My rambling thoughts on BSG after a full series run-through

Discussion in 'Battlestar Galactica & Caprica' started by sonak, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    yes, that's what they made him out to be, because had they made him a principled democrat trying to take back the power from an autocrat then we couldn't have our little "good vs. evil" mutiny story, could we?

    As I wrote, up until Zarek started shooting the quorum, I think he had right on his side.
     
  2. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    If he hadn't shot everyone he would probably have survived with his followers.
     
  3. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    The difference is one of duration and scale.

    With an Earthly natural disaster, the wheels of government and society continue to spin. Volunteerism happens spontaneously partly because people know that the overall system is still intact, and their charity helps keep it that way. People band together in a crisis. That's community and solidarity.

    But that's not what was really happening in BSG. Their government, their civilization, had been effectively annihilated. These people weren't just doing shitty jobs for no pay for a few days or weeks or months, but years. The survival of what remained of the human race depended on a handful of people continuing to do grueling jobs out of the kindness of their hearts.

    And when they finally stood up and said, "no, we won't be slaves," what was the government's reaction? They locked up the ringleaders and sent a military representative to get the refinery going again. Don't think that gesture would've been lost on the refinery workers. "You want to bargain? No. You've made this a military matter. Don't push it, or we'll find a military solution." Nevertheless, Tyrol wound up on their side, with good reason. It's interesting how often Adama wrestled with himself over humanity being "worthy of survival," in terms of not committing war crimes against Cylons, not losing their humanity in the midst of what was expected to be an unending crisis, and yet he was willing to turn a blind eye to what was basically brutal slave labor.

    Roslin could sit in her nice, comfy office and say "it's not an ideal situation" while kids lose their limbs to unsafe machinery. What's a few dead plebes if it keeps the FTLs running?

    And you know, if that was the tack Roslin and Adama wanted to take, they could've at least been honest about it. Instead, they tried to equivocate and make it sound like things were equally bad for everyone, which of course couldn't really be true.

    Sorry to go on a rant. That specific episode really rubbed me the wrong way, because it brought up very legitimate issues in the context of the series and the writers basically had no idea how to handle them, so they swept the whole thing under the rug. And we're left knowing Adama would happily blow people's brains out to keep his fleet running, making him no better than Cain.
     
  4. Dark Gilligan

    Dark Gilligan Writer Fleet Captain

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    Adama was raised in a crime family, don't forget. He resorted to brutality when he believed it justifed the desired ends (i.e. when he ordered the hit on Admiral Cain).
     
  5. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    I always thought Roslin's habit of ordering cylons to be chucked out of airlocks was one of the worst things about her character. Her vindictiveness showed up quite regularly. I don't know whether she was supposed to be the one who made the hard decisions but I reckon if you sentence someone to death, you should be the one who presses the button.
     
  6. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Except Zarek was a bastard from his first appearance in season 1 and the mutiny didn't have squat to do with taking power back from an autocrat, it was basically humans don't like Cylons so they don't want upgrades to their ships from rebel Cylons so they can keep running from the totally psychotic man-child who wants them all dead.

    To be fair the Cylons did kind of kill the vast majority of humanity and were hunting them down to finish the job plus they did come back from the dead for most of the series.
     
  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I took it as an example of the flaws that all people have in the nuBSG universe, heroes and protagonists included.

    That doesn't mean that I disagree about the writing. Often, it seemed that the writers used ambiguity and murkiness as tropes for creating a realistic atmosphere. But in some, if not many, of those cases I think the writers really failed to think things through, and the it's-ambiguous and it's-murky tropes were just used as cover. Whether that's from laziness, lack of time, or what I can't say, but it shows up as a flaw in the writing, and I think you indicated where one of the important instances was.
     
  8. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In addition to Hollywood's usual problems with writing a female character, writing a female character in authority was always going to be really weird for the new BSG, given Moore's obsession with Voyager. I think it was inevitable that Roslyn would be redeemed by love...for the Hero Adama.:lol:

    Very good post. Despite (or is that because of?) it honesty, it makes a more convincing explanation of what some people like about the new BSG, despite it's many writing flaws. Some comments follow.

    1. The new BSG was recast as a 9/11 story. This led to one terrific episode, 33, but the equation of 9/11 with the near annihilation of humanity led the storyline right into the septic tank as far as I was concerned. But I have to say that the characters don't have to be likable, they just have to be touch something in us. Maybe, like Walter White on Breaking Bad, we only need to realize that we too could break.

