Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"The Plan"

**1/2

Release date: 10/27/2009
Air date: 1/10/2010
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Edward James Olmos

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Just for the record here, the final word on Battlestar Galactica is, in fact, "Daybreak," despite the fact that "The Plan" was filmed after the series finale and was released to audiences a full seven months later. "The Plan" does not pretend to offer substantive insights into the series or its characters that were not previously possible. What it does is offer is a revisit to the first two seasons of the series given what we know now that the series is over and most of the questions have been answered. It's like intriguing bonus material that supplies additional layers of irony. Peel it like an onion.

What is sort of hard to imagine is that "The Plan" was greenlit in the first place. I'm not saying it's bad (because it's not). But it is sort of a head-scratcher when you think of how the show must've been pitched to the studio. Rumor has it three post-finale BSG movies were originally under discussion. Given what "The Plan" offers us, perhaps it's a good thing only one was ultimately commissioned. "Daybreak" sent the series out on a high note with the necessary closure. Why water down that goodwill with multiple experiments in retroactive continuity?

"The Plan" plays like a math exercise in the writers room: How can we go back into the existing BSG material — specifically the first two seasons — and document, from the point of view of the Cylons, the attack on the Colonies and its aftermath, supplying various plot twists and turns upon established facts and mysteries, while not breaking any rules and also trying to tell a worthwhile character story in its own right?

It's a tall order, to be sure, which results in an often fragmented movie that's the exact opposite of such words as "standalone" and "accessible." Make no mistake: This is a BSG outing for hardcore fans only, who know the series very well. I'd hate to see the reaction of a semi-casual BSG viewer (does such a thing exist?) who wandered into "The Plan" unprepared. Much of it would be completely lost on them.

Ultimately, the problem with "The Plan" — which is neither a success nor a failure in my book but simply an unnecessary and sometimes clever curiosity — is that it can never truly resolve the question of whether it's a pointless gimmick or a legitimate story worth telling. There's evidence on hand to make a case for both positions. Sometimes it works well as a smart and perceptive character study that ponders big questions about the nature of what makes us individuals capable of reaching our unique conclusions. And other times it feels like a klutzily assembled clip show, as if the question being asked was: "How should we explain to the audience that one mystery we left open-ended four years ago?" So, yes, this is something of a compromise by its very definition.

"The Plan" documents events — previously seen and unseen — from just before the initial Cylon attack on the Colonies up through second season's finale, "Lay Down Your Burdens." The story's central conceit is that we revisit key events of the early days of BSG now that we know Cavil was the mastermind behind the Cylons. Example: Who was Six talking to on Caprica just before the bombs fell? Why, Cavil, of course. Did we need to know the answer to that question? Not really. Does it work here as a piece of plot? Sure.

Of course, part of Cavil's plan was also ensuring that the Final Five, when they died in the attack, would be resurrected on his ship where they could wake up to realize their gross error in having any sort of sympathy for humankind to begin with, at which point Cavil could say I Told You So. Example: Cavil puts a copy of himself right next to Ellen on Picon to watch her die. He puts another copy near Anders, where the Caprica Farm experiments are getting under way. The fact that neither of them die (or any of the Final Five) is a testament to the seriousness of his miscalculation.

The attack on the colonies is reenacted here with the benefit of several years' advancement in the craft of Gary Hutzel & Co. and their CG animation. It's also played out with stomach-churning anticipation of the tragically inevitable. By far the most visceral moments in "The Plan" are in its revamped depiction of the Cylon holocaust, as whole cities and civilizations are reduced to ashes. There are shots from the point of view of falling nuclear bombs that are simultaneously slick and scary; they create a fantasy of destruction that is visually impressive to behold as a stylized FX sequence while at the same time uncomfortably realistic. If you wanted impressive FX showing the destruction of the Colonies in more complete and up-close-and-personal detail than the miniseries was remotely able to provide, then "The Plan's" opening passages will do the job, no doubt.

From here, "The Plan" is basically the alternating, parallel tale of two Cavils. One thread follows Cavil on Galactica, where he attempts to secretly sow the demise of the ragtag fleet from within (thus leading to the various Cylon plots and attacks that occurred during BSG's first two seasons). The other thread follows Cavil on Caprica as he embeds himself as a civilian within the resistance led by Anders.

