A Preview/Review of “Battlestar Galactica: Razor”

Raise your hand if you were bummed to hear that Razor would be about Pegasus instead of Galactica. Quite a few, okay … Now raise your hand if you were even more bummed to hear that it would be about events that had already taken place. Almost everyone, wow … All right, now raise your hand if you yelled “oh, come ON!” when you heard that it would mainly be about Admiral Cain and focus on a character we’ve never heard of before. Thought so.

I was just like you. Kind of thinking, “As much as I desperately need a BSG fix because I’m in serious withdrawal and it’ll be aeons before Season 4 starts, I’m not really excited about watching something about a character I never liked, seen through the eyes of a character I’ve never met, in the past.” It didn’t appeal to me much at all, outside of the fact that it’s BSG. But I should’ve known better — the writers who’ve hooked me for three seasons of what is arguably the best show on television (despite the unconscionable lack of tangible, shiny critical acclaim) couldn’t possibly let me down. And they didn’t. Razor is two hours of the most gripping drama possible, and it’s even nice enough to give us a juicy little tidbit to take with us into Season 4.

The little mini-sodes — the teasers featuring Bill Adama’s discovery of the Cylon lab during the first Cylon war — did a great job of setting up for Razor. In fact, if you missed them, don’t worry: They’re included in Razor.

Razor‘s time frame falls roughly between “The Captain’s Hand” and “Lay Down Your Burdens” in Season 2, and it flashes back to the events immediately following the Cylons’ breach of the armistice and briefly to the first Cylon war. Razor follows Kendra Shaw, Cain’s aide, from the first time she sets foot on Pegasus through Lee’s first mission as commander, and through her we get to witness firsthand all of the events we heard about only in hushed, vague whispers when the crews of Galactica and Pegasus started working together.

It’s a complex show in which every subplot is important to our understanding of the series as a whole. One of the most valuable things we get is a three-dimensional portrait of Admiral Cain. Her brief appearance in Season 2 had us cursing the air she breathed, and her crew seemed made of evil. With Razor, we see them all before, during and after the Cylon attack. We get a revealing look at who Cain is behind the uniform, and why she does what she does while she’s in it. And Shaw’s not just a lens through which we observe the action, she’s a fully-fleshed-out character with a key role in the history of Pegasus, Galactica, and the human race.

Fans of BSG will love Razor. The writing is among the best of the series, the characterization is intense, the plot is edge-of-your-seat thrilling, and it really, really makes you think (like all good sci fi does). Razor will haunt you long after the show’s aired (this Saturday, November 24 at 9pmET), and you’ll be chomping at the bit for Season 4.