Battlestar Galactica Revisited: 2.03 Fragged
Ronald D Moore's re imagining of the 1970's sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica set a gold standard, both for sci-fi and TV reboots. The darker, grittier re imagining, that saw a fleet of human ships fleeing the dreaded Cylons in search of Earth, won a whole host of awards and critical acclaims over its seven-year run. With the series looking to go through another quasi-reboot under show runner Michael Lesslie, we look back at the first reboot that defined the early days of twenty-first century television. We look at season two's Fragged next, as the fleet's civil war continues...
The long-running arc that began with season one's Kobol's Last Gleaming takes same surprising steps forward. The survivors on Kobol are finally rescued after a trial by fire against Cylon forces, but there is little resolution as Tigh faces off against the Quorum of Twelve, manipulated at every step by his Lady Macbethian wife Ellen Tigh. Its almost inevitable when he executes Marshal law, dissolving the democratic government and putting himself as the figurehead of the fleet. Tigh is completely out of his depth and the only way to obtain order is in the most brutal way possible.
Once again, Michael Hogan does much of the heavy lifting this episode. If his actions weren't so utterly destructive, you would almost feel sorry for the man; his only comfort is the hip flash he constantly keep hidden and a wife who indulges his darkest impulses. He has seemingly forgotten about the stranded crew on Kobol; whether it is the result of drink or despair - or both - is never really defined. But he can barely keep up with the running of the ship, let alone the Cylons, a hungry press and a government making heavy demands of him.
Roslin really takes an interesting step in her journey this episode. Suffering from the Kamala Extract withdrawal, Ellen finds her delirious and disorientated, the perfect broken woman for Tigh to parade in front of the Quorum. But Roslin's faith is what gives her the edge; with a Geminon guard, Corporal Venner, ready to believe in the prophecies about the dying leader. Obtaining Kamala Extract for her, Tigh's plans to parade a crazed president before the Quorum comes crashing down spectacularly as she appears to the government leaders rationally and calmly. Opening up to the government that she is dying of cancer is a bold move, one that works in her favour as they embrace the prophecies around the dying leader too. The religious aspects of the show are stronger than ever in this episode, a force that Tigh is hopeless to stand against. It's what makes his decision to force marshal law all the more maddening.
Counterbalanced against the events of Galactica is the race to stop the Cylons on Kobol. There is plenty of tension here, particularly the zealous demands of Crashdown, that have been a strong presence in this early episodes. Six's talk of betrayal comes in the most unexpected way as Sam Witwer makes a shocking departure from the show. Gaius murdering Crashdown is a jaw dropping moment, that plays into Six's talk of humanity's penchant for violence. Gaius, it seems, it made more human by his decision to kill than any of his scientific or cultural achievements. Six appointing herself as his conscious is a delightfully twisted notion.
The final assault against the Cylons is nail biting stuff, with almost every character shot at least once as they face insurmountable odds. The arrival of Apollo and the raptors is equally as tense, with the audience's knowledge of the Cylon anti-aircraft missiles on the planet's surface. There is a moment where it seems as if Chief Tyrol is about to go out in a blaze of glory, facing off against three Cylons, before Apollo's raptor arrives to save the say at the last possible moment.
Fragged is another strong episode, with plenty more twists and turns and some truly tense, nail-biting action on Kobol. Tigh's descent into drunken despair and dictatorship is just as riveting; Michael Hogan delivers a nuanced, sympathetic performance at times that prevents him from ever playing too much as a villain, even if his actions by the episode's end, are deplorable. Three episodes in, season two shows no signs of letting up. Even Doc Cottle's assertion that Adama will live does little to quell the spiralling events taking place within the fleet. There's still a long road yet before the fleet continues on with its journey.