BSG: Blood & Chrome (Ep. 5-8)

bsg-blood-and-chromeAnd welcome back! Here we have another installment in the BSG: Blood & Chrome series. Last time out, the show introduced its basic plot concept, most of the principal characters, and left the audience on the verge of a big firefight. This time around, with episode 4 through 8, said action takes off, people live, people die, and then things slow down just enough for some character development, introductions, and revelations.

Episode 5-8:
Blood_and_Chrome_BasestarThe scene opens with Adama, Coker and Kelly flying with their escort down to Djerba. Meanwhile, the Osiris opens fire on the Cylon base ship, but is outmatched. After a desperate fight, the Commander orders her crew to ram the Cylon base ship and detonate their compliment of nukes, destroying both vessels and killing all hands aboard her. The Wild Weasel meanwhile flies into Djerba’s atmosphere and is pursued by Raiders. They lose their escorts, but managed to take out the pursuers, only to then crashland on the surface.

Coker suggests they repair the Raptor and attempt to break atmo, but Kelly insists they continue with their mission. Adama agrees with her, and after another heated argument, they agree their best bet for getting home is to rendezvous with the spec ops team as ordered. But of course, when they reach the rendezvous inside a cave, all they find is bodies. The cave then suffers a cave in and the three of them find themselves in a hole, where a large snake-like creature begins attacking them. They are narrowly saved by the last member of the spec ops team – named Toth – who takes out the snake and pulls them back up to the surface.

blood-and-chrome-tothToth then explains that he was the team’s engineer, and that he was out doing reconnaissance when the snakes attacked and killed his team. As hybrid creatures, the snakes are a Cylon attempt at merging organic and synthetic tissue, and are used as defensive mechanisms. He tells them that they cannot complete their mission at the moment since a massive storm has rolled in, and convinces them to come with him back to his compound to wait it out. As it turns out, he has made a home inside an abandoned ski resort and has surrounded it with mines and trip wires.

Adama, Coker and Kelly make themselves at home inside the resort while Coker takes first watch. Adama and Kelly room together and she explains that her husband was not actually a war hero, but in fact was the victim of friendly fire. For the sake of the war effort, the public was told this lie in order to bolster morale and boost recruitment. Adama and Kelly have sex in front of their fireplace and Adama later wakes up to find Coker playing the piano in the lobby. He joins Coker, who quickly realizes he has slept with Kelly and chastises him for it. Their discussion is ended when one of the perimeter mines goes off and Cylons begin rushing the resort.
battlestar_galactica_blood_and_chromeAdama and Coker begin searching for Kelly while Toth chooses to make a stand in the lobby. He manages to take out two Cylons, but is quickly shot up, and two more make their way into the interior to find the others. One of them pursues Kelly into what appears to be a meat locker, where Kelly finds numerous bodies that appear to have been cut up or filled with cables and tubes.

Adama comes upon the second one in the corridor and loses his weapon after getting a shot off, but manages to find a metal pole and beats the thing to death. He and Coker then come upon the Cylon that has the Doctor cornered, and is attempting to read her dog tags, and shoot it dead. In the process, they notice the Cylon is making noises, which Kelly claims is “screaming”. They finish it off and go off to find Toth.

Summary:Unlike the first installment, I actually found a few things that I didn’t like about these episodes. For starters, the number of technical malfunctions that take place is beginning to get repetitive. It seems that in every fight since the series began, the good guys suffer a malfunction and have to do things manually. This happens twice in episode five, first with the Osiris’ nukes, and then with the Wild Weasel. And the result is pretty predictable: the Osiris has to sacrifice itself to take out the base star, and the Wild Weasel has to crash land on the surface.

Second, there was the fact that the Osiris is alone in orbit at the beginning of episode 5 before the battle, and then it doesn’t even bother to call in the other ships when they realize there’s a Basestar in the area. What happened to the rest of the “ghost fleet”? Was it being used for some other mission, or did they plan to call it in but failed to? Not made clear and I’m left wondering why all the other ships were reported lost if they weren’t even going to be used.

And then there was one continuity error I noticed in episode five during the battle scene. After losing control of their nuke launchers, the Commander orders her crew to set course of the Basestar so they can trigger them manually. The first time around, the helmsman complies, but the second time she says it, he objects because and says its suicide. This made no sense. It was obvious the first time she said it that it was a suicide run. You can’t launch them, so setting them off will mean you die. And the only reason to get closer to the Basestar was so they would die too. Why did he only realize this the second time around?

