Saturday, December 01, 2007

Gilmore Girls: The End

I stopped watching the seventh season of Gilmore Girls about two thirds of the way. The awful Lorelai marries Christopher plot was so bad, it pretty much knocked me off the show. The incredibly tight character focus that the Palladinos had over the course of the series was neglected for sensationalistic soap opera plotting. The show had drifted so far from what I liked that I didn’t have any particular desire to see the end.

But, I got a review copy of the season box, so I figured I might as well finish it up. Watching the final six episodes, I was actually pretty impressed. It was still not near what the Palladinos were doing, but it was competent enough to be a satisfying finale to the series.

The series always had two great strengths, Palladino’s writing and Lauren Graham’s performance. Even though the writing isn’t there, Lauren Graham is still amazing. Lorelai Gilmore is one of the most likable, and complex characters in the history of television. A lot of TV characters go through a litany of really awful stuff. Look at Nate on Six Feet Under, he’s a regular guy, but suffers through so much, it’s hard to relate to his troubles on an everyday level. Lorelai’s problems are the sort of things that real people face, and her constant refusal to really engage with those problems is how a lot of real people deal with the stuff they face. With the exception of the amazing drunk confession scene at Lane’s wedding, we generally watch her suffer in silence, claiming to be fine even as she feels increasingly worried about her impending loneliness.

That loneliness is magnified as she starts to realize that Rory will soon be leaving her forever. Even before Rory gets the Obama job, you can see her starting to worry about her potentially lonely future. The Christopher arc earlier in the season was a big mistake because it filled plot without allowing for real character development. It was a brash, hard to believe decision, and from the moment it happened, it was clear that it would eventually be undone. Once it’s undone, we can view Lorelai not as part of a romantic unit, but just as herself. The show usually worked best when Lorelai was isolated, her relationships with Max or Digger were low points for the show because her participation in the relationship numbs her individuality.

In the background of the season, we get her gradual reunion with Luke, but that’s not the focus, it happens naturally. Luke is the character who comes out of the last season the best. We get a better understanding of his behavior at the end of the sixth season, and can watch him and Lorelai tentatively move back together. The scene where he’s sewing together the tarps for Rory’s party in the last episode is really amazing, as is the moment where Lorelai realizes it was Luke who did everything for the party. When they actually kiss, it’s an anticlimax, it’s that moment of recognition between them that’s really powerful. I don’t think the tarp thing makes much sense on a literal level, but as a metaphor, it’s beautiful.

The other storyline that works really well is the bonding between Luke and Zach/Lane. They adopt him as a father figure, and his experience with April gives them a template for dealing with their own children. That was a great use of supporting characters for a successful plot line.

However, I still have huge issues with the Lane children storyline, and the way it’s handled doesn’t make things better. Why does she decide not to go on the road with Zach at the end? I suppose on a logical level, it makes sense, but from a character point of view, I want to see her out on the road. Now, the message seems to be, have kids and lose everything else in your life. For a show that prides itself on feminism, that seems like an awful message. The Lane of yore basically dies in this season and is replaced by a Lane who can only be a mother.

While I absolutely loved parts of these episodes, the things that always bothered me about the show were still there. The townspeople are almost always just annoying. I think Twin Peaks did the definitive wacky townsfolk, and countless other shows have presented similar one note quirky characters. The show always pulled in a number of directions, and the town direction usually didn’t work so well.

The last episodes combine the annoying townspeople with the other thing that really bothers me about the show, and that’s the overly effusive praise of Rory. I think she’s okay in her own storylines, but I hate how the characters of the show constantly praise her. It’s one thing when her grandparents do it, but I’d hope that the townspeople would have better things to do than want to go to Rory’s graduation at Yale, and I certainly don’t think they would be distraught when they find out they can’t get tickets. I suppose it’s not meant to be realistic, but it just bothers me when they do stories talking about how great Rory is.

