Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 4 - Episode 07

BSG - 4x07 - The Road Less Traveled - Originally Aired: 2008-5-2

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 3.54

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Synopsis
Aboard the Demetrius, Kara Thrace's mission to find Earth is in its fifty-eighth day. Kara is sequestered in her quarters, painting visions of planets on the walls while ordering repetitive searches that never lead anywhere. Helo, her executive officer, upholds the chain of command on principle, but his influence over the demoralized crew — including Sharon and Gaeta — is waning. Only two days remain before Kara must abandon her quest and rendezvous with the Galactica. For the crew, the deadline can't come soon enough.

Abruptly, Kara feels inspired to fly a Viper patrol mission. During the patrol, she encounters a damaged Cylon heavy raider. Her old nemesis, Leoben, is aboard. He insists that Kara's special destiny has reunited them. Kara unnerves her crew by inviting the Cylon to her quarters for a private meeting. That meeting turns into a sensual painting session before Anders, disgusted, breaks it up.

Leoben, now bound and stashed in a storage room, tells Anders that the Cylons are engaged in a civil war. On behalf of his faction, who are losing, Leoben has offered Kara an alliance: she will use the Demetrius's navigational and F.T.L. systems to help his damaged baseship escape its enemies, and he will let her consult with the baseship's visionary hybrid about the route to Earth. When Anders tells the rest of the crew about Leoben's proposal, they're certain that it's a trap and appalled that Kara plans to accept it.

Without warning, Sgt. Matthias is killed in an explosion caused by a gas leak as she inspects Leoben's ship. Kara is shocked, believing that Leoben sabotaged his ship on purpose to commit murder. Furious with Leoben — and with herself for trusting him — she nearly kills him.

Meanwhile, aboard the Galactica, Galen Tyrol struggles to recover from Cally's suicide and his demotion. He is drawn to Gaius Baltar's sermons, but when Baltar forces him into the spotlight because the cult would gain credibility by having the well-respected former deck chief as a member, Tyrol violently rejects him. More despairing than ever, Tyrol contemplates killing himself. Later, Baltar dares to visit Tyrol alone to offer him a sincere apology. Tyrol's response might mark a turning point for both men.

Back aboard Demetrius, Leoben promises Kara that Matthias's death was an accident, and he reasserts his faith that Kara is special — perhaps even an angel of God. Determined to find Earth for her people, Kara risks trusting him once more. Her order to set course for his baseship, however, is the last straw for her crew. Even Helo's principled loyalty crumbles as Sharon insists that Kara's going to get them killed. Mutiny seems inevitable. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39676. Up one. (Baby born?)
- This is the first episode to not feature an appearance by Roslin or Adama. This episode also does not feature Lee Adama.

Remarkable Scenes
- Bald Tyrol.
- Demetrius encountering the damaged Cylon raider.
- Leoben offering truce.
- Leoben's odd behavior when boarding Demetrius.
- Tyrol to Tory: "You spend way too much time with Baltar." I couldn't agree more.
- Leoben and Kara painting together.
- Leoben's chat with Anders.
- Leoben revealing to Anders that the Cylons are fighting each other and proposing an alliance.
- Tyrol insulting Tigh regarding his spending time with Caprica Six.
- Tyrol: "All I know is if there is a god, he's laughin' his ass off."
- Matthias' explodey end.
- Tyrol: "Cally wasn't like me. She forgave you for New Caprica; even read your bogus manifesto, but not me. You may have your sheep fooled, they may be buying into your message of forgiveness. But let me tell you, there are some sins that even your imaginary god can never forgive."
- Tyrol assaulting Baltar.
- Tyrol contemplating suicide.
- Starbuck assaulting Leoben.
- Leoben referring to Kara as "an angel blazing with the light of god" and claiming that she'll lead "our people home."
- Starbuck's mock-funeral service for Matthias, taking the blame for her death.
- Starbuck ordering a jump to the damaged Cylon baseship.
- Helo gut punching then pistol whipping Pike.
- Baltar reaching out to Tyrol in his quarters, making peace with him.
- Baltar to Tyrol: "I have committed unconscionable crimes and I have been offered one last chance for redemption because I've chosen to accept my fate, not fight it anymore."
- The mutiny aboard the Demetrius.

