“Crossroads” of the Show: Battlestar Galactica Season 3

YUP!!!  Back again already with another review!  No it isn’t Christmas!!  I’m just…way behind…
So now is my time to catch up.  I just finished the third and penultimate season of a show which is quickly becoming one of my favorites of all time.  Battlestar Galactica really stepped up it’s game for Season number 3 and I look forward to sharing some of it’s numerous high points.

JUST A WARNING:  This review will contain spoilers.  Please do not read this if you have not finished at least the first 3 seasons of BSG.

I ended my review of Season 2 by saying that the time lapse on New Caprica was ridiculous and, quote, ” A terrible ending to a moderately terrible Season.”  While I still hold that the majority of Season two is rather awful, I must concede that the way they handled it throughout Season 3 was rather good.  It got a bit clunky sometimes with the flashbacks but ultimately I liked how they explained the missing time on New Caprica as it pertained to the events post-“Exodus”.  Particularly the detailing of the resistance movement and the “Collaborators” with the Cylons were great choices that led to very interesting character arcs.

And on that note, the real strength of the Season were good character arcs. (On the other hand the character arcs did lead to several problems but more later.)  I loved how the important characters actually were given some history (Will Adama, Starbuck, Chief) and the periphery characters were brought forward and fleshed out.  By the end of the Season, I finally had what I wanted from the beginning:  A cast of complex characters that I care about and who had justification in their choices.

In particular, the episodes “Torn” and “Unfinished Business” very absolutely fantastic.  In the former, the filmmakers joined together Tigh and Starbuck – who had been enemies – and let them go to town together.  It was so fun to watch them play off each other and then get the radical twist of how Adama deals with them.  And then “Business” was exactly what you want for any show: a chance to bring out all of the character drama in a very visual and powerful manner.

However, this does lead me to the fact that they didn’t quite fix some of the problems from the previous seasons.  Particularly in “Unfinished Business” they revived the Lee/Starbuck relationship….yeah.  None of us really wanted that needless drama back and it really doesn’t help that it really doesn’t come up much after this.  The only good it does is to settle them into a tense, semi-resolved state that then dissolves into the background and lets the good stuff progress.

GAH!!!

The other unresolved issue from previous seasons is the vignette filler episode that come in the middle lull.  This season did a better job of both minimizing the number of them and by making them serve a purpose.  Like the “Hero” – yeah it was an hour of needless bit part story but it brings us a bit of the backstory on Adama and Tigh.  “A Day in the Life” doesn’t really serve much of a purpose either in the overall narrative, yet it brings out the relationship of Chief and Cally, as well as remind us of the dangers of their journey (more on that first note later).

And then “Maelstrom” happened…
Holy Mackeral!!!  I was screaming “WHAT THE FRAK!?!?!?” by the end of it.  How on earth (or kobol) do you kill off one of the show leads like that in the middle of a season!?  Trick question actually:  YOU DONT.  And with that I submit that the 10,000th nail was driven into the coffin of shows being able to kill off leads.  The CSI’s never could do it, primetime dramas don’t, and even Soap Opera characters would magically survive being murdered four seasons ago to surprisingly reappear to take their revenge.  Why should a Syfy show be any different? Because of it’s placement in the season, a half-brained monkey could see that she was coming back in someway or another.

Earlier I said that the Lee/Starbuck relationship development in “Unfinished Business” went nowhere.  Most people would say that it helped build up the tension to this point, and while I have to admit that it does have bearing on it, I don’t think it had that much.  They were already in a confused and tense state before the boxing match.  All that did was call it out into the open and show us a bit of the why.  Really in the end I feel that the reaction would have been exactly the same had they not made their relationship ambiguity so obvious.  We all know they have a love/hate relationship going on and we also know about their connected past.  Thus we all honestly expected Lee to react so strongly when his lover/foil “dies”. Common sense.

BTW - Great moment when he shaved that horrible mustache off 🙂

The Final two episodes were absolutely phenomenal!  “The Son Also Rises” did a great job of setting everything up for the Season Finale, “Crossroads”.  So much happens, which is both good and bad.

