Fight ’em until we can’t

They’re falling like dominoes now. As I review Season Two of Battlestar Galactica, I am already well into Season Three. And regardless of word-of-mouth hype, it really is getting better and better. ++++++++SPOILERS! SPOILERS!++++++++++ At the end of Season One, we left our “rag-tag” exiles in stasis, with Adama’s blood all over the octagonal/hexagonal CIC lightbox, Starbuck back on Caprica clutching the Arrow of Apollo, Roslin in the brig after a military coup, and the whiteboard bearing the population tally 47,887. Thus Season Two begins with Adama in a hospital bed, with stitches down his chest, Tigh in charge and feeling the pressure (clear liquids in a jam jar all round! oops, I have declared martial law!), Roslin going cold turkey without her chamalla, and a motley crew, including the drastically unsuited Baltar, stuck on Kobol hoping not to experience their last gleaming. (One of them does.)

Father-son relations are strained between Adama – who’s up and at ’em and regaining the con by Episode 5 – and Lee, who took Madam President’s side and helped her hightail it to Cloud 9, where “convicted terrorist” Richard Hatch becomes an ally. Things take a turn for the unpleasant on Caprica when Starbuck wakes up in an all-too-quiet hospital that turns out to be a human ovary farm – scars are left. Both kinds. She has to leave her new boyf, former basketball/snooker-hybrid star Anders, behind, but vows to come back and save him, Hollywood style. Xena Warrior Princess turns up – she’s now an Australian reporter making a documentary about Galactica. Actually, she’s a Cylon. (It’s a clever disguise – who can resist having a documentary made about them?) An obsessed and grief-struck Chief builds his own plane, Roy Neary style. Sharon plugs the ship’s computer into her wrist.

The Pegasus turns up, captained by Admiral Cain, who’s Adama’s boss, and a bitch, and doesn’t last long. Baltar effectively cures Roslin’s cancer using half-Cylon blood out of Sharon’s doomed foetus. With rebirth, comes death. There’s a lot of heavy emotional stuff in Season Two, and more schisms than you could shake an arrow at. Scar becomes the embodiment of the evil Cylon threat in one of a number of stand-alone episodes, Scar. This also bonds Starbuck to Cat, tenuously – they remain at each other’s throats. We also meet a new Cylon, the priest (Dean Stockwell), who’s quite chirpy, but ruthless. And in the Lay Down Your Burdens two-parter, an election takes place. You won’t be surprised to learn that voting cards have the corners cut off. But when Roslin attempts to cut the corners off democracy, further difficult questions have to be answered, and, with the now-constantly blubbing Baltar (and his special, imaginary adviser in the red dress) in charge, the pivotal events that kick off Season Three are in place.

I’d been warned that BSG takes you places you didn’t foresee, and it does. But I wasn’t prepared for the massive narrative shifts, even after the cliffhanger assassination attempt that ended Season One: the near-death of Roslin and the way that was averted; the arrival of the Pegasus and the short life of Cain (whom I understand to be the flashback pivot of The Razor); the rise to power of Baltar and the permanent shift from white coat to presidential blazer; the bit where Chief beats the hell out of future wife Cally; but most importantly, the development of Starbuck as a rounded human being, with an actual past, and an actual heart. (She gets her boyf back in the end, which causes Lee to ripple his bag-of-walnut muscles* in jealousy.)

When I started watching Two, weeks ago now, I could never have imagined that it would end with the survivors colonising a shitty, grey planet christened “New Caprica” as if they have come to Glastonbury in winter by mistake, then surrendering to the Cylons, under wet-eyed President Baltar! I love that a whole bunch of American writers thought of this and I didn’t. So say we all, surely?

Now, Season Three, must get on.

* Yes, I have borrowed this fantastic image from Clive James, who once described the overdeveloped Arnold Schwarzenegger as “a condom filled with walnuts.”


19 thoughts on “Fight ’em until we can’t

  1. Nice review Andrew. Seasons 3 and 4 will blow your mind.Oh, and there appears to be a straight to DVD movie out now (or very soon) set between seasons 2 and 3. Poor(ish) reviews though.

  2. I might be missing something obvious and being a total dick, but why do you call Gaius Gaylord? I ask because I thought he was quite a gay character and wondered if it was just because I couldn't get the image of him as Bridget Jones' best gay friend out of a dark corner of my mind, or whether it's because he seems so gay as this character. All my geeky hetero friends seem to think he's so gay he's uber-hetero and therefore not gay at all.Anna

  3. I'll watch this in its entirety some day, but in the meantime your podcast commitment and Battlestar obsession leave me with little to comment on. It's driving me dog-crazy.

