“Someone to Watch Over Me”
February 27th, 2009
For an episode driven by the power of melody to transcend minds and to bring people together, there was a return to a familiar rhythm to “Someone to Watch Over Me,” a return to form for Battlestar Galactica as it heads into its final three episodes. What’s been missing in the last few episodes is the sense that this is all coming together to add up to something, that what we’ve been seeing and the answers we’ve been searching for have been worth our time. While, perhaps, the content of “No Exit” or “Deadlock” will make a difference in the end, neither episode in and of itself added up to something profound, something progressive, or something that gives us some peace of mind that the show knows where its most powerful material lies as it heads towards its finale.
But this week this all changed under the guidance of Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, delivering their last episode with a deft sense of pacing and momentum. It is an episode that leans heavily on the past to demonstrate the power that it has over us, and then allows that to play out in the present in a way that is simultaneously revelatory and, more importantly, diversionary from the laidback, almost nonchalant path the show has been on since the end of the mutiny. The result is a clear path to the future, centering its storyline on the two major unanswered questions and using both of them to drive us into something approximating a climax. More importantly, though, the actions in the episode are ones which actually have broad implications for almost everyone: while the most recent drama has remained far too isolated to one side of humans and Cylons, here we finally have something that everyone can get really frakking pissed about.
And, well – finally.
Left on the Cutting Room Floor:
“Deadlock,” Editing and Soap Operatic Indulgence
Last weekend, still stewing in frustration over “Deadlock,” [my review] the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica, I tweeted the following to my twitter followers:
Pretty sure I could write five blog posts this week delving into points of contention on last night’s BSG. I must resist this.
As you can see, I lasted until this morning, as I have in weeks past, before needing to delve back into episodes that frustrated me, trends which concerned me, and that voice in my head that for all of my enjoyment of BSG’s four seasons is extremely cynical about the show’s direction when the show ends in three weeks. The last three episodes of the show have all felt “off” for me, and I’m at a point where I need to see something in tonight’s episode, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” that convinces me less of Katee Sackhoff’s talent or Bear McCreary’s musical genius and more of Ronald D. Moore and David Eick’s vision for completing this thing in only 4 more hours of television.
I am aware, of course, that these hours are really only 43 minutes, and that in that amount of time the show only has time to do so much. In fact, on numerous occasions this year, there have been moments where I’ve wondered what was left off the cutting room floor, and how some content seemed ill-fitting for particular scenarios. And after reconsidering “Deadlock,” and reading some of the interviews with the show’s writers regarding episodes like aforementioned Deadlock and No Exit, I’ve come to a conclusion that somewhere, in those minutes of uncut footage and those ideas not followed through on, there might have been a way to quell my cynicism.
But we got a love triangle instead.
“Blood on the Scales”
February 6th, 2009
For the second time this season, I found myself in a situation wherein being able to watch Battlestar Galactica wasn’t in the cards. I am not a fan of this particular development, as it is inherently frustrating, especially when the episode was actually spoiled for a couple of people I was with for the weekend. BSG’s friday night time slot seems great in theory sometimes, but when you actually have an event going on it’s kind of tough to find the time to slot it in.
And by the time I did sit down late Saturday night to watch “Blood on the Scales,” I have to say that I didn’t find it quite as exciting as some others did. Perhaps it was the scenario in which I watched it, but there is something about this episode that felt like it was the simplest of solutions. There wasn’t anything surprising in the episode, outside of a couple of loose ends that never really played a role in the episode. This isn’t to say that the episode lacked excitement, or that its darkest moments had no impact on me, but rather that for all the escalation and all the entertaining turnarounds it ended up exactly where we knew it would end up.
So this isn’t likely going to be incredibly lengthy, primarily because I wrote so much about “The Oath” that saying too much more here is probably going to get redundant.
The Morning after “The Oath”
Reviews and Analysis
Since some of you have probably already read last night’s BSG review [which you can read here], figured I’d highlight some links in a separate post instead.
- Mo Ryan has some of her own thoughts up, but she precedes them with an interview with Mark Verheiden, the writer of the episode.
- Alan Sepinwall has his review, and there is no greater spot for indepth episode discussion with a legion of loyal commenters; I think he’s a bit too harsh on Baltar, but I think that I know where he’s coming from.
- Todd VanDerWerff at The House Next Door mediates between his eight-year-old self and his critical side when analyzing the episode, successfully marrying the two (as I think most critics have had to do).
- Bear McCreary has his blog post about the episode up, where he even insinuates that next week required MORE action cues, which implies it could be even more epic in scale. That’s just plain intense.
So…is it next Friday yet? “Blood on the Scales” can’t come soon enough.
January 30th, 2009
“Every revolution begins with one small act”
This was what Tom Zarek told Felix Gaeta when they made their uneasy alliance at the end of “A Disquiet Follows My Soul,” and the events of “The Oath” are in many ways the result of this particular theory, if not quite in the way that Zarek meant these words.
Fundamentally, yes, the act of mutiny that begins at 0630 hours was in fact one small act that would spiral into something much large, but at this point it is impossible to consider any action or any event as anything but a culmination of past tensions. The entire episode is spent taking a trip down memory lane: to Anders’ days back on Caprica surviving the Cylon attack, to the fight of the resistance on New Caprica, to the treasonous activities during the reunion of Galactica and Pegasus, they all played a role in who these people are and how they came to be there. They all took an oath, every single one of them, and although that Oath has been tested it is in this moment that they will make a decision.
The result is quite literally a showdown between the present and the past, one that each character on an individual level is forced to reconcile. Despite being the most action-packed episode perhaps of the entire season thus far, and featuring in my mind the most tense and human-driven action we’ve seen since “Pegasus,” this was much less about the action than it was about what it meant to the people involved. From grunt marines to basic civilians to the former political and military leaders of these people, humanity is indeed at a crossroads, and this is as much an inner revolution of their minds as it is an attempt to take over control of Galactica.
Every revolution may begin with a small act, but “The Oath” was anything but small, and certainly represents a return to seat of your pants, edge of your seat engagement without sacrificing the psychological investigation of characters that truly sets the show apart.
Season Four, Episode 10
Airdate: June 13th, 2008
When Battlestar Galactica ended its third season, it had left two primary questions for the fourth and final season to answer: who is the final Cylon, and when will humanity reach Earth. By the end of “Revelations,” it had answered one of these questions, but it had more importantly done what the season had been somewhat slow to do: to take the third season’s cliffhanger and elevate it to the show’s grandest scale.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the fourth season was a failure in this regard, but the reveal of four of the final five Cylon models was always going to remain small until the entire fleet knew their identities. While episodes like “The Ties that Bind” show the ramifications of this not-at-all simple fact on certain individuals, and the entire season dealt with the internal psychological turmoil (or discovery), it never felt like the season could really take off until more people were aware of their identities.
And in “Revelations,” this became true: as the show ramped up the interest in discovering the final Cylon model, resurrecting D’Anna and bringing the question of Otherness between humanity and Cylons into greater focus by bringing the two sides into a tenuous alliance, it seemed like the ideal time to throw all caution and secrecy to the wind and reveal their identities to the entirety of the fleet.