Battlestar Galactica #13: War of the Gods, Part I

"The possibility of hope must be sustained."
SO SAY WE ALL: The Galactica picks up an advanced being who promises to get them to Earth if they willingly follow him.

REVIEW: You know you're in for a big two-parter when there's a lot of money on the screen. Not only do lots of sets make unexpected returns (the arboretum on the Silent Running ship, as played by Montreal's '67 World Expo, to which I went more than once in this time frame, huh; the Rising Star; the Council room; the cargo ship where the poor people live), but it also introduces the sport of Triad, and thus an arena for it. This is deliberately meant to resemble an Aztec game and actual looks playable (unlike a lot of Star Trek sports). Whatever's after the Vipers, beyond the simple will-o'-the-wisps, look like crystals in space, and the planet they visit has both a large ship wreck and a filter that gives everything an odd reddish color (except at the wreck, oops!). The episode makes use of the whole fleet, and there are a lot of extras to fill the ships. And then there's the money spent to hire a great guest star in the person of Patrick McNee. Talk about presence!

Part I of War of the Gods is all about creating a mystery. Who is the enigmatic Count Iblis? A member of an advanced race rescued by the Galactica crew and willing to take them to Earth? An ancient Lord of Kobol, part of the Colonies' precursor race? A Cylon machine in human guise? A con man who has powers, yes, but mostly takes credit for things he's merely prescient about? A Moses figure, complete with miracles, in what has always been an Exodus story? More Messianic still, God himself? Or something more sinister, even the Devil? All these possibilities are floated, and the audience may well believe each one in turn. The clues point every which way, though we progressively grow less trusting as Sheba falls under his spell, and he starts lowering his guard in front of Apollo. Whoever or whatever he is, there are powers after him, powers kidnapping Viper pilots, so it's hard to gauge what the two sides might represent in this "war". My mind kept thinking of Sapphire & Steel and its own metaphysical conflict, but the shows were contemporaries and couldn't possibly have inspired one another. There was definitely something in the air...

Adama and Apollo play the unbelievers in this tale, while other characters either stay neutral or are seduced by Iblis' promises and powerful charm. It's not even clear he's clouding anyone's mind exactly. Arguments and evidence are given to get people on his side. It's only really Sheba we wonder about, but as she tells Apollo, we don't really know her at this point. We're not used to her being this calm and centered, but Iblis' resemblance to her father (the season's other big guest star) may be reason enough to trust him, even fall for him, with a little nudge from his superhuman charisma. I see her flying into an emotional trap, but I don't dislike this "version" of Sheba. She's not a zombie puppet; this is just another side of her.

Though Iblis and/or the lights are this story's threat, we do see the Cylons (in fact, Lucifer's last appearance as the chrome villains get phased out). Baltar, in fear that the lights are some new power about to crush his buddies or something, heads for the Galactica to maybe arrange a treaty, thus making Iblis succeed at his first "test" and delivering him into the fleet's hands. Again, is Iblis simply prescient and taking credit for something that would happen anyway? Or did he telepathically MAKE Baltar come? Part II has its job cut out for it if it means to answer all these questions. We might even be a little impatient for them as Part I progresses.

SPACE DISCO: While Triad has obvious ancient origins, it nevertheless reminded me of Rollerball, a 1975 movie starring James Caan. Speaking of movies, the flying lights that tap directly into the era's fascination with UFOs, can't help but evoke Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include a tour of the system where Iblis is later found, and Iblis saying he has visited Earth. An alternate scene has the search party see him from afar before he approaches them. Unsurprisingly, War of the Gods was also edited into a TV Movie, expanded with deleted scenes.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Lots of mystery, a well-used budget, a quality guest star, and the introduction of Triad. The ball is now in Part II's camp...


Anonymous said...

This episode very successfully sells the concept of making a deal with the devil. From an outsider's perspective, most deals with the devil (either figurative or literal) are obviously ill-advised and are proof of the target's gullibility. Except in this case, Count Iblis isn't really doing anything sinister, and the guy delivers. We just worry there might be a price for all this later.

Suppose Count Iblis were actually a good and kind being with no sinister designs (er, spoilers (as if the name "Iblis" weren't a spoiler)): what would that look like? Pretty much the same. The biggest sign that Iblis is up to no good is that he's secretive about his past; he's definitely hiding something. But hell, even Superman won't talk about what he does in his off-hours; for all we know he has an ordinary civilian existence, and spends his days in a suit as the CEO of a Gotham-based corporation. So it's hard to justify suspicions against Count Iblis, other than he seems too good to be true.

Honeybee9 said...

This show is not EXODUS. It is THE ANEID. If you read that story you will find many similarities between personalities of Adama and Aneas. (And of course their mission.)

Honeybee9 said...

Pardon my spelling: Aeneid. Aeneas.

Siskoid said...

Nice. Though I'm sure it's a mixture, as BSG means to create many parallels with ancient Earth cultures.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine