Battlestar Galactica : Blood & Chrome

The saga before the show ever got to see the light of day was almost equivalent to a sci-fi opera, with many false starts and cancellations that us fans were wondering just what is it going to take for this maligned franchise & show to finally come out. Initially supposed to be a full fledged prequel tv series to the much celebrated & award winning re-imagined science fiction space opera Battlestar Galactica (2003 series) and also a sequel to the short lived Caprica (which itself was a prequel to BSG). Instead it almost didn’t see the light of day but finally it was greenlit as a webseries by Syfy and saw it’s release in November of 2012 as a 10 webisode series on¬† and on it’s Youtbe channel ¬†will also air as a televised movie in February 2013 on¬†Syfy.

As for continuity in the BSG universe, this is how to goes – for someone not familiar with the show – it’s like this; BSG was shot first, Caprica is set 60 years before the events in BSG and Blood & Chrome is 20 years after the end of Caprica and 40 years before the beginning of BSG)! Got it? Good.

So the prequel to BSG but sequel to Caprica, is set in the tenth year of the¬†First Cylon War, the story follows¬†William Adama, a young pilot just graduated from the Academy, assigned to the newest¬†battlestar¬†in the¬†Colonial fleet: the¬†Galactica. Ensign Adama, played by British actor Luke Pasqualino, is a cocky & talented pilot is disappointed when instead of being assigned to a viper, to a¬†Raptor¬†transport ship named¬†Wild Weasel. He meets his surly co-pilot Coker Fasjovik (Ben Cotton), who is cynical and interested only in leaving the military, as his tour of duty ends in a month. Coker finds Adama’s eagerness irritating and nicknames him Husker. Galactica’s Commander Nash briefs the two on their first mission together, a routine “milk run” sending cargo to the¬†Scorpia Fleet Shipyards¬†and returning with supplies for the Galactica. It is a four-day trip during which they are to avoid enemy contact of any kind. While preparing for the mission, Adama and Coker find out that their cargo isn’t supplies but a civilian software engineer, Dr. Beka Kelly (Lili Borden). They depart, but upon leaving Galactica’s¬†DRADIS¬†range, Dr. Kelly hands them new orders from the Admiralty. They are to rendezvous with the¬†Archeron, another¬†battlestar, in an area bordering Cylon space. They are also to take all further orders from Dr. Kelly. As they travel to their destination, Dr. Kelly reveals that she worked for¬†Graystone Industries, designing the upgrade for the Cylons’ MCP “brain” chip. When they reach the rendezvous point, they discover that the Archeron was ambushed and destroyed. A¬†Cylon raider¬†appears and attacks.

Thanks to Adama’s risky but excellent piloting, the¬†Wild Weasel¬†narrowly escapes the Cylon raider. Despite Coker’s desire to head home, Dr. Kelly has them break radio silence to send a transmission; they receive an immediate response with yet another set of coordinates. En route Dr. Kelly tells Adama that she was married to famed marine Ezra Barzel (from the Hebrew prophet Ezra and the Hebrew word for “Iron”), who inspired many young people to join the Academy. They arrive at the coordinates to find a fleet of “ghost ships”, Colonial vessels assumed to have been destroyed in battle that are now camped out hiding in Cylon territory. The commander of one of the ghost ships (Jill Teed)- an older Orion-class battlestar called¬†Osiris¬†– assembles a small fleet for a mission. They will bring Dr. Kelly to embedded Colonial operatives on Djerba, a former winter resort planet located in Cylon teritory that holds Dr. Kelly’s objective. Dr. Kelly requests that Adama and Coker continue to escort her in their raptor. Coker overhears the commander say that the mission’s personnel must be volunteers (i.e. it is a¬†suicide mission); he is not pleased. On the launch deck, Coker runs into his old friend Jim Kirby (Sebastian Spence), who was presumed dead after his ship was badly damaged in battle. Kirby asks Coker whether his wife has remarried, and Coker informs him that she has not and is raising their son. Kirby is overjoyed to learn that he has a child. As the mission fleet departs, the commander of the¬†Osiris¬†tells the crew that the fate of the war depends on Dr. Kelly reaching her objective. Just after the fleet jumps into Djerba’s orbit, a¬†Cylon Basestar¬†appears.

