I watched the first 4 episodes of BSG S3 this week. Wow. That show got very dark very fast. For those who have never watched this show, it is just a great show. It reminds me a lot of Lost, but it is a lot tighter and darker and less of a primetime drama. It is unapologetically an adult science-fiction show that deals with war, violence, spirituality, love, society and what it is to be human. It is deep and also a lot of fun.
The basic story is that in a universe far far away, an advanced human civilization lives on a group of planets known as the 12 Colonies. They invented some cyber-slaves called Cylons and the Cylons rebelled. They had one war with them, and the story begins with the second Cylon war. The Cylons attack them and nuke all of their planets leaving only 50,000 survivors who flee in a motley assortment of spaceships escorted by a single Battlestar called Galactica. As the story progresses, the fleet of ships flees from the Cylons, tries to survive, comes to understand the nature of Cylons, and searches for the legendary 13th Colony, Earth. The Cylons have a complicated culture themselves and appear human though there are only 12 versions of the human-Cylons or “skinjobs”.
The main characters are:
William Adama, the commander of the Galactica and what is left of the military.
Laura Roslin, the former Secretary of Education and all that is left of the Government. She is dying of cancer.
Kara Thrace, callsign Starbuck, an amazing pilot of the smaller attack ships called Vipers. She was engaged to Adama’s younger son who died before the war and is like a daughter to him. She is closely tied to the mythology of the Cylons and the entire search for Earth. She is brave, talented, and damaged. A self-destructive badass. She is religious and worships the Gods of Kobol like all of the humans do.
Lee Adama, callsign Apollo, is also a Viper pilot, would probably have left the military to become a lawyer, has a complicated relationship with his father.
Gaius Baltar is a vain, brilliant, shallow, arrogant scientist who betrays the humans and enables the Cylon attack. He is in love with one of the Cylons, Number 6, and allowed access to the security system that enabled the destruction of the Colonies. He is a traitor, but inspires both pity and disgust.
There are also a lot of Cylons who are important in the plot. They are very complicated people. Not human, but people nonetheless. They aren’t all evil, they just don’t understand people very well. They desperately want to love and be loved by a human, and this is somehow necessary for them to reproduce properly. They view the experience of love with almost holy desire. They also have a religion and are monotheistic. They think that the Gods of Kobol are made up.
There are love triangles, but they are heart-wrenching rather than tiresome. There are gorgeous men and women and a complex fully realized fictional universe. There is murder and genocide, questions about God and the question of what exactly it is to be human. There is a lot about the transformative power of love, duty and honor. There is a lot about the Iraq War, occupation, elections and politics. Relationships with parents and struggles to have children, keep children, raise children. And of course spaceships and crazy battle-scenes and a lot of death and sacrifice and courage and betrayal.