Where 4×10 Battlestar Galactica Sine Qua Non wisely avoided showing us the fate of the humans on the Cylon Basestar in order to focus on Galactica, 4×11 Battlestar Galactica The Hub switches gears to focus entirely on the rebel Cylon Basestar still off on its combined human and Cylon crew mission to take out the Cylon Resurrection Hub returning to show Galactica or the last departee from Galactica at the very end.
In some ways s4e11 Battlestar Galactica The Hub is obviously recycling the last attack on a Resurrection Ship which brought together Admiral Caine and Adama and an attack on a Cylon position without Starbuck involved is never going to be nearly as good. The Hub does feature some decent planning with the human ships coming in towed cold behind Cylon fighters apparently being flown by the skinjobs. Locating Deana proves to be a little too easy and it’s hard to believe that the most valuable Cylon target ever is guarded so lightly that half a CAP wing and a damaged Basestar can take it out.
Meanwhile Rosyln begins having visions during the jumps, because you know there really haven’t been enough stories involving characters experiencing vague mystical visions on the show so far. These lead her to save Baltar’s life. In the meantime though, having learned nothing from the fact that she’s on a Cylon ship not under her control, Roslyn tells Helo to bring Deanna to her and not to the Cylons. This is a brilliant plan especially as she has no means or idea of how to force her to tell them anything. This of course goes swimmingly well, ending the Eight who has borrowed Athena’s memories identification with their alliance. The final reunion between Adama and Roslyn is a nice touch but 4×11 Battlestar Galactica The Hub still feels enervated by the same inability of the series to just tackle a plot head on instead of veiling it behind mysticism and repeatedly featuring characters who are supposed to be leaders but behave with less common sense than your average headless chicken.
A shorthand way to keep track of the difference between Battlestar Galactica and Lost is that if you drove everyone on Lost nuts and gave them guns, uniforms and spaceships they’d be the characters on Battlestar Galactica. Battlestar Galactica 4×12 Revelations is the series’ mid-season finale, which means no more episodes until 2009 and while Battlestar Galactica s4e12 Revelations does deliver a conclusion of sorts, rather than a cliffhanger, it’s one rooted in Planet of the Apes rather Battlestar Galactica 1980, which may be some improvement.
Battlestar Galactica 4×12 Revelations is really two episodes. One episode is another standoff episode of the type Battlestar Galactica routinely does these days and the kind we had not so very long ago. The stakes may be higher but the basic ingredients are the same, tight rapid closeups, pounding music, both sides moving to the brink of destruction, until the whole thing gets sidelined and everyone divies up what they have. It’s a BSG formula and I suppose all the more relevant in light of the apocalyptic conclusion to the search for earth. The second episode is the euphoric search aborted by the grim reality of the poisoned earth that awaits them.
There are plenty of payoffs in Battlestar Galactica 4×12 Revelations, from Saul finally telling Adama the truth, volunteering to be shot out into space and even telling Lee to hurry up and do it, the revelation of Earth and the Final Five. Starbuck and Lee finally seem to be growing up, as the opening of Revelations testifies and everyone learning to get along, even the Cylons. But the payoffs are there mainly because Season 4 was such thin gruel consisting all too often of characters going nuts and of too little actual plot motion.
In the end we seem to have reduced the Battlestar Galactica universe to a cautionary Cold War warning with human and Cylon history as a cycle that has Earth wiped out in a war between man and machine, with the refugee humans or machines creating their own race of androids on Kobol, who rebel, think of themselves as human and go on to colonize the 12 colonies and then create the Cylons who perpetuate the process. The way out apparently is to embrace monotheism and stop making robots.
Like a sleeper waking from a daze, it’s startling to realize when watching 4×10 Battlestar Galactica Sine Qua Non just how long it has been on Battlestar Galactica since anything really happened that didn’t involve character tension but actual large scale action and developments. After two dreary seasons, as Battlestar Galactica’s 4th season possibly approaches its end, s04e10 Battlestar Galactica Sine Qua Non offers some welcome material.
