Rating: ***

Written by: David Weddle & Bradley Thompson

Directed By: Michael Rymer

 

Baltar isn’t long in cumming, either. (Hey, this is the second half of a cliffhanger; you shouldn’t have expected anything else but an abrupt lede.) Good thing, too, because he and one of the comely cultists are barely into the afterglow (or intermission) when the woman who came to him begging him to pray for her sick little boy in Crossroads comes to him again with the same little boy in a coma, dying of some sort of brain fever. He panics. Silently, but he panics. He doesn’t know what to do. His natural weakness makes him reluctant to disappoint these people; his ego doesn’t want to lose their devotion; and his pecker doesn’t want to lose such easy access to such choice poontang. And then there’s that quasi-better nature, the part of him that begged Gaeda to blow his head off back on New Caprica; the tragic part of his character that wants to be a good person but knows, with crystal clarity, how incapable he is of attaining any sort of redemption, doomed as he is by his legion of faults.   It’s that part of him that leads him to his knees in what is, if not genuine prayer, then certainly a candid confession of his legion of sins, its authenticity credified by there being no immediate audience for his muttered contrition. He even offers himself in the child’s place if it will save the boy’s life.

It would be fun to say that at this juncture Gaius had to take a piss. In fact, the slut he boinked earlier lures him down to the head for the purpose of making him look less like a cult leader and more like a televangelist. I guess we can call him “Fundamentally Oral Gaius” from now on. Since we all know how much he loves oral.

But God does indeed move in mysterious ways. Two guys, shown briefly early in the first Act, obviously gunning for the ex-president/vice president, burst in on this little makeover, grab the razor and threaten to decapitate Gaius. Remembering his earlier supplication, he tells them to go ahead. Whether that was simply bowing to the apparently inevitable, an expression of being dead tired of living with this battlestar-load of guilt, a genuine conversion to monotheism, or his version of chicken-hearted machismo, it pays off in deliverance from the last source you’d have expected: his trystmate, who suddenly morphs into an ass-kicking warrior princess. And when the two return to the cult’s lair, lo and behold, the little boy is, yes, miraculously healed.

Yeah, it was at once wince- and guffaw-inducing, but what the heck, so is the Baltar character. Just when you think they can’t do anything else with him, the creative staff re-invents him again. John Colicos would be spinning in his grave, only there’s no way he could ever keep up.

A brief scene between the Adamas provides, I fear, the moral for this final season. Father offers son his commission back. Son declines, citing a need to “move on” – into, appropriately enough, the “profession” Baltar just exited: politics. After some more small talk, Lee asks his dad how he’d be reacting if it was his kid brother Zak who had climbed out of that Viper, even been a Cylon. “Would it really change how we feel about him?” he asks.

Pragmatically the answer would seem to be, “Frak, yes, it would!” Cylons, even the humanoid models, are still ultimately machines, programmed to be the destroyers of their Human creators – like the ill-fated Boomer. Yet there is also her “sister” Athena, a Cylon that knows what she is yet consciously chose to side with the Humans. Are the Cylonoids totally programmed, or has taking Human form opened the door to free will and all the flaws to which it is heir? Are Tigh, Tyrol, Tory, and Anders living time-bombs like Boomer, or can they choose their own path, like Athena?

But if the latter, what would be the point of their being designated models #8 through #11? If there’s no longer any difference, then what has the point of this entire series been? That we’re all Gaius Baltars now?

Yes, be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

Back in the Presidential suite, Starbuck and Roslin are having a stare-down – precisely the stare-down you would expect, actually.   For a woman dying of cancer, looking down the barrel of a gun probably isn’t the harrowing experience it would otherwise be. How much less so for a woman with balls the size of honeydews. I’m not sure if Kara instinctively knows this or just has it dawn on her, but then again I really don’t understand why she burst in there in the first place. Neither did she, from the looks of it, as her dialogue indicates frustration over the fact that the people listened to and followed Roslin’s vision (way back on Kobol) but they’re ignoring Kara’s, and it’s just not fair! So she hands the gun to the President and tells Roslin to shoot her if Roslin is so sure she’s a Cylon, declaring, “I’m no more a Cylon than you are.”

A fascinating choice of words, that, what with Roslin sharing the same dream with the #3 (Athena) and #6 models. As well as the President taking Starbuck up on her offer and pulling the trigger – and missing. Now Roslin is no soldier and therefore no Annie Oakley, but could even she really miss entirely from THAT close a range? Or was she….programmed to miss because the Cylons are using Kara to mislead the ragtag fleet away from Earth?

You have to admit that as headstrong as Kara is, a brainwashed version of her, convinced of a falsity that nobody could talk her out of, would be exceedingly useful. That much comes across when Adama, Colonel Cylon, and an entire squad of soldiers burst into the room and drag Starbuck to the brig, with her squealing that they’ll have to “kill her” to get her to shut up about their going “the wrong way.”

But that isn’t the biggest question of the moment. The biggest question of the moment is one we broached briefly waaaaay back at the top: Why DID the Cylons break and run after that raider encountered Sam Cylon? Turns out that it wasn’t far from what we thought – and sews the seeds of civil war in the ranks of “the Cylon.”

Remember when D’Anna Biers (Lucy Lawless) became first preoccupied and then obsessed with the Human polytheistic religion back on New Caprica as a means of learning the identity of “the final five” Cylon models?   And how her entire line was deactivated as, not punishment so much as quarantine against her thinking “contaminating” the other models like a virus?   Here, at last, we get some exposition on why at least some of the Cylon consider that to be a problem – and why others do not.

