Synopsis/Introduction: This is a movie, or an extended flashback episode if you will, dedicated to filling the holes of what happened aboard the Battlestar Pegasus during the initial attack on the Twelve Colonies. Following the story of the leading new character, Kendra Shaw, we're led through her time underneath Admiral Cain's command and when she'd been recruited as Lee Adama's executive officer while carrying out Cain's legecy aboard the Pegasus, striding along the hardships she had endured and seeing through the eyes of an anguished soldier who'd seen and done so much since the war had begun. Also more mysterious Cylon lores are presented, giving flashbacks to the first Cylon war nearly forty years ago, adding more suspense to the origins of how the humanoid Cylon models came to be.
Razor is a perfect example of connecting those missing links from the previous seasons, bringing in old characters with the new, along with adding more questions and speculations to where it'll lead from here on out in the following fourth, and final, season of BSG. In other words, I loved it.
Completely Reliable, Completely Loyal: Razors
I absolutely loved Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen). I thought she was a perfect addition to the crew and I fell in love with her character's backstory from when she joined Pegasus and quickly became part of Admiral Cain's legecy. But not without a price, of course.
From the moment we see Kendra she's newly recruited, freshly out from fleet academy, and had been assigned to be a Lt. aboard the Battlestar Pegasus. But shortly after approaching the attack on the battlestar had begun, her eager innocence of a trained student stripped away as she's forced to go through the motions as she learns the hardships and struggles of becoming a lonely soldier in a time of war. Thrown into this "do or die" situation, Kendra has to follow orders by Admiral Cain even if she questions the morality of it. Nevertheless, Kendra stays loyal and understands the Admiral's commands, and makes choices that she would never had considered doing. The assassination of the civillian ship, for example; shooting first without hesitation, completing the mission without question. That is what got her respect by Cain, a promotion from Lieteniet to Captain and the honorary title of becoming one of the "razors".
The definition of a "razor" is quite simple: someone willing to place aside their hesitations and revulsions and fears in the time of war, to complete missions without letting their consciences get in the way in order to survive. The actions they take may be severe, may be cruel or even vile, but it has to be done. While Kendra falls into that category we know that the slaughter of civilians aboard the Sycilla has been haunting her ever since, it's evident that despite her tough exterior her pain is apparent, her anguish clear as she retreats to taking drugs via needles in order to dissolve that pain. In the end, Kendra has to live with these lingering ghosts of guilt but it's also clear that, like Kara, she'd admired Cain during her reign of power even if some of the things she'd done or asked for were questionable. Which is possibly why I loved the interaction between Kendra and Kara, they're so different but so alike in many ways. I found it funny that they despised each other when they are very similar, both in attitudes and dedications to their jobs.
I felt that her death was justified because of still being haunted by these ghosts that Kendra needed something to say she's done the right thing and has been forgiven for it. Perhaps the First Hybrid was meant to be that stepping stone for her, as strange as that sounds. She needed to be forgiven.
The Rise and Fall of Admiral Cain
Perhaps ever since "Pegasus" and "Resurrection Ship, Part 1 & 2" from the second season everyone was wondering how in the hell did Admiral Helena Cain become such a psychotic hardass ice-cold bitch. From ordering the execution of Chief Tyrol and Karl Agathon to being absolutely ruthless towards their PegSix Cylon prisoner, allowing the physical abuse and rape to occur without blinking an eye. Razor fleshes out how she turned into such a person. I'm not going to say it's justifiable, but this allows the audience to understand where she's coming from.
In the beginning we see Cain's only strand of humanity. She's joking around, laughing and smiling genuinely even though she's tortured by demons of her own. But nevertheless, she's only human and still lives on. Then the downfall of the Colonies happened, the Cylon attack came onto the ship full-force and Admiral Cain had to make tough decisions. Were they the right ones? Could she have issued different commands if possible? Sure, but Cain was underneath the stress of what was happening; it's nothing new that in a time of war everything has to be taken into account, and I believe that Cain was at loss. Adama had mentioned in the end that he had Laura Roslin and Saul Tigh to weigh out the different options for him, to give him different directions instead of making implusive moves to defeat the enemy. Would Adama have become Cain if it weren't for those influences? Perhaps not to that extreme, but I think without the moral compasses that weighed him down and make him think he would've made decisions and choices that would've been similar to Cain's. Then again, war changes people differently especially when under pressure and pursued constantly by the enemy.
