Saturday, December 13, 2008

Generational Inversions in Battlestar Galactica (Season 4.5)

In her perceptive introduction to the Battlestar Galactica issue on Flow TV, Lynne Joyrich notes that the central problem on BG is the problem of reproduction: of humans, cyborgs and hybrids (not to mention the reproduction of violence and the reproduction of the earlier television series itself!) In the mid-season finale of season four, “Revelations,” the standard generational relationship of reproductive sequencing (always ambiguous in the show) is dramatically inverted. Admiral Adama’s son Apollo is temporarily elevated to the presidency and is for a time his father's superior. As Apollo awaits word of whether his father alive is dead, Kara tells him what the Admiral once told her, “Children are born to replace their parents; for children to reach their full potential, their parents have to die “ The admiral returns from seeming death, only to break down upon learning of his Executive Officer’s betrayal. Apollo plays the parental role and comforts him. The Admiral does return, more or less, to full patriarchal confident status by the end of the episode. But, we are left wondering, to what end? The goal of the entire series narrative, reaching Earth seems to be achieved, but Earth, if it is indeed Earth, is a desolate post-apocalyptic, radioactive wasteland. Unclear as of yet if this is set in “our” ancient past or distant future. As the thirteenth colony, Earth could be thought of as the offspring of the twelve colonies. Yet in another respect, Earth could also be conceived as the parent of all humanity; does the parental planet thus have to die, in order for humanity (and its Cylon brood) to reach their full potential?

1 comment:

Ellen Schattschneider said...

Yes, in many respects BG is the ultimate Oedipal drama. The Cylons destroy their human parents. The monotheistic worshippers of the single God seek to abolish the prior reign of the multiple gods. Apollo and Kara, as the biological and symbolic of the patriarchal Captain/Admiral Adama (a name that signals his status as First Man) struggle against the Law of the Father, even as they long for his love and acceptance, seeking to identify fully with the patriarch. Now, at the end of season 4.5, must the ultimate parent, Earth itself, be destroyed?