Battlestar Galactica #98: Sine Qua Non

"Sometimes it's better to settle for what you've already got."
SO SAY WE ALL: Adama becomes obsessed with finding Roslin, and Lee asks Lampkin to help find him an interim president.

REVIEW: We haven't had a poor episode in a long time, but I guess we were due. Sine Qua Non features a couple of important plot points, but it's not enough to save it from my wrath. If it's frustrating, it's in part due to feeling like they're stalling. Roslin, Baltar, and a third of Galactica's pilots have been forcibly jumped away from the fleet, the human-Cylon alliance is in peril, and we're gonna spend the next hour on Lee and Lampkin having philosophical discussions on the nature of ambition. THAT'S REALLY NOT WHAT WE WANT TO SEE AT THIS POINT! But even if take the episode at face value, it still fails because those discussions feel like Lampkin (or his writers, to be fair) intellectually masturbating, and in the final analysis, I can't tell if he was manipulating Lee into taking the interim president job with his sudden assassination attempt or what. Either he's a genius at psychology or he's unhinged, but it's hard to reconcile the two. And this isn't quite Hamlet, you know? Lampkin's cat is cute and  attentive in this, and the last minute Fight Club reveal about it doesn't do much for me. Like Adama's wife appearing to him (and the cat WAS Lampkin's wife's), I think these kinds of visions muddy the water as pertains to the Angels visiting Baltar and Six, and I don't particularly like it. If he did manipulate Lee, then Apollo gets the last laugh, giving him a dog as pet, of a very whiny breed (with all due respect to the Border Collies I'm friends with). Lampkin wasn't exactly a cat person, but that doesn't mean he's the opposite.

While I do like the realpolitik element of Vice-President Zarek not getting the support of the admiralty, accentuating his long-held feeling that the Roslin administration is a tyranical one propped up by the military, the episode isn't convincing as to how Lee was accepted as interim leader. He heads the search committee, it's just him and Lampkin, and Lampkin decides to recommend his committee partner and that flies?!

Meanwhile, in the plot we care about, Natalie dies from her wounds and Sharon is thrown in the brig, dressed down by Adama, and kept from her daughter (until Adama forgives her just enough to put Hera in the cell with her). Strong sense of deja vu on this point. We also find out Caprica-6 is pregnant with Tigh's child, which is philosophically interesting seeing as they're both Cylons (so either the Final Five are different, or love really is the magic ingredient - remember that he was "seeing" Ellen during the act), but that's for another time. Here, he gets dressed down to, and yet Adama will mint him admiral by the end when he realizes (thanks to a bit of Lampkin manipulation - which would make more sense if he were trying to give Zarek a clear path to leadership) he's lost all objectivity and is putting the fleet at risk for the woman he loves. It becomes a one-man mission, which I think he could have gone on without resigning or promoting Tigh (as second-in-command, he would still have led the fleet in the meantime), but that's drama. It's just not particularly consistent drama. The themes are there - as per the title, all the characters have someone they can't live without motivating their decisions - but the plot lacks clarity.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: One of Lampkin's suggestions for interim president is an actor; Lee laughs at the notion. Galactica reboot has dogs, but they aren't called daggets.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Headcount starts at 39,674, which is one more than the previous, accounting for an unreferenced birth in the fleet. Though others may have been killed after the base star's jump (Sandman's Viper is found dead in space), the raptor that returns to Galactica holds the corpse of Pike, so we're back down to 39,673.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include a longer first meeting between Lee and Lampkin, Lee wondering if Lampkin carries his cat everywhere in that bag, Lampkin suggesting Tyrol for interim president, and a longer post-fight chat between Adama and Tigh.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - While I can see the value in bringing back Mark Sheppard, he's ill-used by a confused script that comes at a time when the audience might resent him.

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