BSG - Season 4
BSG - 4x01 - Razor, Part 1 - Originally Aired: 2007-11-24
Lee Adama's first mission as the commander of the battlestar Pegasus — and the harrowing tale of that ship's desperate fight for survival in the immediate aftermath of the Cylon's genocidal siege of the Twelve Colonies.
Lee Adama's new XO, Major Kendra Shaw, is plagued by memories of her service and sacrifices under Admiral Helena Cain, who was able to save her ship during the Cylon attack — but only by making Shaw and her fellow officers rationalize suicidal battle tactics and brutal war crimes against their own people.
In the crucible of war, Shaw must let her hesitation and doubts burn away, until all that remains of her is the honed edge of a living human weapon — what Colonial veterans call "a razor." But an edge so fine cuts in more than one direction. It can cleave an enemy to pieces … or it can carve away a person's soul. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Admiral Cain's "Combat Infrastructure Eval" portion of her briefing she read while on the treadmill notes that "readiness drill scores have dropped 12%" attributing "fatigue and morale" to be probable causes. However, morale is misspelled on her report, spelled instead as "moral."
- When Starbuck and Showboat fire into Pegasus' firing solution, the gun shown firing is that of a Viper Mark II even though Starbuck and Showboat are in Viper Mark VIIs.
- This episode (though technically just Adama's flashbacks to the first Cylon war) won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Live-action Entertainment Programs.
- This episode won a VES Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or Special.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a One Hour Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (one-hour).
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (half-hour) and Animation.
- This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form.
- This episode was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Television Presentation.
- This episode reuses the season 2 opening theme verbatim.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 49579.
- According to the flashbacks, the first Cylon war lasted 4571 days - over twelve years!
- Stephanie Chaves-Jacobsen, who plays Kendra Shaw in this episode, also played Nurse Froy in Farscape 3x11 Incubator.
- The drug induced flashback to the Scylla.
- Shaw referencing Cain's dislike of chairs when summoned by Lee.
- The flashback to Shaw on Caprica.
- Shaw's arrival at Scorpion Fleet Shipyards.
- Cain's XO encouraging her to take a break.
- Shaw encountering undercover Gina.
- Cain teasing Shaw on her first day.
- The Cylon attack on Scorpion Fleet Shipyards.
- Shaw voicing her opinions of Fisk, Garner, and Lee.
- Shaw reporting to Cain about how the Cylons pulled off the attack - a moment of implicit redemption.
- Cain revealing "the horror that has been unleashed upon us" to her crew.
- Cain: "A philosopher once said, 'When faced with untenable alternatives to consider your imperative.' Look around you. Our imperative is right here. In our bulkheads, in our planes, in our guns, and in ourselves. War is our imperative. And if right now victory seems like an impossibility, then there is something else to reach for. Revenge. Payback. So we will fight." Complete with a "so say we all" mantra by the crew in the end.
- Cain's officers' meeting and the revelation that she and Gina are lovers.
- Starbuck and Showboat being attacked by old style Cylon raiders.
- Starbuck confronting Shaw about her "tactical orders."
- Cain's XO refusing Cain's orders and Cain summarily executing him, just like Fisk's story to Tigh.
- The Cylons boarding Pegasus.
- Shaw discovering what Gina is.
- Shaw revealing what Gina is to Cain and taking her into custody.
- Tigh regarding the old style Cylon: "Been a long time since I've seen one of these outside a museum."
- Sharon revealing the likely purpose of the old style Cylons in this context.
- Adama corroborating her story with his flashbacks to the end of the first Cylon war.
- Adama flying his first mission as a viper pilot during the first Cylon war.
- The destruction of the Battlestar Columbia.
- Adama engaging two more raiders, destroying the first, colliding with the second.
- Adama's skydiving gun fight with the old style Centurion.
- After landing, Adama beating the Cylon to death with a metal bar. (Just like he did to Leoben in the miniseries.)
- Adama discovering the Cylons' secret lab where apparently people were being experimented upon.
- Adama escaping and reporting his findings only to learn that the war is over.
Razor is a romp of the best kind; quite literally straight out the show's greatest times so far: the season 2 Pegasus arc. Even complete with a verbatim, authentic season 2 opening theme. As such, I will review this episode as if it were aired during the second season. It makes little sense to do otherwise. As Razor does not possess any real spoilers for chronology subsequent episodes, it should be viewed directly after The Captain's Hand and just prior to Downloaded.
First and foremost, what a ridiculous teaser! The teaser is nothing more than an overly verbose, vague, and at times retconned recap. (I so especially love it when they insert new or deleted material in recaps...) The climax of absurdity here is intercutting Kendra Shaw's symbolic Razor dialog with the recaps, as if the clip show is supposed to actually be part of the dramatic narrative.
That said, this episode leaves us with some interesting partial exposition. Sharon reveals to everyone that the Cylons created hybrids as an evolutionary step between the centurions and the humanoid Cylons. Many were created, but the experiments were considered a failure. Some hybrids remained in service to control the basestars, but one went into isolation, guarded by old style Cylons known as "guardians." Adama witnessed these experiments briefly during the final mission of the first war. This information raises a series of interesting questions. For example, did the Cylons prototype their human models off of real humans?
I like seeing some of the repercussions of, as Shaw puts it, Adama "throwing his son the keys to a battlestar." Moreover, we learn precisely why Cain had what seemed to be such an unusually incredible disdain for Gina, and humanoid Cylons in general. Certainly Gina being responsible for the deaths of hundreds of her crew was enough, but it was always fascinating to wonder just what set Cain over the moral edge that would allow her to see the justice in rape and torture of a prisoner. The exposition of her having had an intimate, sexual relationship with Gina prior to knowing what she was was just the aesthetic touch this plot thread needed.
Not only does it ironically parallel Baltar's plight marvelously, but it adds a whole new layer to Cain's viciousness. And what viciousness! There can be no doubt or debate now, Tigh was right! Fisk was telling the truth! She really did kill her XO and long time friend for cowardice in the face of the enemy, and what's scary is there are plenty of reasons to agree with what she did and why she did it, despite its heinousness.
Near the end of Razor's first part, we're treated to fascinating glimpse into the first Cylon war from Adama's perspective which, aside from being an amazingly fun ride, resolves a few continuity problems by making canonical a series of common fan rationalizations. Many fans had always wondered how both Adama and Tigh could be veterans of the same war, with Adama being so much younger. It is established here that he only fought in one battle, just as the war was ending. Also, the war lasted twelve years!
Moreover, this episode establishes once and for all that original Cylon centurions, baseships, and raiders from the original Battlestar series were not making a simple cameo appearance in the miniseries museum. That's actually how they looked during the first Cylon war and I am incredibly impressed that they've managed to make it all look so cool. The battle with the destruction of the Columbia and the ensuing firefight between Adama and an old style Centurion couldn't have looked better. There was a lot of room for cringeworthy nostalgia here, but I thought they walked the line quite well.
Overall, save a nitpick or two here and there, Razor has many merits which easily secure its status as among the best episodes of BSG ever done. The story of Kendra Shaw is indeed compelling and using this new and overlooked character to tie together all these events and time periods we'd have loved to have seen more of variously was incredibly clever.
By telling this story, we get to see all sorts of amazing things that previously were only talked about. Not only do all the events depicted in this episode precisely match their descriptions in prior episodes, but watching them occur despite knowing the outcome is no less compelling. In fact, I believe that the fact that the audience of this episode is already privy to the outcomes of large quantities of plot covered forced the writers to raise the dramatic bar for the storytelling. The narrative focus is not on plot in this episode, but on the emotional impact.
You need look nowhere else but the episode's musical score for evidence. Like Shaw's character, the music floats seamlessly from time period to time period, weaving a tapestry of emotional impressions using strong plots as its thread rather than expecting the plots to stand on their own.
If you recall watching the first season of BSG, is there any doubt in your mind how it would end? Boomer was destined to betray the Galactica. And she did. The outcome was obvious and not at all a surprise, but still incredibly shocking and moving. When you watch the events of Pegasus' past in this episode, it elicits the same feelings. You know what's going to happen, but the story is so compelling and the details are so fascinating, the climax hits you just as hard no matter how many times you see it. This is why HBO's Rome was so critically acclaimed, for everybody knows the story of Julius Caesar. But it's not what you say, it's how you say it. Rome retold that age old story exceptionally well and I'm proud to say BSG channels that style here once again.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From AuH2O on 2007-11-25 at 6:34pm:
Wasn't there an obvious chronology problem? Lee Adama said " a lot has happened in the past 8 months", followed by a flash back to the attack on the Pegasus by the cylons, which was 10 months ago.
- From DPC on 2008-02-27 at 8:47pm:
Addendum to the Problems section (or maybe Factoids): The number of actors who appear in the credits but not in the actual episode (to say nothing of the "top 7" who didn't have much of a role to speak of, like Grace Park or Mary McDonnell):
James Callis - only appears in the background in the televised version, and only has one scene in the DVD version. Actually, one thing I liked in the TV version was the lack of Baltar/Head Six. If there's one aspect of season 3 I think everyone could agree was positive was the relative absence of these scenes, which had become tiresome by the end of season 2. Whenever this happened in season 3 there was a clear motivator for it.
Aaron Douglas - no face time, but did get a mention in the dialogue
Alessandro Juliani - completely absent, indeed one wonders why it was "Baltar and Tyrol" and not "Gaeta and Tyrol" who downloaded the Cylon computer in the aforementioned line
Tahmoh Penikett - didn't even get a name drop
Michael Trucco - well he was still on Caprica at this point, so it was obvious why he wasn't around
Kandyse McClure - didn't even get a comm voiceover
If the actors were being credited at all proportionate to their work with the credits Michelle Forbes, Stephanie Jacobsen and Graham Beckel should have been in the main credits, or at least first in the ep credits. Even Michael Hogan only utters one line!
I guess it's more of a curiosity than a real problem, but it really stuck out to me.
- From S8 on 2008-04-01 at 5:14pm:
"Many fans had always wondered how both Adama and Tigh could be veterans of the same war, with Adama being so much younger."
I'm not sure I follow. Tigh and Adama appear to be pretty close in age to me. According to the chronology page on the Battlestar wiki, they are only 5 years apart (69 BCH versus 64 BCH). I don't think that necessarily qualifies as "so much younger". I'm sure the age gaps between Apollo and Dee (or Starbuck), or Chief and Cally are just as big or bigger.
If you want to use actor birthdates to gauge character ages, Crashdown's actor was born in 1977, whereas Tyrol's actor was born in 1971. A six year gap, but clearly they are serving in the same Cylon war. I see nothing confusing about Adama and Tigh's alleged "age gap". Just because someone is bald with white hair, doesn't mean he's ancient. I've known people who were white haired in their thirties.
My general feelings on the Razor movie were:
- present day was fine as "filling in gaps" (part 1) but the mission (part 2) on the basestar was silly.. "Let's sacrifice a raptor and risk 4 people to save about 4 people--aboard an enemy basestar"
- "Cain's Pegasus" flashback stuff was uniformly good, I really enjoyed this look into the Pegasus's backstory.. It provided some much needed character development for Cain and her crew.
- Husker storyline was silly, why was this even necessary? Just to show visual proof that when Adama says he heard of a special basestar and guardians, that he had some limited firsthand experience? During his little foray into that research facility, he didn't even learn the terms for "guardians" or "hybrids". He just saw a bunch of arms, and some prisoners.
Additionally, the CG of fighting the Toaster-Cylon in free-fall was pretty well done, but also the weakest CGI of the series to date. I'd rate it right alongside Legolas jumping onto the Cave Troll.
- From Hugo on 2012-09-26 at 4:25am:
Is it just me, but didn't it go very quick when Kendra connected that there are human cylons? (by seeing the Six in the boarding party)
Keep in mind that there were no notion on the Pegasus that there were human-looking Cylons.
- From Dave on 2016-01-29 at 12:58am:
So, in a nutshell I have given this series a chance since I am the perfect demographic. There are basically no likable characters to root for, that is the biggest fail that I can think of since the producers/directors/writers do an ok job on keeping things somewhat interesting.
Perhaps 12 years has dated this series and I have seen shows like Lost do a much better job of having characters you can actually like. I find this series dark, too much smoking and hitting women and unappealing characters. Heck, I'm rooting for the Cylons at this point.
- From Kethinov on 2016-01-29 at 10:05am:
It isn't the age. You're not the target demographic. The target demographic is people who enjoy dark, gritty sci fi with flawed characters who exhibit mostly shades of gray in their personal morality. For people into that stuff, BSG is still the overall best show in that genre. Basically Game of Thrones in space.
BSG - 4x02 - Razor, Part 2 - Originally Aired: 2007-11-24
Lee Adama's first mission as the commander of the battlestar Pegasus — and the harrowing tale of that ship's desperate fight for survival in the immediate aftermath of the Cylon's genocidal siege of the Twelve Colonies.
Lee Adama's new XO, Major Kendra Shaw, is plagued by memories of her service and sacrifices under Admiral Helena Cain, who was able to save her ship during the Cylon attack — but only by making Shaw and her fellow officers rationalize suicidal battle tactics and brutal war crimes against their own people.
In the crucible of war, Shaw must let her hesitation and doubts burn away, until all that remains of her is the honed edge of a living human weapon — what Colonial veterans call "a razor." But an edge so fine cuts in more than one direction. It can cleave an enemy to pieces … or it can carve away a person's soul. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Both Tauron and Scorpia are shown to be habitable planets. Since it is strongly implied that all twelve colonies exist within one planetary system, it stretches realism to assume that even with terraforming that there could be three naturally habitable planets in one planetary system. (It's worth nothing that Firefly also suffered from this problem to an even greater degree.) It would have been much more realistic if these worlds were depicted as domed colonies with artificial life support.
- This episode won a VES Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries, Movie or Special.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a One Hour Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (one-hour).
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (half-hour) and Animation.
- This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form.
- This episode was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Television Presentation.
- Although Razor was aired as a single two hour episode and only had one teaser and one set of opening credits, it is considered to actually be two episodes, which is why I've reviewed it in two parts. It is difficult to see where the parts cleave, but the midway point of the story seems to be the aftermath of Sharon and Adama telling what they know of the Cylon hybrids black project. There is an act-out shortly after that exposition with Adama claiming that he doesn't want to think about the implications. The following act-in featuring Adama and Apollo planning the rescue mission with Roslin is where I'm considering part 2 to begin.
- The survivor count at the beginning of this episode is 49579. In chronologically subsequent episodes, the survivor count remains 49579, even though (at the very least) Kendra Shaw and one team member aboard red squad had died. This discrepancy could be accounted for by births in the fleet, however.
- Destroyed Cylon capital ships, running total: 7 confirmed, 2 probable. (+1 confirmed)
- The revelation that Shaw was one of the executioners aboard the Scylla.
- Cain assigning Lt. Thorne to interrogate Gina using as much degradation as possible.
- Cain ordering Fisk to conduct a raid on the civilian convoy they discovered.
- Cain ordering Fisk to shoot the families of anyone who does not cooperate.
- Cain promoting Shaw to captain interwoven with her flashback to the loss of her little sister "Lucy" followed by her "razor" speech.
- Starbuck and Shaw discussing fear and anger, comparing Cain's and Starbuck's mother's perspectives.
- Pegasus engaging the fleet of old style Cylon raiders to lure them off.
- The raptor crew ejecting with jet packs shortly after letting the Cylons destroy their raptor.
- Old style Cylon centurions talking to each other...
- The raptor crew sneaking aboard the Cylon base.
- The old style Cylon centurions attacking the raptor crew.
- Cylon hybrid, talking to himself: "At last, they've come for me. I feel their lives, their destinies spilling out before me. The denial of the one true path. To play that out on a world not their own. But will they be soon enough? Soon there will be four glorious new awakenings, struggling with the knowledge of their true selves, the pain of revelation bringing new clarity. And in the midst of confusion they will find their enemies brought together by an awesome belonging. Enemies now joined as one. The way forward, the once unthinkable, yet inevitable. And the fifth still is in shadows, drawn toward the light, hungering for redemption, that will only come in the howl of terrible suffering. I can see them all. The seven, now six, self-described machines who believe themselves are of no sin, but in time it is sin that will consume them. They will know enmity, bitterness, the wrenching agony of the one splintering into many. And then they will join the promised land, gathered on the wings of an angel."
- The Cylons capturing one of the infiltration team members and Shaw murdering him to prevent the Cylons from experimenting on him.
- Apollo ordering Hoshi to prepare a nuclear strike on the Cylon base and Adama countermanding his order.
- Apollo ordering Starbuck to detonate the nuke manually.
- Injured Shaw ordering Starbuck to get on the raptor at gunpoint so she can detonate the nuke manually.
- Cylon hybrid: "What am I? A man? Or am I a machine? My children believe I am a god."
- Shaw flashbacking to the Scylla. She fired the first lethal shot.
- Cylon hybrid: "Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end." Shaw: "What?" Cylon hybrid: "She is the herald of the apocalypse. The harbinger of death. They must not follow her."
- Shaw attempting to relay the Cylon hybrid's warning about Starbuck to Apollo only to have her transmission jammed at the critical moment.
- Shaw setting off the nuke.
- Apollo and Adama talking about the legacy of Cain and Shaw.
- Starbuck, speculating as to why Shaw sacrificed herself: "Maybe she thought she had a lot to answer for. Maybe she had it coming." Apollo: "We've all got it coming."
The second half of Razor lives up to its first half and then some in terms of action, however there are some deficiencies. Aside from the fact that the cameo scene featuring the old style Cylon centurions talking to each other was somewhat painfully authentic, I found the prophesies imparted by the Cylon hybrid/god/whatever to be murky at best. Few if any answers are dispensed here and like Flesh and Bone it is as difficult to evaluate the legitimacy of the statements made by the hybrid as it was to evaluate the statements made by Leoben. Will the prophesies dispensed here come more or less true like they did with season one's prophesies? If so, how did the hybrid know these things?
In particular, it's somewhat aggravating that only half-baked impressions are getting revealed to the audience. At the end of the pilot miniseries, a similar revelation about a main character being potentially harmful to the rest of the main cast was imparted as well, but was done so in a much clearer way. Boomer was revealed to be a Cylon. Simple.
But At the end of Razor, Starbuck is revealed to be "the herald of the apocalypse. The harbinger of death." (That is, if you believe the Cylon hybrid.) As I said before, this is murky at best, and leaves us with significant questions. How does the Cylon hybrid know these things? For that matter how does he know about Kendra Shaw's hunger for redemption? Is he the Cylon god and therefore some kind of supernatural entity? Did he create the other humanoid Cylons?
Aside from that, this thrilling action story still manages to be a profound commentary on the kind of person Cain and consequently Shaw turned out to be. Adama and Apollo being unable to truly judge them also says something interesting about their characters. I like how the story used the controversy between Apollo and Adama of whether or not to nuke the whole base and sacrifice the whole team to complete the mission as a way to counterpoint the similar controversial decisions made by Cain. As Adama said, nobody was wrong from a tactical perspective.
I also like how Shaw's willingness to sacrifice herself at the end of the story quite nicely resembles Cain's unwillingness to go forward with her assassination attempt on Adama. Just like at the end of Resurrection Ship, Part 2, we learn that like Cain, Shaw really was a good person at heart. Just psychologically twisted and messed up by circumstances outside her control.
Indeed, we see Cain get more and more vicious in the second part just as clearly as we do in the first. The progression is steady and unrelenting how they transition from the authorization of raiding civilians, to prison rape, to the murder of civilian families. Then to sit and watch Cain justify it all to Shaw's face and promote her for carrying it all out is just an astonishing piece of drama.
Other notable details, the jet pack scene reminded me of Firefly. The scoring even seemed to channel Firefly in that moment. Overall, the science fiction and space battle stuff in both parts of the episode are beyond gorgeous as usual. Even watching the old style Centurions conduct guerrilla warfare was pretty awesome. They certainly didn't look as clunky and useless as they did in 1978.
It is interesting to compare my review of Razor to my review of the pilot miniseries. I recall subtracting a point from the pilot miniseries for not showing us any of the major Cylon engagements against the Colonial Fleet. We got to see some of that here, however I must now subtract a point from this similar production as well for the opposite reason. We got quite the light show in Razor and plenty of action, but the ending was seriously lacking in profundity.
It was never satisfactorily explained why Starbuck decided to act as Lee's CAG after explicitly stating in The Captain's Hand that she was going to stay on Galactica and be Galactica's CAG. She then reverses her decision to be Lee's CAG at the end of Razor as arbitrarily and as inexplicably as she reversed her original decision to stay on Galactica at the beginning of Razor. Then throwing in the joking about Leoben's assertions from Flesh and Bone that Starbuck has a destiny didn't help either.
Razor actually would have been a superior story had it not had anything whatsoever to do with prophesying things about Starbuck's mystical destiny. However, this little gaffe aside, the two part special was an incredibly satisfying piece.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From AuH2O on 2007-11-25 at 8:48pm:
Agree with the thrust of your review, well done. I thought it was an 8/10 when I first saw, then went back down a bit, so came out at overall 7.5/10. By the way, you MUST watch the extended version on DVD. They really cut out some important bits. Unfortunately there was even more mysticism in the extended version, with the Hybrid ranting about the Five and the Seven. I'm afraid RDM has tangled himself up real good. The show has become about the mysticism and there just isn't any way he'sgoing to be able to wrap it all up satisfactorily. There are just going to be more puzzles in season 4.1 and then no matter how he resolves it all in 4.5 it'sgoing to be a let-down. Too bad, but he let it spin out of control.
- From Remco on 2007-12-20 at 9:34pm:
That survivor counter is not really a problem. Say every 2 people will have 2 children in their lifetime. Considering it takes about 25 years for 2 people to actually have children, you could count on 50000 / 25 = 2000 babies being born every year at this population count. That's 5 each day. It's also not too far fetched to have people die at a rate of about 5/day, so the number should actually fluctuate a lot more.
Correct me if I'm wrong, of course.
- From Kethinov on 2007-12-20 at 9:59pm:
You're absolutely right. The fact that babies could be born is a perfectly satisfactory rationalization. It's a (perhaps too) nitpicky plot hole.
BSG - 4x03 - He That Believeth in Me - Originally Aired: 2008-4-4
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]
- 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.
- 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.
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.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x04 - Six of One - Originally Aired: 2008-4-11
Kara Thrace holds President Laura Roslin at gunpoint, risking everything to persuade Roslin to believe in her mystical awareness of the route to Earth. However, when Kara hands Roslin the gun and dares the president to shoot if she really believes that Kara's a Cylon, Roslin pulls the trigger. The bullet barely misses. Marines rush in and drag Kara to the brig, leaving Roslin shaken but resolute and Admiral Adama furious and disgusted with his onetime best pilot.
Though they doubt that Kara is one of them, the four secret Cylons are troubled by this incident and agree that they must learn more about their situation. They speculate that Gaius Baltar might know more Cylon secrets than he's telling, so Tory Foster reluctantly agrees to try to win the new cult leader's trust.
At first, Baltar assumes that Tory is spying on him for Roslin, but as they talk, he is startled by a vision not of his usual invisible companion Six — but of himself. This mental Baltar encourages his physical self to hear Foster out. Astonished, Baltar complies. Soon, Baltar and Foster are in bed together.
Meanwhile, controversy brews in the distant Cylon fleet. In the recent battle against the humans, the Raiders refused to fight — an unprecedented display of free will that exceeded their original programming. The Sixes, Sharons and Leobens want to celebrate and explore this evolutionary advancement. The other models, led by a Cavil, insist that the Raiders are merely malfunctioning and need to be fixed — that is, lobotomized to ensure mindless obedience.
With the six extant models evenly split about what to do, the Sharon known as Boomer breaks with the other Sharons and sides with Cavil, ending the deadlock and condemning the Raiders to lobotomies. One of the Sixes, a leader named Natalie, retaliates by removing the Centurions' telencephalic inhibitors, enabling them to think for themselves. The metallic warriors take Natalie's side, gunning down Cavil and his supporters. Cylon has turned against Cylon.
Back in the human fleet, Lee Adama leaves the Galactica for his new government career. His comrades see him off with both alcohol-soaked partying and solemn military pomp. Lee also steals a moment to visit Kara in her cell, where he tells her that he believes in her. They kiss, bidding each other a deeply affectionate farewell.
Later, moved by Lee's departure, Admiral Adama's disgust with Kara gives way to a deep longing to believe in her. He has an ugly argument about it with Roslin, who, struggling to stay strong against the despair caused by her cancer, refuses to entrust the fate of humanity to a violent, self-proclaimed visionary. If Adama wants to put his faith in Kara Thrace, he'll have to defy Roslin to do it. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Cavil claims that the final five are "anywhere but with the humans." Where the hell else could they be? Wandering around aimlessly on Caprica? There aren't too many other places they could be.
- Six claims "no one has ever voted against their model." However, when on New Caprica a vote was called to decide whether or not to summarily execute various citizens to, as Cavil at the time put it, "to reduce the human population to a more manageable size" all the sixes voted in favor but Caprica Six voted against.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39676. Down by 22, inexplicably. Probably as a result of hazardous repairs to battle-damaged civilian ships, or any number of other possible hazards by now. The RTF is a dangerous place!
- Hybrid utterances: "The excited state decays by vibrational relaxation into the first excited singlet state, yes, yes, and merrily we go. Reduce atmospheric nitrogen by 0.03%. It is not much consolation that society will pick up the bits, leaving us at ape modern replenishment rather than interdiction is paramount. Please, cut the fuse. They will not harm their own. End of line. Limiting diffusions to two dimensions increases the number of evolutionary jumps within the species. Rise and measure the temple of the five. Transformation is the goal. They will not harm their own. Data flux synchronization..."
- All numbers for the "significant seven" Cylons have been revealed as of this episode: 1. Cavil, 2. Leoben, 3. D'Anna, 4. Simon, 5. Doral, 6. Six/Gina, 8. Sharon.
- This episode also establishes that there are millions of copies of each Cylon model, most of which presumably live on the homeworld.
- Starbuck confronting Roslin about the hypocrisy surrounding her lack of faith in Starbuck's experiences.
- Roslin, just before shooting at Starbuck: "They made you perfect, didn't they?"
- Starbuck to Roslin just as she was being taken away: "You better work on your aim!"
- The hybrid uttering utterances.
- Six: "The hybrid is clearly telling us something." Cavil: "The hybrid is always telling us something. They're supposed to maintain operations on each ship, not vomit metaphysics."
- Cavil objecting to the open discussion of the final five, after it was postulated that the raiders broke off from the fight because they saw one.
- Cavil: "There's a reason the original programmers clearly felt that it's a mistake for us to contact the final five."
- Cavil suggesting lobotomizing the raiders to correct their errant behavior.
- Tigh, Tyrol, Tory, and Anders discussing Baltar.
- Adama assaulting Starbuck in response to her calling him Roslin's "wet nurse."
- Baltar seeing Head Baltar.
- Baltar suddenly capturing Tory's attention with a music analogy.
- Baltar to Head Baltar: "Who the frak are you?" I couldn't agree more.
- Adama: "You shot at her and missed at close range." Roslin: "Diloxin fraks with your aim." Adama: "So does doubt." Roslin: "I pulled the trigger and I'd do it again. She put her life in front of a bullet as if it had no meaning. You drop an egg, you reach for another." Adama: "Maybe convincing you meant more to her than her own life."
- Roslin: "You want to talk about miracles? On the very same day that a very pale doctor informed me that I had terminal cancer most of humanity was annihilated and I survived. And by some mathematical absurdity I became president. And then my cancer disappeared long enough for us to find a way to Earth."
- Roslin: "You're so afraid to live alone." Adama: "And you're afraid to die that way. You're afraid you may not be the dying leader you thought you were. Or that your death may be as meaningless as everyone else's."
- Lee visiting Starbuck prior to leaving Galactica.
- Lee to Starbuck: "I believe you."
- Simon lobotomizing a raider.
- Baltar nailing Tory.
- Baltar discussing the Cylons' emotional nature.
- Baltar evangelizing the "one true god."
- Six revealing that she gave the Centurions free will.
- The Centurions killing the Cavils, Dorals, and Simons.
- Adama cutting Starbuck loose, giving her the Demetrius, a sewage recycling ship with a handpicked crew and a cover story mission so she can go find Earth.
So we now know why the Cylons backed out of the fight. The raiders made an independent decision to break off the fight! What a scary thing for the Cylons to have to deal with and easily the Cylon story steals the show here. Unfortunately though, just as before, this episode doesn't quite go far enough.
We still don't know how the Cylons found the fleet, we still don't know why they waited this long to attack the fleet, we still don't know what their original motives for attacking the fleet were, we still don't know why the fleet lost power just prior to the battle, nor why it was mysteriously restored, the significance of the music in Crossroads is still unclear, Roslin's shared vision with Caprica Six is still totally unexplained, what really happened to Starbuck is still totally unexplained, etc, etc, etc, I've gone on about it at length already in previous reviews. Enough already.
Suffice it to say, as usual, this episode lost points for not covering any of that. But to top it all off, while a smattering of critical questions were indeed answered in this episode, we get to add at least one new one to the list too. Why is Baltar seeing a copy of himself in his head now, just like Caprica Six? Is it due to her physical proximity to him as a prisoner aboard the Galactica? Why hasn't he seen this projection already since he lived with her for several months prior? Keep in mind, the original Head Six was never explained either. Over three seasons later.
Moving on, much like the Precipice to season three's Occupation, this episode provides crucial clarity to the motives of many of the current major players and grounds the audience much better than the prior episode. The degree to which Adama is torn between Roslin and Starbuck is presented far more eloquently here and Adama's decision to cut Starbuck loose in an attempt to have it both ways adds a fascinating facet to his character. My only complaint is all of that plot in this episode should have been compressed into the last episode, rather than dragging out the conflict unnecessarily.
Among the more audaciously titillating moments of the show is Roslin's attempt to murder Starbuck, followed by her cool-headed declaration that she'd surely attempt it again if given another opportunity. Roslin's zeal is matched only by her hatred of Cylons; even suspected Cylons. I find it interesting to note that her brutality in this episode seems unmatched since her behavior in Epiphanies, an episode in which she ordered the termination of Athena's pregnancy in a single, cold move. It's as if her illness motivates her to try to find a way to be more hardcore, manifesting itself as almost raw cruelty.
