The Cylons did not have "The Plan"

Last week saw the DVD release of what may be the final Battlestar Galactica movie/episode, a flashback movie called “The Plan.” It was written by Jane Espenson and is the story of the attack and early chase from the point of view of the Cylons, most particularly Number One (Cavil.) (Review first, spoilers after the break.)

I’ve been highly down on BSG since the poor ending, but this lowered my expectations, giving me a better chance of enjoying The Plan. However, sadly it fell short even of lowered expectations. Critics have savaged it as a clip show, and while it does contain about 20% re-used footage (but not including some actors who refused to participate) it is not a clip show. Sadly, it is mostly a “deleted scenes” show.

You’ve all seen DVDs with “deleted scenes.” I stopped watching these on DVDs because it often was quite apparent why they were deleted. The scene didn’t really add anything the audience could not figure out on its own, or anything the story truly needed. Of course in The Plan we are seeing not deleted material but retroactive continuity. Once the story of Cavil as the mastermind of the attack was written in season 4, and that he did it to impress his creators (who themselves were not written as Cylons until season three) most of the things you will see become obvious. You learn very little more about them that you could not imagine.

There is some worthwhile material. The more detailed nuking of the colonies is chilling, particularly with the Cylon models smiling at the explosions — the same models the audience came to forgive later. Many like the backstory given to a hidden “Simon” model on board the fleet never seen in the show. He turns out (in a retcon) to be one of the first to become more loving and human, since we see him at the opening having secretly married a human woman, but we also don’t forget the other Simon models we saw, who were happy to run medical experiments on humans, smile at nukes, and lobotomize their fellow Cylons to meet Cavil’s needs.

We learn the answers to a few mysteries that fans asked about — who did Six meet after leaving Baltar on Caprica? The shown meeting is anticlimactic. How did Shelley Godfrey disappear after accusing Baltar? The answer is entirely mundane, and better left as a mystery. (Though it does put to rest speculation that she was actually a physical appearance of the Angel in Baltar’s head, who mysteriously was not present during Godfrey’s scenes.)

We get more evidence that Cavil is cold and heartless. Stockwell enjoys playing him that way. But I can’t say it told me much new about his character.

More disappointing is what we don’t get. We don’t learn what was going on in the first episode, 33 and what was really on the Olympic Carrier, a source of much angst for Apollo and Starbuck during the series. We don’t learn how the Cylons managed to be close enough to resurrect those tossed out airlocks, but not to catch the fleet. We don’t learn how Cavil convinced the other Cylons to kill all the humans, or their thoughts on it. We don’t learn how that decision got reversed. We learn more about what made Boomer do her sabotages and shooting of Adama, but we don’t learn anything about why she was greeted above Kobol by 100 naked #8s who then let her nuke their valuable base star. Now that the big secret of the god of Galactica is revealed, we learn nothing more about that god, and the angels don’t even appear.

In short, we learn almost nothing, which is odd for a flashback show aired after the big secrets have been revealed. Normally that is the chance to show things without having to hide the big secrets. Of course, they didn’t know most of these big secrets in the first season.

Overall verdict: You won’t miss a lot if you miss this, feel free to wait for it to air on TV.

Some minor spoiler items after the break.

We do learn that it’s not an accident that Sam’s band of Pyramid players survives, as there is a Simon with them and a One joins early on. (We can imagine that the Simon was placed there by a One earlier on, since he doesn’t do the obvious thing which is, as their team doctor, give them “radiation treatments” and poison them.) And we already knew it was no accident that Ellen made it to the fleet, though it turns out that Cavil played less of a role in it than we might think. He was there, and spoke to her, but it was colonial rescue crews that picked her up.

However, it now becomes clear that it’s pure chance that the other 3 survive. Galactica was not always intended to survive as home to 2 of the Final Five. Tori survives through her own luck, when an ambulance lands near where he car is flipped by the nukes. Problem is with 40,000 survivors out of 10 billion, that’s odds of 1 in 250,000 of surviving, and the odds for 3 particular people to make it are 15 thousand trillion to one against. These ridiculous odds are not uncommon in fiction of course, but they really suggested a simpler explanation — that the Final Five had always been intended to survive. But alas, the opening scene tells us otherwise.

