Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 2 - Episode 02

BSG - 2x02 - Valley of Darkness - Originally Aired: 2005-7-22

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 5.52

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Synopsis
The Galactica has succeeded in reuniting with the fleet, but it has paid a terrible price: A Cylon computer virus has penetrated its computers, robbing the ship of power, and Cylon Centurions have boarded the Galactica and are battling their way to the ship's vulnerable centers.

Lee Adama, in the brig with President Roslin, persuades some marines to release them. He orders Billy and Vedder to take the president to the sickbay disaster shelter, where she'll be safe, and heads off with a squad of marines to defend the ship's magazines.

In the CIC, however, Col. Tigh knows from bitter experience what the Cylons are planning. The Centurions aren't going to blow up the ship; they're going to kill the crew by venting the ship's air and then turn its guns on the rest of the fleet. And only Lee whom Tigh despises for his "disloyalty" to Commander Adama (i.e., support for the president) and his small squad of marines are in position to stop the Cylon boarding party.

Meanwhile, on Cylon-occupied Caprica, Starbuck and Helo break into her old apartment and fire up her old pickup truck.

Light-years away on Kobol, Chief Tyrol and his crew return from their risky mission to get medical supplies for Socinus, only to realize that the wounded man isn't going make it. Number Six warns Baltar that Socinus won't be the last of the stranded Raptor crew to die and that of all the humans, Baltar alone will live to see Earth. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- The line about how Dee and Billy haven't seen each other in two weeks is in error. They danced together on Colonial Day which was just a few days ago.

Factoids
- This episode received a Visual Effects Society nomination for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Broadcast Program, Commercial, or Music Video. (Cylon Centurion) (2006)
- Survivors, according to the main title: 47874. (This accounts for Flyboy's death in the teaser. Apparently, nobody died in the battle with the Cylon Basestar.)
- According to Baltar, Kobol was supposed to be a paradise. Some place where gods lived with the humans in harmony.
- This episode establishes that the Cylons have been cleaning up the damage and the bodies on Caprica.
- Starbuck likes to paint.
- Starbuck's father's music played in this episode is actually Phillip Glass' "Metamorphosis One" from his "Solo Piano" album.
- There is a poem on Starbuck's apartment wall which reads: "Methodically / Smoking my / cigarette / with every breath / I breathe / out the day / With every / delicious / sip / I drink away the night / stroking my hair to / the beat of his heart / watching a boy / turn into a / Man"
- This is the first episode not to feature a scene with Boomer.

Remarkable Scenes
- Flyboy being taken out by the Cylon Centurion's razor sharp claws.
- Apollo, one step from being killed by the Cylon Centurion, saved by a marine with an explosive round.
- Apollo: "Remember, just head away from the sound of gunfire." Roslin: "What about you?" Apollo: "We're heading toward the gunfire."
- Starbuck to Helo: "Your girlfriend is from a lovely family. Good people, great values."
- Baltar's vision of Adama drowning the baby. I love the following wonderful exchange between Adama and Baltar. Adama: "Is this the shape of things to come?" Baltar: "That's my understanding."
- Baltar: "So the scriptures are all a lie. It's all just a lie, just a cover up for all this... savagery." Six: "Exactly. All of this has happened before, Gaius, and all of it will happen again." Baltar: "Adama." Six: "Mankind's true nature will always assert itself." Baltar: "So he will try and kill our baby." Six: "Only if you let him Gaius, only if you let him."
- Helo and Starbuck entering Starbuck's apartment.
- Starbuck playing her father's music.
- Cally: "Talk to me, you motherfrakker!" Tyrol: "Motherfrakker?"
- Dee regarding Billy's gun: "Okay, if you're gonna keep it in your trousers like that, you might wanna turn the safety on."
- Apollo's unit attacking the Cylons. The scene where the last Cylon charges the unit and leaps at Apollo and gets shot is utterly amazing.
- Apollo's and Tigh's conversation at the end of the episode in sickbay.

My Review
Valley of Darkness is a very special episode of Battlestar Galactica is it manages to be spectacular and impressive without actually moving the plot forward much at all. Adama is still out of commission, the people on Kobol are still getting killed by the Cylons, the Galactica is still dealing with the aftermath of the prior episode's battle, and in the end it sounds like a tedious setup. But what Valley of Darkness lacks in plot advancement, it makes up for in style.

There are two details about this episode which make it an absolute pleasure to watch. The first is of course being able to see Starbuck's apartment. The scenes where her and Helo take a break there are just wonderful, and the music played in the scene which is supposed to be a recording of Starbuck's father playing the piano is wonderfully suited for the episode as well as a marvelous change of pace. Indeed, as I've stated in my review of Kobol's Last Gleaming, this series is as much a musical masterpiece as it is visual and story spectacle.

But the crowning scene of this episode is the vision of prophecy Six gives to Baltar about Adama killing the human-Cylon child. You could jokingly argue that this series has a fetish for killing kids, but I think the horrifying events involving the death of children and babies in this series are a cold, hard measure of realism; one of the many facets in which this show is just plain honest. After all, isn't it realistic that should Adama be made aware of the Cylons' plan to create human-Cylon hybrids that he would do all he can to put a stop to it?

I talked in my review of Scattered about how Tigh is a capable military leader and this is why Adama keeps him around. Once again Tigh proves his value with his handling of the Cylon boarding party. He's an experienced war veteran who has seen this tactic by the Cylons before. When they board a battlestar, they don't go after the obvious, and well defended targets. They have a more clever plan, and this was certainly a very clever attempt made by the Cylons to take out the fleet.

Finally, special mention goes to the scene in which the last Cylon charges Apollo's unit. The visual effects were of Galactica's usual spectacular caliber. You really believe when watching that scene that this big, giant, metal Cylon Centurion is diving at Apollo. Indeed, the Cylon Centurions were a marvelous spectacle throughout the whole episode.

The only thing that bothered me throughout the whole episode is the question of why the Cylons Centurions were resistant to regular rounds. Helo didn't need explosive rounds on Caprica. So are these Centurions special because they were aboard the heavy raider? A specially armored boarding party perhaps?

Overall though, this is a marvelous episode that mixes brutal violence on Galactica, chilling prophecy on Kobol, and raw beauty on Caprica into a moving, flowing, impressive piece of television.

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