Friday, October 31, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Season Four review + recap

If you remember correctly, I named the third season of Battlestar Galactica as my favourite television series of 2007, and with good reasons. Even despite facing other numerous quality television shows like Dexter season two, Weeds season two and especially Heroes season one, Battlestar Galactica remains the single biggest television event that year. The lost and re-emergence of Kara, Gaious political fall out and the unveiling of four of the Final Five were brilliant television moments.

Season four of Battlestar Galactica, like the majority of shows coming out from America early this year, has been hampered by the writer’s strike. However unlike the second season of Heroes, the makers of the series has done the admirable thing by not speeding things up to close plot holes and instead set up a brilliant finale for season 4.2/5. The DVD boxset contains all 10 episodes from the rudely interrupted season four in addition to the Razor extended cut version that I reviewed last week.

Despite some criticism levelled at season four by the critics, I can honestly say I love it. The series has been slowing down for a while and is very evident in season four that the makers are taking their time flushing out minor background characters, storyline and the frailty of humanity. It is great for character building, which is something other writers should take note off rather than introducing tons of new characters every episode, only to kill them off soon after.

Recap with spoilers follows:

Season four begins immediately following the return of Kara Thrace as we’ve seen during the cliffhanger finale of season three. Despite being presumed missing and dead for months, she claimed to have only been absent for six hours. Even more importantly and bizarely to the fleet at least, she claimed that she has been to Earth. Naturally, with the exception of Lee Amada, the fleet suspects her as a Cylon and Kara was immediately placed under arrest.

In the meantime Gaius Baltar has since taken up residence with a group of females who quickly places him as some sort of prophet. Gaius being Gaius, adapts accordingly and his religious message soon spreads like a plague throughout the fleet. Perhaps a commentary on religious cult in itself, a episode even featured Gaius retaliating a rival mainstream religious sitting. Oh Gaius, how will you entertain us when the series end. The four of the last Five: Saul Tigh, Samuel Anders, Tory Foster and Galen Tyrol has since taken to having discreet meetings to discuss their plight as humanoid Cylons. Tigh, in a show of passion alliance with the humans, declares that he will never betray the fleet.

The Cylons on the other hand have a far greater problem to deal with than petty religious civil war. They have learnt that the Final Five Cylon models are on the Galactica, but Brother Cavil (Number One) is having none of that. Instead he intends on lobotomising Raiders against the wishes of Sixs and Eights whom later staged a coup against Cavil by removing the A.I. limiter on the Centurions. This soon descends into a full out civil war between the two warring Cylon factions.

Despite misgivings by the administrations, Kara is eventually given command of the ship Demetrius in search for Earth. Lee on the other hand has joined the Quorum, though the political uproar remained centred around the discovery by media on the (secret) military assignment by Starbuck. Our favourite drunk Colonel Tigh has also developed a bizarre relationship with Caprica Six, whom we later learn in the final episodes to be carrying a baby Cylon - his baby Cylon. Tory, the other humanoid Cylon, instead murders Cally through the Galactica's air lock when she discovered that Cally was on to them.

Back at the Demetrius, the crew encounters Leoben Conoy who informs Kara about the need for her to seek the Cylon Hybrid. After battling through a mutiny, and finally convincing the crew, Starbuck goes to check out Leoben’s damaged Basestar. Upon arriving at the Basestar graveyard, the crew is met by the rebel Cylons seeking a truce with the humans. The rebel Cylons are now truly lame ducks, especially a couple of Number Eights. A couple of deaths later, they agree to meet the Galactica to table their proposal.

The rebel Cylons and humans are naturally wary of each other (who wouldn't?). However despite having trust issues, the alliance agrees on a mission to destroy the Cylon resurrection hub and capture D’Anna Biers (Number Three), who is said by the Hybrid Cylon to have seen the last Five. Athena almost cocked up the mission by killing the rebel leader Natalie because of a vision she had about her child Hera being taken away by a Number Six and Gaius, the same vision that the President had and was predicted to happen by Number Six in Kobul. The mission did not go smoothly due to a jump happy Hybrid, but it was successful nonetheless, even a tender loving moment when Roslin saved the preacher despite his insane admission and self-attempt of exonerating his (partial) guilt. Eventually Roslin declares her love for William Adama, who quipped back romantically "about time". Ahh... (bulgh)

In a slightly cramped out finale, Biers holds President Roslin hostage while demanding for the four of the Final Five Cylons from Galactica. Three of the four (Tory Foster has already defected to the Cylons) are drawn to the Viper Kara was in when she returned from the 'death'. Despite Biers threatening to kill all the hostages, Lee (who now knows the identity of the remaining three) uses Saul as a bargaining chip by threatening to execute him. In what is a slightly cliché scene, Kara upon inspecting her Viper and finding that it was capable of picking up a faint signal that possibly originated from Earth, dashes through the ship and halts the execution in the nick of time. Go Starbuck!

After a bit of soul searching, Lee Adama and D’Anna Biers agrees to form an alliance seeking Earth together. The fleet of former enemies FTL’ed to Earth with Admiral Amada at the helm, jubilant that their three year journey in search of the mythical 13th colony has finally come to an end. A band of humans and Cylons flew down to the surface and lands in what is left of a desolated city (New York?), now ruined in the waste of nuclear winter. While the ending was rather expected particularly when you have a good 10 episodes and a TV film left, it was still a rather good cliffhanger. Still, the key question remained - what happened to Earth?

Season four has some misses even some absurdity that threatened to derail it, but on a whole proved to be extremely entertaining. It isn't a classic season like the first two - that remains to be seen, but I am optimistic that the writers and producers can deliver a script that will satisfy us all. The DVD boxset comes with four disc over three plastic thin cases (ugh). As I mentioned earlier the DVD set contains the Razor extended version with audio commentary and seven webisodes detailing the final day of the first Cylon war through the eyes of a young William 'Husker' Adama.

Battlestar Galactica remains the pivotal television programme of our time, a series that transcends anything we've seen yet in both drama and social commentary. I personally can't wait for season five, though being a person who is reluctant to subscribe to Sky or cable, I'll likely have to wait for the DVD boxset to be released. In either case do not, for the frakking world, miss this. So say we all.

Key summary
  • The fleet thinks that Kara has gone all apeshit, or worse, is actually a Cylon
  • Gaius Baltar is now a religious cult leader
  • The Cylons has descended into civil war
  • Apollo seeks new political challenge
  • Starbuck goes mental searching for a way to earth
  • Felix loses something
  • Felix can sing
  • The final Cylon isn't on the Galactica, or so we were led to believe
  • The rebel Cylons and humans forms an alliance
  • They find Earth not that appealing really
Season: 8/10
DVD Boxset: 9/10


Anonymous said...

I love Battlestar Galactica! Just got Razor DVD, now I read this that it will be packaged with Season 4 DVD. How is this possible? Season 4 will only be released in January!

Jon Choo said...

UK DVD has been out a couple of weeks already. Yes, the first disc has Razor extended version and the webisodes.