There is a brief line about how they Cylons are killing the humans on behalf of the centurions, who no longer are able to understand what is being done for them. This is quite odd, since first of all none of the humanoid Cylons had ever met the humans they are attacking (until they started planting themselves as sleepers) and the centurions made a truce with the humans and once were able to understand fully what was going on. Indeed, as we learn in Caprica they have human-derived minds. We learn nothing more about this and the motivations of the various Cylons.

Cavil is a bastard and we learn that even more. A long sub-plot involving a young boy serves no purpose but to remind us how cold he is. And inept. They are on board Galactica. A senior pilot is one of them. He has access to bombs. And this is the best they can do, even with recalcitrant operatives? They really wanted to wipe out Galactica and Adama and just kept failing? A bit hard to credit. One has to wonder why they didn’t just use a raider with a nuke on board, and jump it right next to Galactica.

Shelley was also inept. If you will recall (and they show us again), Gaeta wonders why the pictures were so obviously faked. Gaeta suggests they wanted to be found out. But no, that is not what they wanted. They really wanted to discredit Baltar — not that it made any difference. So why were the pictures so bad that Gaeta declares this.

For a clip show they left out the best line of a scene that was in the show. Cavil telling Tyrol, “I know you’re not a Cylon because I’m one and I haven’t seen you at the meetings.” When this line was written, Tyrol had not yet been picked for a Cylon. Yet the line turns out to be wonderful, since of course Cavil is a Cylon, and Tyrol is one as well, but he would not have been at the meetings. But Cavil would (through retcon) know exactly why he isn’t at the meetings.

best line

My favorite line from The Plan was Doral's bit about his jacket being a different color. At least one of the writers had a sense of humor.

Fast Forward

Thanks for visiting this topic,Bard. Been looking forward to it.

I'm still feeling burned by BSG so had very, very low expectations of The Plan but it didn't even jump that low bar. Overall, it came over as pointless filler and I watched most of it on fast forward. It was a contrived by the numbers plot and the directing was uninspiring and pedestrian. If BSG felt like one of those late night 1970's movies you watch in the hope it will end well The Plan felt like an 1970's afternoon show. In that comedy horror timeloop The Plan fits Mitochondrial Eve like a hand in a glove. If someone catches Ron D Moore pimp rolling down the street in flared jeans it will complete the legend of Ron D Moore being the new Ed Wood.

the plan

Didn't expect much from this despite Olmos's attempt in interviews to inspire the viewers to rewatch the entire show in a different light once seeing "the supposed plan" This whole thing was utterly pointless. Olmos also said that there would be more instalments if this did well in DVD sales. Apparantly its shown up on a few torrent sites already. I just hope this sinks without trace, i cannot stand to watch any more of this drivel, please fans download it illegally or just wait for the satellite/TV run of it (if you can be bothered)Goodbye BSG i'll stick to my Greg Egan novels at least he treats his readers to intelligent and thought provoking ideas in a real SF context - oh and he takes for granted that you have an inquiring mind and intelligence.

Thanks, Brad. I was waiting

Thanks, Brad. I was waiting for you to post something about this.

I had high hopes for The Plan until I saw the BSG finale. Then my expectations dropped very low indeed, so I wasn't particularly disappointed by the reality. If you look at it as just another episode, then it's quite an entertaining one. Imagine it had been broadcast as a regular episode (extended or two-parter) towards the end of season 4, after the truth about the Final Five was revealed. I think it would have been well received. But of course that's not how it was released, and viewers can be forgiven for expecting something more, especially given the hype. I must admit I torrented it. I would have been prepared to pay the price of two episodes to download it from iTunes, but I wasn't prepared to pay the price of a DVD movie for an extended TV episode.

Another thing which is liable to contribute to unfulfilled expectations is the name. Throughout much of the series the writers told us that the Cylons had a secret plan: "And they have a plan." But this turned out to be lie. There was no plan beyond what we'd already seen. Now the writers have lied to us again, as "The Plan" still hasn't revealed any secret plan of any significance. Sure, there's Cavill pulling strings within the fleet, telling the Cylon sleepers what to do. But how is that a "plan"? He's just opportunistically pursuing the same objective the Cylons have had all along: wiping out the human race. There's also Cavill's personal vendetta against the Final Five, which involves some element of planning, but nothing much that we didn't already know about from Season Four, and anyway it's just Cavill's personal vendetta, not a general Cylon plan.

