Battlestar Galactica #34: Miniseries, Night 2

"It won't be an easy journey. It'll be long, and arduous. But I promise you one thing: on the memory of those lying here before you, we shall find it, and Earth shall become our new home. So say we all!"
SO SAY WE ALL: The last of humanity sets off to find the fabled 13th Colony... Earth.

REVIEW: On account of actually being the second half of a movie, Night 2 starts out a little slow, but it builds to the show's premise - that of a fleet headed for the legendary 13th colony of mankind, Earth. At the heart of this is the relationship between Commander Adama and the newly-minted President Roslin, the military and the government. In the original series, the civilian government was akin to that idio ambassador who shows up on any given episode of Trek to put the ship in danger with bad leadership. Here, the load is very much shared, and Roslin insists on it with Adama. She deserves it. While he is the one who puts the fleet on track for Earth as a way to keep up morale, she's the one who assembled the fleet in the first place. Earth may or may not exist. What is clear is that Adama doesn't actually know where it is. And she's the only one in on the secret. Equal partners, each with their sphere of control, but both equally important, and equally strong. When they have to leave part of the fleet behind on a jump, she's just as capable of making that sacrifice as he is. More so, perhaps, because she doesn't come from a world where that numbers game is normal, and she just met a little girl who is about to die (cue LBJ campaign ad imagery, gulp!). It's great stuff. Adama perhaps takes the MVP award because of that blazing "so say we all" speech, however. It's all the more amazing because what's powerful about it - the repetition of those words - was improvised by Olmos.

Adama also gets to take part in some brutal hand to hand action, introducing Leoben (Cylon Model 2), posing as a scavenger on a Colonial munitions depot. Great to see Callum Keith Rennie in the role, and though he's killed, he represents a whole Cylon model and will be back. What's a little harder to digest is that Doral, the PR guy, is actually Model 5. It seems absurd that, when Baltar is looking for a scapegoat to draw attention away from himself, he chooses a guy that just happens to be a Cylon infiltrator. He fits the bill circumstantially (as do many others - in fact, we'll discover he's not alone - so perhaps he WAS trying to undermine Roslin's authority), but Baltar fakes the procedure that can differentiate humans from Cylons. (Galactica may not be too smart here. If the radiation at the depot location makes Cylon tech fail and humanish Cylons sick, a viable test could and should be derived from that.) So at the end, it seems unfair for Doral to be left behind, but then he's visibly sick and more of him show up on the station. Is Baltar just that intuitive? Could be. Is he being directed by Six in some way? That depends what you think Six is. One of the things about Baltar is that he really doesn't process guilt normally. Gaeta sort of has to prod him into faking it. So maybe Six is just a genius' way of manifesting it, some part of him showing up as a hallucination, though more devil than angel on his shoulder. But all the information she feeds him can't come from intuition, and there's one moment where she's just standing there alone, reacting after he's left. That can't even be explained by him being chipped or something. One of the things one wonders if he could possibly intuit is the idea that Cylons have sleeper agents aboard ship that don't know they're Cylons (unless he's one, and then his guesses coming true starts to make sense). The shocker at the end of the episode is that Boomer is one such agent. Well played, Galactica. By giving her a name from the previous series,  we would never think she would be so transformed.

The fact that neither Cylons nor Baltar feel guilt may be one of the themes of the series. No matter how human they now might look, they are methodical, cold(ish) machines. Humanity, on the other hand, is a mess. Visually, we are shown a fleet of disparate ships, Adama messily eating noodles, crew quarters in disarray. Emotionally, the Galacticans are all over the place. In the shadow of a massive funeral for billions of souls, the few survivors are hooking up. Boomer and Tyrol, Dualla and Billy, even Apollo and Adama make up after years of resentment. There's also Starbuck's guilt, finally admitting that she passed Apollo's brother Zak because of their relationship, not because he belonged in a cockpit. And if she seems to have a death wish, it's mitigated by the sheer joy she feels while she's flying. And the action matches those feelings, as this maverick saves Apollo's life by flying into him and, Vipers locked, makes a crash landing in the Galactica's bay seconds before a hyperjump. And when Tigh shows up to bury the hatchet, she doubles down on her trouble and calls him a drunk. And while they have yet to pay off, the set-ups clearly herald even more messes: Boomer being Cylon, Baltar's fake screening process, oh, and what happens when the fleet discovers Adama lied to them?

CAPRICANADA: Callum Keith Rennie plays Leoben; he's a very recognizable face in Canadian-shot television, most notably perhaps as the second Ray on Due South. Now confirmed as a recurring villain, Doral is played by Matthew Bennett, another recognizable Canadian actor. Cold Squad is probably his best credit, as he was nominated for a Gemini for it, though viewers world-wide might more readily from his recurring role on Orphan Black.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: Adama evokes the legend of Earth, though his belief in it isn't quite as certain as the original Adama's. Once again, a survivor fleet is rounded up, and many designs are inspired by the original show's, up to and including the hydroponic ships from Silent Running (and one gets destroyed, a frequent occurrence in the original timeline). The Caprican kid saved by Boomer is indeed called Boxey, but he won't appear nearly as often, for a variety of reasons.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: We see at least four Viper pilots get it, but that's a drop in the bucket considering the big picture. The emergency jump leaves "thousands" to die to save "tens of thousands". That's a loss of 20 out of 60 ships, leaving around 50,000 refugees alive by the end of the miniseries.

VERSIONS: Shown over two nights on SyFy, the DVD combines all the material as a single 3-hour movie. Also aired as one movie on NBC, that version was butchered to make room for commercials.

REWATCHABILITY: High - And we're off on one of the greatest journeys ever shown on the television screen!


LiamKav said...

I'm not sure where to post this so I'll do it here... I remember reading about how this was more "mature" and "grown-up" than TNG because we get sexy times and butts and stuff. I only started watching the show last year and, to me, it doesn't seem adult to much as "teenager-ish". There's a chance I might be a bit of a prude, but "extremely hot people frequently being in their pants" seems much more like a horny teens idea of maturity. Like sexy 90s comics they seem like a possibly necessary but still dated aspect of the medium trying to grow-up.

(I have similar thoughts with some - but not all - of the nudity on the early GoT seasons.)

Also, shout out to the Enterprise appearing as part of the fleet here, and indeed in the title sequence for the rest of the first season.


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