That said there's a clear method to her madness. She knows what she's doing and it seems just about every character aside from Starbuck considers Roslin to be quite credible. And when she attributes Adama's conflict of interest regarding her and Kara to not being able to handle taking anymore loss, it hits home hard. Equally, Adama's lines to Roslin attributing her mistrust of Kara to fear of not truly being the dying leader spelled out in the Pythian prophecy thereby reducing her terminal illness to mere meaninglessness strike a powerful chord as well. In the end, there's too much vagueness and faith required on both sides to form an objective conclusion, which is the aesthetic that should have been presented from the start. After all, we're measuring the veracity of religious prophecy against a dissenter's gut feeling. Something tells me everyone involved could use a bit more objectivity.
Baltar's story continues to be amusing, despite my slight groan when Head Baltar was introduced. I like the way he's suddenly becoming unknowingly entangled in the final five mess once again. Moreover, I wonder if he just impregnated Tory? A scary thought indeed. Then Baltar really would be the literal father of one of the next generation of god's children. Equally creepy is how Tigh put Tory up to the little prostitution scheme. Ultimately, merging these two plot threads services both quite well.
Nearly all of Lee's scenes seemed gratuitous and unnecessary to me, with the exception of his visiting Starbuck, which seemed necessary to clear the air and finally resolve the ongoing love quadrangle. While it doesn't actually serve as any kind of resolution whatsoever, I think there's a conscious acknowledgment implied in that scene that it may never be resolved. That sometimes things like this just can't be resolved because love is an irrational thing. Aside from this, nearly every scene Lee was in was nostalgic wankery. And not the cool kind, like Razor.
As I said though, the real meat of this episode lies with the Cylons as there's quite obviously the beginning of a civil war here. The motives, for once, actually seem quite clear and in character. The Cavils, Dorals, Simons and one Sharon (Boomer) believe that what the raiders did was out of line and want to lobotomize them. They also believe that seeking out the final five not only violates their programming but presents a tangible danger to their very survival. The origin of this belief is yet another annoying question to be answered some day, but the effect is an interesting conservative position.
The Sixes, Leobens, the rest of the Sharons, and presumably the D'Annas (if they were to be unboxed) make up an opposing liberal position. Their motives are to discover the lost origins of the Cylons, to understand their place in the universe. This implies they know next to nothing about their creator(s) or their purpose, which makes sense seeing as how they've developed a religion surrounding that.
Other interesting exposition in this episode revealed all the model numbers of the significant seven Cylon models. We can at this point rule out the numbers being sorted by apparent human age of the Cylon character. An interesting discrepancy is that model number seven is actually a member of the final five, while Sharon is model number eight. Could this be because the final five were originally supposed to be the final six? Six sleeper agents and six non-sleeper agents?
In particular I wonder that because one thing the eights share with the final five is one of her model is the only other sleeper agent ever shown on the show. All the other Cylons of the significant seven were confirmed to not be sleeper agents and all other members of the final five (well, except the fifth so far anyway) have been shown to be sleeper agents. Was the "flaw" in Sharon's model Six has alluded to previously the fact that she was an imperfect sleeper agent while the final five were in fact perfect sleeper agents?
The only lingering aesthetic issue is the actions performed by what I've deemed the liberal Cylons in this episode seem wholly reckless. Doesn't it seem obvious that restoring the centurions' free will will simply bite them in the ass later? What a can of worms Six unleashed.
Moreover, how could Six of all Cylons possibly make an argument about model unity? Hers was the first to become unable to reach an internal consensus thanks to the differing views Caprica Six brought to the table between Downloaded and the New Caprica arc. Between that inane dialog and Cavil's inane assertion that the final five couldn't possibly be in the fleet when it's difficult to imagine where else they could possibly be, the Cylons sure aren't being very consistent.
Though while annoying, the Cylons lacking consistency or entirely rational motives isn't at all a problem. It only underscores the reason for their civil war. The Cylons have issues that need resolving and it's bubbled up into this. Methinks things are about to get quite interesting.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From DC on 2008-04-14 at 3:02am:
I didn't have an issue with the inconsistency regarding Six's line about no individual voting against their model. I think it's more about the shading of the two situations. It didn't matter that Caprica objected to the vote of the other Sixes on New Caprica, because all of the Ones, Threes, Fours, and Fives had already cast their votes in favor, so the majority ruled anyway. In this case, Boomer's vote was used as the deciding vote to break a deadlock. Furthermore, this vote would not have been a stalemate if they hadn't boxed the Threes, which incidentally the Ones really championed. Makes Cavil's line about how "consensus used to be so easy to achieve" from last season rather ironic, doesn't it? (It is interesting to speculate what the Threes would have voted, as you do in your review.) Yes, as delivered by the Six in this episode, the line is technically incorrect, but she has a valid point when you consider the context of the two situations. The complexity of this whole Cylon conflict is really fascinating, and I agree with you, clearly there are some huge issues in Cylon society right now, which has me eagerly anticipating what's coming.
Great point on sleeper agent status determining the number of the model, I didn't catch that at all. My theory: Ron Moore's a Pixies fan. If, as I suspect, that the last Cylon is actually the Cylon God, and the the other four of the Final Five are models 9-12, then "God is Seven!"
I really liked this episode, although it was shy of great in my mind largely because of the Lee scenes. Except for his farewell scenes (with Kara and the crew), they did seem self-indulgent. (And what was with that blue jumpsuit?) That it effectively addressed the Cylon viewpoint was extremely in its favor. I was worried that Kara's desperation would be overdone, because the clips in previews seemed overly shill. In context Sackhoff's performance worked well though.
BSG - 4x05 - The Ties That Bind - Originally Aired: 2008-4-18
Although Laura Roslin values Admiral Adama's support during her cancer treatments, she remains angry with him for his unilateral decision to send Kara Thrace and a team of officers in search of Earth aboard the sewage freighter Demetrius. The press and the Quorum of 12 have begun asking inconvenient questions about the top-secret mission.
Making matters worse, Lee Adama, the Quorum's new Caprican delegate, threatens to become another thorn in Roslin's side, as he agrees with Vice President Zarek that Roslin's extensive executive powers should be curbed.
Aboard the Demetrius, Kara Thrace's leadership is also being questioned. She is uncertain about their course but hostile to her crew when they express skepticism. Anders confronts her, but she silences him first with a scathing rebuke and then by luring him into bed.
In the Cylon fleet, the Cavil whom Natalie ordered to be executed is resurrected in the arms of Boomer. He pretends to capitulate to Natalie and her faction, who want to re-awaken the boxed D'Annas as the next step in their spiritual quest. On the fleet's next Jump, however, Cavil orders the resurrection ship to stay behind. Then his ships open fire on Natalie's ships, attempting to kill her and her followers, with no hope of resurrection.
Amid these crises of leadership, a subtler but equally critical drama is playing out aboard the Galactica: Cally and Galen Tyrol's marriage is falling apart. Cally has become depressed and resentful, taking medication but only growing lonelier as Galen withdraws into himself, leaving her to care for their son Nicky.
Cally doesn't know that Galen is wrestling with his new, horrifying awareness of his Cylon identity. Instead, when Cally sees him having an intimate talk with Tory Foster, she assumes that the two are having an affair.
Then Cally finds a mysterious note hidden in the door to her family's quarters, naming a time and place. She sneaks into a crawlspace near that rendezvous point and overhears a shattering conversation: Saul Tigh, Tory Foster and Tyrol are discussing the urgency of keeping their true Cylon identities secret.
Cally escapes unseen, although Tory Foster suspects her presence. Back in her quarters, Cally struggles to keep her chaotic emotions in check as Galen returns and makes a seemingly heartfelt promise to recommit himself to his family.
Without warning, Cally grabs a wrench and strikes him in the head. He falls. She steals his access keys, grabs Nicky, and flees. Desperate to escape forever from the nightmarish truth that the father of her son is a machine — and what that means her son must be — Cally has a terrible solution in mind. Only Foster can stop her … but Foster might not want to. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39676. Apparently no one died off camera in the span of the last episode.
- The weapons locker the new Cylon characters meet at in this episode is labeled "1701D" - a reference to Star Trek TNG. The Enterprise in TNG had the same registry number.
- Destroyed Cylon capital ships, running total: 7 confirmed, 5 probable. (+3 probable, though this estimate is conservative. It is possible Six had up to five basestars.)
- This episode aired on my girlfriend's 24th birthday.
- The confused and angry Cavils resurrecting.
- Cavil: "The sixes and their acolytes used their new pets to engage in a little ethnic cleansing."
- Boomer kissing a Cavil. WTF?
- Cally and Tyrol fighting.
- A highly intoxicated Cally confronting Tyrol at the bar, suspecting Tory and Tyrol of having an affair.
- Adama reading to Roslin.
- Lee accepting his quorum appointment.
- The Demetrius has four vipers on its roof. Hah! I wonder how you get in one!
- Kara, aboard Demetrius, struggling to lead her new command.
- Cavil meeting with Six.
- Six: "Is that how you see our very existence; as some sort of nihilistic punchline?" Cavil: "Nihilistic punchline. I like that."
- Six pressuring Cavil to unbox the D'Annas.
- Zarek confronting Lee about Roslin's alleged increasingly tyrannical behavior.
- Cottle counseling Cally.
- Cally: "That's what I like about you doc, you only pretend to be a bastard."
- Starbuck and Anders having angry sex.
- The contentious quorum meeting.
- Cavil's camp attacking the basestars following Six.
- Cally eavesdropping on the meeting between Tigh, Tory and Tyrol.
- Cally assaulting Tyrol and running off with the baby.
- Tory confronting Cally, gaining her trust, only to take the baby and brutally murder Cally.
Battlestar Dramatica! Oh, I missed this feeling, this feeling of being completely satisfied by every character, every plot thread, the pacing, the action, the intrigue, all of it. This episode earned its ten across the board. BSG's dramatic appeal just reached its resurrection ship and came back with a fury.
The most remarkable quality of this episode is how it does so much with so little. Most episodes I've awarded tens to have had big, epic space battles, major plot events and gritty drama all at the same time. This episode has all of this, but the major plot events, while significant, are relatively minor and while the space battle in this episode is awesome, we see very little of it. Instead, Cally single handedly steals the show.
It's pretty much a cliche by now that once a character gets an unusual amount of screen time they're sure to die. However, this episode doesn't leave you feeling like "why are we all of a sudden focusing on Cally?" Every moment was perfectly natural, every emotional hoop she jumped through was real, and at the end of the story you feel for her. She was truly a victim of circumstances.
Which brings us to Tory. She's the vessel from which the gritty drama of this episode flows. The character that's always in the background, who remained relatively in the background even after being revealed as a Cylon, suddenly came into blinding focus. What she did was just astonishing. Tory, in the moment of Cally's most profound anguish gained Cally's trust in a matter of minutes then viciously abused that trust, striking her down, taking the baby and brutally murdering her in front of her infant child. Wow. I mean, just wow. This is the kind of dark drama I watch this show for.
As such, the overarching weaknesses of the show just fell into the background for me here. This episode was so good I didn't care about the vague thematic mysticism, the lack of answers surrounding numerous critical plots, or the aesthetic issues other episodes faced. During this episode, everything was perfect, and I'm incredibly thankful for that.
And I don't just mean the incredibly compelling story and the masterful acting. Even the little details are spot on here. Such as the fast cuts, rapidly taking you from one compositionally fascinating scene to the next and back again in every character context. Everything from Starbuck's haphazard command to Cally's spinning out of control amidst her spinning night light was television as an art form at its best.
Additionally, the side plot with the Cylons was easily strong enough to be the episode's main plot. Between plans to unbox D'Anna, the Centurions getting crankier, and Cylon basestars blowing each other up, the Cylons are getting more and more interesting by the minute. One lingering nitpick is we never found out if the D'Annas really got unboxed or if Six' armada was completely destroyed.
Another ambiguity is where all this Lee business is going. While all of Lee's scenes this time around were worthwhile and downright fascinating, I am left wondering just what everyone's agenda really is. Zarek has a point when he says Roslin seems to be becoming more tyrannical, but I've got to wonder whether or not she's actually a victim of circumstance as well. Was the executive order Lee bashed in the meeting really just innocently flawed? Or would Roslin have let that one slip by if no one called her on it? My only guess is that Lee's trying to be as ethical as possible, loyalties be damned. If someone close to him fraks up, he'll call them on it.
Among other nice touches in the episode were two interesting scenes between Roslin and Adama. Early on in the episode Adama sits down next to Roslin's hospital bed and begins reading a mystery novel to her. It's a cute, sad little scene. If you recall back in season one, she mentioned having a "weakness for mysteries." I also like the scene where Roslin and Adama speak about the Demetrius candidly. It implied heavily that Adama authorized the mission without Roslin's approval and informed her afterward. This is entirely in character for Adama and an interesting counterpoint to Roslin's behavior when she hid the Cylon child without notifying Adama.
Overall, simply put, this episode is an outstanding piece of drama. I felt that Cally's character really reached her full potential in this episode and her death was among the most touching, gut wrenching, and shocking moments of the show so far. It's up there with Adama getting shot, and that's saying a lot. Bravo!
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From AuH2O on 2008-04-20 at 5:53pm:
Thsnks as always for your very interesting and fun reviews. One of the consolations at the end of new BSG episode --when the realization sets in that you will never that episode for the first time again-- is looking forward to reviewing your review. By now, it's also quite a resource, a guide to watching BSG.
However, I must ask whether perhaps you were drinking too much champagne in honor of your girl friend's birthday. A perfect 10 for this episode? It seems extremely generous to be. I went back and you really award the Perfect Ten rarely (as you should): Miniseries Part I, from Season I, the Hand of God, Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2; from Season II, Pegasus, Resurrection Ship Part 2; from Season III, just Exodus Part 2. And Razor Part 1 from Season 4.
Does this episode really rank as high as those classics? Better than 33, Scattered, Valley of Darkness, Captain's Hand?
When I first saw it, I didn't particularly like it, especially not the beginning. The end, I admit, was spectacular and very well done. I liked the scenes with the Cylons.
But the politics felt stale --haven't we seen all of this already many times?-- and, more problematically, dramatically jarring given context. The fleet was lost a lot of people, the whole Kara business and Cylons suddenly disappearing, and in the midst of this one of the best pilots and military leaders goes off to sit on boring committee where there is a lot of yelling? And although the PResident announced dramatically last week that she is dying, she is undergoing chemo, her hair is falling out, but she has the energy to sit through these sessions and although she is experiencing her last days is planning presidential secret tribunals? Why, to set up her replacement Zarek as all-powerful. It makes no sense. If she really thought she is dying, it would make a lot more sense for her to actually make the office of president LESS powerful, and ensure that the Admiral will be able to carry on the mission after she is gone. Also, Zarek was adamant at the end of last season that Balthar shoudn't get a trial and now he praises Lee for his role in it. I guess it makes some sense, but it's not in any way explained.
Also problematic is the composition of Kara's crew. By giving her his chief navigator AND Helo, Adama is seriously weakening his crew. Why would he do this in the midst of a crisis? Isn't one ship by itself very vulnerable. I know we saw 2 vipers on deck and I suppose they have pilots, but if they run into a Cylon basestar, aren't they finished? Why didn't the Admiral send some more ships?
All in all, it seems that RDM is moving his pieces on the chess board. For some reason he needs Athena and Helo and Gaeta together with Kara and Anders. Why, we'll have to wait and see.
And he needs Lee to become President or at least Vice President after Roslin dies.
I think he should have been able to address some of the more obvious problems he is running into while making his moves. For a truly talented chess master, they shouldn't even look like "moves."
BSG - 4x06 - Escape Velocity - Originally Aired: 2008-4-25
As he mourns his wife Cally's apparent suicide, Galen Tyrol fights to conceal his turbulent emotions, which go beyond simple sorrow. His fellow Cylons — Tigh and Foster — offer him little comfort. Tigh can only see the situation through the lens of his own guilt and grief for executing his wife, Ellen. Foster (who, unbeknownst to everyone, murdered Cally) urges Tyrol to "shut down" his negative emotions and embrace his new identity as a perfect creation of God.
Tyrol struggles to bury his emotions in obsessive work, but he bungles a technical repair on a Raptor, nearly causing a fatal crash. Furious with himself, Tyrol grows even angrier as his crewmates smother him with well-intentioned pity.
When Admiral Adama tries to console him, Tyrol finally explodes, his crushed hopes, his anger at Cally and his fundamental identity crisis bursting out as he rants at the Admiral. In the end, he demands that Adama demote him. Adama complies. The former Chief, now a specialist, is left alone with his conflicted grief.
Tigh has found a different way to cope with his new identity and his old guilt over Ellen's death. He has begun visiting Caprica Six in the Galactica's brig, asking how she endures the guilt of participating in genocide while not telling her why he wants to know.
As they speak, Caprica's face sometimes appears to be Ellen's. Magnetically attracted by this vision, Tigh can't stay away. Eventually, he dismisses Caprica's guards so the two of them can be alone. As Caprica offers her unique brand of help to this broken man, the two move toward either a deadly crisis or a strange consummation.
Meanwhile, a gang of religious traditionalists called the Sons of Ares invades the quarters of Gaius Baltar's cult, trashing possessions and beating up Baltar's followers. Baltar retaliates in kind by disrupting a traditional religious service, nearly causing a riot.
Baltar is arrested, and Laura Roslin confronts him in the brig. She promises to institute rules for his protection but also warns him that, if he continues provoking trouble, he will find that her impending death has only made her more fearless about stopping him, no matter what. She has faith that all her actions are justified because they protect the fleet, but the Quorum of 12, led by Lee Adama, worries that she is abusing her power.
Released, Baltar returns to his cult's quarters to find Marines blocking the doors. Roslin's so-called "protective" rules, it turns out, forbid his followers to assemble as a group. The Six in Baltar's head urges him to defy the order. With her help, Baltar provokes a one-sided bloody pummeling by the Marines as he repeatedly tries to walk peacefully into his home. Roslin's restrictions are moments away from transforming Gaius Baltar into a martyr... [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Tigh is seen with admiral pips in this episode.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39675. Down one. (Cally.)
- Tigh changing Tyrol's baby.
- Tigh talking about what it's like to lose a wife with Tyrol.
- Baltar's reaction to Tory's hair-pulling foreplay: "I think I preferred it when you cried."
- The assault on Baltar's fan club.
- The raptor crash.
- Tyrol's reaction to discovering an accident he made was the cause of the raptor crash.
- Baltar leading an assault on a Kobolian funeral service.
- Adama: "Baltar has an uncanny ability to stir up all the crap."
- Roslin regarding Baltar: "Those girly, groupy, sex... whatever they are already think he's a god."
- Tigh confronting Six about how it feels to be responsible for killing billions.
- Roslin's creepy little visit with Baltar.
- Adama trying to console Tyrol and failing miserably.
- Tyrol freaking out at Adama, then getting himself demoted.
- Roslin: "Every single one of you remember what it was like when Gaius Baltar had political power and you should be terrified to think about what this man will do with blind religious devotion."
- Six: "Should I get used to waking up to this face?"
- Tigh's reaction to Six bringing up Baltar.
- Baltar puppet protesting the crowd control order.
- Six assaulting Tigh to show him the clarity of pain.
- Lee intervening in the crowd control measures.
- Adama reading to Roslin.
- Six regarding assaulting Tigh: "I made a mistake. This isn't what you need." She then takes him into her embrace...
- Lee's reaction to Baltar's speech.
Verbose is the keyword when describing this episode, as it spends too much time on too few plot threads. I feel rather boxed in as aside from the raptor crash, the short quorum debate, and the rather useless Demetrius cameo, we see nonstop frontloaded Galactica scenes. This is especially jarring considering the myriad of plot threads the previous episode presented us with. It's as if we've suddenly gone from epic and dramatic to small scale and silly.
And indeed this episode is silly. At the beginning of the season I was quite entertained by Baltar's cult and his overall story in general. It worked quite well as an ongoing subplot, and it all seemed like a natural continuation of his character to me. It indeed still does. In fact, I'm quite glad to see him slowly manipulating his way back into public life and I was delighted to see Roslin's reaction to his ever regrowing fame and critical acclaim. However, this episode could have accomplished all of that with half or even a quarter of its scenes devoted to that plot thread. If we've learned one thing here, it's that Baltar's plot, at least for now, works much better as a subplot than a main plot.
This episode just oozes superfluous Baltar scenes and even Tigh's creepy little visits with Six were a bit on the verbose side. More aesthetically wrong in my opinion though was the dramatic angle chosen for Tigh's scenes with Six. Bringing back Ellen and dressing her up as Six was just too much. We didn't need to be force fed the symbolism; this could all have been done subtextually or, if the director was feeling particularly lazy, with just a single flashback to Ellen during the scene when Tigh is smiling over the sleeping Six. That said, a good share of this episode's points goes to Tigh and Six. Their scenes were endlessly fascinating if a bit pointless at times. A better episode would have shown us more of where that was going rather than dwelling on idle conversation, no matter how amusing it was.
One area where this episode was spot on was with Tyrol. His explosion at Adama was extremely well done and his mistake with the raptor was as chilling as its aftermath was fun to watch. As a side note, I find it a bit hard to believe that Racetrack and her copilot survived what appeared to be such a horrendous crash. The whole front side of the raptor was torn off, then the raptor slammed face first into the side of the hangar deck! And there's not a scratch on them. It's not entirely unrealistic, especially seeing as how they were fully suited up with helmets and all. I just think aside from adding a bit more realism, it would have added a bit of gritty drama to the episode. Something which it sorely lacked. Moreover, I'm getting a bit tired of Racetrack having random issues with her raptor. It's almost a cliche by now.
Another character I liked this episode was Roslin. Her behavior regarding Baltar in the quorum meeting was spot on and her new wig adds a chilling dimension to her character. It's been pointed out quite correctly by others that her new hairstyle bears a striking resemblance to Admiral Cain; some nice symbolism underscoring her newfound ruthlessness. Her scene with Baltar in jail illustrates this quite well. Finally, Adama's continued closeness with Roslin remains sweet.
Tory's story is a bit muddled this time around. While it's obvious that her "we're perfect the way we are" campaign is a way to help her feel okay with being a Cylon, it seems useless for her to use that to manipulate Baltar. For that matter, why is she still hanging out with him? Also, while I was intrigued regarding the various references to Tory having discovered a new physical prowess thanks to being a Cylon (slapping Cally halfway across the airlock, overpowering Baltar, inferring this newfound strength in a meeting with Tigh and Tyrol), the episode did not go into any depth exploring this beyond the most casual of references.
Instead, we're treated to Baltar generally acting like a jackass, then making a nonsensical religious speech at the end of the show, heavily motivated by Tory's "we're perfect" dialog with him just prior to the Baltar cult being assaulted. Baltar's and Tory's motivations in this episode make little sense and the episode's attempt to intercut Tigh, Tyrol, and even worse Anders after having shown absolutely none of the Demetrius the whole episode to add some significance to Baltar's speech seemed wholly manufactured.
At the end, the episode comes off as something of a flop. The two most relevant plot threads get no screen time and what we do see here is so overdone and mishandled that it's tough to choke down.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From AuH2O on 2008-04-26 at 9:00pm:
Actually, there is a huge technical problem here, or at least something that will have to be explained in some fundamental way: the silly speech Baltar gave at the end, which I propose we'll refer to as the Sermon on the Ship, is theologically completely the opposite of the essentially Christian monotheism that Head 6 has been preaching to Baltar since the Miniseries. But Head 6 is standing there, beaming, proud as the mother of a child who he is taking his first baby steps. "God loves us just the way we are", i.e. no need for a repentance of sins, is the antithesis of everything Head 6 stands for, theologically. RDM chose to make the show all about the mystical and religious aspects, and again he devotes much of this episode to it but what does it all mean?
- From Dan on 2008-04-27 at 1:43am:
I can understand why many people will find this episode poor compared to the first three episodes of the season, but I for one was left with the distinct feeling that with this episode RDM has made a conscious and very deliberate turn in the BSG storyline. To me, it was almost as if the religious undertones that have been rumbling along for three seasons were suddenly brought to the surface, and we see for the first time the true intentions of the writers and the place that they are leading us to.
Forgive me if I have this wrong, but I have heard that the original BSG series was heavily influenced by Mormon theology (they believe in the Judeao-Christian God, but have some radical ideas about the end of the world and their role within it). If this is true, then it is definitely not the first time that Mormons have written some fantastic and very detailed science-fiction sagas (the writer Orson Scott Card, for example). Responding to this issue in an interview, RDM said that while not pressed to retain the same level of Mormon-istic dogma or symbolism in his re-imagined series, he is aware of its influence over the original series and tries to retain a level of continuity between the two.
This then has influenced me in the way I respond to the religious element of the storyline.
It is quite possible (and likely) that the "god" of the Cylons is not explainable in a scientific sense, and may not ever be "explained". Virtual Six has said many times that she is an angel of God - an explanation that in all likelihood is the real answer and the only answer. She has made it clear to Baltar she appears to him to tell him of God's unending love for him, and to help him repent of his sins. I think Baltar truly did reoent in the previous episode, when he pleads with God to let him die on behalf of the small boy. So I disagree with the previous fan comment that Baltar's Sermon on the Ship (SOTS) is at odds with SIx's teaching. A little unrefined perhaps, but it is definitely an echo of Six's "God is love" statements.
This whole episode was about the awakening of some of the central character's to the love of a God that is completely foreign to them. For the Secret 4, they all experienced this in different ways:
Tigh sensed that somehow Caprica Six could offer him redemption from the guilt over Ellen that has been eating him up. I doubt he really knew why he thought this could be found in Caprica Six - it was more of a subconcious awareness perhaps enhanced by his recent discovery of his Cylon roots.
Tori is seeking God's love by attempting to live her life free from guilt in a "God loves me just the way I am" kind of philosophy.
Tyrol and Anders are less developed in their exploration of God's love, but the conversations Tyrol has with Tigh and Tori, and the quick flash to Anders at the end leave us in no doubt that they are part of this journey of theological discovery.
Most interesting to me was the presence of Lee in all of this - Lee says to Baltar "I'm not doing this for you, you know", and Baltar repsonds with "no, you're doing this because your God compels you." I thought "What?!" and Lee's face echoed that thought.
But then Lee hangs around to hear the SOTS, and appears hooked. Interesting.
Baltar got it right - the whole BSG story is moving to a dramatic showdown between the old Gods (Zeus, Artemis etc) and the new God. Sound familiar? Think Roman Empire vs Christianity. All of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.
This episode was beautifully constructed and quite symmetrical - the opening scene of the funeral in the old religion, balanced by the closing scene of Baltars SOTS promoting the new faith in one God. A God who is not the Cylon God, or Baltar's God - He is just God. This is where I think it is going, anyway.
To me, this episode ups the ante and pushes the story into the next gear.
- From Kethinov on 2008-04-27 at 4:15pm:
With such a heavy handedly religious analysis, I think it'd be pretty obvious why many people found this episode distasteful. Religion is stupid. I tolerate it on television as an interesting window into the psyche of fictional characters, but as for real life in the 21st century, I am astonished that anyone puts any stock in any branch of it whatsoever.
Keep in mind while BSG has had many religious overtones, the vast majority of them have all been rooted in tangible science, archaeology, and history.
For example, everything we've seen on the show so far seems to point to the Lords of Kobol obviously being historical figures and the lost true history surrounding them is instead replaced by a religion. Makes sense. But nothing mystical about it.
The Cylon god is quite obviously the creator of the Cylons, or the original programmer, as Cavil calls it. For all we know the guy in the tank in Razor was the Cylon god. He said: "My children think I am a god." Once again, no mysticism, just a lost history replaced by a religion.
If the show really is headed down a path of the unexplained supernatural, be prepared for a string of zero ratings. Because it would be in direct contrast to the prevailing aesthetic of the show so far. I want a gritty drama, not force-fed veiled symbolically religious crap.
BSG - 4x07 - The Road Less Traveled - Originally Aired: 2008-5-2
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]
- 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.
- 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.
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.
BSG - 4x08 - Faith - Originally Aired: 2008-5-9
As Laura Roslin endures chemotherapy in the Galactica's infirmary, she meets another patient, Emily Kowalski, who is near death. Roslin is dismayed that Emily relies on Gaius Baltar's radio broadcasts for comfort.
Then Emily reveals that she never liked Baltar before, but now wonders if he is divinely inspired because his sermons echo a visionary dream she experienced. In this dream, as she journeyed across a beautiful river to join the spirits of her lost family, she sensed a caring presence that she calls God. Emily is no mindless zealot, but rather a smart, compassionate woman who has found faith despite a terrible situation.
Roslin opens up to Emily, confessing her own fears about dying. The women's budding friendship is cut short by Emily's death, but new faith may grow from the spiritual seeds that Emily has planted within Roslin.
Aboard the Demetrius, Helo's mutiny against Kara ends abruptly when Anders, defending his wife, shoots Gaeta in the leg. Shocked to their senses, everyone rallies to give Gaeta first aid, and Kara strikes a deal with Helo.
Only 15 hours remain before the Demetrius loses its last chance to rendezvous with the Galactica and the human fleet. In that time, Kara, Leoben, Anders, Sharon and Jean Barolay will fly a Raptor to the location where Leoben claims that a Cylon baseship waits to meet them. If they don't return before the clock runs out, Helo and the Demetrius will Jump back to the fleet without them.
Kara's team finds the single surviving baseship adrift amid the wreckage of a terrible battle between the Cylons. The scene matches Kara's visions exactly. After a dangerous brush with leftover ordnance in the battlefield, Kara's team boards the baseship. There, the Eights greet their sister Sharon while Anders conceals his secret fascination with his kindred and their technology.
The Cylon called Natalie reluctantly accepts the conditions of the human-Cylon alliance that Leoben proposes: Kara will visit the ship's hybrid while the Cylons use the Raptor's systems to supplement their damaged F.T.L. drive. The deal is threatened but not destroyed when old hostilities flare up between Barolay and another Six in a confrontation that leaves both women dead.
Kara finally visits the hybrid, but the words of the mysterious being sound like nonsense. Soon, the hybrid must be taken offline to complete the interface between the baseship and the Raptor, but when the Cylons attempt to do this, a Centurion, acting as if the hybrid is under attack, shoots an Eight.
