Battlestar Galactica #56: Flight of the Phoenix

"Nobody's expecting miracles." "Maybe that's the problem."
SO SAY WE ALL: While Tyrol builds a Viper from scratch, Sharon must save Galactica from a computer virus.

REVIEW: This show is so dank, that small victories have to be possible. Flight of the Blackbird/Phoenix is such a victory. At first, it seems unlikely. Everybody is at Helo's throat for his defense of Sharon; Starbuck takes his side because it's always got to be Kara vs. the World. Laura Roslin has maybe a month to live and Dr. Cottle seems genuinely worried. Gaeta loses his cool with Tigh, consumed by the guilt of having left Galactica's computers open to viral attack. And indeed, the virus has taken hold and malfunctions are happening all over the ship, sucking the air out of rooms and so on. Oh and there's a massive force of Cylon raiders coming, revealed in the teaser opening. So when Tyrol proposed to build a Viper from scratch to help support their dwindling forces, it scarcely seems possible.

But the Blackbird, a stealth Viper built for speed, progressively becomes a rallying point, a community project, a morale booster. It's lovely to see even the naysayers contribute (Cally who is on the outs with the Chief, Tigh dryly giving Tyrol some engine parts without admitting he believes in the project). Starbuck's gonna test-pilot it, of course, and is among the first to commit to Tyrol's dream. Helo redeems himself in the eyes of the crew by coming up with a key solution to a problem. The Blackbird brings them together, and so it makes sense for them to name it after Roslin - a stealth president if there ever was one - the woman who brought them together and is keeping them together. There's a nice gag there where she's about to smash what is undoubtedly a precious bottle of champagne on the bow of the Viper. We're in high spirits.

As for the virus and the Cylon attack, it's another opportunity for Sharon to prove herself (how many times does she have to do this?), betraying her people in order to protect her child by plugging right into the machine, stopping the virus and turning it against the raiders. Tense moments. As usual she can't suggest anything because she would be shot down, so she just does it, everybody panics, can we trust her? And she comes through. But it's still "take that thing back to its cell" afterwards. Sharon's picture is used for target practice. And the best she gets here is a visit from Tyrol that goes to credits before they speak (see Versions). While they don't interact more than that, we've just been through an episode where Tyrol lovingly strokes the corpse of a Viper, intercut with shots of Boomer, his machine lover. So is he rebuilding a Viper, or a relationship?

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: The Long Patrol introduced original Starbuck's new experimental Viper (and its A.I. CORA, so surface similarities only).

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: The count starts and ends at 47,853.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include Starbuck knocking some candles over in the memorial corridor out of frustration and replacing them; Tyrol preventing a stupid accident and haranguing his crew; a frustrated chief refusing Cally's help and her digging a deeper hole by doubling down on her assassination of Boomer; an extended version of Dee's combat training (a less sexy take, but something is still brewing between her and Lee); Baltar asking to sit in on Helo's conversation with Sharon, probably paranoid that she knows he's an enemy agent, and later going to bat for her at his "angel"'s behest (all of Six's moments are in fact excised); and a conversation between Tyrol and Sharon where she addresses his feelings of shame at still loving the other Sharon and he leaves, after which he is more concilient with Cally in a coda where they just go back to work.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - It's a good one. I feel like Sharon is on a treadmill going through the same thing over and over again, but the community spirit that springs up around the Blackbird plot is touching and rousing.


LiamKav said...

I remember feeling really bad for Sharon and wondering when they were going to cut her a break. I wonder if that's TV conventions Vs reality. On TV and film a mortal enemy normally only has to do one or two good things to convince the heroes that they are now on the side of Angels. But look at it from the Glactica crews POV: Their entire race has been all but wiped out. They're on the run, living a desperate existence from day to day, trying to avoid an enemy that outmumbers them and wants them all dead. It makes sense that it would take constant and repeated examples to get them to trust Sharon. Hell, it's amazing that they didn't kill her the moment the saw her.

Of course, this "realism" does mean we get the same story of Sharon tying to prove herself over and over and over again. But, hell, if it's realism we're worried about, we should probably be focussing on the stealth ship this crew designed and built seemingly on a whim on about a week.


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