Battlestar Galactica #74: Torn

"When God's anger awakens even the mighty shall fall."
SO SAY WE ALL: Baltar investigates a Cylon plague ship.

REVIEW: Instead of keeping the Cylon/Baltar thread as the subplot of the week, the show puts it front and center here. We're in a new world, and the production wants you to feel it. Where Galactica is messy, shaky-cam, grainy and percussive, the Cylon base ship has a soft piano score, dissolves instead of hard cuts, and a soft focus, blown-out look. It's disorienting, and not just for Baltar. And if this is going to be a place we spend a lot of time in, they need to tell us more about it. And so we have "projecting", a Cylon technique that allows them to imagine the ship as a forest or building, and that is a lot like the waking dreams Baltar has been having. Is it just because of his connection to Head-6 (who here quite clearly identifies herself as an Angel sent by God), or is he secretly a Cylon? It's a kind of Blade Runner-ish hypochondria, and we don't put too much stock in it, but his insistence on knowing who the "Final Five" are feels like a season arc question covered in neon arrows. He coins the phrase and from now on, everyone's going to be using it. Well, sure, we've only seen 7 of the 12 models referenced, but the term is forcing us to look at the cast and try and guess which are Cylon sleepers. I won't spoil the surprise.

The "hybrid" introduced here has a human form, but apparently doesn't count as one of the Five. She's essentially the operating system for the base ship, speaking in math and poetry like an oracle, and having orgasms when it jumps. If the raiders are alive, then it stands to reason the base ships are too, though it's unclear why they need a human avatar that can't actually interact with other people. It all depends what they intend to do with this, but she might be part of Leoben's process as a prophet.

The other big reveal is that the Cylons have decided that Earth is to be their new home too, which gives them renewed enmity with humanity. Now they are competing. And Baltar's knowledge finally gives him a role. This is a problem he's been working on. Both sides are heading for the same nebula now, based on the same clues, a neat case of interpreting metaphor to correspond to astronomical data. The Cylons get there first, and lo and behold, the 13th Tribe may have left a beacon, and that beacon spreads a nasty disease to the base ship first on the scene. This provides the plot/action of the episode, as Baltar tries to prove himself useful by entering the base ship which is poisonous to Cylons (as usual, Head-6 directs and pushes him). He's essentially the same character he always was, finding something but then keeping it to himself, though Caprica-6 quickly discovers. But will she give him away? And of course, what happens when Sharon inevitably(?) catches the virus? They make sure she's in the raptor that jumps into the situation at the episode's close.

Back on Galactica, it's about character building on a ship that's now overcrowded. Not only is the military personnel from the two battlestars stacked up on one another, but there's a large population of refugees aboard as well (including little Kasey, who wants to see Kara, but she's not in a good place right now). Torn makes a big deal about the split between the New Capricans survivors and the people who remained to man the Colonial fleet. There's a lot of bitterness from the former about the latter's lack of sacrifice. Certainly the New Capricans are more traumatized, and when I say survivors, it may be a misnomer. Starbuck and Tigh are both malcontents who are angry and depressed, and would rather get drunk and sow dissent than do their jobs properly. Compare to those who'd stayed in orbit, like Lee who has gotten back in shape, or Karl the "Cylon lover" who stole Tigh's place in CIC, or Sharon who gets the call-sign Athena (they have an odd reaction to it, so I tought they were calling her Hera at first, her daughter's name, but the name has a more historical importance, and I'm not talking about Greek myth), or Kat who is now top dog among Viper pilots. Tyrol, Cally and even Gaeta - scientific adviser in Baltar's place - have had an easier time reintegrating. Starbuck and Tigh are undermining morale and unity so much that Adama pays them a visit and gives them an ultimatum. Great scene, beautifully acted, and it has variable results with the two nihilists. Starbuck leaves in a huff, as ever incapable of losing face, but turns her life around. She chops off her hair, visits her surrogate child, disciplines herself. Tigh, on the other hand, still haunted by the ghost of Ellen (present as an auditory hallucination), dives deeper into his bottle. Unwilling and unable to get over it, he point blank tells Adama he will never see him again. The man Adama knew didn't survive after all...

CAPRICANADA: The beach in Baltar's head is Stanley Park's Third Beach, in Vancouver.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: Sharon's call-sign, Athena, is pulled from the original series where Athena was Adama's daughter and Apollo's sister.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: We're at 41,422, which is 13 down from last time, accounting for the Circle's executions. While plenty of Cylons die in this episode, no humans appear to (though a couple wish they would).

VERSIONS: A deleted scene shows a D'Anna projecting a church, and giving Hera to Boomer to raise.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - We're building to something, and there's certainly a lot of new information to digest, but structurally, also a greater sense of the writer's hand guiding the material. It's less organic than usual.


LiamKav said...

I have an idea that the Lee weight loss thing is an abandoned subplot, but as it is it's weird that he can go from tubby to super riped in the space of a week. (Never mind his dad's back handed comment to him last week. Way to be supportive, Bill.)


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