Battlestar Galactica and Misinterpretation

Friday, February 17th, 2006

I waited with anticipation for the second season of Battlestar Galactica. The arc was tense, the approach new, and the characters were, I thought, dead on. The second season doesn’t seem to remember any of this. It’s difficult to explain what the problem is because the characters had reasons that took time to establish, but this establishment can disappear when you see entire episodes devoted to misdirection.

Let’s say that a relationship pulls the story along, a pursuit narrative involving a connection between a man and a woman. An energy has developed between them that forms one chamber of the story’s heart. The writers strip them of this energy and put them in the wrong beds. “What’s he doing with her?” “Why is she with him?” “There’s no tension there.” “What does this have to do with where they are going along with everyone else?”

In addition to losing its characters, the writers have written the dramatic arc behind a cloud of mashy, predictable action. Battlestar should be a story about a journey home. The Cylons, lots of space (the sense of a hard exodus ahead has been forgotten), human missteps (disappeared), and an interesting myth (mislayed somewhere) are all in the way. Part of this story has to do with what the survivors are creating and destroying along the way. None of this is being told. Opportunities are being lost.

Poor sweat Billy is killed, but inconsequentially to any story. The confused genius spins a thousand miles away from himself, and he’s now being zippered into the costume of a cliche. Edward James Olmos has all but stepped aside as a force. It’s almost to the point where the story can’t be helped because so much time has been wasted standing in the same place, confused, wondering what to do next (see paragraph above).


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