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Battlestar Galactica: Nothing’s ever gonna’ be the same again

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2006-10-09


When Battlestar Galactica returned to the airwaves this fall, it marked the end of a 210-day absence of new episodes. Somehow, the wait seemed longer.

What began as a limited mini-series in 2003, morphed into a full-fledged weekly-series in 2004 that has cumulated as one of the SCI-FI Channels top rated shows since. Battlestar Galactica proves on a weekly basis that the genre doesn’t have to consist of colorful lasers-beams and aliens with funky foreheads to be considered sci-fi.

At the close of the second season, the robotic Cylons had discovered most of the remnants of humanity (dubbed “Colonists”) hiding on a planet called New Caprica. With superior numbers and technology, the Cylons have invaded and taken over, replacing the Colonists’ elected government with a totalitarian one.

In between the second and third seasons of the show, SCIFI.com aired ten short “webisodes” online chronicling what happened on New Caprica between the Cylons and Colonists during the on-screen four months between the second and third season.

At the opening of the third season, the Cylons are taking a heavy hand with the Colonists, kidnapping, jailing and executing whomever they deem a risk to their rule and regime. (As it’s put in one of the “webisodes”, “The Cylons took over and the first thing they did was to build a jail.”) Things have gotten so bad on New Caprica that even co-dependant Cylon collaborator Dr. Gias Baltar (James Callis) is beginning to tire of the occupation.

In the intervening months since the start of hostilities, the Colonists have begun to fight back with a resistance movement (whom the Cylons call “insurgents”) that suicide-bombs human collaborators and plans for a general uprising against the Cylons. Following the pattern of Nazi and Japanese occupiers during World War II, the Cylons seek order through violence, and have few qualms about murdering whomever they deem necessary to achieve their goals.

“Tough choices” sums up the start of the third season of Battlestar Galactica. Many of the characters in the series are forced to face their inner demons – be it choosing who should go on a one way bombing mission, whether to cut and run to save oneself or even to execute a friend that may or may not be collaborating with the Cylons.

Series Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore has never shied away from controversy. Elements of the mini-series and first season bore a striking resemblance to the events of 9/11, while one storyline in the second season featured the Cylons forcing hybrid-pregnancies upon captured Colonists. Now at the start of season three, Moore paints the Colonists as insurgent-terrorists, blending elements from the current war in Iraq and the French resistant movements during WWII together. What Moore does is to place the viewer in the uncomfortable position of rooting for the insurgents and their terror tactics, fighting against their Cylon oppressors.

Moore is guaranteed to upset some with these plot turns, even if it all makes sense in the confines of Battlestar Galactica.

Battlestar Galactica is not an easy show to watch; the series demands a lot from the viewer, both mentally and emotionally. Almost everything done or said has meaning, even if that meaning isn’t clear until much later. But this mental and emotional cost does deliver, Battlestar Galactica is also one of the few shows that consistently surprises and enlightens on a weekly basis.

If you’ve been a fan of Battlestar Galactica over these last three years then I suspect you’ll still be a fan in the third season. The realism and grit that has come to mark Battlestar Galactica are still present at the start of the third season, even if much of the action has shifted from space to dry land.

The special two-hour season three premier episode of Battlestar Galactica entitled “Occupation/Precipice” airs October 6th. This story continues in “Exodus, Part 1” on October 13, and “Exodus, Part 2” on October 20. Battlestar Galactica airs Friday nights at 9:00 P.M. on the SCI-FI Channel.

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