Tuesday, September 16, 2008

top 10 favorite BSG moments: 6-10

I haven't written on my favorite television show in a while, and I don't want anyone to ever forget my ever-growing love and adoration for this show. The following are my Top 10 Favorite Moments from Battlestar Galactica, the greatest show ever made.

10. D'Anna tortures Baltar in "Torn" (3.6)
After lying about his discovery of a virus on a Cylon baseship, Gaius Baltar is physically tortured by D'Anna, a Number Three model. Baltar envisions his Number Six (ie Head Six) apparition having sex with him on a beach, and suddenly a visual juxtaposition fills the frame. Baltar moans in ecstasy, but is it pain or pleasure? D'Anna looks on in a mixture of disgust, horror, intrigue, and possibly sexual arousal. Well played by both Lucy Lawless and James Callis. On the one hand, this scene shows how Baltar is able to manipulate his reality, but on the other, it shows how humans are able to distort the truth about their situations. Technically, the scene is amazing, from the ambiguous location to the low lighting, which, of course, is the visual opposite of the beach Baltar and Six inhabit. This is surreal mind escapism at its best.

9. Starbuck dreams of making out with Leoben in "Maelstrom" (3.17)
Dreaming, Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace imagines herself painting what would be known as the Eye of Jupiter on her childhood home (which was taken over by the Cylons during the apocalypse). Kara is, of course, in a tank and undies. Her muscles are highlighted in this skimpy outfit, and she is both masculine and feminine. She takes a nap, and Cylon Leoben wakes her up. He throws her against the wall and forces her to kiss him. She fights at first but eventually gives in, and then they fall to the ground, rolling around in paint. It's quite possibly the hottest moment from TV. Ever.

8. Starbuck is about to assassinate Admiral Cain in "Resurrection Ship Part 2" (2.12)
Holy crap. The division between 2.0 and 2.5 is filled with philosophy. Admiral Cain is the ideological opposite of our Galactica hero and leader, Admiral Adama. She's a woman where "the ends justify the means" determines her actions, and she is more concerned with statistics than sympathy. She has rebellious civilians executed in order to keep them in line. And it's a tough question to ask -- when people don't do what you tell them to do, and you're the leader, how do you get them to do it? In Cain's case (and there is a definite allegory to the Biblical Cain and Abel story), she rules by physical coercion. And you know, Adama's not a saint either. Later in Season 3, Chief Tyrol revolts and Adama threatens to hurt Tyrol' wife, Callie, in order to get the Chief to back off. So finally the two leaders butt heads and the both find themselves at the last resort -- they must assassinate the other. So Starbuck, who is now a pilot on Cain's ship Pegasus, is sent to assassinate her boss. Meanwhile, Cain's right-hand man is sent to kill Adama. Then Cylon raiders come and they must fight the enemy before they fight each other. So who wins? Humanity wins. Neither leader is killed. At least, not by a human... but this scene is very interesting for Kara Thrace, who is struggling with both her morals and her sense of duty. But more than anything, this scene shows that Starbuck and Adama are not as unlike Cain as we would like to believe.

7. Helo shoots his wife, Sharon Athena in "Rapture"
Holy frak! This scene breaks my heart a thousand times over. Cylon Sharon had a hybrid baby with human Helo, but President Roslin and Adama told them the baby child shortly after her birth. When Sharon learns that her daughter is alive and well on the Cylon Resurrection ship -- and further that Roslin and Adam lied to her -- she schemes a way to get her daughter back. If her husband shoots her, she will download into a new body on the Resurrection ship and retrieve her daughter. The way that this scene is shot is amazing because the two characters are pacing around, and the decision to kill Sharon is not explicit. They could planning to assassinate Roslin or Adama out of hate, or they could be planning on stealing a ship (which is more likely). Sharon goes up to hug Helo, and then you hear a shot and Sharon falls into his arms. Helo cries out and the audience realizes, holy frak, he just shot his wife. Yes, Sharon would most likely download into a new body... but for the human Helo, there's always that doubt. What if she's not the same Sharon? What if something happens and she's unable to download? What if he just killed her? Gods, I love this scene.

