Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 4 - Episode 03

BSG - 4x03 - He That Believeth in Me - Originally Aired: 2008-4-4

My Rating - 7

Fan Rating Average - 3.77

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Synopsis
Having just informed an astonished Lee Adama that she has found the way to Earth, Kara Thrace dives into the battle against the attacking Cylon fleet. Lee has no choice but to follow her.

The Cylons are winning the fight, inflicting terrible casualties. Admiral Adama orders every last pilot to join the defense, so rookie Sam Anders finds himself in a Viper's cockpit. He and the other newly self-aware Cylons within the fleet — Saul Tigh, Galen Tyrol and Tory Foster — all fear that they might be taken over by Cylon programming at any moment.

Indeed, during the dogfight, Anders comes face-to-face with a Cylon Raider and, either because of rookie nerves or something more sinister, is unable to disengage his weapon safeties to shoot it down. The two Cylons stare at each other through the vacuum, and then the Raider turns and flees.

Seconds later, the entire Cylon fleet Jumps away, abandoning the battlefield. Adama and Roslin are relieved but confused. Only Tigh, Tyrol, Anders and Foster can guess what new development might have sent the Cylons running — and they're keeping their theories to themselves.

Aboard the Galactica, Kara is greeted with both love and suspicion. More than two months have passed since her apparent death, but she claims that she's only been gone for six hours, during which time she blacked out in the storm that apparently killed her. She explains that she awoke near a planet whose description matched Earth's, lost consciousness again, and found herself at the Ionian Nebula.

Now she insists that she possesses a strong intuition, almost a mystical sixth sense, of the correct route to Earth. Although medical tests establish that she is Kara Thrace, her Viper is inexplicably brand-new ("fresh off the assembly line," Tyrol says), and its navigation computer's memory is empty. Roslin, fearing that this is all a Cylon trick, puts Kara under armed guard and orders the fleet to follow the route they'd originally planned, away from the nebula.

Meanwhile, Gaius Baltar finds himself swept into the seductive arms of a cult of people — mostly young women — who dote on him as a holy man. Their leader, Jeanne, asks Baltar to pray over her dying son, Derrick.

Overcome by the plight of the unconscious and grievously ill boy, Baltar offers a heartfelt prayer and pleads with God to spare the innocent child and take his life instead. Later, Baltar is attacked by men who are furious about his acquittal. As one of them holds a knife to his throat, Baltar proves the sincerity of his prayer by begging the man to kill him. Baltar is rescued and narrowly escapes the fray.

When he returns to the secluded dwelling of his cult, he learns that Derrick has awakened. Against the odds — perhaps miraculously — the boy has recovered.

Elsewhere on the Galactica, Kara grows more certain that Roslin is guiding the fleet in the wrong direction: She feels her intuition fading as the fleet Jumps farther and farther off-course. Making matters worse, Admiral Adama doesn't dare trust Kara, and Anders hints that he suspects she might be a Cylon (though he promises to love her anyway).

Finally, frustrated and unnerved by everyone's skepticism, Kara escapes from her guards and sets off to make her case to Roslin — by pointing a gun at her... [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series.
- This episode won a Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing - Short Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39698. Down by 1701. Perhaps a reference to Star Trek? ;)
- According to Anders, he was born on Picon. This is somewhat interesting, since he played Pyramid for a Caprican team.
- The title of this episode refers to biblical scripture referencing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While an obvious reference to Starbuck's mysterious return from the dead, there are also amusing overtones surrounding Baltar's part in the story as well.

