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TV Review: Battlestar Galactica Razor

Battlestar Galactica Razor

Creator: Ronald D. Moore

Starring: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, Katee Sackhoff, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Michael Hogan, Aaron Douglas, Tahmoh Penikett, Michael Trucco, Alessandro Juliani, Kandyse McClure, Michelle Forbes, Graham Beckel, Stephanie Jacobsen, Nico Cortez, Matthew Bennett, Steve Bacic

Premieres: Saturday, November 24th at 9pm on Sci-Fi

A note about spoilers. While we love that we’ve seen “Razor” and want nothing more than to share our elation with you, we also respect the story that is being told here. There are some spoilers out on the tubes that we feel are a detriment to your experience in watching “Razor,” and as such we have chosen to not include them in this review. Of course, being a review there are minor spoilers in the text that follows. Read on with the knowledge you are safe from having the episode ruined, but with the warning that some things may be revealed you had no idea of. Like Admiral Adama actually being a failed ventriloquist.

A warrior in battle has to put aside fear, doubt, and any human emotion that could lead to monumental loss on the field. Only when the warrior is able to do this will they become the ultimate wartime weapon, a Razor. And only through the actions of a Razor can there be hope to return to a life as human. The edge of a Razor cuts not only the enemy, but can slash through the warrior’s soul. “Razor,” the telemovie set to bring us into the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica, is the story of one warrior’s transformation into a Razor, and ultimately her redemption.

As a fellow fan of the show, dear reader, you are most assuredly aware that beyond the central spoilery plot points of this movie there is a wealth of story behind the actions of each person aboard Pegasus. So it is here that I inform you we will not be taking an in-depth look at every moment as we normally would in a BSG review. Instead let’s just bask in the glow that is a new story in the best universe currently on television.

After the death of Admiral Helena Cain, Lee Adama takes on the task of commanding Pegasus. A role that many of the ship’s crew believes was a gift from daddy. Among that crew is a young Lieutenant who has proven herself reckless and insubordinate under the previous two commanders who failed where Cain so often succeeded. Kendra Shaw is the living legacy of Admiral Cain, a young woman who came to Pegasus 10 months prior just as the second Cylon war began. Under Cain’s careful tutelage Kendra became the epitome of a Razor.

Let’s talk of the Admiral for a moment, because there are some humanizing events in “Razor” that shine a light on the woman rather than the military leader. Our first glimpse of Helena and Kendra together has the Admiral doing the unthinkable, pulling a bit of a prank as she berates the new recruit. Of course, the underlying message of not being late is still an important one. But it’s nice to know that Admiral Cain was at one time capable of a minor practical joke. It’s following this meeting the Cylons begin their attack.

“Razor” has much in common with the mini-series that started this whole show off a few years ago, and there’s an element of seeing the same thing from a whole new perspective during the flashback scenes. The destruction of the Colonies hits the crew of Pegasus hard, and as Adama did many FTL jumps away, Admiral Cain rallies her people with the passion only a seasoned leader can conjure up. So say we all.

What we see as the war begins is the final transformation of Admiral Cain into the Razor that is always waiting for battle to begin again. While there is a wonderful subplot involving Gina/Pegasix, which reveals why the atrocities visited upon the Cylon model were allowed, those actions were preceded by an absolute need for anyone under Cain’s command to obey orders. This is shown with the termination of her first XO, and Col. Fisk’s immediate compliance with orders when he assumes the responsibilities. As Kendra would tell Kara 10 months later, “You don’t disobey orders on this ship.”

It can certainly be argued that Admiral Cain was doing what had to be done. Even Bill Adama tells Lee later that he can’t fault Cain for any tactical maneuvers made by Pegasus under her command. But when emotions get the better of any warrior, the Razor can be turned on those it intended to protect. If you remember way back when, Col Fisk sat with Col Tigh to have a drink and confess about a slaughter of civilians he was a part of. It was during this atrocity that Cain lost control and cleaved out her own soul, and Kendra was forged as the legacy of the Admiral who relinquished control of her own power. The murder of the civilians impressed Cain, because it showed that Kendra was able to make the hard decisions so that later a normal life could become possible.

Ultimately that is what “Razor” is about, but there’s another plot that involves a young William Adama and the results of what he found out 40 years ago in the first Cylon war. Sadly, this whole plot is slightly integral to the overarching plot of BSG and I will not detail it here. I could write the words, quote the revelatory lines in the last 10 minutes of “Razor,” and spoil things for you. Perhaps you would forgive me for that, but if you’re a fan of the series then you’ll be grateful to watch this story unfold without the knowledge of what’s to come. And yes, the revelation at the end is a mega-ton. Imagine the finale of season 3, but tone down the “HOLY SHIT” just a little bit. That’s what happens at the end of “Razor.”

I am, however, comfortable talking about some of the random cool bits in this storyline. You will soon be seeing in the minisodes that air on Friday’s on Sci-Fi a glimpse of the original Centurian Cylon models, which look like a refined version of those used in the classic 70’s series of BSG. In fact, those minisodes are a wonderful look at the last battle of William Adama during the first Cylon war. What he finds on the planet comes back in “Razor” as the central mission that Kendra and Kara must complete. A mission that ends with Kendra’s redemption as she makes one last attempt to atone for her wrongs aboard the civilian ship where so many needlessly lost their lives.

As cool as the Cylon Raiders are, the old school Cylon ships are perhaps a little more badass. For one thing, they are actually piloted by Centurians as the organic processing of the Cylon race had only just begun. These last remnants of the old Cylon order were left out in space to protect an artifact that is important to their species. An artifact that has information that is vital to the survival of mankind.

“Razor” begins slowly, but soon builds up and pounds you with nearly non-stop action and excitement for a solid hour. Aside from last season’s premiere, this is the largest cavalcade of battles we’ve seen in BSG for a long while. It’s a welcome change for those who felt the mid-end of season 3 plodded along just a bit too much. Have no fear, there is a lot of action in “Razor,” and it will hold you until the very end. Ronald Moore and the crew working on the show have not lost their touch with brilliant storytelling weaved into a battle heavy showpiece. In fact, you could say that the writer and director of “Razor” found the magic that still leaves season one as the best in the shows history.

Steve West

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.