The gimmick of much of "The Plan" is in how it goes back to replay the existing early BSG material while writing new facts into the margins. For example: Cavil, never seen until the second season finale, was actually on Galactica the whole time, operating in secret. We see him here as he puts a flyer in the memorial corridor that says, "Have you heard of the plan?" which under his cover as a priest reads like a religious rumination but in actuality is a message to the other Cylons on Galactica telling them where and when to meet.

"The Plan" has fun in finding ways to insert its new facts into established scenes. Some of this is admittedly gimmicky. Were you dying to know how Shelly Godfrey Six "vanished" in "Six Degrees of Separation"? "The Plan" has the answer. (I, for one, wasn't dying to know and found the answer here to be hilariously low-tech.) For that matter, did you know that when Cally shot Sharon, Cavil was right there in his quarters and heard the gunshot in the corridor just outside his door? Irony, that.

The problem with some of this is its fragmentary nature. After the initial Cylon holocaust, we get scenes that jump from episode to episode to show vignettes and footnotes that take place during the clip-show aspects of "The Plan." Some of this is clumsily handled, and assumes because we're all fans here, we know what's happening in the ellipses — but it still feels like a script that's taking choppy shortcuts.

What works best, I'd say, are the scenes that show Sharon transitioning back and forth between being an unwitting sleeper agent and a waking puppet of Cavil, who brings her in and out by way of a visual object that triggers and represses her memories. In particular, they did a good job of matching footage for the events surrounding "Water."

But still, I can't shake the feeling that Sharon's role as a sleeper agent was more emotionally intriguing when we simply assumed it was all preprogrammed, and was as much a mystery to us as to her. (I am forced to repeat my question here, which is whether "The Plan" is fundamentally necessary.)

Ultimately, "The Plan" lives or dies with its dual analysis of the cruel and determined Cavil. With many members of the BSG regular cast not part of the proceedings here (except in old footage), this story relies on a limited character scope. Fortunately, this makes it the Dean Stockwell Show, which is not a bad position to be in. Cavil is enjoyable to watch because he's such a relentlessly unhappy and dryly sarcastic bastard. Many of the best lines are Cavil's quips, among them:

  • Cavil to Shelly Godfrey Six: "Very smart. Or maybe it's the glasses."
  • Cavil, unhappy about Doral's copy's similar wardrobe: "I'm taking about the fact that you're walking around the fleet wearing that jacket." Doral: "His jacket was burgundy. This is teal."
  • Cavil to Doral: "They call this a suicide vest. But I think that undersells all the homicide that goes along with it."
  • Cavil to his twin, upon both seeing the Final Five reunited in the last possible way they would've expected and in the way that most ironically underlines their failures: "Not how I imagined it." "No brother."
  • And my personal favorite. Leoben: "Kara Thrace plucked that knowledge from the Stream." Cavil: "I don't care if she plucked puppies from God's ass!"

So there's solid entertainment value to find here. There's also the question of Cavil's multiple encounters on Galactica with a young boy of about nine years old. Can the innocence of a child perhaps make Cavil rethink his ruthlessness?

A new story thread involves a character named Giana O'Neill (Lymari Nadal), who works with Tyrol's deck crew. She's married to a copy of Simon, unaware that he's a Cylon. Simon knows he's a Cylon, which is a source of enormous guilt for him; like many Cylons, he has lived among humans long enough that he has begun to sympathize with them and regret the genocide perpetrated upon them by his people. When Cavil tries to recruit Simon into a new mission to destroy the fleet from within, Simon balks.

I appreciated this subplot. I always felt Simon was woefully underutilized among the Cylons through the series' run, but here he gets a crucial role. We see how the guilt of being an instrument of potential murder eats away at him. He has a meltdown in one scene that makes you fairly sure he's going to carry out a mission of murder. Instead, he carries out his own suicide, because he'd rather die than see his wife and stepchild harmed.

Simon's suicide is put into motion in an earlier scene that demonstrates Cavil as a master of logical and emotional manipulation. When Cavil orders that Simon blow up his ship, Simon agrees, on the single condition that his family be spared. Cavil's response is irrefutable in that it reveals the truth that Simon cannot escape the lie of his existence: "No, you don't want that. You see, if they die now, they'll die without ever knowing what you are."

