(photo courtesy Sci Fi Channel)
The last new episode of âBattlestar Galacticaâ aired in March, which seems like forever
Technically, Razor provides the first two episodes of Season 4, but doesnât take up where the previous year (reviewed here, in part) left off. Instead, the story follows two sets of flashbacks on parallel tracks. The first catches up with the Battlestar Pegasus, showing how it survived the attack from the robotic Cylons. More importantly, Razor traces the moral downfall of Adm. Cain (Michelle Forbes), whom we first see as a stern but professional military officer, exercising on a treadmill in her quarters, not unlike a female CEO outside of business hours. In the name of both survival and avenging the Cylon attack, Cain becomes a war criminal who advocates murder and torture.
Much of this we follow from the point of view of Pegasus junior officer Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chavez-Jacobson), who becomes Cainâs loyal protÃ©gÃ©, despite the admiralâs increasingly monstrous choices. Viewers have never seen Shaw before, but âBSGâsâ creators handle the idea that âshe was always thereâ a lot more convincingly than the Nikki and Paulo appearances on âLost.â
Razorâs other plotlines takes place during the second half of Season 2, when Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) was briefly commander of the Pegasus. Shaw struggles to adjust to the new, more humanistic regime and realizes that âjust following ordersâ may not be an adequate balm for oneâs conscience. With âBattlestar Galacticaâsâ trademark outer space dogfights and rescue missions, Razor exemplifies the showâs blend of thrilling escapism and downbeat dilemmas rife with real-world implications. It offers a far more nuanced portrayal of the difficulty of military decisions than most of the current films inspired by the Iraq war.
Razor features a third subplot that follows Edward James Olmosâ character, William Adama, on his rookie mission during the First Cylon War 40 years earlier (heâs played by Nico Cortez). Most of this story unfolded via seven online-only âminisodesâ (a term thatâs no more elegant than âwebisodeâ or âmobisodeâ). Usually Web-only supplements to TV series or films tend to be pretty threadbare, but Razorâs minisodes are no tease, and donât stint on the special-effects money shots, heavy-weight drama or uninhibited sexuality.
It must be said Razorâs strategy of multimedia incursion borders on genius. The âminisodesâ began Oct. 5, then the film screened on Nov. 12 at movie theaters in eight U.S. cities (Atlanta was not one of them). It makes its cable-TV debut on the 24th, and finally it sees a DVD release Dec. 4. Thatâs a paradigm for the future right there.
Razor is billed as a self-contained movie, but its dense plot (including a tantalizing Season 4 hint) may not be the best introduction for newcomers to âBattlestar Galactica.â Incidentally, the film and its minisodes contain an homage to the villains of the original series that will make longtime fans say âFrak, yeah!â
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