That’s one of the reasons that the show plays better when watched in bulk than week by week. The bad town stuff just sort of blends into the background, and the stronger stories remain in the fore. I think the show would have been very different, and probably better, if there was less focus on the quirkiness of the town and things were centered more around the three generations of Gilmores. The stories about Richard and Emily almost always work well, particularly the slightly on the nose, but still successful trip to North Carolina episode.

But ultimately, it’s Lauren Graham who makes the show so good. She is the center of everything, and is able to skillfully navigate between comedy and drama, frequently using her comedy as mask for the sadness underneath. I hadn’t watched the show since reading Grant Morrison’s Zatanna miniseries, but now I see the characters as almost one. They look exactly alike, as do Rory and Misty, but beyond that, there’s the same issue at the center. Both fear getting older and being alone, but mask it in cynical jokes and smart aleck repartee. In the end of Zatanna, she finds out her father really loved her, and seems to come to terms with things. Here, Lorelai gets that same reassurance, and is able to give something back to them, when she offers to continue the Friday night dinners.

I think reading both works deepens my appreciation of them. Reading Zatanna, I implicitly assigned her much of the Lorelai backstory, and that gave me a deeper understanding than just what’s in the miniseries itself. Grant gives me the opening, and I bring that something else to it. Similarly, the grand struggle of Zatanna makes me understand Lorelai’s problems in a different way. Both are fantastic works, and I don’t think I’d have loved Zatanna in the same way if I hadn’t seen Gilmore Girls.

The show ends on a slightly predictable, but still satisfying note. This isn’t a Six Feet Under style perfect ending, or a Sopranos style controversial statement. It’s just the story resolving itself for now, the characters going on, growing and changing, but remaining at their core, the same, a family in a diner, enjoying one last meal together before the child leaves the nest. Hey, so maybe it’s the exact same ending as The Sopranos.

This last season still lacks some of the magic that Palladinos brought to the show. The camerawork is more conventional, and the characters frequently are subsumed to overarching plot machinations. But, the performances are still strong and the show goes out on a good note.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier

Halfway through reading the Black Dossier, I wrote this on Barbelith:

“I'm up to the 1898 part of the dossier and so far, I'm not really feeling it. The opening sequence is pretty fun, but after that it's just these endless text pieces that don't do much for me. Maybe it's the fact that I'm not that familiar with the British culture and literature Moore is replicating, but the entirety of this book feels like that atlas in Volume II that I've still yet to make it through.

I like the way that Moore is trying to synthesize the entirety of literature into this one continuum, a history of the immateria, but reading the history of an entirely fictional place, or a real one for that matter, gets a bit boring after a while. It feels like The Silmarillion, a book that I could respect, but is more interesting in idea than execution.

Plus, it's a bit jarring to have Mina and Alan look and behave so differently, I don't feel much of a connection to the characters from the previous volumes. And, if I hadn't heard Moore say that the characters became immortal, I'd just be baffled about why they're there.

And, after a while even the comics stuff feels more like spot the reference than a meaningful story. I don't know who a lot of the people he's referencing are, and even when I do, it's just, so Harry Lime is M, that's cool, but it's nowhere near as meaningful as the more developed characters in the previous volumes. It just becomes a bit tedious to hear about a bunch of characters I'm vaguely familiar with doing stuff from other books.

That's not to say there's not good stuff there. The Orlando segment was great, and I enjoyed his Shakespeare pastiche, but that's partially because I know other Shakespeare. I feel like Moore has written a book that only he can fully appreciate, more power to him for that, but between this and Lost Girls, Moore is rapidly becoming the Geoff Johns of Victorian literature, someone who's endlessly remaking the stories he read as a kid, and not bringing as much new to the table.”

It’s a sentiment I’d stand behind, even though I do think the book improves as it goes on, culminating in a really nice final sequence. However, it’s a really mixed bag, and the book is quite flawed on a conceptual level. Alan Moore himself said that most books like this, with background material about a universe, are boring. He claims that he found a way of doing it that would make it exciting, that’s not always true.

