Friday, February 13, 2009

Still Disappointed in BSG

Maybe they will turn out to be relevant to tonight's episode, but my impression is that BSG pretty much wasted the last three "insurrection" episodes. Commander Adama puts down the mutiny . . . and the fleet finds itself exactly where it was three episodes ago, except lighter by two semi-major characters. Meanwhile, no new themes were introduced; on the contrary, the episodes worked hard to turn old themes into cliches.

Am I the only one who thinks that Lt ("Commander") Gaeta had a point? First, setting the terms by which the rebel Cylons become naturalized Colonials is almost definitionally a function of the civilian legislature, a.k.a. Quorum of Twelve. And second, the career arc of Boomer ought to give pause to accepting Cylon protestations of loyalty at face value. The original Lt. Valieri was the Manchurian Candidate sleeper agent, activated against her will into a saboteur and assassin under conditions which nobody has fully explained. I'm prepared to believe that the destruction of the resurrection hub put an end to Cavil's ability to remote-control the Cylons in the future . . . but nobody has even bothered to make that case in an intelligent way.

Instead, unreflective Cylon hatred was the only currency of the mutineers, never mind the considerable assistance that this particular group of Cylons had given to the Colonials already. Analogies are difficult, but imagine if the U.S. had spurned Cold War defectors on the grounds that "we hate all 'dem Ruskies!" Further, we are treated to the absurdity of Gaeta going through the motions of a trial so he can kill Adama. What's the point? At least a "show trial" would have provided a public cover for what he wanted to do anyway. But this private trial didn't even do that!

But the writers had to weaken the cause of the mutineers so the audience won't notice how weak Adama's case is. First, there's the arbitrary exercise of authority (again); second, the sudden and unexplained necessity of upgrading the fleet's FTL drives, which suddenly aren't as high-tech as the Cylon drives.

By the standards of the first two seasons, these are gaping holes in the show's writing, but it has this in common with almost every other modern story on the same theme: an impatience with due process. In every internecine conflict, the audience has always been expected to root for Commander Adama, and disdain the democratically elected Colonial officials. And we do! We have a hunger for the Man on Horseback, riding to wield whatever power, that's unseemly in a self-governing people.

1 comment:

trumwill said...

Am I the only one who thinks that Lt ("Commander") Gaeta had a point?


It seemed to me that the Quorum was the one group that had it about right. They were suspicious of the plan, resentful at the attempts at exclusion, but not having any of the coup business.

I think that it's all part of the more fundamental problem with the Colonial government, which is that the entire situation has changed but the fundamentals of the government did not change with it. So everything is left vague... and vagueries empower the powerful. In this case, the dude with the battlestar.

Not sure how to fix that.