The scene where Simon airlocks himself — initially appearing that he is going to blow up his ship — played as one of those moments where I wasn't entirely sure what was going to happen. It underscores one of the key themes of "The Plan" (and BSG as a whole), which is that these people are trapped within the constructs of who they fundamentally are, but they can still make individual choices.

And in a nutshell, that's the undoing of Cavil's master plan. Humanity was supposed to be wiped out in one fell swoop, but key Cylons in key positions didn't perform as expected. Cavil's plan fell apart because of individual error, and the fact that Cavil never accounted for fallibility — that his machines could prove as human as his targets. They had feelings and doubts and consciences, and they gave into them instead of doing what Cavil needed them to do.

And we see it happening again here, on Galactica. Leoben becomes too interested in Kara and his belief that she has a larger purpose. Simon is more invested in his human life, wife, and stepchild. Sharon is so guilt-ridden as a Cylon that she prefers the person she is when she's oblivious as a human. Shelly Godfrey Six is guilt-ridden over framing Baltar. One by one, these Cylons prove too human and unpredictable to do what Cavil needs them to do. (You'd think he would've done the math and realized this problem long before carrying out his genocide.)

Of course, this might've all been a little more effective had the story shown me instead of showing me and then telling me to boot; the scene where the drunken prostitute Six explains via exposition all these failings is too obviously on-the-nose and for the audience's benefit.

The parallel narrative involving Cavil on Caprica with Anders is sometimes a nonstarter dramatically, but it ultimately serves its purpose by showing yet another example of the deviation from the master plan. Not only do we have misgivings between the various models of Cylons, but we have an interesting juxtaposition of the two Cavils themselves. Somehow, because of his extended experience with Anders, who fights on behalf of human values, Cavil on Caprica finds it within himself to rethink his position. Something clicks, and instead of pulling the trigger, Cavil spares a life he had earlier planned to take.

This happens at the same time Cavil on Galactica commits his most heinous and irredeemable act, which is also among the darkest moments in BSG's run: He pretends to befriend the young innocent boy, and then stabs him in the back with stunning callousness. (This moment is so jaw-dropping that I didn't think even the BSG writers had it in them.) I think its point is to reinforce Cavil's ice-cold stubbornness — that he is a machine who is immune to all the petty emotions that shut down the others. The point is also to show the unique and opposing conclusions reached by these two identical people. They have, somehow, become very different individuals based on their choices. What makes them who they are? Identical, and yet different? "The Plan" does not have an answer, and I am fine with that.

I liked the odd paradox of the two Cavils holding hands just before they are airlocked together in the final scene. It's as human a gesture as you will ever see Cavil make. Then we hear the voiceover of Cavil's diatribe from "No Exit" where he professes to want to be the perfect machine. It seems to ask just who Cavil is, and whether his nature represents a hopelessness — trapped fundamentally between what he is and what he wants to be. This final scene underlines Cavil's own self-contradiction.

"The Plan" ultimately has a worthy theme because it can inspire questions like these. But as a storytelling vehicle it too often strains in trying to get all its pieces to fit into its somewhat contrived framework. You can sometimes see the gears grinding away. Given that it covers material and themes already amply covered in the series, I'm not sure "The Plan" was necessary. An intriguing curiosity, yes. A home-run, no. As BSG goes, it falls into the realm of "optional." But considering that BSG ended months before "The Plan" was released, I suppose "optional" was the only viable choice.

Previous episode: Daybreak, Part 2

Season Index

39 comments on this review

limey - Thu, Dec 17, 2009 - 1:24pm (USA Central)
Really enjoyed the opening footage of the basestar attack on the colonies, and the impressive mood it set. Yet less than half way through, after thinking "is this canon!?" a few times, and finally answering myself with "well, it's not going to be part of my personal canon" - and believe me, I'd never even contemplated a concept like personal canon before - I had to shut it off.

Interested to hear if any fan of the series sat through all of "The Plan" and enjoyed it.
karatasiospa - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 2:52am (USA Central)
The problem with "the Plan" is that it was released after the series finale. It would make much more sense if it was released at the end of the second season.
But beyond that i think that the problem of many BSG fans with this movie is that they were waiting for more questions to be answered or perhaps more intense action and they don't have it. But i wasn't waiting for anything like that so i was not dissapointed. "The Plan" was a beautifull, silent movie, beautifully executed which for the first time saw us the story from the cylon perpective. It is a movie about the cylons and allthough we allready knew many things about their view we had never senn their point of view as a coherent story and that was something that was missing from the series.
"The Plan" undermines the anthropocentric bias of the series and in doing so it makes BSG a more completed, more idegrated series.
Thirith - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 7:57am (USA Central)
I haven't watched The Plan yet myself, but from almost everything I've heard it sounds like it's got the same weakness as Razor (IMO), namely filling in blanks that don't really add anything much to the overall work, and that in effect take something away from the audience by making things overly concrete.

