You know, where they do the “on this episode” flashes? Doesn’t matter that I’ve seen it all before; I still Will. Not. Watch. I hide my eyes and everything. Also, it annoys me a lot that they included that on the DVD versions.
1.3: Bastille Day
I don’t think I realised what the title of this episode was when I first watched it. It’s incredibly resonant, of course, and for me at the moment even more so – I’m teaching the French Rev this year, again, and I’ve been furiously reading books about it. Bastille Day, for those vague on the details, is popularly seen as the ‘official’ beginning of the French Revolution: a crowd of people in Paris stormed the Bastille, a prison regarded as a symbol of the king’s oppression in the middle of Paris. The irony, of course, is that when they got in there were only about 7 inmates – and none of them were in for political reasons. (If you follow Schama, it’s also indicative of the violence that escalated basically until Napoleon took control). Here, of course, although there are 1500 prisoners who have presumably committed a variety of crimes, the focus is entirely on one: Tom Zarek. (And when I discovered that he was Apollo in the original series, my mind nearly exploded.) Freedom fighter or terrorist, Zarek manages to capture (our) Apollo and friends when they come to ask the prisoners to do hard labour to get water for the fleet. And what he demands is elections across the fleet. The very fact that it was called Bastille Day is indicative, I think, of where the sympathies of the show’s creators lie; most people regard the day as a good thing in the progression towards democracy. And so, when this possibly evil man is demanding exactly the sorts of things that reasonable people have been demanding in Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma the last few years… well. The writers are not making this an easy show to watch.
Also, I love the ending, where Apollo has to face up to his father and the President and announce he has committed them to elections. It’s exactly like a kid being hauled up before his parents.
1.4: Act of Contrition
It’s all about Starbuck. She may get a bit annoying in places, over four seasons, but this show is just all about Starbuck here.
To start the episode with a flash of Starbuck falling through atmosphere is very clever – the fact that they don’t make it clear whether this is a flashback, or a dream, or what adds significantly to the tension. The further flashbacks to her with Zac, and then her first meeting with the Commanders – when we the viewers already know what she did and how guilty she feels – are superb and very effective. I really appreciate how conflicted they make Starbuck; it’s not overdone, and it doesn’t come out in every single action, but it’s clearly always there. As it would be. It also tells you something about the show that in the fourth episode they have one of the main characters possibly die. No punches pulled.
This episode also has Roslin chatting to the fleet doctor about her breast cancer. I’m still not entirely sure what I make of that particular plot point. Of course it leads to the whole ‘dying leader’ thing, and it has a slight side discussion of ‘alternative’ vs mainstream medicine, plus the whole ‘how to deal with terminal illness’ thing. It also makes her more vulnerable and human, which I like; it matches, I guess, with Adama’s grief over Zac.
So this one finishes as a cliffhanger; Starbuck has fallen on to the planet, oh nooo!! We had only planned to watch two episodes… but we couldn’t just LEAVE her there.
1.5: You Can’t go Home Again
Ah, the rescue of Starbuck. Which is awesome because she rescues herself; that’s my girl. I love, love, love that the Cylon raider is a genuine cyborg, and I am willing to overlook all of the issues of how Starbuck learns to control the thing for the very fact that she does, and it’s so very awesome.
The other fascinating aspect is how Starbuck’s absence affects both Adama men – they can’t handle it. Roslin suggests it’s because she’s their last connection to Zac; I think it’s also guilt, especially from Adama Sr, that he drove her to the point of having to be (more) rash. And for Apollo… yes well, we know where that particular relationship goes (if you’ve seen it that is. If you haven’t, why are you reading this?). Roslin also highlights the military vs civilian issue that is going to continue plaguing the fleet: the military (well, Adama) making decisions that affect everyone, but aren’t necessarily the right ones to make for everyone.
Finally, it totally freaks me out that they smoke onboard a spaceship. WTH??
I considered trying to have interesting titles for all of my posts, but… that’s a lotta titles.
I discovered on watching this just how much of the detail I have forgotten, which is quite pleasant actually – it makes rewatching it seem more worthwhile. In this episode – officially the first of the series – the Galactica and its ragtag band of civvie ships has made 287 ftl jumps, every 33 minutes, only just escaping the Cylons each time. They’re all on the ragged edge, and you just know something is going to happen. We also flash to Helo, on Caprica, and get a fair bit of Baltar being lovey-dovey and insane with Six.
