Here is a great article from Heather Havrilesky at Salon.com. She’s been watching and writing about Battlestar since the ‘re-imagined’ came on the air a few years ago. As the series winds down, Heather’s got some questions, especially about the character Dee, that need to be answered.
I pretty much agree with Havrilesky – especially about OLD GENESIS!!! (but, come on, Heather, everyone?)
The question for me is always the same – how much did I enjoy this episode? The answer in this case was – not so much. It didn’t move me (as past episodes have done), it didn’t connect with any raw emotion whatsoever. I think that’s one of the problems with melodrama: everything gets watered down.
Like the rag-tag fugitive fleet, I have hope for the future. But, as we await the final 9 episodes, there are a few observations I can make with some certainty, though perhaps no proof.
There was no plan. I don’t care what the show runner says on his blog or in Q&A at ComicCon. There was no plan. There was never a plan. Any plan you learn about from here on is a plan made up to wrap up the thing they used to say at the beginning of every episode. It won’t be a plan that’s been in the works since the beginning. Nope. No plan.
In my business, bad actors are subject to liability. But note Havrilesky’s observation about the force of the story overcoming the occasional bad performance. Sometimes not so occasional. Also, in what must be an annoying turn of events for the people trying to make this show, different actors have had hot streaks at different times. I think we’ve seen a downturn in the intensity that Katie Sakhoff has brought in the last two seasons. She got hugely popular (with the ComiCon crowd) and started to look down the road. Terminator series? Not good. Another example is the Jamie Bamber experiment. After a near-death experience, it looks like Apollo is going to get some meaty psych-drama material for Bamber to sink his teath into. Despite the huge set-up, Bamber came up short. Then he got fat, then he got with Dee, then he lost weight and now he seems to be a non-entity.
Olmos is great, but he’s not going to carry the rest of this ensemble. Mary McDonald is tremendous, and I continue to think she will be the show’s savior as she leads everyone to the promised land that she can not enter. THAT prophecy IS coming true (with Helfer and Callis’s help, please).
And so we come to Laura Saltman. She’s saying she’s known that she’s the 5th cylon (or 12th, if you like) for TWO years. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you that the witness is a liar! But it is for you to judge. Here’s the thing: her death scene is one of the most outrageous moments in television. And the way Michael Hogan successfully incorporated the act of wife-i-cide into his character for the next season or two (till he found out he was a cylon) didn’t hurt. Of all the crazy shit this show has pulled, the arc of Saul and Ellen is the most consistently effective. Man and wife. Both deeply flawed. Very much in love. Want to kill each other.
When I survey the landscape of what this show has to offer, and from that assessment, attempt to determine what might be the strongest way to close the program, I think Ellen (and, undoubtedly, Saul) is an fantastic place to start. My understanding of the approach for these last 9 episodes (this comes form the Saltman interview) is that there will be BIG revelations every week – we will learn things, major characters will die, etc. You may not be looking forward to that approach, you may wish it was going to be different, but it’s not. It’s going to be like that. So this first (and highly mediocre) episode is, hopefully, a springboard that gives us a more measured approach. Each of the episodes can now unfold as a single piece of drama. Everything is so disjointed after this first episode that it doesn’t really matter if the final episodes interlock perfectly.
The most important thing, more important than putting a bow on it, more important than making it all make sense, more important that sorting it all out and answering all your questions – The most important thing is that it’s good TV. I’m going to ask the same question nine more times. If these people are doing their job right and go with the best of everything they’ve got right now, then the answer will be ‘a lot more than the last one’ each time.