Previously on Battlestar Galactica...
Cult favorite Sci Fi Channel series Battlestar Galactica returned on April 4 for its fourth and final season, and no amount of previously-on's can succinctly capture the massive scope of what transpired in season three. And considering that the final episode of season three ("Crossroads, Part II") originally aired on March 25, 2007, it's been a long, long time between fresh material (Sci Fi has been re-running season three in the past few weeks to allow viewers to play catch-up).
If you're one of those people who haven't yet climbed on board, BSG is epic series television in the best tradition of such fan favorites as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What BSG has in common with those shows is a compelling story arc that's frequently illuminated by smaller scale character studies, a quality of writing that far exceeds much of what we're served up on prime-time network television, characters in whom we become fully invested, a community of committed fans who dissect and discuss every word and action, and a cast of actors who more than live up to the challenges of all the above. This series of reviews will assume that you have some familiarity with the story thus far, but if you need a refresher course, Sci Fi has a video up on the official BSG page that promises to get you up to speed in eight minutes.
One of the great things about this show is its unflinching look into the abyss of the human soul. Nearly annihilated, made extinct, gone from the universe, you'd think the human race might have had the sense to pull itself together and become a better people so that it might survive, right? But no such luck — instead we're just as venal, just as self-serving, just as opportunistic, just as dishonest, and just as downright bad as we've always been.
This is no white hat/black hat Star Trek universe. This is humanity as we know it, where good people sometimes do bad things and make terrible choices, often because they act out of their own self-interests or out of jealousy or out of any of the other things that make us all less than perfect. And just like in real life, they can turn on a dime and do the right thing in the face of overwhelming obstacles, act selflessly in the face of great personal danger, and sacrifice themselves to the greater good. Thanks to the writing and the overall excellence of the cast, it's impossible to watch this show and not end up feeling deeply about these characters and seeing a lot of ourselves and our current events reflected in the story arc.