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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

sneaking a peek at ‘Battlestar Galactica: Razor’

Battlestar Galactica on the big screen? Ooo, baby. When I heard that the Sci Fi Channel was doing some multiplex sneak previews of Razor, the BSG movie that’ll debut next Saturday, November 24 (and coming to DVD in an extended version in December), I was so there.
And it looked really cool on the big screen — the FX are so beautiful and so detailed that it was pure geek bliss to see them as wide as, well, space itself, or so it seemed. Razor — which is pretty much the first two episodes of Season 4, but if Sci Fi wants to whet our appetite like this before the January March premiere, fine — takes us back to just before the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies, and then takes us forward to witness some of that attack, particularly upon the Battlestar Pegasus, and it’s a pity almost everyone will have to see that on the small screen. It was that neat-o.

Razor opens with Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) taking command of the Pegasus in the present day of the ongoing saga before the events on New Caprica, then tells us simultaneous tales of his first mission with the ship and, in the past, what led to the ship’s escape during the Cylon attack, what transpired when it was out in space all on its lonesome (and its crew believing that they were the last humans alive), and how they came to rejoin the rest of the colonial survivors. Does it stand alone as a movie? Of course not: this would be a confusing introduction to the series. But as a double-length episode, it’s a wowser.

As BSG always does, Razor raises lots of Big questions but doesn’t dare attempt to answer them: they’re too complicated for pat resolutions. What do you do when your situation is untenable? How far is too far to go when the stakes are as high as life and death, as the survival of your species? Is it worth surviving if what you are in the end is no longer what you once were? These conundrums are raised through the actions of Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), Pegasus’s commander, who pushes her crew hard when they’re out on their own (some of her story and that of the Pegasus was revealed in three episodes of Season 2). Does she go too far, or was she justified? Some of that gets funneled through Adama’s new XO, one of Cain’s former officers, Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen) — who’s “an XO meaner than Sol Tighe,” Bill Adama offers. And she is. There are a lot of tough-as-titanium women here, which remains one of the great joys of BSG: to see women who are fully human — and as fully flawed as humans come — participating fully in a grand human endeavor. That’s not something we see enough of on TV, or in pop culture on the whole.

There’s a prophecy in Razor, a divination for Season 4. If we can believe it — and maybe even if we can’t — it looks like the wrapping-up of BSG is going to be as mindblowing as the entirety of the series has been so far. Can’t wait for January March…

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