Saturday, August 9, 2014

31 Day Battlestar Galactica Challenge, Day 9: Favorite Season

When I first started rewatching Battlestar Galactica, I was sure that the first season would be my favorite but was pleasantly surprised that, nope, it's season two. Weird, huh? Considering it has some of the worst episodes (more on that when we get to Day 17) and has my least favorite scene (tune in for Day 23) of the whole series? But honestly, I prefer it over the first season because we get deeper into the question of Cylon infiltrators, deal with societal/cultural/religious hot topics (abortion, for one), see why Tigh, despite his wife's assertions to the contrary, is not meant to rise above XO, find survivors on Caprica (hi, Anders!), follow prophecies that seem to make no sense (and cause us to wonder about the other ones that are presented), meet the amoral, survivalist crew of the Pegasus, watch Baltar get himself into treasonous situations that aren't ever really dealt with later (um, he gave Gina the nuclear warhead?), and witness Roslin continue down the path of destroying her integrity for the sake of keeping control/leading everyone to the mythical planet Earth. And it did the monumental task of keeping me interested in seeing the third season, which, while awesome, started to really take a toll on me emotionally. Three himself actually had to stop watching Season Three with me, saying, "You know, I think that it can't get any worse, and then it does, and then it explodes into the worst thing ever, and then it just gets worse. I have to take a break." And this comes from a guy who found the ending of Falling Down uplifting.

But anyway, a big part of why I liked this season was because of its naturalistic expansion on the universe. Now, I'm pretty much convinced that, at some point, the writers basically decided to fly by the seat of their pants, as evidenced by the following: Ellen is a Cylon*, Starbuck is a ... ghost? or something? and Head-Baltar and Head-Six are angels (both of whom, for some inexplicable reason, only appear to Baltar and Caprica-Six). But in season two, I don't think they had the "Uh, we only have one more season to resolve this in a meaningful, satisfactory way, so let's just make things up as we go! It worked for Lost**, didn't it???" excuse to just force things to happen. Not only do we get to see what Cylon life is like in "Downloaded," but we're given hints as to the future of the series (e.g. the Cylon civil war, Hera's importance, and Starbuck's destiny). Character arcs are, for the most part, very organic**** and relatable, even if the audience doesn't like the character's choices. For example, I personally love Admiral Cain, who shows an ability to adapt and maintain a bit of her humanity right before she is unceremoniously executed by Gina at the end of the attack on the resurrection ship - and she didn't even need Caprica-Eight to convince her that she needed to worry more about real survival than simply petty power struggles****. She realizes that, in order to win the war, she needs the Galactica and her crew, because the fight can only last so long before they run out of supplies and will power. Before this, all of her actions were understandable, if brutal, and did ensure the safety of her ship; without a balancing element like Roslin, her military training did dictate what she had to do. Remember when Adama was all, "I'm taking the war to the Cylons" back in the miniseries? The only reason he changed his mind was because he didn't have a whole bunch of his lackeys cheering him on. I'm not saying that what Cain did receives a giant seal of approval from me, but she's not such a heartless, machine-like bitch that she tries to be. I was actually a little sad when Gina shoots her. Sigh.

Season Two was BSG in its prime, really displaying what the series could do. It could portray religion in a non-comical way but at the same time not have it be overbearing tripe, and I'm the kind of person who gets pissed off every single time sci-fi/fantasy films and books introduce prophecy story lines+. It debates what it means to be human by showing the Pegasus++crew, without the influence of a civilian fleet, and by revealing the beginning of the infighting between the Cylon models about their path and treatment of humans. It continues the mystery of Cylon infiltrators by revealing new models (Simon and Cavil), ultimately leading us to the story of the Final Five (beginning in Season Three) and has us wondering what exactly made the Cylons change their minds at what seemed to be the last minute, despite Boomer's and Caprica-Six's influence. I really wish this quality of writing had continued throughout the rest of the series, but honestly, it was so much better than what was on TV at the time, anyway, particularly when it came to the Syfy (ugh) channel, that I was happily willing to see it through to the end. And don't worry, I'll get to that ending on Day 31, believe you me. 

* I know that I said I had no problem with this yesterday, and as a character study, I don't really. But plot-wise, it irritates me. There are plenty of other characters who would have made a better choice as the final of the Five to be revealed (Starbuck? Dee? Doc Cottle? Shit, the kid Boxey? Actually, that might have been kinda cool, if the character hadn't just dropped out of existence.), and it really seems to be an opportunity to have Tigh's life complicated with having to explain to his recently revealed and supposed dead (for a second time) wife to his new lover and mother of his child, Caprica-Six.
** I'm going to go ahead and open myself up to ridicule, but I never liked Lost, not even at the beginning when it wasn't the clusterfuck of unanswered questions that it became. It just never captured me like other shows have. Oh, well. This actually seems to be J.J. Abrams' effect on me: a big, bored "meh." I'm hoping that he is able to charm me in his attempts at not fucking up the Star Wars universe. 
*** Okay, the only arc that I can't really get behind is Lee's sudden onset of depression. It seems to simply appear out of nowhere in "Resurrection Ship," and then is just sort of handled in "Black Market." As someone who has suffered from depression, I do understand that it sometimes really does erupt unexpectedly, but as a writer, I kind of feel like they were just trying to make him more interesting and sympathetic. Obviously, this tactic did not work for me, since I've already declared Lee Adama as The Worst.
**** This is not to say that she wouldn't try to remove Adama from power later, but I'd like to think that her planned follow-up meeting with Adama and Roslin would have gone a little bit smoother than the last one. Hell, she probably would have even allowed Helo and Tyrol to live.
+ I was even annoyed by the idea of The One in The Matrix, and that is a movie that I rented so many times from Blockbuster (remember those???) that my parents finally were like, "Ugh, fine, we'll buy it for you for Christmas. We'll be saving so much money that way." 
++ I actually just watched the original Battlestar Galactica episode where the Pegasus reappears, "The Living Legend," and was really, really glad that they went a completely different direction with this storyline. Despite seeing Lloyd Bridges, I was seriously questioning why a) anyone would be upset that they would change anything/everything about discount Star Wars and b) why anyone hadn't been successful in trying to reboot the shit out of it.

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