Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 3 - Episode 06

BSG - 3x06 - Torn - Originally Aired: 2006-11-3

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 4.85

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Synopsis
Baltar remains a prisoner within the Cylon fleet, alive only because his captors believe that he can lead them to a new home: Earth. Indeed, hoping to find the mythical planet for himself, Baltar has pinpointed a nebula that might have been a navigation point for the thirteenth tribe on their ancient journey to Earth. The Cylons send a base ship to investigate. Meanwhile, aboard the Galactica, Gaeta deciphers Baltar's abandoned research notes and also locates the nebula. Eager to resume the quest for Earth, Roslin orders Adama to explore it.

As the humans and the Cylons unsuspectingly hurtle toward a rendezvous, the Galactica's crew struggles to resume everyday life after the harrowing events on New Caprica. Helo helps Sharon pick a new callsign: Athena. The Viper pilots, now commanded by Apollo, dogfight against each other for practice. After Starbuck carelessly risks her ship, Apollo grounds her.

Col. Tigh is also at loose ends because Helo has unofficially replaced him as Adama's right-hand man. Tigh and Starbuck — both angry, traumatized survivors of the occupation — soon join forces, deriding everyone who didn't suffer as they did and insinuating that their comrades are too weak-minded to resist the Cylons. They don't suspect how far Adama is willing to go to win them back to his side.

Far away, Caprica Six tells Baltar about her people's power of projection, which enables Cylons to see the universe as they wish. For example, where Baltar sees a bleak Cylon hallway, Caprica sees a beautiful forest. Disenchanted with her former lover, Caprica arrogantly assumes that Baltar can't understand the experience, but Baltar — who still has a vivid relationship with the Six in his mind — understands it all too well. He's struck by a secret, devastating suspicion: if his daydreams of Six are actually caused by projection, then he might be a Cylon.

Having reached the nebula, the Cylon scout ship transmits back a garbled distress call. It has been infected with a virus that kills all Cylon life. Horrified, the Cylons realize that they can't even resurrect their dying comrades, because the virus will then be transmitted to the rest of their fleet. They don't know what to do until Baltar volunteers to investigate. By hunting down the virus's source aboard the dying ship, he'll either prove his worth to the Cylons or die of the infection — proving that he's a Cylon himself. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- Roslin says Pythia was supposed to have chronicled the 13th tribe's original journey to Earth. How? There was no contact between the 13th tribe and the Twelve Colonies, so how could such knowledge have reached the Twelve Colonies?

Factoids
- Survivors, according to the main title: 41422.
- As of this episode, Sharon Agathon's new callsign is Athena, suggested by Hot Dog. Athena is quoted as the "goddess of wisdom and war, usually accompanied by the goddess of victory." This is possibly in reference to the Tomb of Athena, which she helped the Colonials find, and possibly a reference to the character of Athena, whom was on the original BSG but not in this version.
- The scene depicting Starbuck cutting her hair does not involve a wig. That is actually the actress cutting her real hair.
- The vocalizations that the hybrid uttered (or at least of what I could understand) included: "Two protons expelled at each coupling site creates the mode of force, the embryo becomes a fish though we don't enter until A plate, we're here to experience, evolve the little toe, atrophy, don't ask me how, I'll be dead in a thousand light years, thank you, thank you, genesis turns its source, reduction occurs stepwise though the essence is all one, end of line. FTL system check. Diagnostic functions within parameters repeats the harlequin, the agony exclusive, the colors run the path of ashes [...] run on the network while 52% of heat exchanger [...] digital matrix [...] relay to 0000 [...] end of line. New paragraph." Later the hybrid said when she "disagreed" with the other Cylons: "The mists of dreams drip along the nascent echo and love no more. End of line."
- In the opening scene of this episode, Baltar's and Six's mouths are blurred out by the reflected ocean light so that you can't see that their lips are not in sync with their dialog. This is because they dubbed new lines over the old ones so they could use the scene for a different purpose.

