Tuesday, February 17, 2009

All of This Has Happened Before...

Warning: spoilers
(spoilage factor: about the same as the fruit Tyrol was looking at just as the nukes fell)

Watching the final season of BSG these past couple of weeks has frequently left me with the same kind of feeling of deja vu that the Final Five Cylons seem to experience on a regular basis. No, that doesn't mean that when I go for a walk along the shore at Boundary Bay that I get the impression I'm in a street market on another world - far from it. Rather, it's the case that some moments in recent episodes seem to have been lifted from other SF productions.

Take last Friday's episode for example. Sam's bullet-wound to the head allows him to see the Final Five's past as well as the big picture, and he's just dying to tell the others. Kara eventually has to decide to allow the doctors to perform the operation that will save his life, but could cause him to lose his newly-acquired memories and awareness. This felt an aweful lot like the episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space 9" where Sisko is endowed with prophetic abilities during his search for a lost Bajoran city, but faces death because of the strain on his body. His son decides to allow the operation that saves him, but costs him his visions. Now, BSG co-creator Ron Moore had a solid history working with DS9, and while I don't know if Moore was around during that particular episode, I wonder if he and his writers aren't drawing from it.

Also last week, the episode's final confrontation between Cavil (or "Jonathan" if you prefer) and Ellen felt familiar. She tries to tell him that it's okay to be who and what he is, and Cavil responds by assuring her he'll open her brain. The whole thing felt distinctly Blade Runner-ish to me. Reminded me a lot of Roy coming for a reckoning with Tyrrel and using his thumbs like egg-beaters in the doctor's eyesockets when he's told that it's fine that he's an android who won't get to live any longer.

Lastly, on the episode two weeks ago, there was Gaeta's last second of life in front of the firing squad. Just before the order to fire is given, he remarks that the pain from his amputation has finally stopped. This cease of pain in the moment before death is one that's been used a few times in other stories, but the one that comes most quickly to mind for me is the death of The Master at the end of "Doctor Who" series 3 where he notes that the drums he's been hearing all his life have finally stopped.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about BSG doing a little borrowing or being inspired by other SF. The adaptations to BSG circumstances have certainly been done well. And yes, BSG has on many previous occasions made allusions both to its predecessor and other shows. But these examples seemed different in a way... perhaps more overt because they had something to do with the plot rather than being merely asides? I'm still trying to figure that out.

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