As the Eight lies dying, the hybrid begins to prophesy, suggesting not only that the final five Cylons may know about Earth but also that Kara is "the harbinger of death." Time is running out to rendezvous with the Galactica, but no one in the room is thinking about that as as the ramifications of the hybrid's prophecy hang in the air... [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Why isn't Hera's blood being used to help cancer patients anymore?
- Linking the raptor's jump drive to the Cylon basestar's jump drive was rather glossed over. For example, there is one critical plot hole not addressed: why are the raiders' FTL drives unsuitable for this task? Sometimes I think the writers on this show are allergic to explaining how the science fiction works. ;)
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39675. Down one. (Matthias.)
- Nana Visitor, who plays Emily in this episode, played Kira in Star Trek DS9.
- Hybrid utterances: "All these things it wants and many more. Not because it wishes harm but because it likes violent vibrations to change constantly. Then shall the maidens rejoice in the dance. Structural integrity of node seven restored. Repressurizing. The children of the one reborn shall find their own country. The intruders swarm like a flame. Like the whirlwind. Hopes soaring to slaughter all their best against our hulls. Replace internal control accumulators four through nineteen. They'll start growing ripe on us pretty soon. Compartmentalize integrity conflicts with the obligation to provide access. FTL sync fault uncorrected. No ceremonies are necessary. [...] Then shall the maidens rejoice at the dance. Structural integrity of node seven restored. Repressurizing. The children of the one reborn shall find their own country. End of line. Reset. Track mode monitor malfunction traced. Recharge compressors. Increase the output to 50%. All these things [...] assume the relaxation like the photons in the central atmosphere is constant [...] transverse contact is inevitable leading to information bleed. FTL sync fault uncorrected. No ceremonies are necessary. Centripetal force reacts to the rotating frame of reference. The obstinate toy soldier becomes pliant. The city devours the land. The people devour the city. [...] But you are a spark of god's fire. Core update complete. [...] Threat detection matrix enabled. Dendritic response bypassed. The received dose is altered by the delayed gamma burst. Going active. Execute."
- Helo attempting to arrest Kara.
- Anders shooting Gaeta.
- The compromise.
- Kara's raptor jumping into the debris of a Cylon basestar.
- Gaeta pleading to Helo to not let Cottle take his leg.
- Kara seeing her prior vision of the comet, only to discover that the comet was a Cylon basestar.
- The raptor docking with the Cylon basestar.
- Athena encountering the other eights.
- Six regarding allowing Kara access to the Hybrid: "We've tried to be patient with your model's obsession with this woman. Playing house with her on New Caprica was one thing. But this puts us all in jeopardy."
- Anders reaching for the basestar controls.
- One of the sixes accidentally (in a manner of speaking) killing Barolay.
- Anders assaulting the Six who killed Barolay.
- Six forcing Anders' hand to kill the other Six.
- Kara encountering the hybrid.
- The centurion killing the Sharon which attempted to unplug the hybrid.
- Cylon hybrid to Kara: "Thus will it come to pass. The dying leader will know the truth of the opera house. The missing three will give you the five who have come from the home of the thirteenth. You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end. End of line."
- Six interpreting the words of the hybrid.
Faith is (obviously) the episode's theme, featuring multiple characters having their faiths tested. Kara's faith in Leoben, Helo's faith in Kara, Adama's faith in Kara, etc. Roslin, thanks to Emily, is starting to see some validity in Baltar's newfound faith, or at least less invalidity in it. Ultimately this episode's strength is not in its theme, but in the developing Cylon plot.
The lame cliffhanger of the previous episode is overcome quickly with the Demetrius CIC rapidly becoming a contentious and violent battleground resulting in Gaeta's leg a casualty. The compromise reached to send a raptor to the Cylon ship is imaginative and clever; definitely something that seems an unlikely proposition until the attempted mutiny. Why would it cross Starbuck's mind until she had to start thinking of a backup plan?
The arrival at the basestar has mixed issues. On one hand, the stroll through the debris field is fun and the connection to Kara's vision and painting is well done. On the other hand, the whole plot surrounding Barolay's death along with the death of her murderer seemed unnecessary. The leader of the Sixes well establishes from her earliest lines that any sort of trust between the two peoples must be earned. Permanently offing one character on each side through what is basically an accident seems narratively superfluous. There are better ways to demonstrate an earned trust.
An interesting side note regarding that digression is it allowed Athena to utter a rather interesting line to Kara. She said to Kara, regarding the Six killing Barolay: "she kills one of us and you're willing to just let it go?" Athena's statement implies that she in all contexts considers herself one of the colonials, something that is certainly consistent with her behavior recently. But still, an interesting thing for her to say in front of a bunch of Cylons.
The plot thickens most regarding the Cylon hybrid's dialog with Kara, in which Kara finally gets to hear the statements that the first hybrid divulged to Kendra Shaw. That, along with Leoben's constant assurances to Kara that she's special and different from the others (such as his line claiming that she's "one of the few"), along with her seemingly supernatural return from death at the beginning of the season all point to there being much more to Kara than anyone really knows. We know all this already, of course, but what's interesting is Kara seems to know everything we do now as well which spells an interesting twist in the character's journey.
As previously stated, I was less impressed with the title theme of the episode. While the consistent overtones of faith across all plot threads imbues the episode with a certain attractive symmetry, Roslin's story simply flopped. As a Star Trek fan, I welcomed Nana Visitor's cameo, but Emily's character didn't resonate well with me at all. It appears as though she served little more than as a plot device to get Roslin to pay more attention to Baltar's ramblings.
I find it hard to believe Roslin would see something supernatural in having a dream which she, herself, admitted was common among cancer patients, especially after having had that dream described to her in great detail just prior to Emily's severe attack and lapsing into unconsciousness. It's obvious the entire experience was a powerful one for Roslin, so it's completely reasonable she would reenact the dream described to her. Instead, the first thing Roslin assumes is that it's all, somehow, related to there possibly being truth to Baltar's theological message, which, by her own admission is a message in support of the Cylon god; a concept she utterly despises, as she utterly despises the Cylons.
On the other hand, Roslin made a big point about religion being metaphorical to Emily, which seems inconsistent with her stated belief as of latter season 1 that she believes the Kobolian scriptures to be all real. Maybe Roslin doesn't know what to believe. Given her nature as a dying cancer patient whose purpose in life as the dying leader has recently been called into question by Adama, it's reasonable to cut her a certain slack when dealing with her ever flip flopping position on faith.
Aside from all that, one wonders why there's still no mention of blood transfusions from Hera. It's possible to rationalize Roslin's condition away as "maybe it only works once" or "maybe she just doesn't want it this time because she's supposed to be the dying leader" or whatever. But Emily? Why would she refuse such a treatment? I'm sure there's a rational explanation for why Hera isn't being used as the wonder-drug-kid across the whole fleet, but some sort of exposition regarding this would be appreciated.
Instead, we're treated to what was largely an entirely unnecessary plot thread surrounding Roslin in this episode, climaxing in the wholly unnecessary final scene in the episode in which Adama declares that Roslin made him believe in Earth. Yeah, no kidding? I think we knew that since Home, Part 2. In the end though, the story of Starbuck and her crew beginning to forge an alliance with the Cylons was sufficiently well executed to raise the quality bar of the episode above average.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x09 - Guess What's Coming to Dinner? - Originally Aired: 2008-5-16
The Demetrius and the Cylon baseship are nearly shot down by the Galactica when they rendezvous with the human fleet. Kara Thrace's team, however, manages to explain that the rebel Cylons want an alliance, not a battle.
Soon, the Cylon leader, a Six named Natalie, meets face-to-face with Laura Roslin and William Adama. She tells them that the final five Cylons are hidden in the human fleet, and that the D'Annas — the Cylon model whose consciousness was boxed as punishment for illicit spiritual exploration — can identify them. D'Anna's consciousness is stored within the Cylon resurrection hub, a central facility that controls all resurrection ships.
Natalie proposes that if the humans will help the rebel Cylons seize control of the hub and liberate the D'Anna model, D'Anna will identify the final five, who, in turn, can reveal the route to Earth. The hub will then be destroyed. All Cylons will lose the hope of resurrection, but Natalie's faction is willing to become mortal as the price they must pay to meet the remaining five Cylons. The rebels and the final five will then depart in peace, leaving the humans to complete their journey to Earth.
Roslin and Adama accept this momentous deal. Each side of the uneasy alliance, however, secretly plots to seize hostages during the mission in order to ensure that things go their way.
Tigh, Tyrol, Anders and Tory are shaken as they realize that their secret identities might soon be exposed. Anders is also preoccupied because Gaeta, whom he shot during the mutiny aboard the Demetrius, must have his leg amputated. The procedure leaves Gaeta desolate, singing to himself for consolation in the Galactica's infirmary.
Gaius Baltar, meanwhile, tells his radio audience a top-secret fact: Roslin shares inexplicable visions with two Cylons, Sharon Agathon and Caprica Six. In these visions, the three women pursue Hera, Sharon's daughter, through an opera house; Caprica always finds Hera first and carries her off, which frightens Sharon and Roslin.
Disgusted that Baltar has betrayed this confidential information, Roslin confronts Tory and reveals that she knows Tory and Baltar are lovers. Roslin demands that Tory find out how Baltar learned about the visions. Rattled, Tory persuades Baltar to admit that Caprica Six told him the secret, communicating through his lawyer.
The Quorum of 12, already uncomfortable with Roslin's reticence to discuss her visions, nearly revolts when Roslin summarily announces the alliance with the Cylons. Lee Adama privately urges Roslin to honor the Quorum's concerns by discussing the plan with them.
Accepting Lee's advice, Roslin and Natalie jointly address the Quorum. The political pressure appears to ease. Suddenly, however, the visions Roslin shares with Sharon and Caprica spark shocking real-life actions, threatening the alliance before the mission even gets underway. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Aside from adding artificial dramatic suspense and the opportunity for Tigh to interrupt, what purpose did Adama's countdown to fire on the basestar serve?
- A Windows error dialog box can be seen on one of the computer screens on the Cylon basestar when the marines (along with Tigh) board the ship.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39673. Down two. (Emily and Barolay.)
- This episode establishes that the Cylon basestar can heal itself.
- The lyrics to Gaeta's song: "Alone she sleeps in the shirt of man / With my three wishes clutched in her hand / The first that she be spared the pain / That comes from a dark and laughing rain / When she finds love may it always stay true / This I beg for the second wish I made too / But wish no more / My life you can take / To have her please just one day wake"
- The jump error, causing the damaged Cylon basestar to jump right on top of the colonial fleet alone.
- Galactica scrambling to attack the Cylon ship while the fleet scrambles to get as far away from it as possible.
- The Demetrius jumping in just in time.
- Tigh: "Which one of them shot Gaeta?"
- The leader Six officially stating her position aboard Galactica.
- The leader Six proposing an alliance to destroy the Cylons' ability to resurrect permanently.
- The leader Six revealing her belief that the final five are within the colonial fleet, attributing the abrupt retreat in the battle at the nebula to that sudden revelation to their raiders.
- Racetrack capturing images of the resurrection hub.
- Cottle taking Gaeta's leg; Anders observing in horror.
- The fleet returning to its prior coordinates, alongside the Cylon basestar...
- Tigh: "We blow the hub and billions of skin jobs lose their bath privileges."
- Roslin: "Imagine, once they're gone they can't come back. Mortal enemies."
- Galactica crew loading equipment and personnel aboard the Cylon basestar.
- Zarek skeptically revealing Roslin's plan to the quorum.
- Tyrol: "You know, if they unbox the D'Annas, at least we'll find out who the fifth one is." Tigh: "All that's gonna do is crowd the airlock a little more."
- Roslin confronting Tory about her association with Baltar.
- Lee pleading with Roslin to throw the quorum a bone.
- Roslin allowing the leader Six to speak to the quorum.
- Starbuck visiting Roslin in sickbay, telling her what the hybrid told her, forcing Roslin to obsess over the meaning of the visions.
- Roslin enlisting Baltar to go find out the truth of her visions with her because, as she reveals to him, Baltar is in her visions.
- Athena killing the leader Six.
- The Cylon hybrid jumping the ship immediately upon being plugged in.
This is a surprisingly riveting episode, densely packed with plot, liberally infused with style, and endlessly fascinating in its implications.
Much like The Ties That Bind, this episode's strengths lie with its intoxicating elegance and powerful, ambiguous ending. As expected, the rebel Cylons are able to offer a sufficiently tempting collaboration proposal to Roslin and Adama and it's no small package: the revelation to the fleet that the final five Cylons are among them, the revelation to the fleet that they likely know the way to Earth, and the total elimination of the Cylons' ability to resurrect.
Armed with those prospects and a spiffy new Cylon basestar as a gift (okay, maybe not so spiffy and new), even Roslin's jubilant about the possibility of a collaborative mission. Executing this premise alone makes for a stellar episode, but for this episode, that's just the beginning.
What ensues among the endlessly fascinating preparations for this joint strike mission isn't what anyone could have ever expected. Motivated by this torturous communal vision, Athena murders the rebel leader Six and Roslin gets herself, Baltar, much of the Galactica crew, along with half their remaining vipers captured by the Cylon hybrid.
Among the widespread implications of the events of this episode will include the ascension of Zarek to the presidency. This has happened before, but perhaps this time it will be more legitimate and less easily quashed by Adama. Given Zarek's increasingly critical opinion of Roslin's behavior while in power, it'll be interesting to see how his own behavior counterpoints or perhaps ironically mirrors her own.
Also, Athena's murder of the rebel leader Six is not likely to go down well; she may have just sacrificed much of that trust Adama has placed in her over the years. All over an unexplained vision which she'll now likely have to come forward about.
The most remarkable thing about this episode though is that the dizzying string of events covered here plays out amidst an incredibly powerful score, underscored by Gaeta's operatic laments in sickbay. Gaeta's tortured performance reflects the mood of the episode quite nicely and its interspersion throughout the episode starts off as sad and confused and slowly evolves into something profound as truly epic events occur all around him while he sings obliviously.
In addition to the major events which occur here, the artistic approach to this episode's storytelling, particularly in the episode's climax is what really makes it so great. There is little else to say than bravo!
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From basadam on 2008-05-29 at 8:20am:
Is this me or is this getting boring by each new episode? It seems that after securing another season, all they're trying to do is to stretch the story. That is okay, they don't have finish this year but surely they can try to be more imaginative and insert at least mildly interesting sub-stories into the series. What they're doing instead is repeating the same neverending discussions, filling the existing story with boring, predictive, cheap plots.
I'm sorry, I really like this series and continue watching it for previous seasons' sake, but I'm really losing interest.
BSG - 4x10 - Sine Qua Non - Originally Aired: 2008-5-27
As Natalie dies amid a haze of visions, Admiral Adama banishes her murderer, Sharon Agathon, to the brig. Meanwhile, the rebel Cylon baseship has jumped away inexplicably, carrying Roslin, Baltar and many of Galactica's pilots. Have Roslin and the others have been kidnapped? That's the consensus.
The President's absence creates an especially chaotic leadership vacuum because Adama doesn't trust Vice President Tom Zarek. With Zarek's grudging permission, Lee Adama recruits eccentric lawyer Romo Lampkin to seek an interim president that the Admiral and the Quorum of Twelve will follow.
Adama is quietly agonizing over Roslin's fate, but he has no idea where to start searching for her until a battered Raptor jumps into view. It's the same one that carried Roslin to the baseship, but pilot Eammon "Gonzo" Pike the only one aboard, and he's dead. Adama angers the Quorum by jumping the Galactica to where Pike's Raptor came from, leaving the fleet undefended.
There, the Galactica discovers wreckage from human and Cylon ships, and possibly from the elusive Cylon resurrection hub itself. Tigh speculates that the hub was destroyed and the humans lost in a battle, but Adama refuses to accept that Roslin is dead. Although Adama returns to the fleet, he leaves Raptors behind to continue the search, straining resources and risking lives.
Next, Doc Cottle drops a bombshell on the overburdened Admiral: Caprica Six is pregnant. Knowing of Tigh's interrogation sessions with the Cylon prisoner, Adama guesses who the father is and furiously confronts Tigh. Tigh — shocked by the news that he may be a parent — fires back, accusing Adama of letting his emotions rule his decisions regarding Roslin. The fight escalates and the two men come to blows before wryly reconciling.
With voices on all sides warning him that he is too emotionally involved in the search for Roslin, Adama eventually decides to relinquish his command until the President is found.
Soon afterward, Romo Lampkin tells Lee that his hunt for an interim President is over: He has decided that Lee himself would be the best candidate.
Then Lampkin, an unstable man filled with grief and guilt, pulls a gun. He demands to know why the human race, imperfect and doomed, deserves to have hope. At gunpoint, Lee defends his idealism, insisting that he can help lead humanity to a better future. Lampkin spares Lee's life, and the younger Adama is sworn in as the interim president of the Twelve Colonies.
After the ceremony, Admiral Adama formally turns command of the Galactica over to Tigh. Adama isn't going to stop searching for Roslin, but he will no longer endanger the fleet to find her. Instead, he has a new plan that will risk only one life — his own. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Aren't direct references to Freudian psychology and Latin phrases pushing the realism a bit?
- Zarek makes a reference to the government of "the past five years." However, it has in actuality been less than four years since Roslin rose to power.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39674. Up one, inexplicably.
- The gun Lampkin assaults Lee with is the same model that was seen owned by Tom Zarek in the second season.
- This episode establishes that Lee's full name is Leeland Joseph Adama.
- Amidst the chaos, Adama assessing his losses, the Cylon rebel leader dying, Zarek ascending to the presidency.
- Adama confronting Athena.
- Racetrack investigating the sudden appearance of one of the missing raptors.
- Romo psychoanalyzing Lee, comparing his repressed ambition with Roslin's.
- Romo and Lee observing the Galactica jumping away inexplicably, without warning.
- Galactica investigating the ruins of the Cylon resurrection hub, discovering at least one colonial viper in the wreckage.
- Adama confronting Tigh about impregnating Caprica Six.
- Adama's and Tigh's fight.
- Adama regarding his (once again) broken model ship: "You know how many times I've had to repair this thing?"
- Starbuck, regarding Adama's mission orders: "My people are gonna feel like they're being asked to go on suicide missions." Adama: "I'm not asking."
- Lampkin talking down Adama from his reckless quest to find Roslin but failing to get him to accept Zarek as president.
- Adama: "There are limits to my realism."
- Lamkpin informing Lee that he's the perfect choice to serve as the interim president, shortly before freaking out at him with a gun.
- Lee talking down Lampkin, convincing him to have some hope after all.
- Lee being sworn in as President of the Twelve Colonies.
- Adama taking off alone in a raptor to wait for Roslin while the rest of the fleet jumps to safety.
Normally I would complain about not being able to see the battle which destroyed the Cylon resurrection hub, but this episode manages to milk the bottle show effect to its fullest potential as a result of that.
The mysterious disappearance of a large swath of our characters in the prior episode isn't explained at all here which allows us to really feel the effect of the mystery and the panic it creates within the fleet. This episode focuses solely on the various different reactions to this sudden event within the fleet, fully exploring the implications of a number of different radical, sudden changes.
The first, and most interesting is the ascension of Zarek to the presidency. As is expected, Adama was unfond of that notion and effectively blocked it from happening. What's most interesting though is how that happened. Instead of focusing the entire episode on Adama playing politics with Zarek, he simply stopped caring about the civilian government at all, much like in the events of Kobol's Last Gleaming. But instead of staging a coup, Adama proceeded to be governed by simple apathy, best exemplified by when he jumped Galactica away from the fleet without warning. A powerful scene.
The full effect of Adama's disapproval of Zarek is observed, but moreover we get to see Adama obsess over finding a way to retrieve Roslin and his missing pilots; a set of behaviors not unprecedented at all. Motivated solely by his anger and rapidly losing his objectivity, he lashes out at everyone around him, including Tigh, as he did in You Can't Go Home Again. Though I think Tigh probably deserved some browbeating for his actions. More on that later.
Adama's story culminates in a beautiful moment of clarity motivated by Romo Lampkin of all people convincing Adama to back off from his irrational quest for the sake of the fleet's safety. This forces Adama to realize that while he cannot let go of his obsession, he can at least obsess without endangering the fleet. In one of the most touching endings for an episode so far, "Husker" climbs in a raptor to wait for his lost love to return to him, all alone in the night.
There is much else to praise as well. Lee's ascension to the presidency was not without its predictability, but was simply the inevitable strongest choice for the show's overarching narrative. Pairing that with Zarek's reckless behavior spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt among the quorum; having them "inhaling fear and exhaling anger" as Lee put it was a great way to turn Lee against Zarek for the first time in a long while. I loved Zarek's line pointing out his resentment of the fact that he was actually elected to office whereas Roslin wasn't.
Perhaps an even better line was Adama telling Athena that she "murdered an innocent woman" when he was referring to the leader Six. It's fascinating how Adama seems to simply casually consider the Cylons to be people now, not inhuman things without rights. Finally, using Lampkin to force Lee to realize that he's the perfect choice for president was quite apt as well. I especially liked the whole repressed ambition analysis. Quite right.
The biggest problem with the episode stems from how Lampkin's character behaved. His apathy and eventual nervous breakdown simply weren't very compelling and frankly, to me, did a disservice to his character. Certainly it added some humanity to him, but it also removed so much of his gravitas. I liked the fact that Lee saw he was depressed and recruited him into the interim president search for that reason, but the way Romo's depression and Romo's eventual conclusion that Lee was the best choice for interim president were mashed together seemed something of a mismatch to me.
Specifically, the entire nervous breakdown scene mashed together Romo's personal apathy with his apathy regarding hope for humanity seemingly triggered by the death of his cat at the hands of those who hated him for defending Baltar. His lashing out at Lee is motivated by his belief that Lee's the best hope for humanity, but since he's concluded that hope is pointless then there's no reason to prolong humanity's demise. In Romo's mind, killing Lee symbolically forces humanity to accept its hopelessness.
This all makes sense, but it plays in the episode like it's trying to be some grand revelation as it is at this time (explicitly anyway) the audience is clued into the fact that Romo's cat has been dead for weeks, as if anyone really cares. Moreover, Romo goes off on a guilt rant, expressing his disgust with himself over saving himself at the expense of friends and family, forcing Lee to give an entirely unnecessary speech pointing out the fact that everyone alive in the fleet had to do the same thing. As a result of all this, the scene comes off as some sort of half-assed attempt at manufactured danger rather than a touching character moment for Romo, or some sort of pointed philosophical statement.
Other missteps the episode makes are of course the reprisal of the Ellen-as-Six aesthetic, but more importantly the idea that Tigh has impregnated Caprica Six. There is an obvious technical problem associated with this, as it is established in The Farm that Cylons cannot procreate with each other. I'm sure this can and will be explained later. It can easily be written off now as "the final five are different." Still, it comes off as rather weak. The same confrontation between Tigh and Adama could have been achieved by simply having Adama discover that they've been having sex. The pregnancy was unnecessary. That said, let's hope she has the baby. That would certainly be interesting. ;)
All in all, a very well done episode. Normally, the bottle show isolation aesthetic alone would make this episode lose significant points, but here it works quite to this episode's advantage. I rather preferred not seeing the Cylons in this episode and I quite enjoyed watching the Galactica investigate the battle only in its aftermath, always seeming to be one step behind the Cylons.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Sean on 2010-11-02 at 8:21pm:
That was the best episode of BSG in a while. I much preferred this episode to "Guess What's Coming to Dinner?", it was nice to see the show focus on the characters, and none of this vague religious mumbo-jumbo or prophecy crap. To be honest, it reminded me of season 1, with the feeling of isolation and helplessness. Having Adama take centre stage, after several episodes not doing much (or not appearing at all) was probably what made the episode so great.
My only complaint is Lee ascending to the presidency so quickly, and the fact that nobody said something along the lines of, "Oh, great, we've got Adama as our president and his dad in charge of the military."
BSG - 4x11 - The Hub - Originally Aired: 2008-6-6
Having just arrived aboard the rebel Cylon baseship, Roslin and Baltar are shocked when the ship's hybrid abruptly begins making jump after jump away from the human fleet. The hybrid is panicking because she senses that Natalie has died. Eventually, however, her jumps regain focus. She begins searching for the resurrection hub so that the allied human-Cylon forces can complete their original mission: to rescue the boxed Three/D'Anna model and destroy the hub, which is defended by Cylon forces belonging to Cavil's faction.
During all of these jumps, Roslin experiences visions in which Elosha, her priest who perished on Kobol, shows her a hospital bed where she — Roslin — lies dying. William Adama keeps a loving, grief-stricken vigil by her bedside. Lee and Kara stand sorrowfully nearby. Observing this scene, Elosha urges Roslin to relax her self-inflicted Presidential isolation and allow herself to love — both for her own sake and for her people's.
Between jumps, however, Roslin resolutely acts like her normal self. She and Baltar try and fail to converse with the enigmatic hybrid. Meanwhile, Helo and an Eight develop a bond as they work together to plan and prepare their uneasy crews for the coming battle. Helo is thus especially upset when Roslin gives him a secret order: he must transport D'Anna directly to Roslin, who will interrogate her with no Cylons present. Helo warns Roslin that the Cylons, who expect mutual cooperation, will see this as a betrayal of the alliance. Roslin coolly insists that Helo follow her orders.
The baseship reaches the hub and a chaotic fight begins against Cavil's Cylon forces. Helo and the Eight sneak aboard the hub, where they find D'Anna already awake. Cavil and Boomer have resurrected her, but she has killed Cavil, and Boomer has fled. Helo, the Eight and D'Anna escape from the hub in a Raptor. Then the human pilots unleash a barrage of nuclear missiles. The hub — the Cylons' wellspring of immortality — vanishes in a blaze of light.
Back aboard the baseship, an explosion during the fight has injured Baltar. Roslin gives him morpha and staunches his bleeding as best she can. Then, under the drug's influence, Baltar confesses what she has long suspected: that his actions helped enable the genocidal Cylon attack against the Twelve Colonies. After he complacently explains that his faith in God frees him from all guilt, Roslin strips away the dressing she has put on his wound. He guesses what she's doing and begs her to stop, but she steps away. Laura Roslin is about to let Gaius Baltar bleed to death before her eyes — but it's not just his life on the line. It's her soul, too. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39673. Down one. (Pike.)
- This episode takes place concurrently with Sine Qua Non.
- Hybrid utterances that were intelligible: "Filters, filters. The sublime elevation of the lifters [...] control [...] the wing beats of the dove drown out the heartbeats of those who follow. The six is back in the stream [...] three of the aft vents require optimization [...] the Six! The Six who went among the makers is no longer. End of line. Back in the stream that feeds the ocean that feeds the stream [...] calm your mind. Cease countdown. Cease countdown. Circulation, ventilation, control filters, filters [...] open the door [...] protect the child [...] booting up [...] such a format will close the doors [...] three! The three is online. The three is online. Accessing data, loading data. Recognizing attributes [...] booting up. Jump! [...] To remove the pump with the attached hose and wiring, simultaneously release the three tanks while pulling the pump out of the retainer along with the line and wiring [...] "
- Destroyed Cylon capital ships, running total: 10 confirmed, 2 probable. (+3 confirmed, but it's possible that there were in fact many more off screen.)
- Roslin encountering Elosha in a vision.
- The hybrid jumping randomly.
- Roslin to a Sharon: "You're getting information from this liquid?"
- Baltar attempting poorly to communicate with the hybrid.
- Helo and a Sharon planning the hub operation.
- Sharon revealing to Helo that she downloaded Athena's memories.
- Cavil resurrecting D'Anna.
- Baltar and Roslin together attempting poorly to question the hybrid about the vision.
- The hybrid: "Three! The three is online!"
- Baltar chatting with the Centurion.
- Roslin to Helo: "You are not married to the entire production line."
- The rebel basestar commencing its attack.
- D'Anna killing Cavil, Boomer fleeing.
- The battle.
- Helo and Sharon retrieving D'Anna.
- Pike the coward.
- Baltar and his Centurion buddy getting blown across the corridor.
- Baltar, as Roslin is saving his life: "You know something? You're very pretty." Roslin: "Yeah, that morpha works fast."
- Baltar confessing to Roslin his exact role in the destruction of the twelve colonies.
- Roslin deciding to kill Baltar.
- Baltar pleading with Roslin: "Don't do this to me. Don't do this to me, please..."
- Elosha: "I'm not saying Baltar's done more good than harm in the universe. He hasn't. The thing is, the harder it is to recognize someone's right to draw a breath, the more crucial it is. If humanity is going to prove itself worthy of surviving, it can't do it on a case by case basis. A bad man feels his death just as keenly as a good man."
- Roslin panicking to save Baltar's life as she reconsiders her decision to kill him.
- Roslin: "Please don't go Gaius, please..."
- D'Anna telling Roslin that she's a Cylon, then withdrawing the statement as a sort of sick joke.
- Adama and Roslin being reunited.
- Adama: "Missed you." Roslin: "Me too... Love you." Adama: "About time."
Action, story depth, raw and powerful emotions, major character revelations, and so much more, this episode has it all. As if sacrificing itself to strengthen this episode's story, the previous episode managed to be all setup for this unexpected and completely astonishing payoff without suffering from setup syndrome at all.
The Hub takes the unusual step of going back to the moment of the beginning of the previous episode and retelling events from the perspective of the Cylon basestar. Doing it in this order allows us to be entrenched in the revolutionary events occurring within Cylon culture completely while still allowing us to totally milk the effects it has on the fleet. We don't need to cut back to the fleet and deal with what are easily comparatively less interesting events at all. We simply ride the epic wave nonstop until its conclusion and the backdrop of events of the previous episode serve only to enhance this episode's ride.
Along the way, in fact, this is Roslin's story. As stunning as the resurrection hub battle was, and as exciting as it is to have D'Anna back, and as interesting as all the repercussions are, the most remarkable parts of this story have to do with the things Roslin experiences along the way. She boarded that basestar to get answers from the Cylon hybrid about her visions. Instead, she's forced to act as sole commander in chief in the largest military operation on the show so far, she's forced to confront the true nature of Baltar's crimes, and she's forced to confront her love for Adama.
The most interesting aspect to this major milestone in the life of Roslin's character has to do with the degree to which Roslin's eventual forgiveness of Baltar is related to the final acceptance of her love for Adama. Throughout the story, her subconscious, portrayed by Elosha, was determined to force her to realize how cold she had become. As she finally faced Baltar's explicit confession, she was forced to fight back her basic instincts telling her to project all her anger about her circumstances onto Baltar and destroy them both.