The basestar and the Osiris exchange fire as the¬†Wild Weasel¬†and its Viper escorts, one of whom is Kirby, fly toward Djerba. They are pursued by three Cylon raiders which the Colonials manage to destroy, though Kirby deserts midway through the battle to go home to see his family. Meanwhile, the¬†Osiris¬†is heavily outnumbered by the Cylon basestar and raiders. When its nuclear weapons jam, the commander decides to fly it into the basestar and manually detonate the weapons, destroying both the Cylon ships and the¬†Osiris. The¬†Wild Weasel¬†crash-lands onto the surface of Djerba. Adama, Coker and Dr. Kelly abandon their raptor and trek through Djerba’s harsh wind and snow, following a signal with Dr. Kelly’s communicator. They track the signal to a huge cave, where they discover their escort unit dead from mysterious non-artillery wounds. Suddenly the cave floor collapses and plunges them into a dark underground chamber. Strange noises surround them and a large snake-like creature lunges out and bites Coker. As Coker struggles to contain the monster, a man rappels into the chamber and kills the snake. He introduces himself as Xander Toth (John Pyper-Ferguson), the only surviving escort. He explains that the snakes, which killed his unit, were created by Cylons doing half animal/half machine experiments. Toth has been alone in the cave for some time and is slightly mentally unstable, prone to unpredictable aggressive outbursts. Nevertheless, he has scouted a route to Dr. Kelly’s objective. They leave the cave and stop at a cliff overlooking a seemingly abandoned resort compound.

Toth takes Adama, Coker and Dr. Kelly into the abandoned resort, where Toth says the Cylons previously stored “spare parts”. He has rigged the perimeter with¬†mines¬†and set up a generator inside to keep heat running. Dr. Kelly later confides to Adama that her husband’s status as a war hero was completely fabricated by the Colonial army. He did not singlehandedly defeat a Cylon platoon; rather, his exploratory mission was felled by¬†friendly fire. She emphasizes that the war must end, with which Adama agrees before tenderly touching her. She tells him that “you will regret this” and they sleep together. Shortly after, Adama finds Coker deftly playing a¬†grand piano, and Coker quickly surmises what has happened between Adama and Dr. Kelly. Just as he begins telling Adama that Dr. Kelly’s objective is more than it seems, one of Toth’s mines explodes and¬†Cylon centurions¬†approach the compound. Adama and Coker search the compound for Dr. Kelly, who disappeared when the Cylons arrived. Toth is shot multiple times by a centurion; his fate remains unknown. Meanwhile, Dr. Kelly stumbles into a cold storage room filled with human body parts – likely the “spares” Toth mentioned in the previous episode. She hides inside from a centurion, who finds her when she exhales loudly. Instead of killing her, the centurion scans at length a¬†microchip¬†dog tag¬†she wears around her neck. Adama and Coker burst in and Coker shoots the centurion. The centurion crashes to the floor and emits a high-frequency wail, which Dr. Kelly explains as screaming – the Cylons can feel pain. Coker puts the centurion out of its misery and the three set off to look for Toth.

When Coker wants to send a rescue signal for the mortally wounded Toth, Adama and Dr. Kelly instead insist that they press on toward Dr. Kelly’s objective. Coker demands to know Dr. Kelly’s mission, and she finally explains that she will upload a virus to the Cylons’ communications array. Once they find the array, Dr. Kelly begins her upload, but Coker shoots her and disarms Adama when he sees a Battlestar on the communications screen – Dr. Kelly is transmitting information about the ghost fleet to the Cylons. She shoots Coker several times and justifies her betrayal: she believes that the war will only end when humans negotiate with the Cylons, who she thinks value life more than humans do. Accepting that Dr. Kelly is a traitor, Adama destroys the communications unit. He drags a badly wounded Coker out of the array, leaving Dr. Kelly behind. As Adama and Coker wait for a rescue to take them back to Galactica, Coker shows Adama a picture of his wife before passing out. In the communications array, a quasi-humanoid Cylon (voiced by Tricia Helfer) tells Dr. Kelly that her enlightened view of Cylons does not change their hatred of her, then snaps her neck. Back on Galactica, Commander Nash explains that the seemingly failed mission actually went as planned. Colonial command had anticipated Dr. Kelly’s betrayal, and by the time the Cylons followed the communication, the ghost fleet was long gone and was able to destroy multiple defenseless Cylon bases. Nash tells Adama the casualties of the¬†Osiris¬†were worth the victory, for successes like these keep civilians supporting the war effort. Disillusioned, Adama signs off on a prettified account of the mission in exchange for his own Viper. A recovered Coker surprises Adama on the way to his ship, which displays his newly-chosen call sign: “Husker”, a tribute to Coker. Adama joins his fellow pilots, ready to continue the fight.

I like the plot, the cast (but why must a British actor use an American accent for a show that is not about earth humans?) and the acting. The special effects – in places it really looks like a web series rather than a tv show and the cost factor must have really hampered it. During the crash scene, it looks like an¬† early 2000’s computer simulation! Ben Cotton is great in his role (he always seems to play unlikable characters but it’s different as Coker). Brian Markinson plays Commander Nash(isn’t he in everything shot in Vancouver), Mike Dopud has a small role as Captain Deke “Minute Man” Tornvald, a celebrated veteran, while Ty Olsson & Carmen Moore have minor parts as well. I wish this show had gotten a proper treatment with more financial backing to get better special effects. What is gonna happen to the franchise? Wait & see.