Battlestar Galactica DVD movie "The Plan," coming out Tuesday, tells the Cylons' side of the story. It's about why they attacked the colonies, and what they wanted from humanity. But watching it will leave you with more questions than answers.
There are moments of coolness in this movie for fans, especially those of us who wanted to know more about little-used cylons like the Simon model. We get genuine character development for Simon, as well as a few versions of Cavil and sleeper agent Sharon. Writer Jane Espenson isn't always in her element with Battlestar, but she knows how to write snappy dialogue that Dean Stockwell delivers with pitch-perfect evil prissiness. (There is a great moment where Cavil snarks at a Five model for being too blendy with his fellow models by wearing the same suits, and the Five snaps, "But his jacket was burgundy. This is teal.") We also meet a hooker version of Six who is hilariously awesome.
However, I have to emphasize what I said above: This movie is only going to be cool for fans. Nobody else could possibly understand it - the story jumps around in time throughout the first and second seasons, referencing plot developments that will make no sense to anybody but a die-hard follower of the show. But fans will also quickly become impatient with the story, too. Larded with lots of old footage, "The Plan" often feels like a gussied-up clip show.
A lot of the details that are added in actually make the show even more confusing. For example, a Cavil hanging out with the rebels back on Caprica has a conversation with a Simon model that makes it seem as if both of them know that Anders is one of the final five. Which makes no sense because one of the major issues in the show was that only Cavil knew who the final five were.
We also discover that the Cylons never really had a "plan" at all - basically, Cavil just bamboozled the other models into attacking the colonies for "justice." But what he really wanted was for the final five to be killed in the attacks, and then wake up in their goo buckets having "learned a lesson" that humanity is horrible. Somehow, he thinks that just having lived among humans will have convinced the final five that humans are awful. Then they'll all apologize to him and he'll get a lot of damp hugs from his naked, gooey parents.
Unfortunately, however, the Plan goes awry because none of the final five are killed in the attacks. Plus, they haven't learned anything! They still think humans are cool. Although Ellen is on the verge of death, Cavil decides to keep her alive so that she'll eventually learn her lesson that humans suck.
Could this really have been the whole Plan? Nuke the entire human race so that the final five will resurrect and give out apologetic hugs? I feel like I need another movie just to explain what happened in this one.
However, I don't want you to think that it was all bad, because there were parts of The Plan that reminded me of what made BSG such a great show. One of the Simon models in the Fleet is given a great backstory. He's gone native, married a human, and adopted her child from a previous marriage. His wife, who works with the Chief in engineering, is a strong, interesting character - a woman who once had a job doing aerospace engineering at a top company, who now has to figure out how to make the Galactica's jalopy fighter ships run without any spare parts at all. As Cavil pushes Simon to destroy the ship where he lives, we see the Cylon torn between the family he loves and the Cylons who are his people. It's a great subplot, and could easily have been an episode during the first or second season.
Developments with Cavil's character are also pretty interesting. We see that there are two versions of Cavil who emerge after the colonies are destroyed: one who is the evil Brother we all love, and one who starts to sympathize with the humans.
In fact, the theme of "The Plan," if anything, is that the Cylon's sympathies were always divided. From the beginning, they were torn between love for humanity and rage that they had been enslaved by the creatures who created them. Even Cavil, who is revealed in this movie as pretty much the only reason the Cylons attacked the colonies, is divided in his loyalties. One of the strengths of BSG as a series was that its heroes were dark, and its villains were granted an unexpected goodness. While it doesn't exactly deepen this theme, "The Plan" certainly sticks with it.
I think "The Plan" is destined to be the kind of thing that nobody but BSG completists will want to own. It won't bring new people into the series, and even those who love the series may be disappointed. Though there are standout moments, "The Plan" essentially takes the sensibilities of the final, extremely uneven season of the show and overlays them on the events of seasons 1 and 2. That's something that most of us, especially diehard fans, didn't really want to see.
"The Plan" will be available in stores on Oct. 27.