2.28.2009

STWOM - REVIEW

Why am I left feeling exhausted? I dreaded even playing back the recording of Someone To Watch Over Me. How did this happen? I so loved this show and now I just wonder what sucker punch is coming next.

STWOM was a good ep, it was extremely well-made, and showed superior direction and some wonderful performances. The problem, yet again, is in the writing. I don't blame the two best writers from the show - Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, who did this ep - I sadly must conclude - after taking time to give some thought to what I'd seen - that I had witnessed some of the most self-indulgent story direction I've ever witnessed - and that comes from Ron Moore. These are his choices.

With so few episodes remaining, so little time to give dimension to the grand story we've experienced up till now, it is not just baffling to have an art-house film for an episode they way we did tonight, it seems the height of arrogance. Moore is trumpeting loudly that he doesn't give a damn what the audience wants, or that he feels the least bit constrained by what has come before - and he's going to do it his way. He's said repeatedly it's about the characters and their relationships. To many, if not most, of the fans, it's about the story we've been told and the mythologies behind these cultures - the hows and the whys. We want to understand the grand design, for if the cycle repeats and people play different roles next time around then the story is the thing, not the people, eh?

In a nutshell, Boomer is the ultimate agent provocateur and has now fulfilled the plan Cavil set in motion long ago - to get Hera to him.

I won't give a blow-by-blow of the ep because it's worth watching more than once, but I will give a basic run-down: Kara spends a lot of time at the bar on Galactica and interacts with a piano player and it's at the end of the ep we learn it's all been an hallucination - or she's been Cylon projecting? Hera had earlier given her a drawing of dots and it turns out it is the musical notes for the song that triggered the awakening of Tigh, Tyrol, Tory and Anders. Ellen, Tigh, Tory and Tyrol spend some time at a table at this same bar. Again, where the hell does all this alcohol come from? No one ever pays. Why so empty of people? Wouldn't everyone want to be at the bar drowning their sorrows or trying to get some since the great quest all came to nothing?

Anders' brain-monitor still shows the same scroll of heightened-activity, but Doc Cottle (in yet another fresh lab coat) says it's nothing. We all know better and it's annoying waiting to find out. Ellen and the other Final Fivers seemed diminished, like Romo the second time around. All this hoo-ha about how important they are to the other Cylons and they seem all but useless. The Sixes and Eights seemed a lot more substantive this ep, at least they were doing something - and why are there no Leobens (2s) slapping the Cylon goo (still) on the beams? Was Callum Keith Rennie beyond the budget? Sonja Six is elected to the new Quorum, so the blending continues and we even see several Sixes in the pilots' ready-room and we get the exposition about how the fleet is looking for a habitable planet [the star patterns for several eps, according to galactica-science's MHall, have shown that they are already in the Earth solar system, so how are they missing it?].

Tigh just stays drunk, and Adama just suffers as the lights flicker and Galactica shudders menacingly all through the ep since they want us to believe it is dying. The first reaction shot of Eddie Olmos conveying his heavy heart at the ship's decay is just a moment but illustrates once more what a terrific actor the man is - the weight of the moment and what it means just cascades through his face and body. Tyrol remembers how much he loved Boomer and embarks on a crusade to save her - Roslin says no way and signs her death warrant (her extradition to the Base Ship where the 2s-6s-8s want to put her on trial for treason for siding with Cavil in the Cylon civil war). Adama is almost mute this ep, Roslin is weary and thank heavens no lame Baltarsubplotzone at all.

They overdid it with the Galactica in its death throes - since it hadn't happened at all before this ep - just a few cracks in one or two previous eps. We get the countdown clock dramatic device again since we were told by Tyrol that the FTL drive only has a few unknown number of jumps left in it. What could be happening is the Cylon Gloppy Tar is causing the shudders and it will be reborn anew, but they seem to be foreshadowing for now an ugly end to the old girl. If it's in such a state, why are the Cylon gals willing to keep hauling goo over from the Base Ship and spend their time painting it on? Wouldn't they say they've got better things to do?

Tyrol gets played big time by Boomer - this is her ep and Grace Park has never been better - she got to play about eight different 8s and brought depth and texture to the multitude of copies of her character. The fight where Boomer knocks out and binds Athena and then makes love to Helo in front of Athena was terrific. Great direction and camera work. My key fault with this scene and the whole ep is why the ship is so empty of people. [Images below this point from Islanded In A Stream of Stars] We were not shown or told that so many had died or been hauled off to prison ships as a result of the mutiny (podcasts, etc. don't count - it has to be onscreen).

Overall, I feel like I've had another session on the rack - the show is like a grinding torture now and the emptiness I feel compared to the elation I used to get from each episode leaves me sorrowful.

This was a much higher caliber ep and there was real entertainment value to it, and the story progressed - Boomer is truly evil (or a compliant instrument of evil), is on the loose, kidnapped Hera, severely damaged Galactica with a too-close FTL jump, Kara is closing in on who and what she is with her Daddy flashback, music plays a central role, Roslin has collapsed and may be dead, and Sam has a larger role to play when he regains some kind of consciousness, and Ellen is gearing up for her showdown with Cavil.

The buzz is that the next ep Islanded in a Stream of Stars is going to answer a lot of the remaining questions. I hope I don't get beat up again next week.

6 comments:

Potiphar Breen said...

"Cylons is Golden?"

Oy Radii,

The reason why no one is in the piano bar or the corridors or in Baltarsubplotzone is obvious.

With the end so near, literally and plot-wise, everyone knows it and they are simply FRAKKIN their eyeballs out (eyeball for the Colonel).

And did anyone bother to ask why fugitives Ellen and Boomer found the fleet so easily and Cavil didn't bother to go after them?

How DID Ellen and the Boomster even KNOW where the fleet was?

Ellen actually believed Boomer was on her side after all? Where did I miss that hidden plot gem?

ACyclcUniverse said...

"To many, if not most, of the fans, it's about the story we've been told and the mythologies behind these cultures - the hows and the whys."

Completely. Disagree.

Battlestar has NEVER, in the ENTIRE COURSE OF THE SERIES been about the plot or the mythology.

It has ALWAYS been about the characters, telling compelling stories of how they react as more and more is taken away from them, how they preserve their humanity even as they wonder what that really is, and how they are at last able to pull through.

If viewers are so hung up on plot that they can't reap the emotional payoffs that this and the last episode were so full of, then they have completely missed the point of the show.

A sweeping generalization like the one above is far from accurate, even here on the overly opinionated Internet.

Darren said...

I agree with ACyclcUniverse, but I have to agree with Radii that it feels empty somehow. :S

radii said...

@ ACyclcUniverse

semantics

however, imagine yourself a playwright and you've composed a 3-Act drama for an audience

... without the structure of a story upon which to hang your characters and conflicts and create propulsion forward to ultimate resolution the characters are hollow - they project and manifest from where?

Anonymous said...

"... without the structure of a story upon which to hang your characters and conflicts and create propulsion forward to ultimate resolution the characters are hollow - they project and manifest from where?"

Game, set, match.

Alex said...

It was an accident i hit this blog and i won't stay long...I just find it laughable how we can waste so much time on topics as invaluable as a TV show...oh what we would do without our escapism? (GOD FORBID)

I am going to miss BSG!