Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: The Plan
by Rebecca Pahle | 2:45 pm, January 15th, 2014
I’m a sci-fi geek who has never seen Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know, I know. 2013 (and a little bit 2014) is the year I change that, and I’m blogging as I go.
In which everyone looks like they’re babies (Gaeta! *sobs*), Simon finally gets stuff to do, and Cavil is a cartoon character.
LET’S DO THIS.
The Plan shows us the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica from the POV of the Cylons, and in it we find out who Brother Cavil’s cartoon doppelgänger is:
Hear me out. We already knew that the Cylons, by all rights, should have been able to defeat the show’s ragtag band of humans fairly handily. They’re stronger. They’re dedicated. They have the resources. What we realize in The Plan is just how bad Cavil, their leader, was at making that happen. He thought he’d be able to wipe humanity out in one fell swoop. But a few ships got away, so he has to keep trying to kill the rest of ‘em, only his plans JUST. KEEP. FAILING. A large reason for that is something that’s beyond his control: His fellow Cylons falling in love with humans. But Cavil doesn’t adapt. He’s stupidly stubborn, and by refusing the deviate from his original tactics he keeps letting humanity defeat him.
Battlestar Galactica‘s Big Bad is Elmer Fudd in space. Sorry if you can’t unsee that.
We start off with two Cavils—I’ll call the main one just plain Cavil and the one who infiltrated Anders’ resistance Caprica Cavil—having a chit-chat right before they get airlocked in the season two finale. Caprica Cavil thinks it was a mistake to nuke the colonies. Cavil disagrees. As we delve into flashbacks, we find out how those characters came to diverge.
It’s two weeks before the attack, and Cavil’s monologuing (well, talking to another version of himself, but that counts, right?) about how he’s going to resurrect the Final Five among the pain and suffering of humankind, so when they come back into the Cylon fold they’ll realize how right Cavil was to light up the colonies. I’m sorry, but I’m distracted by how even in the Resurrection tank Ellen has perfect eyeshadow. We know that Cavil’s plan won’t work, that their time among humanity will make the Final Five more human, rather than less. Shocker. But Cavil’s absolutely convinced that by putting the Final Five through hell he’ll make them realize how great he is.
Cavil goes to the surface to meet with Caprica, who’s just gotten the defense mainframe codes from Baltar, and from there heads to Picon to chat with Ellen. She starts flirting big-time, which is more than a bit weird since in one sense she’s his mother (the Final Five created the skinjobs), and in another sense she’s his daughter (she modeled him after her dad). Welp, I guess it’s only fair to get Oedipal in a show that’s so Greek mythology-heavy. He initiates a conversation about philosophy with this drunk stranger (she doesn’t know him, anyway), and look, I know Cavil’s not supposed to be a comic figure, but he is cracking me up here. He’s just floundering so hard trying to get everyone to agree with him about humanity should be killed, and it’s so not working. Not only does Ellen tell Cavil there’s no point in judging people, she also gleefully explains that in all the years she’s been alive she hasn’t let anyone change her. She hasn’t learned anything—her words.
Cavil’s half a step away from saying “Apersonwhothinkshumanitydesesrvestobekilledsayswhat?”
So Ellen’s at a bar with Cavil when the nukes hit, Tory’s driving somewhere, Tigh and Tyrol are on the Galactica, and Anders is up in training camp. With him is a Simon, who’s infiltrated his team as a medic. We get brief shots of the Galactica as the colonies get nuked, and they’re important to me because
And he’s not even doing anything, just delivering normal CIC expository dialogue, but dammit, I was not prepared to see my wonderful frak-up back in the land of the living, if only in a flashback. Someone take this pain away from me.
There’s also a quick scene of Cylons up on the Basestar talking about how great it is that the Final Five will finally come around to their way of thinking. And Lucy Lawless is there. She has like one line and then never shows up again. Why do you do this to me?!