Remarkable Scenes
- Six: "Take this period as a time to learn all you can about the Cylons. You'll need it in the days ahead." Baltar: "Something special on the horizon?" Six: "Cylon psychology is based on projection." Baltar: "Projection?" Six: "It's how they choose to see the world around them. The only difference is you choose to see me." Baltar: "What are you, really? You're either connected to the woman I knew on Caprica, or you're a damaged part of my subconscious struggling for self-expression, so which one is it?" Six: "I'm an angel of god sent here to help you. Just as I always have been."
- Baltar waking up on the basestar.
- Baltar: "What do you care about finding Earth?" Six: "Because we're looking for it." Baltar: "You are?" D'Anna: "Yes, we've decided that Earth's going to be our new home."
- The viper training exercise.
- Tigh mistaking a civilian on Galactica for Ellen.
- Apollo to Helo regarding his weight: "Remind me to never let that happen again."
- Gaeta briefing Adama and Roslin about Baltar's research on Earth.
- Baltar and Six walking through the corridors of the Cylon basestar speaking of Earth and Cylon projection.
- Baltar wondering if his ability to see Six in a vivid otherworldly reality is connected to Cylon projection and furthermore wondering if that makes him a Cylon.
- Helo calling out for a callsign for Sharon Agathon.
- Baltar speaking to Six about the remaining five Cylon models. Regarding the final five, Six says: "It's complicated, but we don't talk about them. Ever."
- The Cylons discussing the disease that's afflicted the other basestar in the control room aboard the basestar.
- Baltar encountering the hybrid.
- The hybrid jumping the ship.
- Baltar embarking on his mission.
- Baltar discussing the beacon with the dying Six.
- Baltar killing the frantic, dying Six.
- The Cylons debating whether or not to rescue the surviving Cylons and debating the origin of the disease, then jumping the ship despite the hybrid's objections.
- Adama busting Starbuck's and Tigh's ass for their behavior.
- Starbuck cutting her hair and going to see Kasey.
- Tigh mourning for Ellen.
- Athena and Racetrack stumbling across the dead basestar.
- Athena: "When god's anger awakens, even the mighty shall fall."

My Review
Torn reminds me quite a bit of Downloaded in that here we have an episode done quite a bit from the perspective of the Cylons. But this time it isn't from the perspective of the Cylons at some coffee shop on Caprica, it's from the perspective of the Cylons on one of their basestars with Baltar caught in the middle.

On some level, this is the episode that should have been in the place of Collaborators in that it gives us a proper introduction to Baltar on the basestar and also gives us valuable insight into the post New Caprica Cylon perspective. This episode is just absolutely loaded with interesting factoids about the Cylons, including the fascinating idea of Cylon projection which could go a long way toward explaining exactly what the Six in Baltar's head is.

I'm slightly annoyed at the idea that Baltar thinks he's a Cylon, perhaps one of the final five Cylon models that the seven we already know about just "don't talk about." There's something aesthetically bad about Baltar being revealed as a Cylon, if he is to be. It would devalue the idea that he's the tragic human character of the story with an inseparable connection to the enemy. If he is in fact a Cylon, it becomes easy for the audience to just write him off as a bad guy, instead of a morally and motivationally ambiguous good guy.

Then there's the plague infecting the Cylon basestar. This is interesting in that it appears to have been made by the 13th tribe. The age and location both appear to support this idea, though I doubt the dying Six was correct when she claimed the 13th tribe made it as a weapon to kill Cylons. It was probably just some sort of unlucky accident that the Cylons got sick from it.

In addition to grand Cylon revelations to the audience, this episode delivers a fantastically stylized narrative. The gritty, conventional, every day feel of the plot aboard the Galactica contrasts Baltar's surreal, life changing experience quite nicely while providing necessary plot advancement to the Colonial fleet story. The eerie piano music aboard the basestar (dubbed Battlestar Sonatica on the soundtrack) was an excellent choice, conveying both Baltar's bewilderment and fear as well as the casual, sophisticated atmosphere aboard Cylon basestars. The fading cuts along with the exposition of the idea of Cylon projection gave the basestar an organic feel, which seems exactly in character to me.

There's also of course little things in this episode which spice up the narrative, such as the Cylons declaring that they want to make Earth their new home, a curious move leading me to wonder what motivates it. Also I was pleased to see that most of the crew has accepted Sharon Agathon and even went as far as to enthusiastically participate in a callsign picking ceremony for her, finally settling on Athena. It was also amusing to see the running joke about Apollo's weight continued, albeit concluded. Though I have concerns about the apparent rampant misuse of Apollo's character, with him seemingly being demoted to major, reduced back to CAG and reset buttoned.

And still, again, what's going on with the chain of command? Helo still looks like the XO, Apollo is acting like the CAG; did Kat lose her job as CAG? But aside from a few wrinkles, overall Torn is an unexpected masterpiece with only a few flaws; right up there stylistically with episodes like 33 and Valley of Darkness. Well done.

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