Sunday, June 01, 2008

Battlestar Galactica - "Sine Qua Non"

There was a time not that long ago where I had the whole Battlestar Galactica storyline down cold. I could name ships and characters and knew what all the mystical stuff meant.

But not anymore.

BSG has completely lost me. It hit me a couple of episodes ago when in the midst of the shows latest string of visions and prophecies and dreams, I suddenly realized I didn't have a clue what was going on anymore. I had no clue how any of it tied together.

And the worst part? I didn't care anymore.

BSG is at the point where I know enough about the behind-the-scenes development of this show that I know they're really making this all up as they go along. I know that any ideas or plot threads that they might have had in season one or two have been completely rebuilt from the ground up and ret-conned into submission. And for me, that totally ruins the experience. Unlike the Cylons, the creative team does NOT have a plan.

And that in itself is a joke. I defy ANYone to tell me in less than a thousand words what the Cylon's plan is. Better yet, tell me what it was at each stage of this show. Wipe out all the humans? Wipe out all of them except for a few? Find Earth? Not find Earth? Have there been prophecies all along? Where do they get their spiritual info from? Where's the Cylon Bible?

It's all so convoluted and contradictory that I doubt the writing staff of this show could explain it to you.

In spite of the ret-con plot integrity betrayal last season with the reveal of four of the Final Five Cylons, I was giving this season a chance to tie it all together and hit a home run. But that hasn't happened.

"Sine Qua Non" was easily one of the weakest episodes of the entire season. Battlestar Galactica works best when it's just telling its story in a straightforward way. The first few episodes of each season, this one included, usually start out that way. Just the presentation of the events in a serialized, connected way. It's only when the show hits the middle parts of the season when we start to get the stand-alone episodes. These eps usually have some sort of stupid 'theme' or style or homage they are paying. This week on BSG, we had the crazy/damaged consultant that sees dead cats. It was as silly as that sentence made it sound.

Which is sad, because there were several momentous events that took place that were completely diluted by the 'main' story. Adama declares his love for Roslin, Lee becomes President, and Tigh & Six conceive the first Cylon-Cylon baby (inconceivable!). While its true the President Lee Adama storyline was actually the main plot, it felt like a side element to the 'search for the candidate' that dominated much of the episode (and gave us the silly, showy, Romo Lampkin mental breakdown plot. My favorite comment on Romo Lampkin comes from Alan Sepinwall's blog,

"The entire story with Lee and Romo Lampkin was particularly annoying. I think the "Galactica" writers like Romo a lot more than the guy deserves, as he's less a character than a collection of colorful tics."

Sepinwall has a great, far more thorough, review on his blog as well, check it out.

And the contradictions continue to mount. It's bad enough that the show contradicts itself from episode to episode, but when it does it within the same episode, it makes me wonder who's in charge of this show. Case in point, in the middle of the episode, it's revealed to Admiral Adama that Tigh has been canoodling with prisoner Six, so much so that she's pregnant. Adama is suitably infuriated by this which leads to a knock-down fight between the two. That was okay. But not five minutes later, Adama decides to leave on a quest to find the missing Laura Roslin, and leaves "the only person he can trust," Tigh, in command of the entire fleet. WHAT? This guy just proved he can't be trusted and that he's consorting with the enemy. And a second example comes at the end of the ep when recently off-her-rocker Starbuck is now apparently the unquestioned CAG. First off, she was crazy just a couple of episodes ago, and she also her miraculous resurrection still hasn't been adequately explained. To me, that's someone that shouldn't be allowed near a command. And finally, there's the continuing trust of Athena. She's a CYLON. Regardless of how much she may want to fight her programming, she's still a Cylon, and ultimately can't and shouldn't be trusted. Adama's giving daughter Hera back to Athena after his justified berating of her simply smacked of "Let's just get this episode over and make sure we have all our pieces in place for the next episode."

In fact, the whole series feels that way. Regardless of how much sense it might or might not make, they make sure everything is set up for the next episode.

But right now... I just don't care. I imagine I'll keep watching just to see what happens, but I'm no longer invested in this show, and that's just sad. After the One Year Later jump, and the first five episodes of the next season, I was ready to declare BSG one of the all-time great shows. And then the wheels totally fell of the wagon. It's been a mess ever since.

And I'm sure I'll make this declaration way too many times in the coming weeks and months and years, but "The Wire" has totally ruined regular TV for me. After seeing what TV can look like when someone REALLY puts their effort into it and reaches for something when I see half-hearted, "good enough" TV, it just infuriates me. I'm so tired of lazy TV. I just pray that "The Wire" isn't the last of its kind that we'll see...

Oh well.

If it's any consolation, at least it looks like next week's BSG actually has stuff that happens in it.

What's you're take? Do you still care? Do you have a clue what's going on?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Damn... You are right. I don't want to believe it and choose to just still love it like I did. But you're right, there are just too many little cracks that didn't used to be there in the writing. And what happened to "And they have a plan." I feel pretty ripped off and agree that knowing that it wasn't planned makes me far less wrapped up in the show.

It's a lot like the Matrix I think - in the first movie you were SCARED of the agents and there was a sense of threat and dread. The Cylons, and those wonderful ominous soundscapes that came with the one or two raiders that appeared, struck terror. Now we get big, fantastical fights that aren't scary at all and way less believable.

Still the best show ever though!