Tag Archives: Revelations

Cultural Catchup Project: Bewitched, Bothered but Familiar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Bewitched, Bothered but Familiar

May 19th, 2010

You can follow along with the Cultural Catchup Project by following me on Twitter (@Memles), by subscribing to the category’s feed, or by bookmarking the Cultural Catchup Project page where I’ll be posting a link to each installment.

As viewers of television, we value the element of surprise: we like to be shocked, to see things we didn’t expect and get that surge of adrenaline that comes with the best kind of storytelling. However, at the same time, we want to feel as if things are familiar: we may not want to be able to predict precisely what will happen, but we do want to have some sense of how things would play out should something unexpected unfold. In short, the best television delivers familiarity within the unfamiliar, going beyond our expectations without shattering our understanding of these characters or this universe.

With a show like Buffy, the greatest challenge is separating the intense fan responses to the series from the characters themselves. When Angel suddenly returned from the realms of Hell and struggled to reconnect with his past life, I was pleased: he’s an interesting character who complicates the protagonist’s life in fascinating ways, so why wouldn’t I want him to return and bring with him the baggage from “Becoming?” However, I realized in “Revelations” that the rest of the show’s characters wouldn’t be quite so pleased to see him, their own reactions to Angel as a character separate from their enjoyment of complex serialized narratives.

Angel’s return was unpredictable (except for the decision to keep him in the opening credits, of course), but the way in which characters respond feels familiar, continuous with what we’ve seen in the past two seasons. And when the show turns over the spotlight onto the character’s past in “Amends,” as he becomes weighed down by the intense guilt pervasive within his soul, it manages to capture the unique qualities which make the character so difficult to relate to and thus so easy to empathize with – this is not a show with one-dimensional struggles, and Angel’s return manages to be both dramatic and intriguing without turning any of the show’s characters into single-minded archetypes in the chaos surrounding his mysterious return.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Battlestar Galactica – “Revelations”

timecapsulebsg

“Revelations”

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.

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(Mid) Season Finale: Battlestar Galactica – “Revelations”

“Revelations”

June 13th, 2008

Since New Caprica, Battlestar Galactica has been a series defined by the intersection of two races – of their people, their beliefs, their actions and their futures. At odds with one another from the moment the Miniseries began, humans and Cylons have slowly but surely centralized into two groups of people who are searching for a greater purpose and a greater understanding. When the Cylons occupied humanity on New Caprica, Caprica Six and the other Cylon leaders felt that they were meant to co-exist – of course, one cannot force such a peace as easily as they had hoped.

No, it takes the right moment for that to happen, which is perhaps the very definition the show’s purpose in the first half of its fourth and final season. It seems as if the search for Earth is, in fact, that point of intersection: conveniently for the series’ narrative, the human desire to discover a new home on Earth requires the discovery of the Final Cylon models, the discovery of which is the goal of the current batch of renegade Cylons. And so we have spent nine episodes bringing these two groups together, now finally reaching the point where all the pieces are in play.

We started the season with a mysteriously untouched viper and four newly found Cylons, and they return here to ask the question of everyone on each side of the conflict: are you willing to accept the intertwined fate of these two peoples, or will old wounds win the day? As the driving force behind a tense showdown with an infinite number of potential outcomes, “Revelations” proves something we knew all along: that few shows on television can have us questioning everything as easily as this one, and that no show on television can measure up because of it. Plus, after all the questions are over, we’re left facing an answer we never saw coming, and a future that waiting seven months for will be, well, a frakkin’ bitch.

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Preparing for ‘Revelations’: Revisiting Battlestar Galactica Season Four Thus Far

It’s apparently streaming on SciFi.com, so I’m avoiding any and all discussion of anything even close to tonight’s midseason finale of Battlestar Galactica, “Revelations.” All signs point towards an intense and dramatic hour of television, so I’ll definitely be bracing myself for something engaging this evening. For now, however, thought I’d leave some links to my reviews of each week’s episode (With a pull quote!) so that we can remind ourselves what’s happened so far, and mentally prepare ourselves for what should prove a most stimulating forty three minutes.

