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.