First thinks first:  Lets get the big pink elephant in the room out of the way.  4 of the Final 5 Cylons are revealed.  No joke, I honestly have been waiting for them to come out and say two of them were, but the other two surprised me.  I think it was in Season 1 that I realized Tigh had to be a Cylon.  His position in the inner circle and generally mixed-up state of mind just sold it to me that he had to be one.  It was just a matter of when they would announce it. The other one I knew was Chief.  When I saw that it was him my thoughts were, “Oh. So they decided to do that after all.”  I knew that he was a very viable choice for one of the Super-Sleepers so when he was one of them I wasn’t all that surprised.  However, Tory and Anders were complete shocks to me, so serious props to the writing team for great selections there. It will be cool to see them brought out of the periphery cast into the foreground as big important characters. I am excited to see how all four of them will play out in the final season.

And on the calling of those four, the style of this episode was incredible!!!  I loved how the filmmakers gave us enough of a ramp for the trial to be interesting and engaging as well as allowing for the other stuff happening around it to get ample time.  The musical element was absolutely fantastic!  On iTunes, reviewers beautifully describe the rendition of “All Along the Watchtower” as “a trans-civilization siren song…” and as “a beautiful blend of post-rock and Indian tonalities“.  I honestly feel that the last 7 minutes of the season finale are some of the best written and best executed minutes of kick-A television I have ever seen!
So say we all!

I do have just a few nit-picky issues with the ending though.  Overall I loved it but a few things just rub me the wrong way, chiefly that they have set so much stuff up in the finale and I know they only have one season to resolve it all.  I am just a little worried that this could turn into Lost in which very little actually gets explained or dealt with because there is so much to explore.  However if the trend of putting out good Seasons continues then I know that the final one will be great.

I don’t particularly like how the filmmakers are using Lee Adama.  He acts as a Queen on a chessboard: moving around and forcing other people to “check” themselves while constantly being unstable himself.  The writers just position him near the most volitile characters and they push each other into their respective psychological shells.  I wish they would let him work out some of his issues alone.  As out of place as it was back then, I miss the days when he didn’t want to fight because he nearly died alone in space, as opposed to the current “I won’t serve under a man who questions my integrity” Lee.  😐  Get it together dude!

One final thing (and I did hit on it earlier):  It really bothers me that Kara is back.  I thought is was pretty cut and dry that she exploded but they made it WAY too obvious that she was coming back (episode placement, lack of later mention, “sad panda” Lee).  Can we honestly not just kill people anymore?  I am glad they are so close to Earth now but honestly couldn’t they have revealed that through more creative means than taking the Horatio Cane way out – fake your death and then show up with a steamy pot of Deus Ex for you.  Oh, well.

Sorry, one more quick thing.  This whole Cult of Baltar thing seems really stupid to me.  I can’t expect that it is going to be getting much better in the near future.

Overall this was by light-years the best Season thus far.  The plot and character development flowed nearly flawlessly and the cast gave absolutely fantastic performances across the board. Twists and turns from every side, I can honestly say I am so excited for series finale.  I don’t really want it to be over but from the performance of this penultimate Season, I have high hopes for a fabulous ending to a truly magnificent show.

Overall Rating: 9//10

Just to say it, Chief is still my favorite character – particularly now because of this new character avenue he gets to travel down. However, I am coming to like Colonel Tigh more and more every episode – he has an amazingly splintered mind and I look forward to getting to know his backstory even more now.

Speaking of which, I am doubly curious to see how they handle the spinoff/revival show BSG: Blood & Chrome now, considering the fact that one of the leads is a CYLON!!!  Will they reference it?  I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!

Welp!  Thanks for sticking around.  I hope you liked my review of Battlestar Galactica Season 3 and I would love to hear your thoughts about it [please no spoilers].  Did you think the reveal at the end was as big a surprise as I did or did you stop watching because you were still dealing with the shock of Starbuck “dying”?  Let me know in the comments below and please subscribe to stay up to date on every post I make.

My next review should be up by the end of this coming week and it will be on another of Charlie Kaufman’s masterfully disturbing works…..so be ready for that.  I know I’m not 🙂

Please Comment Below and Subscribe!

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

1 thought on ““Crossroads” of the Show: Battlestar Galactica Season 3”

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