Of course, forgetting details also means that you have to go through the agony of (re)discovering horrible things, like…
The Olympic Carrier. It wasn’t until Dee announces with surprise that the Carrier was back with the fleet, after being left behind on the last jump, that I remembered what happened. And oh boy, that’s unpleasant. Yet again we have the President and the Commander having to make dreadful, heart-wrenching decisions. (And as we find out in the next ep, it’s Apollo that seems to suffer most from doing it).
The crew after 100+ hours sans sleep is a fascinating study in character. Tigh just bulls on through, Starbuck gets wilder, Adama gets grittier, and everyone else does ragged and near-crazy exceptionally well.
And finally, we get Helo on Caprica, getting ‘rescued’ by a Sharon. Doesn’t that just put the cat amongst the pigeons, so to speak? Especially when she kills a Six in order to do so….
The thing I’ve paid closer attention to on this watch, aside from the plot, is the character relationships. The one I really noticed this time is that between the Chief and Callie: at this time, he’s involved with Boomer, but eventually of course these two get hitched. It’s interesting to see them at this point, where it’s very much a master/apprentice relationship. And, of course, Apollo and Adama continue to be a fascinating study in parent/child attitudes. I love them more this time than last.
Oops. Boomer wakes up and discovers she doesn’t know where she’s been or what she’s done. And then there’s an explosion – oh no! – and lots and lots of water is lost. Then we go water hunting. We also get back to Helo and Boomer on Caprica.
Put like that, it sounds like a boring episode – and for the second in the series that seems quite weird. But it sets the scene: aside from battling Cylons, the point of the show really is the day to day minutiae, the little things that make it possible for not-quite-50,000 people to survive in space while being hunted down. And water is, of course, utterly essential to that survival. So I like that after the adrenaline rush of 33, we get an episode focussed on something no less vital, but way less sexy.
This episode makes me realise I am not a huge fan of Boomer. I think this is partly because I don’t really rate the actress, Grace Park, that highly, and also because I find this iteration of her a bit too whingy; curiously I think Athena – the one who is currently with Helo – is more interesting. On one level this makes no sense, while on another it’s a great tribute to the writers of the show in differentiating members of the same Cylon model.
We get more lovely moments of Roslin/Adama here: they bond over books, they have misunderstandings that at least this time are resolved quite gracefully, and in their individual interactions with Apollo they demonstrate fascinatingly different takes on leadership. Adama says ‘suck it up and take it like a man'; Roslin says in private, at least, learn from your mistakes and be honest with yourself.
Finally, we get more of Six banging on (heh heh) at Baltar about religion, which really started in 33. There are things here about monotheism vs polytheism, and attitudes towards God/the gods, that I still haven’t got my head around. Hopefully I’ll be able to do so over the course of the series.
We went back to the survivors of the Cylon attack just as the Chief and friends are getting into Ragnar Anchorage, to get the stored munitions… and they find someone there ahead of them. Surprise!
Again, this second half of the mini series reinforced the emotional power and extreme detail that I’d been reminded of in the first half. Roslyn impressed me this time around more than I remember from the first time; she is so self-contained – in public at least – and already we see the cost that she personally pays for making the hard decisions: leave thousands to certain death to ensure that some of them survive. Who would ever want to be responsible for that? But she takes it in her stride and just does it. And her encounter with Commander Adama is wonderful too. That she asks straight out whether he plans on a military coup, and then he seems to ignore her but only a few minutes later is repeating her words and realises she’s right… it really does set their relationship up for the rest of the series.
A couple of other things that struck me in this half: first, the aesthetic. Having recently been made aware of corridors in sf movies/tv, I was hyper aware of them here. Some are claustrophobic, some are large and airy, but on the Galactica at least they’re all – at this stage – very samey. This makes sense, of course, but it contributes to the feeling of being in a maze and being lost – much like the situation they find themselves in. The other thing is that in the beginning, everything was so controlled: it’s organised, and neat, and orderly, and everyone basically knows where they should be and what they’re doing. Over the mini series, things slowly get more chaotic and untidy, and from memory this is something that continues inexorably. It’s a really nice aspect and is indicative of the care given to details in the whole show.