Not that Battlestar Galactica Sine Qua Non still isn’t chock full of the same elements that keep choking the series like a weed, from visions to characters engaging in destructive behavior with no consequences at all. Athena is in the brig after having shot the Six which caused the Cylon Basestar to jump taking the CAP wing and President Roslyn with it. Naturally Adama responds true to his roots as Captain Sisko by throwing tantrums, yelling at Athena and sending her to the brig for a while (Based on Callie, I’d say shooting a Cylon is punishable by 30 days in the brig or so) and then picking a fight with Saul Tigh over his liason with the Six in the brig that results in an all out fight and Adama resigning his command to go wait for Roslyn to return, having recognized that he has lost his objectivity. It’s the best storyline in Sine Qua Non and the best in Season 4.
The rest of 4×10 Battlestar Galactica Sine Qua Non though is filled out with the return of Lamkin and nepotism striking against as Lee Adama gets turned into President of the Colonies in a plot line that makes no sense at all. The quorum panics with ridiculous speed at Admiral Adama’s refusal to deal with Zarek, considering that they were able to act quite effectively to checkmate Tigh last time around. Lee’s search committee consists entirely of Lamkin who has no legitimacy at all and considering that Lee has the IQ of a cooked pumpkin and his big showdown with Lamkin seems to involve him channeling Tom Cruise, the promotion plot line is ridiculous and absurd.
The racial metaphor that underlies the title of Guess What’s Coming to Dinner? would seem as if it might have some kind of meaning beyond the obvious joke, but like a lot of things in Battlestar Galactica 4×09 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, it never quite does. We begin with more unnecessary suspense as the Demetrius is separated from the rebel Cylon base ship leading to a few nervous moments as Galactica prepares to fire on the Battlestar until it’s aborted by Tigh who apparently has a connection with Anders and the other Final Five.
Battlestar Galactica s4e09 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is the first BSG episode this season that seemingly gets back to the original premise of Cylons and humans in space and a large scale alliance to take on the resurrection hub that is the source of the Cylon ability to regenerate. Battlestar Galactica 4×09 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner though is more about the visions which have now spread to Kara, Athena, Six, President Roslyn and include Baltar in them too. Meanwhile the ridiculous waste of time that is the Fleet’s government undergoes another crisis, led by Apollo, who’s currently being more annoying than ever. Roslyn’s vision quest takes her to the Battlestar while the visions, Hera’s drawings and fear of losing Hera drive Athena to shoot the Six. By the end of the episode as the Hybrid is brought online and the Base ship jumps, things are appropriately all Frakked up and another episode has been wasted.
And so another episode is expended on vague visions, on psychotic dysfunctional behavior by the regular cast, on a mixed bag of plotting and scheming and of course we can’t fail to mention Felix Geada singing after his leg has been amputated for a not insignificant portion of the episode. All in all this is a pretty good demonstration of why the post-Season 3 BSG has been losing audience quite badly. This sort of storytelling may shore up the soap opera demographic for BSG but it really makes you regret the waste of it all and wonder what a relaunched Battlestar Galactica that was genuinely focused on the story, instead of on having different characters lose their mind every week might be like.
Last week on The Road Less Traveled the ongoing tension aboard the Demetrius commanded by Kara Thrace came to a head as Helo led a mutiny against her decision to head for the Battlestar. This week on Battlestar Galactica 4×08 Faith it explodes as Anders unexpectedly races to her defense shooting Felix Gaeda in the leg and after a lot of gun waving and Helo shouting “Stand Down” every 3 seconds, the already split up crew splits up again as Kara, Athena, Anders, Redshirt pilot and Kara’s friendly neighborhood Cylon pile into a Raptor while the Demetrius overseen by Helo sits around waiting for them until the last second.
By this point the Demetrius under Kara Thrace has lost a crewmember in just about every episode where it’s been the focus and Battlestar Galactica s4e08 Faith is no exception as a Six who recalls being killed on New Caprica in turns kills leading to a sentimental scene as humans and Cylons face off at gunpoint until another of the sixes kills the murderous six, but not before a kiss that fulfills the creepiest of Battlestar Galactica fanboys’ fantasies of seeing Tricia Helfer make out with herself.
