Sunday, October 08, 2006

Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell)
interrogates insurgent leader
Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan)

Season three of Battlestar Galactica is the first TV series to be based in part on the U.S. occupation of Iraq, told principally from the perspective of the occupied. There is a comprador government with a puppet president, brutal prisons that involve torture (one of the series’ regulars lost an eye), even – and the show is designed to make you root for their success – suicide bombers who take special aim at the police force recruited from among the occupied. In the context of the show, the actions of the insurgents – a term they use repeatedly – make total sense. They’re right intellectually and emotionally. The occupiers are cyborg type critters out to bring God, peace & democracy to the occupied, with summary executions if need be. Because their personalities can be downloaded & inserted into new roughly identical bodies, complete with their old memories, whenever they “die,” these toasters with attitude have a strong sense of the continuity of spirit & are basically crazy Christians – there is a Mormon subtext if you’ve been trained to pick it up. The occupied are humans, remnants of the population of Caprica, driven off-world by a revolt of their “Cylon” slaves, hunted to the edge of extinction. Now, however, the Cylons have had a change of heart & want to free the humans from their godless, violent lives. This of course makes the Cylons more lethal than ever. Dean Stockwell’s portrayal of Brother Cavil, a Cylon priest – or priests, actually, since there are a limited number of Cylon body types and we see the same characters over & over, sometimes several at once – as a kind of Donald Rumsfeld is spot on. Prisoners are moved about wearing Abu Ghraib-like hoods over their heads. Battlestar Galactica is the perfect antidote to fascist fantasies like 24. The opening episodes – the Sci Fi channel ran two shows back-to-back to start the season – will air again on Friday, October 13 at 1:00 PM Eastern & at 3:00 AM the following morning. Battlestar Galactica normally airs Fridays at 9:00 PM.