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!

Cool Ships (volume VIII)

Battleship Yamato:
A couple times now I’ve given praise to ship designs that went beyond the usual airplane/ seafaring paradigm. But what can you say about a spaceship which is a carbon copy of a old sea battleship? I don’t know, gutsy maybe? That its paying homage to the original? That’s all I can really say on this one, since it is identical to its namesake from the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Taken from the anime series of the same name, the Yamato was a prototype ship which was built in secret by Earth forces in the ruins of the original. Using alien technology, it was the first Earth ship to boast FTL and a “wave-motion-gun”. These devices were meant to give it an edge in the ongoing war with a race known as the “Gamilons”.

Early in this war, the Gamilons had bombarded Earth with radioactive meteorites. The result was that all human settlements had to be moved underground. However, the radiation was slowly working its way down to the inhabitants, and the only hope for survival came in the form of a message from a distant star. After completion, the Yamato was meant to fly to this world and retrieve the device which apparently could cleanse Earth of its poisonous radiation.

Thus, the Yamato was created to perform a mission that meant the very survival of the human race. It’s drive system was to make sure it could make the trip, while its weapons were meant to ensure it could defend itself.

Cylon Heavy Raider:
Another installment from the BSG universe, here we have the heavy hitter of the Cylon fleet, the dual purpose attack and transport craft, otherwise known as “the turkey”. Capable of atmospheric entry, space flight and FTL travel, the Heavy Raider is capable of attacking, transporting troops and conducting boarding operations.

Unlike the standard Raider, the heavy can either fly itself on autopilot or be piloted by actual an Centurion. However, its automated functions do not appear to be the result of a sentient nervous system. In terms of armaments and capacity, the heavy has six cannons mounted under its cockpit and its bay is capable of holding up to ten Centurions.

The Heavy Raider made its first appearance in season one (“Scattered”) when one crashed into the starboard flight pod. On Caprica, Sharon Valerii (Boomer) commandeers one to provide fire support to the resistance and save Starbuck as she escaped from a Cylon medical facility (“The Farm”). The Heavy Raider would go on to make several more appearances in the series, particularly whenever assault missions or heavy raids were concerned.

Quasar Fire-class Cruiser:
Once more onto the Star Wars universe, my friends! But this time, its into the expanded universe with a ship that is somewhat obscure by most standards. Known as the Quasar Fire-class cruiser, or Alliance Escort Carrier, this ship made its first appearance in the Thrawn Trilogy during the Battle of Bilbringi then again in the novel The Truce At Bakura.

Designed by the Sullustans as a cargo transport, many of these vessels were given to the Alliance and converted for combat. This consisted of stripping down the cargo bays and turning into hangars, and mounting defensive turrets at the front and rear.

Thought lightly armored, armed, and shielded, the Quasar’s small size and versatility make it a ship of choice for small fleets and minor attack forces. It’s six squadrons of fighters also give it an effective defensive screen, making it all the more suitable as a small fleet command ship.

The Leviathan:
Did I say once more, I meant twice… maybe more! And this one goes way back, to roughly 4000 years before events in the original movies. Officially known as an Interdictor-class cruiser, this vessel was the mainstay of the Republican navy during the time of the Mandalarion Wars and was featured heavily in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

During the outbreak of the Sith War which immediately followed, the Leviathan served as Darth Revan’s flagship. After he was captured by the Jedi Order, ownership of this vessel changed to Darth Malak. The ship was responsible for obliterating the surface of Taris and was later the site where Darth Revan, now working for the Jedi Order, confronted Darth Malak for the first time since his defection.

Measuring 600 meters in length, the ship carries an arsenal of 20 quad laser cannons, 4 turbolasers, 2 ion cannons, and four squadrons of fighters. Although somewhat mild by modern Star Wars standards, she was designed to be a forerunner to the modern Star Destroyer design.

Negh’var-class Cruiser:
Despite their brawling, yelling and terrible table manners, you gotta admit; the Klingons make a fine looking ship! And this is especially true of the Negh’var-class warship, the heaviest of the heavies in the Klingon armada, serving as the command ship on many different occasions (and in multiple universes).

Ships of this kind made their first appearance in the series finale of Star Trek: TNG when two attacked the USS Pasteur. Another appeared in DS9 when a changling posing as General Martok led the Klingon fleet against the Cardassian Union, and again against Deep Space 9 when the Federation chose to oppose the invasion. They also went on to play an important role in the Dominion War alongside Federation and Romulan warships.

