Friday, September 15, 2006

Battlestar Galactica—the Resistance: Webisodes Part 3 & 4

The upshot: Duck tells his wife Nora that he refused to join the Resistance (for her) even as they clash over religious differences—she wants him to go to Temple while he feels he doesn’t “need all the bells and whistles” of Gods worship. Meanwhile, Tigh and Tyrol hide a cache of weapons in the Temple—prompting Jammer to pray for the Gods' forgiveness.

Callie and Nora discuss their husbands’ crisis of faith as they visit the Temple and pray to Aphrodite to help Nora conceive a child. Then a Cylon reprisal leads to a tragic death as Nora is killed in the crossfire.

We can’t say we didn’t see this coming— poor ole Nora might as well have been wearing a Star Trek red shirt. While we weren’t surprised, we were a little disappointed that Nora became a human sacrifice to advance the plot and presumably to spur Duck to become a born-again resistance fighter.

Based on her reaction in Part 1 when Jammer conveyed the news of Charlie Longo’s death—“Hiding weapons in his tent, what did he expect?” we would have liked to see the exploration of a real conflict such as where the husband wanted to fight and the wife didn’t—the dramatic possibilities are endless, yet it is the forum that is limited.

It would be a mistake to judge these webisodes by the standards of a full-length television episode. With 2-3 minutes per webisode, there is a finite amount of story that can be conveyed and only in bite-sized increments. To put a point on it—the webisode is the television equlivant of a comic strip.

Unlike a four or five act television show, this is a ten act story with each and every part requiring a stop and start point—once we realized this, rather than complain about The Resistance’s shortcomings, we laud the writers for fitting in as story much as they have.

Getting to the story: From what we’ve seen so far, the Cylon occupation of New Caprica is designed to be reminiscent of Vichy France under the Nazis during World War II.

From the start, viewers could emphasize with Duck. He hates living in Cylon bondage (who wouldn’t) but he doesn’t want trouble and risk losing everything—go along, get along. But as he (and the audience) is finding out, in this story there is no middle ground, no line to walk—if you aren’t resisting, you are a tacit collaborator and inaction will cost you one way or another.

On the production: Working on a shoe-string helped in the storytelling. By saving on some special effects dollars, viewers “hear” the Cylon Centurions (i.e. “toasters”) approach the tent and we watch Callie scramble under fire to protect her baby before the picture fades to black.

After a dramatic pause, the picture comes back to slowly focus on the aftermath—a turned over candle, smashed religious artifacts and Nora staring through lifeless eyes.

With less, the webisode makers forced viewers to use their imagination and made the scene a hundred times more powerful than if there had been a dozen CGI Cylons on screen.

Bottom line: If The Resistance represents “the shape of things to come” during BSG’s Season Three, then this show has only just begun to get good.

Look for parts 5 & 6 on this coming Tuesday and Thursday with our commentary next weekend. Stay tuned.


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