Battlestar Galactica #77: Unfinished Business

"Well that makes things more complicated."
SO SAY WE ALL: The boxing episode.

REVIEW: For an episode where a lot of the characters pummeling each other, what's striking about Unfinished Business is how lyrical it is, especially in the extended cut. The ugliness of the boxing matches is contrasted to the idyllic flashback to a fete on New Caprica 17 months prior, both "dances" of a sort. So when the tradition is for military personnel to fight each other in the ring to vent frustrations and let go of petty conflicts. The main focus is really on Lee and Kara, who on that warm New Caprican night, danced around their feelings for one another in yet another way. They've been sniping at each other for a while now, and we see why they've built up so much resentment. It's more than a roll in the hay behind their significant others' backs; they profess their love for one another, shout it at the sky even, and then the next morning, Starbuck does what she always does and runs away from it. She's married to Anders by the time Lee walks back into camp, and he soon proposes to Dualla almost as revenge. Anders has since been relegaded to the status of frack friend and he's at the end of his rope, but he's clueless when it comes to the Lee/Kara dynamic. Not so Dualla, who goes into the marriage knowing there's something there and that their alliance can only be temporary. As Starbuck throws down the gauntlet and challenges Lee to a duel, Dee knows what it's really about and can't help but see the fight as a kind of brazen sex scene. And that's practically how it's played. A violent punch-up where Kara resorts to illegal kicks, where they are eventually exhausted and throwing punches a the air, and where eventually, they embrace, boxing-style, and reconcile, an image of a slow dance followed by a post-coital collapse that puts a big question mark over Lee and Dee's marriage.

The other key fight is between Adama and Chief Tyrol. Adama's not supposed to fight, but we know there's been a lack of discipline lately, and we see he's irked by Tyrol letting work slide to watch the fights with his crew. So he calls him out into the ring. Tyrol takes it lightly, doesn't think the old man is serious, and then they get into a punch-up that forces the younger man to beat his commander to a bloody pulp. As the flashbacks to a year and a half prior mount up, we realize Tyrol might also have frustrations to vent. Adama had originally denied his and Cally's request to settle on New Caprica. The morning after a night of revelry (in which Adama got stoned on the local weed with Laura Roslin), he decided to let a number of his people go. Given what then happened, Tyrol's feelings must be complicated indeed. On the one hand, Adama gave him what he wanted. On the other, it led to his being under the Cylon thumb, almost losing his wife, etc. In a way, his fists are speaking for everyone who suffered that fate. For Adama, it's about teaching his crew a lesson he's struggling with himself. He got too close, he considered members of his crew friends, he let down his guard, and they paid for it in lives. After the fight, Tyrol goes right back to work, as does everyone. Relaxing is for other people, people who aren't counted on to keep people alive.

The last word on New Caprica, Unfinished Business deftly uses editing to illuminate personal conflicts, telling two parallel stories that turn out to be just one. How we got here is one thing, but where do we go from here is another. There's a sense that many of the characters knew their time on New Caprica would be a stolen season. They allowed themselves to fall under the planet's spell, which only makes sense after a year of hopeless space travel. It's how Baltar won his election, and it's ultimately how Adama let his ships be undermanned. Roslin and Dee both have a carpe diem speech, and Lee, Kara and Adama all act on the same idea. And it's a mistake. The Cylons were out there, waiting. You only live once is a fatalistic phrase as much as an exuberant one.

CAPRICANADA: Annnnnd it's back to New Caprica City in Richmond, BC for new footage! (Actually, all the flashbacks were shot when the set was standing for use in future episodes. Unfinished Business was an opportunity to use them all in the same episode.)

HUMAN DEATH TOLL:
The head count goes up one to 41,422, presumably thanks to a birth.

VERSIONS: The DVD has both the broadcast version and 70-minute extended cut; I reviewed the latter. There are almost too many changes to adequately enumerate them all. Not only are scenes extended and added, a more spartan score was produced for it, there's less intercutting, and looped in lines from the broadcast version (at the network's insistence) are omitted. We can at least say that in the 42-minute version, Dualla's role is more prominent and active - she KNOWS there's something between Lee and Kara and is confrontational about it, which makes her a stronger character.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - The extended cut is slow to the point of sluggishness, but the emotional payoffs are worth it.

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