Battlestar Galactica: Guess What’s Coming To Dinner? (S4/E8)

Battlestar Galactica: Guess What’s Coming To Dinner? (S4/E8)

Rating: **1/2

Written by: Michael Angeli
Directed By: Wayne Rose

  

I really can’t stand Caprican Representative Lee Adama.

I guess it’s no secret from these reviews that I’ve never been a fan of him or his self-righteousness or his self-centered petulance or his hapless lameitude where women are concerned or his all-around puerile punkiness. When he was still Apollo, when he was still the CAG, when he still had real, adult responsibilities, when the lives of every man, woman, and child in the paltry remnant of what’s left of the non-Terran Human race depended on his decisions in the cockpit and that of those under his command, those gaping faults were marginalized in some cases, constructively channeled in others.   When he derelicted those responsibilities in the pursuit of political power, he became officially and unbearably despicable.

As a politician, Gaius Baltar was Bill Clinton: openly corrupt and self-indulgent, yet with the almost supernatural ability to fool and manipulate people into believing his appalling lack of character and integrity either didn’t matter, or was actually a virtue, as long as he remained out in front of where his uncanny political sense (i.e. Imaginary Six) told him the people wanted to go (i.e. at the time, New Caprica). Lee Adama is Donald Trump: an unsufferably arrogant petaQ who clothes his hauteur and his Zarekian agenda in the transparently phony populism of claiming to speak “for the people”. Put more succinctly, Baltar was a diddler; Adama the Younger is a crusader.

Both breeds of demagogue are dangerous. But as frustrating as the former can be, the latter is the one that infuriates even the gentlest of souls to violence with sufficiently sustained exposure.

The opening scene of “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?” – three measly minutes – was all it took to make me want to strangle the smarmy SOB.

Fundamentally Oral Gaius mischievously decides to mix politics with religion by outing President Roslin’s Cylon-shared opera house vision to the fleet. Representative Adama brings the recording to Roslin, barely feigning great reluctance before demanding “in the name of the people” that she respond to Baltar’s charges.   She looks at him with the “Who the hell do you think YOU are?” askanceness of a decades-long political pro beholding the mewlings of a political naif. Really, it was like they were both back at the Baltar trial with Lee browbeating her on the stand about whether she was back on the chamalla again.   As then, so this time she silences him with the truth: yes, she is having shared visions with Sharan Agathon and Caprica Six. And as then, so this time he’s left slack-jawed, as though some discarded sliver of his conscience still lingers and is trying to remind him of what a complete prick he’s become.

So what’s he going to do with this little nugget of information? Call a presser and confirm what, in PR terms, are the demented ramblings of the worthless piece of garbage the entire fleet outside of his little cult considers a traitor and mass murderer? Destroy the political legacy of a leader he once admired and even committed mutiny to defend? On whose behalf? To what end? Here’s a hint: it won’t benefit Vice President Zarek.

Starbuck is still nuts. Wanna know how nuts? She’s about to jump the Demetrius and a Cylon base ship right on top of the Galactica.

At least that was what was supposed to happen. What did happen is that the Cylon base ship jumped first by accident. You can probably fill in the rest, as well as what kind of reception Captain Thrace is going to receive when she reports to the Admiral for debriefing.

Unfortunately, that debriefing took place off-screen.   What we got instead was one of the Sixes – this one named Natalie – negotiating with Roslin and Adama. Her offer? The Sixes, Conoys, and Sharons will escort the Galactica to the Cylon resurrection hub – the central plexus of all their resurrection ships – and unbox the D’Anna Biers line so that she can identify the final five, who are supposedly from Earth and supposedly know the way back. In exchange, the last battlestar will help what’s left of the “rebel” Cylon forces defeat their orthodox enemies and can then destroy the hub itself. The Cylon rebels will take the final five with them, and the Humans will be off to Earth. What a deal, right?

C’mon, you didn’t miss the gaping hole in Natalie’s spiel, did you? The wily Admiral certainly didn’t. He asks Natalie for the hub’s coordinates – a reasonable precaution since she could very easily be leading Adama’s ship into an ambush. Really, even if Natalie’s offer is on the level, the chances of a damaged base ship and a decrepit battlestar surviving, much less triumphing over an entire fleet of full-strength base ships is laughably negligible.   Treachery or no treachery, it’d be a suicide mission, and by any measure, Roslin and Adama should blow Natalie out the nearest airlock and jump the fleet the hell away from the there while the still can.

Oh, but they can’t take the slightest chance on missing out on learning the way to Earth, can they? Seems to me that the Admiral’s “giving the people something to live for” has become the quickest way of getting them all killed.

Given the unceremonious fashion in which her base ship popped right into the middle of the Coloniel fleet, I’d have thought Natalie might at least have expected a little skittishness on the Human leaders’ part. It evidently didn’t occur to her, as she balks at Adama’s request. Adama gives the order to take Natalie to the nearest airlock. Natalie caves. Waaaaay too easily.

Or does she? She asks for the Admiral’s word in return that if the joint mission is successful, the “rebels” can take the final five with them – never considering that maybe they might not want to go. “Yes,” Natalie reveals, “the final five are in your fleet.” Two of them – Tigh and Tory – are in that very room, and their sudden cases of understated nervous complaint are palpable. And if Adama breaks his word? Well, the Galactica will be even more outnumbered than it is already, I guess.

One can reasonably expect that four of the final five – assuming they still want to keep their Cylon identities secret – will not be enthusiastic about this mission. Tigh, true to that view, argues (unsuccessfully, of course) for double-crossing the Cylon rebels by blowing up the resurrection hub without unboxing the D’Annas in a subsequent strategy session. But what of the fifth, President Roslin, she of the shared Cylon visions? That resurrection hub could be the difference between life and death for her – once she finds out what she really is. If only she knew….kind of like if the rest of the fleet knew what Lee Adama now knows. Thought I forgot about him, didn’t ya?

What the President DOES know is that her chief of staff has been boinking “Pastor” Baltar, and she decides to use that little nugget of intel by confronting her with it and turning her, without realizing it, into a double-agent – or triple agent in light of her being one of the final five – by tasking her with finding out who leaked the shared Cylon vision scandal to Fundamentally Oral Gaius. Interestingly, Roslin casts it as a “lie,” or Tory would REALLY have some pillow talk for later that evening.

As it is, she doesn’t have to do anything more to get the truth out of Baltar than deny him sex. So he tells her that he heard about the President’s, Caprica Six’s, and Athena’s opera house vision from Romo Lampkin at the end of his trial several months back. And of course, Roslin’s opinion of the theatrical ambulance-chaser is just as high as is her esteem for Rev’rund Gaius. Will Tory now jump into Lampkin’s bed, or go straight to the source and join Caprica Six and Colonel Tigh in a menage a toi?

Meanwhile, while the lobbying for a Human double-cross of the Cylon rebels fails, the Cylon rebels decide on a – well, not so much a double-cross of their reluctant Human allies, as acquiring some leverage by taking the Humans on their base ship hostage after the completion of the mission to ensure delivery of the final five. A bit of perfidy that the Humans ought to be able to see coming – but then if they were that perspicacious, they’d never have agreed to this crazy mission in the first place.

Nor would they have invited Natalie, the Six who leads the Cylon “rebels,” to address a joint session of the Quorum.

