I’ve only watched Razor once thus far so I’m sure I’ll have more comments after additional viewings. Razor isn’t perfect and it’s not one of my favorite episodes, but I do think it is one of the best crafted installments of the series. The overriding feeling I had as I watched was that a lot of thought had been put into writing the episode/film. Ron and Co. were able to cover territory that, for whatever reason, they felt they couldn’t in Season 2 while also laying groundwork for Season 4 and managed to pull together the various elements successfully. With the exception of some too-heavy-on-the-foreshadowing dialogue between Lee and Kara in their final scene, I didn’t feel as if any aspect of the story was forced or came out of nowhere.
During the second season, the series got a little lax in terms of continuity, but not so (much) with Razor. We had a survivor count of 49,579 which would seem about right before the destruction of Cloud Nine. We saw numerous familiar faces even in the small roles. Actually, I think this was the most I ever heard Mr. Hoshi speak. The wireless broadcasts were an efficient and subtle way of establishing the timeframe. Laura outlawed abortion in ‘The Captain’s Hand’, so the ‘current’ events in Razor must take place days later. I even appreciated that they made Cain look younger and less sever looking.
I mentioned the heavy handed exchange between Lee and Kara, but there were some far subtler references I really appreciated. Kendra informing us that Gina’s last name is Geminese for “resurrection”. Kendra telling Gina she’s “a life saver”. And I think it was Adama that said, in reference to Kara and Kendra’s tense relationship, “I’d like to sell tickets to that dance.”
While early scenes did attempt to humanize Cain, any feelings of understanding by me were quickly dashed and she reverted to being the Queen Bitch of the Universe. Seeing her actions and orders played out on screen - no longer merely rumors or stories over dramatized after too much alcohol is consumed – did, however, make me more sympathetic towards her crew and even the Cylons.
Lee makes a comment to his father early on that one of his intentions is to “give the crew their pride back.” Cain didn’t just take away their pride, she took away their humanity. Until now, I thought Fisk was a selfish bastard, profiting from people’s misery and turning a blind eye to some horrendous criminal activity because he was simply a bad guy. I never considered that, at one point, Fisk was an honorable officer. One of the most memorable scenes for me was seeing Fisk’s reaction to the discovery of the civilian fleet and that they were no longer alone. The expression on his face conveyed joy and, in that moment, he was given hope again. Not only had Pegasus survived, but other human beings who were not as well equipped or well armed had. And if they survived, who knows who else may be out there?
It’s only seconds later that Cain makes her intentions clear. There is no discussion or contemplating options. It makes me wonder if she had already played out this possibility in her head, just in case the situation arose. Or in the moments following the attacks did life stop having meaning to her? Contrary to the lies she told her officers and supposed friends at her little dinner party, revenge, even to the point of the extinction of the human race, seemed to be her only goal.
When Cain gave the order to raid the ships, to take the supplies and people they needed, and abandon the people to die at the hands of the Cylons, Cain destroyed Fisk’s hope for the future. And when he was forced to participate in the massacre, she destroyed him. By the time the Galactica and fleet came along, it was too late, Fisk had given up and when the black market came calling he just gave in. He had seen and been a part of too much.
I wanted to come away from Razor believing that circumstance made Helena Cain what she was. I wanted to find out that, if the story was true, that shooting her XO (and, as it turned out, her close friend) in the head was warranted in some way. I wanted to see that the brutalization of Gina was not all her doing. But what I saw was a woman without a shred of hesitation or remorse. Something in her died long before this war.
There were two moments that made me believe that while the attacks revealed the worst in Cain and, by extension, what humanity is capable of, that she was already hard wired this way. First, there was her comment that we, the human race, “don’t have the luxury of becoming simply human again.” Since when was being human “simple” or a “luxury”? I really need to go back and watch Lee’s speech in ‘Crossroads’ because Cain, in her speech, is a representation of his worst fears. The other moment that struck me was seeing Gina after Thorne had dealt with her. The pain, fear, and degradation Cain had ordered showed clearly in not just Gina’s physical appearance, but her body language. She had the reaction any woman would have after being beaten, tortured, and raped. She was reacting as a human would. Cain, on the other hand, was emotionless; one could say acting like a machine. Cain destroyed the spark of humanity in Gina and while Gina hesitated in pulling the trigger in Razor because she genuinely felt something for Cain, when the opportunity arose again, she didn’t hesitate.
