(Mild spoilers for the first two episodes of season 3 of SciFi's "Battlestar Galactica" ahead. . . .)
At this point, I think it's a fair question to ask whether "Battlestar Galactica" is must-see TV for anyone interested in national security law. Yes, it is just a TV show, and it's "science-fiction." Yet, just as literature can inform the world of legal academics (hence, the existence of law and literature courses), so too can a different medium such as TV.
But why "Battlestar Galactica"? Interestingly, during the summer at the SEALs conference, co-blogger Bobby and I had a discussion about the show wherein Bobby accurately predicted that season 3 would present a situation that looked like Iraq today, with a militarily superior occupying force oppressing a conquered people, members of whom become insurgents and resort to sneak attacks, suicide bombings, and assaults against collaborators. Sounds familiar?
Only, imagine that the insurgents are the humans, and the occupiers are the enemy Cylons.
Done exploitatively, such a set-up could quickly devolve into thinly-veiled partisan demagoguery, either in favor of or against the Bush Administration. And if that's how the show had proceeded, I would not be wondering if it's must see national security TV. Instead, the first two episodes show that the humans struggle with the idea of sending suicide bombers to attack dual-use military/civilian areas, especially ones where humans may be killed. The insurgent leader's efforts to rationalize the practice as the same as sending a soldier on a one-way mission do not convinced the others as to the correctness of his decision. I found that exchange especially thought-provoking, because it is all too easy to fall into an "us" vs "them" mentality that overlooks the fact that even amongst the enemy, there may be differences of opinion. (This point is reinforced in Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower, which reports that even some top Al Qaeda leaders argued against directly attacking the United States pre-9/11.) Similarly, even among the Cylons, there is a division of thought about the best way to put down the insurgents, with the more militant Cylons arguing for round-ups and mass executions.
Okay, some more specific thoughts about the shows:
- Kara Thrace (Starbuck) has been detained by Leoben for 4 months in an apartment with the creepy goal of making her fall in love with him, and she's only killed him 5 times? (For those who don't watch the show regularly, the humanoid Cylons -- Spylons, as they're sometimes called by viewers -- can't be killed permanently, because their consciousness gets transferred into a new body.) I'd think that she would've killed him 5 times the first day alone. . . .
- Is Kara just pretending to care about her purported daughter Casey? If not, her sudden affection seems way too quick to be believable.
- Lee Adama (Apollo) sure has been eating well during the past 16 months. But how does the fleet have enough food to go around that he's able to get seconds, thirds, and fourths (from the look of it)?
- Ellen Tigh uses sex to get her husband (Col. Tigh) out of detention. Um, I guess that's what Tigh would want. I mean, considering that the Cylons ripped one of his eyes out. . . .
- The mass execution scene where Laura Roslin, Tom Zarek, and other insurgents are let out of the van to stretch, only to have a wave of Cylon toasters (apparently) gun them down was straight out of "The Great Escape." Yet, the previews for next week show Laura Roslin. A flashback? Or did she survive?
- I really liked the look on the two other Number Six's faces when Doral shot the Six that was protecting President Baltar. It was a mix of curiosity and satisfaction.