I don't mind additions that raise new questions, but additions that feel like the majority of deleted scenes, i.e. sort of nice but the story flows better without them, those I can do without.
Andrew Taylor - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 8:13am (USA Central)
I agree that ultimately, at best, 'The Plan' is optional. Dean Stockwell and Cavil were abso-frakkin-lutely brilliant throughout. The plot itself, however, was far too dense; too overcrafted.

Cylon-Sharon, wanting to be more like Undercover-Sharon was an interesting emotional struggle, with Cavil apparently pulling the strings. Way back in season one though, I had already experienced Boomer struggling with her identity, and back then it was far more successful. The audience didn't know what she was up to either at that point, so it was far more involving.

Cavil had many fine lines throughout, and the setting of the mood by the new-look attack on the colonies was very well done. I found that after two hours viewing though, I probably wouldn't want to watch it again. It just seems very unecessarily tacked onto the end of BSG's run.
petetong - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 8:59am (USA Central)
I wasn't impressed by the special effects of the destruction of the colonies. In particular I thought Picon looked like it came straight out of a cheap computer game. Something about the water in the harbour and then that silly looking bar.

I wish they had explained the mystery of the Olympic Carrier.
enniofan - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 12:35pm (USA Central)
x2 on the Olympic Carrier mystery.

can't believe they didn't say anything about it in The Plan. It's an event that reverberates basically throughout the whole series (it's mentioned in Baltar's trial by Lee in a moment of self-flagellation) and you never know whether there were actually people on board that ship or not.

I thought the images of the battlestars and vipers in orbit were amazing, as was the footage of the warheads doing their thing. It was nice to see a glimpse of the other colonies...hope we get to see more in the Caprica series.

my favorite quote of the movie:
"the oceans of Aquaria ARE BURNING"
Brendan - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 12:44pm (USA Central)
Pretty much my thoughts. As a hard core BSG fan, I really loved it, while also recognizing that it wasn't more than just a superfluous add on for the sake of me and others of similar enthusiasm.

As a stand alone movie, it was terrible.

As a special bonus retrospective with interesting ideas, it was amazing.

So I guess the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Paul - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 3:20pm (USA Central)
I liked it, for the most part. But it would be all but impossible to watch for even casual fans (as Jammer said). I liked that some questions were answered, like how Godfrey escaped.

Didn't care for the Simon subplot.

Jammer -- when are you going to update your TNG reviews?
enniofan - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 3:21pm (USA Central)
oops... one other question or two I had wanted to ask in my above comment:

why was Doral presented as such a putz in The Plan?

He actually seemed quite calculated and cold-blooded in most of the series. Probably at least as much as Cavil.

it was nice to see Simon expanded upon, but again, whenever he does appear in the series proper, he comes across to me as the Cylon Dr Mengele...here he's sympathetic and conflicted. You watch The Farm and he's not...

and now I have to ask whether "Caprica" will ever jump ahead in years at some point and show the first Cylon war or arrival of the final five from charred Earth (or even re-use the actors who played the various Cylon models).
Derek - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 3:44pm (USA Central)
Great review! I hover between a low 3-star and high 2.5 one this one, but one majorly awesome thing it had going for it was the epic end-credits soundtrack. Bear McCreary one-upped himself yet again with his new arrangement of the series' opening credits music. I watched the credits many times in a row after finishing the movie, since the soundtrack CD won't be out until February.

One thing to ponder is whether the kid that Cavil killed was really a kid, or another "angel" a la Headsix. I kind of got the feeling that Cavil was being tested somehow with the kid and failed in a big way.
Christina - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 7:04pm (USA Central)
"Send in the Cavil-ry"? ROTFL

I for one thoroughly enjoyed Razor, and from your review, Jammer, it sounds like I will enjoy The Plan, too.