Where can the episode go from here? Well first to the President suffering from cancer who encounters Nana Visitor who has more cancer than she does. They talk, they bond over their mutual bad makeup and Laura Roslyn has the cliched vision of death with family on the other side that now convinces her Baltar may be right about god. Meanwhile on the damaged Battlestar Kara tries to communicate with the Hybrid in the usual way. An Eight dies. The great hybrid mind in the bathtub finally tells Kara the way to go is to unbox Deanna which worries Anders who happens to be one of the final five. After two completely unnecessary countdowns desperately trying to build some tension in the episode, the Battlestar arrives setting the stage for the next two part episode, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Uhh Cylons?
Unlike most Science Fiction series which focus on the Science Fiction, Battlestar Galactica has made it as its mission to focus on the human drama. What that basically comes down to is at that at this point you can summarize virtually every recent Battlestar Galactica episode as so.
Tensions have Galactica and her crew on the edge and everyone is paranoid and dissatisfied. While Character X finds himself on the brink of despair, Character Y faces the opportunity for redemption. A new foreboding Cylon factor is introduced that may have future ramifications somewhere down the line.
The fact that I can do this so easily sums up much of what’s wrong with Battlestar Galactica. It is very much a self-indulgent actors and writers show and there’s no doubt that the actors enjoy the workout they’re getting, being on the verge of suicide, madness or a tantrum just about every week. This week on Battlestar Galactica 4×07 The Road Less Traveled it’s the Chief who after the death of Cally has shaved his head, contemplates suicide and finally falls under the dubious charms of Baltar’s new religion.
Meanwhile on the Demetrius, Starbuck is being pretty much Starbuck, as we’ve seen for the last two episodes, and in the process alienating everyone. When an old Cylon friend comes calling with the offer of a possible alliance, the die is set and the crew mutiny. And by mutiny, I mean they refuse to follow her orders and relieve her of command.
Battlestar Galactica s4e07 The Road Less Traveled is an episode with little content and a lot of intensity, which also is a good way to sum up Battlestar Galactica itself. On the ship it’s an anatomy of another frak up as Adama and Roslyn appear to be willing to let Baltar gain a whole congregation without say taking someone aside, putting a weapon in their hands and pointing them the right way. On the Demetrius, Starbuck is her usual frakked up self. SNAFU pretty much characterizes BSG. Situation Normal All Frakked up.
Written by Buffy writer Jane Espenson and directed by Olmos himself, with Battlestar Galactica s4e06 Escape Velocity, Baltar makes him inevitable transition to Jesus, being martyred with a few blows from a guard’s rifle, after the President does her usual overreaction and bans assemblies, turning Baltar’s group into martyrs. Apollo manages to save Baltar a second time, earning him a spot right after Baltar on the list of people on Battlestar Galactica who should be shot if anyone on there had any common sense. But of course they don’t.
Meanwhile, true to BSG fashion, Chief deals with Callie’s death by going on a bender and staging a confrontation with Admiral Adama that gets him demoted. Tory teaches Baltar a creepy ideology about the perfection of man that doesn’t require any actual self-improvement. At this point she’s the only Cylon around who’s actually menacing anyone and she’s doing it in classic soap opera style. All the while Six delivers long speeches about her love for Baltar and smacks the good Cylon Colonel Tigh around before making out with him.
Once upon a time Battlestar Galactica used to involve the Cylons. Once upon a time they used to be menacing enemies. That was then. These days half the crew are Cylons and no one much cares and the actual Cylons are busy fighting among themselves. The show dedicates itself to the screwed up behavior of its crew, much of which is self-destructive. Unaccountably, despite all that Baltar has done, the Quorum, Apollo and all the gang are perfectly willing to let Baltar return to power and only the President seems to care. Admiral Adama, who we are reminded in this episode was willing to line Callie up against the wall and shoot her to force refueling, lets it all go.
