NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Three: “The Resistance”

If this keeps up, we’ll have nothing but rocks left to throw at the bastards.

Air Date: 05/09/2006 – 05/10/2006

Director: Wayne Rose

Writers: David Weddle & Bradley Thompson

Synopsis: Under the Cylon occupation, the Resistance movement on New Caprica struggles to stay afloat. In the aftermath of a massacre, Jammer undergoes a crisis of conscience while ex-Viper pilot Duck is forced to contemplate his future.

Review

These “webisodes”, ten in total, were released in batches in the weeks leading up to the start of Season Three, and so can safely be slotted in with that larger narrative in this review series. They are clipped and more than a little cheap-looking, with cutting-room floor material that isn’t up to the highest of standards. It’s hard to find even good quality screenshots of them. But they do tell their own story that is worth consideration, and in so doing give us a really cleverly accomplished insight into two characters who could be really throwaway archetypes otherwise.

Perhaps more importantly, they give us a look at Cylon occupied New Caprica. I’m going to get into the real-world political sub-text in the next entry, but for now it is enough to see the situation on the planet as insurgency and counter-insurgency in a nutshell. The human Resistance, unable to attack the Cylons conventionally, attempts to actively provoke outrage by goading their enemies into killing innocent people, knowing it’s the best way to increase recruitment to what must seem like a hopeless cause. On the other hand, the Cylons try and get as many of the occupied onside as they can through positive engagements – farms, human police forces, respecting Colonial religion – while trying to break off and turn those portions of the Resistance that they can break off and turn. To use the old cliche, it’s a battle for hearts and minds, with “The Resistance” boiling down that battleground to two people in particular.

Jammer is a very interesting case. He’s a guy that has been painted in negative terms in his few appearances thus far, like in his callous comments to Cally in “Resistance” or his fear-mongering ever further back in “Litmus”, but gets a lot more here. In a story about ending up in a 180 from where you started, we see him move from being a committed Resistance member to being a turncoat, and I think “The Resistance” does a very good job of making that transition work. In many ways it’s about Jammer finding reasons to become a collaborator, unhappy as he is with the way that the Resistance is doing things. There are religious reasons, with Tigh hiding guns on sacred ground and basically laughing off any objections, and there is the desire to have a cause that perhaps doesn’t result in any bloodshed. The latter is essentially what Doral pitches to Jammer during his detention, and it’s a seductive argument: we can build something together, in comparison to men like Tigh who want to watch it all burn.

“James” may be a weak individual in many ways, too mixed up by what Tigh is doing to see through Doral’s manipulation, but I do find him sympathetic. Tigh’s open desire to provoke outrage, whatever the cost, is understandable from a detached perspective – it’s been the playbook for successful insurgencies for literally millennia – but when the people doing the dying, unwillingly, are close to you then it becomes something monstrous and hard to accept. Presented with a different path, one pitched as a braver, more constructive way of doing things – “Growing things instead of killing each other” – Jammer is tempted and we can understand why. “The Resistance” essentially asks the audience to ponder “what would you do?” and the answers may be uncomfortable. They certainly will be for Jammer.

Duck, on the other hand, is a man who starts the story wanting nothing to do with the Resistance movement, and ends up buried in it further than anyone else, arguably. He’s the picture perfect representation of the insurgent who was pushed into the role not by his own willingness or devout political opinions, but because the enemy inadvertently made him an insurgent. Duck may not have had much at the beginning of “The Resistance”, but he had a home, a wife and the possibility of a family. The Cylons take away two of those things, and Duck himself wrecks the other in the aftermath. In trying to pick up the broken pieces, he seems to come to the conclusion that he has nothing left to live for in that tent.

He starts off the whole thing with something approximating a “live and let live” philosophy when it comes to the Cylons but once Nora is taken from him, all Duck has left is getting something approaching payback. Nora was his reason for being, but now getting back at the people who killed her is that reason. He may not even realise it fully just yet, but he’s becoming the perfect candidate for the kind of extreme tactics Tigh is going to employ going forward. Herein lies the danger for many an occupying force: every moment of hard power employed has the potential to create more enemies than you can ever eliminate, no matter how many people like Jammer you are able to turn.

Lastly one has to note Tigh a little bit. The man we saw at the conclusion of “Lay Down Your Burdens (Part Two)” seemed almost, to a degree anyway, carefree, leaving behind the military to start a life on the surface with his wife. Two months later, it seems Tigh is harder than ever, happy to see Colonials die if it means the cause of the Resistance is advanced, and treating any dissent from that course with contempt. What’s happened, beyond the obvious? One thing may be the unnoted absence of Ellen, though that might be more of a production cost issue than anything else. Delving deeper into the man Tigh is, and the reasons why he is leading the Resistance the way he is, will be one of the key questions as we go into Season Three proper.

