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The effects of Anyone Can Die
The new BSG is a series where Anyone Can Die is fully in effect. And since this is generally considered a successful series, it is interesting to take a look at the effects created by this.
Note: unmarked spoilers may be present.
Going into fourth season, with so many characters dead, with Starbuck apparently dead, every battle seemed to be fraught with peril. There is a very strong sense that no one is safe, that these characters very much can die at any time.
At the same time, I felt myself withdrawing as the series wore on. If Anyone Can Die, why be attached to the characters? I made a little game of "who's going to get it next?" When Dualla was used to show the hopelessness of the situation after finding "Earth", I pretty much called her suicide from the moment we saw her riding the Raptor back to Galactica. Every scene after that only convinced me of it more; she was just trying to have one last perfect day before the end. And as she was looking at herself in the mirror, I went, "I give her three seconds of smiling before she pulls out the gun."
Between that and Laura's slowly wasting away, I found it hard to connect to anyone. So while I certainly felt that characters were imperiled more than most shows, I found myself caring about it less than most.
Indeed, I found the most character affecting moment of fourth season to be Galactica herself. The description of the problems with her internal structure, in particular the idea of her folding up like an accordion post-jump, was heart-wrenching. Because while anyone could die, I never thought that Galactica herself could be counted among the potential dead. I never thought that she would go out in a simple jump like that.
Throughout the rest of the season, I kept wondering if the writers actually would do some horrible thing like have Galactica just implode. It could have been an interesting episode, where the ship's internal structure failed while people were still inside, and you have a desperate situation where everyone tries to get out.
And I knew that these writers would do it.
So, on the one hand, Anyone Can Die really does up the tension of fight scenes. But on the other, excessive moroseness and use of character death can cause people to withdraw from them.