Sunday, December 24, 2006
Losing the mystery
Thirty-three - Looking at the reactions to act one of season three, I am interested in this idea of the lost mystery of BSG, especially about the Cylons. James Callis said in the roundtable podcast that “33″ was his favorite episode, because the Cylons at that point were a complete unknown, and utterly terrifying. Like the shark in “JAWS,” they were almost a force of nature which acted according to rules we don’t understand, and every 33 minutes they appeared among us and tried to kill us.
I like the human Cylons, though. I’m glad that the show changed gears in season 2. Yes, BSG had this premise at first about enemy agents, and suspense about who they were and what they were trying to do (”How will they attack us THIS week?!”). But that kind of mystery is not sustainable. I look at X-Files as a cautionary tale. That show began with a handful of people, bravely pursuing the truth at social and personal risk, being ridiculed, against a great and powerful enemy in the shadows, trying to execute a long-term plan of incredible complexity with world-ending implications. You would be shown a little bit of truth, a glimpse, and then have it taken away. Friends would become enemies; no one could be trusted. Great.
But someday the heroes have to see the enemy, and say “They are ours.” The man behind the curtain has to be revealed. The protagonists and antagonists have to meet and fight, shout, or reason their way to resolution. X-Files refused to let the curtain fall, bring the house lights up, and let everyone take a final bow, and it left a bitter taste. The damned aliens were still out there, mysterious, ready to enslave everyone, which made the hero’s actions meaningless.
By the time I saw “Eye Of Jupiter,” I had a sense again that Earth is getting closer. I don’t want to see an eighth, ninth season of BSG; the show should be done, and Earth won or lost by then. I don’t need everything wrapped up in a bow; you can over-resolve a plot. It’s fine if I don’t know every last little detail about Cylon toiletry. So, I am glad about the changes in season 3. I see that there is a plan, where seeds laid earlier are starting to bear fruit (like the symbols in the Temple of “Eye of Jupiter” being identical to Starbuck’s paintings in her apartment on old Caprica, way back in the second ep of season two). I don’t think everything had been planned out in some sort of comprehensive outline, but that’s okay. The writers leave themselves room to wiggle, as long as they wiggle to a final act.
POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT: Highlight to read - On the Nature of Earth - I noticed in the writer’s meeting podcast that RDM talked about his idea being that the fleet would find Earth in a primitive state, not with starfaring technology and etc. Then, the Lords of Kobol and heroes like Apollo and Adama (who is himself in the early stages of deification, more on that later) would be the foundation for the Hellenic pantheon and the various hero-stories that come to us from antiquity.
Abel, punching out.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The Eye Of Jupiter
Thoughts on the last episode of Battlestar Galactica, season three, act one:
(Cylon) Pattern Recognition - Cylons are humans. They talk a good game about the "human pestilence," but once they took on human bodies, they clearly got the whole beautiful/ugly package called "human nature" as well. They get sick, have emotions like bloodlust and love, enjoy sex, and (most human of all) they have factions. They fight and disagree.
The main thing, maybe the only thing, which makes the Cylon different from humanity, is that they are fearless of death. Their bodies are utterly human, except for one small part (that doesn't even show up under the most rigorous medical scans) that allows for a certain amount of programming, the part that makes the downloading phenomena. A Cylon death releases a signal that transfers information and personality to a Resurrection Ship, though they must be fairly close. My theory is that a low-level transmission between individual Cylons shares something distinctive, an RFID, so that "Athena Eight" knows that this is not just any instance of Eight, but the "Boomer Eight" that shot Adama.
The Goo - It must be like the agar in a Petri dish. The beginning of any meat body always involves some warm, viscous fluid, whether inside an egg or a uterus.
Aaron Douglas' Gut - Audra. "Ouch," is all I can say.
Adama's Terms - He is absolutely ready to destroy the Eye. Better to deny it to the Cylons and take a chance that the Colonials will get to Earth first, even if it means being hounded all the way there, than to give it to the enemy and KNOW that they will get there first. However, another 18 people died in the passage to the Algae Planet, and at some point the attrition has to stop.
Baltar's Mind - I am reminded of something Jamie Bamber said during the roundtable podcast, which is that Baltar is the most seminal, most important human being in the story, and what he does will have more effect on the human race than anyone else, including Adama or Roslyn. For all his megalomania and conniving, treacherous nature, the guy is a genius. He is one of the handful of human beings (e.g. Alan Turing, Nicola Tesla, Einstein) whose intelligence is of such magnitude that it becomes actually strategic. It can affect the course of history.
Anders and Kara - BIG second on Pike's theory that Kara has abuse in her past. No one is born this self-destructive; you start learning it from a very young age. I've seen a lot of relationships like this in my own family, though it is mostly the men who are like Starbuck. It is a machismo thing. I have a bunch of cousins who would say that they are religious, true believers, Christians who tithe and go to church regularly, who at the same time are led around by their dicks and cheat frequently, start side-businesses selling drugs, and hide lots of terrible things they do from the women in their lives, and would never divorce. In turn, these women mostly accept what their men are like. If you have not seen this up close, it's hard to explain. And yes, NO FEELING SORRY FOR DEE, but I feel vindicated that if Billy and Dee had ended up together, the same thing would happen. Billy would be forced into a dilemma: accept that
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Jamie Bamber vs. Billy
I was a little too late to comment on the Galactica Watercooler podcast about “The Passage,” but something about it has gotten stuck in my head. Every time that someone chimes in about Dee’s relationship with some Apollo with some version of “Billy would not have done you that way, woman!” I want to throw something.
I was in the Army Reserves for six years. My experience is that military women like Kat, Dee, or Starbuck, do not go for the Billies of the world. The ones who aren’t there for a good dental plan want adventure, and going out with a Billy is a loud declaration that you are Settling Down and Starting A Family and Changing Diapers.
The scifi fandom, being mostly literary, educated homebodies (I count me in that group) see Billy’s Big Blue Eyes, and his eagerness to please, and his awkwardness, and say “He’s like a little PUPPY he’s so CUTE I want to take him HOME!”
No woman who chooses a life where she stands in a C.I.C., grabbing fistfuls of cable to network computers while hoping to buy a few seconds of time where nuclear missiles are not exploding on the hull of your ship wants a puppy. No woman who sits in a Viper cockpit dancing with Cylon Raiders and the real possibility of a fiery death in the hostile void of space wants a puppy. They eat puppies.
They may go out with a puppy if they fool themselves into thinking that is what they want, only to destroy his self-esteem and send him packing after a few months, a weeping bundle of inadequacy. See Anders' and Starbuck’s marriage. Anders has some tough guy features, and he’s an athlete, but inside he’s 100% puppy. A puppy wearing armor. Kara chooses him, thinking she’s found an essentially good man that she can live with, and ends up getting tired of him and using him for his body until someone better comes along.
I was thinking of all this when a co-worker of mine told me that she went to Cambridge with Jamie Bamber. They hung out a lot, and her best friend dated him for a few months. “He’s deadly boring,” she said, and broke up with him. A sweet guy, bookish, very attractive, and now very devoted to his wife and kids. But deadly boring. If you are angry at what I’ve said here, I offer this consolation: Jamie Bamber is, in real life, a Billy.