Battlestar Galactica #48: Scattered

"You never should have brought me back into the service. If you had just let me be, I'd have died back there on Caprica along with everyone else, and been happier for it. I don't want a command. I never did. Don't you dare die on me now."
SO SAY WE ALL: Galactica is separated from the fleet and Tigh remembers his friendship with Adama as the commander is on death's door in sickbay.

REVIEW: It's all gone wrong. Adama lies on the operation table with a couple slugs in his chest and no doctor on board. President Roslin is sitting in a jail cell. Gaeta screwed up the jump calculations and the fleet and Galactica didn't jump to the same coordinates. There's still a raptor crew stranded on Kobol. And Sharon just stole Starbuck's ride, which means my least favorite element of Season 1, the slow burn on Caprica, is still unresolved. By the end of the episode, Adama's life will be saved by a simple medic, and Gaeta will have found the fleet by networking the computers against normal protocol, as the show begins a maturing and darkening of the character. Even so, some Cylons manage to get onboard during the cyber-attack, but that's a story for the follow-up.

Tigh is in command, but he doesn't relish it. He clings to the hope that Adama will survive, and everything he does is informed by flashbacks of his first meeting with Adama, how they became friends, and who after using connections to get back into the Colonial fleet during the autumn of his life, he pulled Tigh - surely at his lowest point, alcoholism-wise - in with him. All of that is pretty interesting, and the editing makes it feel like actual memories, more disjointed than normal flashbacks, even if it means some of the information is a little muddled (the deleted scenes make more sense of them, see Versions). I'm not always sure what to think of Adama in these 70s-looking sequences. He uses his wife's connections to get out of serving on a freighter and quickly rises through the ranks through nepotism. He takes a broken, violent man under his wing and makes him his second in command. He's not quite the hero we thought he was. Tigh is less surprising, more self-destructive and violent than he is today, perhaps, but not by much. Without Adama, his decisions are uncertain. You could even say he fails to make them. His torture of Boomer leads nowhere (her guilt and death wish an upsetting mirror of his). He refuses to even speak to Roslin, perhaps in case she manages to confuse him more. He's stuck between Gaeta and Kelly (the third in command not seen since the miniseries) as to what to do, until Adama tells him through those flashbacks. Tigh is "scattered" as much as humanity is.

Apollo is at least let out of jail so he can lead his squadron against Cylon attackers before the ship jumps back to the fleet - which speaks to some flexibility on Tigh's part - a sequence that seems more dangerous thanks to the scene in which the prison guard asks Roslin to pray with him. These tiny moments are what make BSG such a rich experience; they're so often skipped in normal space opera fare. They even manage to make hacking through firewalls exciting. As a season opener, it doesn't skimp on the action.

And then there's the stuff happening off the ship. On Kobol, it's the same Tyril vs. Crashdown stuff we saw in the previous episode, the latter making fatal mistakes the former warned him against. Tyrol leads a small party to recover a forgotten medkit and wouldn't you know it, the soldier who gets loud gets shot dead. We're in typical war film territory here. Which is still more than what happens on Caprica, which is, as ever, sluggishly paced. Still of interest is the Baltar/Six storyline, in which she insists the baby in their shared vision is theirs. Baltar can't understand how this would be physically possible, and neither do we.

CAPRICANADA: Kobol's forests are in the same wildlife preserve outside Vancouver as the marshes seen in the previous episode. Now that Ty Olsson is part of the supporting cast as Captain Kelly, we should mention that he is a Canadian actor from Halifax, Nova Scotia. International audiences may recognizes him from the new Planet of the Apes movies and the second X-Men film, but he's done a lot of Vancouver-based television, from Eureka to Supernatural to The Man in the High Castle.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: From this point on, the human population is given in the opening credits. I love this not just because it's easier to track (in a way), but because it will lead to some powerful gut punches. For the record, we start at 47,875 (10 less than at the end of the season, with no explanation). The soldier called Tarn is killed during the episode, which drops it to 47,874 presumably. It's not clear whether Boomer is included (as a fleet resident) or for that matter if the count includes humans on Caprica like Helo. In other words, is it from the fleet's perspective, or an omniscient narrator's? The preview montage is gone now, and I already miss it.

VERSIONS:
The deleted scenes include a long flashback sequence where Tigh gets into a fight with jerks at a dive bar, which turns into his first meeting with Adama; Billy making a call to Duala from his jail cell to speak to Tigh (no go); a sex scene between Baltar and Six over a pile of skulls (he freaks out when he realizes), a scene where the humidity makes her white dress strain the limits of television Standards and Practices; more human moments for Boomer during her interrogation, which is spliced with a flashback of Adama stopping Tigh from beating to death a guy who owes him money; and a flashback in which Adama announces he's been restored to active duty in the fleet thanks to his wife's connections.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - An heart-pumping start to the season, sure, but the flashbacks cut to ribbons at the editing stage makes them confusing at time, and there are too many off-ship strands to follow, none of them interesting enough to warrant slicing into the better shipboard material.

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