In addition to the standard cloaking device, the Negh’var carries an impressive array of armaments, including two massive disruptor pods mounted underneath the ship’s wings. It also carries multiple photon torpedo launchers, and several smaller emitters mounted across the ship. She is also capable of standing toe to toe with most other ships in the Alpha Quadrant in terms of velocity, making it up to speeds of Warp 9.

Ornithopter:
Not long ago, I was lamented the fact that I kept forgetting to mention anything from the Dune universe. Now I can’t seem to do a single post without including a Dune ship! This time, its the ornithopter, the curious cool ship that’s perplexed readers and conceptual artists for some time.

The most common vessel in the Imperium, the ornithopter (or ‘thopter for short) was an extremely versatile vessel that served primarily as a cargo vessel and transport. In addition, they often served in a military capacity, being fitted with lasguns, bombs and missiles. This was particulalry the case during Paul Muad’ib’s uprising, when House Atreides ‘thopters were fitted for the assault on Arrakeen and the Imperial Palace.

According to numerous descriptions taken from the expanded Dune universe, the thopter was primarily powered by jet propulsion, but relied on a set of beating wings to maintain altitude and maneuver. The concept has gone through several renditions over the years, due to the many attempts to adapt Dune to the screen. In David Lynch’s 1984 movie adaptation, ‘thopters appeared as small, box-like crat with swept wings that retracted and deployed from the fuselage.

In the 2000 miniseries, they were pictured as vertical take off and landing craft with fans mounted in pivoting wings. The featured picture (shown above left) is taken from The Road to Dune and is an artists concept of what a ‘thopter would look like. Here, we see beating wings which deploy for takeoff and retract upon landing.

USNC In Amber Clad:
Feels like its been awhile since I included anything from the Halo universe. And so here’s the Reunion, a Vladivostok-class guided missile frigate. Though somewhat old and outclassed by modern Covenant standards, several frigates played a crucial role in the Great War against Covenant forces. One such vessel was the In Amber Clad.

Armed with 12 Point Defense Guns, 40 missile pods, 5 twin rail gun turrets, a magnetic accelerator cannon, a compliment of Shiva nuclear missiles and a full compliment of Marines, dropships and escort fighters, the In Amber Clad was considered the mainstay of the old Earth fleet. Capable of atmospheric entry and landing, this ship did not need to rely on drop pods or shuttles, and could land an entire Marine force by itself.

During the Covenant War, these frigates were replaced by the larger and more heavily armed Halcyon-class cruisers. However, the In Amber Clad managed to score a significant victory over the Covenant during the Battle of Installation 05. During the course of the battle, it served as the flagship and won the day when it crashed into the Covenant ship High Charity.

VF-1 Veritech:
As requested, I’ve finally found an example from the Robotech universe! And to be honest, I wondered how long it would take. Though I’m not too familiar with this franchise, the RPG is something I remember fondly from my childhood, and some of the designs still percolate in my consciousness.

One of which is this, the VF-1 Vertiech, also known as the “Valkyrie”. This battleoid, which was adapted from alien technology (known as Protoculture),was originally designed for hand-to-hand combat with aliens which were up to 15 meters in height, the Veritech and subsequent breeds of mechas became the new face of warfare.

Mechas can function in both the fighter and mech role. Capable of flying through space, atmospheres and fighting on land, the Veritech was one of the most versatile and maneuverable mechas in the known universe. With a flight speed of Mach 3 (in atmosphere), and a top speed of 100 km/h running, she is as fast as any land vehicle or aerospace vessel. In addition, the standard Veritech carries two high-powered lasers, head mounted laser cannons, guided missiles, a rotary cannon, and is even capable of engaging in hand to hand combat.

YT-2400 Corellian Freighter:
To finish, I’m in the mood for something Corellian! And so it’s back to the Star Wars universe for this one. Much like its predecessor, the YT-1300 (a.k.a. the Millennium Falcon), the 2400 was a class of light freighter that was fast, tough and endlessly modifiable. So like the Falcon, it was a favorite amongst smugglers, merchants and privateers.

Smaller and lighter than the 1300 series, the 2400 boasted only one servo-turret for defense in addition to its shield array and armor plating. However, this could easily be remedied with the addition of extra guns and missile launchers. And its ample hull space and engine power, the 2400’s could easily accommodate additional mounts and the added weight.

One such ship which acheived notoriety during the Galactic Civil War was the Outrider, the ship of famed smuggler Dash Rendar. This ship, like most other 2400’s, was heavily modified to accommodate additional systems and weapons. Clearly, when the Corellian shipyard designated this vessel as freight transport, it was a nod and a wink!

Thank you all and good hunting! See you in next time in volume 9!