Weaving A Beautiful Tapestry From BSG Story Threads

Unlike a sculptor, who constantly steps back to take in the totality of his creation as he shapes it, the makers of serial television rarely have the luxury of time to re-watch all of the previous episodes and gain that comprehensive view of their work in progress - to see it in its totality as it is realized.

Rather a show like Battlestar Galactica is more like a mosaic or tapestry, an overall design and thematic elements set, but which allows for improvisation. The finished work not visible until it is done.

I for one hope Battlestar Galactica ends its run having woven a beautiful tapestry out of its multitude of story threads - that as the threads come together and the overall pattern of the tapestry resolves we feel it is a complete and beautiful work of art - one that gives chills of realization and perhaps even astonishment.

I'm pretty worried that this may not happen after Revelations. I'm sensing frayed edges, loose threads, possibly abandoned patterns.

There are several motifs informing this tapestry. Primarily, there is the feedback loop of repeating cycles of time in which Cylons and Humans are trapped (at least according to the Cylons).

There is the Opera House vision. There is the repeated reference that Gods lived among humans on Kobol.

The importance and function of the Final Five (the "Makers") needs to be explained. Why were the other seven models forbidden to know them?

We need to know the reason the Cylons sought to exterminate humans. They claim to be the children of man and declare that "Mankind's children have returned home." Further, they claim that for children to reach their full potential, the parents must die. Is this their sole rationale?

And there is the the role of Earth, the Pythia prophecy, as well as the resolution to the individual characters' storylines. Is Earth to be an object lesson? A way-station? Will there be a return to Kobol? To the Colonies? Is there even a green world in their future?

At the mid-season break for Season 4 [June 2008] the human Colonial fleet and our now mortal rebel band of Cylons have renewed their alliance and together found Earth - a radioactive wasteland from the 21st Century seemingly devoid of human life. We still don't know why the Cylons ever desired to go there.

With this development the story tapestry seems to be fraying and perhaps signalling a dramatic shift to exclusively dark motifs and possibly an abandonment of the original design? Is it going to go dark and stay there? Are we destined for a this kind of demonic mandala [at right] for our tapestry?

Or are we witnessing an emergence in the tapestry of the story transitioning to a discordant cacophony that ends up an abstract [left] - with no closed loop of logic to explain the sum total of what we see - rather it is left atmospheric, impressionistic?

Could it be we are to end up with a tapestry like this below? With the One becoming the Other? Our enemies are cut from the same cloth? Always together and forever apart?
The Opera House vision has been referenced so many times - it is the thematic spine of the story. It is poetic, surreal, portentious, rich with metaphor and clouded meaning.

When the story does finally explain its meaning, it must be profound [not just another tossed line of dialog] and serve as the binding glue to the other story motifs. It must have a visual component as it is one of the strongest visual elements to the story.

Science fiction as a genre is replete with standard formulas and cliche endings (and sci-fi fans know them and see them coming), and what has set this incarnation of Battlestar Galactica apart is its boldness to defy the conventions of the genre. I worry with the Revelations episode that they've trapped themselves into one of the cliche endings. Are we to have a mad scientist appear in some form (a hologram, a clone, a robot?) and explain it all to our characters? Series actor Grace Park is quoted [6.28.08] as saying "There's one episode where everything is explained and I had to read it three times," Park said. "I had to sit down with [executive producer] Ron Moore and he had to break it down." Is the Opera House just a metaphor - a program for certain characters' brains with no tangible counterpart? Will this epic end up having been a dream: A legend told as a story to a child by an adult? Or will the bleak track the story is now on rule out? Will we end up with a sad tale of the false hopes of religions and a morality tale about the arrogance of mankind and the needless deaths caused by religious zealots and adherents? Or will it end with the bitter but delicious irony of Zardoz - our superhuman revolutionary finding out he too had been, "bred and led from the start.

And what of our Angel Sent By God, Six?
Is she to be made literal? Is she the Avenger? Is she the spiritual guide? A way to salvation? Or will she be capricious and sew ultimate destruction?

A beautiful tapestry has symmetry and balance, it has technique, elegance, refinement. It is a background pattern or it is a focal point which tells a story - sometimes it is both.

Battlestar Galactica, as woven thus far by an immensely talented group of artists, with an initially bold and sophisticated design, hovers now - in its final frenzied construction (for the audience at least, awaiting those episodes in the can yet to be broadcast) in the purgatory of creative limbo - choices made but not yet revealed, thematic, textural and color choices which will lock-in the final total image and impact.

I am hopeful the final tapestry of this story will be one of transformation, of metamorphosis, and not a sad cynical tale.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said! I'm hoping that we're being brought to a place much like the characters are. The characters thought their problems would be solved just by finding Earth, but that has proved false. I'm hoping the writers have built up the tension (albeit not so well) with Revelations, leaving us fans in a similar spot. Perhaps the remaining episodes will take a more hopeful turn and resolve the many unanswered questions you've mentioned here.

The tapestry I've been expecting is the "our enemies are cut from the same cloth." There have so many illusions to this along the way.

The writers have surprised us so often--surely they care enough to provide a satisfying pay-off. I'm crossing my fingers!!