By request: a thought on Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica

Jon Sauder, this is for you.


Okay, now that we’re safe, welcome to the blog post. For the sake of speed, I’m assuming that you’ve seen Battlestar Galactica through where I am, which is Episode 1 of Season 3.

The last episode of Season 2.5 was rushed, in my opinion, but it put the characters on a new planet (New Caprica), lowering the humans’ defenses and scattering the crew of the two battlestars. Then, suddenly, the Cylons show up in force, capturing New Caprica and enslaving the humans. The fleet is caught off-guard and jumps to regroup elsewhere.

As a result, Season 3 opens with some of the characters being with the fleet, while others are part of the resistance on New Caprica. And this is where I realized that this season of Battlestar Galactica is about Iraq.

So, we have a collection of characters whom we care about in the position of being resistance fighters, or, as both humans and Cylons label them, the “insurgency”. Hmm, where have I heard this term before?

In their attempts to suppress the insurgency, the Cylons have various detention centers, where suspected insurgents are “detained” and “interrogated”, even tortured. One shot of these people being rounded up included a prisoner tied with plastic zip-ties, similar to what the U.S. military uses.

Moreover, we have the beginnings of a human police force, being set up by the Cylons, so that the Iraqis–I mean, the humans–can police themselves. Of course, members of this police force are viewed as turncoats and are targeted by the insurgency.

Indeed, the latest target of the insurgency is the graduating class of the police academy, which is blown up by a man who agreed to be a human bomb. And, in case you missed the point, the scene where the bomber agrees to the mission is accompanied by Arabic-sounding music.

We are made to feel the emotional impact of being on the other side of the Iraqi war. Invaders have entered your home, and you are fighting back by whatever means you can. They outnumber you and have superior technology, and still you fight back. And, by this point, we already care about these characters, so the insurgency is humanized. It’s easy to denounce “terrorism”, but it’s hard to denounce Chief Tyrell when he is fighting Cylons to protect his family.

I’m not sure where the rest of the season will go, but color me very, very intrigued.


5 responses to “By request: a thought on Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica

  • Matt

    Yeah, the show really creates some uncomfortable moral relativism.

  • Josh Roby

    I really disliked the detour to Iraq, and was very happy when it was over — primarily because I found it incredibly ham-handed and devoid of nuance. I was also watching it as it aired, which was in the midst of news reports that things were not going as planned in the US’ little adventure to Baghdad, so it had the “ripped from the headlines” feel that the crappy episodes of Law & Order have. On the other hand, episode 5 of season 3 almost makes up for the Iraq detour.

  • jon

    hmm… very interesting. I can honestly say I missed the whole iraq thing watching this episode until they sent in the suicide bombers. I was thinking the cylons were more like the Nazis.

    I’ll have to agree with Josh Roby, though… I thought the whole thing felt VERY deliberate and forced… And the cylons acted SO robotic at this point, that i stopped believing they could infiltrate ANY group of humans and pass as one of them. Maybe it’s just that they’re much more frightening when they DON’T explain their agendas.

    I liked the darkness of season 2.5, I like that they went ahead and nuked the fleet, I like how they take these little twists and hurdles along the way. I just didn’t like how they turned this whole ‘New Caprica’ into a cornerstone of season 3, when it had little to do with the original storyline, and was a complete deviation from the “finding earth” thing. The previous seasons at least feed you bread crumbs (relics, clues, prophecies) leading you in that direction. Instead, what i see in Season 3 is producers with dollar signs in their eyes. I think they’ve got a good show, a large following and they know it, so they want to stretch this series out as long as possible – hence the “Lost” style bait and hook mechanics.

    I guess i’m saying that I think the series presented itself early on as having a direction… and it frustrates me when a story deviates too far from or neglects that direction. I’ve heard that the later series’ try to correct the course, but i’ve not bothered with them.

    If you finish the all of them, you’ll have to tell me whether or not it’s worth going back to.

  • jon

    and oh yeah… woot! my very own post!

  • Seth Ben-Ezra

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve already been viewing BSG through the lens of current events. What I found fascinating about the beginning of Season 3 is that they flopped their metaphor. In the first two seasons, the humans map (somewhat) to post-9/11 America (at least, our perceptions of ourselves), while the Cylons map (somewhat) to al-Qaeda terrorists (again, our perceptions of them). Then, over time, the show begins to bend and twist our feelings about both groups by humanizing characters on both sides while also demonstrating cruelty from both sides.

    But now the metaphor is inverted. Now the Cylons are post-invasion Americans, and the humans are insurgent Iraqis. (Again, at least somewhat.) And I find this fascinating, because the show’s producers took the positive capital that certain characters had built up with the audience and used it to humanize the one group of people that we seem so afraid to humanize.

    That being said, yeah, I’m disappointed that the search for Earth got dropped, especially in such a rushed way. I’m hoping that this is rectified at some point. (Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!)

    And, Josh, now I’ll be looking forward to episode 5.

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