Seriously! What the Frak!?

This is part of the Summer Film Challenge…..sort of.  Ryan challenged me to watch the show Battlestar Galactica, one of his fav’s right now, and so I did.  And it has been…interesting.  It has ups and downs like other shows and I want to explore those found in the first two seasons of the recently deceased Sci-fi show. BEGIN!!!

Season 1:

Long story short it started very, VERY slow but it ended rather well.  I really struggled in the first few episodes to find a character I could relate to or care about because I didn’t know enough about any of them.  I was supposed to care about the last remnants of the human race but all the plot seemed to be about was the Cylons.

Gaius Baltar, the neurotic science officer, was the most interesting character of the entire show. He is the only character who gets any sort of arc really (at least human character; Sharon seems to get a lot of attention). His psychosis is fascinating – both because it is awkwardly disturbing and because it hints at a great development in his character in the future (Getting to that in a bit).

I guess that is my major issue with the show – it starts in so hot and heavy that it is hard for me to get into it.  Two-thirds of the season were focused almost solely on the cylons (at least as far as interesting arcs go). We flash between the Galactica running from the Cylons and trying to find the sleeper-Cylons in there ranks to Helo fleeing the Clyons on Caprica in the company of #8 – “Sharon”.  Oh yeah, there’s also politics….yeah.  It just isn’t interesting stuff to watch other than for the visuals.  At least it has solid character who don’t have ridiculous 180 turns (like….say…glee!).

It was only in the last couple of episodes that I really got into it.  It was about Ep. 13 “Colonial Day” – that it picked up. The only interesting character is finally pushed into an interesting position, and Helo FINALLY gets a hint of what’s really going on. While it was a politics episode, which always frustrates me (end of the world – Smack a bleep and stop playing government), it does go as far as to develop several plot arcs to the breaking point which is what I was waiting for the whole time.

I was surprised that they found Kobol so quickly. At first I wasn’t crazy about it but when I saw how slow they were taking it I thought it was a good move.  The stakes are raised without ruining one of your good, major plot points. By far the best episode I have seen thus far was the two part Season 1 finale. It did exactly what it was supposed to do:

  • Advance the plot arcs (Helo and #8, Boomer, Starbuck and Apollo)
  • Creates new plot arcs for the next season (Baltair and Chief crashing on Kobol, the Fleet jumping away, Boomer’s revelation, Adama being shot)
  • Leaves me wondering “What’s going to happen?”

I was screaming “WHAT!?!?!?!” at the tv when Boomer shot Adama – they really did a great job of juking me. There was a lot set up that really drew me in and I think I watched the Season 2 pilot immediately after it ended, I was so enthralled.  Great job ending on a good note.

Speaking of notes, one final one:  I like how the show emphasizes sex instead of love in the semi-post-apocalyptic world.  It often feels odd that romance occurs in other end of the world films (such as Blade Runner, The Island, V for Vendetta, Waterworld).  I like that they focus on the fact that, in the world after, emotions are high and people aren’t seeking relational security as much as sheer physical contact to remind them they are alive.  It is very guteral and very human – and it makes for great drama 🙂

Overall Rating:  6/10

Season 2:

Okay. What the Frak?  What happened!?  It was going so well and then it totally lost sight of where it was going. I think this season fell into the same problem that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 1 had – it felt disconnected and vignette-y. It also adopts a problem that Glee has in that the character have 180 degree shifts that don’t make any sense.  Really a rough Season because it had some incredibly good moments but was marred by some equally bad ones.

I’ll start with what I liked.
I liked that they developed Commander Tigh’s character – he has potential for some fantastic arcs.
I liked that Gaius’s madness progresses and began to have purpose and point (more on this later).
I liked that they played the “Power struggle with new element” card (ie – Pegasus arc).
I liked the Blackbird.

…That’s about it.  Honestly I don’t know what happened during this season, if there was a writer’s strike or what, but the season really fell apart at the halfway point.  I created the graph below which, to me, best describes the quality of the Season:

Made on an Apple Stickie

The show started off well enough and got really good at about episode 5 “The Farm”.  It brought a new urgency and, forgive me using this word again, guttural creepiness to the Cylons that reminded me that they are the enemy and I should care about the humans. Of course the return of Captain Adama to the helm was phenomenal and moving, and I loved how they showed that he was broken inside by his imploring the dead Sharon “why?”.  It was a great episode that introduced a new Humanoid-Cylon and upped the stakes quite a bit.