Or, rather, President Roslin did at Representative Adama’s standard self-righteous urging. The thing is, in this case, the former CAG’s lobbying actually made some sense in its senselessness. If anybody could have been trusted to not get sucked into this ludicrous suicide quest, it was Laura Roslin. Now that she’s been swindled, and if she truly believes taking active sides in the civil war of their enemy instead of making tracks while the toasters commit self-genocide is a good idea, why keep it a secret? And why would the Quorum be a harder sell than she was?

Natalie gives a tour de force, if also exceedingly brief, address, this time extolling the virtues of mortality in a presumable effort to ingratiate herself with her audience, further lulling the Human leadership into a false complacency of which the destruction of their civilization by this “woman’s” people should have permanently cured them.

There are no applause lines or standing ovations.   Just a stony silence that won’t last.   Interestingly, the only audience member to have any reaction to the Cylon speech was Starbuck, who suddenly remembered for the first time since it happened the hybrid’s prophecy about her being the “harbinger of death” for her people. Will Captain Thrace now suddenly start getting cold feet after having sealed the deal?

And/or will Roslin? She and her Cylon “sisters” have the dream again, only this time, standing in the room full of light is none other than Fundamentally Oral Gaius himself. And when Athena awakens with a start, she finds daughter Hera looking right at her, who chooses that moment to say, “Bye-bye”. As every one of Harrison Ford’s characters have said at one time or another, “I’ve got a baaaaaad feeling about this.”

Later, another circle closes when Captain Thrace pays the President a visit, asks whether she really is having the visions “Pastor” Baltar claims, and then discloses the Cylon hybrid’s opera house prophecy.   The implication of THAT hits Roslin like a hammerblow, her mask drops, and the same sneering cancerous woman of mere moments before now beseeches Starbuck to help her figure out what’s happening to her.

Remember, when this series began, that one of its best selling points was realism? Boy, but that seems like a long time ago, on the other side of a whole mountain of metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. When all of this started a tiny remnant of non-Terran Humanity was simply trying to survive in order to escape their mechanized (and cybernetic) enemy, find another world, and try to rebuild their destroyed civilization. Now it’s been transformed into a frakking vision quest – and, from the looks of things, an everybody-for-themselves religious war as well.

Maybe that realization hits Natalie, because she starts getting cold feet about the planned hostage-taking and entreats the Conoys and Sharons to relent and truly trust the Colonials. Which must have been quite an annoyance to her sibling models since she’s the one that suggested the double-cross in the first place.

No sooner do second thoughts hit the “rebel” leader than President Roslin decides to journey to the base ship and, as I prophesied last week, consult the hybrid like she was the Oracle from the Matrix. And she brings Baltar with her, because of his introduction to her most recent astral opera house adventure. If the Cylon rebels thought they had valuable hostages before, now they’ve REALLY hit the jackpot.

Then Mrs. Agathon discovers Hera filling page after page of a notebook with childlike drawings of a hot blonde Victoria’s Secret model with the number “six” written next to it. And then the child disappears – just like in the opera house vision.

The two scenes – Athena’s frantic search for Hera, culminating in her pulling her sidearm on Natalie on the Galactica, while Roslin and an armed escort traverse the passages of the base ship to find the hybrid – switch back and forth at an escalating pace until both climax at the same instant. Athena shoots Natalie deader than a smelt, and the hybrid bellows, “JUMP!” and the base ship complies, taking the President and half the Galactica’s air group “God, the Voice of Reason” knows where.

Metastasizing insanity. It’s a familiar and effective pacing device on this show, but here it just stirs the pot of disjointed, implausible plot fragments faster. It’s hand-waving meant to distract the viewer from the corner into which the writers have written themselves. Senseless hand-waving at that; Athena had no reason to blow away the Six, and the hybrid had no reason to panic and bolt. But it sure does guarantee that, if there was any chance Admiral Adama wasn’t committed to this harebrained scheme before, he has no choice but to pursue it – and the woman he loves – now.

Okay, I threw in that last part. But I fear it will be prophetic as well.

 

Next: From metastasizing insanity to tawdry soap opera – somebody pass me the Drammamine.

Battlestar Galactica: Faith (S4/E7)

Battlestar Galactica: Faith (S4/E7)

Rating: **1/2

Written by: Seamus Kevin Fahey
Directed By: Michael Nankin
And, just as quick as Sam Cylon’s hidden programming kicking in causing him to shoot Lieutenant Gaeda through the shin, shattering it, the intrigue went away. Suddenly everyone is calm and reasonable again (except for Gaeda, who’s bellowing his head off in agony, which is the only thing in that moment that actually makes sense). Even Starbuck, who pirouettes from “Helo, you son of a bitch, by mutinying you’re stopping me from taking the Demetrius on a suicide mission to a Cylon base ship that will get us all killed based on nothing but the empty Earth promises of the Cylon who tortured me for six months on New Caprica,” to, “Yes, Captain Agathon, you are correct; I will just take a Raptor and go to the base ship with Leobin.” Besides, I didn’t know they brought along any Raptors, and I really don’t want to know where on that sewage barge they were stashing them.

Okay, Kara’s still a couple Vipers short of a full squadron, but at least she made SOME sort of concession. But she still sticks it to Helo by ordering his Cylon wife to accompany them. After Anders invites himself along, ‘bucko will be outnumbered three to one just on the way to the base ship. Assuming she isn’t a Cylon duplicate of Kara herself. Just don’t mention that part to her; she might just go postal on your ass.

That possibility – or at least some sort of psychological conditioning – grows considerably when the Raptor arrives at the Conoy’s designated jump coordinates. They find the aftermath of the ambush of the Six/Sharon/Conoy half of the Cylon fleet by the Cavils/Dorals/Simons. It looks eerily similar to the aftermath of the Battle of Wolf 359; nothing is left except smoldering, drifting debris. It’s a sight that ought to have plastered a sneer of satisfaction on Kara’s face; indeed, it’s a dream come true. The Cylons have done – are doing – to themselves what the Humans never had the chance to do: lay waste to the Cylon fleet. Now that this stunning turn of events has been confirmed, the prudent thing to do would be to jump back to the Demetrius, and jump the Demetrius back to the Galactica, and put as much distance between the fleet and the warring toasters as possible.

But nooooo; Starbuck is determined to find a Cylon hybrid amidst all that flotsam, like some sort of slot-machine fortune-teller, that will spit out a AAA Kobol-to-Earth road map along with a receipt and a fortune cookie. So she insists on sifting through the mess until they find one. But unlike Captain Riker and the Enterprise, ‘bucko is only in a tiny, deflector shieldless shuttlecraft, and some of that wreckage isn’t quite done exploding.

Right as an explosion is ordered up on cue, she sees it – the Jupiter-like planet being passed by a comet that she painted on the wall of her cabin on the Demetrius. If there were any chance of talking her out of this obsession, it’s more gone than a Baltar monogamy promise now.

It ought to scare the hell out of Anders and Athena, though.   Because this little revelation really has nothing at all to do with Earth, and everything to do with the Cylons.   And that leads back to why the Conoy is so interested in Starbuck. Just exactly what are they after? And whatever it is, isn’t it metastasizingly clear that she’s playing right into their hands?