There’s two things going on here, a story about Mina and Alan on the run from the authorities in the 50s, and the various text pieces filling in the history of the League over the years. In the two previous Volumes, knowing the literary figures that were being referenced was a nice bonus, but not essential to the enjoyment of the story. The central five characters were all actually developed, so even if you didn’t know them from previous stories, you can still appreciate what’s going on. Even the ancillary characters are all fully realized, not just references.

This book goes way too far towards relying on our previous knowledge of the characters. It’s impossible to emotionally engage with the book when you have no clue who the vast majority of the characters are. The fact that copyright law prevents Moore from actually calling most of the characters who they’re meant to be makes it even worse. Look at the little black guy who spirits them to the blazing world, I have no clue who he is, but clearly I’m meant to. It takes you out of the story when you’re sitting there wondering who these people are. The characters who are actually developed in the book, like Orlando, Drummond, Bond and Emma Peel work well, and are easily the most satisfying aspect of the book. But, there’s way too many random cameos.

Even Alan and Mina don’t seem much like the characters from the previous volumes. It was a mistake to make Mina a blonde because even if I’m aware it’s the same character, on an emotional level, I can’t identify with her as that same person. The total change in personality doesn’t help much either. Her defining characteristic in the previous volumes was the contrast between her deep desires and Victorian morality. That’s what makes her relationship with Alan in Volume II so exciting, her transgression of societal norms. You could argue that the character growth is implicit in the new presentation of the character, but she’s changed so much, I can’t relate to her.

Another major issue is the fact that much of their dialogue falls into that cheesy reacting to what they’ve read in the dossier. It becomes too self referential to have the characters talk about what we’ve just read. That’s not the fun kind of meta, it feels more like an 80s fantasy movie where someone’s being told a story and comments on it. Having the characters do that makes them feel less like real people and more like tools through which Moore can present his endless stylistic experimentation.

It’s ironic that the characters should be stripped of their humanity in a work that’s all about the enduring power of fictions to inspire us. The characters that Moore celebrates in this work are the ones with such a strong archetypal power, they transcend a single creator and become part of the collective subconscious.

It’s there that the work is most interesting, in synthesizing a single history out of all the fictions written over the course of human history. While it’s not always interesting to read, it’s conceptually fascinating to look at the implications of the world Moore presents to us here. The fictional world has a parallel history to ours, a mirror through which we can examine our own societal preoccupations. Sometimes we inspire it, sometimes it inspire us, but we have a symbiosis with this other world and it’s fascinating to consider.

Along with that, we get the return of a classic Moore theme, the gradual loss of magic from our reality. The blazing world is the place where concepts who are no longer ‘believable’ go. Fairies were sent there, and wizards and talking animals hang out too. They’ve all been replaced in the real world by secret agents and science heroes. The 50s world he depicts is one that’s oppressive and boring, fetishizing scientific progress and cold fact over the emotion and wonder of the early years. I was reading a conversation between Moore and Dave Sim yesterday, and Moore talks about how contemporary fiction values reality over fantastic elements. He responds by saying “Reality wears a pair of two-year-old Adidas trainers and a Toy Story T-shirt.”

So, for him, it’s a shame that characters like Bond and Emma Peel have replaced the crazier fictions of years past. But, they’re still out there, and if we got to the blazing world, the most wondrous place in the collective subconscious, we can rediscover and bring them back. Moore’s basic point seems to be that the fiction we write will come true, the cavorite will be made, so as fiction makers, we have the responsibility to sculpt a more wondrous world. Hasn’t the 1984 world come true under Bush? So, why not write us a better world.

I do love the end of the book. From the time Mina and Alan escape on the rocket on, it’s all good. Particularly the 3-D Blazing World section. The initial 3-D page wowed me, and even though wearing the glasses got a bit annoying, Moore did some really cool stuff with it, once again pushing the medium in the same way he did with Promethea.

