BSG - Season 4 - Episode 19
BSG - 4x19 - Someone to Watch Over Me - Originally Aired: 2009-2-27
Unable to move on after the events on Earth, Kara Thrace is still plagued by nightmares. She finds solace in Joe's Bar where a nameless piano player plays music strangely attuned to her pain. Galen Tyrol informs Admiral Adama, President Roslin, and Lee Adama that Galactica's hull will not withstand many more FTL jumps. Lee confirms the election of Sonja, a Six, to a position on the Quorum. Sonja accepts with a caveat: as a member of the Quorum she will use her newfound political power to request that Boomer be turned over to the Cylons and punished for her role in the Cylon civil war.
Meanwhile, sporadic power outages caused by Galactica's hull repair plague the crew. Galen Tyrol works closely with a Cylon Eight whose presence reminds him of Boomer, who is still languishing in a prison cell ever since she brought Ellen Tigh to Galactica. When he visits her in the brig, both of them confess they still have feelings for each other. In a moment of intimacy, they place their hands on either side of the glass partition separating them. Galen is shocked to find himself suddenly transported via Cylon projection to his and Sharon's "dream house." Sharon has built this retreat as a way of dealing with their separation. Overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, Galen withdraws his hand and flees the brig.
Helo returns Starbuck's auctioned property to her including a cassette tape of a piano concert given by her father. Hera gives Kara a gift: a drawing of what seems to be meaningless dots.
Kara pays a reluctant compliment to the strange piano player at Joe's Bar and begins a conversation about music with him. Nearby, Galen urges Tory, Ellen and Saul to intercede on Boomer's behalf. They refuse. Galen returns to the brig and "projects" again with Sharon. They return to their dream house where Galen sees a height chart on the wall. He races upstairs to find his seven-year old daughter drawing.
Kara and the piano player grow closer as she helps him with the piano piece he's composing. She gradually opens up about her father and her piano lessons with him, revealing that her father taught her one song that made her "feel happy and sad at the same time."
Galen begs Roslin not to sign the extradition order that would give then Cylons custody of Sharon. She refuses, telling him that Sharon has used her charm to trick everyone, including him. Galen leaves desperate, ready to take matters into his own hands. He engineers a blackout and knocks the Eight from his repair crew unconscious. It's clear he intends to replace Boomer with her so no one thinks she's escaped the brig.
At Joe's, Kara finds herself lashing out at the piano player after he confesses that he chose his music over his wife. Reminding her of her father's abandonment of his family, she pulls away. The piano player attempts to soothe her by asking her to play the song her father taught her. He places her fingers on the piano keys. For a moment, Kara is transported back to her childhood. Scared and elated, Kara begins to play.
Having escaped the brig, Boomer brutally attacks Athena in the washroom. Before she can make her escape, Helo enters and tries to bid the woman he thinks is his wife a romantic farewell. Desperate to keep up appearances, Boomer makes love to Helo while a bloodied and gagged Athena watches helplessly from inside a bathroom stall.
As Kara plays the song her father taught her, the piano player writes down the musical notes. Kara has a sudden revelation. She takes out Hera's drawing and matches the "dots" perfectly with the notes he's written on the sheet. A powerful duet begins, and as it unfolds, two listeners — Tory and Saul — realize that it is the same song that activated them as Cylons.
Masquerading as Athena, Boomer steals Hera from day care and heads to a fueled Raptor where Galen is waiting. As she climbs aboard, Galen helps her load a heavy case onto the ship. Boomer pleads with Galen to come with her. He tells her no, his duty overcoming his desire to join her. The two share a passionate kiss. Meanwhile, Athena bursts into Helo's flight briefing, collapsing into his arms. Immediately realizing what has happened, Helo orders Galactica locked down.
In the CIC, Admiral Adama orders Boomer to abort her take off, threatening to shoot her down. Boomer coolly informs him that Hera is on the Raptor with her. Adama decides to do the next best thing. He orders the flight pods closed. Boomer launches and barely clears the doors. As her wounded Raptor tumbles through space, she jumps — far too close to Galactica — setting off a massive shockwave that punches a hole in ship. With Boomer on her way to the Cylon fleet, Galen reels in the face of what he has done. Roslin's warning has come true. In her quarters, Kara listens to her father's music for the first time in years, while Galen searches fruitlessly for Sharon and his daughter in the "projected" house. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Why didn't anyone look the slightest bit flummoxed that Kara was talking to someone who wasn't there in the bar?
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39556. Still no deaths since the previous episode. (This show needs to get back to killing people!)
- Nomion's 3rd Sonata, Second Movement is actually from the opening theme from the original series of BSG.
- The toothpaste Kara offered to the pilot who discovers a habitable planet was labeled "Felgercarb," a fictional curse word used in the original series to mean "shit."
- The Kara's morning routine montage.
- Boomer to Tyrol: "I thought about you every day since that moment I died in your arms."
- Boomer projecting Tyrol into her fantasy house.
- Starbuck's nightmare.
- Tyrol setting Boomer free.
- Boomer taking out Athena.
- Boomer having sex with Helo while Athena watches in a dazed horror, unable to do anything about it.
- Boomer grabbing Hera.
- The final five confronting Starbuck, alone, playing All Along The Watchtower on the piano implying that the piano player was merely a hallucination of a younger (less dead) version of her father.
