Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica leaves off right from where Season 1 ends. Commander Adama fights for his life after being shot by the Cylon sleeper agent Sharon and Colonel Tigh takes over command. It soon becomes apparent, as in-fighting and betrayal rocks the fleet, that survival alone really isn't enough to unify the people. There will always be something to keep them divided and in Season 2 the difference is between spiritual faith and scientific evidence. Adama's military represents order and pragmatism while president Roslin looks to lead the people, albeit to the same destination, via a different path. She becomes the self proclaimed religious icon, said to lead her people on a per-determined journey to Earth before cancer can kill her.
Season 2 focuses on freedom by showing us many forms of imprisonment. The struggle to be free is re-occurring in small story arcs, from Lee, President Roslin and Boomer in the brig, to Kara held captive in the farm. These are all reflections of the over-arching and greater story of Humanity's flight from the conquering Cylons.
The dark undertone brewing within the fleet is the idea of trust and faith. When it is revealed to the general populace that the Cylons can look like humans and that Sharon was a sleeper agent all along, tension begins to run high. Helo, who had fallen in love with Sharon must deal with suspicion and intolerance. The witch trials start thick and fast as love and hate start making it very difficult to know who is who and who is working for who. The lines become so blurred that the whole endeavour seems futile. However just when things seem to settle down and unity is reformed and it seems the search for Earth will continue, we are thrown another curve ball. The Pegasus; a more advance battlestar, though destroyed with the rest of the Colonial Fleet appears out of nowhere. Led by Admiral Cain, a military utilitarian, who being the most senior officer among the ranks takes charge of the fleet and plans to lead a new offensive against the Cylons.
Whispers soon travel and tell of the questionable ethics that Cain has employed through her decisions making and discord begins to run rampant between the two crews. Civil war seems more likely now than any Cylon attack. Unlike the weary Galactica crew who simply want to escape the dreary existence of jumping away from Cylon attacks and living on rations, Cain needs a war, any war she can get.
Executive Officer Colonel Tigh is perhaps the surprise packet in this season and develops into a stronger character. The self defeating antics of season one diminish as he becomes more involved in the ships affairs. In no cliche manner, all his flaws are revealed as he slowly but surely redeems himself. The scenes with his Pegasus counterpart are some of his best.
Interestingly, despite all the heightened events, there is less overall space battling as all the important action is either internal to the space ships or grounded on planets. The Cylon threat looms over everything, however it recedes from the day to day physical conflicts that were prevalent in season 1. Internal politics and unrest come to the fore now and the "toasters" are in some ways are actually playing the human roles as we see the ill treatment of three Cylon prisoners through rape and torture. The Cylons themselves are seeking that last thing they believe will solidify their transcendence from machinery to humanity; to be loved and to "be fruitful" and this is realised through the birth of Sharon and Helo's child, the first born Cylon and Human mix.
The child's blood is that which saves President Roslin from her cancer, just in time to face her first election. An election complicated by the accidental finding of a planet which can potential serve as a safe haven and new home for humanity. Roslin is adamant that the fleet must continue to head for Earth as is there destiny. Her rival in the election, Dr. Gaius Balter however, uses the planet to appeal to the people as a symbol that the running is over and they can settle safely on this rather uninspiring and aptly named, New Caprica.
Much more layered and complex than the first season which now feels like just a platform for events to take off in many different directions. A truly epic year of television with greater production values and with characters who start revealing their true nature and intentions in a life none of them could have been ready for. We are no longer able to simply think of Battlestar Galactica as a show about human survival against the Cylons as the destiny of both humans and machines has become (or perhaps always was) very intricately intertwined.
On a side note, one thing which has been bothering me all along is how much like us the humans in the series are like us (or at least in a western sense) and at first I simply put it down as a writing device to help viewers connect to the characters. However, more and more things have crept into their culture from ours which I can't imagine would be identical on a distance planet. Nor would I put it down to oversights or mistakes by the creators, therefore I believe there is some sort of twist coming in the series regarding the true origin of the species which differs from the beliefs they hold currently. More on that later however, in the meantime, the cliffhanger that ends the season is out of control and essentially, changes everything again. I'm sure glad I have the next box set ready and waiting as that would have been very painful over an extended break. Season 3 review will follow soon.