Tuesday, December 5

Capsule Review: Battlestar: Galactica 3.8

Source: Live Journal

Ever since the second season finale, fans have been wondering what happened to the characters in the year or so between the decision to colonize New Caprica and the Cylon Occupation. In particular, there were some obvious character shifts that needed to be explained. Adama was far too soft and unfocused, there was some tension between Lee and Kara, and Kara married Anders. So what brought about those changes, and what does it mean for the characters now?

Adama has been at the center of controversy, because many felt that the writers had destroyed the character or lost touch with who he was supposed to be. In some cases, that was an example of fans distrusting the writing staff, assuming that it was a mistake instead of a calculated story decision. In this case, it appears that Adama’s character shift was completely intentional.

The question is: does Adama’s decision to relax his military posture and adopt a softer policy make sense? It depends on whether or not it’s logical to assume that Baltar’s presidency broke his spirit. Before he came to respect Roslin, Adama felt that he was the only one capable of holding it all together, and that the fleet expected it of him. Once he allied with Roslin, that attitude was reinforced. So with Baltar’s ascension, did he come to the conclusion that it wasn’t his responsibility anymore? Did he feel as though his moral authority had been undermined or removed?

Roslin’s own decision to step out of the politics and find a new life might have played into that psychological shift. In this episode, we see their relationship more clearly. If the promise of New Caprica had been fulfilled, would Adama and Roslin have settled together, once and for all? This would explain why Adama was so out of character, even during and after the rescue. And it also confirms that some of his anger towards Lee was, in fact, transference of his own self-loathing.

Lee’s weight gain and general dissatisfaction with himself can now be linked to his decision to leave Dee and pursue a relationship with Kara, only to have it all fall apart. Dee is far from stupid, and she had to have known about the tryst to some degree. Lee wasn’t particularly good at hiding his emotions, and apparently by the time of the Occupation, he was treating Kara and Anders poorly.

Kara shoulders quite a bit of the blame. It turns out that her ambivalence with Anders never really disappeared, despite how it might seemed in the second season finale. She thought that rescuing Anders would exorcise her demons, but that never really happened. Kara is still dealing with some serious self-sabotaging issues, and she continues to lash out at the people who love her.

What makes this episode fun is the structure. A lot of information is covered in flashbacks as the characters beat the hell out of each other in a semi-regulated boxing match. What starts in the teaser as a means of blowing off steam quickly becomes deeply personal, despite what Adama might say, and by the final act, it’s hard to watch. Some of the characters seem to find themselves again, but the process is brutal. It’s a distinctly male/military way of resolving emotional interpersonal issues, akin to bitter enemies fighting in the schoolyard, only to become best friends. Time will tell if the physical scars will really help to strip away the emotional ones.

(As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Current episodes cover “Battlestar: Galactica”, so it might be something of interest. Go to http://entil2001.libsyn.com if you want to listen!)

Writing: 2/2
Acting: 2/2
Direction: 2/2
Style: 2/4

Final Rating: 8/10

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