Though Cain was already gone and into her own methods of ordering when her first XO had tried to sway her from making reckless decisions, and what happened? She accused him of disobeying her orders and shot him point blank right there in the middle of the CIC. But the real trigger I think was finding out that Gina, someone she loved and trusted, was actually a Cylon and had been there from the beginning. Kind of like the ultimate betrayal, and from there she was completely gone. It certainly doesn't justify her actions, and obviously sympathy cannot be brought to her after what she'd done, but war is a very complex thing. It affects people differently as mentioned and Cain went through many different things from planning out their next move to finding and bringing the fight to the Cylons themselves. Because as she says in the beginning: "as long as this crew and this ship survives, this war that they started will not be over." She intended to fight the Cylons until all of them were gone. Completely unlike Galatica, which is why both battlestars were so different and as seen in S2 why the Pegasus crew seemed so distant and hardcore as opposed to the known Galactica crew.
They were hardcore because Admiral Cain was hardcore, and also they were afraid of her which is what I think is the real reason why they were like that. After seeing what she could do, along with the assassination of the civilian ship the entire fleet knew of what was ordered so they knew not to cross her or else they would be executed without mercy. So I found this backstory and reveal of Cain's rise to power, which would lead to her fate later on, very interesting. Especially how she admired the loyalty and had faith in Kendra.
It's Old But New: Lee Adama's Command and the Cylon Legend
I really liked the further exploration of the Cylon lore, including the flashbacks to young Bill "Husker" Adama's days during the first Cylon war (all of which can be fully seen with the Razor Flashbacks). Bringing in the original centurions, a.k.a. the Guardians and the baseship which they used to experiment on humans, all that was ultra awesome and totally cool. I never watched TOS fully, only snippets here and there but I have to say, that was the major geek-moment. Hell, even those who haven't seen anything from TOS should be squealing with delight because it was just plain awesome.
Commander Lee Adama. I found it interesting how we came to understand his role as commanding the Pegasus and how all that happened, his respect and the power he holds. Obviously not as intense as Cain's and obviously not enough to impress Kendra; her resistance to his arrival was very convincing because she told him exactly what she thought of him. I also loved Lee's conflictions with being a new commander aboard the ship that he could call his own, along with having Kendra as his XO and his decisions for the rescue mission and Kendra's influences. Of course Lee was just starting out as Commander of the Pegasus and it was nice to have Adama with him, guiding him along, but it was also nice to see exactly how he managed to take hold of his command without making mistakes and such. Him having Kendra to complete the legecy of Helena Cain was understandable, and it was also smart because I think Kendra, despite those ghosts, would've made a great impact as the XO of Pegasus if she continued down the longrun.
Kara Thrace and Her Extended Special Destiny
Did you think I was going to leave this out? Biggest clues into what season four is going to be about obviously lies within the extended prophecy regarding Kara Thrace's destiny. Since everything said is cryptic, we have to assume that the message isn't supposed to be taken literally. The warning the First Hybrid tells Kendra is this:
"Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end. She is the herald of the apocalypse. The harbinger of death. They must not follow her."Now, the question is whether this means that she'll lead to the destruction of the human race or bring the end to humanity's journey by leading them to Earth. Because it is a cryptic message we're to assume that there's another meaning behind it, that when Kara returns in S4 that she'll be questioned whether or not she's a Cylon or something else. Obviously I have my own theories, which will be saved for later, but I have a feeling that Kara Thrace's journey will not end well particularly because of this prophecy. If she's been to Earth that means she knows what awaits the human race, which also means there's more to the prophecy than that.
I still have lots to think about that. But as said, it'll be another time for speculations.