In doing so, she overcame the mental barrier preventing her from fundamentally forgiving Baltar for what he did. Because after all, she did know he had some part in the fall of the 12 Colonies as established as far back as Taking a Break from All Your Worries when he stated that "conspiracy requires intent." She took that statement simply as to confirm her suspicions, but never let the other aspect of it truly hit home. He never intended. Moreover, the larger issue of whether or not he deserved to die regardless of the severity of his crime motivated Roslin to save him. She was forced to live up to her "all is forgiven" idealism and practice what she preached.
The centerpiece of the episode comes into play at the end when her journey to break down the barriers necessary to forgive Baltar also turns out to be what enables her to profess her love for Adama. There is little more to say regarding that other than this beautiful moment is well earned. Overall, this is an outstanding episode. One of the best of the series.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x12 - Revelations - Originally Aired: 2008-6-13
After the rebel Cylon baseship rejoins the human fleet, D'Anna sparks a standoff by seizing Roslin, Baltar, and their entourage as hostages. She announces that she will hold these hostages aboard the baseship until the four Cylons hidden in the human fleet return safely to their own people. Tory Foster defects immediately, but the other hidden Cylons keep quiet.
Back in command aboard the Galactica, William Adama consults with Lee, who is still acting as President in Roslin's absence. According to prophecy, the hidden Cylons will reveal the route to Earth, and Roslin has secretly ordered Adama to destroy the baseship — even with her aboard — if that's the only way keep the Cylons from claiming Earth for themselves. The human leaders thus face two grim alternatives: if the hidden Cylons defect, the humans must destroy the baseship to prevent the Cylons from finding Earth, but if the hidden Cylons stay underground, the hostages will suffer. As if to prove this point, D'Anna executes a hostage and threatens to kill more unless the three remaining Cylons join her. In response, Lee orders Kara Thrace to plan a hostage rescue mission.
As preparations for the dangerous mission get underway, a Cylon musical signal summons Tigh, Tyrol and Anders to the mysterious Viper that Kara flew back to the fleet after her mystical journey to Earth. Intrigued, Tyrol and Anders ask Kara to help them examine the Viper. Tigh, meanwhile, resolves to stop the impending bloodshed at any cost: he finally tells Adama that he is a Cylon. Adama breaks down in fury and grief, incapacitated by this unimaginable betrayal. Lee takes charge and orders Tigh marched to an airlock to await execution. There, Tigh reveals the identities of Tyrol and Anders, who are arrested before Kara's horrified eyes. As Anders is dragged away, he begs his wife to study the Viper. Stunned, she retreats into its cockpit and starts flipping switches.
Lee radios D'Anna that if she doesn't release the hostages, he will execute Tigh, Tyrol and Anders. His resolve is steely despite the painful shock of seeing such well-known faces awaiting death at his hands. D'Anna similarly refuses to back down, targeting the civilian ships with the baseship's weapons. If the three Cylons die, so will thousands of humans.
Seconds before an apocalyptic battle erupts, Kara discovers that her Viper is receiving a locator signal that no other ship in the fleet can detect. If it's from Earth, then Anders and Tyrol have fulfilled the prophecy by giving her a crucial clue to the planet's location. Faced with this awesome possibility, Lee and D'Anna hesitantly make peace. Lee offers amnesty to Tigh, Tyrol, Anders and Foster, and D'Anna releases her hostages. Then, with Lee and Roslin's help, William Adama pulls himself together and orders preparations for a jump.
The fleet and their Cylon allies follow the signal to Earth. What awaits them at the end of their long journey, however, may break their hearts. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation - Short Form.
- This episode placed #6 in Time Magazine's Top 10 TV Episodes of 2008.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39665. Down eight. (Probably due to the battle at the hub.)
- Tory volunteering to go to the basestar under the guise of providing Roslin with medical care.
- D'Anna introducing Tory to the other Cylons.
- Tory revealing herself to Roslin and Baltar.
- Tory: "You had no idea, did you?" Roslin: "No." Tory: "It might be worth pondering what else you've been wrong about."
- Tigh revealing that he's a Cylon to Adama.
- Tigh volunteering himself as a hostage.
- Adama enraged in his quarters.
- Adama's nervous breakdown and Lee consoling him.
- Anders and Tyrol being arrested as Cylons.
- Lee threatening D'Anna that he'll airlock Tigh, Tyrol, and Anders.
- The nuclear standoff.
- Starbuck dissolving the standoff by revealing that the new Cylons just accidentally revealed the location of Earth.
- D'Anna: "All of this has happened before--" Lee, interrupting: "But it doesn't have to happen again."
- D'Anna agreeing to set aside their differences to go to Earth together.
- The fleet jumping to Earth.
- Adama running his hands through radioactive soil.
- The slow pan across the landing party revealing a massive destroyed city behind.
The almighty Earth episode doesn't disappoint. Even better, it wasn't even expected. What started as a tense standoff between two people bitterly distrusting of one another, yet ever entwined ends brilliantly on a truly revolutionary act of trust between them which pays off with nothing short of finding Earth together! Truly epic. But of course on Battlestar Galactica, the grass is never greener on the other side.
I knew in the early days of the show that the best way the show could depict Earth, if ever, would be to portray it as a devastated wasteland. It was obvious that the writers originally chose to consider the place a fantasy to add as much darkness to the drama as possible. What better drama than dangling a fictitious carrot in front of all but two of the characters? But eventually the writers decided that having it really exist could be more useful as a plot device for the kind of dark drama that BSG is.
Having Earth really exist opened up even more potential for dark storytelling because instead of milking the idea that the carrot is fictitious, which was done quite well in the first season, the story gave even the show's two doubters (Adama and Roslin) cause for hope. Armed with that, the second, third, and fourth seasons marched on only to finally do the one thing darker and more disturbing than revealing to tens of thousands of refugees that their promised land doesn't exist: it's revealed to tens of thousands of refugees that their promised land is just as devastated as the homes they fled.
Indeed, the brilliance of this episode lies with its thematic consistency and powerful message. As stated before, on Battlestar Galactica, thematically the grass is never greener on the other side. What this leaves our characters with is the harsh reality that they will have to solve their own problems, work out their own differences, and make their own promised land. No hidden treasures await, no glorious saviors, and no larger than life external solutions. And what could be better?
Anything else would simply be deus ex machina, regardless of how well earned that contrivance may have been. To earn it and then deny it for the sake of good storytelling is simply outstanding writing. And to top it all off, this incredible event, something that easily could have served as the series finale, was done in the middle of the season leaving plenty more episodes for some much needed epilogue and closure to tie up the numerous loose ends and finally put our characters on the road to solving their problems, rather than running from them.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From S8 on 2008-07-22 at 11:40am:
You don't think Revelations was a little abrupt? We've spent 3 seasons piecing together obscure clues as to the whereabouts of Earth, but ultimately we use a magic compass that suddenly appears in what is still largely a mystical viper.
What was the point of the maproom? Of the Eye of Jupiter? Does the "roadmap to Earth" involve a crewmember spazzing out and dying on a gas giant, only to resurrect with a magical viper and then find a Cylon basestar that forces the revelation of hidden Cylons who can tell someone to "hey check out that viper"?
Was that the roadmap? I know that "all this has happened before..." but I can't imagine it was all supposed to "happen again" with such specificity. It feels very deus ex machina to me.
The episode was very fun to watch, and its production values were great, but the plot progression was unsatisfying to me.
- From Kethinov on 2009-12-16 at 4:04am:
The abruptness is a good thing, not a bad thing. The series had been dragging up until the last few episodes. I agree that the mystical viper was deus ex machina; I was assuming that they give it a rational explanation in the subsequent episodes. Unfortunately the explanation we got was wholly unsatisfactory, but that doesn't change the fact that this episode by itself is a masterpiece.
Its message about how the characters will be forced to solve their own problems, work out their own differences, and make their own promised land was the most powerful theme of the show. It's a shame the writers forgot that in the series finale and instead decided to violate this theme by delivering a larger than life, external deus ex machina solution to the characters' problems from the grace of god after all.
BSG - 4x12.5 - The Face of the Enemy (Webisodes) - Originally Aired: 2009-1-12
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class - Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs.
- These webisodes were filmed after the rest of the series. The sets were torn down right after filming these scenes.
- One of the Sharons electrocuting herself to death.
- Gaeta killing the other Sharon.
- Tigh: "Cylon technology is gonna keep this fleet moving, Mr. Gaeta."
(Note: I do not recommend watching these webisodes until after you watch the next episode Sometimes a Great Notion, as these webisodes take place canonically and chronologically after that episode.)
After what was such an incredibly satisfying pair of episodes, the steam effectively runs out here. Some of you might be wondering, "hey, wait a minute, did I miss an episode? This 'Face of the Enemy' thing wasn't aired on TV, was it?" No, it wasn't. This is the second installment of webisodes to grace the show; they were shown exclusively on Sci Fi's website.
The webisodes are considered optional episodes. I discussed why this is a bad idea in my review season three's webisodes (The Resistance), but I suppose it's time to elaborate further. Like the last installment, this episode requires the distinction of the new term "webisode" because the content and the method of delivering the content differs to much so from that of a regular episode. In short, both the quality of the storytelling and the video quality of the webisodes are far, far below average.
What's worse is when combined with those facts, branding episodes like this with the term webisode seems to imply that the web simply cannot be used to deliver high quality content, which is as patently false as it is offensive. In addition to these low quality webisodes, Sci Fi has offered the ability to watch full regular episodes on their website as well, though unfortunately at the same terrible video quality. But the important thing is Sci Fi's implied assumption that the web cannot be used to deliver quality storytelling seems be contradicted by their own actions of offering good episodes in this format too. Why aren't those episodes called "webisodes" too? I'll tell you. Because they don't suck.
As for the video quality, if Sci Fi embraced Bit Torrent, they could easily distribute much higher quality video without exacerbating their bandwidth costs. Moreover, Apple already distributes 1080p movie trailers on their website and they don't even use Bit Torrent to offset bandwidth costs. Sci Fi needs to get their web act together and stop putting out these half-assed webisodes. I would rather there be no webisodes at all than have them presented at this level of storytelling and video quality. For that matter, let's do away with the whole concept of webisodes entirely. Just make regular episodes and distribute them on the web in 1080p already! This YouTube quality material is unprofessional.
That said, onto the plot. Like The Resistance before it, this webisode picks up on the previous episode's cliffhanger in an incredibly lackluster way. Though this time, the offense is perhaps more grievous. Instead of showing us the fallout of discovering Earth a devastated wasteland, we arbitrarily skip ahead nine days for no apparent reason where we subtly learn what essentially amounts to a number of spoilers in an incredibly anticlimactic way. This is an unfortunate consequence of airing these webisodes earlier than the next episode, Sometimes a Great Notion, which should have aired first.
Thanks to this webisode, we now know that the fleet leaves Earth within nine days of its discovery for some reason, Tigh is still the XO, the alliance with the rebel Cylons continues, the rebel basestar is still traveling with the fleet, the rest of the Cylons are still hostile; tracking the fleet down and attacking it, and the rebel Cylons are sharing their technology with the fleet ostensibly to keep it flying.
As for Gaeta, his story just wasn't compelling enough to justify all these tangential plot reveals. I mean really, why are we skipping ahead of the good stuff and incurring all these negative side effects just to see a Raptor murder mystery? One with an unusual amount of gratuitous gore and a weak justification for why they jumped to nowhere in the first place? (A high energy discharge of subatomic particles corrupted the hard drive data? Yikes! Where's a flux capacitor when you need one?)
Moreover, how do the events of this story realistically lead Gaeta to thinking the whole alliance with the Cylons is a bad idea? Just because one Sharon has a thing for being duplicitous and going on murderous rampages doesn't mean the whole deal should be called off. How short-sighted is that?
Worse yet, the hoops we must jump through just to watch this material is as painful as sitting through all that gratuitous gore. On top of seeing way too many recycled clips from previous episodes and hearing far too much recycled scoring, there are whole scenes actually repeated as a consequence of splitting up the webisode into 10 parts. And for anyone lucky enough to have watched this when it "aired" on SciFi.com, I think I speak for everyone when I say if I have to see that Underworld Rise of the Lycans ad one more time, I might have to strangle somebody.
All in all, this plot is irrelevant and out of place. This could quite possibly be Battlestar's worst offering. Very disappointing.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x13 - Sometimes a Great Notion - Originally Aired: 2009-1-16
After the startling revelations of Episode 412, the fleet and its Cylon allies have united in a joint search for Earth. They encounter a devastated world where their expectations are shattered by events that echo down the millennia. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace learns that the dire predictions of the Ancient Hybrid (of "Razor") may be true about her.
Meanwhile, in the ruins of an ancient city, Saul Tigh, Galen Tyrol, Samuel Anders, and Tory Foster discover unsettling keys to their past.
The discovery of the wasteland planet casts doubt on the Prophecies of Pythia, and the whole belief system of the Colonials comes crashing down. President Laura Roslin's spirit is broken. Admiral William Adama finds solace in the bottle and turns his anger on Tigh, his old friend-turned-toaster, in an electrifying confrontation. For her part, Dualla gives her ex-husband, Lee Adama, a sense of purpose by urging him to fill the vacant leadership role and rekindle some small measure of hope in the despairing people of the fleet. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- During the writing of this season, there was a strike organized by the Writers Guild of America over compensation issues. This strike went on for quite a while and at the time there was a danger that this episode might have had to serve as the series finale. Thankfully, the strike ended and that was not necessary.
- This episode did not have an opening title sequence.
- Survivors, according to the whiteboard: 39650. Down fifteen, including Dee. (D'Anna killed at least one human in Revelations. There have probably been quite a few suicides besides Dee, too.)
- This episode's title comes from a blues song about contemplating suicide called "Goodnight, Irene." The singer contemplates suicide in the following lyrics: "Sometimes I get a great notion to jump in the river and drown."
- This episode establishes that habitable planets are most likely found in G, F, or K class star systems.
- Roslin: "We traded one nuked civilization for another."
- Roslin's inability to speak to the crowd in Galactica's hangar bay.
- Starbuck and Leoben discovering the wreckage of her viper.
- Dee to Hera: "You have no idea what's happened, do you? Today is just another day."
- The unearthing of a Cylon Centurion head and the subsequent revelation that all the humans on Earth were humanoid Cylons.
- Tyrol's memory living in pre-devastated Earth.
- Starbuck: "If my viper is splattered all over this planet, then who flew it here and what the hell did I fly back to Galactica?"
- Starbuck discovering her corpsified double.
- Starbuck: "Your hybrid told me something. Said that I was the harbinger of the death. That I would lead us all to our end." Leoben, creeped out: "She told you that?"
- Anders, Tyrol, and Tory discussing having lived on Earth.
- Anders: "That song that switched us on, I played it for a woman I loved."
- Tyrol, regarding a silhouette imprint on the ruins: "That was me. We died in a holocaust." Anders: "But why are we still alive? That happened 2000 years ago. How did we get to the colonies? Come to think that we were human? 2000 years is a long time to forget."
- Roslin burning her copy of the book of Pythia and wallowing in her own sadness and rage.
- Starbuck burning her corpsified double.
- Lee reciting his speech for Dee.
- Dee's sudden suicide.
- Lee: "She kissed me goodnight 45 minutes ago and there was joy in her eyes. So tell me why would she do this?" Adama: "I don't frakkin' know." Adama reaches for some liquor, offers it to Lee. Lee, staring blankly at his father: "No."
- An angry Adama walking the gauntlet of the corridors, apathetically passing by groups of depressed, angry, and violent people on his way to Tigh's quarters.
- Adama confronting Tigh in his quarters.
- Lee, all alone in Colonial One grimly updating the survivor count on the whiteboard. Down by one...
- Adama and Tigh retaking their posts in the CIC.
- Adama's speech addressing the fleet.
- Adama: "We will find a new home. This is a promise I intend to keep."
- Tigh's flashback to Earth, discovering that Ellen is the final Cylon.
Loneliness, isolation, devastation, despair, and suicide are the themes of this episode; a difficult burden to bear and dramatize well. Sometimes a Great Notion masterfully delivers on the exploration of how discovering a devastated Earth would truly impact these already emotionally precarious people while simultaneously managing to deliver yet more major revelations about the ongoing plot of the show.
Of course among the most powerful and memorable events of the episode is the suicide of Dee. The ever persistent cliche of a character who gets an inordinate amount of attention in the plot is most likely to die wiggles its way into this episode in full force, but the time spent on Dee mostly didn't tend feel to cliched or out of place.
Admittedly, there was some unnecessary foreshadowing at the beginning of the episode where we are inexplicably focusing on Dee digging up some children's toys in the beach ruins along with her half-breakdown while copiloting the raptor with Helo, but every scene afterward involving Dee was relevant and her presence justified due to its impact on a more important character.
The best piece of foreshadowing in fact occurred during her heart to heart with Lee in the pilots briefing room where Lee says to her, "I couldn't have done it without you, Dee" with regards to keeping humanity going while commanding the Pegasus. She responds, "you will this time too." This is the moment where the audience should have picked up on her plan to commit suicide while still allowing for Lee to be oblivious to it. The scene does a marvelous job of accomplishing both goals at the same time.
Yet, when she popped herself it was still a completely shocking moment. Not as gut-wrenching as how Cally met her end, but definitely among the most powerful assets of the episode. After events like these, there are bound to be a number of suicides in the fleet. Making one of them a character we've been living with for much of the show allows the effect to resonate far more clearly with the audience. As for why Dee, I think she was a solid choice to pay that dramatic toll. Examining her character's history, she lost a father whom she regrets never having made amends with, she lost Billy, she lost Lee, then she lost Earth. That was it for her. Her story is a microcosm for what was no doubt a flurry of similarly motivated suicides fleet-wide.
The most brilliant detail of the suicide of Dee is how just before she does it, she begins humming a piece of music, which then, after her death, is integrated into the musical score as Adama and Lee mourn her death. The composer Bear McCreary describes it thusly: "At this moment, you are hearing actress Kandyse McClure herself actually humming the Dualla Theme ... Dualla was humming her tune right before she killed herself, and I wanted to create the feeling that, somehow, her voice and that melody were imprinted on the universe like a bloodstain."
While Dee's suicide is powerful, what this episode is really about is how the fleet's four strongest current leaders manage to, or not to, rise to the occasion and press on despite such a devastating discovery. Laura Roslin loses her will to live and abandons her faith, Lee Adama and Colonel Tigh hang onto hope but lack direction, and Admiral Adama walks the full spectrum; going from total devastation, to infuriated anger, to suicidal tendencies, to finally getting it together and putting forth a solid, realistic plan to answer the episode's pressingly pertinent question: "What do we do now?"
The question of what must be done is the question Adama struggles with all throughout the episode but only is able to answer after some clear and obvious soul searching. Only after accepting Tigh for who and what he is and accepting Earth for what it was and what it became could Adama get it together, rise to the occasion, and lead his people once more.
So what do we do now? Where does Adama lead us? What is the answer to the episode's pressingly pertinent question? Adama decides to set out looking for a brand new star system with a habitable planet to settle on. What else could he do? The twelve colonies are all but uninhabitable, as is Earth, and the only two planets which are habitable that they know of (Kobol and New Caprica) are locations which Cavil's faction of the Cylons are no doubt patrolling. So they did the only thing left to do. Pack up and get back on the road in search of a new home.
Interestingly enough though, Adama invited his new Cylon rebel allies to join him on this journey. This seems to imply that Adama has finally learned the lesson of the show, a lesson it probably took confronting Colonel Tigh's Cylon nature to teach him. The lesson I described in my review of Revelations. These people are going to have to solve their own problems, work out their own differences, and make their own promised land.
But there is another component to this episode I've not discussed yet, which is the flurry of major long term plot revelations revealed here. Specifically, that Ellen Tigh is the last Cylon, there are two Starbucks and two of her viper, and that the 13th tribe of Earth was a tribe of Cylons. Unfortunately, there is little to say about any of this. These reveals are tantalizing enough to be interesting, but also vague enough to be annoying.
Simply stated, these reveals are consistent with the overarching thematic vagueness aesthetic the show has been abusing since the mid-third season. Just like too many episodes before this one, it raises more questions than answers. Among the most important is why was Earth destroyed? Why are there two Starbucks and two of her viper? How and why did the final five survive nuclear holocaust on Earth only to be obliviously reborn in the twelve colonies 2000 years later? Why were they "switched on" by Bob Dylan's, er, I mean Anders' song in the first place? What is their connection to Starbuck's viper? Why are the final five the only apparent survivors of the 13th tribe? Or were they?
Setting that aside for a moment, it's certainly worth noting that these revelations open up a lot of fascinating possibilities about the history of the Cylons. Tigh said that the 13th tribe were all Cylons, came to that planet, and called it Earth. This seems to imply that the 13th tribe were all Cylons before they came to Earth, but this seems implausible. If that were the case, then the Colonials would have knowledge of ancient Cylons in their recorded history.
A more plausible explanation is perhaps the Cylons were never invented by the twelve colonies in the first place. Maybe whoever supposedly invented them discovered Earth, excavated various Cylon technologies and slowly began trying to privatize them for various monetary and political purposes. Perhaps also that is how the final five ended up being reborn. Maybe their consciousnesses were stored on a recovered computer and their bodies recreated using the resurrection technology.
This is all speculation of course, but as I said, even with what little new exposition there all is in this episode, it opens up all sorts of fascinating possibilities.
While I found most of the exposition to be annoyingly lacking in detail and I felt that parts of the plot dragged on too slowly at the expense of more detailed exposition (Anders singing part of All Along the Watchtower was a particular groan-inducing moment), this style did in fact provide at least one stylized gem of incredible directing. When Roslin was burning her copy of the book of Pythia, the last lines of her scene are "burn... burn." The scene then transitions into Starbuck burning the body of her counterpart. This brooding aesthetic only served to enhance Starbuck's eerie deed. It's as if to say there is a shared loneliness and mortal fear of the unknown between these two characters.
Overall, this episode hits just shy of another perfect or near-perfect score. A bit less time focused on Dee and a bit more time focused on giving us clearer exposition on the history of the Cylons and just what the hell is going on with Starbuck would have made for a much more satisfying episode. Regardless though, this was an above average, outstanding piece.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Dan on 2009-01-20 at 9:49pm:
In many ways this episode was everything I could have expected after the greatness of "Revelations." It's hard to follow an ep like that, but the writers and actors pulled it off. Across the board great performances (contrast Sackhoff's reaction to the Starbuck corpse discovery with her frantic screaming in "Six of One" to get an idea of her range, for only one example) reminded me why it was worth it to wait so long for this series to resume.
I agree that it's not BSG's best outing, largely because of the pacing issues you mentioned, but I have fewer issues with the way the writers are revealing the mysteries to us. I'm not watching just to catch the revelations, but I like that there are things that the characters don't understand going on. It's believable to me. In fact my favorite aspect of this is how amazed the Cylons are by the discoveries they find on Earth.
I actually don't find it hard to believe there were Cylons on Kobol at all. The Colonials didn't think Kobol even existed in season 1, remember. They thought its existence was a myth. My suspicion is that Ellen actually wrote the Book of Pythia, and conveniently left out the part about the 13th tribe being Cylons. I've long wondered how Pythia knew about the 13th tribe's trek, and if she wrote about her real personal experience it makes more concrete sense than if she had a vision.
How the final five were resurrected will be an interesting discovery I'm sure, and even if it's not, the scene in which Tyrol recalled his death on Earth was harrowing. Anders' "guitar playing" was wince-worthy though.
- From Kethinov on 2009-01-21 at 7:02pm:
The question is not whether or not it is believable but whether or not it is good storytelling. That is the question that all of my reviews hinge on.
In my view, the number of deliberate mysteries is too high. When you have too many of them, the audience focuses more on trying to unravel mysteries than enjoying good drama.
And remember, the plot need not reveal all the answers at once to the characters. The audience can be given some or most of the answers from the very first episode, but the characters can spend the entire series in ignorance. This is how much of season one worked, which was smashing.
- From Dave on 2009-01-28 at 12:42am:
"In my view, the number of deliberate mysteries is too high. When you have too many of them, the audience focuses more on trying to unravel mysteries than enjoying good drama"
You must hate Lost then.
- From Hugo Ahlenius on 2012-11-16 at 2:46pm:
I did not like this ep at all, too much forced drama and conflict, and way too dragged out without any real sting to it. Dee's suicide was powerful and unexpected though.
So why hasn't anyone asked D'Anna about the fifth cylon? Or why hasn't she told anyone?
BSG - 4x14 - A Disquiet Follows My Soul - Originally Aired: 2009-1-23
Dualla's life has abruptly ended; yet the Cylon race is on the brink of a new start, pending the birth of Caprica Six and Saul Tigh's baby. And while they are optimistic over their new arrival, Gaeta's hatred towards the Cylons continues to rise. Then, a fluke illness leads the Chief to discover that not he – but Hot Dog – is Nicki's biological father.
Meanwhile Laura Roslin, still evading her Presidential responsibilities, leaves Zarek in charge and the Adamas at odds. When the Admiral, proposes the use of Cylon technology to complete a necessary FTL upgrade on all the fleet's ships, he is met with fierce opposition from Zarek, who rallies the Quorum of Twelve to vote with him against a human-Cylon alliance.
Certain that the Cylons are the bane of human existence, Gaeta continually questions Kara Thrace's loyalty to the fleet and her intentions for humanity. Petulant and desperate for vengeance he decides to work against the Adama and Roslin administration, by any means necessary, in order to cease Cylon existence. He affirms that "one day soon, there's going to be a reckoning… and once again people are going to have to answer for what they've done."
Leading his own coalition of rebels, Gaius Baltar, still heralded as sacred prophet, pits his followers against God – whom he totes as the reason for their suffering and pain. With impressionable minds, lacks of consciences and proper guidance from their government, the fleet's member's venture down dangerous courses.
And ironically, just as Roslin and Adama throw caution to the wind and decide to indulge in their love, Gaeta and Tom Zarek also form their own union. At odds with the state of mankind, the two team up for the start of a revolution they deem necessary, regardless of the countless lives that may be at stake. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- The Cally retcon creates at least one technical problem which cannot be rationalized. The last paragraph of the official synopsis for The Ties That Bind reads: "Without warning, Cally grabs a wrench and strikes him in the head. He falls. She steals his access keys, grabs Nicky, and flees. Desperate to escape forever from the nightmarish truth that the father of her son is a machine — and what that means her son must be — Cally has a terrible solution in mind. Only Foster can stop her ... but Foster might not want to."
- The population of the twelve colonies is cited as 50 billion in this episode, which conflicts with the previous figure of 20 billion cited in The Resistance webisodes.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39644. Down six. (Probably due to continued suicides, homicides, etc.)
- The opening theme has been restored to the mid-third season's version (includes cuts from the first and second seasons) except without the part about trying to find a home called Earth. Instead, it just says trying to "find a home."
- The scene where Adama reads to himself was entirely ad libbed.
- Gaeta's "so I guess a pity frak's outta the question then?" line was also ad libbed.
- Two of the children in the audience of Baltar's speech were the children of executive producer Ronald D. Moore. RDM also directed this episode, his first time.
- Caprica Six, Tigh, and Cottle looking at her ultrasound.
- The nurse: "That's a lot of smoking around a pregnant lady."
- Six: "No Cylon-Cylon pairing has ever produced a child, ever." She continues, smiling coyly: "Believe me, it's been tried."
- Gaeta regarding sickbay being overrun with Cylon patients while he has to wait for his turn: "No problem. Can't keep those toasters waiting."
- Lee accidentally divulging to the press that the last Cylon was a she, implying he knows who she was.
- Zarek to Lee: "Are you the President again? Sorry, I get confused what your job is on any given day."
- The discussion of whether or not to upgrade the fleet's jump drives with Cylon technology.
- Tyrol asking Adama to grant the Cylons citizenship, including a seat at the quorum.
- Tyrol discovering he isn't Nicky's father.
- Roslin avoiding taking care of her health and her duties.
- Gaeta confronting Starbuck, then sowing the seeds of mass dissent.
- Zarek calling a vote that the Cylons not be allowed to board any ship in the fleet without permission of the ship's captain and people.
- Roslin's jogging and Adama confronting her about wearing herself out, only to give in and let her "live a little" before she dies, as she asks for.
- Baltar inciting a riot.
- Tyrol attacking Hot Dog.
- The tylium ship mutinying and jumping away.
- Adama confronting Zarek in the brig, blackmailing him into giving up where the tylium ship went.
- Zarek: "You know what the difference is between you and I admiral? You wear that uniform, and I don't."
- Zarek and Gaeta plotting together.
Aside from the The Face of the Enemy, this episode is perhaps the first true filler of the season. Granted, there are some important events here as there are with most episodes of BSG, including the filler, but what we get here is a mix of some irrelevant plots, some poorly executed plots, some downright annoying plots, with a few interesting and worthwhile things here and there.
First, let's talk about what was good in this episode. There are two stand out plots that make the episode worth watching. One is the Roslin and Adama story. Little needs to be said about the Roslin and Adama story as it measures up quite nicely to its usual charm. The other great plot thread is the exposition about the rebel Cylons wanting to gain citizenship in the colonial fleet, including a seat on the quorum of twelve. Ostensibly it would then become a quorum of thirteen. ;) The thirteen tribes back together again!
In exchange, the Cylons would offer to share their technology with the fleet. This is a plot which was hinted at, or rather spoiled depending on how you look at it, in the Face of the Enemy in which Tigh mentions to Gaeta that Cylon technology is going to keep the fleet running.
Other less significant nice details of the episode include the visual theme of Adama picking up crumpled up papers on the Galactica variously along with a focus on his daily routine, signifying that he's picking up the pieces of the fleet and his life in an attempt to return to normalcy. Likewise much of the episode had fascinatingly organic scene transitions, as if the camera was simply wandering the ship observing various concurrent events. It contrasts the previous episode nicely in which we could see mass depression and apathy throughout the ship in the background as well as the foreground. Now in this episode the organic feel of the directing creates a sense of life returning to the ship.
