BSG S1:E3 – “Water”

What do you do when you don’t remember what you’ve done?

There are real incidences of people committing murder while in a somnambulistic state. Can you imagine what that would be like, to wake up and find that you’d done something you had no memory of, that you would never have chosen to to? Even in the world of BSG, your first thought would not, could not be, “I must be a Cylon.” To doubt your own identity at that level seems unthinkable. In a way, I think Boomer (and the Chief) don’t go quite crazy enough.

I didn’t like the bits when Boomer was on the water patrol. It wasn’t clear to me what the mechanism in operation—seeing the somnambulism was less convincing than seeing the aftermath as at the beginning. The whole business with the explosives on the Raptor was confusing, though with it there, I would have expected her, like Galen, to realize that this was evidence that perhaps she wasn’t responsible.

It’s interesting to see that at this point it was still easy to think Tricia Helfer was just eye-candy, spouting out weird lines about God. I don’t remember it being until later, maybe “New Caprica” or thereabouts that she really started to show that there was depth there.

The interplay between Laura and Adama is adorable, even knowing its ultimate melancholy outcome, and the rockiness that lies ahead.

The tension between Baltar and Starbuck was great. I don’t remember offhand whether they ever actually sleep together, but that was certainly a great setup for the idea.

BSG S1:E3 – “33”

Way to ratchet up the tension.

If the second half of the mini-series seemed like a little bit of a let-down (and I’ve not yet got my commentary on it up, so this is a spoiler), this first episode of the actual series kicks things right back into high gear.

Even if I find it implausible that the Colonials are able to even pretend to function after 130+ hours, medicated or not, the actors do their considerable best to give the impression that these are people who are beyond even working on autopilot. Even the best of them have moments of staring off into nothingness as their minds are unable to keep going.

Oh, the characters. The writers seemed to understand them well, and figured out ways to show who they are without hitting us in the face with it. Kara’s confrontation with Lee that looks like it’s truly going to spill over into violence until they both burst out laughing. The look on Laura’s face when at they end, she gets the news that a baby’s been born. Adama’s sadness and forgiveness when Dualla admits she doesn’t know if a ship checked in before they made their jump.

Tigh…I wonder if they were already planning to make Tigh one of the “Final Five”, because he (as with Boomer, who we already know is a Cylon) is shown here as having extraordinary endurance. He actually seems to enjoy it.

Finally, I had forgotten how weird things were with Baltar and Six right from the get-go. This episode seems to be setting up the idea that the Cylon’s god is very involved and present–and yet, it could all be coincidental.

BSG S1:E1

This is some insanely taut storytelling, and while it tries to be clear what is happening at any moment–it’s only about the jump cuts during space battles, which is probably an appropriate place to do that–it’s happy to wait until later to reveal to you the implications of what you saw. Which I regard as a good thing–not assuming your audience is stupid is still refreshing.

As an example, we see Six on the space station, seemingly destroyed, and then we’re shown the same person with Baltar, and although we get that this is a signal that she is probably not one of the good guys (not to mention the incident with the baby–which I still can’t decide whether to interpret as mercy or as the equivalent of pulling the legs off a spider1 just to see what happens), they’re happy to wait half an hour to let us know that they can upload their consciousness–and we’re still not told whether the one on Caprica is the same one as on the space station.

Even the bits that could easily have seemed like off-the-shelf parts–I’m thinking of the exchange between Apollo and Commander Adama after their photo-shoot, where the rift between them starts to become clear–still resonate because the writers hold back You understand that Lee holds his father responsible, and you think you understand what happened, but still much is left unsaid–we’re not given any sort of infodump, even though they still didn’t know if they were going to get anything more than a miniseries at this point.

And, the actors are just so damned good. The moment near the end of the first half, where Lee explains to President Roslin that “Apollo” is just his call-sign–Mary McDonnell gives him this fleeting smile before telling him she knows who he is, it’s just amazing. The entirety of Gaius Baltar’s performance is so wonderfully…slimy. And the moment when Tigh decides to sacrifice people to put out fires is chilling…the way he hesitates, but finally acts without remorse.

Interestingly, knowing in advance how it’s all going to come out, Adama’s speech at the decommissioning ceremony for the Galactica seems to point to everything that the series ends up being concerned with–the responsibility of a creator toward his creations. They take a circuitous route, and I’ll be curious how well Ronald D. Moore actually holds to it over the long term, but it might actually be that they set out their ideas here, first thing.

1 I have never done this, if only because I find spiders way too creepy to want to be that intimate with. But the replicants systematic destruction of a spider toward the end of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has always haunted me.