Sci Fi Friday: Battlestar Galactica Returns and More on The Others on Lost

Battlestar Galactica‘s third season opened last week by takilng advantage of science fiction’s ability to discuss issues which might be too controversial for other television shows. Last season ended with the settlement on New Caprica surrendering to the Cylons. A resistance movement formed, allowing the opening episode to look at suicide bombings from the viewpoint of the occupied population. The Chicago Tribune reviewed the episode and included quotations from Ron Moore:

In the opening episodes, which by turns evoke Vichy France, Vietnam and Iraq, the Cylons (human-looking machines who attempted to wipe out the human race at the start of the series) debate tactics regarding control of the ragged, rebellious population of New Caprica — the 50,000 or so people who are the remnants of the human race — while the humans consider plots of their own.

Ronald D. Moore, executive producer of “Battlestar Galactica,” says his favorite scene in the powerful 2-hour season opener is between Gaius Baltar, the reviled Marshal Petain of New Caprica, and Laura Roslin, his political nemesis and resistance sympathizer.

“Going into that scene, I think there’s an assumption of whose side you’re on,” Moore says. “But when he starts challenging her on the morality of suicide bombing … it throws her off stride, and I think it throws the audience off stride too. I think, for a moment, you’re really not sure where you’re supposed to go emotionally in that scene and I think that’s a great place to take an audience.”

That’s been “Battlestar Galactica’s” strength from the beginning — using believable characters to explore personal morality and political choices, while avoiding predictable polemics or easy resolutions. Though the first part of the season has echoes of the situation in Iraq, the debates among the humans and the Cylons are universal to any conflict — what tactics are legitimate in a fight over core beliefs? Are any methods acceptable? In the end, what is worth fighting for?

“We were aware of the [Iraq] parallels and wanted to play it as truthfully as we could, given the situation,” Moore says. “But at the same time, we’re always a little more interested in watching how our characters respond to a situation more than we are in delineating a certain political idea about the situation.

“We really should not pretend that there is a good answer and an easy way out and we’re going to tell it to you in 44 minutes,” Moore says.

The core story is now quite dark and wrenching, but there are signs of hope; Commander Adama, leader of the military, forms an important bond with Sharon, a Cylon aboard his ship. And surely the fact that one of the Cylons’ greatest desires is to know what love is means that peace — or at least coexistence — might one day be possible.

“There’s always a conversation with [Sci Fi] about how dark the show is, and [whether] is it completely bleak. … But I really don’t have a nihilistic view of the world,” Moore notes.

We learned a little more about the others on Lost. Ben told Jack he has lived on the island his entire life. While he has been known to lie in the past, such as when claiming to be Henry Gayle, I suspect that this time he may be telling the truth. He did prove his claim to have contact with the outside world. We found that only 69 days have gone by since Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crashed and it is shortly after George Bush was reelected. The 2004 World Series was of interest on political blogs as seeing the Boston Red Socks beat the Curse of the Bambino and go on to win the series gave a sense of optimism to Kerry supporters. The 2004 World Series became the manner in which Ben proved his knowledge of the outside world. After Jack argued it was impossible for Boston to have won the series, Ben showed Jack television coverage of the game.

Ben’s discussion of the outside world went beyond the World Series. He told Jack he would ultimately send him home if he did what he was told. My bet is that this will turn out to be too high a price, considering how Michael wound up having to kill two and betray others of those he crashed with in order to get Walt back and (possibly) a trip home. Guessing the real story of the island is risky as it is likely that any theory will be contradicted by new information, but my theory is that the others are descendents of an experiment which went wrong. Even if this is the case, questions would remain as to whether they are descendents of people from the Dharma Iniative organizing the experiment or descendents of the actual subjects, the purpose of the experiments, and why they are remaining on the island.

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    Christopher says:

    We love Battlestar Galactica in our home. Friday night is an event: my partner and I gather around the DLP, lights out, boom box on, volume up, and we’re riveted for 60 minutes.

    Last night, we both remarked at the similarities the stranded humans had to prisoners under the Nazi regime. How strange it is to see Starbuck captured and held prisoner and how moving the relationship is between Adama and his son — the hot and sexy Apollo (even in a fat suit he looks fly.)

    The most tragic character is Boomer, AKA Sharon. She didn’t know she is a Cylone and has not relationship to her own “people.” Instead choosing to help the humans in their battle against the tyranical forces of the Cylone.

    Battlestar Galactica isn’t mere science fiction. It’s bigger and grander than a single genre. It’s dark, brooding, operatic and character-driven. It reminds the viewer of what’s important — family, love, and freedom.

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