Monday, December 9, 2013
The Mythology of Battlestar Galactica
Spoiler warning: if you've not watched Battlestar Galactica and you hope to, without being totally spoiled, don't read this post!
I didn't realize when I linked to my last post on Battlestar Galactica that I would start an impassioned discussion on the qualities of the two versions of Battlestar Galactica. In reading the discussion, my friend P added something that I feel deserves further exploration. Here is his post:
...One of the continuing themes (indeed, the overarching theme) in the reboot is that of the Eternal Return--"All of this has happened before and all of this will happen again." With this in mind, the reboot doesn't need to be absolutely true to the original, as it is not a retelling of the original story. It is a telling of a different iteration....
The characters in the reboot--including the Cylons--are not merely journeying to Earth, they are each on their own personal journey.
The reboot isn't perfect--there is a lack of plotting and overall story arc that makes things like the reveal of the Final Five seem like they just pulled the names out of a hat and then retconned the character's back stories. Other than that, IMHO, the reboot is superior to the original in every way.
P was basically defending himself as to why he thought the reboot was better than the original. I've edited out a lot (but feel compelled to leave in his criticisms of the reboot). What he touched on, however, was one thing I left out of my original post that added so much to the reboot, and that is the mythology of the show.
I haven't talked a lot about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (I'll call it DS9 for brevity) before, but it is my favorite of the new Star Treks. What I loved about it drove a lot of people crazy: the mythology. Because the space station was stuck in one place, the show had time to fully explore Bajor, including it politics and religious beliefs. The mythology suffused the show, and added a depth and texture lacking in most modern dramas.
The mythology that was added into Battlestar Galactica was an unexpected pleasure. Some of this was found in the original series, but there it seemed like it was just window dressing. In the series, the humans believe in twelve gods that seem based on the Greek gods. The Cylons, however, believe in the one true God, and Head Six's conversion of Baltar from atheist to true believer (and he was a true believer) is one of the best parts of the show. I didn't touch on this in my original post, because it's a little spoilerific, but Baltar's entire journey into his beliefs and his role in them is a fantastic plot.
Had I watched BSG (I'm getting a little lazy now!) from the beginning, or if I had not binged watched the show as I did, I probably would have produced quite a few more posst exploring the more interesting parts of the show, including the mythology. Other questions I would have explored (and may still) include the humanity of the Cylons, what the treatment of captive Cylons says about the humanity of the humans, Baltar's journey, the President's journey, Cylon politics, Kara Thrace's journey...well, it goes on. However, I still have to finish the show!
Maybe I'll name a male cat Malcolm after Mal Reynolds on Firefly?