Another highly insignificant but amusing tidbit is the line "the president is resting comfortably aboard Galactica." I like the use of that line because it's precisely what they told the press when Roslin was jailed when she sent Starbuck on a mission against orders. Now of course the same line takes on an entirely different meaning. Another nice piece of trivial continuity is Zarek's line to Lee about Lee having held so many different jobs in the fleet. Amusing since Lee has in fact been everything from an ordinary pilot, to the CAG, to military adviser to President Roslin, to the XO of the Pegasus, to the commander of the Pegasus, to a lawyer, to a member of the quorum of twelve, to finally serving as acting president briefly. That's a lot of hats to wear in just a few years.
Unfortunately though these nuggets of gold are buried by the story being dominated by bad plots. The most important of these is the growing dissent about the pending permanence of the alliance with the rebel Cylons. We knew of Gaeta's objections in The Face of the Enemy, but of course the motivations behind his objections were not well understood. It's easier to understand his position after seeing this episode, but unfortunately his motives are still somewhat lacking in the usual complexity BSG affords antagonists.
I say antagonist in this case because it is obvious to the audience that the proposed alliance is entirely a good thing. Moreover, the dissenters are few and far between. Basically the only people who oppose the alliance are Gaeta, Zarek, and a bunch of extras. Granted some important name dropping goes on. All of the quorum seems at least somewhat opposed to the alliance, and a fair amount of ships in the fleet refused to allow Cylons to board their ships. However, with only two characters we know well backing the dissent, their motives lacking sufficient complexity, and their being relatively unimportant characters in the first place leaves the entire issue heavily lopsided, making it difficult for the audience to sympathize with the dissenters. The entire issue seems to lack that certain shade of gray that BSG strives for.
Indeed, Zarek too struck me as somewhat two dimensional in his motives in this episode. Once again, Zarek is using a controversial issue to make a power grab by attempting to undermine the popularity of the decisions made by the current administration. Adama even proves the man's susceptibility to corruption in an incredibly well executed bluff near the end of the episode. While this was a nice moment for Adama, it seems to imply that Zarek's political positions and sensationalism are wholly manufactured simply to facilitate the aforementioned power grab(s). This, I think, is a disservice to his character. I'd like to think he's more complex than this.
It's worth noting, however, the singular goal of attempting a power grab isn't by itself a sign of a two dimensional character. This very episode featured a classy scene in which Baltar similarly manipulates a crowd of his followers into rejecting the Cylon god with a sensationalist speech. The implication is that by continuing to deliver these rousing speeches, he's gaining an ever more numerous and loyal following. Unlike Zarek, Baltar's manipulations are subtle, complex, and layered.
What's worse about Gaeta's and Zarek's mutual objections to the alliance is that they seem to stem from nothing more than simple bigotry. While I suppose this is understandable among some of the fleet's population, both Gaeta and Zarek have a history of seeming like characters who wouldn't be stupid enough to let their bigotries blind them to progress. Especially Gaeta, given his prior willingness to collaborate with the Cylons.
Still worse, the entire tylium ship plot was completely unnecessary. It seemed like little more than manufactured danger to get Adama a good reason to confront, threaten, and attempt to blackmail Zarek. But on top of the tylium ship plot's irrelevance, it doesn't make a whole lot sense either. Why would jumping away from the fleet be useful for them? And even if they did for some fantastical reason believe staying away from the fleet would be a good idea, why not jump again when Athena located them? Did they just get scared of being all alone and decide it's time to go home?
But the worst sin of the episode is the Cally retcon. It's irrelevant like the tylium ship, poorly executed like Gaeta's and Zarek's motivations, and on top of that highly annoying all in one. The revelation that Tyrol is not Nicky's father is of absolutely no consequence in this episode. The only possible purpose for it is to render Hera the only hybrid Cylon child once again; the significance of which may or may not be used for some other interesting plot thread later.
I don't necessarily have a problem with Hera being the only hybrid, but the degree of plot fudging necessary to swallow this retcon is beyond what I consider acceptable. None of the prior Cally material can't be rationalized, but it significantly tramples on the aesthetic of previous episodes. For example, instead of believing Cally devoted herself to Tyrol after their rather unusual but sweet pairing in Lay Down Your Burdens, we must now accept the idea that she was sleeping around with other men while they were dating just prior to getting married presumably several months after her beat down, as evidenced by the fact that she was still pregnant one year later.
Also, when Cally decided to kill herself and Nicky in The Ties That Bind, it was heavily implied that she wanted to destroy her Cylon hybrid son. Instead, given the retcon, the scene now plays simply as her not wanting her fully human son to be raised by a Cylon who thinks he's the father. This all works in the context of the narrative, but strongly diminishes Cally's character. However, regardless of how well you feel this retcon can be rationalized, the very fact that it was even necessary to begin with is incredibly poor writing. An unfortunate product of BSG's "make it up as you go along" writing style, which usually doesn't create major problems, but here it reeks heavily of bad writing.
The final and perhaps most annoying sin of this episode is that once again this bottle show sheds no light on any of the outstanding overarching long term unanswered plot questions raised by prior episodes. I need not list the litany of these outstanding questions once again; suffice it to say that the longer they remain ignored, the more annoying these questions get and the more they risk becoming simple plot holes.
Overall, this episode commits a multitude of sins for which I cannot grant much of a score.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Dan Hartnett on 2009-01-26 at 1:53pm:
Why does everyone think that she KNEW it was not his son? Last time I checked women who cheat don't inherently know who got them pregnant. Is it not just possible by plausible that she was just plain cheating on the Chief and was with both men around the same time?
Again, I find it amazing that many reviewers are clinging to what is nothing more then a unexplained twist, not a hole in the plot. I have seen bigger holes in House, which is one of my favorite shows! ;)
- From Kethinov on 2009-01-27 at 1:47am:
It was stated in the episode by Doc Cottle that she had a paternity test done so that she would know for sure.
- From Luke on 2009-06-30 at 12:17pm:
RE: The tyliam ship, when Athena showed up they may well have not have their FTL spun up, and therefore were unable to jump before being boarded by the Galactica Marines
- From bazzlevi on 2010-10-28 at 1:26pm:
I totally agree with you about the Nicky paternity revelation here. This and the rather silly plot twist regarding the miscarriage of Saul and Six's child are cheap and transparent attempts at making Hera the only "child of significance" in the show. Given how the show ended, would it really have mattered if Nicky were a hybrid? Would it really have made that much difference if Six had given birth to her child? Why did they need to have Six get pregnant in the first place? It obviously didn't go anywhere, and strained credibility in the process. Anyway, I guess I should leave these comments on the review of THAT episode, but these two plot points are "of a piece", as Ron Moore would say.
BSG - 4x15 - The Oath - Originally Aired: 2009-1-30
True to the prediction of Felix Gaeta, "one day soon, a reckoning is going to come," mutiny among the fleet begins. Under the direction of Tom Zarek and his conspirator Gaeta, people begin to rebel against the rule of Adama. The two men have gained unlikely followers with pilots such as Diana Seelix who aids in the capture of Sam Anders. He is beaten and led to the brig with the other Cylons and their cohorts, all of who are the pinnacle of Gaeta and Zarek's hatred.
Without so much as a second thought, Felix has Tom released from prison and returned to Colonial One, where he greets a surprised Lee Adama. Confused, Lee attempts to reach his father and question him about Tom's release, yet Gaeta intercedes on all incoming calls to the CIC, causing Lee to take matters into his own hands.
When he arrives on the hangar deck of the Galactica, Lee gets an unlikely greeting from Racetrack, Skulls and Connor who are prepared to kill him in the name of revolution. Yet, the omniscient renegade Starbuck shows up right on time to save his life. Unarming the disloyal pilots, Starbuck and Lee set out to stop Zarek and Gaeta's unconstrained quest for Cylon — and uncooperative human blood.
One by one, each of the Cylons is lead to the brig, unknowing of what their fate will be. Caprica 6 surmises that the humans will need them alive to be used as bargaining chips against the rebel Cylons — yet Athena and the rest aren't comforted by her reasoning.
Meanwhile, a full-on war aboard Galactica has ensued, with marines, civilians and pilots alike all prepared to fight against Adama, in support of Gaeta and Zarek's coup. Stopping at nothing, Gaeta goes full force with his plan and has marine guards arrest Adama and Saul Tigh. He then orders the Admiral to be removed from the ship and charged with treason.
Fearless, even in the face of death, Roslin reassumes her role as President and seeks an unlikely ally in Gauis Balar, who begrudgingly lends his wireless communication to her. She attempts to send a warning message to the fleets about Gaeta's overthrow of the government, yet the ship is beyond the point of reasoning.
Saul Tigh and Adama manage to escape the hold of Gaeta's marines. They then usher the President safely aboard a raptor, headed far away from the calamity aboard the ship.
And rather than fleeing with her, both Saul Tigh and the Admiral hold true to their oaths. As soldiers, they stay behind with their men, prepared to fight, even if it means the loss of their own lives… [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- The whiteboard reads 39644 survivors, however the main title cites the survivor count as 39643.
- When Starbuck shoots one of the men attempting to apprehend Lee, blood splatters all over Lee's face. In the next cut showing Lee's face, none of that blood is there anymore.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39643. Down one. (The rebel Cylon that died in the last episode? Or maybe another suicide?)
- Tigh's response to Adama's offer of coffee: "Ever since they started grinding it out of algae I've lost the taste."
- Zarek taking out Laird.
- The attack on Anders.
- Starbuck messing with Hot Dog.
- Gaeta blocking Starbuck's and Lee's attempts to communicate with Adama.
- Starbuck after shooting the guys who were trying to capture Lee: "I could do this all day!"
- The assault on Helo's and Sharon's quarters in front of Hera.
- Gage confronting Helo.
- Starbuck impromptu kissing Lee before they go charging together into battle.
- Tigh: "What do they have down there, a forest fire? Where the frak are my damage reports?!"
- Gaeta taking CIC by force.
- Baltar and his groupies consoling each other.
- Adama and Tigh successfully assaulting and neutralizing the marines attempting to escort them to jail.
- Baltar and Roslin taking pot shots at each other's messianism.
- Roslin: "If it makes you happy, maybe we're both frauds and this is our last chance to atone."
- Roslin broadcasting an address to the people.
- Starbuck insisting that they kill everyone who opposes them and take no prisoners.
- Lee lashing out at Tigh, giving them some perspective about Gaeta's and Zarek's position.
- Baltar appealing to Gaeta to stop the mutiny.
- Adama and Tigh standing their ground as they are assaulted by Gaeta's forces.
- The raptor running to the Cylon baseship and Gaeta ordering it shot down.
- Gaeta's forces assaulting Adama and Tigh's position with a grenade.
The Oath is a fast paced, riveting action show in the tradition of Valley of Darkness but unique in its own right because it's hard to know who the enemy is at any given moment. Long time friends become foes as it is slowly revealed scene by scene who among the cast's long list of characters still with us have been swayed by Gaeta's cause.
Indeed, especially satisfying among this episode's many merits is the plethora of continuity and loose character threads which come together here in a somewhat twisted way. Among those in Gaeta's formidable army are characters we already love to hate, such as Charlie Connor and I-like-to-rape-Cylons Specialist Gage, as well as long time friends now turned foe like Seelix and Racetrack. And seeing Laird meet such an unceremonious end was both unfortunate but also strangely appropriate for his endlessly tragic character.
A notable exception was Hoshi, who seemed to have a notable presence in this episode, but his close relationship with Gaeta wasn't touched on even in the slightest. Official statements by Ronald D. Moore indicate that this is a dramatic oversight caused by retroactively pairing them in the webisodes, which were shot after the series wrapped. Like the previous episode's gaffe with Cally and Nicky, this is an unfortunate (though less severe) consequence of BSG's over reliance on make-it-up-as-you-go-along storytelling.
Roslin and Adama go through perhaps the most interesting journeys in this episode. Roslin's leadership qualities seem to get a jolt of energy; it seems appropriate that it would take a crisis of this magnitude to jump start herself back into leadership. Juxtaposing this transition with some of her most cavalier and uncaring regard for her position so far along with a nascent desire to start offering Adama backseat driver political advice while still maintaining a desire not to get involved was a fantastic aesthetic.
Roslin also had some rather powerful lines in her speech to the fleet about the conflict between Colonials and the Cylons' generational nature. (Lines which should perhaps give us pause regarding the current situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.) The ancientness of this conflict is perhaps even more striking given the discovery of ancient Cylons. As for Adama, nearly every line that comes out of his mouth after Gaeta stages his coup is both chilling and profound. It will be quite a thing of darkness to see if Adama actually acts on his threat of no amnesty and no forgiveness for the traitors. His line declaring that there will be a "reckoning" is also a nice touch, paralleling Gaeta's nearly identical line in the previous episode.
To my pleasant surprise, Gaeta and Zarek work very well in this episode as complex antagonists. Gaeta's scheming in this episode is absolutely an incredible amount of fun to watch and Alessandro Juliani delivers an outstanding performance leading the coup. The texture about Gaeta's underlying motive for staging the coup being about personal redemption rings true to me. It seems plausible that after all he had been through but more importantly all the mistakes (or at least perceived mistakes) he had made, he would feel compelled to use his unique position of power and influence to take extraordinary action to right what he considered to be the extraordinary wrongs of his past actions and the present actions taken by those above him.
Likewise, the lengths Zarek will go to secure a power grab have some interesting new darkness to it with his personally murdering Laird. We know Zarek is no stranger to personal acts of criminal violence, but we've not actually seen anything this explicit out of him on camera ever. He tends to prefer others doing the dirty work for him. But perhaps the most interesting item of depth in Zarek's actions in this episode is his lecturing Gaeta, from experience, about how revolutions can be lost with the slightest hesitation. Zarek's wisdom is lost on Gaeta though because in the end, Gaeta hesitates on numerous occasions, such as hesitating to kill Adama and hesitating to shoot down the raptor bound for the Cylon baseship. This will surely be his undoing.
Regardless though of this added depth, Zarek and Gaeta both still come off as somewhat two dimensional. Lee Adama, in a single scene, managed to demonstrate a more thoughtfully reasoned out argument sympathetic to Gaeta's and Zarek's position when he lashed out at Tigh. However, unlike the last episode where Gaeta and Zarek came off as vaguely annoying, and despite the continued two dimensional nature of their motives, their missteps in this episode are merely fascinating in a pitiful kind of way.
It is realistic that complex people might paradoxically take oversimplified political positions. I dare say it happens far too frequently in the real world. In that sense, and in the sense that Gaeta's and Zarek's oversimplified political positions seem somewhat at odds, I am enjoying watching the slightly conflicted dynamic between them. Again, it'll be their undoing. Another particular annoyance is the scene where a viper pilot lashed out at Starbuck with the line "nobody even knows what you are anymore," as if to tauntingly remind the audience that the ongoing unanswered questions about the overarching plot are being deliberately ignored.
However, the vast majority of this episode is exciting enough and the drama powerful enough to largely forgive that yet repeated sin. At the beginning of this review I compared The Oath favorably to Valley of Darkness. I should emphasize that this is no small complement, as few episodes are as marvelously memorable.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x16 - Blood on the Scales - Originally Aired: 2009-2-6
Stunned by the near fatal explosion, Saul Tigh and the Admiral are captured once again. Adama is lead before Tom and Felix to be persecuted for his alleged treason. Both mutineers feign justice by announcing that Adama will be given a trial and that Romo Lampkin will represent him. Unshaken by his impending fate, Adama declines the right to an attorney and affirms that he'd rather die than grovel at the feet of either man.
Meanwhile, aboard the fleeing raptor, Roslin and the Number 8 Cylon evade the attack of one of Gaeta's pilots, by landing on the deck of the Cylon baseship. Once aboard, the President's mission is to use the baseship's defenses against the Galactica. Yet the Cylons want nothing to do with the war and plan to instead jump away from the line of fire. Almost impossible to convince, Roslin realizes that although she was able to flee the battle aboard Galactica, she may have stepped into the realm of another.
Also facing opposition — Tom Zarek lashes out at the resistance of the Quorum of 12. When they don't immediately support his order to have Adama killed, Zarek commands their deaths, deeming it as his only choice. Daring anyone to stand in his way, Zarek proceeds with his plans to have Adama killed.
Once Gaeta sees Zarek's plight is nothing more than a corrupt self-vested quest, he is unable to turn back — realizing that the reckoning is imminently near. Acting against any sense of loyalties that he may still have, Gaeta proceeds to have the order for Adama's death carried out.
Falsely alerted that the Admiral had been killed, Roslin acts on blind-faith, using vengeance as her leader. Convincing the Cylons to fire against the Galactica she's fearless and prepared for battle. Though her devices would never have to be used.
The Admiral, a renegade aboard his own ship, flees his pending death, with help from Lee, Kara, Galen and others fighting against the mutiny that has taken over the fleet. And while Adama is able to regain control and the President safely returns to Galactica, no celebration is in order. Bloodshed to even the scales was imminent as the reckoning saw its arrival, leading Zarek and Gaeta to be sentenced to death. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- It seems like something of a continuity fudge that Athena would allow Caprica Six to take Hera when they escaped imprisonment, given Athena's vision-induced paranoia that the Sixes will take Hera away from her. Perhaps that possibility is the lesser evil, given what horrors Hera would have faced if Gaeta's cronies had gotten their way.
- This episode placed #48 in TV Guide's Top 100 Episodes of All-Time (2009).
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39603. Down forty. Yikes!
- Gaeta states that there are 35 civilian ships in the fleet.
- Hot Dog hesitating to destroy Roslin's raptor.
- Narcho firing at the raptor but hitting the base ship instead.
- Roslin boarding the base ship and shouting orders at the Cylons.
- Adama giving Gaeta his rank insignia and telling Gaeta "you're the admiral now."
- Romo, while being arrested by marines: "I don't suppose anyone's gonna feed my dog?"
- Adama refusing to take Gaeta's and Zarek's insistence for justice and trial seriously.
- Zarek having the quorum executed.
- Tyrol's frustrated trip through Galactica's cramped innards.
- Roslin's desperate attempt to convince the rebel Cylons to stay.
- Tyrol encountering Kelly.
- Romo instilling in Adama the value of stalling.
- Starbuck and Apollo sneaking around the ship taking people out.
- Anders taking a bullet in the neck.
- Adama about the Cylons: "I didn't give them aid and comfort. They gave it to me."
- Romo killing his "pen pal" and reluctantly assisting Starbuck.
- Roslin threatening to attack the Galactica with the base ship.
- Roslin: "I will use every canon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eye teeth to end you! I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!"
- Tyrol sabotaging the engines.
- Gaeta and Zarek being executed.
Nothing too terribly unexpected happens in this conclusion to Gaeta's rebellion. As expected, ideological divisions between Zarek and Gaeta are their undoing; Gaeta's too idealistic and merciful to do what needs to be done to accomplish his goals. Throughout the episode he struggles with the morality of his actions until he finds a line he simply will not cross.
Along the way, the ride is nearly as good as the previous episode, with some minor blemishes on top of those prior. Some nice textures are the focus on Kelly's divided loyalties, Adama's refusal to take his mock trial seriously, Roslin ordering the Cylon rebels around, Romo Lampkin getting caught up in the rebellion, Baltar starting to feel guilty about his perpetual flight rather than fight response to crisis, and seeing the engine room.
Some curious dramatic focus was spent near the end with Tyrol examining the crack in the wall in the engine room without the implications beyond a look of worry in Tyrol's face made all that obvious to the audience. Did Tyrol cause that crack by throwing a wrench into the engine or was it there all along? Is the old piece of crap, not to mention war torn Galactica well on its way to falling into irreparable disrepair?
The most significant blemishes on this episode which detract from the level of excitement the previous one enjoyed are the rather abrupt ending and Adama's distinct lack of ruthlessness. Overall, this episode could have been a much more incredible payoff if Adama had gone on a Starbuck style murderous rampage, killing more people than just Gaeta and Zarek. Strictly speaking, his actions in this episode seem to conflict with his stated intent of offering no forgiveness and no amnesty to the traitors. Though, again, the ending was abrupt. For all we know this is just the first round of executions.
Regarding how Gaeta and Zarek met their end, I feel in death the two characters finally earn some of that depth I felt they both needed and deserved in order to become sympathetic characters. Gaeta's motivational breakdown, minor obsession with his itching nub, and his glee when it stopped itching just prior to his death were nice touches, but perhaps even more interesting was Zarek's little smile just before he met his end. It's as if he's glad he's finally getting his wish to be martyred for (what he considers to be) a righteous cause.
Overall, there is little to say about this episode. It rides the wave of the previous one quite well. The distinct missed opportunity of a space battle between the Galactica and the Cylon base ship is unfortunate; how much more badass would Adama retaking the CIC have been if Roslin was firing on the Galactica from the Cylon ship when he did it? But what's missing in this episode and what aesthetically didn't work isn't enough to drag this well above average episode down too far.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Engal on 2009-02-07 at 6:12pm:
I agree with most of the review, however some part of the episode where lacking something. I may blame this on the deleted scene that did'nt make the cut.
Romo mentionned the resistance during a short moment. We never saw them until the end...
They apparead by magic all packed and gathered at a corner and suddenly all came behind Adama... And there was nobody anymore to oppose resistance in the ship during their travel to the C.I.C.
This last part is understandable, seeing a mass of people with an angry adama at their head could be the occasion to " pretend being on the good side since the beginning" but it was sort of convenient, however, it was good, I gave it an 8 too.
- From Dan on 2009-02-09 at 9:54am:
I completely agree with you that Roslin's oath of vengeance was a remarkable scene. I think it's the most powerful piece of acting on this series yet (it was stirring and gripping even on my laptop), and it's been full of powerfully acted moments, many from Mary McDonnell herself. I wonder if part of the reason for that scene was a final push for Emmy recognition. It would be incredible if anyone didn't see that scene and think award-worthy performance.
BSG - 4x17 - No Exit - Originally Aired: 2009-2-13
To gain an understanding of the future, members of the Final Five and Kara Thrace listen intently to Sam Anders's revelations about the past. With a bullet lodged in his brain, he unlocks memories about Earth that occurred thousands of years ago. These realizations contain vivid details about the creation of both the Human and Cylon races.
He reveals that the Final Five all worked in the same research facility and that Galen and Tory were madly in love and planning on getting married. Ellen and Saul were also a couple, married on Earth as they were aboard Galactica. But most shocking is Anders's claim that the Cylons didn't invent resurrection. He explains that organic memory came from Kobol and the 13 tribes. To resurrect, they formerly used a ship that orbited around Earth and once it was destroyed they worked night and day to rebuild it. While Galen seemed to have made impressive strides in its rebuilding, it was Ellen who made the intuitive leap that brought the system back on line.
And so it begins. Eighteen months earlier, Ellen Tigh is resurrected aboard the Cylon baseship after being poisoned on New Caprica by Saul for conspiring with the Cylons, unbeknownst to him that both he and she are members of that very race. It seems that Cavil has been awaiting Ellen's return to the baseship yet he is less than happy to see her. She refers to him as John and we learn that he was named after her father and created in his image. But he feels resentment and not gratitude towards her, his creator, for making him in the visage of a human being, with weaknesses, limitations and flaws.
Presently, aboard Galactica, Tyrol and the Admiral are assessing the multitude of damages aboard the ship. Knowing that he needs assistance with the Galactica's repair, the Admiral pushes Cylon prejudices aside and reinstates Galen as the ship's Chief. Later, he will have to concede even further when obliging to use a Cylon resin to repair the ship — his last hope in saving their home.
A mend in relationships continues as we see President Roslin and Lee Adama on Colonial One grieving the loss of the Quorum of Twelve. Roslin concedes that though she will keep the formal title of President, she'd like to have Lee assist her in leading the fleet.
And though the insight to the future that Anders' condition provided is key to the remaining Final Five, his condition poses a threat to his own life. They find that the location of the bullet has caused a seizure and another could be lethal. At a crossroads, as his wife Kara makes the gut wrenching decision to remove the bullet from his brain, even though it may mean the loss of his foresight to speak and warn against events to come.
Concurrently faced with her own dilemma of loyalty to Cavil and the others and her feelings of personal choice, Boomer makes a brash decision and helps Ellen escape the sinister plans that Cavil and the Simons have in store for her.
Ultimately, while glimpses of the future have been revealed and more pieces of the puzzle are now aligned, the grander picture for the future still remains to be seen. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Why didn't the final five look younger in their flashbacks to Earth in Sometimes a Great Notion?
- The title of this episode is taken from a 1944 existentialist play by Jean-Paul Sartre. The story is about three people trapped in a stately room with chairs and sofas, which represents hell. In the story, each character hates all the others.
- This episode establishes that Cavil's first name is John. He was both named and made in Ellen's father's image.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39556. Down 47. More yikes! Total body count for the mutiny: ~87.
- This episode establishes that the mystery man who Ellen referred to as having "rescued" (I use the term loosely...) her in season one was in fact Cavil.
- Ellen's download. I like how she freaked out after the download. It must have taken a moment for her older memories to kick in.
- Anders' flashbacks and rambling.
- Cavil meeting with Ellen 18 months ago right after Saul killed her. I like the nice touch with Cavil dragging the chair the same way he did when he met with Tigh on New Caprica.
- Adama asking Tyrol to retake his position as Chief.
- Delusional Anders asking for Tyrol, Tory, Saul, and Ellen too. "I see everything," he says.
- Ellen to Boomer about Cavil: "What about the swirl, has he taught you that yet?"
- Anders telling the final five as much about their pasts as he can remember.
- Lee positing replacing the quorum of twelve with a new assembly based on representations of ships rather than colonies.
- Roslin asking Lee to unofficially perform her duties.
- Roslin: "You're so hell bent on doing the right thing, that you sometimes don't do the smart thing." Lee: "Well, then I'll try to be smarter. And wronger."
- Tyrol revealing the extent of the damage to Galactica to Adama.
- Anders continuing to tell as much as he can about what he remembers in his limited time.
- Cavil accusing Ellen of orchestrating the events at the Temple of Five.
- Cavil lamenting not being able to fully appreciate "one of the most glorious events in the universe" (the supernova) due to his limited human senses.
- The final five debating whether or not they're responsible for the destruction of the twelve colonies.
- Anders' word salad.
- Cavil confronting Ellen about the destruction of the hub.
- Anders revealing what Cavil did to the final five.
- Ellen revealing to Cavil that she knows he destroyed Daniel, the seventh Cylon model, and how he did it.
- Ellen trying to forgive and embrace Cavil and Cavil's enraged response.
- Tyrol revealing to Adama even deeper damage the Galactica suffers from, the kind you can't see.
- Ellen's escape with Boomer.
Exposition is projectile vomited at the audience in this episode at an unprecedented rate; a rapid fire sequence of answers we've waited for far too long delivered one after the other, which is strangely both too much at once and paradoxically also not enough to fully answer all the piled up annoying unanswered questions about the overarching story.
Most importantly, this episode paints a much clearer picture of the Cylon backstory. The oldest known account of the creation of Cylons occurred on Kobol, thousands of years ago. The twelve tribes created the thirteenth, a tribe of Cylons, which spawned a war between the humans and Cylons on Kobol. They then went their separate ways. The twelve tribes founded the twelve colonies and the thirteenth tribe of Cylons colonized Earth.
The thirteenth tribe was destroyed by some sort of civil war, so five members of the thirteenth tribe (the final five Cylons), the only (apparent) survivors, set a course for the twelve colonies ostensibly to rejoin their long lost brethren and warn them of the dangers of reinventing artificial life in an attempt to end what they perceived to be an inevitable cycle of violence. They traveled in an ancient FTL incapable ship, armed with resurrection technology.
The final five were the only (apparent) survivors because they all were working in secret to reinvent the resurrection technology, as their people had since abandoned it long ago when they learned to procreate biologically. They were somehow warned of the impending destruction of their society and programmed themselves so that when they died in the holocaust, their consciousnesses would be transferred to new bodies on the ship, which they had placed in orbit.
Their plan was successful and they were reborn aboard the ship. Because their ship lacked FTL, but traveled at very fast sublight speeds, time slowed down within the ship, but outside the ship thousands of years had passed by the time they reached their destination. (See theory of relativity for a long, boring, but scientifically accurate explanation.) When they finally arrived, the twelve colonies had already reinvented the artificial life (Cylon centurions) as the final five predicted they would. But the final five were too late, because the humans had already gone to war with the centurions they created.
The final five, intrigued by the reinvented centurions' novel notion of a one, true, loving god judged them capable of love and mercy and convinced them to end the war with the humans in exchange for giving them Cylon biotechnology and resurrection. Together they created Cavil and seven other humanoid Cylons. But Cavil turned on them, destroyed the entire seventh model (Daniel), boxed the final five, implanted them with false memories, and set them loose within the twelve colonies so they could experience humanity "up close and personal," as Cavil put it.
Cavil's motives are multifaceted and somewhat murky in places, but they seem to stem primarily from a combination of believing the humanoid models are fundamentally flawed creations compared to the centurions and his resultant bitterness and contempt for his creators for what he perceives to be their arrogance and naivete. He also resents their desire to end the cycle of violence, believing that the humans should be exterminated for enslaving the centurions. Clearly, Cavil's beliefs had sway, which is why he was able to convince the whole of the (rest of the) Cylons to subsequently massacre the twelve colonies.
Getting into the actual events of the story, there are a number of fascinating details worth noting about Ellen's year and a half with Cavil aside from the revelations about the overarching story. For example, Ellen made and named Cavil in her father's image. This means in a sense, Cavil is both her son and her father. This adds a whole new level of creepiness to Cavil's willful sexual exploitation of Ellen at the beginning of the third season.
Unfortunately, reprising its thematic vagueness, the one plot thread that seemed to make the least amount of sense was the series of revelations or perhaps lack thereof regarding the Temple of Five. Ellen says the temple was originally called the Temple of Hopes, built by the thirteenth tribe 3000 years ago when they left Kobol. They stopped and prayed for guidance on their exodus and then god showed them the way to Earth. Cavil calls it instead a monument to Ellen's vanity. He seemed to imply that the supernova which occurred in Rapture was somehow Ellen's doing and that she somehow orchestrated the events which revealed the faces of the final five to D'Anna.
Strangely, despite lacking in detail, Cavil's explanation seems to make the most sense because Ellen, however, claims she didn't plant any "carnival tricks" at the temple at all, but instead claims the one true god must have orchestrated these events. She does however admit having been to the Temple of Hopes on her way to the twelve colonies. And by this time in the story it is clear that Boomer's loyalties were wavering. Not to mention the fact that Ellen had been on the baseship for months now. It's possible she could have somehow done exactly as Cavil believes she did. Though if true, I would then question her motives for lying to him. Especially about the one true god. So I'm not really sure what's going on there.