Notes

-There were some significant industrial relations issues surrounding these shorts, as NBC tried to get out of paying anyone for them on the grounds that, as online content, they were promotional material and not subject to the WGA contract. There was never any satisfactory resolution to the issue, and a year later BSG staff would be among those involved in the 2007 writers strike.

-It has been 67 days since the Cylons arrived on New Caprica, which is apparently enough to have built a prison and gotten some farms producing fruit.

-The existence of the detention centre – “First thing they do is build a jail” as the Resistance members say – would certainly seem to indicate that the Cylon presence is not meant to be benign.

-The poster for the “New Caprica Police” urges people to “become part of the solution”, and promises an immediate opportunity for some Quizling narratives.

-One of the things that “The Resistance” is keen to point out is how life goes on, despite the abnormal circumstances: people do their jobs, babies are born, couples get married. This isn’t a Star Wars-esque band of plucky fighters making a big splash, it’s a crushed human race where many people just want to make the best of it.

-Case in point, Duck tells Tyrol and Jammer that he has “other plans” when it comes to fighting the Cylons. In many ways that’s the biggest enemy the Resistance faces, the idea that people will come to accept the occupation as just a fact of life.

-Tigh has little time for Jammer’s religious scruples when it comes to hiding guns in a temple: “Say a prayer, ask the Gods to forgive us”.

-Nora prays to Aphrodite to help her efforts to conceive a child which fits to an extent, but it is my understanding that Hera would generally have been the more common Goddess to pray to for that purpose in the ancient world.

-The Cylons deploy overwhelming force on the streets in the form of Centurions, meaning that unconventional tactics are the Resistance’s only play. From that perspective what Tigh is doing is more understandable.

-Cally notes that Tyrol is undergoing his own “crisis of faith” and “finding out Brother Cavil was a Cylon didn’t help”. I suppose that would stick with you.

-Considering the subtext of the larger narrative, rather interesting that the Centurions attacking the temple are called “infidels” by an angry bystander.

-Tigh is blunt about the temple shooting and his own opinion: “I never dreamed we get this lucky”.

-It’s real “good cop” stuff from Doral as he conjures up a vision of Jammer, with a wife and kids, making good in a human/Cylon utopia of progress.

-Doral is, I think, the blandest of the Cylon models, and this sequence is probably Matthew Bennett’s best moment in the entire run. He really brings that sense of manipulation and unspoken threat.

-The screw gets turned nicely when Doral makes the unsubtle insinuation that Tigh leaked the location of the weapons just so the Cylons would attack the place, which might well be true: “Some people are afraid of peace”.

-The juice, what a nice prop for Doral to use. A physical manifestation of what Cylons and humans can accomplish together, it’s just the tool to make his point to someone like Jammer.

-Tyrol knew Jammer was getting out because “Boomer told me”. What’s the nature of their relationship now, and how trustworthy is Boomer’s help?

-Colonial baptism is called “dedication”, and seems a fairly simple ceremony, though that might just be because of the basic surrounds of the new “temple”.

-It appears as if Tigh’s blase attitude towards hiding explosives next to a hospital is the last straw for Jammer. Tigh demonstrates some poor leaderships in some respects in “The Resistance”, and getting subordinates onside is something he can’t do effectively. “Resistance” wasn’t that long ago.

-Jammer and Duck are left sitting next each other, having both turned completely around from where they were at the start. That was a cool image, a final exclamation point to the lessons on life under occupation presented here.

-I do love the final interaction between Jammer and Duck, on Duck’s smoking, before the two depart on very different paths. “Thought you quit?” “What fraking difference does it make now?”

-Other potential plot threads that were considered for this project were looks at Cottle, Gaeta and more on the Tyrol home life. In the end none of that was strictly necessary, and I actually appreciate the smaller focus “The Resistance” has.

Overall Verdict: “The Resistance” is an interesting 30 minute addition to the BSG canon, that manages to take many of the ideas and themes that will be present in the following four episodes and create two very well-executed character studies out of them. It’s not essential watching by any means, but it is far from dismissable promotion, and for Matthew Bennett, Dominic Zamprogna and Christian Tessier it probably constitutes their best contribution to the overall series.

To read more entries in this series, click here to go the index.

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4 Responses to NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Three: “The Resistance”

  1. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Index | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Three: “Occupation” | Never Felt Better

  3. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Three: “Precipice” | Never Felt Better

  4. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Three: “Collaborators” | Never Felt Better

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