Battlestar Galactica #43: Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down

"If I'm a Cylon, you're really screwed."
SO SAY WE ALL: Saul Tigh is reunited with his wife Ellen.

REVIEW: Not "Tigh One On"? Just as Tigh gives up on drinking (not for the first or last time, surely), here comes his estranged wife to push him off the wagon again. What an unlikable character. Mrs. Tigh is a most inappropriate woman, getting her drunk on as soon as possible, putting her foot in Apollo's crotch at dinner, and spreading lies about Adama touching her wrong while she was in a coma. So she can't possibly be a Cylon agent, right? Except that kind of chaos is right up their alley, and there's still a mystery about just how she made it onto the fleet. She's been in a coma for a month (we're on Day 28) and the crewperson who apparently found her and brought her aboard the Rising Star is completely anonymous. No one even remembers her being there until a few days before. Very suspicious. And then they have her come aboard the ship in a red dress, playing it like Adama is bringing Six aboard. And she is kind of an older Six, physically. At this point in the series, we're still wondering whether the Cylons can replace someone, or if they've been among us for longer than we thought. And it certainly doesn't help that Baltar's test clears her, but that he admits to his inner Six that it may not be the true result. What is he playing at? He doesn't say, and it's a little frustrating, but not in a bad way.

Maybe the lyrics to "Battlestar Operatica" (played in his lab) hold a clue: "Woe upon your Cylon heart / There's a toaster in your head/ And it wears high heels / Number Six calls to you / The Cylon Detector beckons / Your girlfriend is a toaster / Woe upon your Cylon heart / Alas, disgrace! Alas, sadness and misery! / The toaster has a pretty dress / Red like its glowing spine / Number Six whispers / By your command" (translated from the Italian, thank you soundtrack liner notes). Composer Bear McCreary is quite naughty here, but doesn't dispel the ambiguity. It's more about his dark thoughts about having to test everyone on Galactica, and it taking more than 60 years. At 11 hours a pop (Boomer's test seemed so quick, but there was a scene change to cover the delay, I guess), it's such a boring, impossible and pointless task, he comedically contemplates suicide. (A mortal sin, he says, so has Six passed on commands from her God? Because the Greek model wouldn't claim so.)

In the short term, he tests Adama on the President's orders. The thought implanted by Leoben in the previous episode is festering, and mistrust grows between the two leaders. The secrecy surrounding Ellen Tigh makes him a lightning rod for rumors, some of which Roslin gleans from Billy's date with Dualla. Not a very nice thing to do, but it does give us a glimpse into what the Galacticans do for recreation in these dark times. The fact that there's a line-up for simple stargazing shows that resources are limited indeed. Anyway, of course Adama isn't a Cylon. He's just desperately trying to keep Ellen from spinning Saul back into a self-destructive cycle. Tigh is blind when it comes to the missus, and though the implications could be dire for the ship, it's mostly played as a comedy. Shouting matches over a live nuke, literally and figuratively. Does BSG work with that tone? Sure, but not at its best. Baltar is usually the comic relief - here Kara catches him masturbating into and invisible Six, better not contaminate the samples - but the other characters work on a different wavelength. Do like their shared looks as they clear the table after a disastrous dinner though.

Ultimately, Tigh shows he has some self-awareness and trusts Adama more than he does Ellen. And that he can do the job. It's his instinct that saves Galactica from being rammed by the lone raider that's been hopping around the fleet wounded. That's if the bird wasn't just spreading chaos and sending coded messages to a Cylon in the fleet. It's a paranoid episode, which is perhaps why the comedy falls a little flat.

CAPRICANADA: Kate Vernon who plays Ellen Tigh hails from Canada, though she's had a lot roles outside the country, the first notable probably Pretty in Pink.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Baltar claims he has to test 47,905 people, which is 48 less than the last head count. Of course, he may not be counting children who are unlikely to be Cylons... right?!

VERSIONS: The script was originally called "Secrets and Lies". Deleted scenes include Duala and Gaeta gossiping about her sex life, and Baltar taking a blood sample from Starbuck while Six promises to "join them" if he gets in her pants (no sign of Six when it does happen, as this was cut).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Ellen Tigh is hard to take. Adama vs. Roslin is hard to take. And the comedy rows are hard to take. But it's still an important episode for what it introduces, and not at all badly written.

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