Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 2 - Episode 19

BSG - 2x19 - Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1 - Originally Aired: 2006-3-3

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 5.88

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Synopsis
Aboard the Pegasus, Capt. Kara Thrace briefs a room full of Raptor crews and marines for a dangerous, volunteer-only mission to Caprica, to rescue the civilian survivors on the planet's surface. Using information obtained from the captive Cylon Sharon, they've linked their Raptors' navigation systems to the superior navigational capabilities of their captured Cylon heavy raider.

Meanwhile, in separate private quarters on the Galactica, President Roslin and Vice President Baltar each prepare notes for their first presidential debate, to be televised to the fleet. As Roslin memorizes her talking points, Baltar is hectored by Six's religious exhortations to have faith that the election will unfold as "God intends."

As the rest of the fleet watches the start of the presidential debate, Specialist Cally finds Chief Tyrol asleep under a Viper. She reaches out and wakes him; and he explodes to consciousness, reflexively lashes out and pummels her with a raging, brutal assault. Then he regains control, is horrified by what he's done, and calls desperately for medical assistance.

After the first debate, President Roslin enjoys a commanding lead over Baltar in the polls. Then, as if in response to Baltar's sarcastic plea for a miracle, one of the raptors from the Caprica rescue mission returns early with stunning news: Because of a miscalculated jump, they've accidentally discovered a habitable planet, in a region of space that will hide them from the Cylons' sensors.

On the advice of Tom Zarek, Baltar uses the planet's discovery as a political wedge issue. He fans the civilian population's desire for a new home, a safe home, an end to the constant running. Popular opinion swings sharply against Roslin, who is unprepared to give up the search for Earth.

Tyrol seeks counseling from a priest named Brother Cavil, who gets the chief to talk about the nightmares that have plagued him for weeks. Finally, Cavil helps Tyrol confront what's really bothering him: Somewhere deep down inside, Tyrol is afraid that he might, like Sharon, really be a Cylon.

Light-years away on Caprica, the Colonial rescue mission reaches Sam Anders and his surviving resistance fighters. No sooner are Kara and Sam reunited, however, than they find themselves caught in the midst of a Cylon ambush. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- There are some timeline issues involving the presidential election in this episode; it should have taken place earlier.
- Baltar is worried that he has no campaign traction on anything but slamming Roslin's religious position. What about the abortion issue from The Captain's Hand?

Factoids
- Survivors, according to the main title: 49579.
- Less than 20% of the new planet actually supports life. The plant and animal life is located in a temperate belt near the equator.
- Just before this episode was first aired on the SciFi Channel, a "Parental Discretion Is Advised" message was displayed. Probably a warning regarding Tyrol beating up Cally.

Remarkable Scenes
- Roslin: "What happens if the moderator doesn't have a pencil?" Adama: "Then you're pretty screwed."
- Roslin regarding the debate: "I'm going to wipe the floor with you, Gaius."
- Tyrol beating up Cally accidentally after she awoke him from his nightmare.
- Cavil talking about how useless prayer is.
- The sight of 19 raptors being launched.
- Racetrack's raptor jumping to the wrong place.
- Tyrol's recurring dream.
- Racetrack finding a habitable planet.
- Cavil regarding how he knows Tyrol is not a Cylon: "Oh well maybe because I'm a Cylon and I've never seen you at any of the meetings."
- The revelation that raptor 612 jumped into a mountain.
- Baltar slamming Roslin's "fear campaign."
- Roslin to Baltar privately: "Why don't you go frak yourself."

My Review
This episode is kind of a mixed bag which tries to be profound but comes off as somewhat underwhelming. This episode does do a lot, however, and parallels Kobol's Last Gleaming quite well in a number of ways. There's the discovery of an inhabitable planet again, Starbuck using stolen Cylon technology to return to Caprica again, a character contemplating suicide out of fear of being a Cylon again, and difficulties between Helo and Sharon again. Nice parallelism.

Cavil certainly brightened up the episode with his presence. There's something marvelous about a priest who doesn't believe in god. It's also fascinating to watch how Cavil slowly breaks down Tyrol's barriers, forcing him to confront his problems. He gets him to admit he's having recurring dreams, he gets him to admit his secret desire to kill himself, and finally he gets him to admit he's afraid he's a Cylon.

The Caprica storyline is a little ambiguous. I don't really get what role the computer from the Cylon heavy raider is playing. Supposedly, the heavy raider can jump all the way back to Caprica in a single jump, which is why using it was appealing. But the colonials instead rip the navigational computer out of it, install it on one raptor, and then do ten jumps back to Caprica.

Why did they need the heavy raider's navigational computer if they were just going to do ten jumps back to Caprica? Does the heavy raider's navigational computer make their jumps more efficient or something? Without it would it have been 50 jumps? There's nothing particularly wrong with this plot thread, but in my opinion it's left far too vague. I would have much rather seen the Cylon heavy raider than 19 raptors anyway. Why didn't they use that instead to perform the rescue? It would have been one jump back to Caprica and with the additional benefit of letting them blend in as Cylons.

The multiple raptors does, however, allow for the discovery of that habitable planet, which becomes a central campaign issue. It also allows for the cute little notion that one of the raptors jumped into a mountain on Caprica, destroying it. This is a nifty science fiction detail which is reminiscent of Star Trek transporter accidents.

The notion of permanent settlement on that planet is however ridiculous. Not because there's a chance of the Cylons finding it but because there are multiple Cylon agents in the fleet and all it takes is one agent to devise a way to alert the Cylons to the location and it's all over. The way this episode plays out it is looking like Baltar's going to win the election and that planet will be permanently settled. Gee, what do you think's going to happen next? You think the Cylons might just, oh, I don't know, find it somehow? This is all so insultingly obvious to the audience.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo Ahlenius on 2012-06-29 at 4:57pm:
    I find it a bit odd that there is only one group of survivors on Caprica. Assuming that Caprica is roughly earth-size (is it?) there should at least be a few pockets of survivors/resistance, right? And what about the other colonies?

    But they only talk about rescuing Anders group.

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