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his inward preoccupation with adjusting to – or trying to figure out the meaning of – his newfound “Cylonness” has been superceded by an outward tunnel vision: figuring out how his late wife, Cally, really died.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.