Special ”Battlestar Galactica: Razor” recap
Man, it has been too long since we got together like this, to talk about last night’s Battlestar Galactica. And I’ve missed you. Really. Okay, maybe the last time we spoke, things were a little chilly. It was me, not you. But here we are, with the only new Galactica we’re likely to get for a long, long while. Good thing it was awesome.
The battlestar Pegasus is a ghost ship, haunted by the mistakes of the past. Her first commander, Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), was a stern taskmaster, forced by circumstances to make decisions as she saw fit, decisions that are judged by the Galactica crew (and, by extension, us) to have been disasters. Then came Commander Fisk (Graham Beckel), her executive officer, who let greed pull the shining battlestar further into the muck. And then Commander Garner (William Heard), an engineer who, seeing the machine but not the men, couldn’t right the ship.
Razor follows two stories, both of which revolve around a young Pegasus officer named Kendra Shaw: Admiral Cain’s experiences during, and following, the Cylon attack on the colonies, and newly minted commander Lee Adama’s first mission at Pegasus’ helm. (There’s also a mini-detour further back in time to peep at Bill Adama’s first mission as a Viper pilot.)
And we pick up Razor as Lee Adama takes command of the Pegasus. He says to his new crew, ”We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we handle them.” As if these people hadn’t already learned that lesson the hard way. We can see the price they’ve paid on Kendra Shaw’s (easy on the eyes) face, as she stands in front of her new commanding officer. She’s worn, beaten — and not just a little bit high — and surprised by Lee’s offer of a promotion to XO. Especially after her priceless ”Your daddy just gave you a battlestar” line. If Lee’s learned one thing under his father’s command, it’s that you need to have someone willing to tell truth to power.
Scorpion Fleet Shipyards, 10 months ago. A scene we’ve seen in almost every space opera since classic Trek: the officer getting his/her first look at a new commission.
So many little character touches. The introduction of Cain’s executive officer, Colonel Belzen, as a man with a wife and kids — a family that knows Cain well enough to want to see her on shore leave. It only makes it that much more devastating when she shoots that XO in the dome for not following an order. Just after he tells her, ”Once in a while, it’s okay to get off the treadmill,” she starts to run even faster, a tacit rebuttal of that very concept, that it’s okay to ever relax when you’re in command.
A Cylon as a network administrator. Fitting, considering they would use those very networks to cripple the fleet. Gina’s last name, Envierre, means ”resurrection.” Again, those little throwaway things. God, as they say, is in the details.
So, that’s what the Cylon attack looked like. There are times, and this is one of them, that I’m amazed at what BSG’s effects dudes (and dudettes) can pull off. To not only render the scope of this all-out attack on the shipyards — complete with Raider carpet-bombings — but to do it in a faux hand-held style — man, that’s tough.
Say what you will about Cain, she’s good in a crisis. Her choice to order a blind FTL jump underlines the idea that, sometimes, what matters is not that you made the right decision, it’s that you made any decision at all. If the choice falls between certain death and possible death…well, that’s not much of a choice, is it?
Okay, now we’re back in the ”present.” (You’ll have to forgive these blunt little way markers; there’s so much temporal shifting in these two hours that keeping it all straight requires some bluntness.) Adama gives Lee his first mission: a search-and-rescue operation, looking for some missing scientists. (Before we get any further, I just want to take a moment to say how refreshing it is to see Edward James Olmos again. After a fall TV season full of man-boys — Reaper, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory — it’s nice to see a real solid hunk of maturity again. Sometimes, I just wanna hug him.)
(Too much with that last bit there? I get that. Sorry.)
Back in the ”past,” we learn the defining ethos that separates Cain from Adama. She tells Shaw, ”Hold on to that anger, and you keep it close. It’ll stop you being afraid the next time, and it’ll tell you what to do.” The mark of Cain is anger. The mark of Adama? Duty. When push came to shove, Cain gave free rein to her anger and lashed out, while Adama circled the wagons. (It also helped that Adama — and he admits as much — had President Roslin perched on his shoulder.) ”War is our imperative…payback.”
(And I’m not gonna mention the purportedly rousing but actually pretty cheesy ”So say we all” rally. No, sir.)
And when Cain dropped her anger, just for a moment, to find solace in the arms of Gina Six, Gina’s treachery only encouraged Cain to wear her anger as a shield, to wield it as a weapon. Alas, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. If it wasn’t clear before, it seems the Six model was created for the express purpose of seduction. (Six is, after all, just one vowel away from sex.) Caprica Six seduced the secrets right out of Gaius Baltar, and Gina Six made with the hot love to get in good with Cain and, by extension, her crew, allowing her to get the access codes (to somethingorother) from Shaw.
NEXT: Classic ’70s Cylons attack!