Battlestar’s Big Mistake

If you haven’t seen the most recent episode of Battlestar Galactica called “Maelstrom”, be warned – spoilers follow.

When I first heard about a remake of the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, I was ecstatic. First, Lucas makes a second Star Wars trilogy (something I wished for after I saw Return of the Jedi in the theatres oh-so-many years ago), then I get to see a re-telling of Battlestar Galactica with better special effects.

Now though, I’m truly disappointed. What started out with a bang with a spectacular mini-series and excellent first season has turned into, to steal from Katee Sackhoff, “90210 in space”. Apparently, she’s been a tad disappointed with the show as of recently. According to a Sy Fy Portal article, Sackhoff was “critical of is Kara’s tendency to bed hop, which reminds her more of a soap opera plot than something found in science-fiction.” Sackhoff reports that Ron Moore specifically said “we are not doing 90210 in space”, but in her opinion it’s turned into that. She’s not alone in that thought though. I’m patient if a sci-fi show throws in one or two “soap opera-ish” episodes here and there interspersed amongst loads of climactic battle scenes (for example, the Stargate SG-1 episode where Teal’c moves into an apartment and gets involved with a lovely young lady – who happened to be played by Erica Durance – but then at least in that episode he gets accused of murder and the N.I.D. try to interfere, and in the next episode we get back to the sci-fi), but enough is enough. Battlestar Galactica has tossed in soap opera episode after episode. We don’t even see “toasters” anymore – that Raider in the last episode was supposedly a hallucination of Starbuck’s and therefore, doesn’t count. I mean, come on! I thought the main thrust of the show was about the battle between cylons and humans – life long enemies. Maybe if the producers focused on that a bit more rather than worrying about the ratings and how to build up the characters, the show will get back on track – and the ratings will come after.

Then the next thing you know, they go and do the worst thing possible (short of killing off Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama) – they kill off Starbuck. Yes, that’s right, the “rock ’em, sock ’em, ‘I’m gonna get that toaster!’ chick” has left the building. “Wait? Say that again?” Starbuck is gone. That fact was brought home with the last scene of Admiral Adama tearing apart his model ship after he puts on it the mini-statue of the goddess Aurora that Starbuck gave him. Angry and upset, the Admiral tore apart the model ship that Starbuck wanted him to finish. Unfortunately, us viewers don’t have a model ship to destroy as well – to take out our anger and disappointment at how badly they ruined Starbuck’s character.

Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace was the archetypal female warrior. She’s strong, tough, and you don’t mess with her because frankly she doesn’t give a damn about the rules – she’ll hit you even if you’re the X.O. She’s the best Viper pilot in the fleet pulling off feats that no one else can, even saving Lee’s butt a few times. She’s also managed to escape cylon capture (reference “The Farm” in season two). Then the writers turn her character upside-down by portraying her as an emotional mother with the first episodes of season three (though the child really wasn’t hers). Of course though, her experience as a “mother” is supposed to change her and she is more in touch with her emotions. Then, all seems fine with Starbuck for a while until the most recent episode, “Maelstrom” where Starbuck is having dreams about her old apartment on Caprica and, in particular, about that painting she made that looks like the “Eye of Jupiter”. A man who looks like the cylon Leoben is in her dreams and is supposedly leading her to her destiny, which as it turns out in this episode is to fly into a cloud and blow up with her ship from the pressure in the atmosphere. In “Maelstrom”, Starbuck is a teary-eyed mess and it is revealed that she was abused by her mother. By the end of the episode, she forgives her mother for the abuse as somehow she can see her mother on her death bed. Then Starbuck wakes up in her cockpit and tells Lee that she isn’t afraid anymore. She doesn’t eject out of her Viper, and then it blows up while Lee watches nearby not able to do anything.

