Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 (SyFy)

As I am currently catching up on Battlestar Galactica, here are my thoughts on the third season of the space opera helmed by Ronald D. Moore and starring Edward James Olmos, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Jamie Bamber Mary McDonell and many others.

Battlestar Galactica is my favourite show of all time and over the past year I’ve really made a lot of progress with this series. Having originally watched 33 without knowledge of the mini-series, I was hooked and ended up watching most of season 1 on TV during a repeat airing on Pick in the UK. However, I got Netflix shortly after I started watching Season 1 so I was able to progress a lot quicker, often watching as up to three episodes per day in my attempt to get through the series. However, Battlestar unfortunately suffered from the case of increased episodes, originally starting out as only 13 episodes in Season 1 but by Season 3 we have around 20. This led to increased attention to series arcs, as opposed to full serialization, and as a result the individual standalone episodes suffered as a result of this, not being as memorable or engrossing as Season 1 and 2 were.
Season 3 takes place four months into the Cylon occupation of New Caprica, and kick-starts with an epic four-part arc that would have been a season finale in any other show, but Battlestar didn’t hold anything back, with the two part-Exodus storyline being the series at its best, following the resistance fighters on New Caprica as they attempted to overthrow their Cylon oppressors. Because of the heights of this opener, which put multiple characters through the wire and really tested them to their limit, causing many to make unexpected choices as loyalties were divided, the rest of the season didn’t really have a chance of matching up with the sheer quality of this opening arc. It’s engrossing, captivating and really enthralling, with plenty of excellent tension.
And then, unfortunately, Battlestar dropped slightly in quality in the episodes that followed. Whilst Collaborators was a good epilogue that looked at the fates of those who co-opted with the Cylons on Caprica, the various standalone episodes like Torn and Hero didn’t really work as well as they should have despite being solid. I think I would have preferred Battlestar to keep to the thirteen episodes that made its first season running time to prevent the weaker ones, even if we did get some more character focus drama in episodes like these.
The pace didn’t really pick up until the midseason finale episodes, The Eye of Jupiter and Rapture, which really explored the characters further and continued to add depth to the world. These once again had some great tension and kept leaving the audience breathless, but unfortunately it never really came close to matching the heights of the opening episodes. Indeed, the quality wasn’t really matched until Maelstrom, which provided a backstory to one of the series’ most popular characters, Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), and laid the foundations for the awesome arc that followed that looked at the trial of Gaius Baltar (James Callis) as the Fleet attempted to punish him for his actions on New Caprica. Alliances kept changing and there was a great arc for Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) in The Son Also Rises, as we also got to see Mark Sheppard (who Supernatural fans will recognise as Crowley) put in a great performance as Romo Lampkin. There’s too many great actors in this show to single out individual performances, with everyone involved really pulling out all the stops to make Battlestar a really incredible experience. It’s hard to imagine that this series is on the same network that is currently giving us the likes of Defiance (watchable but nowhere near BSG level) and Helix (watchable at best, terrible at worst), with episodes like the Exodus two parter capable of beating even the likes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones in regards to sheer quality.
Once again, Season 3 ended on an excellent cliff-hanger that topped even that of Season 2’s Cylon-landing on New Caprica. It reveals the identities of four of the final five Cylons as key members of the fleet and really upends everything that you’ve come to know about these characters in the past, throwing them into question. Some revelations may be more obvious than others but there’s some great twists and turns that I can’t wait to see unfold in the show's final season, season 4, and it's safe to say it won't be long before I get stuck into that. 
Even though Season 3 doesn’t quite match Seasons 1 and 2 in terms of quality aside from a few notable episodes, it continues its superb form that really continues to make it known as one of the best shows on television ever. Addictive, with some fascinating world building and some decent plots outside of the standalone episodes (and even they episodes themselves aren’t bad, per say). The actors are great and the characters will make decisions that you love and hate. Fan favourites will no longer become favourites and those who you weren’t too keen on before will start to grow on you. It’s an ever-changing show and everybody, by the end of the season, is in a very different place to where they started. Damn near essential viewing, and if you have already seen the first two seasons but not the third, what are you waiting for? It’s just that good.

VERDICT: 9/10  

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