Sunday, November 14, 2010

War of the Gods

I've been going through all of the original "Battlestar Galactica" series with the kids.  It's been a long time since I've viewed most of these episodes.  A lot of them are quite forgettable, to be honest.  But the two-parter "War of the Gods" was interesting, as it apparently provided a lot of major plot lines for the re-imagined series from recent years.

Now, the episode is really quite silly.  Count Iblis (Patrick MacNee) mostly walks around issuing bizarre, transparently evil statements like "My knowledge of the universe is infinite!" and "Do not be beguiled!", usually in response to innocuous questions like, "Would you like extra ketchup packets?"  He's clearly trying to chew up some scenery, but it's hard to do that with the stupid dialogue he's given.  But fans of the recent series will note some important developments:

  1. The episode takes on a pretty transparently Christian good/evil view -- Iblis actually looks like the Devil when you shoot him, and the good guys fly around in a ship shaped like a friggin' cross.  But the story gets a bit muddied when both good guys and bad guys suggest that they are just somewhat more highly evolved versions of humans.  ("As you are, we once were.")  Adama adds to this when he suggests that modern humans would look like angels to a more primitive people.  This is reminiscent of the Baltar and Caprica apparitions (ChipSix and ChipBaltar) in the new series -- the show left it deliberately vague as to whether they represented some advanced technology or whether they were actual emissaries of God or whether there was necessarily a distinction between the two.
  2. Apollo at one point is convinced that Iblis is an android.  He goes to see the creepy Carl Sagan/Steve Martin love child Dr. Wilker to ask him if it's possible to design an android so advanced that we couldn't tell whether it was human or not, and Wilker thinks it's possible.  Moreover, Wilker actually has some prototypes in his lab!  Skin jobs, anyone?
  3. Among the many events that Iblis brings to pass is the deliverance of Baltar to the Colonial fleet.  We don't see much of a trial, but we do get to see the Quorum of Twelve sentencing Baltar to life in prison -- a justice the modern Colonial fleet was denied.
  4. Iblis reveals that his voice is the same as that of the Cylon Imperious Leader, a robot who was programmed 1,000 years earlier back when there were still organic Cylons around.  They don't really spell it out, but one can infer that Iblis had something to do with the machine Cylons' revolt against their biological masters. 
There's more, and it's really worth watching just to see how the recent show's writers mined this episode for material.  Also, there's some cool rope-dancing on the Rising Star that's not to be believed.

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