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.

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