BSG Season 3

Battlestar Galactica is the best damn drama series on television. There. I’ve said it.

The third season premiere is a perfect allegory of contemporary issues, charged with deceit that will enrage you, suspense that will grip you, and duplicity that will shock you. Ron Moore hooked his talons into me, damn him, closing this two-hour premiere with such an unfair ending. We got everything from deceit, the ethics of suicide bombing, revolutionary complacency, the human police corps deluding themselves into fulfilling a duty of betrayal, a fat and soft Apollo, the desperate measures of trust, the most unfair motherhood imaginable, and just too much really.

I’m stunned. Stunned that television can be this smart and ballsy. Really, this thing is the real deal.

[UPDATE: I really shouldn’t be blogging right now, but it seems that various people are really taking the season premiere to heart, claiming BSG to be anti-Iraq propaganda. But is BSG more Vichy France? Or is it pure invention culled from multiple historical and political scenarios? I’m wondering if BSG‘s punch in a relatively gormless television environment is what’s making some of these folks uncomfortable. When a television series comes along presenting a full-blown history, ripe with uneasy streaks of gray and no easy ways out, this must be a shock for anyone prepared to settle for less.]

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9 Comments

  1. Really? I thought the whole thing fell rather flat, more concerned with shocking the audience than with debating with it. The suicide bombing sub-plot in particular struck me as being more interested in semantics than in ethics.

  2. What then of Kara Thrace’s child? Or the troubling moral dilemma of having to be as ruthless as the Cylons to win the war? Or Baltar’s utterly spineless move? Or Apollo’s interesting married life? Or the way Tigh’s wife was used? Or the despicable police corps?

    I didn’t find any of this to be “shock value,” but I felt it to be good punchy entertainment. It is the punchiness that I praise, given that most television doesn’t even have a pulse.

  3. I liked the Kara sub-plot, but there was depressingly little of it (and I’m terrified that Kara’s emotional about-face in the final scene will turn out to be in earnest, yet another blow to the character’s already battered integrity).

    The resistance’s ethical struggle felt perfunctory and predictable, with very little emphasis given to the characters’ individuality and far too much attention given to a rather facile political allegory.

    Apollo’s married life is interesting? Really? I thought his sub-plot was embarrassingly bad and overdone. Or maybe that was just the fat suit (and the offensive stereotypes about fat people, of course).

  4. Oh, I don’t know. With Kara, there’s a conscious effort to expose reproductive rights issues. She must kill this demon beast, or must she? That this is offered in an evangelical light makes the issue even more interesting. But cut Moore & Co. some slack. They had about six billion plot threads to unravel. I’m sure they’ll deal more specifically with this in future episodes.

    I felt there was some individuality there with Tom Zarek and Laura — of realizing just what the nature of insurgency or politics entailed. Of Adama trusting Boomer (“I don’t. That’s what trust is.”). But we are talking about coordinating resistance here. This again confirms my theory that people see their own values reflected through BSG’s prism, which is another one of the show’s clever tricks.

    I agree with you in part about the Apollo fat suit, which I felt deflected away from the more interesting psychological issues. But it is my hope that we will see the compromise and attraction that led these two to be together. Remember Apollo’s do-good impulse with the prostitue last season? I looked at the marriage and his “softness” as a continuation of this.

  5. Please, God, don’t mention this show’s treatment of reproductive rights issues. I’ve spent most of the last six months trying to suppress the memory of the heavy-handed and asinine abortion sub-plot from last season.

    You mention several aspects of the premiere that I liked – Roslin and Zarek, Adama and Sharon – but again these are minor grace notes in what was otherwise a rather unsubtle and uninspiring hour and a half. Where individuality really counted – with the characters organizing the resistance – it was sadly absent and we were left with the writers waving banners at us while the characters mouthed platitudes. The fact that these platitudes weren’t patriotic and saccharine doesn’t make them any less strident. ‘Clever’ is just about the last word I’d use to describe the show at this point.

  6. I was disappointed by much of last season, but these first two episodes of season 3 really brought me back. They were incredibly dark, wholly relevant, and extremely engaging. I don’t know whether I was rooting for Kara to kill the child or not. The insurgency’s tactics are morally difficult to work out, as are the Cylon’s apparent motives for ruling over New Caprica.

    I like Apollo’s fat suit, too–it’s a visual representation that makes sense for his character. He wouldn’t be able to fly a Viper at this point. That’s important.

    Abigail, I understand your criticism of the large allegorical implications, but I thought there were a bunch of individual moments that were really strong. The two you mention, yes, but Tyrol and Gaeta had a strong interaction, Baltar faced a genuine moral dilemma with real humanity for once, and Tice’s leadership is setting the stage for personal conflict within the insurgency. There’s a lot going on.

  7. I’m with you, Ed–I think it’s fraking amazing. And frankly (frakly?), I think those folks who say “A-ha, it’s Iraq!” are missing the point and insulting Ron Moore et al. The beauty of the show is its complexity–it is not a simple allegory, it is not a polemic, and the characters are not one-dimensional.

    I suspect that within the next few episodes the Cylon occupation will be over, so what will the allegorical scaffold become then? I don’t think it will become anything–Ron Moore is too smart to get caught in that trap. Thank the Gods.

  8. I’ve been disappointed in the new season for many of the same reasons as Abigail. The whole thing seems kind of overwrought and unsubtle, and the political and moral dilemmas are being presented in a way that is a little too self-conscious. Rather than developing organically, all of these plot points are just being thrown at us and a lot of them don’t seem to jibe with what’s come before.

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