The long wait until the April premiere of Battlestar Galactica’s final season is made a little shorter by Razor, a double-length episode that reveals exactly what happened on board the Battlestar Pegasus, commanded by the no-nonsense Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), before her ship crossed paths with the Galactica in BSG’s first season finale. In marked contrast with the Galactica’s teamwork-oriented approach to the Cylon threat, Caine press-ganged civilians and had disobedient officers executed in front of the crew, while her prisoners were subject to institutionalized rape and torture.
Cain, we learn here, was a lesbian, and her mercilessness the result of a personal betrayal. The revelations retroactively tweak the allegorical underpinnings of several key episodes, but she isn’t judged for her sexuality—Razor definitively proves that BSG is set in a society where sexual preference is a nonissue. The events—including a parallel story that takes place between seasons two and three—are seen through the eyes of Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen), a presumably straight protégée of Cain’s who the admiral transformed from a naif into a true officer.
Kendra’s adventures with series regulars Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) and Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) are where Razor gets somewhat goofy, planting seeds for the final season, serving up a flashback to the younger days of Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) and bringing in a long-lost Cylon faction that lets the art department salute the hokey BSG of the 1970s by re-creating the original series’s evil robots (which are far more deserving of the “toaster” sobriquet than those in the present version). Newbies will be hopelessly lost, but fans are in for an effective dose of BSG’s trademark intensity mixed with a streak of space-opera fun seldom found on the series.