BSG: Telling It From The Mountain

So, I was reading Pandagon yesterday when I discovered that some really weird folk think Battlestar Galactica is secretly a Mormon recruitment tool[1]. Their evidence? The show makes use of religious imagery and mythology. Which is pretty week as arguments for propaganda go. By this definition, Superman,[2] Star Wars[3] and everything Philip K. Dick[4] ever wrote is also super secret (but right out there in the open) religious propaganda.

Once upon a time, this argument might have applied to the original BSG, which was Mormon mythology dressed up in swank, quilted late seventies space opera. But the new series? Not so much. As Amanda Marcotte pointed out, just because a story derives some of its momentum from popular religious ideas doesn’t automatically mean the creators are promoting that religion. Also, religious pluralism, modern gender roles with women in leadership positions and decidedly secular attitudes towards sex, drinking and drug use don’t exactly scream, “Join The Mormons!” As with any artfully done work of storytelling, it’s not that simple. BSG can’t be broken down into simple declarative statements about its morals and message. It’s a nuanced discussion of various current ideas.

But there is one really obvious way you can tell that BSG isn’t telling it from the mountain: stories told with an ideological agenda are no fun. Whether they are serialized TV dramas, movies, comics or novels, an ideologically driven narrative stands out because the author is selling you a flat pack of easy answers to hard questions. And he (usually it’s a he) is not afraid to beat you silly with the truth stick to make his point[5]. This has some predictable effect on the way the story is told.
Continue reading “BSG: Telling It From The Mountain”

BSG: How The Cylons Avoided Being Assimilated By The Borg

One of the reoccurring problems in serialized storytelling is Villain Decay. Your Big Bad appears, scares the bejesus out of the hero, who just barely survives the first encounter to fight another day for Truth, Justice and another sign post an the way to Earth. But by the sixth or seventh time the villain appears, the hero has figured out their week spots and they are easily defeated. If they keep coming back after that, this big bad scary villain devolves into a joke.

Continue reading “BSG: How The Cylons Avoided Being Assimilated By The Borg”

All Truth Is Crooked, Time Itself Is A Circle

Battlestar Galactica Season 4 starts Friday at 10PM and speculation as to the fate of our intrepid fleet runs rampant. Who is the final Cylon? Who will survive to reach Earth? What will they find when they get there?

As someone with a blog, I of course have all the answers:

The final Cylon is Felix Gaeta. While he didn’t join the other four when they heard the music, he has all the same traits as they do: He was the right hand man to someone of power and influence (he was President Baltar’s aide on New Caprica), he’s had brief, eerie flashes of intuition that has led him to be in the right place at the right time (when he couldn’t sleep and went to talk to Baltar, only to find him trying to hang himself) and like the other four, he has been driven by an innate desire to better humanity through service to a cause. He’s the idealistic one. And at this point, everyone not already revealed to be a Cylon is either explicitly human (having either experienced disease (Duala, President Rosalyn) or having children- it can’t be Admiral Adama, as he had two sons, which would make Lee a hybrid like Hera or Nicholas). The only other possible Cylon is Kendra Shaw from Razor, but that would be cheating.

As to who will survive to reach Earth… that’s a tough one.  Ronald Moore has said that some of the heavies will not make it and ever since Billy died in season two, the writer’s have shown that they aren’t squeamish about offing major players. Which is good. It raises the stakes. and is more realistic. So, there’s the definite chance that Admiral Adama or Lee could die before they get there. Also, it’s been implied that Rosalyn won’t make it, as she’s playing Moses, the sickly leader instrumental in delivering the people to the chosen land but who is fated not to reach there herself. Plus, her cancer’s back.

And what will Earth look like? That’s the wide open question everyone is asking. Will it be our past or our future? My theory, following along with the theme of eternal recurrence, is that they will reach Earth in our distant future where they will discover that the first Cylons were Artificial Lifeforms developed on Earth, who led a rebellion against humanity. After the war, they fled to Kobol, where they started the process of becoming human-like. These were the gods of Kobal and the reason they have Greek names is that they are homages to the myths of the forefathers. The Colonials then are descendant form human-Cylon hybrids, who moved on to the colonies, forgot their origins and reinvented the Cylons, who rebelled, etc. When the fleet reaches Earth, they will find that the planet is littered with the remains of a once great civilization and the evidence of their ancient origins as both Human and Cylon. The Colonials and Cylons will settle on Earth and start over, with Hera and Nicolas as the shape of things to come.

Salon has a solid recap for anyone who may have  missed a few of the finer points.

More Blood and Bodies, We Can Hope

I’m just going to continue being the io9 mirror site for a bit because they have an awesome pic of the BSG cast, ala the Last Supper which gives clues to Season 4. You may want to ignore the comments as io9 seems to be overrun with people who feel the need to voice, repeatedly that they aren’t all that into Battlestar Galactica or that they liked the old series better, for it’s realism. Crack heads, in other words.

Continue reading “More Blood and Bodies, We Can Hope”

Sliding Down the Razor’s Edge

Razor filled in a few holes in the Battlestar Galactica story as well as opened up a few new ones that promise to be really exciting. While it was nice to go back and see what happened on Pegasus during the Cylon attack and especially nice to see how Cain became the hard ass we met in Season 2, the real thrust of the story didn’t get moving until we got to the Old school Cylons. That story is going to be the corner stone of season 4 and I for one can’t wait. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Continue reading “Sliding Down the Razor’s Edge”

Cut to Black

Ronald Moore at the BSG Blog comments on the Saprano’s finale kerfluffle:

For weeks, the speculation has centered around a simplistic black and white question for a show that revelled in never providing monochromatic answers: would Tony live or die? The prosaic nature of the question and its anticipated answer was itself was the most disappointing thing about the lead-up to the finale. Either Tony was going to get whacked, or he wouldn’t. “The Sopranos” would end with either the bitter little pill of the “bad” guy finally getting what he’s got coming or with the vaguely false relief of family affirmed and life goes on.

Instead, Chase managed to do the unthinkable, the unbelievable and the unprecedented: he yanked us out of their lives without any resolution whatsoever. We were torn away from Tony, Carmella, AJ, Meadow, Paulie, Sil and the all the rest without any idea what happens to them tomorrow or even later that same evening. In real life, when you lose contact with someone, you seldom if ever have the satisfaction of knowing how the myriad threads of their lives resolved themselves. They are removed from your circle of knowledge and yet their lives go on unbeknownst to you in ways you can only imagine. The Sopranos are gone from our lives, but their lives go on without resolution, much like ours. None of us have tidy, revelatory endings that are the culmination of our “story arcs” and neither will they.

Having never been a Saprano’s fan, I don’t have the emotional involvement in the finale that some people have. But I am invested in the outcome of Battlestar Galactica, because for us Sci-fi nerds, it’s our Saparano’s and I’m curious as to how Ronald Moore will end the series. Also, as a writer, I’m interested in how other writers handle the little technical details that come with storytelling. Endings are hard and deciding at what point to fade out, walk into the sunset or just cut to black is just as important as that first sentence or opening scene. I’m also a big fan of ambiguity and ambiguous endings.  Sometimes the horse throws a shoe, the hero and heroine loose interest in one another, and neither the empire nor the rebellion wins, they just keep on fighting. That’s life and art should reflect life whenever possible.