Also, the fact that the special ops team would be dead seemed pretty predictable as well. Somehow, it just seemed obvious that the mission would all come down to the three of them – Adama, Coker and Kelly. It was good that another character became involved, and Toth’s high-strung, PTSD antics proved to be a good addition to the mix. Basically, he was well-paired with Coker’s war-weary character and Adama’s gung-ho attitude. And while they are forced to rely on him, none of them are sure he’s even sane.

But then, he is killed off quite quickly, which kind of sucked. Shouldn’t this hardened survivor man know how to keep his head down during a fight? Instead, he is shot within seconds of the Cylons entering and is dead. And, I should mention, the “sex scene” between Adama and Kelly is never shown, we just know from the way the camera fades out and from him admitting it to Coker that it took place. Considering the obvious tension between the two from the beginning, I don’t see why we couldn’t even see them kiss.

And as a final flaw, Adama and Coker have a surprisingly easy time taking out the two Cylons. The Centurions who enter the resort looking to kill them were very well rendered and detailed, the kind of stuff you expect to see from the Terminator franchise. But then, Adama manages to kills one with a small pole while Coker kills the other with a few well-placed rounds from his gun. For all their intimidating appearance, their armor is basically shit!

And remember the original series, where a bunch of the new models board the Galactica? They explained that their regular weapons were useless and the only way to take one down was with explosive rounds. So why then do these two fall apart the second they are winged with an iron rod or a small arms bullet? I know, budgets and time constraints meant they had to do this part quick, but talk about unrealistic!

Okay, good points now. As usual, the special effects were pretty top notch. It may even be the result of the production value being so high that I began to get so critical this time around, as I forgot that it was a web series and not a full-blown cable show. The appearance of the Centurions and the attention to detail alone would be well worth the price of admission. The scene were the one had Dr. Kelly cornered and is surveying her was pretty awesome, the Cylon staring at her menacingly while tiny tentacle-like spikes on its mouth bristle. Naturally, some of this was designed to hint at their partially-organic nature.

And of course, there were some rather interesting hints embedded in the plot as to what the nature of mission. The hybrid snakes lent the impression that the Cylons could be working on organic-synthetic beings, which as we know from the original series was a technology they eventually perfected. The appearance of the mangled bodies in the meat locker was another hint, even though that was a little confusing*. And of course, the way the Cylon was screaming in pain after being shot and Dr. Kelly claims that “they feel pain now”. And of course this all helped to preview how the Cylons evolved from the “toasters” of the first war to the hybrid, organic machines they were in the second.

*Wasn’t the resort Toth’s hideout? What were a bunch of Cylon experiments doing in there? Had they been using it before he showed up and he didn’t even know? Or did he realize the Cylons were once there and figured he could hide there and rig it in case they chose to come back? Not explained…

All in all, the show has been progressing quite nicely, albeit with a few bumps along the way, and I am looking forward to the dramatic conclusion! Stay tuned!

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

bsg-blood-and-chromeHey there, BSG fans! If you’re like me, then you’ve been in the dark until very recently about the new web series Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. This show, which began back in November, only came to my attention about a week ago, and since then I’ve been scrambling to get my hands on all the episodes.

So for those who don’t know about, do know but haven’t had the chance to see it, or are just getting into it, I hope this will all prove of interest to you. Over the next few days, I plan to watch all ten episodes and review them in three separate parts (1-4, 5-8, and 9/10). Come join me and hopefully this new series will fill the void that BSG and the short-lived Caprica have left in their wake…

Background:
Set in the tenth year of the First Cylon War, the show follows the exploits of the young William Adama as he joins the Colonial Fleet and begins participating in the twenty year war to rid humanity of the machines. The series stars Luke Pasqualino as a young William Adama and was created by Michael Taylor and David Eick.

Distribution of Blood & Chrome began as a 10-episode online series in conjunction with Machinima.com on November 9, 2012, but a televised movie is slated to air in February 2013 on Syfy. Depending on the success of that, we might just see a new prequel series in the works! Never been a fan of prequels, but based on the strength of the webepisodes thus far, I see some serious potential!

Episodes 1-4:
battlestar-galactica-blood-and-chromeThe story opens with Bill Adama writing to his father, explain why he has enlisted in the war. This gives us a quick precis of how the Cylons revolted against humanity for what appear to be unknown reasons, and how the war to bring them to heel has been going on for some time and at the expense of many lives. We then cut to a firefight in progress where Adama is engaged with two Cylon Raiders and uses some sweet and unorthodox moves to take them down. But of course, it’s all a simulation.

