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Ron Moore (#110 of 5)

Battlestar Galactica Recap Season 4, Episode 20, “Daybreak, Part 2”

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Battlestar Galactica Recap, Season 4, Episode 20, “Daybreak, Part 2”

Sci-Fi Channel

Battlestar Galactica Recap, Season 4, Episode 20, “Daybreak, Part 2”

“Daybreak, Part 2,” the series finale of Battlestar Galactica, is about as audacious and ambitious a piece of television as I’ve ever seen. There’s basically no way the episode doesn’t end up being deeply polarizing (and, indeed, it already is), but outside of a few small moments, I found it pretty tremendous, first a fittingly epic action ending and then a sweet and enigmatic series of character endings. I suspect, as seems to often be the case with this show, that what I liked about the episode will end up driving the rage of those who hated it, but, as always, it really does come down to whether you’re more interested in watching the show for the characters or for the mythology. If you’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to figure out how discontinued Cylon model Daniel fits into things, you were probably sorely disappointed. If you’ve been spending the last few weeks, however, trying to figure out how the writers were going to close off the problematic Baltar (James Callis) character arc, then you were probably deeply satisfied. “I know about farming,” indeed.

(And I know we say it every week, but we really, really mean it this week. I’m going to spoil the hell out of this below the jump, so abandon this review unless you’ve seen the thing.)

Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Hero”

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<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Hero”
<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episode 8, “Hero”

Battlestar Galactica episodes that don’t strongly tie into the show’s mythology often rank among the show’s weakest, so it was a relief that the third season’s eighth episode, the stand-alone “Hero,” was a mostly subdued hour—a meditation on the nature of heroism that resisted the bombast that marks Galactica at its worst. While the story was slight, the ideas behind it weren’t, and the show’s actors made it a master class in how to perform ridiculous material without looking ridiculous.

Carl Lumbly (most recently the stalwart Dixon on Alias) dropped in as the week’s big guest star, Bulldog, the focus of the episode. Lumbly has long been an underutilized actor even on series where he was a regular; his ability to project calm in the face of overwhelming odds suits these sorts of fantastic situations. He played easily off of Edward James Olmos (as Admiral Adama), Mary McDonnell (as President Laura Roslin) and Michael Hogan (as Saul Tigh). The quickly-forged chemistry between these actors made the show’s Very Television premise (the return of a character who was once very important to the main characters even though his existence was never mentioned) work rather well.

Doctor Who Recap Season 2, Episode 6, “The Age of Steel”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “The Age of Steel”

BBC

Doctor Who Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “The Age of Steel”

The cliffhanger was a staple component of classic Doctor Who, and many a fan has bemoaned the new series’s self-contained storylines eroding this old standby. Two-parters seek to bring that thrill back to the forefront a few times each season, and “Rise of the Cybermen” ended on a wonderfully tense hanging from the cliff: Our heroes surrounded by Cybermen, and the Doctor shouting, “We surrender!!!”—only to be greeted by a chorus of “Deletes!!!” from the steely automatons.

“The Age of Steel” picks up right where we left off, and the Doctor whips out the precious TARDIS power cell and miraculously obliterates the oncoming force. Something of a letdown, eh? I thought it was anyway, but then I remembered the countless weak cliffhanger resolutions from the original series, which gave some perspective. With Doctor Who, the cliffhanger must be properly executed; the strength of its resolution should be secondary. (Perhaps this applies to cliffhangers in general?)

The Cyber Controller: “I will bring peace to the world. Everlasting peace—and unity and uniformity.”

The Doctor: “And imagination. What about that? The one thing that led you here - imagination. You’re killing it dead.”

Battlestar Galactica Recap: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2, “Occupation” & “Precipice”

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<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2, “Occupation” & “Precipice”
<em>Battlestar Galactica</em> Recap: Season 3, Episodes 1 & 2, “Occupation” & “Precipice”

If there’s a shot that Battlestar Galactica deploys more skillfully than any other, it’s the close-up—specifically tight shots of minutiae that convey a sense of faux-verite. Galactica’s third season premiere, the two-hour “Occupation/Precipice,” opened with a series of shots that focused on nothing but physical processes, cropping faces and other identifying features out of frame. In rapid succession, we saw sex, the preparation of a bomb, preparation for prayer, a hand positioning models of ships on a battlefield like so many chess pieces and the agony of an isolated prisoner. The emphasis on physical process continued throughout the episode: cutting meat; disguising one’s identity through method of dress; fitting the wires into a bomb; scrawling a name on a death warrant; stroking the cheek of an infant. Galactica invariably asks what, exactly, makes us human; this episode went out of its way to remind us that for all of our lofty ambitions as a species, we are also made human by the tiny things we do to stay alive—eating, dressing, making love.

Fitting, then, that the two-parted revolved around a growing resistance to the Cylon occupiers who invaded New Caprica, the new home of the humans, at the end of season two. As the humans ramped up their efforts to regain their freedom (resorting at the episode’s midpoint to a campaign of suicide bombing), the Cylons struggle dto crush the resistance, finally resorting to stealing away suspected insurgents in the dead of night and dragging them into the countryside to be executed.

T.V. on TV: Friday Night Lights, The Nine, & Battlestar Galactica

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T.V. on TV: <em>Friday Night Lights</em>, <em>The Nine</em>, & <em>Battlestar Galactica</em>
T.V. on TV: <em>Friday Night Lights</em>, <em>The Nine</em>, & <em>Battlestar Galactica</em>

Friday Night Lights (tonight 8 p.m., NBC) is the most accurate and honest portrayal of contemporary small town life in the small screen’s history. Relocated from the 1980s to the present, the pilot cribs heavily from the 2004 movie (which, like the series, was written and directed by Peter Berg), yet it manages to stand apart from it. If you’ve seen any sports movie ever, you won’t be surprised by much that happens; Friday Night Lights marches through the expected cliches in its portrayal of the “big game,” and even repeats a heartrending moment from the movie (though it happens to a different character). Still, for anyone who has attended a high school football game, much of the series will ring true, and the emotions that Berg earns through sports movie cliche are genuine. And the overall emphasis is different. Unlike the film, where nearly every event was directed toward the climactic showdown, in the series pilot the game is almost an afterthought; bits of it even feel rushed and perfunctory. This time around, Berg is more interested in the town itself.