3.22.2009

DEATH BY PLOT-HOLE


... updated ...
When mystery is replaced by the mundane
[this post will be a work in progress - I'm not sure I really want to compile a list of all the plot-holes and pick them apart individually (I'm sure someone will do that) - maybe I'll just do the most egregious of them]


Battlestar Galactica reimagined hooked us for a few key reasons - aspects of the show which immediately declared it was special, starting with the mini.

The Look: Cinematic, rich, and high-style. Elegant architecture and design, good-looking people, saturated color, high-quality. The Story: A sinister plot, lust, betraya
l, war, exodus, survival, technology, mystery, supernatural events. Themes: Loss, flight, fight, survival, aging, rogue technology, maintaining the veneer of civilization. The Tone: Adult, practical, dark, philosophical. The Sophistication of the Subject Matter: High-level, demanding of the audience that they think. The Sexuality: Adult, realistic. The Music: Minimalist, ethereal or militaristic by turns.

It seems to me that the character partisans are quite satisfied with the finale and will never be bothered by the glaring and numerous plot-holes. That's okay - take away from it what you will.

We plot people cannot reconcile the contradictions, omissions, cop-outs, dangling story threads and be satisfied with the Kumbaya ending served to us.

What is frustrating for us is that we were teased with such promise from the beginning and there were outlines of brilliance and hints of something special.

I think I have the perfect example to explain:

We are shown and told that the skinjob Cylons can resurrect and that they can access a reservoir of data that consists of the common memories of their model line.

We see the Hybrids living in their tubs of special goo as the sentient central processing units of the Base Ships. We see the special goo (a bit slimier) in the resurrections tanks. We are told that they can exist iteration after iteration, and we know that the skinjob models have been around at least two to three decades.

So through high
style production design and set-dressing, cool lighting effects and some good visual effects, as well as sound effects and music, a mood was created that added to the sense of mystery about all this. We saw them put their hands on the interface panels with the liquid and gain knowledge and communicate through them. The lighted red panels also seem to be Matrix-like data streams, as well as the projected light symbols.

We are shown and told
as D'Anna repeats suicides so she can resurrect - and in that space between death and resurrection see more pieces of the puzzle of the mystery of the Final Five and that there are answers to be had. When she finally does see them in the amazing coincidence of a supernova illuminating a crystal in the Temple of Five/Temple of Hopes and sending a beam of light down onto the mandala symbol she dies from the experience as her eyes go grey but she says, high with spiritual feeling, "so beautiful, so beautiful." We as the audience we waiting to see this great beauty, this great truth. And the "truth of the Opera House" turned out to be certain people standing in the right place at the right time so a deal could be struck between Cavil and the rest of them - but the deal went south because Tyrol kills Tory for murdering a human girl he didn't really love.

This is the example: Not long after learning he is a Cylon Anders is part of the boarding party on the damaged rebel Base Ship and longs to put his hand on one of those interface panels. How we as the audience longed for him to do it. What would happen? Would the Base Ship and Hybrid instantly recognize him? Would it change the equation instantly? It was a colossal tease. A tease that was never realized.

There was always something mystical about the goo - in resurrection it played the role of the birth canal and emergence into the light (and in No Exit we finally saw the light [the red tunnel effect] from Ellen's POV as she awoke).

For those of us that like the science and design elements of our science fiction those interface panels, the colors, the lights, how
it works, were nagging questions. Sam putting his hand on the damaged Base Ship panel would have answered a lot of those questions.

Instead what we got was a diminished version - the mystery made mundane.

I have noticed that at almost every turn in the show Moore has chosen to diminish that which seemed grand or mysterious. Romo was this great, intriguing character who was potentially completely amoral - or
perhaps a Diogenes-like self-styled judge of men and after his appearance as Baltar's lawyer the audience was left sort of breathless, like who was that? ... then they brought him back to satisfy fan demand, I guess, and had his character behave in a way that did not comport with what we'd seen before. He was weaker, unstable, not the confident, controlled man we knew previously. And by the finale, when he was trotted in front of the audience like a popular pole-dancer and we were told he was now "president" the diminishment was complete. His character had been completely emasculated and all mystery about him gone.

