Battlestar Galactica #49: Valley of Darkness

"Marines, let's go toaster shopping."
SO SAY WE ALL: Galactica has been boarded by Cylon centurions.

REVIEW: Gaeta's firewalls didn't work as well as we would like, which leads to power outages and centurions roaming the decks. The A-plot here plays like Alien, trading on suspense and horror, flashlights in the dark and people getting massacre by unstoppable killing machines. There's urgency thanks to the Cylon plot to vent everyone into space if the 'bots can only get to the right part of the ship to flip a switch, and the random civilians (including Roslin and a gun-toting but overwhelmed Billy) heading to the same point by accident. We find Dualla in shock, setting her up as a more fragile person than we might initially have supposed (this will pay off late in Season 4). Roslin is shot through her suit jacket, a close call. Apollo's hero shot is so close it sends him flying. It's all very desperate, edge of your seat kind of stuff.

Meanwhile on Kobol, Baltar dreams of Adama rescuing him then drowning his baby. Is he being fed this propaganda by Six, or is it representative of something Adama will actually do? It's hard to trust anything Baltar experiences, including this Kobol littered with skulls, which only he finds, and that don't really make sense scientifically unless the planet is still inhabited and has gone savage. These too are visions, I think, symbols of humanity's true nature and its cycle from civilization to barbarity and back again. Tyrol's story is heart-wrenching as he must watch Socinus die, Tarn having died in vain and the medicine getting there too late.

And then there's Starbuck and Helo on Caprica, returning to her apartment for shelter. While the rest of the episode is tense and emotional, this relative respite is perhaps the most interesting part, long term. Here we find out that Kara is an artist, and that her father was a composer and pianist. Art (both forms) will play an important part in events to come, theirs specifically, as if the artistic impulse was in touch with God or the Universal Harmony or however we choose to understand it. Despite Starbuck's obvious need for expression, she's still a nihilist. She left Caprica with no regrets, not missing any of her stuff, up to and including her work and her father's. Her art and passion, I suppose, are piloting a Viper, and so she fights because she "doesn't know anything else" (which wasn't always true), not because she was trying to get anything back. Indeed, but for the quirk of fate that brought her back to Delphi, most Galacticans can't really hope to return or retrieve anything from their former lives. It's a wonder she didn't fall in with Tom Zarek.

CAPRICANADA: Starbuck's apartment is in the Waterfall Building on 2nd Avenue, Vancouver. I'm told there's a Starbuck's nearby.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: The piano composition recorded by Kara's father will was also composed by Philip Glass on our Earth (it is Metamorphosis Five). The sign and countersign used by Tyrol and Crashdown ("Flash!"/"Thunder!") was used by the Allied forces on D-Day, during World War II. Take a good look at the artwork on Starbuck's wall; it will later figure as a plot point, but I won't say more here.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Episode starts 47,874, but we lose Flyboy even before the opening credits. A lot of people dead in the corridors, impossible to tell how many. Socinus dies from his wounds on Kobol.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include Helo and Starbuck discussing the empty streets of Delphi and why she has an apartment there; Ellen calling Tigh in CIC where he advises her to take a gun and protect herself; Tigh and Apollo's pissing contest when Lee calls him from the arms locker; and Six telling Baltar the fleet is going to die before it finds Earth so he should start letting go. The episode would also have followed Scattered's flashback-laden structure with a scene where Adama and Tigh talking about their military history over drinks (including the Cylon's use of the same tactic on Galactica when Adama was just a pilot). This would have seriously undermined the episode's momentum.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - An exciting action episode with a "war is hell" feel, plus bonus points for laying some groundwork for Starbuck's journey.

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