While I loved the Blazing World stuff, I think he covered almost all the same material in a more satisfying way in Promethea. We got the same direct address to the reader, inviting us to change the world, as well as the realm of crazy fictions. Promethea is the defining work of his later period, and this revisits it a bit too closely. The ending is celebratory, but it feels a bit redundant of what’s come before. Admittedly, it’s great and very important stuff, but considering he’s only one done other major work since Promethea, it’s probably a bit too soon to go back to those themes.

Ultimately, this is a frustrating work. I had just reread and loved the first two volumes, and was ready to embrace this too, but a lot of the text pieces were tough to slog through, and seemed more about self indulgence than contributing to the narrative. Some of it worked great, but not enough to make this a totally satisfying work. It’s hugely ambitious and still better than most comics out there, but for a writer like Moore, who’s written so many masterpieces, it can’t help but be a bit of a disappointment.

The Wire: The Third Season

Each season of The Wire has taken on a different generic template. Season one approximates the form of TV cop dramas, while subverting many of those show’s conventions. Season two was a classical tragedy, with a doomed hero. Three is a form of melodrama, with simmering emotions and warring factions in constant conflict. The show has maintained its ultra realistic style and plotting, but with an increased focus on characters and large scale conflicts, it’s become something more epic.

The character who owns this season is Stringer, torn between his increasingly powerful position in the legitimate business world and his connections to the street. Before Avon gets out, everything is going smoothly, and he seems to be forgetting about drugs for the most part. He’s still got the co-op going, but he’s created a situation where he is distanced enough that he’s not at risk. He just makes money and doesn’t have to worry about coming under attack from the law.

Around episode five or so, there’s a moment of calm, where everyone seems to have gotten what they want. Stringer is overseeing a booming business and ‘Hamsterdam’ is apparently a success. The idea of ‘Hamsterdam’ is fascinating, a microcosmic society, a ghetto within a ghetto with its own societal rules. Colvin created his own city, and through these episodes, it seems to be working pretty well.

The thing I love about the treatment of ‘Hamsterdam’ is that we’re not allowed to fully embrace or dismiss it. Clearly it has helped clean up the corners and reduce crime, but at the same time, it’s created a society without any sort of encouragement to get out of drugs and lead a legitimate life. In isolating all the dealers, including kids, the police have basically given up on an entire generation. They will support themselves, but they won’t ever be anything more. The most harrowing sequence is Bubbles’ journey through ‘Hamsterdam’ at night, a decadent, run down red light district without any hope, people destroying themselves while the police just look on.

I can certainly understand what drives Herc to call the Baltimore Sun, it’s the gut reaction most people would have. The police sanctioning the sale of drugs in this awful, awful place, it should obviously be shut down. At the end of season one, we saw Herc denouncing his old run and gun tactics, but he seems like the kind of person who became a police to rough people up.

Carver is more introspective. Rather than look on in frustrated disgust at the job he’s forced to do, he starts to embrace the community that Colvin created. It may be a bad place, but he is given access to the community, and the ability to make a change in some peoples’ live.

Ultimately, the message of the season is summed up by the woman at the council meeting, talking about how she used to know the name of the cop on her street, and could just talk with him. Colvin says that’s what police should be, a part of the community, making a difference, and that’s the lesson he passes onto Carver. While the season on the whole has the same heavy darkness, seeing Carver at Dennis’s gym at the end is a wonderful moment. Even if Hamsterdam is shut down, he can still help and try to work with these kids.

Dennis’s arc is another highlight of a season that’s just totally on. He’s someone who’s been in the drug game his whole life, and as an ex con, not many options are open to him, so it would make sense that he’d backslide into drugs. It’s hard to watch him crawl back to Avon after trying to go legit, but expected. The surreal party scene reflects how overwhelmed he is. This world of decadence isn’t the disciplined place he left, the people he works with aren’t soldiers, they’re addicts too, willing to kill for any reason.