Another curious line is Cavil's reference to the humans not knowing about "the colony" which supposedly has all of Ellen's equipment which she and her cohorts ostensibly used to build resurrection capabilities for the new Cylons. He believes the hub could be rebuilt with that equipment. What is "the colony?" The Cylon homeworld that they colonized after the first Cylon war? Or something else?
Also of curious note is that Anders appears to drop a possible hint about the head people. When the final five lived on Earth, the warning signs they got about the coming destruction were supposedly just like the Six in Baltar's head. Anders saw a woman, Tory saw a man, and no one else could see these people. How this is related (if at all) to Baltar's head people and Caprica Six' head Baltar remains to be seen.
Still yet, there are other pesky lingering questions. The show once again claims Kobol being the "birthplace" of all mankind, something which doesn't really make sense given the undeniable history of humanity having evolved on Earth. Is that a lost history? Also, why did Ellen and Cavil idly debate with each other for a whole year and a half before Ellen finally chose to leave? Obviously the hub incident and Cavil's resultant increased brutality was the true catalyst for Ellen's motive to escape, but even then another four months passed between Cavil announcing his intent to crack open Ellen's head and his decision to finally do it. Why? Because he needed to develop the technique first with the Simons?
Also, why did the twelve colonies take so many thousands of years to finally reinvent the Cylons if they had already invented them on Kobol? And who was fighting who on Earth? Why did their society destroy itself? Finally, what's the deal with Kara? Poor girl still gets no answers in this episode. Was I right to speculate in my review of He That Believeth in Me that one of Starbuck's parents was a Cylon? Thus is the destroyed seventh Cylon model Daniel Starbuck's father? Suffice it to say there are still many more questions to be answered.
Moving away from the exposition for a moment, the Galactica story had a number of interesting charms of its own. Is it possible that Lee will become the vice president now? Will he then assume the presidency if/when Roslin dies? Also, will the poor Galactica fall apart? It was just chilling to watch Tyrol and Adama examine all the cracks and breaks in the ship's hull. More chilling was Tyrol's warning not to jump the ship. That could prove problematic if Cavil chases Ellen when she arrives at the fleet! As could Ellen discovering Tigh's relationship with Caprica Six. I doubt anyone in the fleet will be all that thrilled to see Boomer either.
Overall, No Exit is an outstanding episode. There were minor blemishes, such as Anders' blurting out exposition faster than can be reasonably kept up with at times, some more vagueness (particularly with the Temple of Five), and even after all that some remaining very important lingering mysteries that weren't even addressed. But overall, this was an incredibly satisfying and necessary episode. If some of these answers had been deflated out of this story and had been sprinkled a little more slowly across previous episodes in order to focus more on the Cavil / Ellen dynamic in this story, No Exit might have even been worth a perfect score.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Lennier on 2009-02-14 at 10:34pm:
This was a great episode; probably the most interesting of the entire series. However, far from the best overall. That honor would go to "Exodus Part II".
BSG - 4x18 - Deadlock - Originally Aired: 2009-2-20
Humans and Cylons have begun working together to repair the Galactica using Cylon resin. But Ellen Tigh's unexpected return causes a rift in the current unity of both races. Saul, transfixed by Ellen, fails to mention that he and Caprica Six are expecting a baby together — the new life that's believed to be the future of the entire Cylon race.
And in order to maintain this future, the surviving Cylons, who are living aboard the Galactica, gather at Sam Anders' bedside with a proposition for Saul and Ellen to all return back to the Cylon baseship together. During this meeting, Saul and Caprica Six's secret of pending parenthood is revealed and Ellen is heartbroken, enraged and confused. Yet, having no regard for Saul and Ellen's lover's quarrel, the others push her to move past her emotions and make a decision. Her vote will be the deciding factor for whether or not they will all return home to the baseship together or continue to live aboard the Galactica, as circumstantial citizens, estranged from the other Cylons.
Meanwhile another homecoming ensues when Gaius returns to his cult of followers. And in order to keep their complete trust and adoration, Gaius ensures them that it was God, and not he who abandoned them. Yet his rhetoric falls on deaf ears of one of his former followers, Paula, who has now assumed the position of power amongst the group and suggests that he and his teachings are a farce.
Knowing that he must halt the possible damage of Paula's claims, Gaius seeks to regain control over his flock. After meeting a hungry woman Naia, and her son, Gaius, in the trading post, Baltar gets the idea to begin rationing off food to the hungry civilians hoping to regain the people's respect and love. But his self-vested plan backfires when the Sons of Ares show up and rob them of their supplies, leaving the group uncertain of whether Gaius is a reliable leader, and Baltar grasping to find a way back to the top of his throne.
In a quest to maintain her own power, a scorned Ellen votes to go back to the baseship, knowing that Saul would risk being separated from Caprica Six and his pending son, Liam. Angered that she cannot win his compliance, Ellen affirms to Caprica Six that the one Saul truly loves is Bill Adama. Then amidst the calamity, Caprica Six, stunned that Saul would choose the fleet over her, is crippled with pain in her stomach and is rushed to Doc Cottle.
Remorseful, Ellen and Saul gather together at Caprica's bedside, but it's too late and Caprica has a miscarriage. The hope for what the Cylons thought would be their future is lost and the certainty for tomorrow aboard Galactica, the baseship and beyond remains to be unknown. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39556. No deaths since the previous episode.
- Bear McCreary (the show's composer) was one of the extras in the background in Starbuck's and Tyrol's bar scene.
- Ellen returning to the fleet. I like how Ellen's reveal aboard the raptor so closely visually paralleled her reveal aboard the raptor in Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down.
- Ellen revealing what she now knows and telling her story to Adama, Tigh, Lee, and Roslin.
- Ellen: "Imagine instead of 50,000 survivors, there are only 5."
- Tigh seeing Caprica Six in Ellen's face as they made love.
- Baltar's reception upon returning to his flock.
- Baltar giving food to people in dogsville.
- Roslin reaching out to Caprica Six and failing.
- Ellen confronting Caprica Six in Tigh's quarters.
- Baltar's cult's food being stolen by the Sons of Ares.
- Tigh and Adama drinking and discussing together.
- Head Six motivating Baltar into delivering his help others and hope speech.
- Tigh regarding Ellen trying to get all the Cylons to go off on their own: "It's petty and vile."
- Tigh regarding majority rule: "Apparently we invented majority rule, but I don't remember it so frak that!"
- Ellen to Caprica Six: "There is something in the universe that he loves far more than you and me and that's Bill Adama."
- Caprica Six' baby dying.
- Baltar appealing to Adama, Lee, and Roslin.
- Tigh being consoled by Adama over his baby's death.
- Roslin and Adama noticing that the rebel Cylons have been posting their own photos on the memorial wall too.
"Petty" is exactly the right word to describe much of Deadlock's plot which focuses way too much on Ellen still being the same old Ellen. I suppose it's easy to appreciate on some level she'd be the same person she's always been, but I find it hard to suspend disbelief on the matter of her being willing to put everyone in jeopardy over an irrational and fleeting feeling of Saul's betrayal, especially if she can say to Saul, "so who'd you frak?" and then "it's okay, you thought I was dead," then get all pissed off when she discovers Tigh had been seeing Caprica Six and had in fact impregnated her.
As previously noted, much of the episode hinges on this irrational myopia, but the annoyances don't end there. Hearkening back to The Farm's sins, much of this episode's storytelling seems to heavily imply that love, or lack thereof is the principal cause of the death of Caprica Six' baby. Obviously the plot leaves room for any number of perfectly rational causes rooted in science rather than mysticism, but this recurring overtone is irritating.
Then of course, there's the plot hole regarding how Ellen and Boomer could even locate the fleet in the first place not being satisfactorily explained. (Well, not explained at all, really.) Did they get that information because Cavil knew where the fleet was all along? If so, why hasn't Cavil attacked the fleet already? Speaking of plot holes, did anyone else feel like eliminating Caprica Six' baby was another less-than-subtle slight of hand by the writers to make Hera more important, like the Cally retcon? (Though perhaps less annoying.)
However, the other half of the story concerning Baltar was a refreshing and interesting change of pace. It seems while Baltar was away, his cult made a deal with the Sons of Ares. They work to earn a food surplus, then give some or most of it to the Sons of Ares in exchange for being left alone. Baltar, unaware of this, tries to regain control of his cult from Paula by doing the noble deed of feeding the underprivileged on the lower decks and is quickly made aware of the new arrangement shortly thereafter.
The most interesting part though is how Baltar responds to this. Instead of letting his survival instinct kick in to protect him as usual, he sees the bigger picture; he sees the writing on the wall. His appeal to Adama seems to be rooted in preventing another uprising, one which he sees as more dangerous than Gaeta's mutiny. Somehow, he manages to convince Adama of this offscreen and is given a cache of weapons.
While it's also a bit irritating that the next (perhaps final?) plot arc aboard the Galactica looks to be the fermenting of yet another uprising as this is starting to feel somewhat redundant by now, I enjoyed the theme of the episode closing on the note of Adama being surprised to realize that the societal integration of the humans and Cylons has already happened on some level as evidenced by the final scene showing us a physical representation of that mutual blending on the memorial wall. With the ship too being infused with Cylon blood both literally and figuratively, Adama's final challenge will be to finish the work he's already begun mending the fences between these two peoples.
Overall, this episode isn't anything spectacular, though not necessarily a stinker either. The petty plot concerning the final five drags the episode down below average, but if it had focused less on this pettiness and more on Baltar, the ship's condition, and even the yet-another-uprising plot threads more, it might have been above average.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x19 - Someone to Watch Over Me - Originally Aired: 2009-2-27
Unable to move on after the events on Earth, Kara Thrace is still plagued by nightmares. She finds solace in Joe's Bar where a nameless piano player plays music strangely attuned to her pain. Galen Tyrol informs Admiral Adama, President Roslin, and Lee Adama that Galactica's hull will not withstand many more FTL jumps. Lee confirms the election of Sonja, a Six, to a position on the Quorum. Sonja accepts with a caveat: as a member of the Quorum she will use her newfound political power to request that Boomer be turned over to the Cylons and punished for her role in the Cylon civil war.
Meanwhile, sporadic power outages caused by Galactica's hull repair plague the crew. Galen Tyrol works closely with a Cylon Eight whose presence reminds him of Boomer, who is still languishing in a prison cell ever since she brought Ellen Tigh to Galactica. When he visits her in the brig, both of them confess they still have feelings for each other. In a moment of intimacy, they place their hands on either side of the glass partition separating them. Galen is shocked to find himself suddenly transported via Cylon projection to his and Sharon's "dream house." Sharon has built this retreat as a way of dealing with their separation. Overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, Galen withdraws his hand and flees the brig.
Helo returns Starbuck's auctioned property to her including a cassette tape of a piano concert given by her father. Hera gives Kara a gift: a drawing of what seems to be meaningless dots.
Kara pays a reluctant compliment to the strange piano player at Joe's Bar and begins a conversation about music with him. Nearby, Galen urges Tory, Ellen and Saul to intercede on Boomer's behalf. They refuse. Galen returns to the brig and "projects" again with Sharon. They return to their dream house where Galen sees a height chart on the wall. He races upstairs to find his seven-year old daughter drawing.
Kara and the piano player grow closer as she helps him with the piano piece he's composing. She gradually opens up about her father and her piano lessons with him, revealing that her father taught her one song that made her "feel happy and sad at the same time."
Galen begs Roslin not to sign the extradition order that would give then Cylons custody of Sharon. She refuses, telling him that Sharon has used her charm to trick everyone, including him. Galen leaves desperate, ready to take matters into his own hands. He engineers a blackout and knocks the Eight from his repair crew unconscious. It's clear he intends to replace Boomer with her so no one thinks she's escaped the brig.
At Joe's, Kara finds herself lashing out at the piano player after he confesses that he chose his music over his wife. Reminding her of her father's abandonment of his family, she pulls away. The piano player attempts to soothe her by asking her to play the song her father taught her. He places her fingers on the piano keys. For a moment, Kara is transported back to her childhood. Scared and elated, Kara begins to play.
Having escaped the brig, Boomer brutally attacks Athena in the washroom. Before she can make her escape, Helo enters and tries to bid the woman he thinks is his wife a romantic farewell. Desperate to keep up appearances, Boomer makes love to Helo while a bloodied and gagged Athena watches helplessly from inside a bathroom stall.
As Kara plays the song her father taught her, the piano player writes down the musical notes. Kara has a sudden revelation. She takes out Hera's drawing and matches the "dots" perfectly with the notes he's written on the sheet. A powerful duet begins, and as it unfolds, two listeners — Tory and Saul — realize that it is the same song that activated them as Cylons.
Masquerading as Athena, Boomer steals Hera from day care and heads to a fueled Raptor where Galen is waiting. As she climbs aboard, Galen helps her load a heavy case onto the ship. Boomer pleads with Galen to come with her. He tells her no, his duty overcoming his desire to join her. The two share a passionate kiss. Meanwhile, Athena bursts into Helo's flight briefing, collapsing into his arms. Immediately realizing what has happened, Helo orders Galactica locked down.
In the CIC, Admiral Adama orders Boomer to abort her take off, threatening to shoot her down. Boomer coolly informs him that Hera is on the Raptor with her. Adama decides to do the next best thing. He orders the flight pods closed. Boomer launches and barely clears the doors. As her wounded Raptor tumbles through space, she jumps — far too close to Galactica — setting off a massive shockwave that punches a hole in ship. With Boomer on her way to the Cylon fleet, Galen reels in the face of what he has done. Roslin's warning has come true. In her quarters, Kara listens to her father's music for the first time in years, while Galen searches fruitlessly for Sharon and his daughter in the "projected" house. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Why didn't anyone look the slightest bit flummoxed that Kara was talking to someone who wasn't there in the bar?
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39556. Still no deaths since the previous episode. (This show needs to get back to killing people!)
- Nomion's 3rd Sonata, Second Movement is actually from the opening theme from the original series of BSG.
- The toothpaste Kara offered to the pilot who discovers a habitable planet was labeled "Felgercarb," a fictional curse word used in the original series to mean "shit."
- The Kara's morning routine montage.
- Boomer to Tyrol: "I thought about you every day since that moment I died in your arms."
- Boomer projecting Tyrol into her fantasy house.
- Starbuck's nightmare.
- Tyrol setting Boomer free.
- Boomer taking out Athena.
- Boomer having sex with Helo while Athena watches in a dazed horror, unable to do anything about it.
- Boomer grabbing Hera.
- The final five confronting Starbuck, alone, playing All Along The Watchtower on the piano implying that the piano player was merely a hallucination of a younger (less dead) version of her father.
- Athena stumbling into Helo's briefing and letting Helo know what Boomer had done.
- Boomer's escape, tearing a hole in the side of Galactica as she jumped.
- Roslin's collapse onto the floor.
- Tyrol's reaction when he discovered Boomer took Hera.
Boomer did it again! The master betrayer strikes again, but this time in a more sinister way. It's interesting to see Boomer's now recurrent history of betrayal. She betrayed Adama at the end of season one, she betrayed her own people by refusing to assimilate afterward and (with Caprica Six) sowing the seeds of civil war among her people, she betrayed her Cylon model by siding with Cavil instead of the rest of the Eights, she (seemingly) betrayed Cavil by helping Ellen to escape, and now, just when we think we've seen the end of it, she betrays Tyrol to do Cavil's bidding.
What strikes me about her arc on the show is how shocking her two major betrayals have been. When she shot Adama, there was no doubt leading up to it she was going to end up doing something bad. But when the moment happened, it was still shocking because the dramatic focus had been on Boomer trying to understand what she was and, of course, Adama confronting the betrayal of his son. With the dramatic focus on those issues, the episode seemed ready to wrap up, then bam!
This time though, as I said before, Boomer's big betrayal feels more sinister. This time, she wasn't just a programmed machine, but entirely complicit in her twisted actions. She used her perhaps genuine love for Tyrol to make herself more sympathetic so she could gain her freedom, kidnap Hera, and defile Athena's relationship with Helo by pretending to be her during sex in order to exact revenge on her for taking over her old life aboard the Galactica. This is both emotionally complex as well as ironic as Athena originally seduced Helo on Caprica in the first place by pretending to be Boomer.
On top of all that, I can only imagine how much worse Boomer's reckless close-range raptor jump has made Galactica's ever worsening state of disrepair. Equally as tantalizing is the question of what will become of Tyrol if/when his complicity in Boomer's escape is discovered and what exactly Roslin's condition is. If her collapse at the end of this episode wasn't her death, she's definitely mighty close to dying.
On the other side of the fence we have Starbuck, whose story is decidedly less satisfying. In the tradition of Valley of Darkness, it once again brings fantastic piano music to the table; Kara's nightmare was a particularly impressive scene. Another nice nugget of good continuity was Starbuck's line about the mutiny thinning the ranks of the crew. This seems to imply Adama made good on his word to not forgive the mutineers. But her story also brought us the groan-inducing moment when Kara and her imaginary father played All Along the Watchtower together. More importantly, the story dragged somewhat and left us no answers; only reinforcing the existing mysteries.
Apparently, Starbuck, her father, the final five, and Hera are all connected somehow through that song. How they all came to learn it (with the exception of it having been taught to Starbuck by her father) is still a mystery, as is its overall significance. We know of course that Anders wrote it on Earth 2000 years ago, but beyond that the whole thing is still full of holes. Even Ellen appears to have no additional knowledge of it.
Another deficiency is in the degree of subtlety with which the piano player is revealed to be a hallucination of Starbuck's father. Throughout the episode, the dramatic focus is on he being possibly a new romantic interest, particularly because Anders may not survive and she has a history of cheating anyway. The man's similarities to her father play as just that, similarities; something which catches her eye enough to make the man noticeable and interesting, but not enough to connote a hallucination.
These sorts of things are always a balancing act, of course. If Starbuck was to be unaware she was hallucinating, it's difficult to clue the audience in without cluing her in as well. However, there was not one scene in the episode in which a single person took notice that Starbuck was talking to thin air, as is the case constantly with Baltar.
Moreover, in the scene where it is revealed that Starbuck hallucinated him, it is done so implicitly. He's in the cut, then he's not. But the dramatic focus is entirely on the final five being surprised that Starbuck could know that song, rather than on Starbuck's hallucination, as is so often the case with Baltar. In fact, there are only a few seconds of screen time where it can even be discerned that the man was a hallucination at all, on top of the dramatic focus not being on him in the first place. You have to really be paying attention or you'll miss it.
Another question to add to the pile is whether or not Starbuck's hallucination is technically connected to Baltar's in any way, and, of course, whether or not Baltar's hallucinations are somehow connected to Cylon projection. Finally, not including a Baltar thread of the plot at all is a big misstep given the amount of emphasis on him in the last episode. Especially seeing as how his story ended somewhat vaguely last episode as well.
Overall, this episode manages to fare slightly better than the last, but is still lacking in some pretty important ways. Had Starbuck's plot been more substantive and a Baltar thread been integrated, the episode could have been worth more points. Still a great episode though, thanks in large part to Boomer's ruthlessness.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Dave E on 2009-03-05 at 6:23pm:
I really liked this episode. The tape of Kara's father's music was "Live from the Opera House", and I think this is a critical hint towards the mystery of the Opera House that we all want to know. I think Kara's dad is Daniel, and she is a hybrid, just like Hera. I think it was heartbreaking the ending of this episode with Cheif realizing he just ruined everything.
- From Lennier on 2009-03-28 at 1:49am:
Nice review - I pretty much agree.
When are your "Islanded in a Stream of Stars" and "Daybreak" reviews coming?
- From Kethinov on 2009-03-29 at 4:04pm:
They're coming as soon as I finish writing them! ;)
I just haven't had the time. I may get around to some or all of the remaining episodes today, but no promises. I have to work over the weekend! :(
BSG - 4x20 - Islanded in a Stream of Stars - Originally Aired: 2009-3-6
As Galactica continues to deteriorate, so does the morale of the crew — both human and Cylon alike. In the Admiral's Quarters, Saul, Ellen, Kara and Lee debate on whether or not they'll begin a search mission to find Hera, who's considered to be the key to both Human and Cylon survival.
Then, tragedy strikes when a hole in Galactica's hull kills 61 crewmembers — 26 of which were Cylons. One of the engineers informs the Admiral that Galactica has an estimate of five jumps left and a 90% chance of being ripped to sheds in the process. The Admiral is torn between abandoning the ship, and ensuring the safety of the fleet. Meanwhile Lee faces the enraged ship captains who have no regards for the Commander's dilemma, but instead insist that the demands of each of their respective ships be met.
As a dying wish, an Eight critically wounded during the tragedy in the hull, asks for Saul Tigh to come to her bedside. He does so reluctantly and she thanks him for the opportunity to finally meet her father. Confused by her last words, Saul is convinced that lunacy has taken over the ship. But later on in his quarters, Ellen assures him that he's had millions of children and to ensure their survival, Hera must be found, as she is the last link they may have to the future.
Still struggling to figure out her what her own future entails, Kara Thrace meets Baltar in the bathroom and questions whether or not he truly believes in angels. As a walking dead woman with vengeance in mind— she gives him the dog tags that she pulled off her dead body on Earth, and challenges him to find answers to the many questions that lie at hand about who she really is.
She then goes to visit Sam Anders who has been hooked into the main power grid of the ship as a last attempt to save his life. Yet unable to see him suffer any longer Kara orders the Eight who has been caring for him to go away, as she plans to shoot him to end both his and her own suffering. Yet with a startling jolt, he regains consciousness, grabs her arm, forcing her to drop the gun and begins speaking nonsensically about events that have passed and those that will come. But the most eerie statement is his affirmation that Kara Thrace is the harbinger of death. When the others realize that Sam Anders being plugged into the main power grid was the cause of the ships' random power surges, temperature fluctuations, Saul Tigh orders him to be disconnected, for greater fear that Sam may inadvertently jump the ship in its fragile state.
While visiting Laura Roslin in sick bay, Bill Adama faces the reality of his own need to disconnect. Although it is the only home he's ever truly known, Roslin warns Adama that if he does not make the right decision and ensure the safety of those aboard Galactica, he might risk losing both her and the ship, the two great loves of his life.
Later on, as Adama heads to the funeral of the lost members who were killed in the hull accident, a heartbroken Helo begs Adama to allow him to take a raptor so that he can go searching for his daughter. But Adama informs him of the bleak news that they had already gone to search for her but to no avail. They found that Cavil had already moved the Colony taking both Boomer and Hera with him.
At the most inopportune of times, Baltar exclaims to the somber funeral crowd that hope is not completely gone. He holds up the dog tags given to him earlier by Kara and informs everyone that the DNA on the tags were in fact from her dead body. Thereby making Kara Thrace a walking angel, in his opinion. Yet his epiphany of walking deities was ill received— Kara slaps him and the Admiral threatens to have him thrown in the brig. Baltar faces the realization that the funeral was not only for the fallen members of the fleet, but also for the hope they once had in destinies.
Also saying goodbye to her own dreams, Boomer projects with Hera back to the home she thought she would share with Galen on Picon had the Cylon and Human war not taken place. She leads Hera up to the room she thought would be her daughters'. Completing her mission, she then takes Hera back to Cavil who relishes that they were able to deceive Ellen into thinking that Boomer helped her escape to Galactica out of genuine concern. Yet while Cavil is pleased, Boomer takes a last regretful look at Hera who cries out for her.
Aboard Galactica, Adama surveys the damaged ship and weeps for its past and its imminent future. He later tells a disapproving Saul Tigh that he has reached a decision to abandon the ship. Neither man wants to do it, but they regrettably accept the fact that the end is inevitable. Somberly, they toast to the Galactica— the best ship in the fleet. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39521. (Down 35.)
- The title of this episode is based on the book "The Outermost House" by Henry Beston. In the book there's a plot involving a character being stranded on a remote island. One line of the book reads, "For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars— pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time."
- Tyrol's conspicuous disappearance in this episode was due to his having been incarcerated for helping Boomer. The scene explaining this was cut. There is an extended version of this episode which includes these scenes, among others. Though I must warn you, the extended version of this episode has even more pacing issues than this one did.
- The Galactica's hull breaching, venting a whole bunch of people into space.
- The fleet captains objecting to the Cylon baseship being the only military presence within the fleet once Galactica is destroyed.
- The vultures circling around scrapping Galactica for parts.
- Caprica Six to Baltar: "I have no desire to join your harem."
- Caprica Six to Baltar: "You haven't changed Gaius. I have."
- Boomer yelling at Hera for crying.
- Saul to Ellen: "You wanna know who my people are lady? The ones on this ship. The ones I fought with and bled with. The old man, this crew, they're my family. The only family I've known and the only one I care to."
- Boomer sharing her projection of the house with Hera.
- Starbuck greeting Baltar while sitting on the toilet peeing.
- Starbuck to Baltar: "And you've seen these angels for yourself?" Baltar: "With alarming regularity."
- Starbuck confessing to Baltar that she saw her dead counterpart on Earth, giving him the corpse's dog tags.
- Sam waking up and grabbing Kara's arm right when she was about to kill him.
- The revelation that Sam is slowly gaining more and more control over the Galactica.
- The revelation that Cavil moved the colony and that without knowing where Cavil is there's no way to rescue Hera.
- Helo pleading with Adama to let him go look for his daughter.
- The funeral montage.
- Baltar revealing Starbuck's secret to the crowd at the funeral.
- Lee consoling Kara by telling her he doesn't care what she really is.
- Boomer arriving at the Cylon colony.
The penultimate episode to the three part finale continues the trend of an unsatisfyingly slow plot progression. The most significant events are Baltar revealing Starbuck's secret to everyone and Adama's formal decision to abandon the Galactica as a lost cause. Unfortunately, while both plot threads are interesting and move things forward adequately, neither plot thread is executed as well as it could have been.
Adama's story first centered around his outright refusal to even consider giving up on the Galactica followed by his slow, reluctant acceptance that the ship is a lost cause. The problem is, while Adama may be convinced, I am not. It's obvious that the plot wanted to use the damage done to the ship by Boomer as a catalyst to have the ship declared permanently unsalvageable. However, nothing that happens in this episode is evidence that the ship cannot be repaired. Granted, the repairs aren't going well. But there's no evidence that they are a hopeless cause.
All we do get attempting to substantiate that plot is a lot of sensationalism about the ship's ever worsening state of dilapidation and the circling vultures of the other ship captains. Even Tigh chastises the deck guy who seemed to most conspicuously replace Tyrol today for no coherent reason for claiming that there's a 90% chance another jump would destroy the ship. As Tigh said, I think a decision as critical as abandoning the Galactica should be made only with 100% certainty of the ship's expired viability.
Then there's the line about "sending her off in style." What the hell does that mean? Scrapping the ship and feeding it to the vultures is "sending her off in style?" I think Lee Adama sent the Pegasus off with a lot more style than that. Regardless of all that, I think the plot thread is not without merit. The Galactica was an old piece of crap from the very first episode and now it's a repeated battle torn old piece of crap. It's amazing it's lasted this long. I just wish the specifics of the plot made it clear beyond a shadow of the doubt that the ship cannot be saved. Because that's what it would take in my opinion for Adama to give up on the damn thing.
Even more muddled was Baltar spilling the beans on Starbuck's secret. His angels speech was vaguely incoherent and didn't seem to get him anywhere, but it was at least interesting that the first thing this man of science did after meticulously studying the dogtag was to try to further enlarge his flock by disseminating that information in a sensationalist motivational speech. What's bothersome though is Starbuck's confession to Baltar didn't result in any advancement of the plot or answer any significant questions about Starbuck at all. Frankly, Starbuck's resurrection was fairly common knowledge anyway. Proof of the existence of a duplicate body is insignificant compared to the fact that she literally reappeared to them all from nowhere.
What's worse though is that the narrative paints a very clear aesthetic of Baltar truly believing in all this religious nonsense he's spouting. His candid bathroom conversation with Starbuck leans heavily in that direction. It's obvious that Baltar's the same old Baltar, trying to win political power and stay in the celebrity spotlight. But if this man of science is really willing to finally buy head Six' claims to being an angel of god, then I'm going to be a bit disappointed. Like Adama accepting the Galactica's inevitable demise, I can accept that Baltar might make that leap of faith, but I don't think the show has earned that yet. I think Baltar would want to eliminate all rational explanations before just saying "yep, angels are everywhere!"
The episode has other annoyances as well. For one, aside from the episode's general slow pace, Cavil's motives for wanting Hera remain unclear. Exactly how is Hera supposed to be the key to Cylon reproduction? I doubt she knows anything about resurrection and as for biological reproduction, their gene pool isn't big enough. This doesn't make any sense. As for our heroes rescuing Hera, in some ways I liked the fact that they couldn't immediately locate where she had been taken to and that their prospects of deducing it were slim to none, but the episode acts as if the crew has simply given up on even trying to locate her. If I were Helo, I'd steal that damn raptor and go. Clearly Adama doesn't give a rat's ass. And just to make sure we're all paying attention, what's a season 4 episode without yet another groan inducing reference to All Along the Watchtower? (The dying Sharon uttered "too much confusion" just before she died...)
To top it off, in addition to all the outstanding questions such as once again having no explanation for Starbuck, once again having no explanation for the head people, and only a vague impression of Cavil's motives, we once again get zero follow up on the status of and purpose for Baltar arming his followers, even though the episode has a significant Baltar plot thread this time! The finale sure is going to have a lot of loose ends to tie up. Sure, No Exit did a lot of the footwork, but the finale will have to be packed to the brim with exposition just to be an adequate finale, much less manage to be a dramatically compelling end to the story along the way.
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x21 - Daybreak, Part 1 - Originally Aired: 2009-3-13
We're transported back to Caprica City, to get a glimpse of what the lives of fleet members were like, before the Cylon attack. Bill Adama is in his office discussing whether or not he's going to command the battlestar one last time before his retirement. We then see a newly acquainted Caprica Six and Gaius Baltar in his limousine before he gets a disturbing call about his father. A happy, healthy, Laura Roslin is in her apartment with her two little sisters, after a baby shower. And a giddy Kara Thrace is at her and Zak Adama's apartment, cooking dinner for his brother Lee, whom she is meeting for the first time.