We then see Adama arriving on a shuttle aboard the Galactica for the first time, where he distinguishes himself amongst his peers as a cocky SOB who can’t wait to get into combat. As a result, he is assigned to a Raptor named Wild Weasel where he meets his surly and jaded co-pilot, Coker Fasjovik.

blood-and-chrome-battlestar-galactica-imgUnlike Adama, he is interested in getting out after his second mandatory term is done and has no patience for hotshots. Neither, it seems, does Commander Nash – Galactica’s CO – who assigned him to make a supply run for their first mission. This mission will take them four days and will completely avoid the enemy, it is hoped.

In the following episode, Adama and Coker find that their cargo isn’t supplies but a software engineer named Dr. Beka Kelly. Adama had already met her in the showers, and the chemistry was clear. However, his feeling soon cool when he realized that she used to work for Graystone Industries, the same company that produced the Cylons in the first place. And as one of the people who helped upgrade their CPU’s, she also had a hand in giving them their intelligence.

blood-and-chrome-4They also learn that their true mission, which Kelly informs of them once they are underway, is to rendezvous with the Battlestar Acheron near the front lines, and to maintain radio silence all the way. What began as a milk run quickly turns into a combat mission! However, when they arrive, they find the Acheron destroyed, the result of an ambush.

Three Cylon Raiders then close on them and things get real hairy, real fast! Luckily, their small compliment of weapons and Adama’s crazy flying skills manage to save their asses. Unfortunately, Kelly tells them they cannot return to Galactica and orders them to send a transmission on an open frequency.

blood-and-chrome-fleetIn response, they are given a set of coordinates which will take them into Cylon space. After a heated argument, Adama and Kelly convince Coker to oblige them and they set course. En route, Kelly reveals to Adama that was once married to Ezra Barzel, a war hero who inspired many young people to join the academy. When they reach the coordinates, they find a series of Colonial “ghost ships” – i.e. ships that were reported lost – hiding in a field of asteroids.

Once aboard the command ship, an Orion-class Battlestar named Osiris, Dr. Kelly meets with the commander and they are all briefed on their mission. The fleet is inbound for Djerba, a planet deep within Cylon territory where Dr. Kelly is to be delivered for some special mission. Adama volunteers to fly the doctor in and she insists that they be allowed to say with her since they’ve come this far together. When they reach the planet, a Cylon base star appears unexpectedly. Rather than abort, the Commander orders a full launch and tells Adama and their escorts to make for the surface…

Summary:
Well, as far as first and second impression go, I was pretty impressed. It was nice to see a new that had the old Battlestar feel. The tone, direction, and visuals are all quite superb, establishing a dark and gritty tone to the story which BSG is famous for. The casting is also quite excellent, and its nice to see several familiar faces in there. Aside from Luke Pasqualino, just about every member of the cast was in BSG or Caprica, and David Eik did his usual thing and makes an appearance as a supporting character.

The rest were all Vancouver-based actors that I recognized from other shows. Always nice to see fellow Canucks at work! And the CGI and music, which comes from the same people involved in the shows predecessors, was nothing short of awesome. In fact, despite it being a web series, Blood and Chrome even improved upon the effects of the original show.

But of course, what matters most here (at least to me) is the plot. Given that this is a limited concept show which comes in 12 minute packets, there’s little time devoted to build-up and character development. Mainly, we are given a premise, some background, and then thrown into the thick of things. However, this is to be expected from a web series, where the format just doesn’t allow for much pacing or exposition. And really, who cares when you got a story like this?

Although it”s still taking shape at this point, the overall plot seems pretty clear. After ten years of protracted conflict, the war against the Cylons is not going so well. The mission involving this “ghost fleet” is clearly a last-ditch effort to win the war outright, and just about everything hinges on its successful completion. Of course, there are going to be several twists and turns along the way, and surely some more deep background stuff that will answer some key questions. Like why do the Cylons hate humanity so much? Why did they turn in the first place? And how do events from the First Cylon War play into the attack which took place some thirty years later.

Eager to find out where things go from here! Stay tuned for web episodes four through eight, coming up next!

Cool Ships (volume VII)

Welcome to volume 7. Nuff chit chat, let’s get started!

The Blackbird:
Starting this list off right is the stealth ship from the updated Galactica universe. Christened the Laura, in honor of President Roslyn, this ship was the brainchild of engineer Galen Tyrol and his deck hands, who decided to build a new fighter from scratch to make up for their losses. Build for speed and skinned with carbon fiber instead of the usual metal, this ship proved to be invisible to both Colonial and Cylon tracking equipment, hence its designation as a stealth ship.