From there it only got better. The haphazard rescue mission to Kobol (Home, parts I & II)was great and it allowed for Chief’s character to be developed to the place it should be, as well as giving Gaius a dirty little secret. “Final Cut” (haha. film joke.) again gave us a new Human-Cylon to worry about as well as gave us a great insight into the characters we already know and love. It was a bit vignette, but the new info revealed made it worthwhile.

I loved “Flight of the Phoenix” just because it played on my favorite quote from that film:  “I think a man only needs one thing in life. He just needs someone to love. If you can’t give him that, then give him something to hope for. And if you can’t give him that, just give him something to do.”  Chief gets a great arc there and the make the absolute beauty of a ship – the Blackbird.  I was so excited to see where that would go…….yeah…

Finally, the introduction of the Pegasus and of Admiral Cain was a fantastic plot device!  I fell into exactly what they wanted me to feel – that it was a good thing at first, but then I realized that it was going to go bad really quickly. “Pegasus” and both parts of “Resurrection Ship” were the best parts of the entire Season. It got so intense and so engaging, creating several amazing arcs that were headed towards not just an engaging Season, but an awesome show.  I loved every second of those episodes. But then “Epiphanies” happened…

I think it pertinent to bring up my vignette issue again. I loved the creation of the Blackbird, but the killed it almost instantly after it was created. Same with the Pegasus and same with ANY of that Battlestar’s command.  While each episode was interesting, they all ended up not doing much to advance the plot.  I mentioned earlier about “Final Cut”, it gave us new insight into the characters but then it doesn’t go any further.  “Black Market”, “Scar”, “Captain’s Hand” – all have no ultimate bearing on anything.

I think the true case in point is the vast lineage of commanders of the Pegasus.  They had a great arc going with the power struggle between Adama, Cain, and Roslin. When Cain was killed, I was ecstatic! They had taken that about as far as it could (maybe a bit more) and now they were handing it over to a new guy.  I thought it would go well but the arc completely fell apart when a black market guy (wtf?) has him killed.  The next 8 commanders of the Pegasus don’t really work out either.  Totally killed a perfectly good line.

And then “Epiphanies” happened…
Basically they discovered fake Cylon blood cures cancer….WHAT THE FRAK!?!?!?!  Deus Ex Machina, anyone? I was glad to see Roslin stay on but not in that manner.  The episode was total malarky and as the graph shows started the period of absolute SUCK of the Season.

I’m going on a lot about this, so I’ll cut it short a bit.  “Downloaded” was great because we got to see a bit of Cylon thought (for how much the focused on them, they never developed them really”.  Plus discovering the planet was a cool plot device….until the Season Finale. I honestly have no idea what happened in the 2 part “Lay Down Your Burdens” because a whole season goes by in an episode.  They skip over years of history and leave us wondering what the frak happened!  I understand their was a webseries that covered that time but WHY NOT MAKE THAT IN THE BLEEPING SHOW!!!!!  A terrible ending to a moderately terrible Season.

It had the potential to be a 10, but I just can even begin to give it that.  The characters change every episode, the episodes go no where, and the arcs are shot out an airlock somewhere. And did that one priest lady return from the GRAVE as the Sagitarion Councilor???

Overall Rating:  5/10

Sorry to be such a Debbie-downer but Season 2 really sucked.  I got so into it and it just fell totally flat.  Sorry.

Quick note:  We have identified at this point the following about the Cylons posing as humans:

1   –
2   –
3   – Female Reporter (red hair & aussi)
4   –
5   – Male Reporter (Guy from beginning, Suicide bomber)
6   – Blonde (Gaius’ delusion)
7   –
8   – “Sharron” / Boomer
9   –
10 –
11 –
12 –
Unaccounted For
**Doctor guy from Farm (African American)
**Junky Guy from beginning of Season 1
**Priest Guy from season 2 end

Just a thought.  Another thought is that apparently they are starting a spinoff show called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome which will be about Young William Adama and the first Cylon war.  Can’t wait for that….might be better than the show thus far.  Let me know what you think of BSG Seasons 1 & 2 (no spoilers please). I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Thanks for sticking with me and be looking forward to my trailer analysis on Art of the Trailer.  It’s going to be late….obviously, but it will be good so please check that out as well as all my previous stuff.  Thanks!