It ought also to be unnerving to Kara that the next thing she knows the Raptor is sitting in the landing bay of an at least mostly intact base ship that they never saw before.   It certainly is for Athena, who is confronted by her sister Eights with a supplication to lead them against the Sixes.   So now this “civil war” is to become a triple-threat match? How long before it becomes a battle royal? Or is this what happens when sentient machines start “evolving” beyond their programming?

It looks like the Conoys and Sixes aren’t getting along very well, either. The latter appear to have allowed the Leobin to seek out Starbuck and the Demetrius only as a last resort in the hopes of trading access to their (injured) hybrid in exchange for utilizing one of the Humans’ FTL drives. The Six’s reference to the Conoys’ “obsession with this woman” sounds awfully similar to the reasoning behind the D’Anna Biers line being “boxed” (her own “obsession” with Human spirituality) – which is odd considering that it was the Sixes who demanded that the Cavils, Simons, and Dorals have that model unboxed.

When the Six moves to renege on her agreement with the Leobin and simply take the Raptor and liquidate Starbuck and her flight crew, Kara calls her bluff: “You don’t have time to figure out our FTL drive before your friends return, so kindly take me to your hybrid, or kiss your asses goodbye.” As loopy as she’s become – and as frankly intimidating as her zombie-like glare towards the Six is – you gotta admit, that is vintage Starbuck.

While the others are bickering over the details, Anders quietly moves to one of the interface terminals into which Cylons directly tap.   Is it curiosity? Or his programming? He seemed almost mesmerized, very reminiscent of Boomer back in the first season, like he was in a trance. He’s just about to touch the interface when Kara gives him an order – which breaks the trance and probably saves him from a bullet through his head. Nice little foreshadowing nuance, and probably not the last.

No sooner does Anders pull his hand away than another Six recognizes one of the Humans – a woman who had been an insurgent on New Caprica and had sadistically killed her – and snaps, beating her to death. This causes Anders to snap, pistol whip the Six, and threaten to blow her head off. Suddenly everybody’s gun is drawn on everybody in a flash-frozen Mexican standoff like the one back on the Demetrius that got Gaeda’s leg blown off. But this time it’s Starbuck playing peacemaker.

But Anders won’t listen. He’s determined to retaliate. So the lead Six, after comforting her sister, which includes a full-scale, lesbo-auto-tonsil-incestectomy (geez, are ALL the Sixes queer besides Caprica?), beats him to it by grabbing his gun and pulling the trigger. And since there’s no resurrection ship handy, the Six is deader than Judas Iscariot.

Thus is this preposterous “alliance” maintained.   Kind of like the alliance between Captain Janeway and the Borg in “Scorpion” – one of convenience that will last only as until one side or the other has what it wants and no longer needs the other.   Hope that hybrid has a Tom Tom in her.

Well, not quite. Cylon hybrids – in essence, living “ship minds” – recline in goo baths spouting a never-ending stream of gibberish (no matter how the Conoy tries to gussy it up). After standing there for an indeterminate quantity of time trying to pick out any wheat, even a single kernel, from the mounds of verbal chaff, Kara – ever the patient one – gives up and gives the order to pull the plug so that the base ship can jump….to the Demetrius, I guess (a visual that is well worth the wait). The plug-pulling causes the hybrid to emit a sustained (and I DO mean sustained) bellow, like the auditory equivalent of a computer crash, which causes a nearby centurion to start firing at one of the Sharons, whose dying blood pours into the goo bath, which seems to finally give the hybrid some focus.

Sorry, my fingers forgot to breathe again.

She looks straight into Starbuck’s eyes, caresses her cheek, and says:

The children of the one reborn shall find their own country. The dying leader will know the truth of the opera house. The missing three will give you the five who have come from the home of the thirteenth. You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end.

My best translation? Either Starbuck (“the one reborn”) will lead the fleet to a planet other than Earth on which they can finally settle, or she will somehow get them all killed. Which isn’t necessarily a contradiction, as that is pretty close to what happened on New Caprica under President Baltar’s “leadership”. President Roslin (“the dying leader”) will figure out her dream – probably by consulting the hybrid as Starbuck did (oops, there goes my perspicacity again….) – but then we knew that. And the unboxed D’Annas will expose Tigh, Tory, Tyrol, Anders, and Roslin for some reason or other – hopefully to explain how any Cylon models could possibly have come FROM Earth when the Cylons were created BY the Humans of the Twelve Colonies.

Regardless, I’m pretty sure, judging by the gaffed fish expression on her face, that that was not what Kara wanted or expected to hear.

So what does ‘bucko do now? Is she Humanity’s savior or destroyer? Does she blow her own head off before she can fulfill either side of the hybrid’s prophecy? And since when has Kara Thrace taken the word of a Cylon as gospel?

Since her “resurrection,” that’s when. Which reminds me why I dislike this angle so much.   A sentiment resoundingly reinforced when this inter-species brainstorming points Starbuck to the next windmill on her tilting expedition: go with the Cylons to the resurrection hub to which the Conoys, Sharons, and Sixes were going when the Cavils, Simons, and Dorals ambushed them, and where they’re undoubtedly still lying in wait. Gone that quickly is the little detail of Kara leading her people to their doom. Like she’d ever let a little prudence and sanity get in the way of a perfectly good obsession.

~ ~ ~

Lastly, but not leastly, President Roslin meets a fellow cancer patient (Nana Visitor, DS9’s Kira Nireys) who penetrates her presidential mask because she’s in precisely the same predicament, only a little farther gone. She has the Fundamentally Oral Gaius Show vamping in the background as they have several heartfelt, intimately empathetic conversations on the subject of what it’s really like to be on death’s doorstep.   Visitor’s character, Emily, was never a fan of “that religious crap,” but now she’s taking a fresh look at Baltar’s golden calf. It shakes Roslin to her core as she recalls her own mother’s struggle as her cancer consumed her and now sees it replay again in this new – and destined to soon be late – friend.

Seeing is believing, as the old saying goes.   Roslin has a dream – the same one Emily described to her – metaphorically depicting Emily’s death.   Then she sees her own mother on the shore, and tells her she’s not ready to “cross over”. But she’s weakening – not so much under the physical assault of the cancer, but the spiritual assault of where her own impending death will take her. It even has her wondering if her archenemy might not be on to something after all.

Don’t worry, Adama is still a Rock of Atheism. He’s just coming to grips with the reality that he may never see Kara again – again – and she may have taken Helo, Gaeda, and the rest back to purgatory with her. That he now really does believe in Earth.

And that he’s finally fallen in love with the president.

Ugh. Isn’t it the chemo patients that are supposed to hurl?

  

Next: The ins, outs, foibles, and perils of the ultimate “uneasy alliance”.

Battlestar Galactica: The Road Less Traveled (S4/E6)

Battlestar Galactica: The Road Less Traveled (S4/E6)

Rating: **1/2

Written by: Mark Verheiden
Directed By: Michael Rymer

 

Two tracks, two stories. One intriguing despite itself, the other…well not.

~ ~ ~

Tyrol is a different man – er, machine – this week. Not unlike Starbuck, his inward preoccupation with adjusting to – or trying to figure out the meaning of – his newfound “Cylonness” has been superceded by an outward tunnel vision: figuring out how his late wife, Cally, really died.

No longer in command of the flight deck, Galen finds himself with a great deal of free time on his hands. Now he exercises constantly, if for no other reason than to bleed off the excess nervous energy. He’s shaved his head. And when he’s not jumping rope, he’s down in the launch tube out of which Tory Foster blew Cally, turning everything over endlessly in his head. That’s where Tory finds him in Act II.

