Al does Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

Battlestarplanbox“Oh, look–an airlock.  How handy.”

The Scoop: 2009 NR,  directed by Edward James Olmos and starring Dean Stockwell, Grace Park, Tricia Helfer, and Rick Worthy.

Tagline: None

Summary Capsule: The Cylons were created by man.  They rebelled.  They evolved.  Then they sorta milled around for about thirty episodes before getting their act together.  Or so you thought.

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Al’s Rating: All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.  Insofar as it remains profitable.

Al’s Review: A lot of “serial” franchises want everyone to believe that they know what they’re doing at all times.  George Lucas has spent decades trying to convince people that all six Star Wars films have been drafted out since the early seventies.  The writers and producers of Lost have repeatedly affirmed that they definitely have the answers to every question they raise and It’s All Going Exactly According To Plan.  Battlestar Galactica, on the other hand, always operated a bit more fast and loose.  In fact, the showrunners would gleefully admit that they didn’t really know where things were going for most of the series.  The Opera House?  The pregnant Six?  The Final Five?  All created on a whim, with no particular resolution in mind.

Now that the show has wrapped, The Plan represents Galactica’s attempt to put a bow on top and reconcile some of the odds and ends from seasons one and two with the storyline they sewed together in seasons three and four.  Anyone expecting to see the Final Five bargaining with the Centurions or a glimpse of Daniel, the “lost” Cylon model, will be disappointed—there are no major revelations here and nothing that will change the way you watch the show.  The plan, in actual fact, was pretty simple: kill all the humans.  The title ‘The Plan’ is, I think, really meant to be approached a bit more obliquely: what happens when the plan fails and you’re stuck amongst the people you’ve demonized?  Does the plan change?  Do you?

Starting all the way back on the Twelve Colonies of Kobol, the film plays like a highlight reel, showing us the Cylon side of life during the first ten months of Battlestar Galactica.  In particular, we see it through the eyes of two Brother Cavils (Dean Stockwell): one stowed away on the Galactica playing puppetmaster and another holed up on Caprica as a part of Sam Anders’ guerilla resistance.  Stockwell quickly became one of my favorites after his introduction in “Lay Down Your Burdens” and he has never been better than he is here.  His Cavils travel different paths carved by different experiences and he never for a second makes you doubt their evolution is genuine.

All the other Cylon models (except, disappointingly, for Lucy Lawless) make appearances, too, usually to tidy up one of those loose ends I mentioned.  Tricia Helfer is awesome as always in a pair of small roles (including the evaporating Shelley Godfrey) and Grace Park puts an interesting twist on the nature of Boomer’s sleeper agent double-life.  Leoben shows us how the Number Twos came to be infatuated with Kara Thrace, and Doral reminds us that blowing yourself up sucks even when you’re a Cylon.  The real surprise, though, was Rick Worthy’s performance as Simon.  Simons were generally background Cylons, always doctors and scientists who didn’t get much more than one or two lines an episode.  Here, though, he does an excellent job as an undercover Cylon who has fallen in love with and married a human (the beautiful and curiously uncredited Lymari Nadal).  It’s unexpected, touching, and makes me wish he was given more to do in the series proper.

Despite how much I enjoyed The Plan, I expect it’ll have its share of ticked off Galactica fans.  Not because of what the movie is, but because of what it isn’t.  The marketing department over at SyFy has gone into overdrive hyping The Plan, promising it will fix your car, pay your rent, and babysit your children while you make money from home.  If they’re to be believed (never trust a company that only uses the ‘sometimes’ vowel, kids—that’s a lesson, write it down), The Plan would be a side to the Galactica universe we’d never seen and answer questions we didn’t know we should be asking.  And it’s not.  It’s more like Cavilcrantz and Boomerstern Are Dead.  Or like caulk, covering up seams and filling in cracks.  It’s fun caulk, but caulk nonetheless.  So take it for what it is, admire it for what it does, possibly talk about it loudly at inappropriate times, then put it away and move on.  Maybe it’s not the transcendent experience you were hoping for, but, hey, there’s always Caprica.

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Is there any angle from which Tricia Helfer doesn't look amazing? Seriously?

INTERMISSION!

  • No Lucy Lawless?  Weak sauce.
  • Mary McDonnell is the only major cast member who doesn’t appear onscreen in the movie.  She does get a legs-and-butt double in the last scene, though.
  • Everyone in the resistance refers to Sam by his middle initial, ‘ T.’
  • The basestars rotate into cheese wedges before launching their nukes at the Colonies.  Neat!
  • You can see smashed-up Raider parts are strewn around the Caprica forest while Sam and the others head toward the Cylon dropship.
  • Boomer’s hypnotic elephant is (presumably) a reference to episode 2.18, Downloaded, where Caprica  Six plays with a wooden elephant in Boomer’s new apartment.
  • Anyone else hoping the kid would turn out to be Boxey?
  • You can see a Number Four in marine gear walk through Caprica Cavil’s crosshairs.
  • A really fantastic remix of the opening theme that plays over the end credits.  If you’re a Bear McCreary fan, stick around.

Groovy Quotes

Cavil: You really like those olives, don’t you?
Ellen: Maybe.  Maybe I just like how I look reaching for them.

Hybrid: The farms of Aerilon are burning,  The beaches of Canceron are burning.  The plains of Leonus 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 Libron are burning. The forests of Virgon are burning.  The colonies of man lie trampled at our feet.

Cavil: Fives in general haven’t been that impressive thus far.  One of your counterparts managed to get himself outed back on Ragnar station.
Doral: I can’t understand how he was discovered.  I heard it was Doctor Baltar.
Cavil: No, no, I’m not talking about that exactly.  I’m talking about the fact that you’re walking around this fleet wearing that jacket.  And, more importantly, that face.  You’re recognizable.
Doral: Well, uh, his jacket was burgundy.  This–this is teal.

Cavil:  They call it a suicide vest but I think that undersells all the homicide that goes along with it, don’t you?

Cavil: Oh, look–an airlock.  How handy.

Caprica Cavil: Is there a Resurrection Ship in range?
Fleet Cavil: Yes, brother, but first we’re going to die in a vacuum.
Caprica Cavil: There’s a 170-foot launch tube in front of us.  We may die of our injuries before we get to the vacuum.
Fleet Cavil: I don’t like you.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Battlestar Galactica: Razor
  • Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead
  • V
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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Al does Babylon 5: In the Beginning « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  2. Pingback: Al Does Babylon 5: The Gathering « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  3. Pingback: Al and Lissa do Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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