Saturday, November 10, 2007

Battlestar Galactica Razor Flashback Part 6—Survivors

The Upshot From Sci-Fi Channel: Lt. William Adama/Husker (Nico Cortez) struggles to free human prisoners from the Cylon lab.

Last week we left Husker deep within the bowels of a secret Cylon laboratory behind the lines on an enemy-occupied ice planet. After seeing evidence of human experimentation, as well as disturbing visions of the humans who were experimented upon, Husker encounters a man locked behind a freezer-door like holding cell.

Part 6 of this week’s “mini-sode” picks up directly from last week as Husker attempts to free the man by prying open the heavy metal door.

The terrified man (listed in the credits as Ben Cotton) rapidly tells Husker how his ship—The Diana from Gemenon—was separated from a convoy of traveling ships and captured by the Cylons. The Diana was a crew of 50 but they had been taken out one by one by the Cylons for experimentation.

By then Husker manages with great effort to pry the steel door open just a crack—enough to see (part of) the man’s face and he’s in there with a woman who is equally as terrified but silent (and thus uncredited). The building starts to come apart around them as the massive Cylon baseships are taking off from the ground—it would appear that the “toasters” are bugging out.

Husker can’t force the door any wider than the too-narrow opening whereupon the terrified man rebuffs Husker’s pledge to stay with them. The man tells Husker to go “get help” and that if he stays, Husker will be trapped like them.

Husker knows this and he’s in an untenable position. Credit to Nico Cortez for wordlessly displaying a range of emotions—fear, anger, confusion, frustration and guilt—in the second or two that he has to decide to stay with the captured civilians or to flee and survive.

Just such a dilemma makes for a textbook case of survivor’s guilt. Husker knows that he can’t rescue these poor souls so he runs to live to fight another day and to spread the word. Again, without a word, we see the silent vow that Husker makes—he will indeed fight another day and he won’t forget.

To be continued….

Survivors is where we get to see both the benefits and the limitations of the two-minute mini-sode format. Because of the short duration, the viewer is able to watch again and again to fully dissect the episodic installment—perhaps to a fault.

However, from a storytelling perspective, we can’t help but the see the dramatic flaw….or if not a flaw…the road NOT traveled due to time considerations.

While not impossible, we find it a bit of a stretch that someone held against their will, subjected to such inhumane horrors and terrified in such a way would so easily tell his would-be rescuer to just go save himself and forget out them.

It’s possible they believed themselves beyond saving yet it’s not implausible so much as it is convenient…for the storytellers/writers.

(You know, the same writers who—if the studios have their way, would NOT be paid or even credited for creating original, dramatic, episodic content like these mini-sodes on the Internet. Perhaps the 30-second “brief advertisement” that viewers must endure before the start of each mini-sode viewing was donated and the network hasn’t made a dime from non-broadcast, original content. And perhaps a Cylon will fly out of our arse—but we digress)

A more intriguing and dramatic turn would might have been if, instead of being given a pass (i.e. moral permission) by the terrified man, Husker himself was forced to make the cold, hard soldier’s decision that the door couldn’t be opened, the civilians couldn’t be saved and it was a exigency of war that Husker save himself.

Viewers saw many such selfish (in the non-judgmental meaning of the word) acts of self-preservation at the expense of others less fortunate made in abundance during the opening hours of the Cylon attack on the 12 Colonies during the BSG mini-series.

The decision by then newly sworn-in President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) to abandon the survivors in ships that lacked faster-than-light (FTL) engines and jump away from an impending Cylon attack comes immediately to mind.

However, the clock was ticking in this week’s chapter and demands of timing called upon the story to move along forthwith. Hence Husker ever-so-reluctantly screws the frak out of there.

Bottom line: When all is said and done, Survivors packed quite a lot into an episode that was only two-minutes long. Remember it’s called a “mini-sode” for a reason.

Look for the final Flashback to air next Friday night, November 16 during Flash Gordon, then on Sci-Fi Channel’s website with FanBoyWonder commentary to follow. Then tune-in one week later for the new BSG movie Battlestar Galactica: Razor on Saturday, November 24. So Say We All!


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