Battlestar Galactica: The Plan
Given the supposed significance of the Five in the wider mythology of the show, four of them are almost inconsequential to this story.
Since the beginning, it was often touted that the Cylons had a plan. So vague and ambiguous was this that it ran through the bones of the entire series, instilling a sense of dread and foreboding rarely captured so perfectly on screen. As season three limped on, however, it became apparent that the Cylons might not have been the Machiavellian plotters that the writers would have you believe. And so, The Plan unfolds.
In heading back to the early days of the series for this TV film special, there is a wealth of possibility to work with. We might see Cavil murdering Daniel, The Final Five's first encounter with the Colonial Centurions, even Cavil murdering his parents and altering their memories. Then again, fifteen minutes in, it seems we're expecting too much. Unfortunately, The Plan squanders much of its running time, even in its extended edition, in desperately trying to stitch together very disparate pieces of the story. It takes some of the most exciting, throwaway moments of the series and tries to tack on significance in such a way that feels like a bit of a hustle. The main problem in this particular body of work is the script. Jane Espenson's work on Buffy was strong, cohesive and interesting, but aboard the Galactica, she has singularly managed to create some of the worst episodes of the series ('Dirty Hands', 'Deadlock'). The writing can be extremely jarring in places, lacking any element of subtlety, and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the BSG universe. The disappearance of Shelley Godfrey, as one of many examples, is explained in such a ludicrous way that I found myself wishing for Cavil to suffocate me and wipe my memories, too.
With what they have to work with, the cast excel again and again, but they are done a great disservice by the material. Boomer and Simon's respective struggles with their Cylon nature create a sense of pathos that is genuinely affecting. Dean Stockwell's performances as two different copies of the Brother Cavil model are instantly both unsettling and gentle. On Caprica, he infiltrates Anders' resistance cell and finds himself sympathetic to his 'parents' and the human race; on Galactica, Cavil 2.0 grows more hateful and vicious as his 'plan', for lack of a better word, begins to unravel. The climactic dialogue between the two Cavil copies is a rare moment where the script finally rises to the legacy of the show. And given the supposed significance of the Five in the wider mythology of the show, four of them are almost inconsequential to this story.
Edward James Olmos's direction, particularly in the scenes where the holocaust commences, imbues the piece with the ambition we've come to expect from Ron Moore's vision. Ultimately, though, despite the positives, what we have here is a fairly weak and unremarkable contribution to the epic story of Galactica. For as unfulfilled by The Plan as I was, I ask one favour of you. Grab a glass of ambrosia and join me in a toast: "To Galactica, the best ship in the fleet." You'll be sorely frakking missed.