You remember how I predicted a collision course between these two when the ex-Chief finally figures out that it was Tory who spaced his wife? She’s obviously concerned about that. She unobtrusively questions him about his theorizing and sees that the details don’t gibe with the idea of a suicide. The fact that Cally was taking anti-depressant medication; that she left their son, Nicholas, behind. It just isn’t adding up.

So Tory makes a bold feint by floating a hypothesis of her own – part, but not all, of the truth. “Maybe she knew,” Tory suggests. “How would she have known?” Tyrol replies. “Maybe she sensed it. She was your wife. Maybe she was afraid of you.”

Tigh and Tyrol are examining their Cylon natures through the prism of their very Human pain. But I swear, Tory is making the centurions look warm-blooded. On the one hand, dancing up to the edge of the truth and then jiu-jitsuing Galen’s burgeoning suspicions back into self-doubt is a sublimely simple yet brilliant piece of psychology and logic. Yet she does it with such a Vulcan-like calm, almost in a monotone, that you can almost hear the circuits and servos whirring and churning and firing. Indeed, she may be the most dangerous Cylon model of all. And with that poker face, she could make a killing in card games in her spare time.

Tory is, of course, also frakking Fundamentally Oral Gaius, whose “ministry” of self-indulgence is growing into a fleet-wide empire in his conceited imagination. But it is also, slowly, reluctantly, reeling in one more acolyte: Galen Tyrol.

Where do you go when you have no place left? To whomever will take you in. Tyrol doesn’t want to be a Cylon, because it destroyed his marriage and his wife and his career. But that’s what he is, whether he likes it or not. And what is “Pastor” Baltar’s message? “You’re perfect just the way you are.” Sounds like a perfect fit, doesn’t it? And also, less than coincidentally, with Tory’s “plan” as well.

Oh, Galen doesn’t succumb easily. And Baltar doesn’t make it easy for him, either. Showing up quietly on the fringes of the congregation at one of his “sermons,” Gaius goes all televangelist on the ex-Chief’s ass, showing him up in front of all his cultists and triggering a verbal tirade (and a brief throttling) that fell deep within the “Methinks thou dost protest too much” category.

Retreating to his quarters, he is still “snapped” and grabs a gun to blow his own brains out, but of course his Cylon programming stops him.   Just like it did Boomer all those months and years ago. When Baltar comes a-calling some time later, all the fire and rage have burned themselves to ashes.

And when I say all, I do mean all. Tyrol doesn’t utter a peep. He doesn’t get up off of his bed. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t change expression. Baltar, as is his want, does all the talking.

But this isn’t the Fundamentally Oral Gaius of his cult and its pirate radio broadcasts. This is a Baltar that appears – you always have to qualify outwardly selfless, humble gestures where this worthless piece of garbage is concerned – contrite. He evinces regret for having embarrassed Tyrol in front of his followers, and rather than preaching forgiveness, he asks for it instead. He gives every indication of ministering to Tyrol instead of using him as a religious prop. He confesses his past sins (in a VERY generalized way) and speaks of his current religious gimmick as “acceptance of his fate” after fighting it for so long. And that, of course, is what Galen has come to believe he’s been doing: fighting the acceptance of what he has learned he is. A Cylon.

Sure, Baltar really doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and Tyrol’s almost creepy quiescence suggests either that he had already come to acceptance of his true alien nature or that he was in the penultimate stage of the suicide process between looking over the ledge and making the final leap.   But Gaius projected – or faked – enough sincerity that Tyrol accepted his words. Or, at the very least, didn’t kick his ass out of his quarters like a football.

Instead, he extends his hand – just as Gaius had asked him to do back in “church”.

Has Rev’rund Baltar made another convert? And has Tory neutralized her biggest threat?

~ ~ ~

Starbuck is frakking nuts.

In all honesty, I am at the same time profoundly grateful and somewhat disappointed that the past few episodes have left the twisted Earthquest of Captain Kara Thrace and her borrowed sewage scow, the good ship Demetrius. Grateful because I do not like the Starbuck resurrection angle at all, and not a great deal of exposition is necessary to get across the idea that Starbuck has cobwebs in the windmills of her mind where the booze-deadened brain cells used to be. Disappointed because there has been so much rich character and plot material to analyze so far this fourth and final season that I could use more focus on a plot thread that isn’t shallower than the kiddie pool at Munchkin Land.

This week, my luck ran out.

But it’s still not difficult to figure out. Consider: Admiral Adama gave Kara that ship, a skeleton crew, two Vipers, and sixty days to follow her fading homing beacon/signal/instinct/hypnotically-implanted deception/whatever it is to Earth.   Maybe if he’d done so earlier, and her instinct was genuine, she might have found it, or at least confirmed the route. But either way, ask yourself this: Did he turn her loose in the hopes that she could find the planet of their dreams, or did he do so to get a crazy woman who pulled a gun on President Roslin out of his fleet for two months? Maybe even in the implicit hope that the skeleton crew would mutiny and perhaps even “disappear” her?

Predicting a mutiny doesn’t exactly take clairvoyance.   Everybody on that barge can see ‘bucko has lost it – her Earth sense and her sanity. She stays locked in her cabin, painting the walls with mental snapshots of the Sol system. Star charts are scattered all over her desk and the floor. She frenetically switches back and forth between the painting and the star charts until she collapses into a shallow, fitful sleep.   Upon awakening she goes right back to the same maniacal restlessness. On the rare occasions when Kara does emerge from her lair, she orders repetitive recon missions into the same handful of sectors, even though they keep coming up empty.

The crew – Anders, Athena, Gaeta, a few others, and XO Karl “Helo” Agathon – has had it with the whole quixotic misadventure.   To make matters worse, Starbuck is delaying their jump back to the fleet to the very last moment, risking getting left behind altogether. Helo continues to stand behind Captain Ahab – um, Thrace – out of duty and respect for the chain of command. But he’s steadily weakening, and it seems as if one more big push will send him over the edge along with the others.

And so, the sixty-four cubit question: if Kara’s not going to go home humiliated, what else can happen out there – At The Last Possible Moment – to keep that plot thread going?

That’s right: another rendezvous with her old Cylon friend and creepy jailer, Leobin Conoy!

For a convenient but PURELY RANDOM change of pace, Captain Thrace opts to fly the next redundant recon patrol. Only, PURELY BY COINCIDENCE, she and Hot Dog find something.   And, ABSOLUTELY AND COMPLETELY BY RANDOM COINCIDENCE, that something just happens to be a damaged Cylon heavy raider aboard which is one of the Conoys. Which one appears to matter little, since they all seem to know Starbuck like they were inside her skin.

So what does Kara do? Blows the raider out of the sky and Leobin along with it, right? C’mon, she can’t get enough of killing Conoys, and she certainly has shot, stabbed, and strangled her way through enough of them to be a connoisseur, hasn’t she? Except, of course, for the “imaginary” one that lured her to her “death” and took her to Earth and back before resurrecting her, and she doesn’t remember him.

But she must remember something, because she escorts the raider back to the Demetrius and lets it dock with her ship. A call which only further endears her to her disgruntled crew.

