioned before that this was a series that wasn't afraid to shake up its status quo once in a while, and it certainly managed that. It turned things on their heads to such an extent there was, on top of the customary nail-biting fare, a faint nervousness that things could never be the same again. We were in unknown, as well as occupied, territory, and it made for great, intense and even emotionally draining drama. All thoroughly enjoyable without the Colonel-Tigh-As-Bin-Laden comparisons. A particularly tense moment for me was when Laura Roslin was lined up for a Richard Attenborough Great Escape moment, and there was the sense of a chance, at least, that they might have killed her off.

To a certain extent, the bulk of the survivors (and that's not a reference to Apollo's weight problems) have effectively by now completed a journey back to something like the pre-occupation situation, but that’s a cycle necessary for the continuation of the greater journey and I think it's fair to say that all the characters bear their scars (some highly visible!) and certain relationships have undergone what must be irrevocable changes. First episode after the liberation, members of the Galactica crew - Starbuck included - are seen forming their own kangaroo court, doling out retributive justice as a means of dealing with their personal pain. Yikes. Just the kind of thing you used to get in every generation of Star Trek, eh. On which note, there are continued efforts to acknowledge factors like shortages of resources - food has been the theme in selected episodes of this season - and I've enjoyed the look inside the Cylon base ships, even if it has all had to go 'a bit weird' to show up the differences that set them apart from humans. Life on board seems disjointed, although that may be down to Gaius' disturbed perspective on the universe in general. Messianic complexes aside, the notion of Cylons projecting versions of reality to suit their tastes, the nature of the hybrid hooked into the baseship and the question of the final five Cylon models are the key sources of fascination so far on the Cylon side of things.

Well, those and Lucy Lawless. I've taken a real liking to her character, even over Caprica, who's been with us longer - and it's been interesting to watch her reprising something of her Xena role, championing the ideal of One God over a Greek-style Pantheon. Can't wait till she slays Athena with her chakram. Even if that doesn't happen and even if 'No More Nails' might be a bit of an exaggeration on my part, all this Season has to do is maintain the standard so far on display, and it will be sure to keep me glued.


Stuart Douglas said...

All very, very true )sad that my repsonse to your long, well argued and thoughtful review amounts to 'yeah, s'good innit?', but there you go).

Although actually I will admit to a slight flagging of interest lately (I'm up to episode 11 I think) - not enough is actually happening, but there is a deinfite feeling that that's because it's building to tsomething very good, so I'll obviously be sticking with it.

SAF said...

Yeah, I think an element of flagging is like a government's mid-term slump in popularity - inevitable. There were a couple of episodes for me like that in Season 2, after the big 3-parter with the Pegasus, where the intensity dropped off and hence a certain amount of interest. But (so far anyway) you know Battlestar can deliver, so that tides you over until things get truly nerve-racking again ;) Er, which is my long winded way of saying, "Yes, I know what yer sayin." :)
Alas, I wish my review could have been longer, but hopefully I'll have more to say by the end of the season!