Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Battlestar Galactica - 'A Day in the Life' (3x15)

‘A Day in the Life’ was definitely better than last week’s lackluster episode, but it’s another episode where some stuff happens and nothing really changes. It’s thoroughly enjoyable from moment to moment, but when the episode’s over, you’re left with the feeling that nothing has really changed.

The best thing about this episode is the visuals and story constructions. Battlestar is more avant garde than any other show on TV, possibly ever, in the way it works on a kind of subconscious level, freely blending memory, hallucination and reality to build its world. I wasn’t thrilled with some of the substance of the scenes with Adama’s wife, but their incorporation into the narrative was great, flowing seamlessly out of the real world stuff. Plus, the color correction made the dream world seem vivid and alive, a great contrast to the muted palette of the rest of the series. This is stuff that no other show on TV is doing.

There were a couple of fantastic scenes in this episode, most notably the final scene with Adama and Roslin, where they reflect on New Caprica. One of the reasons I loved ‘Unfinished Business’ was that it gave us such a contrast to the typical oppressive feel of the series. For the only time we’ve seen on the show, these characters were just living normal lives, free of an overarching threat. Looking back, I wish that season two had ended with the settling, then the first three or four episodes of season three focused on New Caprica before the occupation, then there were six or seven episodes about the Cylon occupation. I’m still unsure whether Moore and co. chose to cut off the New Caprica story solely because of budget reasons, or because they really thought it could only sustain four episodes. If the latter was the case, it was clearly a misguided choice, if the former, I would have tried to find a way to make it work, because that stuff was just so much better than everything that’s come since. I felt like the show had established a bold new paradigm, changed things forever, then three episodes later they’re back to the old status quo.

That said, I love the way they use the memory of New Caprica in this episode. For Adama and Roslin, it was a dream of being just people, not leaders. As his wife makes clear, Adama has constructed a persona to distance himself from the world. They both want each other, but their sense of duty gets in the way of a relationship. Her joy is clearly evident when thinking about their time together, and I too was wishing that they could recapture that feeling.

In the end, it was frustrating when Adama kept the picture. A more logical, if a bit obvious conclusion, would be for him to ditch it and symbolically move on. I suppose it’s tough to do that, but as is, the episode means basically no significant change happens.

New Caprica also haunts Callie and Tyrol. There, they were just parents, now they’re back on the job, fully committed to their work. The trapped in the airlock story was better than I expected, but still not great. I feel like they wimped out by not killing either one of them, particularly because having either one be a single parent would have made for better stories than the same bickering couple stuff we see with everyone on the show.

So, there was some good stuff, but I wanted a bit more. The show has been playing it very safe since New Caprica, and that’s not a good place to be. Also, we seriously need some Baltar and Six next week, two episodes without Baltar is two too many.

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