Battlestar Galactica #94: Escape Velocity

"Old gods die hard."
SO SAY WE ALL: Tyrol melts down as religious in-fighting strikes Galactica.

REVIEW: We start on Cally's funeral, and it's a nice bit of world-building (a lot of people die, but we never see this kind of service). Roslin is taken by it, requests she get the same, and she's now wearing a wig, so we know her illness has taken its toll. Notably, Adama is reading his favorite book to her during her treatments and has never gotten to the ending. It's a strong metaphor. He doesn't want to face her death, and at the same time, there's a sense that the show's creators don't really know how it's all going to end. But that's all for another day, right now, it's Cally's death we should be thinking about, and how it affects Tyrol.

A meltdown, essentially, but it's not necessarily because he loved Cally, though that's ambiguous. He's obviously struggling with the fact that he's a Cylon, and an emotional one that refuses to shut down his feelings the way Tory seems to (and is it because Cylons have a switch, or is it psychological and she's able to do it because she thinks she can?). He clutches at the other Final Four and could be the one who gives them away. He's a liability to them in public. His distraction also causes a terrible raptor accident (which I can't believe didn't cause any deaths). So when he unloads on Adama, and says all those horrible things about Cally, and gets fired, does he really lose control? Or are his loyalties still firmly in the right place, and he's making sure he can't sabotage Galactica as a sleeper agent (which could still he a possibility)? He's afraid he could betray humanity and takes himself off the board, through actions and words that are potentially damaging to himself if he doesn't really mean them.

Tigh is also dealing with being a Cylon badly, visiting Six in her cell every day and confusing her guilt for the genocide of humanity with his own for killing Ellen. The physical similarity between Six and Ellen is used to good effect, bolstering a hallucination that confuses Tigh even more (his mind playing its normal tricks, or is it the Cylons' projection ability?). If he gives her absolution, does it absolve HIM? And through her, can he better understand his own nature? He even lets her punch him into "clarity" - let's just say I wouldn't want a Cylon as my therapist... Where is this relationship going?

A lot of internal conflict, but there's also a religious war brewing between Baltar's nascent monotheistic faith and a radical fundamentalist group called the Sons of Ares, Mad Max extras who are naturally devoted to the god of war and make terrorist attacks on Baltar's people. Roslin's response is to curtail freedom of assembly, but Mr. Principles puts a stop to it with his new political clout, and it may well cause problems down the line. He's right, but we're also talking about Baltar and his dangerous cult of personality. From what we hear, there are more faiths than just the Olympian Gods in the fleet, and that's where the problem lies (in precedents), but a NEW faith draws followers from others, and so is seen as a competing religion. Faith seems uncertain, people send prayers to both sides, it's an interesting exploration of how humanity deals with the idea. In the end, Roslin only manages to turn Baltar into a martyr, with some help from Head-Six who manipulates him into walking into the butt of a gun. There's a very weird sequence where she seems to be holding him up and you wonder if she's now a telekinetic ghost, but the creators assure us that Baltar is doing it all himself. James Callis is too strong a physical performer for his own good, perhaps, because it looks "magical". Confusing? His final speech is, quite appropriately, weaponized narcissism. God loves you and so embrace your own evil, because God loves that too. You can do no wrong. I can practically hear that amoral breed of Christianity that's given us televangelist punditry and prosperity gospel. So yeah, Baltar is very dangerous.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: See the last few sentences.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL:
Headcount at 39,675 (after Cally's death). No one else dies during this episode.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include Tigh changing a diaper, Tyrol wondering if he sabotaged the Raptor unconsciously, and Tory preaching Baltar's message (all in the same scene).

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A lot to think about, but definitely in the shadow of bigger events.

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