As for Lee, I think there was some interesting, if not character development, character enlightenment. I liked seeing Lee not entirely confidant in his new position as Commander. It made sense given he’s closer then ever to living in his father’s shadow, the history of his predecessors, and that he was on his way out of the military prior to the attacks and now facing a hell of a lot of unexpected responsibility. And he’s going to make mistakes. I’ve already seen certain segments of fandom up in arms over his order to, first, destroy the Cylon ship with the rescue team still on board and, then, ask Kara to stay behind to set off the nuke. Clearly, neither decision was an easy one for him. He didn’t make bad calls. Maybe, in the case of his first order, he did rush to judgment. But the one mission that overrides every other mission is saving the remnants of humanity and getting them to earth. He was seeing that in jeopardy. Later, in a rare moment of magnanimousness, Adama tells Lee that neither man made the wrong call onboard Pegasus, but were making decisions they believed they needed to make in order to accomplish their missions. (I only wish Adama would have remembered that during the New Caprica arc when Lee, justifiably, argued they should take the fleet and go.)
In my previous post on Razor I mentioned Adama causing me to holler at my computer screen. My exact words were, “You bastard!” Lee shouldn’t shoulder all the guilt over this botched mission. This whole mess started when Adama let a science team take a viper to research a super nova. I’m trying to figure out how in the midst of fleeing the Cylons and looking for earth Adama felt it was OK to let a team go off on their own to do a little research. Maybe if they had mentioned the super nova was a road sign on the way to earth, I could have bought it, but it was a key plot point coming out of nowhere. But the thing that really pissed me off is that Adama told Lee it was his rescue mission to run and as soon as Lee made a decision that Adama disagreed with, he rescinded Lee’s order and issued his own. He might as well have asked for a knife and taken Lee’s balls right there. Once again we get to see Lee proven wrong and Adama be the hero. If only it ended there. After they restore communications and they come to realize someone has to stay behind to detonate the nuke manually, suddenly, we get “This is your team son, you make the call.” WHAT?! I can see we’ll be going into Season 4 with Adama still being on my s*** list.
One other thing of note in regards to Lee and Kara, after having put Kara in a position to be killed, I have to wonder if it was, in part, a reason for wanting to stick so close to her in ‘Maelstrom’? It was obvious in that episode that he was trying to protect her as best he could and given his inability to shake off feelings of guilt, responsibility and failure I have to believe he was trying to atone in some way for his actions in here.
As for the prophecy about Kara, little miss “harbinger of death”…Eh. I’m not quite buying it. If not for communications being blocked, supposedly by the Cylons, I’d say it was a clear set-up. Since I have to rule that out, I just believe there is much more to the prophecy. After all, if she was going to lead the human race to their doom, why would the hybrid warn the human race of that? While some Cylons have had a change of heart about humanity, this is The First Hybrid and he hasn’t, to our knowledge, been influenced by outside forces.
Now for some random points:
• I found the intro very odd. If I didn’t know what I was watching I might have thought I had just tuned into a Lifetime film on cutting.
• Kendra seeing Pegasus for the first time reminded me of many an opening shot of the Enterprise in the various Star Trek series and films. Ron’s resume is showing. ;) I also thought the scene where Kendra shoots her own man out of mercy was a take on Picard shooting one of his crewmen before he could become a Borg in First Contact.
• Steve Bacic is apparently as good as his material because he wasn’t bad here.
• The effects were awesome and the scene in which we go inside the old Cylon fighter and hear the pilot say, “By you command”, actually gave me a chill.
• The flashback with Adama was well integrated. I liked how they depicted him as terrified after experiencing shared memories with the hybrid. It seemed a very Lee-like reaction. And with this new bit of history revealed we now can see why, in the mini, he knew Cylons have the ability to look like us.
• Lee and Laura were in a room together! They spoke! Hey, I have to take what I can get. ;)