Last week's Battlestar episode was fairly decent, with Chief and Callie trapped in a damaged airlock with their oxygen quickly leaking into space. It wasn't the best of the series by any means, but it really focused on the characters while making use of continuity and preexisting scenarios. Plus, there was none of that damn annoying Apollo and Starbuck mooning over each other. I was encouraged.
Maybe I shouldn't have been. Last night's episode was Norma Rae in space. Geeze, are the series' writers really that bankrupt for ideas? Granted, the core concept of the crew on the only surviving tylium refinery ship revolting because abhorrent working conditions isn't bad at all. But the ham-fisted "Thud and Blunder" of Anne Cofell's script undermines the effectiveness of it, even though she doesn't resort to introducing a disposable bad guy, as did Michael Angeli in "The Woman King." But she commits other sins. Firstly, she commits the Idiot Plot by having Adama and Roslin dismiss the complaints and unrest of the ore ship's crew, then resort to bullying by having their leaders arrested with little provocation. Chief Tyrol is thrust into the middle of the tense situation, then once again, as with "The Woman King," the people in charge immediately begin dismissing and disregarding their representative's warnings of trouble brewing. Granted, there are some token concessions made by President Roslin, but nothing significant enough to ward off the impending clash. After said clash, in which weapons have been drawn and summary executions threatened and the status quo triumphant, Roslin--the same woman who precipitated the clash by ordering indiscriminate arrests as a show of strength--suddenly gets all warm and cuddly, opening discussions and waxing poetic about the need for workers to have a voice. Again, had she just exercised such common sense at the beginning of the episode, well, there wouldn't have been an episode. The change in view could have worked, but the fatal flaw here is that the viewer never sees Roslin come to the realization that she over-played her hand, that she's created a situation by her imperious actions that threaten to blow up and consume the entire fleet. That It's Her Fault. She never owns up to the mistake, so in the end there's no character growth for her. She's just "nice" at the end. Bah.
For all you old-school SF fans, there's a token Red Shirt that is drafted to work in the ore ship, a fresh-faced architect-wannabe who wouldn't be deader meat if he was hanging in a cooler with Rocky Balboa pounding on him. That's sloppy writing, and the viewer knew exactly what was in the cards for him from moment one. That's not suspense, people, it's called cliche. And when writers rely on cliche as the pivotal moment in the narrative, you've got some real problems.
And folks, I'm sorry, but there is no way in hell that Baltar, who collaborated with the Cylons and has to be kept in the Galactica's brig to protect him from lynch mobs is going to suddenly become this interstellar Karl Marx by writing a few chapters of a class-baiting memoir. Callie wouldn't have read it, nor would the Chief, even if it were given to them by Adama himself. Baltar's the guy who signed Callie's death warrant fer cryin' out loud. Are they adding stupid pills to the fleet's rations? If so, then I hope the Cylons do catch them and blow them up real good (or at least the writers).
So in summary: Good idea, terrible execution.
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