Unfortunately, I'll probably have to wait for the DVD or watch a visually sub-par version of it on youtube, because so far German TV hasn't even aired Razor or the final season of BSG, let alone the webisodes or the Caprica prequel. I don't have much hope that they'll ever show Razor here, which raises the question if they'll ever do a German dub of it at all. Which presents a problem once the Big Box of The Ultimate BSG Collection arrives on the market (and we all know it will one day) they'll never sell it here on the German market if all the extras and spin-offs haven't been dubbed.

Now, personally, I have no problem with watching BSG in English, but my husband prefers to watch it in German. (I have watched the first three seasons both in English and later in German as well, and I must say fortunately the German dub and the choice of voice-actors was very well executed. Other series, like i.e. Heroes, fare much worse.)




Robo - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 10:37pm (USA Central)
Can't remember Jammer if you had said you had watched Caprica or not?
Robo - Thu, Jan 21, 2010 - 10:41pm (USA Central)
And wow, haven't been back to this site in a long time, and the day I look back just happens to be when you post; hilarious! Nice review, Jammer, I felt the same way about the Plan. Some cool scenes, but overall, I think they could have made a different movie instead.

Cavil + the first 15 minutes was pretty rocking, though. Farewell, BSG! Now you'll live on in memory (and blu-ray!)
Evan - Fri, Jan 22, 2010 - 9:33pm (USA Central)
I enjoyed the Plan more than the finale. The finale was just too predictable and had too many plot holes. Knowing that this would revisit old territory ahead of time(and so was prepared), I think it fleshed things out nicely, with Simon and Cavil's stories leading the way.
Mack - Sun, Jan 24, 2010 - 11:27pm (USA Central)
Spot on review Jammer. We saw alot of cool effects and a few solid character moments. Sometimes things are better left unexplained. Which makes it all the better they left the Olympic carrier mystery alone.
Grumpy - Tue, Jan 26, 2010 - 6:51pm (USA Central)
"...key Cylons in key positions didn't perform as expected."

Like, say, Boomer being singularly responsible for assembling the ragtag fleet in the first place? Yeah, she wasn't following Cavil's script.
AntiSocialMunky - Tue, Jan 26, 2010 - 7:40pm (USA Central)
Somethings are best left unexplained. The Olympic Carrier probably exists better as a 'Mary Celeste' ghost ship thing than some cheezy Cylon stunt.


Wish it was more of the military documentary and character piece...
Nolan - Tue, Jan 26, 2010 - 11:29pm (USA Central)
Grumpy, that never, ever occoured to me... Oh the IRONY!!!!

Also, for anybody who didn't know, that Elephant Cavil used to 'awaken' Sharon, was one of the two that she had on her coffee table in "Downloaded"

Additionally, in the Bible, the fruit (Which everyone takes to be an apple) gave the knowledge of Good and Evil. Interestingly is that at the timing, when Cavil eats his apple, and casually kills that boy, Caprica Cavil, is sparing Kara's life, essencially, showing, that the Cavil modle of Cylon, gained the knowledge of good and evil.
lvsxy808 - Thu, Jan 28, 2010 - 1:41am (USA Central)
I'd like to add a note about the young kid Galactica-Cavil "befriends" - not my original thought, but one I agree with.

What is the boy's name? John. Why does he come to Cavil? Because his parents don't want him. What does he want? To be loved and cared for.

The boy IS Cavil. He's not real. He's Cavil facing himself - a child of the Final Five who only wanted to be loved and found worthy by them, but felt rejected, and so ran off on his own. Cavil kills the child to kill the part of himself that ever loved his parents, so that he can continue to pursue his revenge against them for having not loved him, without being hindered by such stupid emotions himself.

All the while, not understanding that it's exactly that love, which all the Cylons begin to feel for someone at some point, that keeps on ruining his plans.
Josh - Thu, Jan 28, 2010 - 2:37am (USA Central)
Interesting. My friends and I really liked it. I especially liked Four getting something to do for once. Of course, because that Four killed himself outside of resurrection range, he couldn't pass on his experience to the rest of his model so the others could carry on being the type that would take Cavil's side in the civil war.