  4. I call him Gaylord out of childishness. I thought his name was Gaius (pronounced Gay-us) when I first started watching, which I turned into Gaylord. You are correct, Baltar – as others refer to him – is very heterosexual. Camp, yes, but always having sexual intercourse with the ladies. So there may be a trace of irony to my childish nickname. But it's mainly a misunderstanding. I called Helo "Hello" for a while too. But I know it's pronounced "Hee-lo". Hello is funnier to shout out at the screen. I make my own entertainment. It's not always worth reading anything into it!

  5. Good to see you're enjoying it – and for the record I thought Unfinished Business was great, especially the longer version on the DVD. The scenes between Adama and Roslin are just lovely. I was never sure what the issues were with it, aside from people just a bit bored with the Apollo/Starbuck relationship.The "One Year Later" at the end of S2 is (for me) one of those great WTF moments in recent TV history.Saw "The Plan" this week – no spoilers, but it's not bad. Essentially a massive exercise in retcon, it's certainly worth watching just to remind you how much you miss BSG now it's finished.

  6. Sorry I have let you down comedically, Stellanova. But do you really need to insult me? (Oh my aching sides?) I don't exist just to make your sides ache. What is this, the X-Factor with you as Simon Cowell?

  7. You don't owe me anything, and you haven't let me down comedically. And I don't mean to insult you. I just think jokes based on childish homophobic insults are pretty offensive. I enjoy your writing and I like its silliness but I think using gaylord as a nickname for a vaguely camp character crosses the line into the crass and unpleasant. That's not what I usually expect from your writing.

  8. Well, you've made me feel selfconscious and retrospectively embarrassed enough to go and change his childish nickname. Job done. I am chastened for this childishness. I don't think of "gay" as an insult, that's my problem. And Gaylord is the name of an Indian restaurant I have been to regularly, so again, it doesn't immediately strike me as an insult. Either way, I don't wish to be misinterpreted.

  9. I've finally got round to watching BSG Andrew and have to say so far I've been a little disappointed. It seems like a kids show. That said, I hadn't realised I needed to know some of the back story before watching Season 1. It appears there was some sort of mini-series on before this.(I didn't want to read too much of your reviews in case of spoilers.)What's with the blonde invisible robot ghost who appears to accompany the posh doctor guy, etc?I've watched the first four episodes and I usually love this sort of thing but it seems quite flat. Do I need some backstory context? If so, it's a little misleading to be selling this as Season 1 without any real catchup for people like myself who know nothing about it already. Not your fault I know, theoretically. But, as with many things Andrew your loveable wooly liberal status means that you have been elected against your weak wooly-will as the spokesman/apologist for this in the UK. (Elected by me, just now) So please do your job sir and fill me in.Do I need to know the complex political/religious allegories alluded to to enjoy this show? Shouldn't it should also just work on the rip-roaring story level?

  10. Charlie, you definitely need to watch the miniseries first. I can't imagine what it must be like without it! I feel responsible, although not (as I did make it clear in my review of Season One) – they should make it clear on the packaging. I have the full box set, in which the miniseries appears first, on disc one, so needed no guidance.Six, the blonde vision who haunts Baltar, is contextualised in the miniseries, which is the pilot to the whole saga. Essential viewing. It's the nuke attack on the 12 colonies that provides the clear 9/11 allusion, and it all spreads out from there, with the loss of civil liberties, paranoia about the enemy within, etc. The religious content doesn't really kick in until later in the season. You don't need any of the allegorical stuff to enjoy it, but it adds layers. I just wish you could go back in time.

  11. Thanks Andrew. I'll hunt down the miniseries. That'll teach me to go out and buy things in the shops. Actual physical items. For actual cash. Like some sort of Victorian gentleman. Don't I feel daft. From now on, I'll stick to illegally downloading everything like wot I normally do. I knew going straight would backfire. It never worked for Fletcher neither. #'I'm goin' straight I am. Straight as an arr-aaaa…!'

  12. For the record, Charlie, I have never illegally downloaded any films or TV shows. I really seriously don't agree with it. I bought the BSG full box set, which has the miniseries built in, and Razor. I am only missing The Plan, which is out on Region 1 DVD only at the moment, and which others in this country have mysteriously seen. How?

  13. I agree. I can't get cable as I live in a very small lane and it's not worth anyone's while so far to cable it. So I only download stuff I'm not able to watch – Sky One etc. Until someone links me up to the 21st Century, I think that's fair.

  14. Hi Andrew! Long time blog reader (and podcast listener), first time poster. Just wanted to say thanks for your great tv recommendations. It was because of your praise of The Wire that I decided to start watching it last year. I'm now halfway through season 4 and it really is one of the greatest programmes I've ever seen. And now because of your posts about Battlestar Galactica, I decided to buy the miniseries. I'm hooked! I'm quite a big sci-fi fan, and I can't believe this show managed to pass me by. The only problem now is I'm going to have to buy the rest of the series. Oh well!Have you any more recommendations of good tv (once I've managed to finish The Wire and BSG, of course)?

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