- Athena stumbling into Helo's briefing and letting Helo know what Boomer had done.
- Boomer's escape, tearing a hole in the side of Galactica as she jumped.
- Roslin's collapse onto the floor.
- Tyrol's reaction when he discovered Boomer took Hera.
Boomer did it again! The master betrayer strikes again, but this time in a more sinister way. It's interesting to see Boomer's now recurrent history of betrayal. She betrayed Adama at the end of season one, she betrayed her own people by refusing to assimilate afterward and (with Caprica Six) sowing the seeds of civil war among her people, she betrayed her Cylon model by siding with Cavil instead of the rest of the Eights, she (seemingly) betrayed Cavil by helping Ellen to escape, and now, just when we think we've seen the end of it, she betrays Tyrol to do Cavil's bidding.
What strikes me about her arc on the show is how shocking her two major betrayals have been. When she shot Adama, there was no doubt leading up to it she was going to end up doing something bad. But when the moment happened, it was still shocking because the dramatic focus had been on Boomer trying to understand what she was and, of course, Adama confronting the betrayal of his son. With the dramatic focus on those issues, the episode seemed ready to wrap up, then bam!
This time though, as I said before, Boomer's big betrayal feels more sinister. This time, she wasn't just a programmed machine, but entirely complicit in her twisted actions. She used her perhaps genuine love for Tyrol to make herself more sympathetic so she could gain her freedom, kidnap Hera, and defile Athena's relationship with Helo by pretending to be her during sex in order to exact revenge on her for taking over her old life aboard the Galactica. This is both emotionally complex as well as ironic as Athena originally seduced Helo on Caprica in the first place by pretending to be Boomer.
On top of all that, I can only imagine how much worse Boomer's reckless close-range raptor jump has made Galactica's ever worsening state of disrepair. Equally as tantalizing is the question of what will become of Tyrol if/when his complicity in Boomer's escape is discovered and what exactly Roslin's condition is. If her collapse at the end of this episode wasn't her death, she's definitely mighty close to dying.
On the other side of the fence we have Starbuck, whose story is decidedly less satisfying. In the tradition of Valley of Darkness, it once again brings fantastic piano music to the table; Kara's nightmare was a particularly impressive scene. Another nice nugget of good continuity was Starbuck's line about the mutiny thinning the ranks of the crew. This seems to imply Adama made good on his word to not forgive the mutineers. But her story also brought us the groan-inducing moment when Kara and her imaginary father played All Along the Watchtower together. More importantly, the story dragged somewhat and left us no answers; only reinforcing the existing mysteries.
Apparently, Starbuck, her father, the final five, and Hera are all connected somehow through that song. How they all came to learn it (with the exception of it having been taught to Starbuck by her father) is still a mystery, as is its overall significance. We know of course that Anders wrote it on Earth 2000 years ago, but beyond that the whole thing is still full of holes. Even Ellen appears to have no additional knowledge of it.
Another deficiency is in the degree of subtlety with which the piano player is revealed to be a hallucination of Starbuck's father. Throughout the episode, the dramatic focus is on he being possibly a new romantic interest, particularly because Anders may not survive and she has a history of cheating anyway. The man's similarities to her father play as just that, similarities; something which catches her eye enough to make the man noticeable and interesting, but not enough to connote a hallucination.
These sorts of things are always a balancing act, of course. If Starbuck was to be unaware she was hallucinating, it's difficult to clue the audience in without cluing her in as well. However, there was not one scene in the episode in which a single person took notice that Starbuck was talking to thin air, as is the case constantly with Baltar.
Moreover, in the scene where it is revealed that Starbuck hallucinated him, it is done so implicitly. He's in the cut, then he's not. But the dramatic focus is entirely on the final five being surprised that Starbuck could know that song, rather than on Starbuck's hallucination, as is so often the case with Baltar. In fact, there are only a few seconds of screen time where it can even be discerned that the man was a hallucination at all, on top of the dramatic focus not being on him in the first place. You have to really be paying attention or you'll miss it.
Another question to add to the pile is whether or not Starbuck's hallucination is technically connected to Baltar's in any way, and, of course, whether or not Baltar's hallucinations are somehow connected to Cylon projection. Finally, not including a Baltar thread of the plot at all is a big misstep given the amount of emphasis on him in the last episode. Especially seeing as how his story ended somewhat vaguely last episode as well.
Overall, this episode manages to fare slightly better than the last, but is still lacking in some pretty important ways. Had Starbuck's plot been more substantive and a Baltar thread been integrated, the episode could have been worth more points. Still a great episode though, thanks in large part to Boomer's ruthlessness.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Dave E on 2009-03-05 at 6:23pm:
I really liked this episode. The tape of Kara's father's music was "Live from the Opera House", and I think this is a critical hint towards the mystery of the Opera House that we all want to know. I think Kara's dad is Daniel, and she is a hybrid, just like Hera. I think it was heartbreaking the ending of this episode with Cheif realizing he just ruined everything.
- From Lennier on 2009-03-28 at 1:49am:
Nice review - I pretty much agree.
When are your "Islanded in a Stream of Stars" and "Daybreak" reviews coming?
- From Kethinov on 2009-03-29 at 4:04pm:
They're coming as soon as I finish writing them! ;)
I just haven't had the time. I may get around to some or all of the remaining episodes today, but no promises. I have to work over the weekend! :(