    2. Yes indeed, Starbuck was ludicrous. There is a general point here, which is that wishfulfillment characters are for lots of us less interesting than characters who actually interact with the others (instead of just playing out fantasy script,) who have genuine motivations that spring from inner needs engaging with their environment.

    3. There is a certain question of taste here. Some people like wallowing in suffering hero fantasies, others don't. It is especially annoying to have people insist that when we see people going about their regular day jobs they've had for months we are seeing true torment.

    4. Very true. As a supposed exercise in realism, the new BSG was a spectacular failure.

    5. As some have noted above, there were hints of the religious themes from the beginning. They were however introduced as the beliefs of certain characters. By season three, the series held these beliefs. This really is a huge difference. The show didn't critically treat any of its religious themes. I know many people prefer religion, even fictional religion, not be viewed critically, but I think it is appallingly dishonest writing.

    6. I have to repeat, it's not a matter of "standing" Adama or Roslyn, it's first of all believing in Adama or Roslyn. I could believe in neither. It's also a question of relevance. Adama's unbelief should have been shattered and his subsequent quest for the truth should have been part of his character. Most of us can find interest in someone's pursuit of religious answers (given the assumption that religion is real,) regardless of whether we like Adama. Similarly, Roslyn's prophetic visions should have dominated her life, given her situation, but, no, they just come and go as plot requires. Yet we should be interested in a ruler who guides policy at God's whim, regardless of whether we like Roslyn.

    7. The difference between Cylons and humans is race and religion. Cylon race and religion is worthy of instant extermination by God's own hand. This kind of thinking is why I find the series not just another badly written TV show but actively offensive.

    8. If you're not offended by the underlying premises in our real world context, the mysteries were dangled cunningly enough.

    9. Unlike life, in mysteries the point is not the journey, it's what you find there, which is to say, the answers.

    10. This is why most serialized shows do worse in repeats, so it's not unique to new BSG. The Soap Channel proves that some people do like to repeat serials but its ratings also prove this is a minority taste.
     
  9. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

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    If you know a cylon is going to be resurrected, killing one does not amount to murder. In fact Sharon/Athena asked to be killed in order to be resurrected on a Base ship so she could rescue her child.

    I think the original Battlestar Galactica made light of most of humanity's destruction, with Starbuck being just as happy go lucky as usually, and interested in winning cubits and visiting this space going casino in order to win a fortune, it also was bothersome that these characters did not have last names or seem to have family members other than the ones in Apollo's family. I think more than a few people could reasonably be expected to be motivated by feelings of revenge due to the destruction of most of their race by the Cylons, and many are decidedly reluctant to see Cylons as anything other than the very definition of evil. A person who has lost most or all of his family and friends is not likely to be the forgiving sort, or be willing to give the perpetrators of the act a second chance or the benefit of the doubt in anything. Any character who just shrugs his shoulders at genocide and lets bygones be bygones, probably has ice water for blood.
     
  10. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^I think the original series religious premise is really Brigham Young leading the Mormons to Deseret. Grief over the demise of a civilization doomed by sin is not appropriate in this context. I think that criticism of the original series misunderstands what it was, and is therefore wholly wrong.
     
  11. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    <Sigh> Again with the "It was a 9/11 parallel". NuBSG has almost nothing in common with 9/11, less than 4000 people were killed (Not to make light of it, it was a horrific crime, but, doesn't compare to NuBSG annihilation), a drop in the bucket compared to our 6 Billion population.

    In NuBSG, less than 100,000, from 12 planets survived to make the Exodus.

    After 9/11, Humanity wasn't running for lives and being hunted and exterminated when we slowed down from running top speed. Maybe it was the writer's intent to make that parallel, I don't know, but, I sure don't see the Parallel, there's nothing at all in common other than a difference in Religion.

    The Sudan, for one, is a much more apt comparison, and there are many other historical events that are far more apt comparisons.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
  12. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Whether the cylons resurrected or not is not the point. If you want to consider yourself on the moral high ground opposing your foe, you don't sink to their level. Barbarism can't be defended ever. There was an interesting moment (one of the very few) later on in the show when a model 6 killed a soldier because the soldier had watched her previous incarnation die slowly. "I didn't do anything to her, why did she do that?" was the cylon's gut reaction. There seemed to be a huge disconnect here between what the cylons as a people did and what individual grunts did. Much like, y'know, human soldiers? The show started off with one unified group trying to get rid of another owing to their dedication to one ideal. By the end it was just a big old mess with everybody being exactly the same. But then they were the same from the start; it just took them far too long to reach that conclusion.
     
