BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: And they have a PLAN

Sunday night saw the premiere of the companion piece Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Nowhere near as mind blowing as the series finale proper (and probably completely confusing to anyone unfamiliar with the BSG universe), the film worked on a few levels. The most obvious strength was Dean Stockwell’s performance(s) as the two Cavils. While the arc of Caprica Cavil among Anders’ resistance fighters could have gone further to show his realization that it is from love that any race derives true power, the contrast with the forever angry and bitter Galactica Cavil aided the point. I’ll give the BSG team props for one more “whoa!” moment: Cavil’s murder of the child John. Smart choice to recycle Cavil’s monologue from “No Exit” about wanting to be more than human as he and his brother were air locked; it took on a new meaning the second time around. What was first a temper tantrum about transcending the limits of human form became an ironic premonition that the character was doomed to never be “so much more” because of his inability to connect with other beings.

Most of the film stemmed from this notion that love is what makes us weak yet also empowers whether through a newly introduced Simon model (about time they did something with this character! better late than never!) swayed from continuing the genocide by his love for a human and her young daughter or Leoben smitten with the sound of Kara Thrace’s voice or Shelly Godfrey unable to discredit Gaius Baltar. The newly invented finale to the Godfrey/Baltar conflict, so brilliantly introduced in Season One’s “Six Degrees of Separation,” was too tidy. I just didn’t buy that this Six suddenly felt the same emotions so often attributed to her sister, Caprica, and would essentially out herself for setting Baltar up before Cavil sacrificed her. I preferred the theory, especially in the wake of the finale, that Shelly Godfrey was one in another line of angels sent to pave the way for Baltar’s ultimate spiritual awakening. Leoben unmasked, not so much a seer but rather a spy who followed Starbuck’s journey via radio and filled in the blanks once her prisoner, put a new spin on the character, con artist first and mystic second. As for the Eights, only Boomer was in focus, and I was not a fan of the rewritten history that allowed Cavil to tap into her true nature with the use of an animal figurine. It didn’t betray Boomer’s arc from Season One, but it diluted it. To believe, if only for a few stolen moments, that Boomer knew what she was and what she was engineered to do takes away some of her terrified confusion from those early days of the series. Back to Simon (who also appeared as the doctor from “The Farm” in the Caprica section of the film), the idea that he was the anti-Boomer in those first days after the fall of the colonies, that he knew what he was but no longer had any desire to aid the Cylons (and probably left the note for Adama about the number of Cylon models in a futile attempt to help) is such an intriguing idea. Can someone who helps engineer a holocaust be redeemed if he works for the good of the survivors? Just the suggestion of what Rick Worthy could have brought to the table if given more screen time is a lost opportunity for the series as a whole. True, Simon does not appear until Season Two but neither did D’Anna, or Cavil for that matter, and viewers bought into the notion that they were in the shadows the entire time. Same thing would have worked with Simon.

The Caprica storyline provided most of the action, and Michael Trucco gave a strong performance as Anders (especially in a late scene with Cavil set to Bear McCreary’s “Something Dark Is Coming”). But nothing new was revealed about the character. Still, Anders and, to a lesser extent, Tyrol were at least given beats to play. Sadly, Tigh, Ellen, and Tory were glorified extras. I realize that the point was to show us the “original” Cylons’ long promised plan, and it was somehow fitting to learn that they were making it up as they went along, but I wanted more insight into the Final Five, notably Ellen.

Criticisms aside, I enjoyed The Plan. It was fun to spend another few hours in Galactica’s corridors with these actors and their characters, grand-for-TV special effects, and McCreary’s inspired music. But as far as revisiting an area of the series from the Cylon perspective, I would have gone with the New Caprica arc. Now there are already scenes from those third season episodes with various Cylons as a twisted cabinet of sorts aboard Baltar’s Colonial One, but to have seen more terror, anger, and confusion in the face of the suicide bombers while Galactica Cavil and Caprica Cavil had a lengthier debate on that playing field could have sown the seeds for the Cylon civil war and allowed for exploration of the Final Five, all present on New Caprica. There must be enough stock footage from the first episodes of Season Three and “Unfinished Business” and the Jammer-centric webisodes to recreate the feel of New Caprica without reconstructing the set, and existing footage of Starbuck, Baltar, D’Anna, etc. could be used as in The Plan. Another movie with these characters at this point in what is becoming an epic story seems unlikely, but stay tuned for Caprica, premiering January 22 on SyFy and the long-awaited clues and brand new mysteries destined to spring forth.

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