NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Extended)

Helena!

Air Date: NA

Director: Felix Enriquez Alcala

Writer: Michael Taylor

Synopsis: As the Fleet reckons with the Cylon Guardians, Adama remembers more of his experience at the end of the last war. Kendra Shaw considers her time under the command of Admiral Cain, a woman with her own dark secrets in her past.

Review

The extended version of Razor adds an additional 20 minutes. Most of it is the bulk of the Razor Flashbacks, but there is other stuff also, and enough that the cut is worthy of its own attention. The last extended episode we watched, “Unfinished Business”, was a really good piece of work, but unfortunately the same edition of Razor isn’t able claim a similar level of quality.

The main character of the exercise, Kendra Shaw, gets two additional scenes of significance, one in her own flashbacks and one in the “present”. The first, set just before she makes it to Pegasus, depicts a woman with a haughty air and an arrogant expectation that her assignment under Cain will be a just a step on the road to greater things, which sort of leads into Cain’s initial comments towards her. It works, but is maybe a bit too blunt in outlining Shaw’s pre-war opinions.

The “present” is an additional scene with Starbuck ahead of the SAR mission, where the two go back and forth on the nature of fear and anger. Shaw has learned from Cain that one must cast away fear, and emotion entirely really, if they are to get a mission completed, while Thrace learned from her mother that anger should be embraced as the best means of keeping you alive. But Starbuck, probably as a result of what we saw in “Maelstrom” has little time for her mother’s philosophy, suggesting that one needs to let go of both things: fear to get the mission done, and anger to avoid “dying alone”. The scene is good for the way it ties into the late stage of Season Three, and in how Shaw has little to say in response to someone actually countering the teachings of Cain.

Probably the most important “new” material are the Cain flashbacks, which depict her experience of the last day of the Cylon War. There, she abandoned her younger sister to an unknown fate in order to save her own skin. This I really liked as a wrinkle, as it backs up much we know or can assume about the Cain character. We know she’s ruthless, and we see an origin point for that here. We know she has a thing for fighting for its own sake, and we see that here, when she confronts a Centurion with just a knife. We know she has very little compunction about leaving people behind, and from an early age. And, most importantly of all, we know that in her heart of hearts that Cain has a cowardly streak, and we see that here too. She cuts and runs from the Scorpion Shipyards, and then takes an easier course in fighting the Cylons with no end result, she abuses her power with her underlings and her prisoners. And all of these negative qualities can be seen in that moment when she leaves her crying younger sister to her fate, prioritises her own survival and then later excuses it as a simple case of leaving behind dead weight. Now this is additional material I can get behind,

The Razor Flashbacks – namely episodes three, four, five, six and most of seven – form the other big part of the extended material. I’ve said my piece on the Flashbacks already so I won’t belabour the point too much, only to say that watching them in this context I veered from one opinion to the other: at first I thought they constituted a pretty well-placed action beat in the story, but by the time we got to the end I realised they were a fairly lengthy interjection in the story, that doesn’t quite fit. The larger Razor project doesn’t really know quite what to do with the Flashbacks really, which is why for me they almost feel like their own episode that got trimmed down to be included here.

The last major addition to the episode is a speech given to the Guardian Hybrid as the SAR team breaches his ship. It amounts to paragraph of prophecy, that touches on New Caprica, the coming Cylon Civil War, the revelation of the Final Five, Starbuck’s death/resurrection and the discovery of Earth. There are pros and cons to the speech – it certainly adds to the aura of this Hybrid, but is a bit clumsy as a tool of prophecy in comparisons to some of the other Hyrbid utterances – and in the end can be deemed the kind of material that fits better into an extended cut.

But does the overall episode work better than that which was presented on TV? To a certain extent, yes it does. The Cain flashbacks certainly help the story, and some additional things, like a smoothing of the act transitions since commercial breaks are no longer an issue, are also evident. But the Razor Flashbacks, as stated, drag things down again, the way the flashbacks are handled can be muddy (Cain’s is a personal flashback inside the flashback of another character) and much of the new material is loaded into the second half of the production, so that the first half is largely as it was. I wouldn’t say there is anything in the extended edition that I would call extremely relevant or vital, just more curious: as an extended edition, Razor doesn’t stand on the same level as the extended editions of “Pegasus” and “Unfinished Business”.

I figure I should be able to call my own shots.

Notes

-“Transfer station” is what we call the bright little waiting area on Caprica, and it is a very basic set. It looks like it was put together in 10 minutes.

-There’s a deleted scene for this section where it turns out Apollo was in the station the same time Shaw was, on his way to Galactica for the events of the Miniseries. He chats with the same orderly about his own military career, which he plans to take in a very different direction.

