“The Day We Died”
May 6th, 2011
While I intended on writing something following the Fringe finale all week, I expected it to be a piece about how my general distance from the series made the finale less satisfying than it may have been for its hardcore fans. As the anticipation has been building online, I found myself with absolutely no investment in the series or its characters: while John Noble continues to give a really tremendous performance, the entire back end of the season has squandered a lot of the engagement I had with the series. I wasn’t looking forward to explaining why, to be honest: I don’t think there’s a simple answer, and I don’t exactly wear my inability to be a “fan” of this show as some sort of badge of honor.
However, it turns out that my lack of attachment is maybe the only thing keeping me from feeling outright ripped off by this awkward, poorly written, and yet unquestionably ballsy finale. In the final moments of “The Day We Died,” the show throws a hail mary that is designed to have fans both panicking and frantically revisiting previous episodes to discover either a loophole or some sort of reasoning for such a drastic turn of events.
For me, meanwhile, it’s the one breath of life in an episode which created too many problems for itself to properly tap into any of the pathos introduced earlier in the season, returning instead to vague generalities mapped onto poorly defined MacGuffins of little import or value. And, thankfully, I didn’t care enough to be outraged about it.
October 17th, 2010
“Are you kidding me?!”
I’m extremely glad that Faye Miller actually said this during the episode, so I could pull quote it instead of saying itself myself. But, seriously: is Mad Men kidding me?
“Tomorrowland,” like its namesake, was supposed to be about potential: it was supposed to show us a way for Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to survive, and a way for Don Draper to reconcile his identity crisis and move forward. It was about charting a new path after tobacco, working with the Cancer society and making plans for whatever the future might hold.
Instead, “Tomorrowland” drops us off with ten weeks of no business, a vacation conundrum, and a series of circumstances which is precisely the opposite of last season’s closer: instead of building excitement, “Tomorrowland” builds nothing but dread, creating scenarios that test our patience with these characters, and even the show itself.
Unless you’re a huge fan of total uncertainty and absolute chaos, chances are “Tomorrowland” was more disturbing than enlightening – the question, of course, is whether it is still good television.
And I think that answer, despite my frustration, is yes.
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.