Ambition. It’s both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of Battlestar Galactica. Ronald D. Moore and David Eick aren’t just telling a sci-fi space story, they’re addressing issues of society, philosophy, politics, religion, and everything else you can think of. As broad in its scope as HBO’s The Wire, Battlestar Galactica has a lot going on.
That’s not necessarily a good thing. Four episodes into season 4, the show has already splintered into no less than six major subplots: Laura Roslin’s slow death, Lee Adama’s newfound political life, Tigh, Tyrol and Tory coping with being Cylons, Baltar’s spiritual awakening, the Demetrius crew’s search for Earth and, oh yeah, there’s a Cylon Civil War going on. Even for this show, that’s a lot of stuff.
My question is whether it’s too much. Battlestar Galactica is about finding Earth, a simple concept, but the road to get there is quite complicated. To be fair, this is not the first time Battlestar Galactica has told multiple stories. Helo was stuck in his own miniseries on Caprica for all of season 1, and Baltar spent half of season 3 aboard a Cylon Basestar. Season 2 began with the appropriately titled “Scattered,” which saw Tyrol and Baltar on Kobol, Helo and Starbuck on Caprica, Tigh in command and Roslin in the brig.
Eventually all roads led back to home, and while I have blind faith in Moore’s end goal and his ability to get there, I’m not sure the journey is worth it. With six major subplots going on, some are bound to be more interesting than others, which is dangerous because it leaves the possibility that the writers will focus on the ones we don’t like.
Personally, I love the Cylon Civil War. I think it’s a daring move with echoes of any uprising or revolution throughout history. The newly found Cylons are also intriguing, as is the mission of the Demetrius. Sadly, the other three storylines are already starting to outstay their welcome.
Beautiful as Mary McDonnell’s acting has been this season, if I see one more scene of Admiral Adama reading some Space Steinbeck to her during chemo, I may lapse into a coma. There’s also a reason they saw laws and sausage are the only two things you don’t want to see made, which is why watching Lee adapt to life as a Quorum member is so painful.
As for Baltar, the genius of Battlestar Galactica is often in the delicate way it addresses our real world issues, yet this season the Christ-like nature of Gaius is becoming too overt. Religion is difficult subject matter to handle correctly, as a writer needs to be both respectful and interesting. Sadly, I’m already bored of seeing Baltar act like the messiah, and it’s hardly even begun.
I do have faith Moore and company have a plan and that everything will come together in one final blast of glory, but is all this separation necessary? To quote the show itself, all this has happened before, and all this will happen again. Groups go off in their own directions only to meet up later, but this is the final season. Do we really want Adama and Starbuck to be apart for this long? Do we want a glimpse of an awesome Skinjob vs. Toaster battle royale, only to have it disappear in the next episode?
I truly hope that the show has learned from its past and doesn’t keep these storylines separate for much longer. Starbuck and Adama need to be back together (I’d be happy either either Adama). Baltar needs to become an important part of the Cylon mythology and finally come to an understanding about the Six in his head. And Laura Roslin needs to die or stop dying. There are only 16 episodes left in the entire series, and I want Battlestar Galactica to spend that time finding Earth, not finding each other.
-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of Sci Fi Channel)