Nevertheless, I see what you're saying. One slight point of regret is that Shelley Godfrey was clearly revealed as a Cylon. One interpretation I originally heard of that episode was that she was in fact Angel Six frakking with Baltar (hence why she disappeared from Baltar's projection for that time).
Graham Pilato - Mon, Feb 1, 2010 - 11:49am (USA Central)
Loved a lot of little moments in this. It really isn't essential viewing for anyone except us diehards, though. Still, it had some very interesting things to say about Cavil's journey as a leader here, which, as always, is interesting sci-fi discussion -- his scenes throughout the series were usually wonderful, with only a couple exceptions, despite the fact that an actor is talking to himself (no one). Never an easy thing to do as an actor... soliloquies can be played to an audience, but talking to someone that's just *not there*.
conroy - Wed, Feb 3, 2010 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
"One slight point of regret is that Shelley Godfrey was clearly revealed as a Cylon. One interpretation I originally heard of that episode was that she was in fact Angel Six frakking with Baltar (hence why she disappeared from Baltar's projection for that time)."

Shelley Godfrey couldn't be an angel, because other people on board Galactica had to see her, not just Gaius Baltar. As we see throughout the entire series, only Baltar and Caprica Six see the angels (formerly known as Head Six and Head Baltar).

I like "The Plan", but I was also disappointed that it didn't answer the many questions I still had after Daybreak, Part 2.

Before the show was over, I half expected to see "prostitute" Six, sitting at the controls of the Olympic Carrier, with all aboard, dead at her feet. Instead, we don't know whatever happened to her, as well.

Too bad Lucy Lawless was unavailable to reprise her role. I always felt her ending on Earth felt a bit forced. The last Three in the whole universe wants to die a slow, lingering death on a virtually dead planet. More like Lucy's too expensive to be kept on the payroll, so let's end her character here.

antred - Tue, Feb 9, 2010 - 4:09pm (USA Central)
"Shelley Godfrey couldn't be an angel, because other people on board Galactica had to see her, not just Gaius Baltar. As we see throughout the entire series, only Baltar and Caprica Six see the angels (formerly known as Head Six and Head Baltar)."

Maybe that's because Head Six / Baltar __chose__ to be visible only to those specific persons? IMO they're fully capable of making themselves be seen by whomever they want to be seen by.
JNG - Sun, Mar 14, 2010 - 8:59am (USA Central)
I was most interested in the deleted scene where the Cavil on occupied Caprica tries to sell the Resistance members on the idea that Picon was still partly habitable, that fresh food was being produced there, and that other human survivors were living there as forced labor for the Cylons. Some buy it, follow a Six and an Eight, and get betrayed and massacred by Centurions to the terrible grief of the Six and Eight.

If there was zero truth to this story, then I don't fully understand why he told it, since it seems that the massacre of those who believed it happened at the behest of the *other* Cavil.

If it was true or partly true, then it's just interesting to think that other humans could still be surviving on Picon, possibly abandoned when the Cylons left (if they didn't bother to wipe them out first). Strange thing to wonder about, maybe, but since I mostly disliked the ending of the series, the only part of it I found really interesting to consider was what would happen to the mechanical Cylons who go off on their own.

Anyone know anything more about this?
Nic - Fri, May 14, 2010 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
Once again, I apologize for commenting on something I haven't seen, but I just wanted to answer your question "Is there such thing as a semi-casual BSG fan?" The answer is yes. I know one. He has seen a smattering of episodes dubbed into French. The only opinion I could get from him on the series was that it was "good" and that "the girl is really hot". I'm not joking!
Will - Thu, Jun 10, 2010 - 11:38am (USA Central)
Just caught this in the UK. It's only just being shown on television. Okay I guess. It's more a glorified clip show than a real movie, but still fun to watch I guess. It was cool seeing the twelve colonies and the Cylon MIRVs, also that shot of the Raider taking off in front of the bridge Anders and co. were on as well as the Cylon repair shop were cool. I just thought through the whole thing, what's the point? We don't learn anything new or intriguing, and the plan when you get down to it isn't THAT clever.
Chip - Wed, May 18, 2011 - 9:47pm (USA Central)
Jammer's too nice here; it was ultimately pointless. Almost every "revelation" was something we could already infer (some conclusions would have been very debatable, but that's part of the fun) given how the series played out. And it shows us too much we don't need to know. It reminds me of the director's cut of Donnie Darko, which tried to explain way too much when the original was satisfyingly ambiguous and open to interpretation.
Sanagi - Thu, May 26, 2011 - 4:29am (USA Central)
I have no problem calling this a three-star episode on the strength of Dean Stockwell's performance alone. He's too much fun as a bad guy. I was also happy to learn more about these characters, something I didn't get out of Razor. BSG is about its characters, not its mysteries, so I was satisfied with that and not bothered by the rather weak answers The Plan delivered.

