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.

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