Both he and Avon have an old view of the game. Avon certainly has his problems, but he’s very disciplined. In his absence, the drug organization has fallen into decadence and sloppiness. At his homecoming party, he’s talking with state senators about the opportunity to make millions, but what catches his attention is two low level dealers who are high. He doesn’t have the same vision as Stringer. Stringer wants to be a legitimate businessman, he loves speaking with powerful people and styles himself to be a part of that world. Avon wants to rule the streets, to hold his corners and take out his rivals.

The central divide is between the soldier and the businessman. In season one, there wasn’t much competition and both Stringer and Avon could have their way. It was a perfect relationship, but now they’re pulling in opposite directions. Stringer doesn’t need the streets anymore, Avon doesn’t really want to be a legitimate businessman. He’d rather live in a bunker than in the high rise apartment Stringer bought for him.

Ultimately, they’re each holding each other back. In a really fantastic bit or writing, they betray each other, sharing one last drink before their doom. On the bonus features for the season, David Simon talks about how the Barksdale story was only supposed to last one season, but the actors were just so good that he brought them back for more, and watching the show, you can certainly feel a pull between the greatness of this story and the overall mission of the show. In season two, the point of the season was the dock story, but I always wanted to see more the Stringer stuff. Here, the Stringer and Avon stuff has less to say about the condition of the city than it does about the personal lives of these two characters.

For me, it’s the most compelling stuff the show has ever done, soaring even further over the top when Omar and Brother Mouzone team up. The attack on Stringer in his construction site was full of the sort of filmic spectacle the show usually skips over. It was like a western, with Stringer pushed to the edge and gunned down in a haze of smoke. Visually, it’s amazing, and I think it works really well, but I could see how someone feels like the show is leaving realism behind and becoming more self consciously artificial. Still, I think that keeping that omniscient point of view at all times can be a bit distancing. We care about Stringer, and want to understand how he feels when he’s dying, not just see it in a cold, detached manner.

Stringer had essentially become a legitimate businessman, but he couldn’t quite sever ties with the street, and that’s what dooms him. His most rash moment is when he seeks a hit on Clay Davis. There, the old gangster comes out. On a rational level, he knows it’s foolish, but he still does it just because that’s the only way he can think to respond to something like that. It’s from that moment on that everything starts to collapse for Stringer, we see how he’s been played and it’s a short road to police informant and death. I feel like he blames Avon for what happened on Clay Davis, his war with Marlo taking away his legitimacy as a businessman, and that’s why he sells him out to Colvin.

The very fact that Stringer goes to Colvin is evidence of the success of Hamsterdam. It created a dialogue between drug dealers and cops. By giving the dealers a fair shake, keeping their word, they do create a kind of order, evidenced by the scene where they actually turn in a murderer to the cops to protect Hamsterdam. There was a dialogue there, and now it’s all been lost for the political gain of Tommy Carcetti.

Throughout the season, Carcetti is kind of a sleazeball, but we get the sense he does care. His trip to the Western with Colvin is one of the most emotional scenes in the whole season for me, the contrast between the community meeting now and what it was at the beginning of the season. Colvin knows that his plan is working, but is aware of its impending doom. While he says he doesn’t really care what happens after he retires, doing something so radical indicates he does have a strong desire to create change, and is willing to risk his reputation on it.

Carcetti sees the success of Hamsterdam and is amazed. Even in the harrowing community itself, there’s drug testing and actual attempts to help these people on their terms. But, placing his own political gain over the interests of the community he sells it out to the media as a way to attack the mayor. One of the most devastating scenes of the entire season is Carcetti’s speech to the council, where he attacks Hamsterdam and spouts a bunch of rhetoric about wanting to make the communities safer, and do things a better way. It’s a stirring speech, worthy of the applause. The great irony is that we know Carcetti has just doomed the only policy that’s actually been working, and is now putting the Western back to business as usual. He has chosen his own political gain over the welfare of the city, and couldn’t be happier about it.