After the jump, meanwhile, you can see how my views on certain episodes may have changed over time.

BSG Season Four So Far

“He That Believeth in Me”

“I actually quite loved the episode: laughed out loud, gasped in horror, loved the acting, etc. It’s just that after such a huge revelation, what was put on the screen was everything we had already imagined as fans of the series dealing with a year-long hiatus. And, well, that’s kind of a let down.”

“Six of One”

“You see, everyone’s a little bit Starbuck right now. Everyone sees a path ahead of them that they know they want to follow, and yet at the same time it seems as if everything is heading in the opposite direction. Everyone is worried about what will become of them if things don’t go their way: Roslin is worried about dying as the nobody she once was; Adama is worried about losing everyone around him and dying alone; Lee is worried about the runaway train he’s on away from his life, essentially; and the final four Cylon models are worried about, well, everything.”

“The Ties That Bind”

“I’m not saying that what we saw from Nikki Clyne last night was revolutionary performance, but Michael Taylor managed to draw from her past in order to craft, at the very least, an intriguing point of representation. Cally, through anti-depressant fueled journeys, becomes a loose cannon – she is suspicious and paranoid in her altered state, and begins to suspect Tyrol is hiding something. Upon investigation, she stumbles across his biggest secret, and all of a sudden Cally has gone from nuisance to all-out ticking time bomb.

And then it went off, much sooner than I think any of us expected.”

“Escape Velocity”

“…while certainly a lighter episode on plot than we are used to, there was nothing overly objectionable about its content. Considering that the themes of the season are very much returning to the opening of the second season and the division within the fleet along religious lines, it is good that we are seeing more of both politics and people relating to this development. While I do think that a few of the storylines felt like they were getting either too much or too little time, and that there were certainly some balance or editing issues to deal with, the end result is a decent setup for the things to come.”

“The Road Less Traveled”

“Last week felt totally wrong when it comes to the central conceit of the season: the blurring of the line between human and Cylon is integral to defining the series moving forward, and this week we return to the concepts of shared destiny and identity within the context of the series. The result is a sharper episode, one that feels like we are, indeed, traveling down a particular road as the two storylines missing last week converge.”

“Faith”

“I am kind of wary on “Faith,” if only because on a plot level it didn’t even live up to the low standards that I provided for it. It is one thing to spend a quarter of the episode with a very character/mythology driven story for Laura Roslin, that’s earned considering the show and Mary McDonnell’s respective pedigrees; the big problem is that the dramatic payoff to the Demetrius payoff was neither suspenseful nor dramatic on a broad plot level. We already knew what Kara Thrace learns from the Hybrid, we pretty well presumed what was going to be the end result of their journey, and outside of a random leg injury I never felt like anything was truly in jeopardy.”

“Guess What’s Coming to Dinner”

“Here, we have everything: the subtle character moments (albeit in smaller number than episodes past), the haunting thematics, the secret agendas, the political intrigue, the mythology of the series emerging, the cliffhanger endings, and most of all the kind of acting that you just don’t get on other shows these days. The episode leaves us with so many unanswered questions that you’d swear we are leaving for a lengthy break starting now as opposed to in (likely) a month’s time.”

“Sine Qua Non”

““Sine Qua Non” is an episode about losing control, or losing some element which is integral to existence. The latin meaning of the phrase, at least according to my extensive knowledge of using Wikipedia, is “without which (there is) nothing.” For various characters in our universe, this phrase has distinct meaning, and the episode does a strong job of emphasizing this fact in both subtle and broad fashions.”

“The Hub”

“it’s hard to screw up what the show does best, an intersection of human and Cylon combined with meaningful action sequences and a spiritual journey for humanity’s dying leader. There’s a certain diversity in the episode’s tone that could turn some off, with some strangely humorous or laid back sequences, but when much of it was given to Mary McDonnell and James Callis it was at least in good hands. By grounding itself in both the ongoing plot and the series’ central characters and themes, the episode can’t help but provide momentum into the final episode of the year.”

So that’s the season so far…but are all of these pull quotes still representative?

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