Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 5

BSG - 5x01 - The Plan, Part 1 - Originally Aired: 2009-10-27

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 4.38

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On the eve of their execution, the two Cavil models found and identified as Cylons just after Starbuck and Anders returned to the fleet from Caprica reminisce about where their plan for humanity went wrong. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

- This episode heavily aggravates the naturally habitable worlds problem.

- Some of the hybrid's new ramblings: "Seized by god, they cry for supper in the dark of the light. ... counting down all functions nominal, all functions optimal. Counting down. The center holds. The falcon hears the falconer. Infrastructure check. ... check. Everyone hang onto the ... please. ... The apotheosis was the beginning before the beginning. Devices on alert. Observe the procedures of a general alert. The base and the pinnacle. Flower inside the fruit that is both its parent and its child. Decadent as ancestors, the portal in that which passes. ... Nuclear devices activated and the machine keeps pushing time through the cogs like paste into strings into paste again and only the machine keeps using time to make time to make time. ... And when the machine stops, time was an illusion that we created; free will. Twelve battles, three stars, and yet we are countless as the bodies in which we dwell; are both parent and infinite children in perfect copies; no degradation ... The makers of the makers fall before the child. ... Access the defense system ... handshake, handshake, second level clear ... accepting scan, love outlasts death ... their ships failed, skittering like skipping stones ... which is meaningless in the absence of time. What never was is never again."
- Tory was in Delphi when it was nuked.
- Cavil devised a way for the Cylon agents within the fleet to communicate with their ships whenever they are within range at some point after 33.

Remarkable Scenes
- The montage of the Cylon colony.
- The two Cavils arguing with each other during their execution.
- Cavil toying with Ellen on Picon at a strip club.
- The Cylons preparing to attack the colonies.
- Ellen: "There's no point in judging anybody. No one changes who they really are." Cavil: "If no one is corrected, then no one learns their lessons." Ellen: "Well I've lived in this world a long time and I'm proud to say I haven't learned any gods damned lessons!"
- The Cylons attacking the colonies.
- Six: "I bet they don't understand what we're doing for them." Doral: "I think they're grateful in their own way." Sharon: "I know I'd be."
- The Cylons nuking the cities on the colonies.
- The Cylon hybrid: "Progress reports arriving. The farms of Aerilon are burning. The beaches of Canceron are burning. The plains of Leonis are burning. The jungles of Scorpia are burning. The pastures of Tauron are burning. The harbors of Picon are burning. The cities of Caprica are burning. The oceans of Aquaria are burning. The courthouses of Libran are burning. The forests of Virgon are burning. The colonies of man lie trampled at our feet."
- Tory emerging from her wrecked car into the rubble of Delphi.
- Cavil meeting with what Cylon agents he can gather in the fleet to discuss their failure to fully eliminate the humans.
- Anders leading a team attacking the Centurions.
- Cavil to Doral regarding the fact that he's a known Cylon agent: "You're walking around the fleet wearing that jacket and more importantly that face. You're recognizable." Doral regarding his outed counterpart: "Well, his jacket was burgundy. This is teal."
- Cavil discovering a Simon married a human girl.
- Cavil ranting to Simon about how the Cylon agents have all failed.

My Review
The Plan is an odd piece and kind of a mixed bag. It plugs a few annoying plot holes in seasons 1 and 2 as well as adds lovely texture to things we were already familiar with, but does little more than that and the overuse of clips from old episodes is at times annoying. However what little new story the film does offer is done in style which makes it incredibly entertaining to watch, even if not necessarily the strongest piece of storytelling on BSG.

First and foremost, actually seeing things from Cavil's point of view after the crazy amount of retroactive exposition we got in No Exit is quite a novelty. My only complaint with regards to this is that we didn't see more! The Final Five's flight from (faux) Earth to the Twelve Colonies, ending the first Cylon war, creating the eight Cylon models, Cavil boxing Daniel, and then Cavil wiping the memories of the other Cylons would have all been great things to depict. I can only hope we get another film depicting those events too!

The core idea behind the story is seeing how different experiences shape the personalities of what are otherwise identical people: the two Cavils and the two Simons. Each member of the pair in this story develops diametrically opposed views of humanity due to the different things that they experience and witness. Caprica Cavil realizes that every killing of another human makes them "even more irredeemable in the eyes of" the final five. But Galactica Cavil remains unconvinced, believing that it instead proves their superiority.

Likewise, the Simon aboard Galactica develops a fondness for humans and even marries one and becomes stepfather to her child. Throughout the film he finds himself unable to do Cavil's bidding. On the other hand, the Simon on Caprica remains unflinching in his loyalty to the Cylons and their mission of murder. It's a nice touch that good Cavil was paired with bad Simon and bad Cavil was paired with good Simon.