Cavil picks Ellen up from the rubble on Picon and proceeds to rescue her, explaining that she still has so much more suffering to experience. I love the idea of this incompetent bad guy who tries so hard to be evil and ruin the day, but all he ever does is accidentally save people.
He stays by her side as she recovers, speechifying about how it’s cruel to keep her alive but also necessary, since she hasn’t yet realized how evil humanity is. Dude, I know she’s in and out of consciousness and therefore isn’t picking up on what you’re saying, but stop it with the Bond villain monologuing, for frak’s sake. There are people around! What are you doing?!
Exhibit—what are we up to, J?—for how incompetent a villain Cavil is: Disguising himself as a chaplain, he asks for permission to post flyers offering free religious counseling and spiritual guidance. The flyer reads “DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE PLAN?,” which is a remarkably subtle way of saying “Hey, fellow Cylons onboard this ship, come meet with me and we’ll talk about our dastardly deeds.” It does get the gang together: There’s Cavil, two Sixes, a Doral, and a Leoben. They all chat about how they can take down the Galactica while still remaining undetected, and Cavil mentions that he has a sleeper agent (Boomer) whose help he can enlist.
But for goodness’ sake, what if a human actually wanted to see a priest and walked in midway through a spirited discussion on how to take out the Galactica?! “Uh, sorry, my whole family just died and I wanted… uh… I’m gonna go.”
One Cylon is missing from the meeting: A Simon (I’ll call him Galactica Simon to differentiate him from the one with Anders). During the attack on the Colonies we saw him carrying around a little girl, and it turns out she’s his stepdaughter. See, Galactica Simon is married to a woman named Gianna, who’s recently become one of Tyrols’ deckhands. He’s in looooove. He even has a family.
Cavil gives one of the Sixes and Doral their assignments—posing as a journalist to discredit Gaius and being a suicide bomber, respectively—and they take to them with only minor reservations. Six wonders if maybe they should ease up on Gaius since he helped them so much, and Doral objects to Cavil giving him dirty work because of how he goofed up and got exposed in the miniseries. (He also doesn’t want to blow up his clothes. He doesn’t say that, but look me in the eye and tell me he’s not thinking it.)
Boomer’s job, as relayed to her when Cavil brings her out of her I-think-I’m-human fugue state with the use of a handy elephant statue, is to blow up the Galactica’s water tanks. She doesn’t want to do it, and even starts talking about how they should let the humans go because they’re not a threat. Leoben’s tasked with tapping into the Galactica’s radio transmissions. When he does he hears Starbuck running a training mission. Galactica Simon’s job is to prove his loyalty to Cavil by blowing up the ship he lives on. In the end he refuses to do it, opting instead to airlock himself. And since he’s out of resurrection range, doing so means he’s well and truly dead.
Now Simon gets a personality! Now he actually gets to do things aside from deliver expository dialogue. One of the major themes of this episode is that Cavil, by not being open to love, is the odd man out among his species. (Aside from Doral. Doral don’t care.) Leoben gets fixated on Starbuck. We see one of the Sixes be sympathetic to Baltar. Boomer has Tyrol, and she also loves Adama like a father. Simon has his human family. But Galactica Simon’s more than just a plot device here; we see him object to waging war against humans in general, because he’s a medic (as all versions of him are) and he doesn’t want to get involved in the destruction. Hell, the Simon on Caprica makes sex puns later on. You could’ve been my favorite! Why weren’t you given anything to work with during the actual show?!
The fact that Simon, the only black male on the show (and one of a relatively small number of people of color), only gets a personality now, after it’s off the air… well, it’s several steps up from Harry Potter only getting a canon gay character after the books ended, I’ll give it that. But still.
So Cavil wants to kill humanity, but he keeps getting foiled by his underlings’ feelings. Boomer shot Adama, but she easily could’ve popped him in the head and killed him. Leoben’s obsession with Starbuck got him captured and airlocked. The Six who was supposed to discredit Baltar failed and blew the other Six’s cover in the process. Simon wouldn’t blow up the ship out of love for his family. .