  13. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    The 9/11 parallels were deliberate and elaborated upon by Ron Moore--you know, the executive producer and showrunner. I don't know how you can discount his own words about the show's themes unless you think it is entirely a matter of how the individual viewer interprets it--which is a fair position to take. However, it was a deliberate 9/11 allegory on the part of the show's creators. There is no denying that.

    That was certainly one of the show's (clumsily handled) themes: that humanity should not just survive, but be worthy of it, by not abandoning the very things that make them human, such as a sense of ethics, compassion, and morality. What it ended up requiring was for them to recognize that the Cylons were human, for all intents and purposes. Which meant that trying to wipe them out was just as heinous a crime as what the Cylons had done to the Colonies.

    Something the show mentioned on occasion--and a point I think was often lost--is that it's fine to have a strong sense of morality when you have a functioning, stable civilization in which to exercise it. If the occasional person has to die for the greater good, so be it, because you can afford the loss, and the enduring stability of your society trumps that.

    But the surviving humans sticking by their principles in the situation presented by BSG? If holding to those principles means your entire race goes extinct, is that really a wise choice? When it came down to it, they did whatever they had to in order to survive, no matter how unseemly it was. Where I think the show erred was the way it framed the issue. When the alternative is the utter destruction of your species, then yes, you do abandon those principles and do what you must, because those principles will die forever along with your civilization.

    There were things Adama said he wouldn't/couldn't do because he couldn't "live with it." Which I'm sure would have been a great comfort when the rest of the human race was extinguished by the Cylons. His personal discomfort with it should have been beside the point, and he should have been smart enough to see that.

    To sum up: principles that preserve and stabilize your society are worth keeping; principles that will get your civilization annihilated are not worth keeping. The series was never really willing to have an honest conversation about this. Characters and storylines vacillated back and forth on it, which may be true to life, but makes for lousy narrative.
     
  14. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    Well said that man.
     
  15. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Could you maybe elaborate on your response to point 7? I'm not sure what you meant.

    I did find the theme of the differences between Cylon and Human religion interesting, but also thought that the idea of Humans going back to full-throated polytheism to be kind of unrealistic.(well maybe not back...)
     
  16. Sindatur

    Sindatur Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I said, I don't know if that was indeed their intention, but, it sure didn't play out anything like 9/11, the only thing it had in common with The 9/11 attack was a difference of Religion. The method of Cylon attack, the devestation of the attack, the hunting and exterminating, the loss of life of over 90% of the Population and the loss of Society, The Martial Law, The Dwindling and lack of Resources, The Politics, etc, etc. None of that in NuBSG has anything in common with the 9/11 attack of Al Quaeda

    I don't dispute the claim that it was their intention, I dispute that the end Product succeeded in having any parallel other than a Difference of Religion.
     
  17. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    I have to say I'm having difficulty seeing any parallels myself.
     
  18. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    I'm thinking you aren't realizing what an allegory is. Everything doesn't have to be a straight 1:1 for it to be allegorical. BSG had these elements, directly pulled from 9/11 and the "war on terror" in general, deliberately so by the writers:

    * Sudden and shocking attack by an enemy hardly anyone was thinking about.
    * Sleeper agents hidden in your midst.
    * A virulent and violent religion driving your enemies to attack you.
    * Suicide bombers.
     
  19. Deckerd

    Deckerd Fleet Arse Premium Member

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    I'm sorry but that sounds like a bit of a stretch to me. You might as well say it was a Pearl Harbour allegory.
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I noticed that, too.

    To me, the out ultimately seemed to be that it was "just a sci-fi show." In particular, the show was a re-imagining of BSG. Therefore, Adama at least and in particular had to be good and noble, ultimately, or else the show would divorce itself too far from the original to really deserve to be called BSG anymore. In other words, the important characters, at heart, had to be archetypes, because of the genre.

    That meant the writers could play the Picard trope, "The line must be drawn here, this far, no further!" (Incidently, RDM was co-author for Star Trek: First Contact. Coincidence?)
     

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