-Shaw insists she only needs to “babysit” Admiral Cain for a bit, and the way Cain sort of uses similar language later is almost an indication that she has spies on Caprica. Or maybe she’s just good at reading people.

-There’s a brief flash to Cain’s memories as she talks to Belsen, which sets up the later expanded version, which I quite liked. She thinks about her sister as it’s pointed out she has little to visit in terms of friends and family, and that’s a nice touch.

-Just to note as it struck me here, Razor is really the first time Lt Hoshi, played by Brad Dryborough, gets any significant screentime.

-A small addition in the aftermath of the Scorpion Shipyards attack, as Cain tells a dishevelled looking Shaw to “button up”. It makes her look like more of a hardass.

-The execution of Belsen now comes with a very garish blood spurt onto the glass behind him, which I do appreciate to maximise the horror.

-Baltar and Head Six actually get a scene here as the Guardian Raider is examined, but it is fairly superfluous, more a reminder that they are around.

-It does include some nice sexy talk though, as Six outlines that the Cylons pursued a human form “to better appreciate his creation in all its glory”. Baltar is into the glory part.

-Where Adama says “This frakker’s mine” in the web-released version of the Flashbacks, here it is the much more vulgar “This cocksuckers mine”.

-As seen in the Flashbacks themselves, Adama’s vision of the Hybrid’s victims includes more blood and more horror.

-Starbuck notes that her mother fought on Tauron during the Cylon War, but what she described in “Maelstrom” – jungle fighting essentially – doesn’t match this. Then again its a planet, and this isn’t Star Trek, it can have different ecological areas.

-Like the use of the dirt cannons in Cain’s memories of Tauron, it’s a very simple but good technique to give a sense of chaos.

-If Razor is a story about choices, then Cain faces a very big one when left with the option to run or protect her sister. The person she is later is the person who ran.

-The “old” Centurions really are Terminators in this depiction. It’s a far cry from the running joke they were in the 1970’s.

-The actual razor that Cain hands off to Shaw gets an origin story here, as the pathetic little blade she was willing to use on the towering Centurion. A magic totem if ever there was one.

-The implication here seems to be that Cain’s sister has been abducted, possibly by the Guardian Hybrid? Nothing ever comes of it though.

-There is an odd removal here, as the shot where Starbuck smiles at Shaw at the end of their scene in the mess has been cut. Not sure why.

-Starbuck calls her mother a “Sgt Major”, which doesn’t match the record we saw in “Maelstrom”. She might not mean it literally though.

-Shaw tries to impart some of Admiral Cain’s knowledge, but it doesn’t land. Her delivery isn’t really that good, she’s just not as effective at it as Cain was.

-A few nods to “Maelstrom” here, as Starbuck discusses her relationship with her mother, and her lonely death.

-Is Starbuck’s line that she loves it when “a plan comes together” a nod to The A-Team, where original Starbuck Dirk Benedict was a main character (but not the holder of that catchphrase)?

-“Denial of the one true path on a planet not their own” is a reference to the New Caprica arc of course, which begs the question as to whether the sojourn there was actually part of the Cycle, and not an aberration from it as Roslin implied.

-The comments on “Four glorious in awakening and “he will find her” is obviously a nod to the conclusion of “Crossroads (Part Two)”.

-The Hybrid’s comments on “the one splintering into the many” is presumably a nod to the coming Cylon Civil War, and I suppose constitutes the biggest tease for Season Four.

-“The fifth” will be our last Cylon of course, but no details here other than they will be “hungering for redemption”. Could be anyone really.

-“Seven, now six” is a reference to the boxing of the Biers model you would presume.

-Both Cylon and human will seemingly be “enemies brought together by impossible longing” as they strive for “The promised land”: that has to be Earth, and this line certainly seems to give away key plot aspects of Season Four.

-The last change is the credits, which gets some unique music from Bear McCreary – whose larger score for Razor has never been commercially released – and a treadmill sequence of names and jobs.

-There’s a deleted scene whose area of inclusion I’m not sure about, where Apollo and Starbuck discuss the destruction of the Olympic Carrier in “33”, with Apollo thinking there might have been people aboard, and Thrace advising him to move past it. Not really sure what it would have added.

Overall Verdict: It’s OK. That’s pretty much as much as I can say about the entire Razor idea really, with the extended edition of the film just additional filler to a project that was filler from the moment it was envisioned. The Cain stuff, the Hybrid speech, a few effects here and there, those are worth it, but the inclusion of the Adama flashbacks are less so. Razor just isn’t sure what it wants to be, and decides to indulge itself in several ideas at once. That bodes somewhat poorly for what’s to come in Season Four. See you there in two weeks.

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

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1 Response to NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Razor (Extended)

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

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