As noted above though, a large part of the fun of this film isn't necessarily the story, but tracking the list of plot holes plugged by this film's plot. For starters, we now know for certain that the reasons the fleet survived was due to an error in planning. Cavil had intended the complete destruction of humanity and all the final five killed in the holocaust so he could supposedly prove to them how superior Cylons are, but it didn't work out the way he had planned.

Among the other loose ends tied up, the person Caprica Six was meeting with on Caprica after speaking with Baltar was Cavil. The "mysterious stranger" who Ellen claimed rescued her was also Cavil (something established already in No Exit), which he did because he believed she should suffer more to learn more. Also, the person who tipped off Adama to the fact that there are only twelve Cylon models is strongly implied to be Baltar. Although this was strongly implied in the pilot miniseries well. The question wasn't whether or not he did it but instead what his motives were and why Adama never investigated the note. So that hole isn't exactly plugged, but it's also not very important. Additionally, it was unfortunate that we weren't given any more details about what exactly went on with the Olympic Carrier.

One of my biggest pet peeves since the third season finale is the question of why there are so many Cylons in the fleet. Cavil specifically makes note of four of the final five being in the fleet was something he did not expect. The plot of this film also strongly implies he expected to have a decent assortment of Cylon agents from the significant seven at his disposal after the attack implying that a great many agents were planted on ships as part of the plan. That's a major hole plugged.

Another big stinker plot hole the film plugged was how Shelley Godfrey got off the Galactica and what her motives were to begin with. Cavil sent her to discredit Baltar. They had to fabricate evidence which is why that plan failed. Cavil then used a decoy Six to get out of the sight of the guards and airlocked Shelley. Very clever. We also get an answer to why Cavil never committed any personal acts of sabotage: he was too busy calling the shots and relaying intelligence to the Cylons. Or put another way, he was too much of a coward to go suicide bombing important targets himself, like he asked others to do which in and of itself is a nice piece of character development for Cavil.

One particularly interesting piece of symbolism is Cavil's line to Anders that the Cylons assumed the roles that the gods once did. This is nifty because there are twelve Cylon models as well as twelve Lords of Kobol. Anders then mentions to Simon that Cavil is a "man of the gods." Indeed. ;) Another amusing tidbit is we can now say with certainty that Boomer's figure to Baltar about how many Cylons were remaining in the fleet when he forced the information out of her was precisely accurate! She said eight. At the time besides herself and assuming Simon had airlocked himself already, there was the final five, a Six, a Cavil, and a D'Anna in the fleet. That's eight Cylons. Hot damn! I'm sure it's just dumb luck though. ;)

Finally, I just love the fact that Giana, a character we saw ever so briefly in the pilot miniseries, was turned into a fairly major player here. The last time we saw her was when she came out of the raptor with Baltar in the miniseries looking for her missing husband. It turns out her missing husband, a medic in the Colonial Fleet, was a Simon Cylon model!

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Dennis on 2011-09-12 at 1:22am:
    You know the habitable range of a solar system is directly related to the size (or rather energy output) of the star. Theoretically you could have all twelve planets lined up back to back in a solar system with a star somewhere upwards of four times as massive as the average red giant. The problem with this is, primarily, that the star would fizzle out long before the planets fully formed oceans, let alone life. Since its a star cluster the problem becomes a little less severe but it would require a painfully crafted orbits for planets that are not properly aligned and the stars to rotate in a completely manufactured way. So I agree that this stretches, not just plausibility, but possibility. Even so I felt that this was worth mentioning.
  • From Kethinov on 2011-10-07 at 12:34pm:
    Even a star with an above average habitable zone is still too small an area for twelve (or even three or four) worlds to be clumped up into. That really doesn't solve the problem.

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BSG - 5x02 - The Plan, Part 2 - Originally Aired: 2009-10-27

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 3.57

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On the eve of their execution, the two Cavil models found and identified as Cylons just after Starbuck and Anders returned to the fleet from Caprica reminisce about where their plan for humanity went wrong. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

- Roslin's order to airlock the Cavils was retconned to have Tigh give the order instead for some reason.
- Bad Cavil in Lay Down Your Burdens said in response to the attack on the colonies being an error: "I could have told them that. Bad thinking, faulty logic, our first major error in judgment." Why would Bad Cavil say that? It's not what he believed at all... oh I know, because when they wrote that episode they had no idea Jane Espenson was going to retcon the two Cavils into having opposing viewpoints. ;)
- The scene depicting Giana returning from working on the hangar deck saying that Tyrol had asked her to look over the captured Raider takes place after Adama asks Boomer to take a Raptor and destroy the Basestar orbiting Kobol. This is problematic because Adama only ordered Boomer to do it because Kara at this point had stolen the raider.
- In No Exit, Cavil tells Ellen that he had eliminated sleep from his programming decades ago, but is depicted as getting ready for bed with a Six in this episode.

