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Posted on March 5, 2008

sf tv

SF Movie Review: Battlestar Galactica: Razor

(Continuing the enlargement of things I write about on this site, and I think this will be the last post containing a disclaimer about topics…)

I’m not sure what this says about me or my relationship to this show, but the following is all true:

  • I bought this DVD the day it came out (I don’t get Sci-Fi at the moment…)
  • I then let it sit for three entire months while waiting for the right time to watch it in one sitting.
  • I finally decided that I’d watch it in pieces, so I started it at about 10:45 at night.
  • Got so caught up in it that I watched it all the way through, then read Jacob’s incredible TWoP recap before sleep.

The movie is made up of several nested flashback stories (don’t even try to use this movie as an introduction to the Galactica universe…), mostly unified by the person of Kendra Shaw, whose official title might be “Highest Ranking Pegasus Officer We Never Saw Before”. Shaw arrives on Pegasus about fifteen minutes before the original Cylon attack, and has a front row seat for the craziness hinted at during the first time through the Pegasus story. Later, she becomes Lee Adama’s XO, and leads a mission to a mysterious Cylon outpost dating from the first Cylon war. Add in a couple of flashbacks as to what the elder Adama and Cain were doing on the last day of the first war, and you’ve about got it.

The basic issue with a this movie, which is designed specifically not to be necessary to understand the main story, is for the show to justify it’s existence as more than a way to move DVD’s at Best Buy. I think it does, not so much at a plot level, but in the way that it deepens the Pegasus story, already one of the show’s best storylines.

The Galactica story has always revolved around about three questions, how do you deal with overwhelming loss, how are you supposed to act in the name of survival, and how are you supposed to treat a mortal enemy. Razor encompasses all three. The earlier Pegasus arc was, in some ways, a little too easy – Cain fits very neatly into the model of Crazy Commanding Officer Who Goes Too Far. By taking us through the all the steps from beginning to end, Razor makes it harder to dismiss Cain as a lunatic – it explains her actions without excusing them. Kendra Shaw, who pretty much wears a sign at the beginning saying “I’m Not Crazy” gets drawn straight into the heart of it all. As a result, Razor ends up being a very dark story even by Galactica standards.

  • My list of bedrock Galactica questions doesn’t include the question of whether the Cylons are human. While that’s frequently a topic of discussion on the show, it’s clear to me that the creators of the show know the answer to that question… they use the human/robot question as a way of getting at the deeper issues.

  • I liked the subtle ways in which the movie placed itself in the Galactica timeline, the exact number of survivors in the credits places it, plus there were a couple of background references to major events in the last half of season 2.

  • Have they ever mentioned on the show exactly what caused the first Cylon war to end so abruptly? That’s a possible plot issue to be dealt with in season 4. Or, I suppose, the on-again, off-again Caprica miniseries.

  • Moore’s commentary is very interesting – as with many other Galactica episodes, this one changed dramatically in editing. Essentially, they turned the entire movie inside out, and what was originally the framing sequence became the ending mission, and the original meat of the movie became the framing sequence.


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