Battlestar Galactica #6: Gun on Ice Planet Zero, Part I

"I work with breathing gear. Rare gases, chemical blends. I can take you through land, air, fire and water." "Says here you're in for murder." "Hmm. That too."
SO SAY WE ALL: The Cylons have a giant gun. A team of criminal experts is assembled to destroy it on an ice planet.

REVIEW: Battlestar does The Dirty Dozen (and The Guns of Navarone), essentially, trying to take down a massive Cylon gun, powerful enough to destroy the Galactica with a single blast, though it'll take them a couple episodes to do so. Shades of Star Wars, with the planetary weapon? Maybe. Though any resemblance to Hoth the planet might have (especially with the snow ram rolling around) must go the other way - Empire Strikes Back is a couple of years out! Unlike the Death Star, however, Planet Zero isn't a mobile base, so it's not that useful, surely. Baltar's forces must herd the fleet towards it, which is probably ridiculous in terms of astrogation. Someone's been thinking two-dimensionally, I bet. But this isn't uncommon in space opera. It does feel a little jarring to learn there's recently been an altercation with the Cylons and that the Galactica is running in a specific direction because of it. We wonder at the time line.

One thing is sure, the episode looks quite good. Those miniature ships crashing into snow look gorgeous. The environment looks dangerous even in the full-sized sections. The Cylon base has new sets and even a new Gold Centurion. It doesn't skimp on the action. Of course, it also has some dead time, with the gang walking around in fake snow, and the usual space patrol shots. Where it feels like it's wasting my time is with the clone society that's living on the planet. What do I care about these identical men and women? Who is this scientist who created perfect clones but also a giant laser gun? (Not the same specialty.) If they are Cylon slaves, why does no one supervise them? Is the point of them to give the Suicide Squad a place to run to if they do make good on their escape? Not sure that's a great deal. The next episode may redeem the idea, we'll see, but for now, it just seems a distraction imported from a Star Trek script.

As for the four criminals, they bring an interesting dynamic initially - the Bonnie & Clyde duo, the creepy lone wolf, the borderline megalomaniac murderer - but I feel like we lose that over time with the introduction of other characters. We know they're dangerous, and that one of them stole a gun and intends to run if he can, but to where? He hasn't thought things through. They get some good lines, and then they're just human figures in a snow storm. Again, it's up to Part 2 to make good on Part 1's promises. The one unforgivable sin, then, is having Boxey and Muffit stow aboard the ship. This is ridiculous. Does the Galactica have no security? Why doesn't Boxey act like a normal person and get scared when the ship crashes? It's like he's living in a magical wonderland and can't see reality for that it is. And here I was going to say I liked the sweet relationship between him and his adoptive father. Then he goes and pulls something like this (or rather, the writers do), and it strains credulity. Our Viper pilots are in enough jeopardy as it is trying to control the criminal quartet, we really don't need this extra problem (there's also the matter of Starbuck's guilt over the captured cadet). It only eats into the stuff I'm actually interested in.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: In the new series, criminals are assembled for a dangerous mission in "Bastille Day", while an "ultimate weapon" on an ice planet is an element of "Razor".

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Cadets Bow and Shields are killed by the giant gun while on their first patrol. Seasoned Viper pilot Killian also gets it while escorting the mission team to the planet.

Gun on Ice Planet Zero was also broadcast as an expanded-length television movie. A deleted scene makes sense of Starbuck meddling with the computer selection, as it selects him over Apollo, at which point the Captain must make an appeal to Adama to let him go anyway.

- A good hook and a good-looking result, but it makes plotting mistakes in order to get itself to two-parter status.


Gene Hendricks said...

"It's like he's living in a magical wonderland and can't see reality for that it is."

You know, this could explain A LOT about Boxey's behavior. We saw him traumatized from losing the original Muffit but once the robotic version comes in, there's pretty much no real emotion in the kid. I think, once he lost his mom, he did retreat into a fantasy world. He's on a grand adventure, where he's the unlikely hero, so he HAS to be go on every adventure. If he's not there, in his mind, then they just can't succeed. So he doesn't get scared, or sad, or angry, because he's not in touch with what's actually going on.

Siskoid said...

Some excellent no-prizing there. As in, I don't really believe the writers were doing that (or the young actor), but it makes a lot of sense in retrospect.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Not only do I remember this episode well, I had novelization which was ... weird.
Instead of the cylon Lucifer, Imperious Leader had a hologram of Starbuck. Oh and it was called "The Cylon Death Machine".

Looking forward to Part 2.

LiamKav said...

After having been pestered by friends for over a decade I have recently started watching nuBSG at the rate of about one a week, so I'm glad you're taking your time with this. I've only just finished season 2 so hopefully I'll be done by the time you start.


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