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Cinescape Magazine

13 September 2005

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: Final Cut On the record

By: JASON DAVISBy: Columnist

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: Final Cut
GRADE: A-
Reviewed Format: TV Show
Network: Sci-Fi Channel
Original Airdate: 9 September 2005
Cast: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park
Creator: Glen A. Larson
Developer: Ronald D. Moore
Writers: Mark Verheiden
Director: Robert Young

"Final Cut" takes the seasoned concept of a documentary being produced inside a drama and serves up an excellent hour of TV drama. Skillful handling of the military/journalist relationship coupled with Lucy Lawless guesting as journalist D'anna Biers and more of the show's trademark philosophy combine to produce a satisfying hour that contextualizes the preceding season two episodes in terms of folks outside the show's regular cast.

M*A*S*H and BABYLON 5 have both employed documentary episodes to change the narrative perspective on their characters. The latter series even devoted an installment to journalistic corruption in the form of ISN's propaganda campaign against the titular space station's crew. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA continues the legacy with Biers investigating Galactica in the wake of the Gideon Massacre. With Adama and Roslin's blessing, the reporter is allowed full access to the vessel which leads to some remarkably subtle interactions between journalist and crew. The heart of the episode plays on the essential conservativism of the military contrasted with the naturally liberal notions of the media. While the former is concerned with maintaining the status quo, the latter desperately wants to overthrow the establishment in the pursuit of truth. As ever, the Galactica's crew is wary of anyone who might undermine the security of the fleet and some soldiers are more comfortable in front of the camera than others. Pilot shouting matches and Colonel Tigh's obvious distress at being taped provide "behind the scenes" highlights while interviews with Lt. Gaeta and CPO Dualla not only give the characters first names, but offer them a moment in the spotlight without the full weight of their duty limiting their lines.

Where GALACTICA succeeds far and away over B5's similar outings is in the casting of Lucy Lawless as Biers. Similar journalists portrayed on B5 were often unlikable and obviously biased, a criticism that can't be leveled at GALACTICA's stunt casting. Lawless conveys a journalistic intensity that assures viewers that she'll get what she wants, but doesn't exude the arrogant self-righteousness that too easily creeps into the portrayal of such characters. The revelation in the final scene is doubly successful as a result of Lawless's performance and puts another interesting spin on Cylon agendas.

It wouldn't be a proper episode of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA without a nod to the ongoing debate of human and Cylon philosophy. This time, the lecture comes from a Viper pilot who explains to the documentary crew the necessity for "deactivating" the human part of a pilot during combat. "The human part will get you killed," she says offering another insight into creator Ron Moore's subtle argument that the differences between human and Cylon may not be as vast as viewers imagine. The Caprican Valleri's realization that she's still alive aboard Galactica carries a disturbing quality of excitement that suggests depths hitherto unplumbed by the episodes thus far. The opening of every episode promises that "they have a plan," but how this episode fits into that plan remains to be seen.

Source - Cinescape Magazine


 

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