What else? Starbuck being Starbuck – that awesome move to save Apollo really sets the tone for her character, even more than her biff with Tigh (do we ever learn his call sign? I don’t think we do). Baltar began to grate on me already in this section, the self-serving, arrogant, little twit, but I enjoyed Six more than last time: I think Helfer is actually a really good actress, and I’m looking forward to seeing her in her other roles – although that will also be painful. And Adama lying about Earth?? Outrageous, and yet… so noble, in an odd sort of way. The revelation of Earth as the thirteenth colony obviously didn’t do anything for me this time, but last time – what a clever, clever idea.
And there are the cylons. I love, love love the final scene, and the revelation that Boomer is a cylon. I don’t remember how I reacted when I first saw it, but what a gut-tearing discovery. There’s been so much effort to build Boomer up as a character: having to abandon Helo on Caprica, her illicit love affair with Chief, being nice to that annoying kid… and then BAM. Ow my heart. Damn you Larsen et al.
J has been at me for a good 18 months to do a Battlestar Galactica rewatch. I’ve been putting it off because… well… it just HURT the first time around. A lot. But he has proposed that we watch the entire thing over the whole year – so rather than watching a disk a night, which we may have been known to do (erm… a lot…), we’re going to treat it more like actual TV. Spread the load around. Rip the bandaid off slowly, you might say.
Anyway, we started by watching half of the mini series tonight, and the first thing that struck me was how young they all looked. The Chief was positively sveldt! Starbuck was mischievous and young! Above all, Adama and Roslin without four years of command? Not children by any means, but not haggard either.
The second thing that struck me was the familiarity of all those faces. Gaita! Tigh! Helo! Dee! Billy (whom I’d totally forgotten)!… and Baltar, Boomer, Apollo, Six, and *sigh* Starbuck. It felt just a little bit like a reunion. So silly, but true.
I’d forgotten a fair bit of the detail of what happens in the mini series. The actual start, with Six sauntering in and distracting the Colonial officer while he’s being blown up; Roslin being told about her cancer; the tension between Commander and Captain Adama. I had forgotten that ‘Head Six’ appears to Baltar almost immediately (in that dress), and the tension between civil and military rule already appearing – and Apollo siding with Roslin. I’m not sure I ever noticed before that spooling up the FTL was a dangerous move, and that Chief nearly KOs the XO because of the people who die in the decompression.
There is so much going on. So much that we decided to break the mini series when the Galactic arrives at Ragnok because we needed the breathing space. But, for all that I had visions of the deaths of most of these characters from later in the series, I’m glad we’re watching it again. I look forward to catching the hints I missed the first time, and focussing on detail because I won’t have to focus quite so much on plot.
I also enjoyed yelping “CYLON!” when I saw that nasty little PR type. Boo hiss.
I have finally found someone else who likes BSG! Hallelujah!
The story goes like this:
Friend happens to find out we have been watching it – not sure how; maybe I confessed I was tired because we were watching it too late at night. He then admits that he got hooked on the first season. But – and here is the tragedy of the story – he doesn’t have broadband and didn’t know that the second season was out on DVD. So you know what he’s been doing?
Oh yes. Reading the scripts.
So I fed his addiction and gave him season 2 – which he watched in the holidays – and then season 3. He just finished season 3 last night, so we were able to have a good old yak about it today. It was so nice to talk to someone else about it!! Somehow talking to the person you watch it with – that is, J – isn’t quite the same as finding someone who has watched it independently.
We bought the pilot of the new BSG a couple of weeks ago. We’re watching it right now. Gosh it’s good. And it’s interesting on a couple of levels, having almost got to the end of season 3 (not quite up to where America is, because our friend hasn’t come through with them yet…). The blokes who put on weight and lost hair; Starbuck looking quite young, although just as cocky and arrogant as I remember enjoying. And spotting the people I now know are Cylons! Eeek.
Ooooh Helo giving up his seat for Baltar… makes me mad.
And hearing the music for the first time, again – like when the raiders arrive – very poignant.
I do like this series, I have a friend who refuses to watch it because she loved the original so much… I think the original is one old series I won’t watch, because I like this one so much.