There are few things as inconsistent as a warrior committing suicide for no good reason. A warrior may sacrifice herself for the explicit purpose of saving someone else, but a warrior is not suicidal. In this episode, Starbuck commits suicide just because she has a destiny? The Starbuck that we know and love wouldn’t do such a thing – no way, she’d say “Frak that!” Warrior archetypes have too much self-preservation to just give up and commit suicide. They may give up their lives trying to save someone, but that doesn’t mean they court death. What happened with Starbuck in the last episode was just out of character and basically non-sensical. In the episode previous to this one, Starbuck was giving her new “nugget” hell for not showing up for training on time AND out of uniform. Basically, the writers and producers want us to believe that somehow Starbuck went from being a warrior to someone who runs back crying to Mommy. That is how we are supposed to remember her? Sheesh, perhaps the producers need to read some Joseph Campbell – maybe look up the Celtic goddess Morrigan and the Norse goddess Freya while they’re at it.

Aside from Starbuck dying in “Maelstrom”, there are many things that were just wrong with that episode. First off, it’s another soap opera episode consisting of flashbacks with Starbuck’s mom who as it turns out was abusive to Starbuck. Second, Starbuck forgives her mother. What?! There are some things in life that are unforgivable, abuse is one of those things. To forgive an abuser is to accept abuse, it gives it validation, it says it isn’t at all wrong (is that really the message we’d like to say about abuse?) The character of Starbuck as a strong woman would not have forgiven her mother – again, she’d say “Frak that!” and she’d move on. There’s a difference between accepting what’s already happened to her and accepting abuse overall. Third, there’s the cylon Leoben again. Er… wait, it’s not Leoben? He’s there to help her cross the river between life and death. So, Starbuck’s spiritual guide is personified as the cylon who abused her? I don’t know about anyone else, but my spiritual guide isn’t someone who abused me. Fourth, why was Starbuck even written as an abused child? Just because a woman is strong doesn’t necessarily mean she was abused. Some people just have strong personalities, they’re just born that way. Some people are less resilient. Some people who have been abused aren’t strong at all – they can’t stand up for themselves. So, why is there this assumption that since Starbuck is a strong woman she must have been abused? That’s a stereotype. (Actually, this is a problem overall in the show. Strong women are portrayed as having been abused in some form or another. Or for a woman to become strong, she has to experience abuse such as in the case with Sharon who was raped while being imprisoned as a cylon.) Fifth, Starbuck was a poet and a painter. Apparently, this was supposed to imply that she was moody, subject to depression, and potentially suicidal because all poets and painters are. Another stereotype.

Granted, some of these issues with the show have been apparent earlier on, but I’ve been patient (bored, but patient) hoping the show will get back to its roots and not turn into a major sci-fi soap opera (sci-opera?). I’ve also been patient hoping that Starbuck’s character will switch back to the warrior archetype, but I guess I was wrong. The producers had one chance to “fix” Starbuck, but now they’ve blown it (literally, as her ship blew up). What’s next for us? Helo turns into a moralizing something-up-his-butt bastard? Please not! I’m liking Helo and Sharon right now. Supposedly, Lee is to turn against his father and the President over the issue of how they are treating Baltar. Does that not sound like a plot from The Young and the Restless? Oh dear. I keep hoping for the cylons to return and for some more climactic space battles. I guess we’ll find out next week on “90210 in Space” if the producers have heard my plea. Come on, let’s blow up some more toasters! (Or can’t they afford them anymore???)

BB,
Cassandrah
Brigid’s Flame

Other articles on Battlestar Galactica:

Starbuck: Is She or Isn’t She?
Major Cast Member to Depart
March 4, 2007: Mother, May I

One Response to “Battlestar’s Big Mistake”

  1. Ecstatic Spirituality » Blog Archive » Movie Time! Says:

    […] I find movies like this touch me more than interpersonal dramas, probably because they move beyond our own selfish lives. Astrologically, I can explain my attraction to such movies by my Mars in Aries in the 11th house. Mars is the planet that represents aggressive action (such as war and battles). Aries is the sign that Mars rules, which means Aries also represents aggressive action. The fact that I have Mars in Aries in my horoscope means that aggressive action is doubly represented. The 11th house represents associations, acquaintances, and humanitarian issues. Thus, Mars in Aries in the 11th house for me represents aggressive action (war, battles) within the realm of associations, acquaintances, and humanitarian issues. Epic stories about the struggle and fight for the good of all definitely fit this description! (This also explains why I love Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Stargate so much. I liked Battlestar Galactica at first for this reason, but the writers for that show seem to have forgotten the appeal of the main story. See my previous post on that.) […]

Leave a Reply