A Cylon base ship. One of the “hybrids” – the gibberish-spouting, goobath-entombed people who somehow maintain the operations of each vessel – is spouting gibberish as usual. Only a #2 (Leobin Conoy), a #6, and a #3 make the mistake (?) of listening to it, and arrive at (or jump to) the conclusion that it’s referring to “the final five,” and where they are – namely, in the ragtag fleet. They go to a #1 (Brother Cavin) with this revelation, only to be greeted with a rebuke for engaging in something that is “forbidden” (by “God Almighty, The Voice Of Reason,” he says – in intriguing suffix, that). The only word missing from his riposte was “heresy”. He reminds them that they’re machines, not people with free will, and they must follow their programming – which apparently includes leaving “the final five” alone in thought, word, and deed.

Since the raiders are now apparently coming down with the same “virus” of free thought as his (in Cavil’s mind) wayward colleagues, he decides to lobotomize them to restore them to their “proper function”. A decision which Conoy, Sharon, and Six take like the throwing down of a gauntlet.

A vote is taken. Since there are only six activated models, it’s not difficult to predict that it ends in a 3-3 deadlock, with the Cavils, Dorals, and Simons voting to lobotomize and the Sharons, Sixes, and Conoys voting against. Every Sharon, that is, except one: Boomer.

Six is outraged. There has never before been intra-model dissension. So established has this tradition of unity been that there has never been any formal proclamation (i.e. subroutine) requiring it.   But it has broken the tie, and given Cavin what he wanted.

I can’t help making note of why Boomer is still activated and not “boxed” like D’anna. She and Caprica Six were the ones responsible for the change in Cylon policy that led to the New Caprica disaster from their end of it. As that went less than fabulously, I’d have thought Boomer would have paid a price for that blunder. I’d wager the Sixes, Conoys, and other Sharons are now thinking the same thing.   On the other hand, Athena defected to the Humans altogether, so perhaps diversity of opinion was programmed into the Sharon line. Not that it would do the Cavils, Dorals, or Simons any good before the hour was up.

And now we bring this marathon review full circle by returning to the question with which this two-part final season premier began: who, or what, is this woman that looks, sounds, and acts like Starbuck?

Nobody knows. Most would like to believe it’s really her. President Roslin manifestly and vehemently does not, and even if she did, she refuses to risk the fate of what’s left of the human race (that portion of it not on Earth, anyway) on sentimental wishful thinking. Admiral Adama is in the same basic position, with the same responsibility – all the more so since Roslin is dying with nobody to take her place (at least, that he would be able to tolerate, much less respect).   He knows it all too well.

But he also knows how much it hurt to lose the woman he had long since come to think of as a surrogate daughter. Now she – or so close a duplicate as to not matter – has returned, and with the tantalizing carrot of which they’ve been dreaming ever since the destruction of the Colonies.

It’s the most painful conundrum one can imagine for Bill Adama. He copes with it the only way he knows how: first, by going down to the brig and baiting Kara until she provokes him (“You’re the president’s wet nurse”) into throttling her. To convince himself by her telltale reaction that she’s really Starbuck? Probably.   Didn’t seem to help, though.   Second, by drinking like….well, like Colonel Cylon while Roslin lounges in his quarters.

That sounds like a segue to something moist, but that’s not the relationship Adama and Roslin have. There’s (mercifully) never been the slightest hint of any “shippering” between the two, not even back on New Caprica, yet they interact as though they’re a decades-married couple. Particularly in this scene where they are clearly getting on each other’s nerves, and they both know why. Roslin reads him like a book and tells him why he’s conflicted about Starbuck, as exposited above. She tells him he’s afraid to live alone, and he retorts that she’s afraid to die that way, and die meaninglessly as well. Did he peg her? It’s not as clear. But as he leaves the room, she tugs on her hair only to have a clump of it come off in her hands.   Suddenly, even though she thinks she has resigned herself to her looming death, it’s like it becomes real and tangible.   It’s a gripping moment as she lets her presidential mask slip and begins quietly weeping. This time there won’t be any miracle cure. This time she really is slipping away. And yet her tears are perhaps not just for herself, but for Adama, who is guaranteed to suffer another loss no matter what he decides about Kara.

Lee and Kara do have a moist scene – well, a brief tonsilectomy, anyway – that seems to be opposite side of the coin from his father, as you might expect. He’s able to take that leap of faith that she’s the real ‘bucko and is telling the truth about knowing the way to Earth that his dad sorely wants to but can’t quite make himself do. Whether that’s because of his responsibility or his ingrained atheism – another of Roslin’s little insights that unnerved him – is conjecture, but he sure sounded like he “wants to believe.”

Bill Adama as Fox Mulder. My Lord, my Lord.

But Mulder never compromised. Adama does. He doesn’t turn around the fleet and follow Kara’s nebulous homing instinct. But he does give her a ship – a sewage treatment barge (the TCKS Demetrius), but it’s a ship – a small crew, two Vipers, and sixty days to prove him and Roslin wrong.

Will Kara find Earth? Probably not. But she’ll probably find something. And she probably won’t like it.

Any more than Cavil, Doral, and Simon enjoyed getting shot up by two centurions, freshly de-lobotomized by the Sixes, Conoys, and Sharons, who didn’t like what the other three models were doing to their raider “brothers”.   Who do they think they are, anyway – Humans?

I guess I have to give Ron Moore & Co. credit. They held out until the fourth season before they had the bad guys turn on each other. No wrestling promotion I’ve ever seen has made it past two.

Will President Twelve’s looming metamorphosis into Something Else heal the breach and save Humanity – including poor, unsuspecting Earth – at the same time? And will the Human diaspora make it to Earth in time for Lee Adama to ascend to the presidency and save us from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

Oops, got ahead of myself again. Darned perspicacity.

 

Next: The Fearsome Foursome’s secret gets out

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