Remarkable Scenes
- Everyone's reaction to Starbuck's return amidst preparing to engage the Cylons.
- The pretty space battle.
- The destruction of the Pyxis.
- Baltar's reaction to his new cult of personality: "...Right."
- Starbuck's quite less than warmly received homecoming.
- Starbuck to Anders: "What the hell you doin' in a jock smock?"
- Paulla to Baltar: "None of the other ships will have you."
- Baltar to Six: "From President of the Colonies to this. King of the fools."
- Six manipulating Baltar into covertly evangelizing the Cylon religion via Tracey Anne witnessing Baltar's "praying."
- Roslin: "Let's go through it again." Starbuck: "How many times do you want to hear it?" Roslin: "As many times as it takes to make sense." Way to go Roslin. I can get behind that statement!
- Roslin confronting Six about the final five Cylons.
- Lee refusing to rejoin the viper squadron.
- Lee implying that he doesn't care whether or not Starbuck is a Cylon; that it doesn't change how he feels about her one bit.
- Baltar feigning a moment of private prayer for Derrick in earshot of his new followers.
- Baltar and Paulla being attacked by Charlie Connor.
- Paulla beating down Baltar's attackers.
- Paulla: "You see, Gaius? I knew god wouldn't desert you when I felt his love course through me giving me the strength to smite them." Baltar: "A little less smiting next time unless you want to be up on murder charges."
- Baltar's response when asked if he's all right: "I cut myself shaving." I suppose that's not entirely inaccurate. ;)
- Starbuck declaring if she ever discovered Anders to be a Cylon, she'd kill him.
- Starbuck attacking her marine escorts and Anders to go confront Roslin.

My Review
This is an episode that should have gotten a perfect score, but due to inheriting some (though not all) of the aesthetic issues of the third season finale was unable to quite reach that goal. The best way to illustrate this point is to compare the two primary plot threads: Baltar's story and the story of the final five Cylons and Starbuck.

I was endlessly entertained with Baltar's story. His newfound fandom made me groan in Crossroads, but the execution in this episode is spot on; flawless. The way Baltar is sort of accidentally indoctrinating his followers into believing in the Cylon god is hilarious, creepy, and fascinating all in one. While this Baltar cult seems to come out of nowhere and its motives and goals are unknown, it's far less annoying than the other unanswered questions of the episode. Which brings us to the story of the final five Cylons and Starbuck.

Where to begin? It's quite obvious now that the writers have committed to Tigh, Tyrol, Tory, and Anders actually being Cylons, rather than using it as a cheap dramatic misdirection. In some ways, I'm relieved by that. I wrote in my review of Crossroads that this isn't beyond my ability to suspend disbelief, but numerous questions must be answered before I'll stop being annoyed by it. Not only have none of the previous critical questions been answered, but this episode only raises more. Especially concerning Starbuck.

So, here we go. How did the Cylons find the fleet? Why did they wait this long to engage the fleet? What are the Cylons' motives for attacking the fleet? Exactly what is the connection between Anders and his eye contact encounter with the Cylon raider, if any? Why exactly did the Cylons back out of the fight? If the raider recognizing Anders was the cause, why didn't the Cylons recognize one the final five in one of their many previous encounters with them? Since we lacked in this episode what is obviously an incredibly critical scene from the Cylons' perspective, none of these questions are answered.

Moreover, we're still left wondering why the entire fleet lost power in Crossroads. And what was the significance of the music in Crossroads? Where did it come from? Why did these characters suddenly discover they were Cylons? What purpose did it serve in the overall Cylon plan?

Regarding Starbuck, how did she survive? How did she travel from the gas giant, to Earth, then to the nebula? In a viper? With no FTL? Was the gas giant's maelstrom some sort of wormhole? Was her death an illusion? Why is she missing memories? Why is her viper pristine? How did it get that way? Why does her viper have no computer memory but retain its gun camera footage? Is Starbuck the last Cylon? Is she a half Cylon? Is one of her parents the final Cylon? Incidentally, that would explain Leoben's obsession with her and it would render Casey a delightful metaphor for Starbuck. It would also explain the hybrid's familiarity with her in Razor. But it's hard to speculate with so little to work with.

Regardless of Starbuck's true nature, what is the motive behind that nature? What is the nature of Roslin's vision? As I said in Crossroads, the vision seems to be a manifestation of Cylon projection, but why is Roslin affected? Is it because she has some of Hera's blood in her? What is the meaning behind the vision? Why wasn't more time in this episode spent on exploring the ramifications of this? I made an identical complaint in Crossroads.

