Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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Why I love the new Battlestar Galactica, Part 2

Last Sunday, I wrote a short essay on what I find so great about the new BSG and why I wouldn't give it up for Lost or money.

Today I'll be a bit less formal and give you an example by way of review, from this past weekend's episode:

"Resurrection Ship", Part 2 comments

  • Expectations. The Chief's spiral into discontent continues, but interestingly, I think Agathon's story is starting to contrast nicely with Baltar's. Even as people are telling them at every turn that the second Boomer Cylon is not real, they see her as everything real: autonomous, incomplete in her comprehension of the Cylon empire, capable of choices that are not only independent from that of the first Boomer Cylon, but likely to be different because of circumstance. It's not what you know, it's whom you know.

  • You use those words "death wish" a lot... I think Cain had a death wish, but she let Adama speak to Starbuck first. Do you think she knew that Starbuck was ordered to assassinate her? If so, it would mean that she was expecting to be dead before she could give her XO the go-ahead to execute Code Orange.

  • Justice: come get some; or, good, bad, I'm the Cylon with the gun. How did Gina ever make it to Cain's quarters unchallenged, is what I'm wondering. And how does Baltar expect to get her off Pegasus? It's not as if amnesty even for Agathon and Tyrol is a foregone conclusion.

  • XOs with cojones. I found myself laughing in relief with the unlucky Pegasus XO, who stood on the bridge of the Galactica with orders similar to Starbuck's. I don't know about you, but I expected a juxtaposition of the reprieved and the condemned like until Joseph's jail-mates in Genesis. Maybe it's from watching ER too much; they like to set survivor against tragic victim, oh, several times a week. How oblivious do you think Adama was to the double-double-cross? The grin on his face was perhaps the goofiest I've ever seen on him outside of Roslin's presence.

  • Where'd them aiuas get to? aiua, writes Orson Scott Card, is the Sanskrit word for "life" connoting "spirit", and as such may be equivalent to Greek pneuma or Hebrew ruach. (Someone who knows: please correct me if I'm wrong.) In any case, the resurrection ship is a fascinating concept: an attractor or receptor of aiuas, or fear if you're a Tolkienologist.1 What happens to aiuas that don't make it back to a reincarnation node? Leoben implied that these nodes held a measure of the divine for Cylons; does this imply that the Cylon belief system imputes the physical locus of God to their places of rebirth? What is the range of an aiua? What is the airspeed of an unladen aiuaswallow?

  • The good die young; the amoral live a myriad years. "Resurrection Ship, Part 2" gives us a good heroic conceit: Apollo died in action. Look for plain Lee Adama, mortal, tarnished, divested of some of his ideals, to return. The craft that rescued him (was it a Viper?) is a resurrection ship too, but it's a darkness he's being reborn to... the familiar one in which almost every other remnant of the human race lives. An interesting juxtaposition with his father's change of heart.

  • Grey is the new black. So they say. It's true. Adama's slow pendulum swing holds more twists than that of many an antihero. It reminds me of Smallville's Clark Kent, only not as stultifyingly lame. ;-) His is an archetypal morality play, and of all the things about the reimagining that make me want to applaud Larson, Adama's transition - from a predictable paternal figure in the old series to a gritty, conflicted leader trying to make difficult choices and still hold onto his soul - comes first. He's larger than life, yet smaller than the sterile fiction of the old commander.

  • Pegasus Rising? I don't expect Pegasus to become Lloyd Bridges' ship now, nor even a reflection of her little sister Galactica's, but hey, the show has never been Battlestar Pegasus. "Flagship" has limited meaning in the Colonial Fleet whose story has enthralled us. I think the XO of Pegasus will have significant morale and loyalty problems, though it will be interesting to set him beside Adama and Tigh if and when Cain is gone. Hauntings are hauntings, but alcoholism and shirking of responsibility are just that, and get old quickly. Look for the unburied blood to cry out to him with frequency, though, more than Tigh's once-off episode of "from the darkness you must fall, failed and weak, to darkness all".

  • Free at last, free at last, thank the Lords of Kobol, we're free at last! I hope Colonial One will be Roslin's resurrection ship, too. She reminds me in these apparently final moments of Card's Lehi-inspired patriarchs, of Dr. Greene from ER imparting that last bit of wisdom to his errant daughter, and most especially of the Mosaic commander of Space Battleship Yamato. To quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she's seen the promised land, but may not get there with us.

I don't see Starbuck's choice as irrevocable. She was prepared to do it, but the relief she expressed in her reply to Adama, "that seems like a wise choice to me, sir", rings true. I think they all came back from that one, though not without scars.