Beyond that, I'd have to agree with the negative comments. In particular, there's nothing interesting to do with Anders in flashbacks that wasn't done more simply and effectively in Daybreak.
Detla - Tue, Aug 30, 2011 - 2:24pm (USA Central)
It struck me, when Caprica-Cavil tries to end the slaughter and the war:
He is THE ONE, who started the whole war in the first place. It's not about how he persuaded the other Cylons (which would be quite interesting) but the movie tells us between the lines, that the whole war is basically started to prove the final five wrong. This is not a convenient byproduct but the reason. This is why Caprica-Cavil wants to end the mess, he recognizes that the final five will wake up, not a bit convinced they did anything wrong. Instead, they will blame the Cylons and never forgive them. This is, why it is pointless to him to continue from this point. Galactica-Cavil cannot share this insight, because he is too much trapped in trying to end it the way he ment it to end.
One question, which I would like to have answered though, how has Cavil managed to withhold all this (and the information about the final five themselves) from the other Cylons who seem all unaware of the identities of the final five?
Allomancer - Sun, Sep 4, 2011 - 9:49pm (USA Central)
I'd call this a three star, personally. Sure, it wasn't anything really revelatory, but the performances were good, especially Cavil's, of course. Also, I disagree with Jammer that Boomer's full story was better left untold. I always though when watching the series that Boomer's behavior didn't quite make sense once she got back to the Cylons. She went from being completely torn up about shooting Adama to being Cavil's right hand, the only 8 to side with him in the Cylon civil war, and even going so far as to betray everyone again when she steals Hera? I just chalked it up to her being pissed at getting killed by Cally, but it never really sat right with me.

This way, though, knowing that once her programming was switched off she fully retained all her memories as a Cylon, it makes the rest of her actions seem a lot easier to understand. She was still conflicted in full-Cylon mode, obviously, but she had way too much loyalty to the Cylons for someone who only ever remembered being human.
Nic - Sun, Nov 27, 2011 - 9:40pm (USA Central)
[NOTE: I watched this after "No Exit" and have not yet seen the rest of season 4]

I loved the first half-hour. After seeing the human-Cylon alliance, it's a hard blow to be reminded of what the Cylons did in the miniseries and start hating them all over again.

After that, it played more like a long, long, long package of "deleted scenes", most of which were unnecessary. I always thought Boomer's character change from "Downloaded" (where she still lived in her human apartment and said she loved the Galactica crew) to her very pro-Cylon position in seasons 3-4 was hard to swallow. Her scenes in "The Plan" help make her change more believable. I also liked the Simon/Giana story. That's pretty much it. I wondered why Athena was barely mentioned; I would have been curious to hear what Cavil thought about the first Cylon to completely switch sides for 'love'.

As usual, the music was AMAZING.
Paul - Thu, Sep 13, 2012 - 6:10pm (USA Central)
I just watched this last night for the first time in a while. It holds up, and I think it is more valuable than Jammer gives it credit for. Some other thoughts ...

-- while I liked the Simon subplot, I thought Giana inspiring Tirol to essentially kill himself was goofy.

-- the throwaway line (obviously dubbed) when Anders realizes Simon is a Cylon was really goofy.

-- totally agree with Jammer about how unnecessary the scene with Cavil and prostitute Six was.
Nebula Nox - Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - 12:48am (USA Central)
Just watched this last night on DVD! I thought it was fun, with the emphasis on fun. With the knowledge that we have - who will survive, and when, as well as the fact that some of the Cylons would turn out to be goodies or at least partial goodies instead of complete baddies - it was impossible to make it quite as gripping. The suspense is inevitably gone, so they went more for comedy. But I enjoyed it just as I enjoyed the back story. Some of the lines, as Jammer pointed out, were fabulous, and who could deliver them better than Dean Stockwell.

Yes, it made the Cylons seem more fallible than they had before, and as a truth - and much of BSG helps us understand Truths about ourselves - it shows what a difference an evil leader can make. In the series we never had a satisfactory answer for what the Cylons were doing and why - here we finally get one. John Cavil's hatred of humanity was so great that he was not satisfied with killing all but 50,000 of them. Loved it when Boomer wondered why they had to continue killing humans.