So Say We All! The Random Things That Was Made Of Awesome
++ First and foremost, Kendra Shaw. Amazing character, superb acting by Stephanie Jacobsen, she was fantastic and delivered every scene wonderfully. Same goes for Michelle Forbes for returning to the role of the complex character of Helena Cain. Marvelous acting, as always. Both women looked fantastic, didn't they?
++ The cinmatography was amazing and beautiful. I mean, whoa. The battle sequences, the explosions, the zooming in and out, seeing the landing of the rapture from an inside perspective, and just everything.
++ The opening montage with the razor and Kendra's monologue. Loved it.
++ "I have a destiny. Had my palm read by a Cylon, remember?" Oh Kara, how I love you.
++ All together now: SO SAY WE ALL! :D :D :D
++ The old school centurions! Robotic voices! Holy frak! "BY YOUR MOTHERFUCKING COMMAND, BITCHES!" BWAHAHA! Seriously, how badass looking were they? Totally not as sophisicated as the newer, upgraded ones, but still. Nice shoutout to the original series. That was just an awesome cameo.
++ Sharon! Only a minor scene, but yay! Her hair looked awesome, by the way.
++ Gina! We finally learn of her last name, Inviere which means "resurrection" in Gemenese. Awesome. Though, awww poor Gina. I'm pretty sure in the extended and unrated version on the DVD we'll be seeing the actual abuse of Gina. *shudders* Poor Gina.
++ Also, Baltar in the background! Only one milli-second scene and that was it! Oh Baltar, you get shunned this time. Though we'll be seeing you again...in your crazy-praising fanclub thinking you're a healer in S4....
++ The Pegasus CIC is more sophisicated looking than Galactica's. I know this is probably not something totally new to fans, but I just noticed how more fancier it looked, especially the doors. Perhaps I'm way behind or something, I don't know. The differences are remakrable.
++ Awwww, Adama and Roslin. Yay!
++ The way Razor was put together; weaving scenes in and out, flashing back to the Pegasus underneath Cain's command to Lee's command and flashbacks to when Adama was in the first war discovering the secret Cylon weapon/project....this whole movie is one gigantic flashback and I loved it. Definitely adding the answers to our questions and having more questions that still need to be answered.
++ There needs to be Kara/Kendra fics now. Y/Y?
++ I find it utterly hilarious that people were shocked that Cain and Gina were lovers. Really, people found that surprising? I knew that after Gina had escaped and went directly to Cain's quarters to shoot her personally there was something going on between them. She could've just escaped but no, she had to stop to deliver the murder herself which I found was on a personal level. I'm laughing at people's reactions to this reveal (even more than those Quizno's commericals, which those were full of LOLZ). I thought it was obvious, and even back during S2 people were speculating a possible relationship between them. Heh, I guess I see the slash wherever I go. *shrugs*
++ I still love the moral questioning about what is acceptable and what isn't during war; the decisions and conflicts every character faces in order to survive. BSG does an excellent job at not making it preachy but not sugarcoating it either, and Razor si not exception. In fact it brings in a darker road, particularly for Cain in general and how ruthless and unsympathetic she can be even in the worst of times.
I probably have more to add, but this is all I can think of at this moment in time. I'll have more when I think it of later on, but this is the jist of my initial reaction afterwards. Overall, I was delighted with Razor. It was a perfect installment which has me craving for more BSG now, dammit. But I guess we'll have to wait until March/April until S4 begins. Also I know that the DVD will have more of the scenes that was cut from the television debut, because I know there was more Kendra/Kara interaction scenes and other stuff.
For anyone else, fan or otherwise, who watched Razor and still were left puzzled or want more information regarding certain things mentioned, Ron Moore had been answering fan questions on the Fans4Writers forum.
External Linkage Reviews: (just a selected few I found enjoyable, for more look through the galacticanews community)
- Slicing "Battlestar Galactica: Razor"
- "Razor" Slices Smartly Into "Battlestar Galactica" Backstory
- "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" gives the saga a sharper edge
- "Battlestar Galactica: Razor" Preview: "Jaw-Dropping" Details and Shocking Returns
- Entertainment Weekly Recaps "Razor"
- Stephanie Jacobson talks about "Razor" role