Please Comment Below and Subscribe!

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

10 thoughts on “Seriously! What the Frak!?”

  1. Yeah. Sorry about those episodes in the second half of season 2. I forgot to tell you to skip over those (especially Black Market) probably because I blocked them out of my memory. And yeah, sucks about the Blackbird, and yeah, Deus Ex Machina, but that kind of comes back later in a way.
    However, I couldn’t disagree with you more about the end of season 2. I loved the way they ended it. When you refer to 180 character shifts, I assume you are referring to (spoilers, sorry but I can’t help it) Roslin rigging the election, as an example. I don’t find these shifts to be unrealistic because I don’t think that most people are as consistent as most movies or TV shows portray. I think that’s one of the things that’s incredibly refreshing about the show. It shows what happens when you push people’s buttons in a certain way. To me, that particular event said a lot about how much Roslin had changed since she had become president, what she was willing to do if something very important to her was threatened.
    But don’t let season 2 discourage you from season 3. Season 3 is my favorite season of the series (excepting the second half of season 4). It gets better.

    By the way, here are the names of the cylons and their numbers for reference (No spoilers):
    1 – Cavill (“Priest”)
    2 – Leoben (Junkie)
    3 – D’Anna (Aussie)
    4 – Simon (Doctor)
    5 – Doral (Suicide bomber)
    6 – Different versions have different names but is generally referred to as 6
    7 – (Not yet revealed)
    8 – Boomer/Sharon
    9 – (Not yet revealed)
    10 – (Not yet revealed)
    11 – (Not yet revealed)
    12 – (Not yet revealed)

    1. When I say 180 character shifts I mostly mean Starbuck and Apollo. Both seem to be entirely new characters every other episode. Apollo goes from confident and cocky and in charge to depressed, angst “why am I doing. this” the next episode. Same with Starbuck – angst to aggressive. I am getting the Prestige treatment and I don’t like it. It makes complex characters too complex. That is what I meant by that.

      As for the show I definitely plan to finish it. Might take me a bit longer than I originally though but I shall make it was through 🙂

      1. But Starbuck was always established as someone who is very unstable, partly because of who she is, and partly because of past traumas. That aspect is true to who she is as a character. And angst and aggression often go hand in hand. But I do agree that some of the weaker moments of the series stems from the Apollo/Starbuck relationship.

      2. She does have the moodiness established earlier but it reaches a ridiculous level in season 2. Particularly with Helo’s return with Sharon she just goes ape! And then later she gets all depressed about her Caprica boyfriend thinking he’s dead…wait no! He has to be alive and she will fight you if you say otherwise. She has more excuse than most but it still wasnt good.

        On other notes, Chief’s psychotic breakdown was great except it was out of the blue. And Gaius, being crazy, does have some leeway but he shifts on a dime every episode too. Final point – #8 never seems to be the same person, doth condemning Gaius or sweet-talking him. Again she is a figment of his imagination but she shouldn’t react so strongly in such a real manner. Ie – she should just BE whatever emotion she feels rather than transitioning from one to the other. I get that she isn’t real; they need to stop fudging that line.

  2. Oh by the way, the Sagitarion priest didn’t come back from the dead. The councilor just looks really really similar.

  3. I do have a reply to 6 but I can’t say anything since that would give stuff away. It’s been forever since I’ve seen season 2, so I don’t remember a lot of the small details you’re talking about. However, I still think that Starbuck’s reaction to Helo and Sharon was completely justified, and is true to her character. Imagine one of your best friends falling in love with a robot who is trying to destroy the human race. Not only is he in love with this robot, he got her pregnant! You’d freak out too. And as far as Anders goes, you warm up to him later. But I also agree with you that the string of episodes in the second half of the season were terrible. Like I said, season 3 is better.

    1. Agreed. Just watched the Season 3 premiere – AMAZING!!! I was worried because I knew there was supposed to be a time gap between the two but it was really well done. I love Sea Captain Tigh too, btw 🙂

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