- It looks like Boomer was right after all in 2x04 Resistance when she said there were eight Cylons in the fleet at the time! When she said that, the following eight Cylons were in the fleet: Tigh, Ellen, Tyrol, Tory, Boomer herself, the Six model from The Plan, Cavil, and D'Anna. Good guess by Boomer! ;)

Remarkable Scenes
- Leoben: "She flew a raider. Learned how to control it from the inside. Nobody taught her how. Kara Thrace plucked that knowledge from the stream." Cavil: "I don't care if she plucked puppies from god's ass! You're worse than the frakkin' sixes!" Leoben: "She has a destiny. Something beyond us. I'm starting to understand why god loved humankind before he changed his mind."
- Leoben doing some kind of mind meld with Kara.
- Boomer: "What do you want from me? I shot him twice in the chest." Cavil: "How about once in the head? Did you think of that?"
- The Simon in the fleet committing suicide.
- Six whining about the failures of all the Cylon agents: "Doral blew himself up causing minor damage to a minor hallway. And Boomer jettisoned the water and then personally found loads more water. Then she shot Adama, but not very accurately since she loved him. And then Leoben, he got obsessed with Kara Thrace and then was captured and airlocked. And my sister Six utterly failed to discredit Baltar and his dreamy hair and destroyed our frakkin' cover in the process. And now Simon. Simon killed himself. Really killed himself. Out of resurrection range without blowing up the ship that he lived on because he couldn't imagine life without his little human wife and his little human daughter because he loved them."
- Simon and Cavil listening in on Anders and Starbuck having sex.
- Giana discovering that her husband was a Cylon.
- Cavil on Galactica murdering the orphan kid John.
- Cavil on Caprica having a change of heart about the attack on the Colonies.
- Cavil from Galactica: "We're going to die in a vacuum." Cavil from Caprica: "There's a 170 foot launch tube in front of us. We might die of our injuries before we get to the vacuum."
- Cavil from Caprica: "We had a temper tantrum in the form of a cataclysm. Because we wanted them to treasure us, the ones, more than humanity, more than their own history and blood." Cavil from Galactica: "We didn't want to be loved. We wanted to be treated fairly." Cavil from Caprica: "We wanted to be held to a bosom. To be petted and perfumed and told we were the princes of the universe." Cavil from Galactica: "Yes, well if the humans were gone..." Cavil from Caprica: "Our parents would mourn. They'd love them more anyway."

My Review
The second half of The Plan offers still more nice tidbits of continuity and plot hole pluggings. For example, Boomer did not kill Adama because she was a weak Cylon model, as was hinted at. And Leoben was able to learn so much about Starbuck's childhood in Flesh and Bone because he reached into her mind somehow and learned this information that way.

Unfortunately though, we have chalk up most of that Leoben stuff to yet more "god." For one, Leoben was shown a bunch of events that hadn't happened yet when he mind melded with Starbuck, apparently having been given insight into her destiny. He is also seen painting Starbuck's mandala prior to mind melding with her.

Additionally, this film aggravates the issue with the largely ignored D'Anna Cylon model within the fleet in season 2. It is not explained why she appeared solely to make a documentary in season 2 and then is never heard from again. It is noted that Cavil does not exert full control over his agents; that they have a tendency to do whatever the hell they want, which explains why the Cylons' many opportunities to wipe out the fleet in seasons 1 and 2 were largely squandered.

But unfortunately no explanation of D'Anna's motives was given at all, instead focusing on the new Simon model we never saw at all prior to now. In addition to this, the second Six model within the fleet that Cavil consorts with receives no closure either. Like D'Anna, it is not explained why she was never outed, especially after Cavil was executed. We have to just assume like D'Anna that she stayed hidden until the Cylons occupied New Caprica or that they both died when Gina blew up Cloud 9.

One detail I greatly enjoyed was the little boy, John, a parallel to Cavil, who is also named John. The boy being an orphan that nobody wants is the personification of how Cavil sees himself. Cavil murdering the boy is thus a great demonstration of both his twisted cruelty as well as his own self-loathing.

But "love outlasts death." This recurring line in The Plan is ultimately the lesson at least one Cavil learns. Cavil wanted his parents to love him more, so he saw fit to exterminate those who he felt competed for their love, tragically unaware that doing that would change nothing. Indeed, the Cavil that learned his lesson was either boxed by the other Cavil or ultimately changed his mind back by the beginning of season three, rendering this entire story largely irrelevant, if an interesting psychoanalysis of Cavil.

So in the end, if you're fascinated by Cavil's character and want to see more, or are curious about the Cylons' point of view prior to season three, this is certainly a fun film worth watching. It's unfortunate that we didn't get to see more of the Cylons activities prior to the attack on the colonies, or that nothing from seasons three and four was covered, but what we got was a nice ride. I especially enjoyed seeing the attack on the colonies from the Cylons' point of view, which was pretty damn cool. However, this piece would have been much stronger with some tighter and more comprehensive continuity.

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