Monday, February 09, 2009

Our angst goes to eleven.

"So, want to go catch a movie later? Oh wait, sorry."

With only six new episodes left before the show heads off into the ether, I have to ask: what do you think about "Battlestar Galactica" so far this season? Be forewarned: spoilers ahead for those who haven't seen everything up to last Friday's episode, "Blood on the Scales."

I thought about being all coy with my assessment of the show, but I'm about ready to burst with wanting to talk about the damn thing, so I'll just come right out and say it: I think it's been brilliant and if this is the way the rest of the season finishes out, I'm fully on board with this show should go down as one of the best programs in TV history.

And here's why in two short words: moral ambiguity.

I'm one of those kooky people who likes my characters cast in shades of gray rather than black and white, good and bad. It's what I found fascinating about "The Sopranos." I hated everything Tony Soprano ever did but still, I couldn't help but like the guy on some level. I feel the same way about Oprah and Martha Stewart but that's neither here nor there.

This season, BSG is heaping on a big ol' helping of ambiguity and I've happily positioned myself at the head of the trough. Nearly every character is messing up somehow and unlike many other shows, those mistakes have consequences -- big ugly sticky consequences. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent two-parter, "The Oath" and "Blood on the Scales." After having his illusions shattered by Gaius Baltar on New Caprica, after having his leg shot off by a Cylon, after watching his best friend die by her own hand and after having a seriously trippy experience aboard a drifting Raptor, poor Felix Gaeta finally gets mad as hell and just won't take it anymore. He joins with professional rabble-rouser and part-time dink Tom Zarek to lead a coup against Admiral Adama and President Roslin to prevent the continuation of the human/Cylon alliance.

Needless to say, things go terribly, terribly wrong. And here's the brilliant part: as much as I found myself hating what Gaeta did, I sympathized with him. Admiral Adama has gone soft and been making very questionable decisions like leaving a Cylon as his second in command and pushing for the installation of Cylon technology in all the fleet's ships. President Roslin, the other half of the sorta, kinda Macbeth-ian pair, has given up and let the fleet drift. No one's in charge and the only thing steering the remains of the human race is entropy.

So there I am at the end of "Blood on the Scales," watching poor Felix pay the ultimate price for his actions and all I feel is anger at Adama for giving him a punishment he actually deserves. Yes, I'm mad at Adama for doing the right thing and I feel sympathy for Felix for doing the wrong thing. That's about as morally ambiguous as it gets -- and to me, that's masterful writing.

Somehow this entropy, this idea of humanity adrift and in danger, seems far scarier to me than the Cylon threat ever did. Maybe it's because, as BSG always has, it mirrors so well what's going on in our society today. There's fear over the recession, fear of a dangerous world, fear of global warming and fear of tomorrow. We want to believe we can solve our problems, but this show posits the idea that we're all just human and maybe that's not enough. Talk about terrifying. I admire a show with the balls to go this dark and even though it makes me want to take a Xanax before each episode, I'm willing to follow it right to the bitter end. Because somehow I have to believe it'll all be alright. Humanity is nothing if not optimistic, right?

Besides, you've gotta love a show that injures so many people with writing utensils and then refers to the victims as "pen pals." I'd hate to see what they could do with paper cuts.


Nightfall said...

I completely agree. I can totally see the arguments either way on Gaeta. I have no idea where I would fall in that situation. I mean, yeah, my first impulse is to tend and befriend (stupid girly impulses), but these folks killed almost everyone on Earth, which is like Hitler and Pol Pot (who combined for roughly 18 million deaths) times (6bil minus 50,000 survivors divided by 18mil, carry the 9...) 334!! 334 times worse than Hitler and Pol Pot combined.

Of course, those numbers don't mean anything until you think about how you'd feel if, say, Spain tossed some nukes incinerating your entire family, everyone you care about, everyone you ever knew. How would you feel towards Spaniards after that? Heck, I'd be hard pressed to see people with dark hair without grinding my teeth. Then your boss asks you to learn Spanish, work with a Spaniard, forgive and forget because some Spaniards are playing nice. Yeah, I'd resign so fast... consequences be damned.

Jen Anderson said...

I understand the hostility towards the Cylons, but not the Final 5. They're not the Cylons who bombed the colonies. Saul Tigh had nothing to do with it and remains loyal to Adama. Of course, Adama should've thought things through before leaving Tigh as XO, but no one in the fleet has thought of the final 5 as separate, even though they are.

During the first part, my heart just broke over all the killing that was going on. Less than 40,000 humans left and Gaeta and Zarek are ordering people to kill anyone who stands in their way.

And the trying to jump away leaving behind the 10 ships loyal to Roslin? Maybe they should've checked WHICH ships those were before deciding to abandon them. Maybe you don't leave the food ship behind, is all I'm saying.

Nightfall said...

Haha, Jen! I had the same thought like "Hello? Did someone check which side the *fuel* ship was on?"

Black Eyed Gurl said...

I gotta say the last 2 episodes (I dare say The Oath moreso) are two of the best episodes they have ever produced hands down. Plus Starbuck is back to being Starbuck. I actually jumped up and squeed and cheered when she kissed Lee. Yeah, I need a life & and husband...

Once again I am excited for what will happen on BSG, I want to see what happens. I mean what do you have left when the planet you were seeking is shit, the only allies you can find are former enemies, and oh yeah YOUR SHIP HAS A GIGANTIC FRAKKING CRACK IN THE FTL ROOM. Good Luck.

I would like to nominate Ron D Moore for Nerd man of the Month for March (cos that's when the show ends). Also I have to admit, on the sadistic scale? Moore makes Whedon look like an amateur!

If the ride is this fast and hard and horrible, I say get in the handbasket, we're going to hell!!!!!!

crone51 said...

Best Science Fiction TV show ever ( and mind you, I have been a Trekkie for 43 years) . One of the best TV shows ever. One of the best war stories ever.

And Felix. Sigh. Felix was way too pretty to die
BTW, I screamed loudly when the quorum was shot- and immediately got text messages from daughter and adult niece who were also screaming. My husband and I manage to insert BSG references into every conversation. I don't know what the heck we are going to do come March.
Is it Friday yet?

crone51 said...

And oh, Black Eyed Gurl? I have a husband and a life ( more or less) and had pretty much the same reaction you did to Lee and Kara's smooch. ;-)

Black Eyed Gurl said...

Thanks Crone51! Maybe he's still out there, until then I'll just live in my fantasy land (this fantasy land involves Helo, Anders and Lee constantly oiled up and partaking in greek-style wrestling... wait, what? Where am I?).

crone51 said...

Gurl, I like the way you think.

Lydian said...

i do not feel bad for felix in the slightest. he was doing some incredibly stupid shit, and not even doing it well. in his few moments of "triumph" he still came off as a cowrad and an incredibly bad actor. i'm happy he was executed. and as for the execution of tom-finally! that guy is GONE! no more coming out of the shawdows once a season to spice things up...

i wonder what will happen without him?

best part of the episode in my opinion was lee and kara. FINALLY! together again! as an unstoppable military duo! kicking ass! i have to say when lee became a policitican i was sad the bid farwell to the days where apallo and starbuck flew side by side protecting the fleet as the best pilots ever-hands down. i got some really nice season 1 flashbacks as i watched this episode.

this espisode was simply amazing.