Once the Conoy is aboard, he jumps right back into his mind games like they were back in that upholstered cell on New Caprica. Only now he tells Kara that “God has taken your hand” and “purged you of your doubts” and “you’re ready to begin your journey.” Journey where? Why, to Earth of course. Because he knows. He knows that she went (or thinks she went) to Earth and is desperate to get back, and he dangles a way in front of her: join the side of the Conoys, Sixes, and Sharons in the Cylon civil war and talk to one of their “hybrids,” which, of course, they believe are the “voice of God” or something.

Really though, Starbuck hasn’t changed all that much.   She’s still as driven, intense, and obsessive as she always was. It’s just no longer focused inward. And that makes her even easier to manipulate, a fact which is as obvious to everyone else as it is lost on her. Which is the only conceivable reason why she would have had Conoy taken to her quarters.

And which treats Anders to a “caught the wife with the milkman” moment when he drops in on his (technically still) wife and finds her “painting” with Conoy’s arm around her, and effortlessly stealing “second base”.

Sam Cylon does what any husband would do in that circumstance: he belts Leobin and has his fellow “skinjob” taken to the brig, while Helo tries to (1) believe what he’s seeing and (2) figure out what in the galaxy he can do about it.

There are obsessions, and there are obsessions.   Locking yourself in your cabin for days at a time and painting the walls and pouring over the same star charts incessantly and sending recon patrols flying around in circles is eccentric, and borderline – okay, more than borderline – obsessive, but it’s not off the deep end. But rescuing your worst enemy, a creature that psychologically (and who knows, maybe even sexually) tortured you, and coming within what looked like mere minutes of letting him have you, because he claims to have some knowledge, some insight, somebody that can help you regain the Earth map in your head that you were so sure of and have now forgotten – That’s, well, frakking nuts. And very soon Karl Agathon is going to have to make a decision before Conoy succeeds in screwing up Anders as badly as he has the Captain.

An explosion of the Cylon heavy raider that, you’ll recall, they knew was damaged and yet docked with the Demetrius, and which kills one of the crew during an EVA, provides a brief moment of clarity, which Starbuck uses to beat the bejesus out of Conoy for old time’s sake. But as he himself remarks between spitting out mouthfuls of blood, it doesn’t help. And she quickly realizes that he’s right. “What are you doing to me?” she asks forlornly. And the Conoy keeps up with the same “journey”/”angel of God leading her people home” rap. The mechanized bastard is relentless as…well, as a machine. And yet the one meaningful question she asks him – “What happened to me during those two months I was gone?” – is the one he cannot – or will not – answer. Because, of course, to answer that question would be to let her off his hook. And that, no Leobin Conoy can ever allow.

So Kara makes her decision: they’re not returning to the fleet, but are jumping instead to rendezvous with the Conoy/Sharon/Six Cylon faction. One of the crew freaks out into open mutiny after she departs the memorial service for the deceased crewman, and Helo has to pistol-whip him into unconsciousness to retain control of the situation, even though he’s as incredulous as the rest.

One of the roles of a first officer is to speak for the crew.   Helo has now reached the point where the need for respecting and maintaining the chain of command has been superseded by the imperative of protecting the lives of the crew from an unequivocally and suicidally dangerous command decision.

When the time comes to make the jump to the Cylon base ship, Captain Agathon refuses Starbuck’s order, and relieves her of command.

Okay, NOW this thread has gotten intriguing.
Next: Gaeta breaks a leg – he wishes.

Battlestar Galactica: Escape Velocity (S4/E5)

Battlestar Galactica: Escape Velocity (S4/E5)

Rating: ***

Written by: Jane Espenson
Directed By: Edward James Olmos

Well. Callandra Henderson Tyrol wasn’t forgotten by a long shot, was she? Not exactly a full military funeral with full honors, but all the brass was there, up to and including Admiral Adama and a President Roslin who has either gotten a jet-black dye job or a new wig to cover a rather garish side-effect of her looming “die job”.

Also present were three of the four in-fleet Cylon models, which would be expected. I’m not sure what expression I’d have thought Cally’s murderess, Tory Foster, to be wearing for the occasion. But I somehow wasn’t surprised to see an expression of heartfelt sadness and sympathy on her face. A person who could so effortlessly deceive a manic woman at the end of her rope into handing over her only child and then so cold-bloodedly space her is someone who has a lot more faces to wear than just the poker variety. Put Tory in a blond wig and a few strategically placed strips of red cloth and she could be Six’s understudy.

But was that face completely effective? When the mourners are filing out, Tory briefly touches the Chief’s hand, and Tyrol’s eyes get as big around as hubcaps. As though vague but accurate intuition about the actual cause of his wife’s death flowed through that touch like an electrical current.   And then, just seconds later, Tory whispers to Tigh that “He’s going to get us all killed”. Yes, indeed, I do see a collision course shaping up in the near future.

One that is about more than just the destruction of one woman’s life. The unity of these four “hidden” Cylons has already philosophically diverged. Tyrol is sinking deeper and deeper into his identity crisis, while Tory has over-embraced her newly discovered nature to the point of believing that she, Tyrol, Tigh, and Anders are “perfect”.   She speaks of “shutting down” her conscience like it was….well, a computer subroutine. Of “what we can do”. I don’t know if megalomania is programmed into any of the Cylon models, but Tory’s got a heaping dose of it, if I’m any judge.

Oddly, it falls to Tigh to commiserate with Tyrol’s loss.   After all, he, too, knows firsthand what it’s like to lose a spouse – by his own hand. He’s never gotten over having to execute Ellen for betraying the Human resistance back on New Caprica. It’s gotten so bad that, like just about every other character on this show (Cylon and Human), he’s begun hallucinating. Specifically, seeing Caprica Six in his mind’s eye as Ellen. Which isn’t exactly a step up aesthetically, as Kate Vernon doesn’t do that plunging neckline anywhere near the justice that Tricia Helfer does. But it is his Achilles heel, and it doesn’t take the Six long to figure that out.

Well, that and his “un-switch-off-able” guilt over having had to kill her. Ellen, I mean.

I don’t know if it’s his feelings or his programming causing him to see a wrinkled old crone instead of a Victoria’s Secret model, but when he asks her how she can live with the blood of billions of Human deaths on her hands, if she “shuts it down,” and she recoils in revulsion at the very thought, this hard-bitten, spit & polish hardass – who already has the look of a man sufficiently desperate to try anything to escape his crushing pain – decides to roll the dice.

Oh, Tigh doesn’t get there all at once. He’s been visiting Six for days now, inching closer and closer to the edge of what, for him, is the unthinkable, like a little kid taking forever to get into the water instead of just jumping in and getting it over with.

So Six, finally, shoves him in. The result is creepy beyond belief – and that’s apart from the age difference. Finger-frakking his empty eye socket, tonsil hockey, beating him until he’s bleeding all over the place, then more tonsil hockey.   Ewwwww. Almost makes me wish he’d go back to the bottle.

Did I mention that Tory is frakking Baltar? Oh, golly, I meant to get to that two weeks ago, but it didn’t seem particularly relevant at the time, and besides, that review was windy enough as it was. Only things we learned then were that Gaius appears to have an affinity for the missionary position, and Tory likes to do it with her bra on. Beats me why, with Six’s knobs hanging out all the time.

That encounter must have triggered the aforementioned megalomania, because whereas she came – ACROSS! – like a weepy virgin then, she has definitely become the “dom” in their relationship. A psychological dynamic with which Gaius is, of course, “intimately” familiar.

