Battlestar Galactica #52: The Farm

"They have this theory; maybe the one thing they were missing was love."
SO SAY WE ALL: Starbuck is captured by Cylon scientists.

REVIEW: The Farm is really very creepy. Starbuck is shot, wakes up in a hospital where she is lied to, mindfraked, and operated on against her will by a new Cylon model called Simon. That's enough to make your skin crawl, but it gets worse when you realize Simon is giving her pap tests and harvesting her eggs. The step too far for me is all the women she finds trapped in birthing machines, apparently inseminated by Cylons and kept alive by machines. That's just gross and I don't know that we can forgive the Cylons for this. They're not just enemy combatants at this point, they're monsters. So what's going on? Well - and much of this comes from the now fully-turned Sharon - the Cylons are working from the document we call the Holy Bible or something extremely close to it, and it tells them to be fruitful and multiply. Except Cylons, human though they may appear, absolutely can't procreate. Mathematical multiplication looks easy for them, but they're after procreation. If not between one another, then with humans, but nothing's worked, except maybe love (Sharon and Helo). Ergo, Six's fascination with it. And Starbuck? Why not put her in a birthing machine? The Cylons are going by Leoben's prophecy/insight that she is special. Just how, I don't think they know. Simon is pursuing scientific avenues, but that's probably not it. Keep her missing eggs in mind going forward, however. They may prove the key to explaining some things far down the line.

While Starbuck's predicament is horrific, and her escape exciting, the best part of the A-plot is her mental duel with Simon. He lies, he destroys what hope she has, he evokes potential abuse she suffered in her youth (just what was her relationship to her father?), he talks about passing abuse on to one's own children (very much the Cylon metaphor), and he pushes the idea of extinction and of her willingly helping rebuild the human race one baby at a time pretty hard. It's part of the creepiness. But she questions, she shuts him out, she fakes collaboration, and she eventually kills him. I guess a lot of this is especially off-putting coming on the heels of her physical relationship with Anders. It puts the affair in the context of her life, one in which she doesn't foresee children or perhaps even any real intimacy. Sex is just sex. What the Cylons are looking for isn't on her radar. At the end of the episode, she leaves the planet, but Anders stays behind. This is the ultimate expression of the barrier she places between her and any possible lover.

Back on Galactica, the idea of loving Cylons also haunts Adama. He loved Boomer like a daughter, and his interrogation of Tyrol is all about whether he loved her or not as well. Can the machines love, is their love genuine, and can they be loved? He's trying to come to terms with his feelings and his reality, and though Tyrol is wary of what his answers might brings down upon him, what Adama wants from him is a positive confirmation to validate his own feelings. At the same time, he hasn't let go of the anger he feels for the human traiters in the fleet. He and Roslin (and to some extent, Apollo, though he feels trapped between the two) are using every strategy to get their way. He keeps the ships apart so Roslin can't go anywhere, and she plays the religious card by sending a message that actually convinces a full third of the fleet to jump to Kobol where she is sure Starbuck will go with the Arrow of Apollo. Adama's looking no better than Tigh here, saying he's content to see all traitorous ships make their suicide run on Kobol where they may be ambushed by Cylons lying in wait. Adama has certainly underestimated her influence... and how right she is.

CAPRICANADA: The hospital exterior is Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam. Once a mental institution, it is only used for filming now.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: We apparently have the same Bible today the Cylons are using in their time frame.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: We're told at the top there are 47,857 survivors in the fleet (and the preview montage is BACK! by popular demand, I imagine), which answers my question from last week. Boomer was NOT part of the count. On Caprica, at least 2 resistance members are killed, but we also learn there are hundreds, if not thousands of human women in facilities like the Farm across the planet. These do no figure in the survivor count.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include Baltar discussing Adama's return with Six, and a hypocritical welcome back moment; Apollo explaining why they're hiding out in a meat locker; Simon discussing the various medical tests Starbuck needs; her hallucinating Helo and Anders in her room (it turns to a nightmare when the latter asks her to have his baby); Starbuck talking about the fleet with Simon, who feigns not believing her; Apollo telling Roslin to fight her fight, having regretted backing her play for her to immediately fold (the tension is relieved in a later cut moment); and Starbuck jimmying her door open with some kind of disk (it seems a discrepancy without it when she needs Simon's key to finally escape).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Certainly has atmosphere, and Simon's introduction is important, but the episode is basically "Cylons want our women!" and that's just a bit too skeevy.


LiamKav said...

One thing about the Cylon reveals thus far (and bearing in mind I've not finished the show yet)... every single one has occurred in the same episode the character was introduced. I think it speaks to the difference between BSG and, say, Babylon 5. There we had traitors who were seeded from the beginning. BSG is much more concerned about the current episode than setting things up for next year. Whilst we can have longer running plots (such as Boomer's arc from season one), the suspense was in watching that stuff episode to episode, rather than having a twist that made us go back. It possibly makes BSG richer in the moment at the slight cost of how rewatchable it is.

(Yes, I'm vaguely aware that there are some exceptions down the line, but I'm also vaguely aware that there's arguments as to how well they were planned from the beginning. I guess I'll find out when I get there.)

Siskoid said...

There is actually a lot of "wait, let me go back, this changes everything" later on, but it's not planned like B5 was. I often contrast the two shows because while B5 was working from a plan from the beginning, and stumbled when it had to improvise (such as when the show was cancelled then extended), BSG is all improv. Things are set up without knowing where they will go, and Moore and co.'s job is to make it all come together later. So for example, they've set up Starbuck being special, but they don't know how. They put art on her wall and made her father a pianist, but they will only decide later that these are keys to the show's resolution. I think BSG writers are constantly looking at the past to resolve an unknown future, whereas JMS in B5 had it all down to begin with and kept moving in that direction even when he was thrown curve balls by the network.

Devin Clancy said...

"every single one has occurred in the same episode the character was introduced"

I found that frustrating when Season 2 aired originally. You just introduced a potentially compelling character but now it's ruined by them being a bad guy. But I think they thought the are-they/aren't-they dynamic is a little too played out in genre fiction, so were more inclined to lay their cards on the table and go from there.

Siskoid said...

And this is a show that lives in gray areas. "Good guy/bad guy" isn't very clear-cut.


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