Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Battlestar Galactica- She said

Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica-Beware this will be a spoilerific discussion.
The following two essays will be talking about Battlestar Galacticas entire run but in order to do so properly we have to talk about spoilers, so unless you don’t care about spoilers or have seen the show, please proceed with caution. Last thing we want to do is to ruin this amazing show for people.

I am not one to start a TV series after it has ended. If I happen to catch it in syndication and it seems interesting, I’ll watch a few episodes. I like to be with a series from the very beginning. However, Battlestar Galactica changed my perception. Battlestar was one of those series that flew under the radar for a long time. I think it had a stigma because it was on the Syfy channel. For some reason, people stay away from that channel so as to not be considered “nerdy”. Whatever. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. The only aspect that makes this series Sci-Fi is the fact it’s in space and machines that look like humans. There’s not even a green-four-eyed-slimy-egghead looking alien during the whole series.

I’m getting sidetracked now…I had heard many wonderful things about this series from many, many sources. So, I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did. This is one of the best series I’ve ever watched. Yes, it has its problems. There’s a lull in the first part of season 3 (but that seems to happen with a lot of shows). But despite all that, the show has more heart and truth to it than I’ve seen in a long time. The characters on the show are so dynamic and developed and flawed. You love them, hate them, agree and disagree with all of them at some point in the series. I found myself switching favorites through each season. Throughout their journeys, even if I didn’t agree with the decision a certain character made, I understood their motivations and reasoning behind it (however flawed those decisions were at times). They’re, oh my god, human! Just like these characters, we all make mistakes in our lives, but more often than not, most people are inherently good. Yes, there’s the occasional bad apple who succumbs and lets power/greed/money/status take hold of them, but that happens throughout every culture and society.

I’m going to brag on my favorite, Helo. Helo started as a side story during the miniseries, but soon became a real player once he returned to the Battlestar at the end of season one. Helo falls in love with a cylon but still fulfills his duty as an officer aboard Galactica. What I loved most about Helo is he always, always stood up for what was right, even when no one (literally) believed him. I wish I could say that I had the strength and moral character to do that, but it takes some balls to be that sure of something.

Okay that was my fan girl gush for this article.

One of the most interesting aspects of the series was the blending of religion and politics. Now, we live in a society with the freedom of religion. People are free to worship whatever. It’s also safe to say that all of our Presidents have been Christian in some form or fashion. However, no President has ever used religion as the basis of their presidency. After the genocide of the human race, Laura Roslin is thrust into the role as President. She has one mission: to find a home, namely Earth. Earth is mentioned in their scriptures as the home of one of the 12 tribes of their ancestors. In Roslin’s mind, Earth is salvation and peace that will end the conflict. She uses her position as President to push her religious beliefs and agenda on the survivors. And they let her! Now, if this were to happen in America tomorrow, there would be an uproar from many, many people…namely the blue half of the country. But in the series, the survivors have nothing. They’re at the end of their rope. Everything they knew and loved was gone within minutes. When someone has been through that traumatic of a situation, they will cling to something that seems strong. In many cases, faith. Even if they weren’t religious at home, faith, in some form or fashion, has always been a constant in their society. I would be safe to bet that if something of that magnitude happened in the present day, the people would turn to church. When 9/11 happened, I remember vividly how busy my church was that weekend. We want an answer; we need an answer. Fortunately, religion can provide those answers. Now, whether or not those answers are interpreted correctly is another discussion. It works, and Roslin and crew use it. Now, it may seem that I am bashing this tactic, but trust me, I’m not. A society needs common ground and a purpose to survive. They need a reason to live. When everything is taken from you, what stops you from taking your life?

When the survival of the human race is in your hands, how can one person even begin to make decisions? As the military leader of the fleet, William Adama has to make these impossible decisions. Now, most of the time, the choices seem obvious. Yes, we need to go down on this planet to find food. Yes, we need to fix this ship so we can have tilium for fuel. When it starts getting fuzzy is when these choices become personal. There are many points in the season when choices have to be made by Adama that either puts the fleet at risk or someone he loves at risk. Do we go back for Starbuck, his adoptive daughter? Do we go after Athena and Helo’s daughter because she’s the first cylon-human? That’s where Adama’s flaws come out. He tends to put the fleet at risk when it will effect him personally. Even though this is reckless, this makes Adama one of the most complex characters in the series. He has to lead, protect, and ensure the survival of the human race; that pressure is unimaginable. I wouldn’t want that kind of leadership or power. However, Adama takes the charge head on. He cares, I mean really cares about finding home and starting a new life for everyone. Yes, he makes reckless decisions for personal reasons, but it’s because he has a heart. If he didn’t make those decisions, he would be an icy, cold leader. He’s the best man for the job. I believe the reason this race survives is because of Adama’s compassion.

This show has so many layers; people will be talking about this series for a long time. The arc of the characters are so well drawn, almost everyone has a nice payoff by the end of the series. Also, another aspect I loved about Battlestar is all the main characters that we’re introduced to within the first season are there at the end. There are only a few people introduced in later seasons that have any relevance. Many shows introduce characters later as afterthoughts for the series, and honestly, it’s kinda annoying. I love seeing a character from the beginning of a series and watching them grow and change. I hope people will give this series a chance. Yes, it’s a science fiction show, but you actually forget that. It’s a show about survival, tough decisions, love, hate, politics, religion, forgiveness, and redemption…it just happens to be set in space.

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