Thursday, November 16

Totally Frakked: Battlestar Galactica - So What is the Plan, Exactly?

Source: MeeVee

For two years now, the opening credits of Battlestar Galactica have warned us about the Cylons: "They have a plan." Those menacing words hover over our poor humans' monkey heads as they hightail it to Earth. But now that we're looking at Cylon society from the inside, it's starting to seem as though there never really was a plan. Or if there is a plan, it's sort of like the plot of Lost: long, meandering, and full of holes. Maybe the toasters really are trying to conquer the world. Maybe they're trying to create a hybrid human-Cylon race. Or maybe they're just waiting to see what the humans of Galactica will do next. That's what the frustrated TV audience is doing during this episode.

Let's say -- for the sake of argument -- that the Cylons want to go to Earth for a "new beginning," as one of the captured Simon Cylons tells Adama. Does this make any sense? They've already got the planets of the twelve colonies for their "new beginning." Why don't they just stay on Caprica or wherever? If this episode is any indication, they're tailing the humans for some kind of twisted psychosexual reason -- essentially the same reason Number Six is torturing Baltar with one avatar and humping him with the other. Yup, this was another episode with crispy torture on the outside, and a gooey moral lesson in the middle.

The atmospheric opening sequence reminds us of how great this show can be when it tries, as the humans glide into the plague-stricken Cylon ship. When Apollo and crew realize the ship is (literally) dripping with infected goo, they nab some survivors "for interrogation" and zip back to the Galactica. The Simon model spills his guts about the Cylon having Baltar, their plans to go to Earth, and their fear that if an infected Cylon is rebooted on a resurrection ship, the virus could spread throughout the Cylon fleet. Apollo suggests to Adama and President Roslyn that they get into Cylon territory and whack their infected prisoners so that they get resurrected, thus jump-starting the Cylon bio-apocalypse.

Before we get to the torture, allow me to lay out this week's moral dilemma. Is it right to exterminate a race in self-defense? Adama and Helo say no. Roslyn and Sharon say yes. Oh, those bloodthirsty girls -- always pushing for genocide. Normally I'm a fan of BSG's political bent, but this conflict is so contrived and simplistic that it falls flat. Does anyone really think genocide is a good idea? And why aren't there any "weapons of deterrence" alternatives offered? The doctor says that he can keep the infected Cylon prisoners alive indefinitely with some kind of serum. Why couldn't the humans threaten the Cylon by saying, "If you come near us, we'll execute these prisoners and kill you all."

Anyway, the real point of this cheesy moral dilemma is to make audiences feel as though they're watching intelligent TV instead of a softcore BDSM flick when D'Anna and Caprica -- convinced that Baltar is responsible for the virus -- decide to torture him. Of course, when they inform Baltar about his impending torture, D'Anna and Caprica are wearing sexy dresses; Baltar's naked on a red velvet couch; and the whole scene is bathed in mood lighting. Did Anne Rice write this episode or what?

The Cylons have these two thimbles they can put on your fingers to deliver immense pain, making torture a neat 'n' tidy activity. As Baltar screams and writhes, the Number Six in his head tries to distract him with sex. So we're literally flashing between images of D'Anna torturing Baltar (under Caprica's watchful eyes), and Number Six getting him horny. It's such a nakedly fetishistic scene that I was actually embarrassed for co-creators Ron Moore and David Eick. I love kinky sex as much as the average San Franciscan, but even I was grossed out. Honestly, though, I might have dug the scene a whole lot more if it had been dear departed Admiral Cain sexually torturing Starbuck.

Can you guess how it all ends? Cylon-lover Helo cuts off the oxygen to the Cylon prisoners' room so that they die before Galactica is in range of the resurrection ship. Baltar has a torture-gasm while screaming "I love you" at D'Anna, who has some kind of pain-probe jammed in his ear. Blah on psychosexual melodrama masked as political something-something.

Tune in next week, when someone from the show Alias escapes JJ Abrams' clutches the Cylon ship and tries to mess with Adama.

by Annalee Newitz

Newshound: SciFi

1 comment:

Rob Robinson said...

The plan does seem totally incoherent at this point. Just like Lost, I sure wish there was an overarching destination where the show was headed.

In both cases, I'm not sure there is. I still love them, though.