Monday, April 11, 2005

Galactica Revisited
from the mind of  Duke.

Now that the first season (or first half, depending on how you count) of Battlestar Galactica is over, I thought it time to revisit my earlier post on the series and see how well my expectations had been fulfilled.

In short, it was everything I was hoping for. Us conservatives finally seem to have a science fiction show of our very own. I could gush at length about everything I have an opinion on, but for the purposes of this blog I'll try to keep it at least tangentially political.

One of the great things about the show is the way the crew of the Galactica keep getting into situations where I'm sure I'll be disappointed, then doing something completely unexpected. By which I mean doing the right thing.

In the superb first episode "33", a human (or is it?) ship approaches the fleet with apparent hostile intent. A decision must quickly be made as to how to deal with it. It's easy to imagine a Star Trek captain (choose any except Kirk) putting his crew in danger rather than risk making the wrong call. What do Adama and Roslin do? They destroy the ship before it can harm anyone in the fleet. Good for them. Afterwards there is much agonizing and second-guessing, but the important thing is that they made a hard decision, the right decision, and were forced to live with the consequences. That's what leaders are supposed to do.

In "Flesh and Bone" Starbuck tortures a Cylon spy to get vital information from him. Eventually, Roslin finds them and stops the interrogation. I was all set for her to give a big speech on how terrible this sort of treatment is and how we have to respect the rights of even these genocidal monsters. Instead, she blows him out the airlock. I wasn't sure whether I liked her character before, but this scene ended any doubt.

While I sympathize with the military point of view more than the civilian one on this show, I don't expect the military to be perfect. In "You Can't Go Home Again" Adama puts the fleet (all of humanity, remember) in unnecessary danger to find one missing person. Why does he do it? Because that person is a fighter pilot (Starbuck). She is one of them, and he will do whatever it takes to bring her home. He will not leave a fellow soldier behind.

Bush originally wanted to begin the war against the Taliban a week earlier than actually happened. Why the delay? The military wanted to hold off until search and rescue units we in place in neighboring countries. It takes time to move these units, so we waited, giving the Taliban an extra week to shore up their defenses. This very possibly cost lives in the long run, but we were not going to send our pilots into harm's way until we had a way to help those who were shot down. It heartens and amazes me that the writers of Galactica understand this sort of thing.

"Bastile Day" introduces the character of Tom Zarek (seen again in "Colonial Day"), a terrorist held aboard a prison ship. Some aboard the fleet consider him a hero, while others see him as a butcher. Ah, here we go, I thought, the episode where they trot out the old "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" line. Apollo even has some small amount of respect for Zarek initially. This is where Enterprise would have stayed vague and unjudgemental, displaying to all the blue states just how sophisticated they were. Thankfully, Galactica has no intention of staying neutral. Zarek is shown to be the murderous thug that he is, whose talk of freedom and justice is merely a cover for his own quest for power. Apollo is quickly cured of the notion that there is anything admirable about this man.

This is powerful stuff in its own right, and it ties in nicely with current events. What does this show have to tell us about our own, more down to earth conflicts?

* There are situations where it might be necessary fire on a civilian airliner, no matter how distasteful the notion, to save a greater number of lives.

* If a terrorist has information that could prevent the deaths of a great many innocent people, you do what you have to in order to get it out of him. His 'rights' do not figure into the equation.

* Do not leave a man (or woman) behind. It might not make sense objectively, but that's not the point.

* One man's terrorist is... still just a terrorist, no matter how many misguided souls would tell you otherwise.

One thing that really amazes me is that I'm surrounded by Democrats at work. And yet most of them hate Enterprise and love Galactica in a manner equal to my own. What am I to make of the fact that they see the real world in one way, but when confronted with a similar situation in the form of fantasy, find themselves strongly identifying with the exact opposite viewpoint? Is this a sign that many of them, deep down, are really conservatives who just won't admit it to themselves in the context of reality?

It is going to be a very long wait until new shows resume in July. No doubt I'll have more to add then.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still refuse to watch it!

7:20 PM  

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