Saturday, November 7, 2009

"This has happened before"

A commentary on "The Plan."  If you have not seen the whole series, be warned - spoilers ahead!

The first viewing of “The Plan” left a bitter taste in my mouth.  How was it even remotely about The Plan referred to in the opening credits of each episode?  We already knew that Cavill programmed his “siblings” and engineered the entire Cylon attack on the colonies and destruction of the entire human race as a punishment for his “parents.”  But this wasn’t really about that, anyways…  It was more about how Cavill’s big plan DIDN’T work in its entirety and how a few random skin jobs thought on their feet to continue the destruction of humankind, and then did a half-assed job of it.  Did we really need to see the battle of the Sixes between prostitute-Six and buttoned-up Shelley Godfrey?  Did we really need to see Cavill’s creepy oedipal and incestual impulses acted out over and over again?  Did we really need to see Doral defend his fashion choices?  Why did the keep cutting from scenes with one of the Final Five back to the Final Five in their resurrection tubs?  Did someone think I could forget one of the show’s biggest reveals? How was this geared towards me, the huge Battlestar Galactica fan who has seen the series multiple times?  I felt pandered to, over and over again, as I am sure even a casual viewer would feel.  Come on, give us a little credit!  I came out of watching “The Plan” feeling like I had not only wasted a whole lot of anticipatory energy waiting to see this, but that I would have been better off had I not seen it in the first place.    

A second viewing let me unearth a few highlights:

The humanization of Simon
Simon was always a creepy, single-minded, serial nut job; his Farms and eerie grin let him be portrayed as a mass rapist.  It was almost a relief to see him laughing and loving his wife and daughter, and defy the orders of Cavill.  At first, I hated the introduction of yet another character (Simon’s wife) who we will only see in this particular avenue, but in the end I felt she added a lot to the story.  I especially like her conversation with Tyrol about her reaction to Simon being a Cylon and what she would do if she discovered the same about herself.  It was nice to see Tyrol have someone to talk to about the conflicting emotions that come from having been in love with a Cylon (and not just Helo, who has a bit of a biased opinion…)

Leoben really is spiritually tuned, and the origins of his fascination with Kara
A part of me felt that it could be argued that Leoben only became obsessed with Kara after her interrogation of him, that he used his proclamations of her “special destiny” as a way to throw her off in questioning, and then grew to believe his own “truth mixed with lies.”  I liked that it turns out that he really does sense something special about her, (and, of course, that there really is something special about her) before he even meets her, and he comes by his fixation honestly.  As disturbing as Leoben and his actions are through the show, his fascination is, if misguided, not unfounded.  I love the continuity of that obsession, and I am pleased that seeing Leoben’s story in “The Plan” doesn’t  break that continuity.

But I still have some sticking points (OK, maybe a lot…):

The explanation of Shelley Godfrey
I liked the implication that Shelley Godfrey was a physical manifestation of Head Six much better than the fact that she was simply another Six, and a wishy-washy one at that, and that her disappearance was just prostitute-Six in a wig.  Far less mysterious and interesting once explained.

Boomer’s identity crisis
I would also have like to have left unseen the Cylon side of Sharon as she battled her programming and identity on Galactica.  The use of the wooden elephant as a trigger was strange and seemed to leave bigger holes than it closed…  Was Cavill around with his magic elephant every time he needed to flip Sharon’s Cylon switch?  I didn’t see him lurking in the background in CIC when Sharon shot the Old Man…  The idea of her Cylon instincts driving her at all times, but that it was her humanity and attachment to the people that she loved keeping her from being overridden by her programming was far more romantic and interesting.  Sometimes the puppetmaster is better left in the wings...

The Hybrid
In the show, I have always loved the scenes with the Hybrids and their seemingly random babbling.  I liked the poetry of it, and trying to glean insight from their indiscriminate spouting, knowing there was often nothing to be learned.  In “The Plan,” I didn’t like the obviousness of the Hybrid statements…  “The [objects that are a significant but painfully obvious parallel to the astrological sign of the colony and its meaning] of [colony planet name derived from the astrological sign] are burning,” got painful after, oh, the second one…  The courthouses of Libron, the harbors of Picon, the forests of Aeralon; oh, how original…  I think one of the writers must have realized that they refer to the Twelve Colonies as a whole often enough, they’d better hit us over the head with each colony’s name and contribution to the human race.  This show has often played the subtlety card well, this was not one of those times.    

The special effects
Sure, the space battles were cool, but why is this the first time we are seeing that the Cylon Base Stars can rotate on their central hub?  And why would they do that anyways?  And continuing on my Hybrid rant, did we really need the gratuitous cuts to each planet’s significant feature burning in the aftermath as the Hybrid called the planet’s name?  I could have done with either the visuals or the commentary, but both was overkill. 

The Cylon skinjobs running around on Galactica
Leoben and Doral are known Cylon agents at this point, how do they feel that they are safe and free to wander the ship at will?  And how did Gaius' hot-woman-radar not kick in with two Sixes running around on Galactica?

It also left some unanswered questions, that would have been nice to wrap up:

What happened to the Olympic Carrier?

What about the Pegaus, how would affect Cavill's plans?