[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Scar"
- Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
Battlestar Galactica: "Scar"
Tensions mount, and Starbuck's and Kat's egos collide, when Galactica's
Viper pilots must take on a particularly skilled and lethal Cylon Raider.
Air date: 2/3/2006 (USA)
Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Michael Nankin
Rating out of 4: **1/2
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
First things first. I need to get something off my chest: The word "frak"
needs to go away. "Frak," "frakked," "frakker," "frakking," "frak you,"
"frakked up," "motherfrakker," "frakkity-frak-frak" -- whatever -- they all
need to get the fuck off my "Battlestar Galactica."
And, no, I did not say they need to get the "frak" off my BSG, because I
don't use "frak" in my reviews except as a quote because, goddamn it, "frak"
*isn't a word*. I'm willing to cut "gods damn it" some slack, because it at
least makes sense in the polytheistic BSG universe. "Frak" is more and more
a distraction -- an arbitrary, made-up word that started as an homage to the
original series and has since gotten really, really old because of its
overuse. In "Scar," the word must be uttered at least two dozen times, and
it just sounds stupid. Enough already. Cease. Desist. Stop. Please and thank
But on with the review of "Scar," in which it is now Kara's turn, rather
than Lee's, to implode. Whereas Lee imploded quietly, Kara implodes publicly
and noisily. It's not an explosion because the cause is internal and not
outwardly revealed, but as implosions go, it sure has a way of being obvious
to everyone else. I doubt Starbuck would have it any other way.
"Scar" is frustrating because there are things about it I really like, and
it has the distinction of being a story in which the central character
actually has a bona fide arc that showcases a change in her attitude. The
problem is that those changes are built on a flimsy foundation I couldn't
believe in, as much as I tried. Can I recommend a show that has good scenes
and good character development (not to mention good CG space battles) but
emerges from a faulty starting point? I guess in this case, I'm going with
that standby scoring phrase, "near-miss." It's BSG's third near-miss in a
It's also the fourth consecutive episode to use some sort of
timeline/flashback narrative framing device. Strange; I wonder what the
writers' deal is. Consider my feelings on the matter to be neutral
observation (although the framing device in "Black Market" was pointless).
Throughout the episode, we cut between the ending, where the payoff is
unfolding, and the events leading up to that payoff.
Galactica, on a mining operation crucial for the long-term benefit of the
fleet, has been forced to wait for the operation to finish. Pegasus has
jumped ahead, protecting the fleet. Who's in command of the Pegasus and what
kind of internal mayhem is unfolding in light of Fisk's murder in "Black
Market" is one question that "Scar" does not so much as attempt to address,
but in all fairness I suppose the show is called "Battlestar Galactica" and
not "Battlestar Pegasus."
While in this holding pattern, the Galactica fighter pilots have been forced
to hold the line against a small squadron of Cylon Raiders, one of which has
taken on the reputation as the Cylon's top gun, dubbed "Scar" by the Viper
pilots because he's been in a number of scrapes but never killed.
The story is about Scar and the way he takes on an almost larger-than-life
mystique as a lethal opponent -- and how an increasing number of Viper
pilots have been killed by his skilled, often sneaky, assaults. But the true
character core is about Starbuck's implosion, which happens just as Louanne
"Kat" Katraine (Luciana Carro) is becoming a force to be reckoned with.
To say Starbuck and Kat have a clash of the egos would be an understatement.
The fact of the matter is Starbuck is very close to being replaced as
Galactica's top gun by the brash and aggressive Kat. I particularly like
that Kat, who was one of the nameless trainees back in "Act of Contrition,"
has become a full-fledged character, never more evident than here, where she
gets in Starbuck's face and challenges her in front of the flight crew.
They place a wager on who will take Scar out, in the midst of a rowdy
drinking binge with all the Viper pilots. Starbuck does a drunken dive over
a table that everyone finds amusing, although Starbuck's own amusement is
fleeting; she laughs that she may not cry.
The source of Kara's pain is the trouble point of the episode. We're
supplied flashbacks that explain, and those flashbacks are in regard to
resistance fighter Samuel Anders from Caprica (see "The Farm"). She promised
to return to rescue him and his resistance group, and she hasn't been able
to keep that promise. Her feelings of guilt, combined with her apparently
having fallen in love with Anders in less than a week, have sparked her
implosion. My problem is that I didn't buy that Kara could fall for Anders
as fast as she did. I didn't buy it then, and I certainly don't now.
There's a scene here where she goes so far as to try to use Lee for a "good
lay" in lieu of Anders. It's one of those moments fans have thirsted for --
where Kara and Lee finally succumb to their attraction -- but it ends in
drunken pain and argument. Lee quite frankly has a right to feel used, in no
small part because the writers have forced this whole projection scenario
upon Kara's character.
Subsequently, Kara drinks herself into oblivion, oversleeps, and assigns a
pilot to replace her in the flight rotation. That pilot, BB, makes a
particularly idiotic tactical move and is killed by Scar on a mission where
Starbuck would've been his wingman. Kat calls Starbuck on this fact in full
view of the other pilots in the ready room. Is Kat right? Certainly, yes;
Starbuck's drinking is starting to run out of control. But Kat is also
trying to make her mark in the most forced of ways, for the simple reason
that her own mortality is palpable enough that she'd rather be sure she's
remembered as a hotshot in case she dies.
Do these two pilots eventually come to blows? Do they even more eventually
overcome their doubts about each other and team up to kill Scar? Gee, what
do you think?
Still, there are plenty of good things about "Scar." I enjoyed most of the
Starbuck/Kat conflict, no matter how close to cliche the ego games came. I
also enjoyed a scene between Kara and Sharon, where Sharon explains how
Raiders think, and where Kara comments on how she sometimes forgets that
Sharon is a Cylon. There's a sense of empathy here from both characters that
hasn't been evident since Sharon was revealed as a Cylon. And as I said
before, the battle sequences, with all the rocks and debris and
cat-and-mouse games, are very well done.
There's also a moving scene where Kat thinks she's going to finally get the
glory she's been seeking, and Starbuck instead uses it as a toast to the
memory of all the pilots Galactica has lost. It could be seen as a brutal
way to deny Kat's moment, but it's also honestly a moving and appropriate
tribute first and foremost. Kat gets her toast, but it comes with the
reminder that the glory comes with a price.
Kara goes through a definitive transition here, from a hotshot who might've
previously been happy to die for glory to someone who now would prefer to
give up the glory so that she can live and keep a promise. There's actual
character growth to here, a legitimate arc on behalf of the writers.
And yet, the impetus for it all, to me, is not convincing in the slightest.
Kara has a long history of buried feelings for Lee (not to mention she was
previously engaged to Zak) and we're supposed to believe her big growth was
brought on by Anders, of all people? I just don't buy it. Not from what we
saw in "The Farm." Too bad, too, because the only thing lacking here is
motivation. The action and the conflict are the parts that work.
Copyright 2006, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...