Then there's Earth. Starbuck says when she arrived at Earth "its yellow moon and star" matched the descriptions in the book of Pythia. This line was poorly written, as it is far, far too vague. Earth's moon is not yellow. However, she also said that the star patterns matched what was seen at the Tomb of Athena, which would imply she went to the real Earth. (Our Earth.) As would the photos shown on screen, which look like an actual photo of Earth taken from the Moon's perspective. Starbuck also remembers a gas giant with rings which is probably Saturn. As for her references to a flashing triple star and a comet, I haven't the slightest idea. All in all, clear as mud. But just enough for the audience to infer she probably went to the real Earth.

Perhaps the only thing worse than Roslin's and Starbuck's feud over whose poorly reasoned path to Earth is correct is Adama's poor reasoning behind why not to trust Starbuck. In the episode, he said that listening to Starbuck is exactly what the Cylons are counting on. What? Why would the Cylons count on that? Clearly the Cylons could have destroyed the fleet during that battle if they really wanted to, but made a conscious decision not to for reasons unknown. How can Adama not see that? Especially after Tigh pointed it out?

Aside from all that, the way the show handled the new Cylon characters struck me as aesthetically wrong, e.g. Tigh's waking dream, complete with an unwelcome mini-reprisal of that painfully inappropriate song from Crossroads, busting up the rhythm and pacing of what is otherwise an incredibly fast paced and powerful scene along with the new Cylon characters constantly making little in-jokes referencing their Cylon nature. This aesthetic clashes with prior incidences of the audience knowing the identities of certain Cylons characters in advance of the protagonists.

But at the end of the day, I still awarded this episode a rating of seven. It effectively lost three points due to all the stuff above, which I admit, after writing all that, seems quite generous. So what was good about the episode? Aside from my usual round of praising the phenomenal acting and directing, special mention should go once again to the scoring. Bear McCreary has restored my faith in BSG's incredible music, resetting the score back to its powerful and diverse instrumentals, properly setting the tone back to what it should be.

The incredible space battle at the beginning of the episode needs little praise from me, as it was downright flawless. Watching Adama go toe to toe with a vastly superior force for several minutes completely competently was just stunning to watch and seeing a civilian ship destroyed was just gut-wrenching.

The episode also bears some interesting recurring themes. One is the question of how any given character would feel if a close friend or a loved one were revealed to be a Cylon. Lee posits "would that really change how we feel about them?" implying his belief that it wouldn't. Starbuck takes an ironically contrary position concerning Anders. The episode also has some interesting recurring symbolism concerning the right eye. Tigh's right eye is missing, Tigh dreams of shooting Adama in the right eye, and the camera focuses on Anders' right eye when he makes contact with the Cylon raider. Despite my annoyance with both scenes, I enjoyed the parallelism.

There are a couple small details that are nice too. I like the reintroduction of Charlie Connor's character along with the reintroduction of his pain surrounding his son's death, which hearkens back to Collaborators. Additionally, I liked seeing Seelix and Anders, two rook pilots, get a chance to shine in the cockpit.

Overall though, the narrative is distinctly failing to get to the point. It's dangling more and more mysteries in front of us as if that's good storytelling, but it isn't. Allow me to reiterate a point I made in response to a comment posted on my review of Crossroads.

Said I: Consider this amusing scene from HBO's Rome. Deep in season two, in one scene, Antony is trying subtly to bully Cicero into granting political favors, a common theme on the show. The pattern is that Antony threatens Cicero's life, then Cicero caves and does whatever Antony wants. But this time, the dialog was somewhat different. Just as Cicero refused to cooperate, Antony says: "Well you leave me only one option then." Cicero replies: "It always comes to this." Antony agrees: "I know. I'm sorry. Such times we live in." Cicero then says: "Please, go on. Make your threats. I don't like to submit to mere implication."

Like Cicero, I will not submit to mere implication. I'm as devoted a fan to BSG as Cicero was a devoted coward. But I will not gush all over the show over the mere implication of good stories to come.

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