ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
: I started watching the new Battlestar Galactica
because I'd heard that it did interesting stuff with religion and with post-9/11 issues of wartime exigency. In the end neither of those aspects of the show resonated especially strongly with me (although I do like Sean's point about how Baltar's seemingly scattershot theology actually hangs together and plays into the overall Gnostic tone of the series). I kept watching through to the end because I was intrigued by a lot of the characters and I loved the Cylon aesthetics. When I talked about the show with friends, I found myself focusing not on the clash between the humans' polytheism and the robots' monotheism but on the totally awesome space battles. (I am not usually that kind of SF fan!) But in the end I was rewarded with one theme which really, deeply resonated with me.1. "All of this has happened before. But does it have to happen again?"
It might not be intentional, but it's deeply resonant that two of the characters who move toward the center of the narrative in the final season are alcoholics, since compulsive repetition of harm is one major aspect of addiction. (Here, have a gnomic utterance
!) A Swiftly Tilting Planet
was my favorite L'Engle in large part because it posed this same question. Can we stop? Can we change? And now that I think about it, of course Mrs. O'Keefe's drunkenness--am I remembering this right?--fits into the repetition theme as well....2. My one problem with the ending.
I can do a lot of handwaving in order to get to images, characters, or plotlines which resonate with me. So I really liked the use of "All Along the Watchtower" ("there must be some way out of here," see point #1!) even though there's really no
way to make it make sense. I really liked that Kara just... disappears.
But I was a little disappointed that so much hangs on Hera and yet she never gets an actual personality. She's purely iconic/mythic, in a series where virtually all of the characters are both iconic and fleshed-out personalities. She's just
a Significant Child, which I find kind of boring. I don't know, could they have shown her in day care, interacting with other children, doing anything other than displaying her creepy musical/psychic talents? Was she teased for having a Cylon mommy, and how did she respond if so? I guess I wanted her to have a personality, and not just a point
, because if all there is to her is the answer to, "What's the point of her?", then she's a character you can solve
rather than love.3. Cain, Roslin, Kendra, and Starbuck
: You know, I actually liked the Daddy Issues with the Adamas. But we've seen them before, in just about every pop culture product of the past twenty years. So what I really appreciated in BSG
is that it gave me something I'm not sure I've seen anywhere else: mother/daughter issues played out in the context of leadership and the "mask of command." I've seen mother/daughter issues in e.g. Absolutely Fabulous
, and older woman/younger woman mentorship in e.g. The Devil Wears Prada
, but I've rarely or never seen them brought together like this. I loved it. (The father/daughter stuff with Starbuck and Boomer was also pretty swift.)4. All beauty is strange.
I mentioned the Cylon aesthetics. I first noticed them during the aforementioned awesome space battles. The human ships generally kept on the horizontal for quite a while before doing their cool flippy stuff... but the Cylons just swarmed
, from the first moment. They acted
like robots bred to live in space. They didn't look like their fighting style was adapted from submarine or air combat. Their fighting style made them feel
alien, and very, very scary.
Then later we get to see the gooey neon Basestar. And we get to see the really eldritch scenes in which Hybrid Anders is hooked into the Galactica: how bizarre
. What an amazing image of the merging of human and Cylon cultures.5. Diana.
There's this trope or character type nowadays, the Girl Who Kicks Ass. (The Lady Who Kicks Ass is a very different type!) And I'm really unclear on why I love some iterations of that type (Veronica Mars) and find others sort of paint-by-numbers pop feminism (Buffy). Initially I wasn't sure that Starbuck would win me over--she's very clearly a Girl who kicks ass, not a Lady or Woman--but she really did. I think it's mainly her self-destructive streak (and her awareness of that streak; you can see it in her gestures at the end of that very first fight between her and Saul Tigh, where she makes her idiocy into a performance
so it doesn't make her look dumb) and also her very expressive hands and giant eyes.6. Treason for no reason!
Man, Gaius Baltar is one of the great SF characters, ever. He and the Tighs and the Sixes were my favorites by far.