LadyGhosts of TV Past

LadyGhosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, “Razor”

This week’s recap is going to be a bit different, folks! You see, I have just finished watching Razor for the very first time. Have you seen it? I was urged to skip it when I first watched the show, which I would still maintain is good advice, but if you are excited by the prospect of seeing new interactions between most of your favorite characters, well, give Razor a try! Maybe. But do not watch the Netflix version, as I have, because the run time on Neflix is 1 hour, 27 minutes, and the run time on iTunes is 1 hour 43 minutes. And according to the Wikipedia page for Razor, those 16 minutes had some pretty important stuff in them?

Kendra Shaw, a young Asian woman with long hair. She is smiling.
One of the few times we see Shaw smiling! Possibly the only time.

I am hesitant to recommend the special as a whole because, whoa, there’s a whole lot of weirdness and badness in Razor. We get some good backstory, and if it’s not clear by now, I’m a sucker for backstory, but we’re also introduced to a new character, Kendra Shaw, and expected to immediately care about her and root for her over the course of the hour and a half special. I am not sure how successful the show is in this goal.

But let’s back up for a minute. What IS Razor? Battlestar Galactica: Razor was a two-hour long special that aired between seasons 3 and 4, and aims to tell the backstory of the Battlestar Pegasus. The special itself is set right after Lee is given command of the Pegasus, so technically, we’re back to 10 months after the attacks – before New Caprica, about halfway through the second season. Lee appoints Kendra Shaw, our new

Admiral Cain, smiling viciously.
I neither like nor understand this woman.

protagonist, to the rank of XO – second in command on Pegasus, saying that she seems to be Admiral Cain’s legacy, and the crew needs continuity. So the majority of the episode, and all of Pegasus’ backstory, is told through the eyes of Kendra Shaw.

And what do we see? We see that Admiral Cain has pretty much always been thoroughly unconcerned with the perseverance of human life, that she has been cruel and vindictive since the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and that she seems to be completely lacking in, oh, empathy? compassion? care for her fellow human beings, at all?


A Six - Gina - smiling, in profile.
Do we find out if she knew she was a Cylon before the attacks?

The one redeeming factor – for Razor, for Cain, for BSG as a whole – is that they explicitly reference the fact that Cain had some sort of physical/romantic relationship with Gina, the Six model who winds up being horrifically tortured (and, you know, later kills Cain and nukes Cloud Nine, etc.). So this is literally the only homosexual relationship in BSG that is explicitly mentioned. (Unless you want to vaguely count whatever was going on between Caprica, D’Anna, and Baltar?) Still, for a show that lasted for so long, with so many characters, the overwhelming straightness was a little stifling, so I was really glad to see at least a mention of a lesbian relationship.

There are a few other major plot points – one that’s mostly important for this special, and one that could have more lasting of an impact. The first

A crowd of civilians face off against Pegasus Marines and officers
See Fisk and his gray hair? He is not the one who starts shooting civilians.

concerns Pegasus’ interaction with the civilian fleet – we get hints that something horrible happened, when we first met up with Pegasus, but now we see it, through the perpetrator’s eyes. Pegasus stumbled upon 11 civilian ships, right after an encounter with the Cylons that left more than 800 dead and a lot of ships destroyed on Pegasus. While Fisk – remember Fisk? He was besties with Tigh for a minute, before getting too involved in the black market? Anyway, Fisk was initially delighted to find more humans, but Cain ordered the ships be stripped of their resources and civilians that could be useful.  When one ship resisted, Cain ordered that the families of the necessary civilians be shot if said civilians refused to join the Pegasus. (There were mentions of this in the second season, I believe.) Well, now we see that play out, and see that, while its clear that the Pegasus crew members don’t want to carry out Cain’s Machiavellian orders, it is Shaw who shoots the women and children on the civilian ship, ensuring a completion of their mission. Cain promotes Shaw for this, and gives her a whole speech about doing what you have to do, but it just seems wrong.

Older version Cylons.
Dude. Could they not get the rights to modern Cylons for this thing?

The second thing is weirder. In what counts for current time (as opposed to Shaw’s flashbacks), Pegasus is going after a Raptor that’s gone missing. They jump to where the Raptor last was, and engage – and are boarded – by some old-school Cylon centurions, straight out of the original BSG. (The current centurions are a bit sleeker, and can’t talk.) Lee, as commander (and, oh, Starbuck’s here too, as CAG – more on her in a minute), goes to Galactica with this information, and Sharon-not-yet-Athena tells us that there may have been Centurions who escaped the other Cylons, because they were guarding the first hybrid – the first attempt by the machines to make themselves human. Adama Sr flashes back to the end of the first Cylon war, when he was just a wee Viper pilot, and he apparently stumbled upon this first hybrid, and was unable to free

Shaw and Starbuck in the kitchen
Everyone’s got their habits.

human hostages being kept by the Cylons for experimentation. So he has a score to settle. In current time, Shaw’s created a risky plan to destroy this old school Cylon fleet and hybrid. (But first, she and Starbuck run into each other in the kitchens one night; Starbuck’s looking for booze, Shaw has some syringe hidden somewhere. I think we’re supposed to assume its some sort of recreational drug, as we see her take it earlier in the episode, but the first time I saw it, I assumed she was sick and didn’t want anyone to know? Anyway, they have a moment.) Also, Starbuck seems so happy and carefree it almost looks out of character for her, though I suppose she WAS completely different a season and a half ago?

An old white man, the first hybrid
Of course you’re how we’re choosing to manifest “God”. Of course.


So Shaw comes up with this plan to rescue their people and destroy the Cylon ship, and it is Starbuck-level ridiculous, and then, taking a page straight out of, oh, Independence Day and Armageddon and half a dozen other movies, everything goes to plan until they’re supposed to set off a nuke on the Cylon ship, and the remote detonator is busted, so it must be set off manually. Lee almost nukes the Cylon ship, with Starbuck and Shaw etc. inside, but Adama talks him out of it, so Lee orders Starbuck to set it off. Shaw orders Starbuck away, saying she’ll set it off and sacrifice herself. Before doing so, however, she  finds the original hybrid, who refers to himself as a god. (Of course he’s a god, he’s an old white man!) The hybrid knows all about Shaw, and warns her against Starbuck, saying that she’s going to lead the human race to their end, that she’s a harbinger of death and the apocalypse. Shaw tries to relate this information to Pegasus, but the communications have been jammed. Shaw triggers the nuke, blowing up the ship, herself, the hybrid, and some really old Cylons.

Adama Sr behind his desk, writing.
Adama, sitting down to write some history.

We end, as we frequently do, with Adama giving us perspective on what’s just happened. He claims we shouldn’t judge Cain and Shaw too harshly – that without Roslin’s influence, who knows what decisions he might have made. He also claims that Lee was a tempering influence on his decision-making, which is good, I guess. But I’m finding it hard to take the old man’s advice. Maybe I’m too much of a Roslin at heart, but Cain’s decisions, even with context provided, seem fundamentally wrong, and a little bit evil, to me, and Shaw seems wrong in following her orders. I think with time and development, Shaw could have been an interesting character, but we simply weren’t given enough time with her. I’d also like to know how this whole ancient hybrid thing works with plotlines that will become apparent later this season, but we’ll talk about that then.

For now – what did you think of Razor? For myself, I’m glad I watched it, but I can’t say I’ll be rewatching it anytime soon.

Thanks to Monchichi, whose supreme screencapping skills helped make clear that I was not watching the extended version.


By CherriSpryte

CherriSpryte wants you to know that The Great Pumpkin loves you.

2 replies on “LadyGhosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, “Razor””

Leave a Reply