I finally watched BSG Razor last night and it was fantastic. Battlestar Galactica has been fantastic in raising key issues and challenging stereotypes, forcing viewers to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions that apply not simply to humans and cylons in the far-off reaches of space but to us today.
Spoiler alert: I will be talking about the details of Razor in what follows.
One instance of such a challenge relates to Admiral Cain. We encounter her as a hard-nosed, seemingly bitter and heartless leader, and have littly sympathy with her. When Razor begins, we find her giving that impression but as a way of testing the mettle of those under her command – as when she gives late-arriving new recruit Kendra Shaw a hard time, but chuckles about it with her colleagues after the recruit leaves.
Certainly the most astonishing revelation is that Helena Cain and Gina (the cylon) had a relationship. This explains not only Cain’s torture of Gina after the truth is revealed, but her bitterness and suspicion. We are reminded that people are not bitter without a reason.
Cain’s advice to Shaw gives the title to this BSG special. You need to become a razor, to have the ability to be sharp and to cut, in order to survive. Because if we don’t survive, then we don’t have the luxury of becoming simply human again. This is powerful stuff. Being ‘simply human’ isn’t a given, it is a “luxury”. But if we sacrifice our humanity in order to survive, has humanity in fact survived? Doesn’t the bitterness become permanent?
The special also features old-style cylon centurions and raiders as remembered from the original Battlestar Galactica series. We also encounter “the hybrid”, perhaps the equivalent of the Imperious Leader from the old series, who says his children regard him as a god, offers forgiveness to Shaw for killing civilians in order to carry out her orders, and warns that Kara Thrace is the harbinger of the apocalypse, leading humanity to destruction!
One last thought-provoking moment. When discussing the report that needs to be written about Shaw, and whether to give her a posthumous commendation, Cmd. Adama says that if he believed in the gods he would say that she would be judged by a higher power. But since he doesn’t, history will offer its own judgment. And history begins with their report and logs.
See further SF Gospel’s post “Choosing the Good in Battlestar Galactica: Razor“. I’ve also just discovered some specifically Battlestar Galactica blogs: Galactica Sitrep and Battlestar: Galactica Review Blog, as well as the less interesting Battlestar Blog.