And that's the thing I love about BSG. There are no reset buttons, there are no epic cataclysms to render the moral progress or failings moot. Ever rise, every fall leaves its mark. Every cynicism exacts its toll, and every choice solidifies the collective resolve of humanity - this microcosm that must serve (for all it knows) as the seed of the race reborn. That's why Baltar is beyond fascina
ting to me now. It's why I actually care about the hybrid children, the Caprican survivors... and yes, even that lonely quest for a shining planet known as Earth.

Well, that's about all I had to say about BSG this time around.

On Stargate: Atlantis

A fast time episode! Yay! And OMG, they were using fast time to hasten their ascension latency between Wraith cullings. So brilliant - why didn't I think of it? Oh, wait, I did! I had postulated uses of fast time to taiji_jian just before Nanowrimo, and one of my suggested uses was "overclocking": being able to think (or in this case, meditate) faster to beat the clock. The clock here is a periodic holocaust; in other story universes, it is the final extinction of the planet due to some inevitable cataclysm, solar death, etc. "Winning" here means ascension, a spiritual singularity; in other universes, it entails some technological singularity such as the emergence of Skynet (Terminator canon) or the Ultimate AI (Simmons' Hyperion/Endymion among many others); in others, the emergence of Teihardian Unanimization (May's Intervention and Galactic Milieu trilogy, McCaffrey's Talents, Simmons' Endymion, etc.)

That's one thing that always bothered me about the Matrix. The Machines consider their native "speed of living" to be fast time, and the most accomplished and enlightened human minds have broken some of the barriers to fast time, but neither side really exploits fast time save to dodge bullets and kick people in cool, gravity-defying ways.

As for the episode: McKay and Shep get separated, and for nearly a subjective half year! Oh, noes, no one to riff off of! Shep, of course, considers this his cue to seek jamaharon with the imminently incorporeal womenfolk. If he were Commander Riker, Major Kira, or Commander Chakotay... well, let's just say there would be a lot of salamanderQ-babies (dead or alive) by the second season of the show.

The ending left me scratching my head. The people of the Cloister are the soon-to-be-ascended "cream of operant humanity" - a group of people who are gaining metapsychic powers so quickly that if they lived in May's Galactic Milieu, they would be considered to have passed from latents and suboperants to all-Lylmik in a few generations. Yet they don't recognize their "own hate made manifest"? Well, I guess this is another Fury Effect, only condensed to one hour instead of spread across two and a half books.

"What is it about you and ascended women?" LOL. He's their Kirk, see.

On Stargate: SG-1, "Collateral Damage"

Wow, not a bad murder mystery at all. I have to admit I was suckered right into the red herring of the prime minister's fight with Dr. Varen. By the way, wasn't there an episode of Star Trek: Voyager that was very similar in plot and premise to this? In that one, Tom Paris had an affair with a woman on a planet that Voyager visited, and she turned out to be married to a late middle-aged scientist who ended up murdered. The episode starts off, like this one, after the murder, and proceeds with flashbacks and involves memory transfer; however, Tom's memory is of the victim's last moments rather than the perpetrator's, and it is openly and deliberately implanted as his sentence for a murder of which he had already been tried and summarily convicted. In this one, Mitchell gets fairly free rein in trying to clear his name, though he finally has to dredge up some painful memories (of inadvertently bombing civilian refugees in the Middle East due to faulty intelligence that was rescinded just after he pushed the button). The other common denominator in both shows is that justice is swift and severe ("too late, he's already been arrested and arraigned/tried and sentenced").

Dr. Reya Varen was very cute, but Lt. Col. Mitchell seems to have skipped some briefings on offworld liaising... or, more cogently, the Handbook of Space Patrolmen, Chapter 10: Frame-jobs.

At least they didn't keep saying "memory engram" as they did on Voyager. I think the coda, where Varen's assistant tells Mitchell that the memory has been purged, rings untrue - unless they also erased his memories about his investigation, which involved playback of the implanted memories.

Actually, the very brief vignette of Mitchell with his father, a former test pilot and convalescent double amputee, reminds me of Archer's relationship with his father on Enterprise - but I'll save that commentary for another night.

1 If you are a serious Tolkien reader, you may recall that Mandos acts as a sort of reflector for fear, though there is Ainuric judgement involved in actually setting the "countdown to reincarnation". It's never been quite explained to me just how it is that Orcish fear transmigrate - particularly how they get out so quickly if they get the same opportunity for reincarnation as their Elvish forebears. If so, we can infer at least that the "sentence" is not purely a judgement of sin or purity, nor Namo's role intercessory (for Elves). Time in incorporeal form seems to be a function of "fundamental nature" as much as impact on Arda, good and ill deeds committed in life, manner of end, even personal choice.

Tags: atlantis, bsg, sg-1, stargate

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