Just as she was happily celebrating the pending birth of her sister's child, Laura gets an unexpected visit from the police, informing her that her father and two sisters were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Gaius Baltar arrives at his father's house to see an unnerved nurse who is quitting because Gaius' dad stabbed her with a steak knife. In a fit of rage and embarrassment Gaius insults his father, calling him an obnoxious gimp. When Caprica Six tries to reprimand Gaius he instructs her to leave, affirming that the matter is none of her business.
After learning about the death of her family, Laura leaves her apartment, in a state of shock, in her pajamas and goes to a public park. She walks into a fountain and stands under the sprinkler, letting the water wash over her as she sobs, while spectators at the park look on in wonder.
In present day, a cancer ravaged Roslin is in sickbay while Doc Cottle watches over her. Meanwhile a reluctant Lee Adama gives the orders for Galactica to be stripped for its parts. Bill Adama packs up his belongings in preparation for their transport to his new quarters aboard the Cylon baseship. In an attempt to take advantage of the ship's low morale, Paula tries to convince Gaius that the Galatica's current fall could lead to their group's political uprising. Yet when Gaius asks Lee about gaining political leverage, he is met with fierce resistance.
A bitter Galen Tyrol is visited by Helo in the brig. While Helo is optimistic about finding Hera and leading a life "happily ever after," Galen has become emotionless and states that the Eights and any of the other Cylons are nothing more than machines that cannot be trusted. Aboard the Cylon baseship, Cavil is insensitive to Hera's longing for her mother. He instructs Simon to prep Hera for the pending prodding that he will inflict upon her. He believes that she holds the key to their existence and he intends to find out what it is.
The Admiral joins Kara Thrace in the chamber where Sam Anders is being held. He asks her to plug him back in so that he can ask him a question. When she does, he mentally reverts back to his life in Caprica City where he's giving an interview in his team locker room and expresses that it isn't the game or the winning he cares about so much, but rather tapping into perfection as an athlete and perfection as a person that matter most of all to him. When his conscious shifts back to present day, he is still muttering seemingly random statements that are entangled with details about Kara Thrace and his words and memories of his life in Caprica City.
The Admiral and Kara Thrace make a call for volunteers to assist with the search mission for Hera. They mark a divisional line in the flight deck with red tape and instruct those who are willing to join this last fight to cross over it. Lee Adama is the first and others soon follow suit, including a withered Laura Roslin who has come down from sickbay to show her support.
Having received information from Sam Anders about the whereabouts of Hera, the dedicated crew of Galactica prepare for their final battle. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39516. (Down 5.)
- This episode has no teaser, and the opening credits were cut in half for the first time since the beginning of the third season.
- This episode establishes that Cottle's first name is Sherman.
- Seeing the wide shot of Caprica before the fall.
- The incident with Baltar's father.
- Baltar's father: "Stupid bastard actually changed his accent, would you believe that?"
- Baltar lashing out at his father.
- Adama emptying his quarters, packing his things for transfer to the Cylon baseship.
- Caprica Six intruding into Baltar's home to tell him she's found his father a new place to live, a place that will make him happy.
- Lee's candid conversation with Baltar.
- Lee's flashback to drunkenly flushing a pigeon out of his house. "Stupid frakkin' bird."
- Adama asking for volunteers to rescue Hera.
- Racetrack's recon and the planning to attack the colony.
Continuing in the tradition of Crossroads, Part 1 and Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 1, Daybreak, Part 1 is an annoyingly slow buildup to the season (and in this case series) finale. The core issue in this installment is the overly verbose, questionably relevant flashbacks which will probably make a coherent point by the end of the finale but serve as little more than mildly interesting trivia about the characters we've grown to love after all these years.
As a consequence of this, only half of the episode advances the plot and only does so at a crawling pace. We get an inkling closer to understanding Cavil's motive for kidnapping Hera in that we're told that Hera "holds the key" to the Cylons' continued existence somewhere in her genetic code, whatever that means. I'm still going with Cavil's motives not really making any sense. But hey, who cares? He's the bad guy and he's got the kid! And he's gonna do something bad to her! Who needs complex, nuanced motivations when you can have a stereotypically evil bad guy? (For anyone not paying attention, that was sarcasm.)
I was a great deal more pleased with how the fleet treated losing Hera in this episode. Adama's near indifference to the situation last episode was rectified quite well here. One nice touch is that Adama doesn't really seem to care whether or not Hera is some iconic representation of the future, but instead to him all that matters is a little girl was abducted from his ship and damn it, he's gonna get her back. Duty and honor.
The way he latches on to this is also likely in part due to his desire to see the Galactica go out "in style" for real, rather than the whimper of a way it was going out in last episode's closing and this episode's opening. I still have no idea what that line meant at the end of last episode, but it doesn't really matter now. There's that motivating Adama, and also something tells me that some part of him would rather go on a suicide mission than live on deck 74 of a Cylon baseship for the rest of his days.
Another highlight is despite how largely pointless the flashbacks seemed, Baltar's were an especially remarkably spectacular insight into his character. I think we learned more about Baltar in this one episode than we did in nearly all the others combined. I loved the actor that played his father and the creepy way Six gets to Baltar by providing for his father is just lovely.
All in all, this episode once again continues the unfortunate trend of minor plot advancement and no significant outstanding questions answered. For that matter, a new question is added to pile. How was Anders able to locate the colony? The last two thirds of the finale will have to be quite densely packed with exposition!
No fan commentary yet.
BSG - 4x22 - Daybreak, Part 2 - Originally Aired: 2009-3-20
Back in Caprica City before the fall, Bill Adama, Saul and Ellen Tigh are in a strip club drinking. Bill is still debating on whether or not he'll take the government assignment that's been offered to him. Reasoning that it will only be an hour out of his life, they drink to his retirement, assuming that the future will be hopeful for them all. On the other side of town at Zak and Kara's apartment, Lee begins explaining his commitment to the service and affirms that he is nothing like his father, although he appears to be going down the same professional track. Zak jokes that Lee is a cynic at heart, who doesn't believe in the Service and would rebel if he could. Laura Roslin finds out that her date Sean used to be her student. Ignoring this fact, and her initial apprehension, they decide to let the night unfold naturally.
In present day aboard Galactica, Laura Roslin gets an injection that contains enough medicine to last her for two days, while the convoy mission takes place to find Hera. She becomes emotional and thanks Doc Cottle for saving her life and extending her chances of survival throughout the years. In order to find the Cylon Colony, the Final Five believe that by plugging Sam Anders back into the Galactica's, DRADIS, FTL and C3 systems, his mind will be able to directly communicate with the colony's hybrids once they jump. Theoretically, his mind should be able to control the Baseship's commands and slow down their response time. They also conclude that plugging him into the CIC will allow him the greatest source of energy. Believing that this will be his last battle, Bill Adama gives Hoshi command of the fleet and Romo Lampkin becomes President of the Colonies.
Rather than going with his flock, Gaius Baltar decides to stay on board Galactica to assist with the mission. He tells Paula that the group belongs to her now. In sickbay, Laura Roslin helps nurse Ishay prepare the area for those who will be injured during the battle. Nurse Ishay tells Roslin to mark those who can't be saved with a black "X." Preparing for the fight, Admiral Adama makes a ship announcement that this will be Galactica's last battle, he commands, "if we succeed in our battle, Galactica will bring us home. If she doesn't, then it didn't matter anyway." They prepare for the jump and land successfully on top of the Colony. The Cylon guns open fire at the ship yet when Sam and the Hybrid connect, the Colony ceases fire and Galactica is able to strike. With the enemy defenses down, Galactica's main guns pound the Colony, which still can't fire back, and the ship's flank curtain is able to keep most of the raiders at bay. Adama commands the raptors to concentrate on taking out the Cylon battery. Meanwhile, despite the battle that's occurring around him, Simon continues to run tests on Hera, stating flatly that the humans don't stand a chance and that in the end it's all about mathematics. Knowing that she will be deemed a traitor, Boomer follows her heart, breaks Simon's neck and gets away with Hera. When Cavil, another Simon and Doral discover what she's done, they agree that when found, Boomer must be killed.
Awaiting the enemy attack in the halls of Galactica, Caprica tells Gaius that she's proud of him for staying behind to be a part of the fight. Looking lovingly into one another's eyes, they realize their need for each other. At that moment, the omniscient presences of Gaius and Caprica appear and inform them that they'll both be the future of the Cylon race. Caprica and Gaius are shocked because they assumed that their consciences were only imaginary images that lived in their heads — not figures visible to other people. Just as they have this epiphany, the Cylons blow a hole in the door of deck 21. Aboard the Cylon Baseship, Boomer comes face to face with Helo, Athena, Kara Thrace and the others. She willingly gives them Hera and says to tell the Admiral that she owed him one, referring to the time that he gave her the chance to improve her piloting skills when she was a rookie. Not able to fully trust her, Athena kills Boomer, then escapes with her team and Hera.
Aboard Galactica, Roslin is overcome by the amount of death around her. She injects herself with a cocktail of drugs to numb the pain and this gives her the insight that the moment that she, Athena and Caprica all shared in dreams before, is happening now. As Cavil enters Galactica, crossfire between humans and Cylons ensues and Helo is shot and Hera runs away. It becomes a frantic escapade with Cavil, Athena and Roslin all trying to find Hera. Then in the aft hallway, Gaius realizes that he's "been here before" and the revelation of his and Caprica's destiny becomes clear. With Hera in tow, they go to the CIC where they see the Final Five standing on the landing above them, just as they had in their visions. But Cavil shows up, snatches Hera and puts a gun to her back, declaring that, "this thing is the key to my survival and I won't leave without it." In his newfound selflessness Baltar is able to talk Cavil out of killing Hera, saying that by trusting in God, there are other ways for survival. Saul decides to give Cavil and the rebel Cylons resurrection in exchange for a permanent armistice between humans and Cylons. Cavil agrees and gives orders to end the fighting. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series.
- This episode, which was aired with part 3 as a single double-length piece, did not feature an opening title sequence.
- The rebel Cylon baseship looks fully repaired.
- Destroyed Cylon capital ships, running total: 11 confirmed, 2 probable. (+1 confirmed, but it's possible that there were in fact many more off screen.)
- Roslin discovering that her date is a former student.
- Drunk Zak.
- Roslin thanking Cottle. Roslin: "Don't spoil your image. Just light a cigarette and go and grumble."
- The army of allied, red striped centurions marching down the hangar bay.
- Galactica jumping right on top of the colony and getting immediately pummeled.
- Sam disrupting the colony's defenses.
- The raptors in the gift shop hangar deck jumping off the ship, blowing a series of holes in the flight pod.
- Galactica ramming the colony in order to board it.
- The vipers engaging the Cylon raiders.
- Racetrack's luck finally running out.
- Lee leading the ground assault on the colony, complete with centurion vs. centurion action!
- Caprica Six and Baltar seeing each other's head people.
- Boomer returning Hera to her mother and Athena executing Boomer anyway.
- Boomer: "Thank you sir. I owe you one." Adama: "You and a lot of other people owe me one, but you know what? Very few people ever pay back, especially the ones that owe you their lives!" Boomer: "I'll pay you back one day sir. It'll really mean something." Adama: "You do that."
- The chaos in the CIC.
- Lee to Baltar: "Doctor, you did good!"
- The opera house visions reflecting the reality of Hera's frantic wandering into the arms of Caprica Six and Baltar.
- Baltar's angels and god speech to Cavil.
- Tigh offering to rebuild resurrection for Cavil in exchange for the war's end.
- Cavil agreeing to Tigh's proposal and calling off his forces.
The last great space battle of the series doesn't disappoint. Regardless of whatever happens to the Galactica in the third and final part of the series finale, we can now definitely say that the old girl has gone out in style. It has single handedly gone toe to toe with the Cylon homeworld! How delightful. And in doing so, has effectively ended the war with the Cylons in the process. At the end of part two the story is essentially over, however as I've repeated over and over again for the whole season there are still many questions to answer which will require a great deal more exposition.
The list of questions has been stated already ad nauseum, however one which I am afraid we will never get a satisfactory answer to at this point is how exactly Hera was supposed to be Cavil's key to his people's salvation. Frankly, the whole plot would have made much more sense if Cavil had abducted her with the explicit and stated motive as using her as a bargaining chip to get the final five to give him resurrection. For that matter Cavil could have just jumped on over to the fleet and asked for the final five's help. "Give me resurrection, and I'll stop chasing you!" But alas, that would be too rational and distinctly not dramatic, and we needed a plot device for a gorgeous space battle!
Speaking of irrational, Baltar's angels and god speech was among the most groan inducing monologues I've heard in a science fiction show since Sheridan's "get the hell out of our galaxy!" speech in Babylon 5. Baltar says events have been occurring which can't be explained rationally by any of the characters from their perspectives. Okay, that's fine, but why not at least provide rational explanations for the audience? Otherwise, it just feels awkwardly preachy and reeks of deus ex machina.
The list of poor aesthetic choices does not end there though. Once again, the flashbacks remain largely unable to make a coherent point. For example, Tigh, Adama, and Ellen at the strip club was a bit much and Boomer's flashback quite jarringly broke up what was an otherwise very nicely intense action sequence. I have mixed feelings on Boomer's flashback though because it seemed to be the only flashback to add something relevant to the episode. In fact, it was laced with irony. Boomer paid Adama back numerous times throughout the series with both betrayal and repentance. And ultimately, she paid him back with her life too, just as Adama had alluded to. Finally, ultimately, it did in fact really mean something.
Another rather mixed highlight was how the opera house premonitions ended up coming together. While it's most gratifying to see they were actually going somewhere with this beyond the confused but fun independent manifestations of these visions we've seen before, the visions still remain completely unexplained. They ended up being a fascinating and beautiful visual metaphor scored to a beautiful, almost overwrought piece of music, but it is implied that they have a much greater significance than what we are actually clued into in the sequence of the plot. Likewise, the revelation that Baltar and Caprica Six can see each others' head people is significant in a yet undefined way.
Overall, thanks to Cavil's never quite adequate motivations and the still unattended to pile of loose threads, the climax of BSG's finale is just short of being worth a perfect score. Now off we go! Let's go get some closure. Stay tuned.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Lennier on 2009-04-05 at 3:01am:
Why was Sheridan's "Get the hell out of our galaxy" speech groan-inducing?
- From Kethinov on 2009-04-05 at 5:51am:
Because he ended the entire Shadow war by lecturing the Vorlons and the Shadows as if he were a father breaking up a fight between his son and daughter. Aside from being horribly anticlimactic, it was poorly written and even worse acted. The scene is embarrassing to watch every time I rewatch Babylon 5.
- From Lennier on 2009-04-05 at 12:11pm:
I guess I see your point...
However, JMS felt that the Shadow War's inherent idealistic conflict between Vorlons and Shadows couldn't be resolved with just a huge battle where everything blew up, but rather the younger races coming to a decision that their age, the Third Age, would be ready to dawn. Even if you feel that this was conveyed in a clumsy manner, the event in and of itself is very powerful, in my opinion. The cycle of war among the First Ones is stopped, and in a million years, Humans become the next Vorlons.
Anyway, JMS also felt that he would give more of a pure action ending to the Earth Civil War, and he certainly did at that.
BSG - 4x23 - Daybreak, Part 3 - Originally Aired: 2009-3-20
As the Final Five begin downloading the resurrection data all of their secrets are unearthed and shared amongst each other. When Galen discovers that Tory killed Cally he becomes enraged, breaking the data transfer and snapping her neck, ending the momentary truce between humans and Cylons. A cacophony ensues and Cavil shoots himself in the head. The Admiral orders Kara to jump the ship immediately to save them all. Frightened that she doesn't have the correct rendezvous points, she remembers the piano player's words to "trust herself." The mystery of her destiny unfolds. She realizes that the song her father wrote and the drawing that Hera gave her were both signs of the directional track she would need to lead mankind home.
A savior to the fleet, Kara successfully jumps them 1,000,000 light years away to a land already occupied by an advanced civilization. And although the fleet has arrived safely to their new home, Galactica has broken her back and will never jump again. With the war ended, each crewmember has plans to find their individual destinies. Galen decides to go away to be by himself on an uninhibited island off the northern continents, Lee is excited about exploring the possibilities of the land around him, and Sam Anders will lead Galactica and the abandoned ships, no longer needed, into the sun. Before he is sent away with the legacy of Galactica, a grief stricken Kara Thrace bids Sam a final farewell and leaves her dog tags with him. Once she has left, he whispers "I'll see you on the other side."
Bill Adama puts Roslin in his Raptor with plans of giving her peace in her final days. He says farewell to his children Lee and Kara and they watch him fly away for good. Later on, while marveling at the beauty of the animals and Earth around her, Laura Roslin quietly dies seated next to Bill in the Raptor. Kara tells Lee that she's completed her journey and it feels good and before he realizes it, she vanishes. No longer visible to the eye, he looks around him and states that she will never be forgotten.
Helo and Athena prepare for their new future with Hera, while Gaius and Caprica watch over her from afar. On what is now present day Earth, 150,000 years later, the headlines read that scientists have discovered the skeletal remains of Mitochondrial Eve in Tanzania, who they believe to be the most recent common ancestor of all human beings now living on Earth. The guardian presences of Gaius and Caprica assess the present world, filled with greed and an overload of technology and they affirm — "all of this has happened before..." Yet Caprica is hopeful that the destruction doesn't have to happen again. She believes that if a complex system repeats itself long enough, it might surprise itself —because that too is God's plan. [Blu-ray] [DVD]
- Adama says that the real Earth is 1 million light years from where they were, but this is a physical impossibility. There is nothing but empty space one million light years in any direction from any point in the Milky Way. It's possible Adama's line could be written off as hyperbole, but the official synopsis for this episode has a line which reads: "A savior to the fleet, Kara successfully jumps them 1,000,000 light years away to a land already occupied by an advanced civilization." The part about an "advanced civilization" already being on Earth sounds dubious as well.
- I hope Tyrol likes living on a glacier. They landed on Pleistocene Earth in the middle of an ice age. There's no way he could have survived to seed the gaelic peoples as the plot implies. Though I suppose that's what he deserves for thoroughly screwing over the last chance the Colonials ever had to make peace with the Cylons. That said, despite that, I'm glad Tory got what was coming to her. It was a pretty badass moment despite its mixed implications.
- Six' reference to the law of averages is wrong. What she is actually referring to is the law of large numbers.
- Roslin landing on Earth with Adama violates the Pythian prophecy that said the dying leader would not live to enter the new land.
- Baltar's group's conflict with the Sons of Ares is a completely unresolved plot thread. The last we saw of it, Baltar's group was arming itself. What happened after that remains a mystery. Not that this is the only unresolved plot thread of course, but this one is particularly annoying to me.
- The Tomb of Athena is a huge problem. See comments in the review below.
- This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour).
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series.
- This episode, which was aired with part 2 as a single double-length piece, did not feature an opening title sequence.
- Survivor count: who cares? They most likely all died in horrible, painful, unnecessary ways thanks to chucking all their technology into the sun.
- When Roslin asks Kara "where have you taken us?" she was supposed to respond "somewhere along the watchtower," but the director, like me, hated the painful, recurring trend of liberally lacing character dialog with obtuse references to All Along The Watchtower and decided to deliberately omit that line from the dialog. Good man. Unfortunately, Starbuck's line just prior "there must be some kind of way out of here" was woefully not excised.
- When Anders flies the ships into the sun, the theme from the original series of BSG plays.
- The man reading the National Geographic about Mitochondrial Eve is series executive producer Ron Moore.
- Cavil to the final five: "Hey, I don't mean to rush you, but you are keeping two civilizations waiting!"
- Tory's murder of Cally being exposed and Tyrol killing her for it.
- The truce breaking down into open warfare again and Cavil killing himself.
- Dead Racetrack's nukes being accidentally fired at the colony.
- Starbuck jumping the ship based on the numbers she extrapolated from All Along The Watchtower.
- Galactica rippling with damage as it arrives wherever it is.
- The revelation that Galactica jumped to our Earth, the other one must have been some other planet.
- Adama et al observing a society of primitive humans in the distance.
- Lee interrupting Romo and Hoshi as they make plans to build a city, proposing that this time they not bother. He proposes that instead they should abandon their technology and revert to the level of technology the locals have, claiming that this will "break the cycle of violence."
- Adama's flashback to being outraged at the lie detector test.
- Anders flying the fleet into the sun.
- Adama naming the planet Earth.
- Lee and Kara in the flashback barely averting succumbing to their mutual attraction.
- Starbuck disappearing.
- Adama regarding Africa: "It's a rich continent. More wildlife than all the 12 colonies put together."
- Roslin's death. One of the most profoundly touching moments of the entire series.
- Baltar: "You know, I know about farming..." Just before he breaks down and cries in regret of how he treated his father in his final years.
- The revelation that the BSG universe took place 150,000 years in our past and that Hera turned out to be Mitochondrial Eve.
In interviews throughout the run of the series, executive producer Ron Moore repeatedly told us that this series was a character drama first and a science fiction series second. Indeed, in this reviewer's view that is an accurate assessment of the show's entire run and has faithfully been its greatest strength. Unfortunately, it is also its greatest weakness, leading to an ever worsening tendency over the years for the show's overarching thematic mysticism to get more and more veiled in mystery and vagueness. The climax of absurdity manifests itself in this ending as one of the most supremely beautiful, emotionally powerful, visually stunning, intensely action packed, and to my everlasting disappointment astonishingly sloppily written science fiction stories I've ever seen.
This ending delivers intense beauty, lovely drama, stunning visuals, and riveting action at the devastating expense of the plot. The gritty realism the show has been grounded in since day one was violated in order to deliver what feels like a powerful ending. The trouble is, despite the captivating drama and glitz, as Ron Moore said in his January 2000 Cinescape interview criticizing Star Trek Voyager's realism, "I think the audience intuitively knows when something is true and something is not true." Battlestar Galactica's ending isn't true. It's neither true to itself, nor to the underlying premise of the show. Everything from the continuity to the science to the narrative aesthetic is either sloppy, full of errors, or both.
The most glaringly significant piece of plot the finale delivers is the discovery of the real Earth, or our Earth, the one we're all living on right now. The implication is that the Earth discovered in Revelations was just some other planet like Kobol or Caprica. If you go back and rewatch Revelations, be sure to take notice that we never once see an external shot of the planet with recognizable land masses because they are all obscured by clouds. This was a nice sleight of hand. The trouble is though in order for us and for the characters to believe that the Earth found in Revelations was the real deal, the Tomb of Athena star patterns had to match from that planet's vantage point. With that in mind, there could be no doubt, that planet was the real Earth, our Earth, the one we're all living on right now.
That was all well and good, but then they throw this curve ball at us. The Earth in Revelations wasn't really Earth? The planet they discover at the end of this episode is really our Earth, Tanzania and all? In that case, the Tomb of Athena is the biggest, most gaping plot hole of the entire series. A real clunker. Because the simple fact of the matter is that it is technically impossible for the constellations to match in both places. Gaeta confirmed that they matched at Revelations Earth, and if you look up into the sky tonight you'll see that they match here too. This is completely irreconcilable. Unless of course you write off the impossible nature of this happenstance as god making it possible. That's this finale's answer to everything.
Because apparently the writers at some point got bored of the show's groundings in gritty realism and presenting seemingly larger than life events in ways that could be rationally explained away and decided that deus ex machina would be more fun. Regardless of how much fun it was to write, it definitely was much less work. What were the imaginary people Baltar and Six were seeing? Angels from god. How did Kara come back to life? She was an angel from god. How did Kara's charred body get from the gas giant in Maelstrom to the faux Earth? God put it there. What were the recurring opera house dreams? Visions from god. The list of plot holes both explicitly and implicitly attributed to god in this episode is extensive and certainly doesn't end there. To say that reducing the only viable explanation for the larger than life happenings of the plot to the supernatural is a cop out is a gross understatement.
But continuity and science errors and covering up plot holes with god aren't the only sins the ending commits. There's still the issue of the colonists suddenly, completely out of nowhere, deciding that they're all, unanimously, going to become technology hating luddites! This is so completely implausible on so many levels that it's downright absurd. Sure, this was obviously a necessary plot contrivance to resolve the issue of why the people of our Earth today don't have inter stellar spacecraft with FTL drives and why technologically advanced civilization is still such a relatively new thing, but all of this could have been built up to in a much more responsible and realistic way.
It is of course not out of the realm of the possibilities that these people who've been literally massacred and traumatized by their own technology would begin to develop an irrational hatred of technology in general, leading to an equally irrational desire to project all the bad things about themselves onto it and throw it all into the sun, but it is completely incomprehensible that it would come out of literally nowhere in the final moments of the finale with absolutely nothing leading up to it. As Ron Moore also said in his January 2000 Cinescape interview, "these people would not act like this." It only would have been believable if an anti-technology movement within the fleet had been building for most of the entire journey with a significant and growing following, even among the main cast. People aren't going to make a decision like this as casually and cavalierly as Lee Adama did totally out of nowhere.
What's worse is in reality a decision like this is fraught with insanely negative consequences that the plot glossed over in an entirely myopic way to the point of romanticization of the primitive. The reality of the situation is life on Pleistocene Earth was brutish and hard; not to mention cold, thanks to the ice age the plot conveniently ignores. Just before launching the attack on the colony, the admiral turns Cottle away from volunteering claiming that the fleet can't afford to lose a doctor. But apparently after they find Earth, that reasoning goes right out the window because they voluntarily get rid of a whole lot more than what a skilled doctor could do for them. They abandon modern medical care entirely, along with sanitation, plumbing, heat, air conditioning, electricity, and perhaps worst of all - liquor! How could all those alcoholics get by without liquor? ;)
The point is mortality rates as a consequence of that decision would be horrifying. Especially given all the scary prehistoric predators Pleistocene Earth had to offer. In fact, all our archaeological evidence suggests that the human race nearly went extinct not too long after our beloved colonists landed. The population may have even been reduced to a number as small as a few thousand. That means that along with the vast majority of the new primitive friends our delighted colonists made upon arrival, all the colonial survivors too were nearly wiped out not too long after they landed. Great job Lee! That luddite thing sure was a great idea!
Given this, Lee's line to Kara reassuring her that she won't be forgotten is like a kind of sad, unintentional comedy. The truth is their entire civilization and everything that they ever accomplished will be forgotten! Another gem of painfully unintentional comedy is Baltar and Caprica Six wondering if Hera will be all right, then being assured by their angels that she will be. I suppose the answer to that question depends on how you look at it. According to our archaeological evidence, Mitochondrial Eve died as a young woman. But I guess Hera surviving just long enough to bear children and thus become Mitochondrial Eve was good enough for god!
Indeed, even though the prophecies of harbinger-of-death Kara and instrument-of-god Baltar leading humanity to its end were supposed to be a reference to Hera's status as Mitochondrial Eve signaling the end of a pure human race as all her descendants were part Cylon and everyone living today is supposed to be a descendant of her, there is yet more unintentional comedy in the idea that given how in addition to the fact that everyone doubtless died horribly well before their otherwise natural lifespan, the entire population nearly died out after they landed. Civilization didn't really recover from this until many tens of thousands of years later. Those prophecies were truer than anyone realized! That's a lot of death.
As an amusing aside, given Lee's instrumental hand in deciding the fate of the colonists, one of the greatest ironies of my writing these reviews over the years is that in a twisted, cynically sarcastic way, I actually predicted that Lee would screw over the entire human race. Recall this passage from my review of Exodus, Part 2: "Lee Adama sure has a habit of breaking things. In the miniseries, two vipers. In Resurrection Ship, Part 2, the Blackbird. And here he destroys the Pegasus herself! Bad Lee Adama, I hate you! What next, he miscalculates a jump and sends the entire fleet into the center of a star thus ending the series?" Yep, that is pretty much exactly what was next.
A better ending would have pared down the unnecessarily verbose flashbacks. There's some interesting symmetry in the characters on daybreak of the first day of their new lives reflecting on the key moments of their past that led them to who and where they are now, but the point could have been made more eloquently without lacing the entire three part finale with flashbacks seemingly at random. Most of the material we saw in the flashbacks should have been given to us in earlier episodes anyway. A better ending would have given narrative focus to how idiotic the decision to chuck all their technology into the sun was, making a point about how in reality these people haven't really learned their lesson, rather than weakly trying to make some half assed anti-consumerism and anti-technology statement followed by a silly robots montage scored to the Jimmy Hendrex rendition of All Along the Watchtower.
In the miniseries, Commander Adama said "you cannot play god then wash your hands of the things that you've created. Sooner or later the day comes when you can't hide from the things that you've done anymore," but that's exactly what they decided to do in the end. They're hiding from the things they've done. They're giving the Centurions the basestar and sending them on their merry way. By refusing to coexist with their technology and by deliberately forgetting their history, they're quite possibly dooming themselves once again to repeating their mistakes, despite whatever head Six might have to say about it. If this science fiction story were a true chronicling of our real history and if we ever found out, I think we'd be pretty pissed off at them for their arrogance and shortsightedness. I don't think writing it off as "their souls weren't ready for science" would go over well in the real world.
Frankly, we deserved better than this. We deserved real closure, not wishy-washy anti-consumerism, luddism, and religious mumbo jumbo. Yes, one could say that religion has always been an important part of the show, but up until now it's always been accompanied by a rational alternative explanation, or at least the possibility for a rational alternative explanation. We deserved internally consistent continuity. We deserved the characters' actions to make sense and have a realistic progression. While it was still on the air, I used to describe BSG to friends who had never seen it before as "one of the greatest science fiction shows there is." Thanks to this finale, I now have to describe it as "one of the greatest science fiction shows ever done, except for the ending." Personally, I think that's very unfortunate. We deserved better than this.
The following are comments submitted by my readers.
- From Jens-Ivar Seland on 2009-04-10 at 6:50am:
Quote: "The most glaringly significant piece of plot the finale delivers is the discovery of the real Earth, or our Earth, the one we're all living on right now. The implication is that the Earth discovered in Revelations was just some other planet like Kobol or Caprica. If you go back and rewatch Revelations, be sure to take notice that we never once see an external shot of the planet with recognizable land masses because they are all obscured by clouds. This was a nice slight of hand. The trouble is though in order for us and for the characters to believe that the Earth found in Revelations was the real deal, the Tomb of Athena star patterns had to match from that planet's vantage point. With that in mind, there could be no doubt, that planet was the real Earth, our Earth, the one we're all living on right now.
