Battlestar Galactica: Razor Review:
Written by: Michael Taylor
Directed by: Felix Alcala
Original Air Date: 11/25/07 on SciFi Channel
Review Posted: 11/25/07
Review of Razor:
Where do we start? First off, it's been eight months since we last were treated to some new material (the minisode teasers of the last few weeks notwithstanding). That said, our opinion is that long wait was an asset to Razor. It took us a while, but it finally dawned on us that Razor isn't entirely a fresh idea. We've seen it before with Babylon 5's telefilm In the Beginning . That production, much like Razor, cobbled together previously mentioned backstory and fleshed it out with a few new bits. That film was a treat for fans who had spent four years picking up the bits here and there as the show's story arc slowly developed. However, In the Beginning was not so well received by (or maybe we should say, conceived for) the casual viewer. Here, Razor chooses to revisit fan favorites in Cain and the Pegasus, but instead of using one of the previously established characters, a new character was created as the linchpin to the film in the guise of Kendra Shaw.
Shaw's complete absence in the series in season two is explained that she and Fisk and then Garner didn't get along. Of course, she was nowhere to be seen while Cain was alive for a couple of episodes. Her death takes care of her needing to be around for season 4, although it would have equally amusing to have her turn up in season 4 after having been off "finding herself" for the last couple of seasons worth of episodes. Although, we're betting it won't take more than an episode or two before Kendra's name comes up, most likely in a discussion of her warning about Kara.
When we first heard that Razor would be about the Pegasus and Cain, we looked forward to seeing development of the rich backstory that was presented in Cain's two episodes. While we did get to see Pegasus ' escape from the shipyards, Cain's killing of her XO Gina's betrayal and the incident with the Scylla and the civilian fleet, we got surprisingly little depth. The biggest nugget (besides the person of Kendra Shaw) was Cain's personal involvement with Gina. Gina's personal betrayal of her, especially a woman so hardened as Cain, fully explains why Cain was so ambivalent to what Thorne and the rest of her crew had done to Gina. Her anger towards Gina and Cylons in general seemed to be the motivation behind her actions toward the civilian fleet.
Unfortunately, what we didn't get was a sense of why the crew of the Pegasus practically worshipped her. That was turned into more of a sense of fear, rather than loyalty. Aside from the relationship with Gina, which admittedly turned some known events on their ear, we really got no greater sense of who Cain was. Now the extended DVD is supposed to include additional footage including some flashbacks for Cain, so we hold out hope that some of the issues we had were cut from the television edit.
As far as the other Pegasus based characters, they fare even worse than Cain. Fisk is reduced to a wise-cracking yes man, which actually fits nicely with his black market backstory. We get to see Cain's original XO, Belzen, but aside from one conversation about shore leave between them, there is little between them. This lessens the impact of Cain shooting him since he was depicted as little more than another cog. Hoshi gets a lot of Gaeta-like screen time, while Laird does nothing more than rehash the same material that his character was established to deliver in the first place. An opportunity to depict how Thorne had saved many of the ship's crew himself was also passed over.
After all that griping, we'll try to talk about what we liked. The space battle sequences were great and too short. We also liked the nods to the original series and how the original classic Cylons actually were written it as a legitimate part of the story, rather than just fluff. Unlike some fans who found it curiously repulsive, we even liked the moment when we got to see the gold Cylon Centurion and hear "by your command." Lee, who is all too often conflicted and whiny and Kara-infatuated for our tastes, actually acted like the commander of a ship, albeit and inexperienced one, rather than a fat daddy's boy like he was reduced to in Season 3. The scenes between he and Admiral Adama didn't degenerate like they often do (like the last one that we saw where he threw a temper tantrum and quit the military).
Kendra Shaw ended up being an interesting character, although she seemed to be far too important to have been completely unmentioned until now. After all, she made the blind jump that enabled the escape. She fixed the systems. She then worked with Gina and even gave Gina her access codes, unwittingly setting the Pegasus up for sabotage. Kendra also discovered Gina's true identity. Lastly, Kendra was the one who actually was willing to carry out Cain's order of killing family members of civilian selectees. Having done all that, how does she not get mentioned?
Anyway, Kendra much like Cain actually suffers from underdevelopment. We're left to fill the pieces of her motivations on our own. We're likely expected to assume that she started the drugs as a way to forget shooting that woman, but we have no way of knowing if it goes back before that. It's hinted that Kendra could be somewhat spoiled, but after that initial dressing down, that element is gone and she turns into Cain, jr. Cain's little speech about holding onto anger (which is the emotion she immediately leaps to in the absence of fear) and letting it direct Kendra just wasn't enough for us. Kendra is interesting to watch, almost like a train wreck, but when it comes down to it, we really don't know any more about who she was than we did when she first arrived on Pegasus . Actually, her sudden departure not long after the revelation that she's the one that killed the civilian woman (Laird's wife, we presume) is a bit of a letdown.
Now the last fifteen minutes or so, the pace picks up and gets interesting. Even if the gun battles and jamming seem to conveniently come and go when needed. Can someone please tell me where those Centurions went when Red Team started to leave? They simply let the team make for the nearest airlock and then let Kendra happen upon their god. Either much of that sequence was full of dramatic license, or the Cylons really do have a plan. Of course, the hybrid's prophesy about Kara makes things interesting and has got to be the piece that carries into season four especially with her sudden and as yet unexplained reappearance at the end of the season three. We know that we'll be speculating on that one for the next five months.
Looking back, we were all over the place with our review, much like Razor itself. Our final impression is that Razor is enjoyable entertainment. It looks really good and attempts to give us something to ponder about choices being thrust upon people who are in situations not of their own choosing, but is actually a lot of fluff that doesn't hold up under scrutiny, so we'll just remember to not look too closely the next time we watch it and simply enjoy the special effects, a young William Adama, Tricia Helfer's smile, Lee going a whole two hours without whining and all the little "cute" moments worked into the episode. Razor is a middle of the road Battlestar Galactica episode (it's still light years better than "Colonial Day") and certainly better television than most of what's on these days and with the current writers' strike, Razor could end up being more than adequate replacement programming for NBC.
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