'Visual orgasm' is my term for a familiar conceit of SF: academic Darko Suvin refers to it with his concept of 'cognitive dissonance', while the Great Unwashed are more familiar with 'sense of wonder'.
This refers to those glorious moments peculiar to SF shows where the conflation of great storytelling and visual spectacle results in a single jaw-dropping, WTF instant.
Here are some of those moments from BSG S3/11 'Rapture'.
Nothing like an impending, gristly death (we see Athena's blood spatter lovingly against the wall) to add zest to a doomed relationship ... Here the two lovebirds say goodbye as Apollo prepares to pull the trigger. Ag shame! So why does this classify as a Visual Orgasm? It's in the eyes ...
Okay, enough sappy sentiment. 'Rapture' kicks some butt down on the algae planet, with some stunningly fluid and menacing scenes of Cylons running and attacking. Freaking toasters! Telly has taken the CGI revolution to unimaginable levels, and BSG is a leader in this field.
Okay, this is definitely a biggie in terms of Visual Orgasms. Di'anna Biers (Three) finally gets to see the faces of the Final Five. Looks like here she's turned around to the lighting guy and telling him to cut the spots, I can't see a frakking thing. Neither could we. Talk about a whitewash ... Careful viewers will notice that this scene is an echo of Di'anna's earlier fractured Afterlife experiences.
Whoops! Enough small stuff. Time to really shake things up classic BSG style: by going BIG. The sun goes nova ... Whee!
... on the algae planet, the Temple of Five looks like a New Age disco ...
... and the Galactica is forced to jump against a postcard-perfect backdrop of impending solar chaos.
Perhaps the most evocative shot from this episode is this Romeo-and-Juliet staging of Gaius Baltar cradling a dying Di'anna Biers.
... But my personal favourite is Cavil telling Di'anna it's the last time she'll ever resurrect. Dean Stockwell looks so noirish in this shot he seems totally edible. And the weird architecture of the Birthing Tank, filled with sloshing slime, adds a David Lynch-like feel.
... Pan to a final, astonishing image of a vast, darkened warehouse filled with decommissioned Cylon tanks.
What a fantastic episode! The visual riches, and the astonishing attention to both detail and spectacle, make it one of the best BSG episodes ever.