He’s in a state of naked repose, with Tory introducing masochism into the bondage, when a polytheocratic terrorist group – the “Sons of Aries” – bursts into Baltar’s cult’s quarters and trashes the place.   The only noteworthy detail is that as the terrorists withdraw, Tory spots Baltar – cowering behind a bulkhead support. Yep, that’s quite a messiah, alright.

Until, of course, Imaginary Six bucks him up for the umpteenth time. Amazing, isn’t it, how she’s been his guide throughout this entire, meandering personal adventure.   She’s the one that talked him into leaving Caprica after the Cylon holocaust; she’s the one that “persuaded” him to use his scientific credentials to slither his way into a top advisory post; then into politics as first representative from Caprica, then vice president, and finally president. Then as an underground pamphleteer, and finally this stint as Kobol’s David Koresh.   For all his balleyhooed brilliance, he never seems to stop to ask himself – or her, if there’s a difference – just exactly what the purpose of this “path” is. He just rides the harrowing current, bouncing from one rock in the rapids to the next. Heck, he’s even easier to manipulate than is….

….Lee Adama. No wonder Apollo couldn’t resist joining Baltar’s legal defense. He sensed a kindred patsy.

Now, though, it’s Baltar who attempts to emulate Apollo’s courage, and fails miserably by basically retaliating in kind by disrupting a Kobolian religious service that had nothing to do with the Sons of Aries.   To make himself into a living martyr?   And before the hour was out, a would-be dead one? Well, you can see how it would appeal to his undiminished ego – except for the dying part.

Speaking of which, Baltar’s latest little stunt has stuck squarely in the necrotizing craw of President Roslin. You’ll recall that she hasn’t been a fan of his going all the way back to “Epiphanies,” the last time she was on death’s doorstep and remembered seeing him with Caprica Six during one of her deliriums.   His acquittal at the recent trial (thanks to the Admiral) didn’t help matters. She appears to have forgiven “Husker” for that indiscretion, but she can NEVER forgive Baltar for what she knows is his ultimate complicity in this entire disastrous saga but has been completely stymied from proving – and punishing.

It is in that context that the prez takes a stroll down to the brig to have a little conversation with her former veep and successor. And what a monologue it is.

You wouldn’t think anybody could keep Gaius Baltar from getting a word in edgewise, but here the neomonotheist is doing almost all of the listening, in an escalating state of aghastness. She tells him that she’s dying; he knew, of course, that her cancer had returned, but just how close she is to departing this mortal coil is a closely guarded secret. She tells him this to explain – or perhaps justify – the other thing she tells him.   Call it a piece of well-meaning but ruthless advice, or a fair warning. She doesn’t waste time re-hashing the past – she knows she doesn’t have the time for it. Literally.   Instead, she cuts right to the chase: “Live a quiet life, I’ll die a quiet death, and everybody will be happy.”   Continue “stirring up the crap,” in Adama’s blunt phrasing, by igniting a religious civil war in the fleet, and, well, you know how people on their deathbeds “stop caring about rules and conventional morality.” The undercurrent of threat couldn’t have been clearer if she’d been holding his nuts between a pair of pliers when she said it. Doubtless something with which Tory has made him intimately familiar as well.

Gaius needn’t have worried, though. Roslin issues an Executive Order cracking down on Baltar’s cult under the guise of protecting them from further violence, and the Democrat-controlled, um, Quorum, led by what appears for all the worlds to be Majority Leader Lee Adama, immediately overrides it. Looks like Apollo wasn’t finished running interference for the “worthless piece of garbage” and his Imaginary Six-instilled power ambitions after all – at least as long as it furthers his own. Roslin is not happy; what stands out here is that she doesn’t hide her displeasure, or the bitterness that inspires it, behind the smiling mask she can no longer maintain.

Her Executive Order lasts long enough to get Baltar rifle-whipped to a pulp, at least. Which is noteworthy only in that his beating was intermixed with Colonel Tigh’s at the hands of Caprica Six. And as you probably also observed, Tigh’s was the more noble, as once Six started whaling on him, he begged her to continue, like he recognized it as a chance at some semblance of penance.   Whereas Gaius used his as a publicity stunt.

Imaginary Six literally picking him up and making him look like he was levitating didn’t hurt, either. Which means, I guess, that she isn’t imaginary. What she is has yet to be….er, “revealed”.

Remember Tyrol’s downward spiral? It reaches the breaking point when a maintenance brain fart of his causes Racetrack’s Raptor to tumble out of control and crash on the flight deck. For the Chief, who has already lost his Humanity and then his wife, losing his professional competence – in which he was immersing himself to escape his identity crisis, remember – is the last straw.   He says it himself earlier in the ep: “I don’t know who or what I am anymore.” As I commented last week, his plight is eerily, and perhaps tellingly, similar to that of his ex-lover Boomer (aka Number Eight), in that he feels like a man trapped in an alien body, a walking time bomb that can be turned against his friends and shipmates at any time, and he’s utterly helpless to stop it.

I’m not sure why he doesn’t just quit. Maybe he figures Adama wouldn’t accept his resignation again. Maybe he’s afraid that he couldn’t make himself do it. Whichever, he approaches the problem with trademark Galen Tyrol cleverness: he makes Adama do it for him by cussing the Admiral out when the latter approaches him in the ship’s bar to try and cheer him up again after the Raptor mishap. Guess we won’t be calling him the Chief anymore, unless Aaron Douglas is moonlighting as Alan Arkin’s understudy.

But therein lies the doubt: was that Tyrol’s idea, or was he acting according to his buried programming? You can see that question tattooed all over his face as the scene ends.

Finding as little room for escape as Tigh did, the ex-Chief – a lifelong agnostic – is driven to attend Baltar’s post-beating impromptu sermon, which meanders from monotheism all the way over to pantheism, through the mists of New Age Humanism and finally arrives at the altar of a strange philosophical hybrid of Stewart Smalley and the Borg, but remains Gaius-centric at its core. In that sense, ironically, it is true to its promulgator.

Leave it to Gaius Baltar to take raw self-centeredness and turn it into righteous piety. And by telling his followers exactly what any unrepentant sinner wants to hear, he was rebuilding his political popularity, and “outreach” to the fleet, at the same time.

Maybe he has found his calling after all.

 

Next: Captain Ahab update with a Leobin Conoy twist.

Battlestar Galactica: The Ties That Bind (S4/E4)

Battlestar Galactica: The Ties That Bind (S4/E4)

Rating: ****

Written by: Michael Taylor
Directed By: Michael Nankin

Way back in the first season there was an episode entitled, simply, “Water”. It was the story of Sharon “Boomer” Valerii’s horrifying discovery that she was a Cylon.   My review began thusly:

Imagine that you wake up and find yourself in a place you don’t recognize. You have no idea where you are, how you got there, or how long you’ve been out. That would be pretty frightening, wouldn’t it?

Now imagine that you wake up in a place you do recognize. You still don’t have any idea how you got there, but you quickly discover that you’re all wet, and you find an explosive device in your nearby duffle bag, and you have no idea how it got there. Now add in that your people are facing an alien enemy that has made itself so much like your own kind that anybody you know could be one of them – even without their being aware of it.