On the good side, it was interesting seeing things from the Cylon point of view, and having some gaps filled in. The detailed coverage of the destruction of the colonies was spectacular, with a great soundtrack. There were a few enjoyable character-oriented scenes. I really loved the one with Ellen telling Cavill that she hadn't learnt a thing. (Of course, the topless barmaids didn't have anything to do with my appreciation of that scene.)

The problems with "The Plan" are ones which I think were forced on the writers by the difficult task they'd undertaken, and they did an impressive job under those circumstances. (The problem is that it wasn't worth undertaking in the first place.) The story felt a bit patchy, as they jumped from one bit of the series to another. They tried to give it a structure by building it around the experiences of the two Cavills, and that worked up to a point, but it was a struggle, especially as we knew how things were going to turn out in the end. Also, the filling in of the gaps often felt rather contrived. But I suppose that's not surprising, as it was contrived. An example of this was Shelley Godfrey's disappearance. They'd created an apparently inexplicable mystery, so of course when they eventually set themselves the task of explaining it, they had big problems. To be fair, they came up with an enjoyable caper, which works if you don't think it through. But it doesn't really correspond to what the marines said they saw. After the BSG finale I just attributed Shelley Godfrey to "God did it for no known reason". Once the writers have invoked that as an "explanation" for stuff they couldn't explain properly, why bother looking for any other explanations? Still, I suppose it's nice to have one less "God did it".

Your point about the amazing coincidence of all the Five ending up in the fleet is something which bothered me too. But you're forgetting the obvious explanation: God did it.

"One has to wonder why they didn’t just use a raider with a nuke on board, and jump it right next to Galactica."

Throughout the first two seasons it often seemed like the Cylons weren't fully committed to destroying the Galactica. There seemed to be many things they could have done better if that was their aim. I often wondered if the plan was to let the fleet lead them to Earth, and the attacks were a pretence. Or maybe different factions of Cylons couldn't agree on whether to eliminate the human race. But no, it turns out they were just incompetent. (Real reason: the writers didn't worry much about the credibility of the larger story.)

Lacklustre attacks

Yes, I agree. In fact, when we learned the story of the final 5, as disappointed as I was with them being just Cavil’s victims and pawns, it led me to believe that Cavil, as he said, had not wanted them dead, and this explained why the fleet was never destroyed. That would have been a secret plan. But no, there was no such plan.

And while everybody knows how much I hate the “god did it” ending, having Shelley be a physical manifestation of Angel-Six made perfect sense. After all, Angel-Six vanishes for that period. And this is one of the key events which brings Baltar to depend on her, and to be more willing to accept god, which is A6’s goal. What matters here is that Baltar is vindicated and he thanks god for it. He is vindicated because the photo-fakery is obvious enough that it’s like the “wanted to be found.” And yet no, we learn they did not want to be found, they are just incompetent. A Six, the same model who can reprogram an entire planetary defence system, can’t do a decent job in photoshop. That’s all it is.

I'm just glad I didn't pay

I'm just glad I didn't pay to watch this.

I've defended this show left

I've defended this show left and right, and while I didn't love the ending, and was a tad bit disappointed, I had no real problem with it, it was ok... But I feel ripped off. $18 for deleted scenes? Was it some revelation that Cavel would take in a human kid only to stab him to death? NO! If anything, this piece of garbage did nothing but further contradict the story... First we think 50 thousand get away because the genocide was just not pulled off as planned, then we are led to believe it was some godly intervention, then we are told it was just Cavil trying to teach the Final 5 a lesson... And in the end with this dvd we are told it was just a screw up? Stick to something!

The only thing that was worth the watch was seeing a Simon having conflict, and ultimately killing himself rather than killing his human family. And it was funny watching Cavil mock Doral's clothes.

As Brad says, nothing was revealed. This should have either not been made, or shown on SyFy after the final episode for FREE.

I still have hope for Caprica, hopefully we can get some explanation for Starbuck and all that.

V better not disappoint.

What disappointed ME in the Plan

... the movie itself was so disjointed, and was not a movie at all. There was absolutely no narrative, and was simply, as has been said here, a cheap way to release a new DVD. Thank Netflix that I didn't have to pay for it!

Worst ending ever?

