On Battlestar Galactica
Burdens: A Proof
The Stoic Value of the Cylon Threat
Thirty-three minutes, in the Hugo-winning Battlestar Galactica series premiere (“33” 1-1), was how long it took for the Cylons to locate and attack the Fleet as they jumped farther and farther away from their destroyed worlds. Thirty-three minutes to rest, shower, eat–to attend to the basic necessities of life–before the cycle would start again, the alarms would sound, and the necessities would have to be ignored for the duration of the jump. All the concerns of the Fleet’s directors, both military and civilian, had to be figured out and addressed, in those tiny thirty-three minute packages. It was exhausting. It could have killed them, had it gone on forever.
Thirty-three episodes, in the course of the show’s first two seasons, was how long it took for the Cylons to locate and permanently imprison the Fleet. And then the Colony of New Caprica could finally rest, shower, eat–and attend to the basic necessities once again.
The twinned simplicity of short-term survival and single-minded pursuit became, in the second season’s final episode, a unified simplicity of jailer and jailed. But it’s the episodes between the destruction of the Resurrection Ship (“Resurrection Ship, I and II” 2-11 and 2-12) and the colonization and occupation of New Caprica (“Lay down your Burdens, I and II” 2-19 and 2-20) that are concerning. The abrupt change of focus in this span of stories–from simple flight and defense to civic and philosophical issues and concerns–arose naturally from the separation of human and Cylon upon the destruction of the …