The DVD version, at least, surprised me with some of the nudity.
Q - Mon, Dec 31, 2012 - 4:46am (USA Central)
Ok, Nebula Nox, "The Plan" has some high points (expl. the final scene) but this movie is part of BSG, and BSG has quality. However revelated Cylons' motivation is childish, oedipal at last. In comparison to the analalyses "AI Problem" in written fiction (Clarke, Lem, Asimov, Gibson) it was pretty lame.
Niall - Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - 6:25am (USA Central)
This episode is little more than a gap-filling retcon exercise to paper over the writers' holes in the first two series by retroactively showing us what the Cylon's "plan" - the one we were reminded of at the start of every show - actually was. And because there never was one at the time - the writers never knew what it was - it doesn't add up to much.
Peremensoe - Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - 6:07pm (USA Central)
"Retcon" conventionally refers to retroactive *changes* to the past story. The great thing about The Plan is that it provides continuity without rendering any of the past story obsolete. It was *done* retroactively, yes, but it fits as well as if it had been written at the time... better than some original episodes, in fact.

Yes, the Cylons were fallible, and often childish. Did we not see that in the series??
Grumpy - Fri, Sep 20, 2013 - 10:26pm (USA Central)
Strictly speaking, as originally defined by Roy Thomas, "retcon" referred to stories inserted into established continuity retroactively, nothing more. The term quickly took on the added meaning of stories that change the interpretation of established continuity, and later still of stories that establish a new continuity as if the old never existed, which is more of a revision. "The Plan" is a retcon in the original sense, mostly, which can be fun but seems like a waste.
Peremensoe - Sat, Sep 21, 2013 - 10:16pm (USA Central)
A new continuity as if old never existed is a "reboot," no?

Anyway that original definition seems pretty pointless to me. Every flashback is a retcon? No point for a new term if there's no new concept.
Overthinker - Fri, Dec 13, 2013 - 10:34pm (USA Central)
A flashback is different to a retcon in the original sense in that a flashback is usually a flash back to a time we hadn't seen before, to stories we hadn't known before, whereas a retcon like this shows us the same stories, but with a different angle. It changes how we see events that were previously portrayed. There's overlap, definitely.

As for the telemovie itself.... Best described by the nudity that showed up: quite gratuitous, but looked nice. I for one lost all interest and respect for the Cylons as an adversary or any great Plan once it was shown that it was all down to one mad, anger-filled man. It wasn't a great clash of civilisations, there was no fundamental reason they couldn't live together, it was just John being a petulant brat. Nor was I happy with the way the skinjobs morphed from being equal partners, different reflections of one will, one goal, into John's lackeys. This whole change seems to me to be a failure of imagination on the writers' parts. Why bother creating some real reasons for the Cylon destruction, a real Plan, when you can just create a new Hitler, a despotic leader who wants the Jewmans all killed for no sensible reason? Establishing John as the driving force made it petty and personal, and common.

I think the first two seasons are absolutely fantastic. Then the series loses its way, it becomes increasingly clear that the Cylons may have a plan but Ron Moore doesn't (and in fact we now learn that even the Cylons don't really have a plan), and that logic and rationality are tossed out the airlock in favour of punchy dramatic reveals that raise more questions than give answers, and most answers don't make sense anyway.

To me, one of the defining differences between fantasy and SF is that SF tries to give answers. In fantasy, you can say "A wizard did it," and that's all you need. Magic, gods, the supernatural, are all part of the established world of fantasy. In SF, as in science, there's always the idea that there is an answer out there. The fact that BSG refuses to give us the answers to many of its biggest questions, like "Who is this God person anyway?" is what frustrated me so very very much (that, and the finale of course). Star Trek's infamous technobabble at least pretended that there was an answer. It gave us explanations, and I for one much prefer the explanation to the mystery.

Submit a comment

Above, type the last name of the captain on Star Trek: TNG
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

Season Index

Copyright © 1994-2014, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any review or article on this site is prohibited. Star Trek (in all its myriad forms), Battlestar Galactica, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc., NBC Universal, and Tribune Entertainment, respectively. This site is in no way affiliated with or authorized by any of those companies. | Copyright & Disclaimer