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[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Scar"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: Scar Tensions mount, and Starbuck s and Kat s egos collide, when Galactica s Viper
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 10, 2006
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      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
      you.

      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
      row.

      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.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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