Haven't read your blog in a while, seeing as it's been off the air for so long, so i'm just catching up. While I would agree that the final episode may have been one of the most disappointing SF finales, I would hardly call it the worst-- as a matter of fact, the first half rates in my mind as one of the very best, and that is what makes it such an enigma. How could they do so right by the characters and the drama, but miss so wildly with the story resolution?

That title is provactive

As I explain it means what you say — most disappointing ending ever — in the first paragraph. There are worse endings, but they did not have great beginnings. Almost all TV endings are poor, as I point out.

To Be Free

Blake's 7 had a strong opening and it's ending is a classic. It's arguable that without Blake's 7 sci-fi programming like Battlestar Galactica wouldn't have existed. Space: 1999 also has its modern equivalent in Stargate Universe. The anime sci-fi short series Sol Bianca (which was partly inspired by Blake's 7) also ended strongly.

Plan, what frakkin' plan

I am a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica, I watched it as a kid and as an adult. I really enjoyed the re-imagined series, until the ending that is. I have read Brad's view and am in agreement with him.

The new BSG is a fantastic show to watch....just don't think about the plot, that's when the problems start.

I can just imagine the colonials after they have ditched all their technology, being charged by an enraged mammoth and thinking
"Gee, wouldn't it be good if we had some guns right about now"

I really enjoyed the opening of the plan, the scenes with the Valkyrie type battlestars was neat.

after that it went downhill.

We learned previously during his rant to Ellen after she was resurrected that Cavil hated the humans and hated being a biological form.

Yet in the plan he is seen aboard the Galactica indulging in biological pleasures whilst getting his revenge on the human race. Why would someone who hated something so bad, act like one of them?

If I said to you "I really detest cheeseburgers" i wouldn't go around eating them. It doesn't make sense.

Cavil is aboard the Galactica and wants to destroy the humans, why not get Sharon to go into the Nuke storage area and set off the nukes instead of blowing up a water tank? or do it himself?

Or he could have got a raider to arm its nukes and jump into Galactica's fuel tanks and detonate its nukes. Problem solved all humans dead, cylons download into new bodies and live happily ever after.

why make such half a*sed attempts at destroying the humans when he could have easily done it from the start?

why set up breeding farms to produce hybrids if you hate biologicals so much?

If the other biological cylons want to make peace with the humans: kill them and box them, or reprogram them.

If he's in charge why not just get yourself downloaded into a mechanical form and wipe out all biological versions?

If God is not preventing you from making your own choices then the whole god issue is rendered useless.

If God is directing your actions then he a real mean Bast..

Plan?

Joining the party late, just finished two months watching the entire series after being given the box set.

The series finale: yeah, "let's all give up technology".

The Lost finale was just a big slowly deflating bag of wind. I really can't even remember what happened any more, they all went to church then floated up to heaven; or something. BSG though had some amazing action followed by an amazingly dumb plot resolution that made me very angry.

They should have shown what happened as the "colonists" wandered into the veldt. Most of them picked off in a week by lions, jackals, eaten by crocodiles when they tried to drink from the (highly unsanitary) rivers, trampled by elephants, gored by rhinos.

Then at night, the hominids would sneak up and slit their throats for trying to take their territory. Hera might have had descendants because she was adopted and went native after her parents were killed.

Baltar's farm: destroyed by elephants, wild boars, flocks of birds. Locusts. There is a reason veldt exists: the big ruminants destroyed the trees. Where does he get seed? A plough?

Would all 30,000 go along with this? All the black market guys? Marines? What would Doc Cottle think?
A huge, irrational plot contrivance demanded only by the need not to leave evidence to spoil real history.

What fucking arrogant selfish pricks both Adamas were to impose this suicide on everyone, while Bill keeps a raptor to joyride in, Lee is young and strong enough to just go off on a trek. How about all the children and elderly? They're dead in a few days.

Just stay on the ships and crash them into the sun; would have been more humane.

Anyway: The Plan: Was this the winner of a fanfic competition, to retcon the Cavil story? Of course it had its moments, and a few good lines (and a few nice nude scenes) but the concept was empty: there was no "Plan" except "kill all the humans". Then Caprica Cavil learns that "humans still love, after the ones they love are dead", and has a change of heart. Then he's boxed by Spymaster Cavil, so it was all pointless.

Also reminded me that as well as cats and dogs, they had elephants on other world(s). More proof of Intelligent Design.

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