Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy Frackday!

As I've mentioned before, I have an overly strong tendency to identify with characters in works of fiction. I'll regularly think, "Oh, he's just like me!" or "Man, I know exactly how he feels." This excessive attachment sometimes influences my reaction to the works - I feel more distressed about something bad happening to "my" character than I do if an unfortunate event befalls someone else.

Still, not every work has a Chris in it. This is particularly true for Battlestar Galactica, which sort of surprises me - the cast is so large, so good, and so varied that it seems like there must be a Chris there. But there really isn't. Of course, I'd most likely have died in the first wave of assaults, so my absence shouldn't be surprising. For the most part, the remaining humans are those with very strong survival instincts, which generally manifest as ruthlessness or physical prowess or adherence to a strong hierarchy. None of these really apply to me.

While I lack the one-to-one correspondence I generally see, I still can see a few aspects of myself in several characters. In Billy, Rossalyn's aide, I see my shyness around women, my quietness, and my idealism. In Lt. Gaeda, young officer on the bridge, I see my work ethic, my desire to please, and my technical aptitude. And Gaius is an interesting person, who embodies a handful of my attributes (casualness, meticulousness, general strangeness) while embodying even more of the traits I most despise (arrogance, selfishness, grandstanding, insensitivity).

MEGA SPOILERS for Season 2 around episode 16 (I forget the exact number)

I gradually came to the realizations in the above paragraphs, but even that was more analytical. Usually when I come to an identification it hits me all at once - so many things seem to match up that I immediately buy the whole package. Here it was more a process of, "Hey, Gaeda really wants Gaius's approval. Hey, I know how that feels. Huh." I sort of mentally checked things off without making the emotional connection.

That finally changed, though, in the episode I saw last night - season 2, I think episode 16 or so. I'd sort of had a sinking feeling before about Dee and Billy - I wanted so badly for them to succeed, Billy's fumbling and earnest affection feels so similar to my own that I crave validation that it can work for someone in the universe, but the way Dee was looking at Lee, my gut told me there were rough times ahead. And, once Dee actually rejected Billy, my identification with him was complete. I felt so sorry for him because I feel so sorry for myself.

That feeling just built throughout the whole episode. The way Billy is more wounded than angry, the way he saves the life of the man who took Dee away from him, all the emotion burning inside him that he can only express in civil and polite bursts - "Wow," I thought, "I'm looking at myself."

And, of course, once I figure out who I am in this show, he has to die. Pretty much the second he was shot, I figured that Billy wasn't going to make it. (This in a show where someone takes two bullets to the chest at point-blank range and pulls through.) It might have been the music that made me think that, but it seems more likely that it was just the fact that Billy seemed like an awfully nice guy, and nice people don't do so well in desperate situations.

I guess that's it for that. I don't have as much to say on the topic as I thought, I'm just bummed that I finally find someone to relate to on the show and they're immediately offed.

In keeping with the tone of the post, here are some random thoughts on the show, circa Season 2 Ep. 16:
  • They really need to back off on the flashback episodes. They didn't have any first season (at least that I remember); lately, there have been a whole string where they'll start in media res, then say "48 hours earlier..." and spend the next 40 minutes getting back to that point. When done right this can be a neat technique, but they're not doing anything useful with it; it serves exactly as much purpose as showing an advertisement for the episode before the people see it.
  • Whoever is capping my episodes is a lot looser than the people who capped Season 1. At first I thought the show had gotten rid of the cool drum-roll-sneak-peak end of the title sequence since the first few episodes didn't have it, but now that they're back I'm thinking the cappers were just snipping them off. A few episodes had a brief clip of what looked like a pro-life advertisement that got clipped off at the start of a commercial break; this last episode had the whole thing, and I saw that it's the freakiest advertisement for Battlestar Galactica that anyone could have imagined.
  • Now that I write this, there's a very strong possibility that my Season 1 came from the DVDs and not the original broadcasts, which would explain everything.
  • And, yes, I am going to buy the DVDs. I'm waiting on Season 2, though - they're doing a weird half-season thing right now. Once I'm caught up, I'll probably start following it via iTunes - 1.99 an episode is not bad at all, and I'm hoping they'll do a MultiPass thing like The Colbert Report does.
  • I have mixed feelings about the super-topical feel of second season. It feels really reactive... there's episodes about abortion rights, about terrorism, about torture, about detainee rights. All that stuff was in first season too (well, besides abortion), but for whatever reason it's bothering me more now. As I've mentioned before, I feel like the show manipulates me into picking sides opposite what apply in real life. Which is fine - this is fiction, after all, and the context is completely different (the human race facing annihilation is worlds different from a global superpower invading a third-world country), but part of me worries that I'll become too comfortable with the decisions they make.
  • Man, I like Rosalyn, but she has to be just about the worst politician ever. She managed to arrive at a lose-lose situation with the abortion issue, and, what made my jaw drop, when Gaius declared himself she SAID NOTHING, then TURNED AROUND AND WALKED AWAY. Absolutely unbelievable. She's going to lose in a landslide.
  • I don't actively dislike anyone on the show. Well, except for the witch-hunting person back in first season and Cat in second. That said, I think that in real life I would have a serious problem with Lee. Influential people with tempers bother me, and the way he blatantly benefits from nepotism would rub me the wrong way. Still, this is fiction, and the fact he's generally in the right carries the day.
  • He hasn't been featured much in the last few episodes, but Helo is another person who I find much more enjoyable on the show than I probably would in real life. Helo seems like a stereotypical jock in a lot of ways, and is someone I'd never hang out with, but in the context of the story he's incredibly sympathetic, and he might be on my list of five favorite characters right now.
  • Well, speaking of which, let's do it. Bill Adama, Gaius, Dee, Zarek, the Chief. I guess Gaeda would be six, Helo would probably be seven, and Boomer eight. (And I do like Helo's Boomer WAY better than Chief's Boomer. The old Boomer was always whining and killing people. The new Boomer suffers and redeems.) (This list excludes deceased persons, for obvious reasons.) ("Favorite" = I enjoy watching them, not that I approve of their actions or would like them in real life.)
  • Sometimes, it feels like season 2 of Battlestar Galactica is trying to copy from every successful current television show. "24"? Yeah, we've got terrorists and counter-terrorists too. "House"? Yeah, we have an irrascible and grumpy doctor too. "Lost"? Yeah, we've got mystical mysteries too. "The West Wing"? Yeah, we have political intrigue and spin-doctoring too.
  • We can't afford to make the same mistakes the colonies did. I'm going to invent a Cylon detector this weekend. All prospective dates and friends will need to pass it before I associate with them. People may call me paranoid, but they won't be laughing when I'm the only one left alive, talking to someone only I can see! Hahahahaha!
And that's it for now. Just a few more episodes left to go, this will probably be my last BG post until I start on Season 3. Good hunting!

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