The fall of Hamsterdam is one of the saddest scenes in the series. Over the course of the season, we’ve watched the construction of an entire society, it’s not a perfect one, but it’s getting better. However, the police roll in and destroy it all in a day. The contrast between the news reports about the place and what we actually know about it is where a lot of the power comes from. The media paints things in Manichaean shades, while the reality is a lot more complex. It was a radical idea, too radical for our current social system to consider. Mayor Royce knew on some level that it was the right thing to do, but couldn’t make it work, and after he’s finished talking about it, he realizes just how ridiculous it was to try to make it work.

Part of what makes Hamsterdam seem so full of potential is how it brought some of the show’s most kind and good hearted characters to the fore. The detail does some good over the course of the show, but it always seem to be a futile battle. The Deacon is the first character we’ve seen who doesn’t have a strong self interest, is just interested in helping people. He’s the one who brings attention to the awful conditions in Hamsterdam and starts to rebuild it into a better community. His mentorship of Dennis is a really powerful arc, and I was so happy to see Dennis actually make it out of the season alive and doing good. He has the chance to influence peoples’ lives for the best, that’s one of the legacies of Hamsterdam. I hope we see him and Carver working together again in the fourth season, if anyone really understood what Colvin was trying to do, it’s Carver, who has completely reassessed what police work can be. It’s not about fighting a war, it’s about making a community better.

After all this, I haven’t even touched on the show’s main character, McNulty. This season, the detail faded into the background, and it wasn’t a problem. The most interesting stuff with McNulty was the way he took on Kima as a kind of apprentice, showing her the tricks he’d used as a younger married guy. I love the dynamic between the two of them, even as it’s clear that he’s leading Kima down a bad path.

By the end of the season, he’s sought to change things. After getting used by Teresa, who increasingly seems like the most despicable character on the show, he decides to change things. In addition to Teresa, the scene in Stringer’s apartment is one of the most important for McNulty. He’s spent three years of his life chasing a guy who turns out to be a well read, erudite man. He might have been involved with drugs, but that wasn’t his real interest. I feel like McNulty felt Stringer was pretending to be legitimate as part of some larger scheme. Seeing the apartment, he realizes that Stringer was a smarter man than he’d ever be, and eliminating him is essentially meaningless.

So, he goes back to Beatrice Russell, a more down to earth woman, and resumes his position as a beat cop. He wants to help people in the community, and have the chance to have an actual life. He’s reached the limits of what police work can give him, as Lester says, he needs something more than the case.

Kima is on a different side of that arc, she’s immersing herself in police work and infidelity to mask the fact that she feels trapped by a baby she never really wanted, and a relationship that doesn’t do anything for her anymore. I have a lot of affection for Kima, but looking at what she’s doing from an outside perspective, it’s pretty awful, and I think things are going to start crashing down for her over the next couple of seasons.

And, amidst all this, most of the other characters get good stuff too. Bunk kind of disappears from the back half of the season, but his speech to Omar while looking for the gun is a phenomenal scene, breaking through Omar’s self mythology and point out the kind of guy that he really is. When Omar throws the guns into the river at the end of the season, it’s clear that he’s weighing the morality of his actions in a different way.

So, this was a really fantastic season. It’s ambitious and complex, and does a remarkable job of balancing the series’ huge cast. Unfortunately, it also marks the end of the show’s most consistently rewarding plotline, the Bell/Barksdale saga, and the loss of the show’s best character, Stringer. But, the cast is so deep, it shouldn’t be a huge problem. Once the fourth season comes out on DVD next week, I’ll find out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Coming off the dazzling and truly strange heights of season three’s finale, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica, which has been pushed further and further back as time has passed. I want to know what’s up with the four cylons, what the deal is with Hera and what’s going to happen when they get to Earth, not to revisit a two year old plotline I never particularly enjoyed in the first place. But, some Battlestar is better than no Battlestar at all, and that’s the approach you’ve pretty much got to take with Razor. That’s not to say that it’s bad, just that it feels generally irrelevant to the overall narrative of the series.

