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.