My Review
The same sin as last episode with the opposite focus is committed here: too much focus on one plot thread, neglecting the others, to the detriment of all plot threads. What we see here on the Demetrius doesn't drag quite as badly as the previous episode's overly claustrophobic plots, but it almost does.

There is little to say about the Baltar/Tyrol/Tory plot other than to note the well earned warm and fuzzy moment between Baltar and Tyrol at the end. I like how Tyrol seems to symbolize a microcosm of what both human and Cylon characters alike are all starting to go through. A slow, but progressing internal and external forgiveness of themselves and everyone around them.

Baltar seems wise enough, or at least lucky enough to smell that forgiveness is the popular sentiment in the air at the moment. So in order for his redemption, as he calls it, to occur, he must be at the center of the forgiveness movement, even if it's a process that's started independently already. Leave it to Baltar to take the credit. As for Tyrol, I find it touching how he seems to go from angry and hardcore to readily accepting the caring companionship (or at least the appearance of such) of a man he had previously hated in such a short period of time.

It's easy to appreciate any episode which features a lot of the Kara-Leoben dynamic, and indeed, that's where most of the points awarded for this episode go. In particular I was quite amused by the chat Anders and Leoben shared, where Leoben seemed to imply that he knew Anders was a Cylon, or at least that Anders was more than he seemed to be. Easily just about every line Leoben utters is well crafted and pointed, which is more than I can say for most of the Demetrius crew who have seemed to play the same broken record since The Ties That Bind. Nothing but whining about Starbuck's craziness.

Starbuck's certainly not helping her credibility by doing things like broadcasting eerily suspicious lines to the rest of her crew like "I know you're out there" while in her viper, but didn't her crew know what the hell they were getting themselves into? It's as if they were expecting a leader who just mysteriously resurrected without explanation to be a perfectly rational and coherent commander when she herself doesn't even seem to consciously know just what the hell is going on with her.

I was profoundly amused by Helo's continuing unflinching defense of Starbuck since the beginning, culminating of course to the point where he pistol whips a fellow crewman, in a single moment of badassery once again reminding us that Helo is a pretty big guy; not someone to mess with! Unfortunately, instead of being an amusing overtone in this episode it becomes a full blown and blown out of proportion plot.

Most perplexing is Athena, of all people, leading the mutinous charge against Starbuck. I don't think I have to do much explaining to demonstrate why that would be profoundly out of character. Obviously it's not an impossible pill to swallow. She'll do anything to prove her loyalty to the humans. But even go so far as to consistently oppose Helo? To reject an alliance proposal from her own people? From a Cylon model the rest of her line (well, aside from Boomer, but Athena and Boomer rarely see eye to eye) concurs with? It just seems out of character.

In the end, the episode loses most of its steam when Helo finally succumbs to the irrational will of those under his command and throws his weight behind their mutiny. Of all the times Helo's irrepressible moral defiance should suddenly vanish, this had to have been the worst time. It seems to give the impression that Helo isn't, in fact, the moral compass of the fleet, but merely constantly confrontational without a good reason. While I think the episode did a fairly good job of illustrating Helo's struggle to remain loyal to Starbuck, the fact that he mutinied was an extreme disservice to his character.

A better episode would have continued the trend of the unflinching Helo, culminating with the same scene in the mock-CIC of the Demetrius with Helo and Anders both standing by Starbuck's orders, if reluctantly, in the face of what is easily an absurdly risky move. It's easy for the audience to conclude that this damaged baseship is going to find its way into an alliance with the fleet somehow. Delaying that happenstance with a silly manufactured mutiny cliffhanger is weak. A better cliffhanger would have simply been maybe a few looks of horror from Starbuck's crew, the jump, a pan over the Cylon baseship, and cut to be continued.

Overall, this episode is another weak offering. It manages to work slightly better than the prior episode due to the plot thread dominating the episode bearing far more relevance this time around, but the poor execution results in something of a flop.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Hugo on 2012-10-21 at 4:00pm:
    Another yawn - all the plotlines are sooo drawn out. I feel that BSG should try to close and round off some arcs before opening new ones.

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