In BSG’s 4th season, 5th or 3rd episode, depending on whether you are counting Razors or not, things look grimmer and glummer as usual. This time out the Cylons are tearing each other apart with humans trying to do their part, except there really are not very many humans left anymore and with one more of them biting the bullet in BSG S4e05 and one more missing Cylon out there, we’re going to be short on humans very fast.
While Starbuck is out in the Demetrios searching for Earth, without a clue apparently, Adama has sent along Halo, Boomer and a bunch of other high profiles to keep her company. This seems a little strange for a wild goose chase and one on a ship carrying only two fighters anyway. The reporters who pop up now and then seem a little obsessed with the Demetrios, even though there is nothing interesting about it. Considering that Admiral Adama has shown the power to impress people into labor on the fuel ship, you have to wonder why he doesn’t begin impressing useless reporters.
Adama Jr aka Fat Boy meanwhile is annoying people on the council. While The Chief is hanging out in bars with Tory, who fresh from her experience having sex with Baltar, turns evil, destroys Chief’s and Callie’s marriage and finally murders her. Which would seem to suggest that the final five are just as evil as the regular kind. Finally the good Brother repays the Centurion massacre with another massacre, wiping out the council, outside of a resurrection ship’s territory.
At some point, perhaps in imitation, perhaps after Babylon 5, just about every Science Fiction TV show, from DS9 to Andromeda to Battlestar Galactica, fell into the template of turning Science Fiction into religion and Six of One is a good demonstration of the fallacy of that approach and the way it transforms the larger amazing mysteries of the universe into the smaller dramas of faith and belief, the kind of smaller mysteries that dominate Battlestar Galactica S4e04 Six of One.
Battlestar Galactica 4×04 Six of One contrasts the conflict on Battlestar Galactica over whether to believe Starbuck with the conflict on the Cylon Basestar over whether to believe the Raiders or to lobotomize them, but really only one of those conflicts is interesting and it’s the one that ends in a new Cylon rebellion. It never made very much sense to have a machine rebellion, dominated by virtual humans over unthinking machines. Six of One takes a small step toward reversing that when the council fails, the old Boomer comes out on the side of lobotomizing the raiders so they can fight the humans and in response find the Centurions freed from their own restrictions and turned loose for a killing spree.
Meanwhile back on the old battlewagon, Admiral Adama goes through his usual bout of temper tantrums, drinking, pouting, arguing and finally conceding, as he first slams around Starbuck in her cell and then finally frees her to fly away on a garbage scow on a quest to find Earth. It’s about where we expected that storyline to go, with Starbuck off on another quest, and everyone fumbling toward Earth, too busy fighting each other and their own doubts to do anything but wallow in their own personal mini-dramas. No wonder the era of TV SciFi shows with mass appeal is over. After all people can get their soap operas from… actual soap operas.
Battlestar Galactica finally returns from its long hiatus with its 4th season opener S4e01 He That Believeth In Me. As is usual on Battlestar Galactica the religious symbolism is far from subtle with Kara Thrace returned from the dead with a vision guiding them to Earth that no one will listen to while the despised Gaius Baltar huddles with a mostly female cult in a hidden chamber dedicated to the worship of him that allows him to connect to God.
By the end of Crossroads Part 2, Baltar was free but reviled and Kara Thrace had returned with a messianic message. By the end of He That Believeth In Me everything has been flipped around again with Baltar in the messianic role and Kara Thrace, suspected and reviled and seemingly on the verge of assassinating President Laura Rosyln, not that anyone would actually mind.
In between the Cylon ambush of the fleet destroys a ship with 600 on board and brings the entire fleet close to devastation, until a Cylon eyeballs Anders literally and gets a red recognition glow back from him, proving that ordinary Cylons seem to recognize the final four, while Boomer seemingly does not, but Number Six senses their closeness. Paradoxically while Kara is suspected of being a Cylon, half the ship is actually being run by Cylons until we get right down to the absurdity of Anders telling Kara that his love for her wouldn’t change whether she was a Cylon or not. Absurd because Battlestar Galactica has traded away what little of its premise was left for a feel good “It doesn’t matter if we’re killer robots or not, as long as we love each other” conclusion.