The Hybridization of Anders was obvious and was not very satisfying. Did the other
Cylons bring some special goo over or could any liquid do? Didn't he start spouting Hybridspeak rather suddenly after being hooked up to Galactica? There was zero transition between his "word salad" from his head injury and Hybridspeak. The Base Ships were themselves Cylon and the Hybrid a part of a living thing. The Galactica was man-made contstruct with various machine parts.

The point? When Sam's tank is brought up to the upper deck of the C&C and is networked to control Galactica and, later, when the other Final Fivers put their hands into the liquid goo to download resurrection technology to Cavil as part of their deal which Hera's Opera House journey to C&C somehow facilitated we have no more understanding of how it works. So the liquid is the information medium? Or is it merely a conduit? Only Ellen seems to remember anything of significance from their earlier lives - including resurrection technology,
so touching the water unleashes those memories? Gee, if that's the case wouldn't it have been nice to see Sam touch the water in that previous ep and experience some memories? This is what I'm talking about with missed opportunities and dangling threads. Better writing would have done something like this and made more whole the meaning of the liquid and the lights and what the Cylon skinjobs experience when they interface with it and how they percieve their former lives and their relationship to the memories of other models in their line.

[more coming]

Dangling Story Threads:

7 comments:

Potiphar Breen said...

One big question left unanswered for me is this:

Who exactly is the 'god' or the 'him' who head angel Baltar refers to in his last words of the finale?


You know: the one who doesn't like to be called by a certain name?

A couple of times in the series this awesome or uber-powerful mysterious "him" was name-dropped (or no-name-dropped as the case may be)without follow-up.

Could be a reference to "God" or Count Iblis or the Devil or the fallen angel Satan . . . ?

Being mentioned at the very end of the series with no explanation is troubling . . .

radii said...

@Potiphar

I doubt very seriously that Moore will ever even attempt to explain that because when you can make a major character that "came back from the dead" just go *poof* and disappear with no explanation, why would you bother with the "It doesn't like to be called that" god-thing?

My guess is the It looks like a cross-between the Horta pizza monster from the original Star Trek and the ooozy green see-through blob from Futurama

Drew said...

out of curiosity, have you ever read BSG's composer Bear McCreary's blog? His latest entry breaks down all the musical components to Daybreak Pts. I & II. cool stuff:

http://www.bearmccreary.com/blog/?p=1760#more-1760

radii said...

@Drew

Yes, after the Gaeta song ep I visited Bear's blog and actually suggested a couple musical pieces to him (one was Harps of the Ancient Temples, and he wrote to thank me for that suggestion).

I like Bear's music, but, honestly I prefer just a wee bit more the music in the mini which was done by Richard Gibbs - and the best single use of music in the whole run of the show in my view is that Asian song as the camera moves through the Galactica in the mini - ending with Billy and Dualla on the observation deck.

Justin said...

Notice you have a picture of Athena being confronted by some Eights there--a great idea that could have led to Athena questioning herself, wondering what separates her from her sisters now that the human/Cylon distinction is getting blurrier. And then there was that episodes with the Eight with Athena's memories, something else that could have gone somewhere.

But nope--it's all thrown away by the finale. Athena's a crazy Eight! DIE BOOMER DIE!

Potiphar Breen said...

CHEESY ENDING SUB-BLOG #1

(Ending medium shot . . .)

As Head Six and Head Baltar walk down Times Square, a goggle-eye blue-barred pigeon flies onto Baltar's shoulder and perches there . . .

(Closeup shot)

...and takes a crap!

Head Six laughs heartily.

Anonymous said...

Regarding anders' Hybridspeak, I believe the implication is that the hybrids, by some method, are tapping into something that "normal" humans and cylons can't