The ironic thing is that for all Cavil hates human things like emotion, he’s perhaps ruled by them more than any other Cylon. They’re just negative ones like anger, bitterness, and stubbornness, instead of positive one like love. Part of him knows that, and resents it, which is just another trap. He also craves love, which is something Caprica Cavil comes to realize. Cavil doesn’t just want the Final Five to admit he was right. He doesn’t just want their approval. He wants them to love the Cylons more than they love humans.
There’s a subplot where a little boy keeps sleeping in Cavil’s chapel. He still has parents, but they abandoned him, which set off Cavil’s Major Issues alarm. He sees himself in this child. The kid’s name is even John, which is what Cavil’s real name is! Eventually Cavil stops shooing him away and they start to get companionable, which is when Cavil kills him, because A) he wants to kill the human part of himself and B) kick the dog trope, but with a kid. Gotta be eeeeevil.
Now let’s catch up with Caprica Cavil. Anders has assumed his role as resistance leader, though he’s been dealing with the requisite I’ve-been-leading-people-to-their-deaths! angst. There’s a sequence where someone makes a grenade out of a pyramid ball, and that’s cool, if a little goofy. The resistance comes upon a group of Dorals and figures out about skinjobs, and in the ensuing firefight Caprica Cavil infiltrates their group.
One of the first things he does is oh-so-subtly try to get Anders around to his way of thinking, telling him that that maybe the Cylons have assumed the role of God and punished man for their sins, doncha think? Anders, unsurprisingly, doesn’t agree, and treats Caprica Cavil like he’s a harmless old conspiracy nut.
When Caprica Cavil gets back to the resistance base he meets up with Simon, who assumes he’ll call in some backup and wipe out the resistance ASAP. Only Caprica Cavil doesn’t do that, because he’s obsessed with taking Anders’ confession and finding out whether his attempt to make Anders suffer by forcing him to live among humans actually worked. In the few months Caprica Cavil stays with the resistance Starbuck comes and goes, and seeing Anders fall in love with her has an impact on his previously unshakable conviction that the attack was the right thing to do. But still, when hearing Anders’ confession, he makes one last ditch attempt to see if Anders might believe otherwise:
CC: So I know the nuclear attack was terrible and all.
CC: But one could argue that it was a learning experience for you. Silver linings!
CC: And anyway, I’m sure the Cylons had their reasons. There sure was a lot of sinning among humanity. They, I mean we, kind of suck when you get right down to it.
CC: I’m just spitballing here, but maaaaaaybe the Cylons made the right call?
CC: Dad? Love me?
Anders, who has been and always will be a straight-up good guy, tells Caprica Cavil he’s just gonna pretend he didn’t hear the BS that just came out of his mouth. Later Caprica Cavil asks why Anders still cares about people after they’re dead, and Anders responds that love doesn’t die when people do.
Around that time is when Starbuck shows back up to rescue the resistance. Cavil sneaks away and finds out that the Cylons voted for a truce with the humans. Even though his model voted against it, he tells Caprica that he’s come around and wants to take the message to the Galactica. So he does. Both Cavils—one who thinks the genocide was wrong, one who’s come not to—get airlocked. Before they die, Caprica Cavil explains to Galactica Cavil that he understands now that all they ever really wanted to be loved. Galactica Cavil doesn’t buy it and retains the pissy little “Grrrr, I’m so angry that the Final Five don’t like us more than they like the humans, grrrrr” attitude he has through the rest of the series.
Now. Blood and Chrome. I’m gonna be honest with you; I had a brain fart and didn’t realize that it’s a movie and not a webseries. (Though apparently it’s both, but whatever, the webseries was removed from YouTube). And I’m a little burned out right now and not 100% sure I want to recap a 90-minute movie instead of a 25-minute webseries. Anyone want me to recap Blood and Chrome? Is it worth it? If I don’t end up doing it, and this is my last BSG recap, let me just say that it’s been a gas, and thanks to everyone who’s read ‘em. SO SAY WE ALL.