On her maiden voyage, Starbuck flew the Blackbird on an illegal reconnaissance mission to take pictures of the Cylon Resurrection ship that had been pursuing Galactica. The operation was a complete success, with Admiral Cain – the Pegasus’ CO – going as far to say that: “she flew right up their tailpipe and they didn’t even notice”.

As a result of the technical data obtained from this mission, a joint attack was planned between the Galactica and Pegasus to take the RS down. The Blackbird would go on to play a crucial role in this attack, using its stealth abilities to fly within a few meters of the RS and take out its FTL drive with a well-placed missile. Unfortunately, the Blackbird would suffer a fatal collision after performing this duty, and Captain Lee Adama, its pilot for the op, was almost killed.

Corellian Corvette:
Another mainstay of both the Rebel and Imperial fleets, this ship made its debut in the opening scene from Star Wars: A New Hope and has been with the franchise ever since. Otherwise known as a “Blockade Runner”, the CR90 corvette embodies the spirit of Corellian ship designs, boasting speed and versatility over size and raw firepower.

Because of its adaptability, another Corellian trademark, the CR90 could serve in a variety of roles. These ran the gambit from such mundane duties as freight hauling, to more dangerous assignments like raids and providing fighter escort. In some cases, they could even take on such high-profile missions as diplomatic envoys, carrying public officials to and from their assignments.

Because of these qualities, the CR90 had a long history of service in the Galaxy, serving in the navies of the Old Republic, the Galactic Empire, the Rebel Alliance, and the New Republic. Even after it was phased out of service, it remained a favorite among smugglers, pirates and smaller navies for some time.

Harbor Ship of Bentus:
Here is another feature from the Homeworld universe, the Harbor Ship of the alien race known as the Bentusi. Known for their focus on trade and supplying less advanced races with “short-jump” technology (i.e. FTL), the Bentusi soon found themselves caught in the middle of a series of interstellar conflicts between worlds.

As a result, the Harbor Ship was created, a mothership for the Bentusi fleet that was capable of housing, repairing and deploying smaller vessels. Thought not armed in any official capacity, it is the bulwark of the Bentusi armada and can be found wherever large-scale fleet deployments take place.

From what I can tell, this design was inspired by what historians believe the harbor of Carthage looked like. Much like the Harbor Ship, it was based on a sort of teardrop design, with a long entrance passage giving way to a sort of rotunda. This design, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing, also makes a lot of practical sense, ensuring that multiple ships are able to be serviced in a 360 degree arc rather than a series of enclosed bays.

Ixian No-Ship:
Another Dune entry which I failed to acknowledge in previous posts, can you believe it? Well, mistake remedied as of now, here is the No-Ship! Named for the fact that it is capable of shielding itself from prescient vision and other forms of detection, including sight. This all makes the No-Ship the ultimate in stealth technology, and led to its wide adoption by all factions in the Dune universe.

Based on the same technology which powered the No-Chamber, a device which the Ixians used to shield their inventions from Leto II’s prescience, No-Ships would become the mainstay of all fleets after his death. In addition to their stealthy characterisitics, they would also boast another invention that was proposed during the time of Leto II, the Ixian navigation machine. This device, which was capable of limited prescience, was able to guide these ships through foldspace without the need of a Guild navigator.

Much like Guild Heighliners, No-Ships appear to have massive capacities. In Heretics of Dune, the No-Ship which Miles Teg steals from the Honored Matres on Gammu apparently had a Great Hold which measured one kilometer in length. This hold was later used to transport an adult sandworms and several tons of its native sand off of Rakis before the HM’s destroyed it. In Chapterhouse and subsequent books, No-Ships served as the mainstay of the Bene Gesserit fleet as well as with all other factions.

The Pegasus:
Battlestar Galactica gave so many cool ship designs that its hard for me to know where to look next. But today, I thought I’d go for the obvious and cover the ultra-modern and behemoth-sized Pegasus, the other Battlestar to survive the destruction of the Twelve Colonies. As with the original, the Pegasus makes an appearance in the re-imagined series. And like everything else, its appearance received an update, as did the tone and nature of its crew.

Although networked like all other modern Colonial ships, the Pegasus survived the assault through sheer luck, having taken its systems down for a diagnostic before the first wave came. Since that time, it’s CO, Admiral Cain, had been fighting a guerrilla style war with the Cylons, attacking their holdings and raiding small convoys in order to keep them off balance.

A mercury-class battlestar, the Pegasus was far more advanced and boasted significantly greater firepower than the Galactica.  In addition to its 30 defensive turrets, four heavy cannons, multiple missile launchers and compliment of nukes, its massive bays also hold 10 squadrons of Vipers, as well as dozens of Raptors and support craft. It also carries a series of Viper VII production facilities, meaning that it is capable of replenishing its losses.

