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.”