6. Lee's speech on the stand during Baltar's trial in "Crossroads Part 2" (3.20)
The shift at the end of Season 3 seemed kind of odd. Suddenly the CAG and Admiral's son wants to be a lawyer? But then you rewatch Seasons 1 & 2 and you realize that this was the next logical progression of his character. He's always been a leader. Plus, this sets his character up for Season 4 when he has to negotiate with D'Anna who wants the Final Five or else she's going to kill hostages. Lee becomes, oddly enough, the acting president while Roslin is with D'Anna, but he does such a fine job during negotiations that every odd moment leading up to Lee as president suddenly makes sense. But back to "Crossroads Part 2." Lee, who is defending Gaius Baltar in his crimes against humanity, is called to the stand by Romo Lampkin:
Lee: Did the defendant make mistakes? Sure, he did. Serious mistakes. But did he actually commit any crimes? Did he commit treason? No. I mean it was an impossible situation, when the Cylons arrived, what could he possibly do? What could anyone have done? I mean ask yourself, what would you have done? What would you have done? If he had refused to surrender, the Cylons would have probably nuked the planet right then and there. So did he appear to cooperate with the Cylons? Sure. So did hundreds of others. What's the difference between him and them? The President issued a blanket pardon, they were all forgiven, no questions asked. Colonel Tigh, Colonel Tigh used suicide bombers, killed dozens of people: forgiven. Lieutenant Agathon and Chief Tyrol, they murdered an officer on the Pegasus: forgiven. The Admiral, the Admiral instituted a military coup d'etat against the President: forgiven. And me? Well, where do I begin? I shot down a civilian passenger ship - the Olympic Carrier, over a thousand people on board: forgiven. I raised my weapon to a superior officer, committed an act of mutiny: forgiven. And then, on the very day when Baltar surrendered to those Cylons, I, as Commander of Pegasus, jumped away. I left everybody on that planet alone, undefended, for months! I even tried to persuade the Admiral never to return. To abandon you all there for good. If I had my way nobody would have made it off that planet. I'm the coward, I'm the traitor. I'm forgiven. I'd say we're very forgiving of mistakes. We make our own laws now, our own justice. And we've been pretty creative of finding ways to let people off the hook for everything from theft to murder. And we've had to be, because, because we're not a civilization anymore. We are a gang, and we're on the run, and we have to fight to survive. We have to break rules, we have to bend laws, we have to improvise. But not this time, no, not this time. Not for Gaius Baltar. No, you, you have to die. You have to die because well, we don't like you very much. Because you're arrogant, because you're weak, because you're a coward. And we the mob, we want to throw you out the airlock because you didn't stand up to the Cylons and get yourself killed in the process. That's justice now. You should have been killed back on New Caprica, but since you had the temerity to live we're going to execute you now. That's justice.
The first time I saw this, I didn't quite get it. I thought Lawyer Lee was misguided and implausible (his grandfather was a lawyer and that somehow qualifies him to be legal counsel?), but upon repeat viewings, and especially after starting back with the miniseries and rewatching the entire series, I've come to understand how this developed. It's not as random or forced as it once had seemed. And besides, this was creator Ron Moore's way of exposing the truth of human nature to us. These people are the Galactica may be in leadership positions and they have sign names and titles, but they're still just people and they still make mistakes. And more importantly, they justify and classify the world around them. Crimes committed on New Caprica are excused and forgiven, but Baltar has to be punished. He has to die. It's a very intriguing study of the human condition, and even if this scene seems out of place, you can't deny that it's extremely well written.


Goddessdster said...

<3's Leoben + Kara.
I can't help it. I know I'm not supposed to like it, but I do.
I blame Callum Keith Rennie.

And I still have a problem with the Lee is a lawyer shift.

Looking forward to your top 5.

keyser soze said...

I think we ARE supposed to like Leoben and Starbuck.

My top 5 is coming... one day...