A note on SPOILERS: I came across this line in an old Stanley Kauffman review the other day (he was writing about Easy Rider at the time of its release):
As for that ending, which I had better not reveal, it is a coup de theatre that tries to consummate the satisfaction of the two youths, but after the shock is over, it is seen as only a coup de theatre. Which is why I won't describe it. But when a critic can't describe an action for fear of spoiling it for a prospective viewer, that is a pretty fair index of the action's superficiality.
He's wrong -- there are a lot of pleasures to be had in first discovery, I think, that crucially help shape our reading of a film. (For instance, I've only seen every individual episode of "Battlestar" once, so much of my analysis is based on that "getting through the wilderness" experience of understanding it.) That last sentence is a handy aphorism to have to justify spoilers and smack down simplistic puzzle devices (and certainly one shouldn't approach Kauffman's criticism without expecting plots to be exhaustively spoiled) but the kernel of truth in it applies to BSG and Easy Rider specifically, not to criticism or movie/show-viewing generally. There is not a single device in this series, which I'll cover in my "Magic Arrows" section, that ever fundamentally adds to the social or emotional resonance of the series. Most are clunkily convenient, a few are inspired pieces of "puzzle film" mindfuckery, a few threaten to tear at the fabric of the series, though that's a resilient fucking fabric (like the ship itself), so maybe not. Point being, most of my discussions will only "ruin" the gimmicks, which in themselves are probably the least satisfying aspects of the show. However, it will also "ruin" the discoveries of relationships, character arcs, etc., that are powerful to watch for the first time cold.
Still, there are a ton of spoilers below. I'm going to be talking about the entire series, every plot twist (I can remember), every character relationship (I care to write about), every theme (I interpret or invent). Since I encourage anyone who can read, and anyone who can't, to see this show, take that as your only warning. Nothing is off-limits, though I'll start with enough generalizing that you'll probably stop reading by the time I get to the Arrows.
Cut for spoilers: Age After Bush and Character Issues
In the next post, I'll discuss the season arcs versus the series arc generally and I'll get to those pesky Magic Arrows. At some point I'll talk a bit more about some of the (somewhat conservative but also counter-intuitively progressive) social politics and try to go more into depth about what makes the politics, and the show's general -- and unique -- apocalypse allegory work (hint hint: it's because it's not actually about the apocalypse).