That was all well and good, but then they throw this curve ball at us. The Earth in Revelations wasn't really Earth? The planet they discover at the end of this episode is really our Earth, Tanzania and all? In that case, the Tomb of Athena is the biggest, most gaping plot hole of the entire series. A real clunker. Because the simple fact of the matter is that it is technically impossible for the constellations to match in both places. Gaeta confirmed that they matched at Revelations Earth, and if you look up into the sky tonight you'll see that they match here too. This is completely irreconcilable. Unless of course you write off the impossible nature of this happenstance as god making it possible. That's this finale's answer to everything"
You know, this being a sci-fi show, there might be a "plausible" solution that you may not have thought of: The possibility that the last jump was made not only in space but in time too. If they jumped 150.000 years back in time, everything should fit nicely :)
Of course that's never mentioned explicitly, but if it happened, the whole thing would make sense.
The constellations wouldn't change much in that amount of time, but Earth would.
- From Kethinov on 2009-04-10 at 4:06pm:
I thought of that, but RDM has gone on record saying that there was no time travel involved. They're different planets.
- From Mr Adam on 2009-04-13 at 6:09pm:
I think you've been a bit harsh in your reviewing of this very final episode.
Firstly, the 'huge plot hole', or Tomb of Athena mystery, is anything but, and you seem confused over which Earth was actually the 'real Earth'. I cannot, for the life of me, remember them ever discussing the ToA or the constellations in the finale. The 'earth' of the finale was a hitherto unknown planet, not the the earth of Colonial lore. So the earth in 'Revelations' was the real Earth, and they 'Daybreak' earth was just a random planet (which is explicitly in the dialogue).
But really, thats ultimately irrelevant. BSG was never a hardcore sci-fi show and perfect scientific plausibility was never one of it's priorities. Suggesting that the technical gaffe of the ToA is a 'major plot hole' is like suggesting that the lack of explanation of FTL (or which all the ships have artificial gravity) is a 'major plot hole'. It's not. In fact, it's the thing that 99% of the audience will never notice (and indeed, I have not seen one reference to the 'major problem' of the ToA on my travels through various BSG websites).
Secondly, you treat the 'thematic mysticism' of the show as some ridiculous drivel, conjured up out of nowhere to tie up loose ends (in short, a deus ex machina), and suggest that the show has "always been grounded in gritty realism". But, sir, you are only playing cards with half a deck. The show has included religious undertones since the very first episode and in many others since then and, i think, is more about the interplay of spirituality and realism, about the effect of that sort of thing on peoples' lives. Unfortunately you discounted any of the shows' mysticism as soon as it reared it's head and demanded more plausible, immediately noticeable answers. (as much as obvious from reading your past reviews). So when the finale arrived, it didn't fit with this version of the show you manufactured for yourself; it jarred and, to you perhaps, seemed like it came from nowhere. But to some end, religion and God has always filled in for some of the less-explained events of the show, making this anything but a classic deus-ex-machina.
Furthermore, you say that there "has always been the possibility of a rational explanation" for such religious events, but this is simply not the case. What about Kara's disappearance and presumed death? The fleet's power outage at the end of S3? That random kids' sudden recovery at Baltar's hand early in S4? None were fully explained. Thus, your statement is simply a front to cover for your inherent bias against the spiritual aspects of the show.
Thirdly, your judgements on the colonists' decision to embrace their inner luddite and go primitive are shallow and miss the point. The fact that the decision "came out of nowhere" could hardly be anything other under the circumstances, given that the Colonists hardly had any choice in the matter until a couple of minutes prior (when they discovered 'Earth'). While this was certainly sudden and could have been explained better, one can still 'fill in the blanks'. In your words, humanity gives up "all that it has created". But what *had* they created? An imperfect society with typical human vices and the Cylons (who ultimately led to their destruction). Some achievements, huh? The decision of the humans to reject their past and forge a new future by 'going primitive' is representative of their desire to break away from that which has plagued their previous societies. While the primitive lifestyle is certainly romanticised to a degree, this is a means to an end. The real message is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth and the importance of the humans' attempts to break with that cycle.
Lastly, the 'anti-consumerism' of the finale was also a greater message, this time of the implied continuation of said cycle. In fact I thought this was particularly well done, because instead of being a 'technology is bad' rant, it seemed a suggestion by the writers that 'all of the problems you have just seen are still happening', represented by the robots we see on screen. Head Six and Head Baltars' final lines are, in essence, a challenge to the audience not to repeat such wrongdoings and to suggest that the message could be as shallow as "wishy-washy anti-consumerism" is not doing the show any justice at all because the meaning is far greater than that.
I hope you take these ideas on board.
- From Kethinov on 2009-04-13 at 7:05pm:
Saying that the Earth in Revelations was the real Earth and that Daybreak Earth is just some random planet is a completely nonsensical rationalization. As I said in the review, the Earth they landed on is quite clearly depicted as the one we're all living on now. We can see those constellations in the sky right now. They can't exist in two places at once. That is the plot hole.
Claiming that FTL and artificial gravity are on equal standing to the Tomb of Athena is equally irresponsible. These technologies are speculative technologies and having explained to us precisely how they work is not plot relevant. The Tomb of Athena is incredibly plot relevant and furthermore it's rooted in real science, not speculative science, which has been violated. That makes it a major plot hole.
Furthermore, just because you haven't seen any other websites talking about this problem doesn't mean I'm wrong.
As for religion, I already acknowledged in my review that the show has had religious undertones since day one. Undertones are fine. As I wrote in my review, the difference is this is the first time the show has explicitly ruled out any sort of rational explanation, leaving only the supernatural. That crosses a line the show has never crossed before.
Regarding deus ex machina, lie to yourself if you must, but not to me. A simple read of the definition of the term should clear this up for you if you're willing to be honest with yourself about it. You might also want to take notice of the fact that hoards of people share my view that it is deus ex machina, because it's hard to deny a fact. The difference is, not everyone cares. Deus ex machina isn't necessarily a bad thing in some people's opinions, though I think that especially in this case it is.
You then question whether or not rational explanations were ever possible in the first place, outlining a series of questions, such as "What about Kara's resurrection?" Her resurrection could have been Cylon related, as most rational fans assumed. The idea that she was the first hybrid rather than Hera was an attractive one, as it would have explained a lot. That's just one of any number of possible rational explanations that could have been used instead.
You also asked: "The fleet's power outage at the end of S3?" The nebula could have had a temporary effect on colonial technology. You also asked: "That random kids' sudden recovery at Baltar's hand early in S4?" Coincidence.
You say these things were not fully explained and that I'm just trying to cover my own bias against spirituality. But the truth is they didn't need to be fully explained so long as they were at least satisfactorily explained or had room for acceptable rationalizations like I have done above. In fact, this ending is a biased toward the spiritual by leaving no room for anything but the supernatural.
You then moved onto my complaints about the decision to go primitive coming completely out of nowhere, claiming it couldn't have gone down any other way. This is a lack of imagination on your part, or at least a lack of a thorough reading of my review. The decision to go luddite is not realistic. These people would not do this out of nowhere. The only way that decision would be realistic is if there was preplanning within the fleet in the form of people who were advocating the abandonment of technology as soon as a habitable planet was found. There was no such movement; they were even planning to build a city right up until Lee blurts out his idea and suddenly, instantly, everyone goes for it. That's patently ridiculous.
You then wrote: "But what *had* they created? An imperfect society with typical human vices and the Cylons (who ultimately led to their destruction). Some achievements, huh?"
This wishy washy nihilist nonsense is not a justification for their actions. The real world doesn't work that way. Thus the show is not realistic.
You then wrote: "The decision of the humans to reject their past and forge a new future by 'going primitive' is representative of their desire to break away from that which has plagued their previous societies. While the primitive lifestyle is certainly romanticised to a degree, this is a means to an end. The real message is the cycle of birth, death and rebirth and the importance of the humans' attempts to break with that cycle."
And that's the irony of ironies. The fact that they could make the extreme decision to go primitive and set the Centurions free for the purpose of ending the cycle, as you say, speaks to the fact that they could have coexisted with them peacefully for the rest of their days, as they had already been doing since Revelations. Whether the writers of the finale meant that to be ironic or they simply missed the logic connection is unknown to me.
Finally, you wrote: "Lastly, the 'anti-consumerism' of the finale was also a greater message, this time of the implied continuation of said cycle. In fact I thought this was particularly well done, because instead of being a 'technology is bad' rant, it seemed a suggestion by the writers that 'all of the problems you have just seen are still happening', represented by the robots we see on screen. Head Six and Head Baltars' final lines are, in essence, a challenge to the audience not to repeat such wrongdoings and to suggest that the message could be as shallow as "wishy-washy anti-consumerism" is not doing the show any justice at all because the meaning is far greater than that."
We didn't need that for the show's message of "use technology responsibly" to get across. That message was clear from the very first episode. That final scene of the finale was unnecessarily heavy handed and certainly wasn't earned. At best it was cute, if redundant.
- From Mr Adams on 2009-04-14 at 11:09pm:
When I said that Daybreak Earth was just a random planet, I meant that in reference to Colonial mythology. That is, the humans had no prior knowledge of this planet (yes, the Earth we live on now), but they DID have knowledge of the Revelations Earth (reduced to a wasteland by the 13th tribe). Daybreak Earth represented the final realisation of the humans' efforts to find a new home, and hence deserved the name Earth (in the mind of Adm. Adama). Sorry if I did not properly explain this last time.
Secondly, your point about real science and speculative science is noted and I am happy to concede that point. However, it remains that the error of the ToA is inconsequential in the minds of most viewers and does not register much of a blip on the collective BSG-fan radar. In the end the scientific accuracy of the show (whilst never vehemently pursued by the producer or writing staff) is a question of personal importance and as a reviewer, making a subjective and personal analysis, I guess you are perfectly entitled to that particular opinion.
Since you seem to find my interpeatation of a deus ex machina so utterly objectionable, Random House Dictionary suggests that such a thing is "any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot". In more literal terms, it could also be a God introduced into a play to solve plot entanglements. Disregarding the fact that this second definition is usually applied to Greek and Roman drama, not modern TV, both can be refuted in regards to BSG and that your view of a deus ex machina was due to your misconstruing of the ending.
In terms of the first, you would seem to be suggesting that the late revelation that a higher power was presumably behind many of the less explained happenings of the show was "artificial or improbable". However, as I have previously mentioned, the religious aspects of the show had been steadily progressing since day one. They did not occur out of nowhere, did not jar with the show's previous material and had been predicted by many to have a part to play in the finale (again, this is based on my visits to various BSG websites). This makes the ending neither artificial nor improbable, and thus not a deus ex machina in this sense of the term.
In regards to the second, you assume that the idea of a God has been introduced in the final moments to cover up for previous plot deficiencies. Not true. The idea of God had been part of the show for it's entirety. Yes, it could be said that there was also a lack of other rational explanation in the finale - but this is missing the point. None were needed - the storyline was resolved in a manner appropriate to the show's direction. However, sir, it seems you relied on these alternative rational explanations for plot coherence. Your reply suggested that you considered alternative rational explanations (of any nature) necessary or else the events in question had not been properly resolved. However the show didn't need them in the end - the plot does not have to be resolved twice over (once spiritually and once rationally) - but you did. This is why I suggest that your perception of a deus ex machina is not due to any problem of the show's.
Also (and coming from further left-of-centre) it would still be possible to impose an atheistic reading on the show, based on rational explanations and (when that fails) "coincidence". Thrace's co-ordinates led them to a habitable planet? Coincidence. The fact that this planet was already inhabited by humans? Another coincidence. The Head characters? Manifestations of the human psyche. Constant reference to divine entities? A representation of man's inherent tendency to adopt religious practices, whether founded or not. If you were able to devise rational explanations for such events as the S4 Kid and the Ionian Powercut then it is only a short step to a holistic 'rational reading'. In the end, no deus ex machina. The spiritual and rational readings are separate entities, but if you attempt to combine them into some frankeninterpretation (as you have done) then that is going to cause perceptive problems.
Also, you said that "just because other websites aren't talking about this problem doesn't mean that I'm wrong". Despite this assertion, you later state that "hoards of people share my view that this is deus ex machina, because it's hard to deny a fact" to vindicate your own argument. This is a logical contradiction and smacks of arrogance given the ample evidence to the contrary. Based on your initial statement, I could easily say that "just because other people don't necessarily agree with me, doesn't mean I'm wrong" - which is essentially what you have suggested.
Finally, the show's message was more than "use technology responsibly". It wasn't just about making sure that cute, trumpet-playing, stair-descending ASIMO doesn't morph into a gun-toting killing machine, but more about the issues of human society as a whole and what could and should be done to correct such wrongdoings. Technology is but a single aspect of this. Far from being "redundant", the final scene brought the problems of BSG back into the real world - while not explicitly necessary (given that it was the show's intention to highlight such problems all along as you mention) it was a reaffirmation and a clean finish.
That is all for now.
P.S. are you intending to review the Star Trek movie coming out next month?
- From Ben on 2009-04-15 at 1:30am:
I understand the logic behind all of your points, but I agree with Mr Adam about the Tomb of Athena not being a plot hole. I will be as straightforward as a can because it's kind of convoluted.
The constellations on "earth" from Revelations match the constellations at the Tomb of Athena (or something like that).
The earth from Daybreak is a different planet. Nobody cares about the constellation pattern around this planet. It doesn't matter. Since it's impossible for them to be the same, they're probably not the same. The colonists just found this planet and called it "earth".
The earth designated by the Tomb of Athena is the one they find in Revelations. The earth the colonists end up settling on in Daybreak has nothing to do with that earth.
I think the confusion is about whether or not the constellations we see in real life today are the same ones that surrounded the Tomb of Athena. As you said, it is impossible for the constellations to match at the Tomb of Athena and at BOTH earths. I was simply under the impression that the show did did not give us enough information about the actual pattern surrounding the tomb to be able to tell that this was the case.
I apologize if my science is a bit off, or if I remember Home, Part 2 incorrectly.
- From Kethinov on 2009-04-15 at 6:49am:
The constellations at Revelations Earth were confirmed to match the Tomb by Gaeta. The constellations at Daybreak Earth can be confirmed to match the Tomb by you, tonight, if you look up into the sky. It's an undeniable plot hole. Yes, the show did give us enough information. Believe me, I wish they hadn't. I like rationalizations.
Yes, I'll be reviewing the new Star Trek film some time after it comes out. The review may not show up for at least several weeks after it hits the theaters though.
If I read your post correctly, you conceded that the Tomb of Athena is indeed a plot hole, but you maintain your position that it isn't important on the grounds that it's inconsequential to most viewers. That may be so. Perhaps blatant science errors aren't important to most people, but I'd sooner chalk that up to ignorance than importance. If any other kind of easier to notice for the average Joe science error happened in the plot (say, Lee Adama shooting bullets around corners without explanation) you'd see more people caring because they would know it wouldn't happen this way.
Frankly, especially on a science fiction show, the factual accuracy of the science depicted in the plot should be of paramount importance to the audience. Even if it isn't, it should definitely be of paramount importance to anyone writing critical reviews. If it's not, then that reviewer isn't doing his or her job correctly.
Regarding the deus ex machina point, the defense that god has been a part of the show since day one and thus its major role in the finale should not come as a surprise is not adequate. Even just a simple listen through the commentary can prove that, at least until the end of the third season, the writers were creating a deliberate ambiguity as to whether or not supernatural forces were literally real and literally manipulating the plot. They were careful to provide rational explanations, or at least leave room for them for nearly everything that happened on screen. Anything that was left open ended was unresolved on both ends, a deliberate mystery. (Such as Head Six.)
Some time in the third season though, the writers changed their minds and decided rational explanations "weren't interesting." That's exactly how RDM put it. His interest was solely in character drama now. Thus for anyone entrenched in the show's premise of gritty realism and spiritual ambiguity, the shift in tone is what constitutes the unexpected surprise, or as you cited, its "improbability." And its role in resolving flaws and tying up loose ends is clear and present. Sounds like deus ex machina to me, and a whole lot of other people too. Again, I'll remind you, deus ex machina is not necessarily bad in everyone's opinion. And if god were unambiguously real since the first episode, I would not be (as) critical of the ending.
Now I know you found it ironic that I would argue from consensus on the point of deus ex machina given that I pointed out an error in your logic when you implied that lack of widespread discussion on the Tomb of Athena issue cast doubt on its validity. However, I am not entirely arguing from consensus here. I've demonstrated that the plot fits the very definition of the term you cited. I only cited a widespread consensus on the matter for some additional credibility; it isn't the core of my argument, and thus is not the logical contradiction you seem to think it is. Though, as you said, it may have been arrogant to bring up. ;)
In one of your points, you cited more potential rational explanations for things. I have no objection to the validity of any which you cited, except for this one: "The Head characters? Manifestations of the human psyche." This one fails because the head characters did things in the real world. The only way for it to have worked is if everyone was having the same hallucination, which crosses the suspension of disbelief line. Indeed, the writers wouldn't even ask us to swallow that because they considered the literal existence of god more realistic.
You then claim that devising rational explanations for the many unlikely events of the show is only a short step away from rationalizing the whole thing. I certainly don't think that's the case. A whole bunch of people getting lucky constantly is much more likely than the literal existence of a supernatural being. These two things are not a short step away, but instead a great leap (of faith?) away.
Regarding the show's message, obviously it was about more than simply using technology responsibly. Any show that goes on for several years will have bigger themes. But that last scene certainly was redundant. Frankly, you seem to have admitted that by saying it wasn't "explicitly necessary" because the show had been hammering home these themes all along. As for the clean finish, sure. Reiterating the theme(s) in the final scene does make for a nice clean finish. But as I said, it wasn't earned.
Think about it from my perspective for a moment. Supposing you shared my view that the supernatural forces constituted a deus ex machina, wouldn't you find the final scene vaguely ridiculous too?
- From Giuseppe on 2009-04-16 at 5:49pm:
I loved BSG up until this one last episode which I found to be quite distasteful for a show that started off on a science fiction premise.
The reason why I hated the ending? because for most of the show I was led to believe that all the unexplained events and phenomena would eventually be given a rational explanation. And all I got was some sort of "God did it" explanation.
Truth be told I have no problem with an element of mysticism in science fiction, as long as it's not used to explain away every loose end. And that's exactly what RDM did with BSG. It's too easy; too convenient. It's poor writing.
I did miss the Tomb of Athena thing, but many other things bugged me with the ending: how our Earth was found (God gave Kara the coordinates?), how Kara disappears into thin air (she's an angel?), how head Baltar and head Six are supposed to be some separate entities independent of Baltar's and Six's existence (they're angels too?), how the colonists decide to to abandon technology completely and how they have a consensus on the matter (no one has a problem with giving up on medical technology for example?). And I also thought letting the Baseship go was a mistake. What's to stop those centurions from going 'wild' again? God? That's too much for me to stomach in a Sci-Fi show.
- From Lennier on 2009-04-24 at 6:00pm:
Giuseppe, Starbuck didn't get the coordinates from God. She got them from Hera, who had somehow taken them from "All Along the Watchtower".
- From Ggal on 2009-04-25 at 8:22am:
Someone said once that the greater ironies are consecrated in time. The Bsg's finale corroborates these words.
So the odyssey of 4 years, the struggle to preserve a civilization, the sacrifice of brave pilots, was to end hunting gazelles? in order to break the cycle of violence?
God wanted that? i very much doubt that.
When you build a society, laws, poetry, medicine, technology, traditions, art, you must defend it because you are what you are thanks to sacrifices of thousand of men women, in old and new battlefields, from marathon to normandy.
The Bsg's end destroy completely everything carefully built the creators four years.
The most ironical thing is that all the so called villains of the series, Admiral Caine, Tom Zarek, Gaeta are fully justified for the actions. There were right.
Admiral Cains was right about Adamas erratic leadership, his nepotism, lack of discipline. Admiral Cains actions all were according to the Book.
Adama was fit to command a ship and not a fleet. He was too capricious, and emotional for this job. His incapacity as commander was obvious.
He let baltar to lead the humanity nearly to his annihilation because didn't do the obvious, to depose him for his actions.We know the result.
When Baltar returned he permitted him, to go unpunished, the man who helped the destruction of 12 colonies, the man who permitted an enemy agent to kill the admiral Cain the most competent commander of the fleet.
And the man who gave an atomic bomb! to a agent of the enemy. For actions with lesser actions men have at least imprisoned....
Kara Thrace words that with death of admiral Cain
the fleet is less safer than was sounds so ironically.
The same applies to Tom Zarek and Gaeta. first of to clarify something: Their actions were not treason there were fully justified. If anyone committed treason was Adama who permitted cylons and their technology.
The only hope of saving the mankind was gone with the death of these two brave man who died with honor and pride and not in a cave in the Adamas earth.
I would like to mentions Duallas suicide. It was an action of despair but with such a dignity and honor, it is better to die when you lost what you love than to die in few months of lethal disease in earth.
As for Lee Adama its a shame, pitiful, a commander of a battlestar, acting president, who traveled through the galaxy to say that his only wish is to explore a mountain!
And the admiral to send his fleet to the destruction in the sun without specific reasons just listening voices int he air... A real admiral dies with his ship or commits suicide.
But the greater irony is Kara Thrace as harbinger of death. He fulfilled his prophesy, all the people died without medicine within few month and we speak about terrible deaths because they gave up all their things.
What a shame for science fiction series to be so anti science fiction.
As for the result in earth we have had 150000 of violence, genocides, religious phanatism, wars of annihilation, and this thanks to Adama family....
The cycle of violence has nothing to do with technology, wars, violence are complex socioeconomic issues. The technology has nothing to do with that its irrelevant.
Billions died in colonies. Many in battles in order to preserve the history ,and honor of a civilization . Its a crime at least to throw away thousand of years of progress with the vain hope of breaking the cycle of violence.
It was probably the worst finale in the history of science fiction and nearly destroyed the reputation of the entire series.
- From Giuseppe on 2009-04-30 at 7:10am:
@Lennier: Thanks for clarifying that for me; I should've paid more attention. Things make much more sense now :))
- From Occuprice on 2009-04-30 at 10:53pm:
Just throwing my two cents in on the Tomb of Athena. If you're going to obsess over it and take it literally, as you have done, then you need to, well, take it literally. The ToA and scriptures say that on Earth, the 13th tribe could look up and see all 12 constellations at once (this was even discussed in that podcast I think). So, if you're going to take things literally... then no, the Earth in Revelations was not our Earth. If the constellations match the tomb of Athena, then you can look up and see all 12 at once. You can't do that from our Earth.
I don't think you can bend what is said about the constellations for the Earth in Revelations and then be so cemented in their regard for Daybreak.
- From Kethinov on 2009-05-04 at 4:50pm:
Occuprice, there is nothing in the show's canon that indicates that the constellations are all visible at once from Earth. That said, strictly speaking, if this bothers you, you could see them all at once from a nearby location in space. :)
- From Sebastian on 2009-05-13 at 1:17am:
I'm not sure if this has been covered but isn't a solution to the whole mind people (Baltar and Six in the opposite's head) also the solution for Kara? They could be angels in a literal form. Leoben calls her an angel when he first met her I believe and fits into her whole divine mission he insisted she had. It also explains how she disappeared in the conversation with Lee and was still able to manipulate objects.
- From Kethinov on 2009-05-13 at 3:20am:
Sebastian, yes that is covered in my review. The head people and Kara are clearly both related to the god being that manipulated events.
- From Jumbo on 2009-06-14 at 11:30pm:
This episode was insulting. I was giddy with anticipation with regards to the tying up of loose plot threads. What I got was a wholly unsatisfactory answer mired in spiritualism, along with a preachy and religious ending.
This is a science fiction show. I don't care if it "focuses on character drama", it's SCIENCE fiction, and I would enjoy having an explanation that is at least a bit secular. Furthermore, while the idea of social commentary from the point of view of Star Trek I appreciate as the commentary is carried out through a self-contained plot, bringing up present-day Earth and showing us our faults explicitly and such is entirely superfluous, and is an insult to our collective intellect. Yes, we know what you were saying. It is a lot more meaningful if you don't interrupt your show with, "Well, what we were saying was this, you see..."
I gave this a one over a zero because of how Roslin's death was handled - that was excellent. I really felt for the Admiral.
Still a great show - just with a poor conclusion.
- From Remco on 2010-03-24 at 10:59pm:
One thing that struck me today is that the 12 colonies culture didn't quite vanish. Every similarity to our culture can be seen as stemming from their culture. The naming of the gods, the idea of monotheism, the fear of AI, similar government structure, but also the little things like neckties, pianos, ball sports, boxing... apparently this ice age culture has been of great influence to us! ;)
- From Yanks on 2010-05-15 at 11:06am:
I couldn't agree more with our reviewer's synopsis of BSG's closer. I was left "half full" here. Spot on with regard to the Opera House. What did it mean? Ron Moore stated on the DVD extras that he was having a real hard time trying to close the series. His light bulb moment was "it all about the characters!". I call that his "excuse moment" for his lack of story line discipline. If he would have concentrated on that and planned more, he wouldn't have painted himself in a corner that he couldn't get out of. BSG season 3 and 4 were "character shock and awe", nothing more. These characters had abused and betrayed each other so often I didn't feel anything for any of them but Roslin in the end. Sad really, because seasons one and two were epic and some of the greatest SCI-FI I have ever seen. I was convinced the closer was going to reveal what the Cylon's "plan" was, you know "...and they have a plan!". I was gutted when that didn't come to be. I was even more frustrated when "The Plan" didn't reveal it either. All "Day Break" and "The Plan" revealed to me was there was no plan the whole time. Very frustrating. What are Baltar, Six and Cara anyways?
- From Sean on 2011-01-01 at 2:49am:
As I got closer and closer to the end of BSG, I couldn't help but get the impression that RDM and the writers were huge fans of "Lost". Not only did the flashbacks in this episode remind me of the narrative structure of this show, but Lost had a big science vs. faith debate at its core, too. Lost’s final season (and especially the finale) was almost exclusively about fate and destiny. Despite this, I enjoyed the end of Lost, because at least the characters weren't acting like complete morons!
I thought the Sagittarons refusing medicine in "The Woman King" was unbelievable, but this is just ridiculous. I cannot accept that the majority of civilians would be fine to ditch all the medical technology and luxuries that had been developed over thousands of years. This annoyed me in "Avatar" - the Na'vi are made out to be this ideal civilisation free of violence. Well, James Cameron and RDM probably weren't paying attention in history class, because primitive cultures are just as brutal, if not more so, than us. The movie "Apocalypto" springs to mind...
So, let's pretend that they did vote in favour of ditching technology (gods, I hope there was a vote...). What about the art, history and literature of the twelve colonies? It'll all be forgotten in a few generations, and in 150 000 years, nothing will be left except a few myths about the zodiac. Bad luck for the great poets and writers of the twelve colonies! RDM clearly doesn’t realise life isn't just about passing on your genes - we can leave behind much more than DNA.
Pretending the cycle of violence will stop is also stupid. Frankly, I'm shocked there wasn't another rebellion when Lee suggested his idea, but I think Lee would be sad to hear about The Crusades, World War II, September 11...
I can forgive religious mumbo-jumbo, vague spiritual stuff and unanswered questions, as long as there's a good story being told (like I did with Lost). I cannot accept the characters acting like idiots, though. A shame it had to end this way.
- From Orion on 2014-09-01 at 2:15pm:
I loved Daybreak, including Part 3. We got a long goodbye with the characters, as opposed to All Good Things where we get a card game and a zoom out.
I wasn't a big fan of them chucking their technology into the sun, but had they kept that technology, I'd be driving a flying car today. It makes sense for continuity's sake.
Regarding the "plothole" with the Tomb of Athena, you CAN see the same set of constellations from two different places (the two earths in the series may be within 10 light years of each other). See the article below about how the constellations would look from Alpha Centauri:
- From Kethinov on 2014-09-02 at 4:30am:
If they were within ten light years of each other, it shouldn't have taken the fleet another half season and a lot of mysticism to discover the second Earth.
It's a plot hole. A very big, wide, gaping one.
- From Lumzi on 2016-12-15 at 10:52pm:
What follows is only loosely directed at kethinov/siterunners
Sorry but I think that you guys are overdoing it a bit. This ending is one the most strikingly powerful endings I have ever experienced. It was amazing. Perhaps it wasn't perfect in every detail but it was lovely. If you want and ending that was genuinely disappointing then look at Mass Effect 3 and even that was only in the last 15 minutes or so (the events just prior to those last few minutes were incredible).
I get that you are a details guy but I think your secularism goes a bit too far when it comes to this show.
The only part of this episode that stuck out as irksome was the stuff about the 'angels' in the future and their whole dialogue.
As for the whole 'they left their tech that's crap' all I will say is that my impression is that the end was supposed to be idealistic - maybe to a fault.
The honest truth is that whatever you think about the shows ideology the ending worked - powerfully so. Perhaps the loose threads were left intentionally. Why does Star Bucks vanishing have to have a scientific/secular answer? Would it have been more satisfying if she were a clone or whatever? Was the whole thing masterminded by highly evolved aliens? We are talking about visions and prophecies and people appearing and disappearing. It might be more satisfying to your personal/practicalist/materialist/secular (an assumption on my part, granted) world view for for everything thing to be neatly explained and solved but maybe that isn't really what BSG is (or at least what it became over time).
Not that I agree with BSG's ideological/religious perspective. Or even it's scientific one (even when it agrees with current scientific opinion). I just think that the ending worked more - much more - within the shows established boundaries than a 1 out of 10 suggests. It was an effective, dreadfully moving ending.
Battlestar Galactica was not perfect but that ending was very far from its worst quality. For me it was that final adornment on a grand but flawed masterpiece.
- From Lumzi on 2016-12-15 at 11:33pm:
On further thought I will admit that season 4 did have a sharper lean towards the mystical than prior seasons in general. Perhaps the mystery of of events in BSG is part of what made the show appealing rather than necessarily the mystical. Though they maybe the go hand in hand (at least to a degree).
Now that I think about it perhaps it would have been better if things like Gauis' Six 'angel' were what they initially appeared. In this particular case as some kind semi download of the Caprica Six into his mind during the initial attack when she protected him from the shock wave.
Then again, there were other things like the Pythian prophesies and the visions of the future that wouldn't have been as fascinating without a more supernatural element.
No without a doubt the fantastical has been an important part of the shows fabric from very early on. Stuff like Leoben talking about Kara destiny and things like that are part of what made the show compelling.