With all of these attributes, the arrival of the Pegasus was a great boost to the Colonial fleet, adding a great deal of firepower, manufacturing and many of the latest ships to their arsenal. Nicknamed “The Beast”, the destruction of this ship over New Caprica was considered an immeasurable loss, though its sacrifice was hardly in vain.

Primus-class Battlecruiser:
Here we have another installment from the B5 universe, from the Centauri Republic to be specific. Known as the Primus-class Battlecruiser, this baby is renowned for packing firepower and artistic design into one package.

Discernible from its manta ray-like configuration, the Primus remains the mainstay of the Centauri navy even after two centuries of service. Although lightly armored, the ship boasts an impressive array of ion guns, a hyperspace drive, and artificial gravity for its crew.

Making its first appearance in season two of the show (“And Now For a Word”) when televised a standoff occurred outside the station between the Centauri and the Narn. In that battle, the cruiser in question was destroyed, but managed to inflict enough damage that the G’Quon class cruiser also blew up while attempting to make a jump. This demonstrated that the Primus, though an older design, was still capable of standing toe-to-toe with its Narn equivalent.

This encounter was followed up during the season two finale (“The Fall of Night”), when another such cruiser threatened the station when it was discovered that Sheridan was harboring a Narn heavy cruiser. This cruiser managed to inflict serious damage on the station before a squad of Starfuries and the station’s own defenses managed to destroy it.

Primus class cruisers would go on to make several appearances in the course of the show, serving throughout the Narn-Centauri war and even making an appearance during Sheridan’s war to liberate Earth. During the Alliance-Centauri war, these cruisers appeared to have been relegated to defensive duty, leaving offensive operations to the newer and lighter Vorchan-class cruisers.

USS Reliant:
Thank you to Victor for suggesting this one. I was wondering if I should go back to the original Star Trek for ideas, and this was just the push I needed to include some. And given that this ship made its appearance in Wrath of Khan, arguably the best of the bunch, I figured it would be the perfect candidate.

A Miranda-class starship, the Reliant possessed capabilities comparable to that of the USS Enterprise. She is best known for being the ship that was charged with investigating planets for the Genesis Project and then being commandeered by Khan Noonien Singh, a warlord from Earth’s Eugenics Wars who had been marooned on the planet for many years.

After commandeering the ship with his people, Khan used the Reliant to seize Genesis and attack the USS Enterprise. During their initial encounter, Khan was able to use surprise to disable and inflict considerable damage. He was only defeated when Spock, using the ship’s prefix code, was able to bring the Reliant’s shields down long enough for the Enterprise to strike back and take out its weapons and warp drive.

During their second confrontation, Kirk was able to lure Khan into the nearby Nebula where neither ship had the tactical advantage. There, the Enterprise was able to outmaneuver the Reliant and crippled her with a series of torpedoes and well placed phaser shots. Rather than face capture, Khan chose to initiate the Genesis’ self destruct sequence and nearly destroyed both ships in the process. The Enterprise narrowly escaped, thanks to Spock’s decision to sacrifice himself to bring the warp engines back on line.

Viscount-class Star Defender:
Last on the list is an entry which I’m personally impressed with. Known as a Star Defender, this class of Mon Calamari heavy cruiser comes from the Star Wars universe, and reminds us that not only the Empire was capable of creating some badass ships!

Commissioned during the time of the New Republic at the behest of Admiral Ackbar, the Star Defender was the Alliance’s answer to the Super Star Destroyer and other classes of Imperial terror weapons. Measuring 17 km in length and boasting over 5000 weapons turrets, this ship was more than a match for the Executor, Eclipse and any other vessel of similar size.

Like all Mon Calamari cruisers, this ship was studded with hangars and launch bays and could carry fourteen fighter squadrons, dozens of troops transports and any number of shuttles and support craft. It can also house over 12,000 troops and carries a standard crew of about 70,000. Though production of these vessels stalled due to the diminishing threat posed by the Empire after the Battle of Endor, the Thrawn crisis and the threat posed by the resurrected Emperor and his Eclipse dreadnoughts provided the final push.

Several versions of the Viscount class were commissioned for service over the years, including the Mon Remonda, pictured below.

Okay, that’s seven down. Do I really need to do an eighth? Ha! Just kidding, of course I do. Perhaps I’ll end this series at ten, or maybe it will become one of those things that slows down but never really goes away. As long as people keep suggesting things and I keep having ideas of my own, there’s no real end in sight! See ya next time 😀