As part of my thesis research, I have been watching parts of Battlestar Galactica’s second season. I think I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed this show, as its twists and turns felt just as fantastic now as they were before. I started listening to the commentaries provided by Ronald D. Moore, the developer and executive producer of the series, and on the one for “Pegasus” he noted that perhaps one day they would bring Michelle Forbes’ Admiral Cain back and tell the story of her ship’s journey in the post-attack era. Having watched Battlestar Galactica: Razor just before listening to said commentary, I couldn’t help but grin.
It’s important to note, however, that this doesn’t only tell the story of Admiral Cain. This is really the story of Kendra Shaw, a young officer who arrives on Pegasus just moments before the Cylon attack on Caprica. Much like Forbes before her, Stephanie Jacobsen flawlessly integrates into this cast. Her introduction helps us overcome the fact that it’s very difficult to surprise us – for better or for worse, we know how this story (which takes places, timeline wise, in the show’s second season) ends.
What Razor succeeds at is remaining an entertaining and interesting two-hour event even if, in the end, its resolution feels like a bit of a let-down. It takes the story of the Pegasus, told only in gripping conversations between Col. Tish and Col. Fisk (Pegasus’ XO) in the series, and plays it out in dramatic fashion. I can understand why some people might perhaps find this predictable, but I personally felt that this story was strong enough to justify a little fleshing out – its themes resonate through the entire series, so it certainly fits into the series’ motif nicely.
Plus, it’s not just about Pegasus: the story interweaves into three distinct timelines, and between them present an engaging and exciting “film” of sorts. And, really, that’s what we need to tide us over until the show’s fourth season begins.
[Warning: There will be some light to medium spoilers ahead]
Even though we know the fate of the Pegasus’ XO, or immediately recognize that Gina is imprisoned and tortured by the crew in the future, there is some nice colouring done to their characters to maintain the impact of these actions. Gina, in particular, is given an interesting back story which adds to her actions in Resurrection Ship Part 2 – as a result, some elements of the film certainly do play as fan service as opposed to being part of a contained narrative.
That narrative is provided by Kendra Shaw, who is a sullen and defeated Cain loyalist who has been irreparably damaged by what she had to do under her command. Her loyalty to Cain, even in the time after her death, is intriguing – it certainly allows us to gain a greater respect for her decisions, something that was clearly intended by the Pegasus arc but was difficult to get across due to her being placed in direct opposition to our heroes. Technically, the storyline relies on almost all new characters, so the ability for Forbes and Jacobsen to carry this story is notable.
I almost wish we could have just gotten their story, to an extent: the other two plots are there as a way to keep fans interested as we get our requisite time spent with our credited cast members. The story on Galactica is focused on the discovery of old-style Cylon raiders – yes, the same type of Cylon raiders seen in the original 1970s series, except much prettier. This provides some moment of camp, always refreshing in small doses, but more importantly brings the cylon mythology into play. The discussion of how the transformation from the mechanical models to the biomechanical models took place takes center stage, and it provides some intriguing insight.
But, it really kind of slows down the show’s narrative, and the way the two intersect (Along with flashbacks to Adama’s first introduction to this Cylon process) at the end feels contrived. However, I think that taking it out of its narrative context and into the context of the series, it provides some key information in piecing together the Cylon story. Plus, the special effects are fantastic and the film does end with a brilliant nod ahead to the show’s fourth season.
Battlestar Galactica airs on Space in Canada and SciFi in the U.S. tonight (November 24th) at 9pm EST, and releases on DVD on December 4th with an extended edition that might fix some of the small narrative issues I have with it. In the meantime, I need to get back to “researching my thesis”, a term much more enjoyable when it is synonymous with watching Battlestar Galactica commentaries.
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