On a scene by scene level, the film is really successful. There’s a lot of intensity throughout, and the split chronological structure works pretty well. Kendra Shaw has a pretty clear, well thought out arc, and it’s nice to check in with the old favorites. What bothers me is the fact that we never get in depth with either aspect of the plot. The “present day” stuff is basically pointless because this is in the show’s past, and if something really important happened, the characters would have mentioned it. It would have been smarter to either set that part of the movie in the show’s actual present, or just cut it out altogether.

The flashback stuff plays more like someone telling the story of what happened than experiencing the actual events. That’s a problem because the whole point of the movie is to experience what we heard about in season two. Prequels have that problem, of having to summarize events that we’ve probably heard about before, because anything really important would have been mentioned. The best prequel ever made, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, worked by creating an emotional immersion so powerful, we don’t learn anything new about the narrative, but we really feel it for the first time. That happens occasionally here, as in the intense confrontation with the civilians, but too frequently, it just feels like plot summary.

It’s funny to say that something in a fictional story doesn’t matter. Does any of it really matter? Well, the answer to that is yes. The reason for narrative continuity is to make events have an impact. If we’re watching a flashback, it should tell us something new about the world or the people in it. That’s why I feel like we didn’t really get enough time with Admiral Cane. The most interesting part of the film in theory was her relationship with the cylon Gina. This is a woman who doesn’t open up emotionally to anyone, and the one person she lets in turns out to be a cylon.

However, we see very little of the relationship, and it only exists as a fact. Yes, it changes the way we view her actions in season two, but that’s an intellectual thing when this could have been an absolutely devastating emotional moment. Plus, there’s the implication that Shaw has feelings for Cain, this could be a truly bizarre love triangle. Now, perhaps on some level I’m just thinking three hot women in lesbian love triangle, but emotionally, that’s the story of this piece, the most interesting emotional hook, and it’s just glossed over really quickly. If we have a glimpse of an idyllic relationship between Cain and Gina, it makes it easier to understand the way she behaves later in the movie.

As it is, we get some solid action sequences, particularly the scene with young Adama, but not that much of substance. The Pegasus story is dead and gone, and with Shaw’s death at the end of the film, it makes the whole exercise feel somewhat pointless. I’m glad it exists, but like most of the Babylon 5 TV movies, it doesn’t really tell me anything new.

Except for one thing. Once Shaw is left on the basestar, we’re finally at the point where something can actually be revealed. She’s not leaving, so whatever she finds out goes down with her. That’s where we get the brilliant scene with the guy in the tub and his cryptic message that “This has all happened before.” This is the sort of moment that makes me love the show, a weird experiment spouting an oracular message about the destiny of humanity. Visually it’s genius, and genuinely disconcerting.

The notion that Kara will lead humanity to their destruction raises some interesting questions. What I’m really curious about is the idea that they are in some kind of time loop, and the universe will reboot and start again. This has been mentioned before, but its prominence here would seem to guarantee it’ll be a big part of season four. I’m thinking of something like the end of the Dark Tower, but I’m really not sure what’s going to happen.

The other interesting revelation is that the original cylons did experiments on humans before arriving at the current humanoid form. Does that mean that the twelve models were once people, captives of the cylons, who were grown into the new forms? That would make sense, and possibly explain how Tigh could be a cylon, if the one that Adama knew was human, but then swapped for a cylon at some point. All four of the new models were on New Caprica, so it could have something to do with the cylon experiments there.

So, Razor wasn’t bad, but that one scene was more interesting than everything that preceded it. I would have rather seen something that explored more of the series’ post season three continuity, or perhaps this movie should have just been made before season three. As is, it’s an entertaining and well made, but essentially irrelevant movie.