Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Weekend of DEATH!

Ok, so I’m relaxing on Saturday night, catching up with some episodes of my favorites shows (That would be Torchwood and Battlestar Galactica for those of you who haven’t been paying attention) when I realize that someone appointed this the weekend of mass slaughter in American Sci-fi television. Yes, I know Torchwood is British but it was on BBC America, so I’m still counting it.
So, first Torchwood. Ihave to say, after the flashback episode, I saw this one coming. I knew people were going to die, and at the moment Jack’s lost brother Grey showed up I knew he would be evil. Not that they teased that much. The who reunion went hug-stabby-stabby. So, you know, evil from the start.

But why did it have to be Tosh? Watching her pull herself down into the medlab and administer a painkiller even though she knew she was a goner, just so she’d be cogent enough to talk Owen through shutting down the reactor, in hopes of saving his life … way to go, Tosh. Owen was not worthy of you. Owen’s own death … well, he’d died already and I’ve never really liked the character, but I did get a little lump in my throat during that last conversation, when he’s raging against death and Tosh asks him to stop because he was breaking her heart. Made more poignant by the fact that Tosh never told him she was dying too. And they did find the one way of killing Owen that would actually work, being dissolved in radioactive goo. (side note: would this work on Jack too, or would he still be alive even though he was in molecular-dispersal form). Can’t say I’m not really sorry to see Owen go (sorry, Burn Gorman, but you just never rang true for me in a rare case of me liking the writing but not the performance. See also: Tracy Scoggins in Babylon 5), but Tosh’s exit really hurt. It was made even more bittersweet by the attempted palliative of her last message, found by the surviving members of the team as they cleaned up her station. “It’s all right.”

And so from there I went to Battlestar Galactica. Now, this is not a show you go to when you want to feel good about life. This episode, though … Oh my holy frakking god.

We knew it was going to go bad when Cally found out her husband, chief Tyrol, was a cylon. This is the girl who shot Boomer, remember. And her conflicted, victim-abuser relationship with the chief would come into play in some sickening ways. So, when she found out and went totally bugshit crazy, it made sense, especially since we’d spent a lot of the episode dealing with her already burgeoning stress-induced breakdown. This quite rightfully tipped her over the edge.
Now, Cally’s been one of those important characters that haven’t necessarily had starring roles on the series. She bit the ear off a revolutionairy on the prison ship when he tried to rape her. She got trapped on Kobol with Hotshot, where she was the first to use the term “Motherfrakker,” which was since become a show staple. She was beaten by Tyrol when he was going crazy after finding out his last girlfriend was a cylon. She later married Tyrol and moved with him to New Caprica, whereupon it was her arrest and planned execution that drove a lot of the plot.

And now this. She knocks Tyrol unconscious, takes her baby, and goes to the airlock. At this point I was prepared for that. The direction of these scenes really showed us how Cally’s world had shrunk to encompass only that which she could experience inside her own head. Her husband is a cyclon. That means her baby is a cylon. Her world is over.

She sets the airlock so that it will space both her and little Nicky, who is of course, crying his little curly head off.

This was going to be brutal. And usually I would turn off a show that did something like this and never watch again (I have a thing about little kids dying because of my own family’s history. It’s why I can’t watch a lot of horror. Yes, I know about the Mist and will never forgive Stephen King) but this show earned it. It was supposed to be brutal.

And then Tory shows up, talks Cally down, takes the baby.

Throws Cally across the airlock and spaces her, while the confused child watches. We see Cally’s astounded, frozen face, as she floats away in the dark.

It could have been so much worse, but … whoa.

This is the first time that we have seen one of the final five cylons, those who are fundamentally different than the rest, do something despicable. But even so … Cally had just tried to murder her own child. And Tory is afraid of being exposed. So, there’s the argument that this was a strange kind of self-defense. Well, I could make that argument if Tory had not done it so coolly, so dispassionately. So, probably not self defense.

And since I brought up the women if refrigerators concept in the post about Bonnie Richmond, I should mention it here. Yes, we have two dead women. But for it to be a true fridging, two factors must be in evidence. The characters cannot die heroically. And they must be killed as part of someone else’s storyline, not in a culmination of their own. It helps if they’re killed by men, but that’s not necessary.

Tosh dies a hero. No question. She saves the world. She tries to save the man she loves (but does not deserve her!). So, no fridging here.

Cally … she’s not a hero, she is definitely a victim. But while she is reacting to events in her husband’s story, this is very much a part of her own. Cally has always struggled with living in this new world. This … this is Cally’s story, this is Cally’s end, not just an adjunct to Tyrol’s. So … no fridging here either.

But this was definitely the weekend of death. I have not watched the new Doctor Who yet, so please … no one tell me Martha got blasted into the sun or something (I know it’s impossible, since she was on Torchwood already). Still, at this rate, I’m expecting the Coen brothers to guest-direct a very special episode of 30 Rock where Kenneth the page is put through a wood chipper. Actually, if any show could pull that off, it would probably be 30 Rock. And Kenneth would probably survive it by the force of his sheer, plucky optimism.

Carry on ….

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