This is the living nightmare into which Lieutenant Sharon “Boomer” Valerii emerged in the opening act of “Water.” It was a spellbinding character episode that takes the question of how well any of us really know ourselves or what we might be capable of and plugs it into a situation in which finding the answer to that question is both absolutely critical and equally terrifying as well.

One of the ironies, in hindsight, was that Boomer’s lover was, of course, Galen Tyrol, who almost compulsively did everything he could to protect her – and, unwittingly, her secret identity – from suspicion of having planted the explosives the ruptured the Galactica’s water reservoirs. Now we have to wonder if that was part of his own deeply buried Cylon programming.

But even if he hadn’t been a Cylon, and as hard as he took it when Sharon’s “Cylonness” was discovered, his emotional plight was decidedly secondary to the horror of her own living nightmare.

“The Ties That Bind” turns the tables and flips them upside down at the same time. Here Tyrol is the Cylon who already knows what he is, but is, so far, managing to live with it. Only he’s not alone, as he has his three sibling models – Tigh, Tory, and Anders – to help him protect their mutual secret.

It is Cally – poor, little Cally – who slowly makes the horrifying discovery of what her husband is, what her son, Nicholas, must therefore be, and what that means for her own future.

Mrs. Tyrol isn’t exactly enjoying life as it is. The Chief has always been a workaholic, a fact she lamented at length (and for good reason – which would become bitterly ironic before the hour was up) in last season’s “A Day In The Life”. Now, with his discovery of his true Cylon nature, he has withdrawn into himself, becoming so pre-occupied with protecting that knowledge in concert with the other three that he is almost completely neglecting his wife and son. Cally is now burdened with her own flight deck job plus taking care of a newborn and maintaining what passes for a household single-handedly. Almost as if she were a single mother. What time they do still share is usually spent in loud, stormy arguments in which neither can yield, for reasons that the Chief simply cannot tell her.

It’s a tragic “irreconcilable difference” that is inexorably dooming their marriage. It gets even worse when Cally, waking up to her “Nicky’s” bawling yet again and with Galen nowhere to be found, finds a napkin from the ship’s bar. On a hunch she scoops up the kid and goes down to scope out the establishment – and what does she find but her husband sucking down ambrosia and apparently canoodling with the comely Tory Foster.

Of course the Chief isn’t frakking Tory on the side; they’re together for the same reason that she was frakking Anders and they and Tigh have become so subtley inseparable – they’re Cylons and have nobody but each other to talk to about it.

But what else is poor little Cally to think? Isn’t that what you would conclude in her place? It isn’t like she caught him with his Viper in Tory’s launch tube, but the situation looked far from innocent.

For the Chief, for whom the proverbial walls were already closing in, this incident just makes it worse. He feels like he’s losing his identity. Now he’s jeopardized his marriage because of it. But even now he’s still helpless because this is the one thing he dares not share, not even with his wife. And that’s the one thing she has to have from him if their marriage is to survive.

Elsewhere, Admiral Adama’s lending the Demetrius to Starbuck for her crazy Earthquest is beginning to stir up uncomfortable questions for President Roslin, which, since she never believed the Kara Thrace that appeared out of the Ionian nebula ether as a walking, talking, breathing, swilling, frakking, snarling Earth-Mapquest printout was the genuine article to begin with, is another wedge threatening to come between her and “Husker”.

This is not a good time for such distractions.   Roslin’s chemotherapy is grueling, leaving her nauseous and exhausted. She’d be on short patience reserves anyway, but all the more so for the futility of the whole thing. The cancer is terminal, she knows it, and she’s drifting toward the point where she’s giving less and less of a flying frak about more and more.

This likely explains the increasing secrecy and power-concentration that Vice President Zarek whispers into newly appointed Caprican Representative Lee Adama’s ear on his first day in his new job.

This is probably as good a time as any to bring up my gnawing problem with the direction in which the Apollo character has been taken. It’s no secret that over the course of this series his liberal do-gooder streak has never been far from the surface. Lee Adama has always been depicted as an idealist, and in the early days of BG he was a big supporter of President Roslin and often took her side against his own father, as in the early second-season Kobol saga. But that streak was, mercifully, kept in the background behind his core duties as CAG and then XO and CO of the Pegasus. He was never as natural a fit tempermentally for the military as his dad, but he was still good at it, and in that role his idealism was channeled into doing his duty.

Then came last season’s Baltar trial, Apollo’s assignment to guard duty of Baltar’s brilliantly scumbag defense counsel, Romo Lampkin, and his seduction into first lawyering, and then the final cannonball into politics. Lampkin effortlessly played Lee’s day-glo idealism like a ten-cent flute. He manipulated Lee like a puppet on a string.   He turned not only a CAG into an ambulance-chaser but a son against his own father for the sake of a “worthless piece of garbage” without breaking a metaphorical or literal sweat.

He made Lee Adama look like a moron.

The worst part was Lee, at some peripheral level, was aware of what Lampkin was doing to him. And yet he continued the descent. Almost as if a fastidious neat freak who’d been lured into a mudbog and discovered he liked wallowing in the mire. It was almost intellectual masochism.

The scene with Zarek is an instant replay. He comes into the Quorum room and lays the same basic rap on Representative Adama. That Roslin is trying to “sideline” him for trying to humiliate her on the stand in the Baltar trial, just like she did Zarek by making him veep. How he had Lee appointed to the Quorum because he believes Lee is “a man of integrity” and “courage,” who will “do the right thing” by challenging Roslin’s increasing “secrecy” and “tyranny”.

Or, in other words, Zarek wants to use Lee to humiliate, harass, and generally “undermine” Roslin the same way that Lampkin used him to humiliate her on the witness stand in the service of springing “the most hated man alive”. Only in Zarek’s case, it’s because he himself is no longer in a position to do so – because he’s “sidelined.”

You would think that Lee would start to recognize this pattern. That he would start developing a mind of his own and learn to recognize manipulators, and manipulation, when he saw them. That he would be his own man and start thinking for himself.

But no. He’s still the puppet on others’ string, the catspaw of users with their own personal agendas that they cloak in Lee’s insatiable moral supremacism. During the next Quorum session, the ex-CAG takes the opportunity of Demetrius-inspired heckling of Roslin from several other representatives to play the card Zarek slipped to him earlier: the text of an Executive Order establishing a secret tribunal system answerable only to the President.

But of course, Lee didn’t have the whole context of that Order, which the President proceeds to sketch around it. Or maybe she smoothly extricated her hand from the cookie jar for the time being. Either way, she’s no fool; she has to know who passed that document to the backbencher from Caprica. I would expect a pointed private meeting between President and vice president in the very near future.

As to Representative Adama, the smug look on his face as he sits down made me want to slap him. When this series began, I referred to him as a “punk”. Three years later, he’s become a prick who is becoming inured to the slime into which he’s been lured. If this is character development, its circularity is breathtaking.

Prediction: he’ll be the President of the Colonies himself before this final season is over. Gods help them all.

Meanwhile, back at the Cylon civil war, the Six/Sharon/Conoy-engineered- and “evolved” centurion-administered “ethnic cleansing” of the Cavils, Simons, and Dorals has split the Cylon right down the middle.   Since, as Cavil also quips in the dialogue after his last “download,” democracy didn’t work, he resorts to subterfuge.

