"Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance." ~ T.S. Eliot in "Burnt Norton"

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"I don't want to be human!" - Reflecting on Battlestar Galactica

About one year after being assigned to watch the pilot movie of Battlestar Galactica, I’ve finally finished the entire series. That, my friends, was a fun ride.
            I’m a tough critic – I always have been. It takes a lot to impress me, but even less for me to deride a series or movie’s writers and their scripts as inept or, frankly, stupid. Season One is remarkable in so many ways. But the second season of BSG heralds a rapid decline in quality writing. By the third season, the scripts have become abysmal; the plot is convoluted, directionless, and confusing. Characters lose their … well, character … and the cylons stop being terrifying/awe-inspiring and became too human (not in a positive, constructive, way that develops depth - but in a way that indicats the writers were desperately trying to add melodrama where none belongs).
            Despite it all, I powered through the weaker episodes and emerged in the fourth and final season with renewed vigor. The writing improves - characters solidify again, the plot begins to move in a single direction, and the desperate need to know and understand the cylons reemerged in my stomach.
            When the credits finally rolled on the last episode, I was heartbroken. I really wished it wasn’t over.
            What makes the fourth season so extraordinary is the script’s return to what makes the first season extraordinary. Questions like, “Are you alive?” become a driving theme again. Theological debates rage (and not superficially, as they do in seasons 2 and 3). Gaius Baltar asks a question that pierces to the heart of the discussions on faith – “What if God doesn’t create good or evil? What if He just creates?” And always the idea of immortality… and what it means to be human.
            I won’t talk too much more – I know that readers of this blog are still being exposed to BSG, and I don’t want to spoil anything. But below are two videos - similar in content but starkly different in tone – that help describe the (eventual) main antagonist’s motivations. And why he simply refuses to believe in God. One is, obviously, from the fourth season, and the other is a lecture being given by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

“I don’t want to be human!”

I don't want to provide any spoilers here, so I'm avoiding discussion on some of the things I'd love to talk about ("Are the cylons human," anyone?) - but based on the two videos above, I pose two questions - how intelligent is intelligent design? What can we extrapolate from our deeply flawed physical design?

And... do you want to be human?

1 comment:

  1. Chase! I'm so glad you stuck it out. The writing does go off the deep end (New Caprica? Come on!) but it circles back around again and ends on a sort of high note.

    But I'm totally game to your questions (of course I am!), and the ones you ask I think show why this show is so brilliant. Gaius asks: what if god just creates? I think that question is totally relevant. If god just creates, then things we think of as bad are totally human made-- war, global warming, hatred... If we think of that then, in the way that humans created Cylons, it's kind of the same thing, right?

    Which then might mean that intelligent design is not actually intelligent. It's a means to an end that doesn't anticipate consequences.

    (and also: total human/cylon hybrids, of course!)

    This is all making me want to watch BSG again!!