Sunday, April 06, 2008

I Believeth, I Believeth, Don't Die Tinkerbell...

Battlestar Galactica 4-1 "He That Believeth In Me"

I'm relieved, frankly. Not surprised, exactly. I liked Season 3 more than a lot of people seemed to, and I'm optimistic that Ron Moore and his crew understand what the problems were and how to avoid them. Still, it's good to see the show starting out it's final season with a strong episode.

This was basically the episode I was hoping for, with two extra plusses, and one kind-of minus.

Spoilers Ahead, I suppose

I really liked where they took the Final Four Cylon story. After three seasons of asking "What does it mean to be a human", they inverted it -- what does it mean to be a Cylon? What does it mean if your spouse, or best friend, or your whatever the heck Lee and Kara are, turns out to be Cylon? Does it matter? Should it? Great questions, and I can't think of a previous SF work that's attacked the basic what-is-human question from this angle.

The specific pieces of the storyline were well-done. Anders' nerves about going into combat, Tigh's general Tigh-ness. The bit where the Cylon Raider scans Anders and get's the blip response was very cool.

But what really made the episode was the way that Starbuck's return integrated with the Final Four. Of course everybody would think Starbuck is a Cylon trick -- half the audience thinks so too. In the show, this allowed the characters to all talk about what it would mean to be a Cylon over the uncomfortable glances of the Fantastic Four. A really clever piece of writing structure.

The negative is the Baltar storyline. Not only does this put Baltar back in another situation where he's separated from the rest of the crew and in a place with creepy customs, but the whole thing is way too much like the telepath underground from the final season of Babylon 5 for comfort. (Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if the attack on Baltar was staged to make him stay with the cultists. But then, I'm cynical.)

  • Some great acting work all around -- watch how much of the episode is carried by the reactions of the Fab Four. And James Callis' facial expressions were the most bearable part of the Baltar story.

  • I thought that the tension between Lee and Adama was maybe resolved too quickly given how intense their argument was. I'm assuming the writers have bigger fish to fry.

  • I watched this one on, since I don't get Sci-Fi on my cable system, and they pulled out of iTunes. Overall, it wasn't bad. The video quality was worse than the iTunes files but still watchable. The biggest problem was the interspersed commercials -- not that I'm inherently against the commercials, just that they aren't synched right. Two of the breaks came about a second after the actual episode act break and one of them came right in the middle of Baltar being attacked. Annoying.