One of the Cavils goes to the other side under the Cylon equivalent of a truce flag. He appears to cave on lobotomizing the raiders, and predictably, the Six presses her perceived advantage by upping the ante: she also demands that the D’Anna Biers line be “unboxed”. Makes perfect sense from her side’s point of view; the Biers line was even more gonzo on this “Find the final five!” vision quest than her and her brother and sister models. Resurrecting the Biers would give them a permanent majority, and the power to get what they want: reunification of all twelve models.

I’m not sure whether the Cavil was serious about his raider concession, but either way he gains a valuable bit of intelligence: the Sixes, Sharons, and Conoys have no intention of negotiating. Consequently there’s no way to seal this intra-Cylon breach peacefully. And since they fired the first shots, the only thing left to do is engage in a fashion they’ll never suspect.

It’s manipulation worthy of…well, Romo Lampkin or Tom Zarek.   The Cavils, having promised to make the Six/Sharon/Conoy “case” to the Simons and Dovals, return claiming to have lost those two models’ support. They offer to go together to a resurrection hub six jumps away to reactivate the Biers.   Six, reflexively mistrusting anything Cavil suggests, retorts that they’ll go there without escort, thank you very much.

You could see this ambush coming…well, six jumps away even without Cavil’s parting line: “We wouldn’t feel comfortable here, anyway.”   Indeed. It was devastatingly effective. And Cavil was right: the Sixes, Sharons (minus Boomer), and Conoys did start this civil war. It looks as if their sibling models intend on finishing it.

Then there is the Demetrius diversion itself, which is already shaping up as the space opera answer to Moby Dick, only with a sewage barge for the Pequod, a hot blonde insomniac for Captain Ahab, and the planet Earth as the great white whale.

But enough of these subordinate plotlines. Mrs. Tyrol needs her next hit of opium. Which she actually gets from her connection, Doc Cottle.   Yes, her life has become such a wreck that she’s strung out on barbiturates. So she can sleep, you understand.

But even drug addiction can’t addle the pain of her husband’s apparent betrayal. As she restlessly prowls their quarters – alone, as usual – she discovers a note, carelessly left in plain sight by Colonel Tigh, that designates a meeting place and time. No gold stars for the conclusion to which Cally leaps.

Spying out “weapons locker 17010,” she makes an unexpected discovery: Tigh joins Galen and Tory (Anders is on the Demetrius). Now either her husband has some sexual tastes she never imagined, Tory is an even bigger slut than she suspected, or something else entirely is going on here.   Utterly baffled, Cally squeezes into a crawl space between the adjoining bulkheads to eavesdrop on the trio’s conversation. And what she hears makes her pine for the good old days when all she had to deal with was a squawling brat, drug addiction, clinical depression, and a philandering husband.

No, I shouldn’t be flip about it. What Cally hears chills her to the very marrow of her bones: Chief Galen Tyrol, her husband, and the father of her son, is a Cylon.

Put yourself in her shoes: What do you do now? You can’t ask Galen about what you heard without giving away that you were spying on him, just as he can’t confide in you because he doesn’t want you to find out what you just found out. Do you go to Adama? How?   You’re a lowly flight deck grease monkey. Besides, to get to the Admiral you’d have to go through your immediate superior – the Chief – and then to the XO, which you now know is also a Cylon. The President? Same thing, and her Chief of Staff is….Tory Foster.

The smartest thing Cally could have done is keep quiet, lay low, and see what happens. Maybe Galen still has free will – after all, Athena is a Cylon and she defected.   Perhaps even approach her….but wait, she was assigned to the Demetrius as well, wasn’t she?

What Cally is, particularly in her current distressed state of mind, is trapped. Even her son, Nicholas, is no longer a comfort, because he’s half “skinjob”.   She has nowhere and no one to turn to.   She is utterly and completely alone.

She returns to her quarters, for lack of anyplace else to go.   No longer capable of rational thought, when Galen arrives soon after to try again to make amends (a scene shot with Cally in the foreground, her back to him, and the Chief a fuzzy figure in the background, his words sounding muffled and vaguely mechanical – a riveting, nightmarish cinematographical nuance), she caves in his skull with a wrench, scoops up Nicholas, and flees to one of the launch bays.

Where she finds Tory, who found the panel to the aforementioned crawl space not put back in place, waiting for her.

This last scene is eerie and ominous. The launch tube is deserted, which adds to the atmosphere of foreboding. You’re not quite sure what Cally has in mind – to hide (since now she can’t go back to her quarters), to space her half-breed child, and perhaps join him.   What would she still have to live for?   She is overwhelmed by her feelings of fear and betrayal, but perhaps most crushing of all is….humiliation.   She got tricked, deceived, and used as a sexual plaything and a living incubator by a Cylon. She doesn’t know that Galen only discovered his true nature a few weeks ago. All she knows is that the Chief has become to her what Leobin Conoy was to Kara Thrace back on New Caprica. And we all saw how badly that devastated Starbuck.

When Tory appears, Cally loses it. She starts screaming incoherently that she knows what they are, and threatens to space all three of them if Tory comes any closer.   Tory, by stark contrast, is calm as a clam in deep sand. She speaks quietly and soothingly – and candidly – that none of them knew what they were until the Ionian nebula, that it’s been difficult for them to adjust to.   She appeals to Cally to “come back in off the ledge” and let them help her, that everything will be alright, that she and Tigh and Galen are the same people they’ve always been. As far as they know, of course, a suffix left unspoken but yet hanging in the stale flight deck air, the words almost visible and vibrating.

You get the feeling Tory has done this sort of thing before – either that or Human psychology is part of her programming.   She continues to slowly approach Cally, whose terror and rage are inexorably swallowed up by her utter exhaustion. As she says in her dialogue, she can no longer live this “frakking nightmare,” she wants it to be over, and the allure of Tory’s steady, quiet reassurances suddenly becomes overwhelming.

She shrinks to her knees on the deck. Tory kneels with her, still a warming source of verbal comfort.   Finally, Cally allows Tory to take Nicholas from her arms.

Then she backhands Cally clear across the launch tube.   By the time Mrs. Tyrol regains her senses, Tory, with Nicholas in her arms, is in the control room, her hands at the controls. As Cally beholds this ultimate horror, her last thought is probably nostalgia for the good old days when she still had her son and a place to hide from her skinjob husband. Or perhaps relief that her nightmare will soon be over.

Either way, we’ll never know. Nor will anybody else. Because Tory presses the button, opens the launch tube doors, and blows Cally Tyrol into the icy vacuum of space, never to be seen again.

Or maybe she’ll show up out of nowhere in a few episodes, like nothing ever happened. Heck, it worked for Starbuck, didn’t it?

It does leave questions, though. Did Tory commit this murder because of her Cylon programming?   Or to silence Cally permanently?   Did she want to add Galen’s notch to her belt after all? What does the Chief do now that his Cylon-ness has destroyed not just his marriage, but his wife altogether? Will he succumb to Tory’s advances – or “offers of comfort” – or will he allow his guilt to destroy him just as Cally’s fear destroyed her? If that prompts him in a direction that will breach their secret, will Tory off him next? And if he discovers that Cally didn’t “commit suicide,” will he beat her to the kill?

I was no fan of this “Everybody’s a Cylon now” angle.   I’m still not, really. But for one episode, at least, Ron Moore and his staff made it the vehicle for a borderline masterpiece.

Next: The quaking aftermath, and Baltar’s (attempted) martyrdom.