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''Battlestar Galactica'': A lost child, a found map

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Grace Park, Battlestar Galactica

”Battlestar Galactica”: A lost child, a found map

Hey, before we talk about the episode itself, anyone else notice that the show credits now read ”Fighting for Survival” instead of ”Searching for Earth”?

Now let’s get into it. Who doesn’t love The Great Escape, the fabulous 1963 Steve McQueen-James Coburn-Richard Attenborough World War II POW flick? Clearly, the producers do, since the whole opening sequence of this episode — where the civilians are taken off those trucks and surprised with a centurion firing squad — is a direct lift. But more than that, ”Exodus, Part One” feels like we’re gearing up for humanity’s great escape. It builds momentum and emotion the whole way through. Plans are made, events are set in motion, and there’s even a scene in some underground tunnels, dug, presumably, by BSG‘s version of Charles Bronson, Chief Tyrol. (Given that he seems such an effective leader of men, I wonder if the chief will be assigned more of a command role once he gets back to Galactica — if he gets back to Galactica.)

I guess the question ”Do androids dream of electric sheep?” has been answered. Apparently, they dream of rocks and temples and hybrid babies. Freaky Amanda Plummer as an oracle is a huge step up from the stentorian black holy woman who died back on Kobol. Plummer plays her character as the kind of person who is in touch with the gods because she’s clearly not in touch with reality. Comes to think of it, is she truly an oracle, or is she a spy? Do gods pass messages so specific, especially across different pantheons?

One of the things I’ve always liked the least about BSG has been the religious elements, especially when entire plot lines relied on them, like the whole ”following the prophet to the tomb of Athena” first-season finale. It’s a personal thing. But this is really the first time that I bought into it, when the pilots drew a line of salt on the ground and read from the scripture. These are people who have lost everything, and then somehow lost even more on top of that. I guess that old saying ”There are no atheists in foxholes” applies here, too. When you’re on the bleeding edge of annihilation, when the line that divides survival and desolation is as ephemeral as a trail of salt, you reach out for whatever will keep you steady.

Families are never more familial than when they fight, and when they make up. I’ve never seen the Adamas appear more like father and son than when they said their final goodbyes: the son reaching out to his father, the father trying to remain a rock for his son. (And not entirely succeeding: ”Don’t make me cry on my own hangar deck.”)

(A little aside: I love Doc Cottle. He’s like Switzerland, but with balls. He never chooses sides but seems all the stronger for it. I’m just saying. And while we’re asiding, isn’t Maya played by the same actress who plays Jo on Eureka, Erica Cerra? I wonder if that’s a little hint as to how long she’ll be a member of the Galactica ensemble — and if something unfortunate will happen to that little Humylon bundle of joy.)

What does a man do when he’s as lonely as Baltar? Get in bed with people he hates a touch less than he hates himself. Have the pressures of power robbed poor Baltar of his, er, power? Or are they the pressures of having sentenced his fellow humans to death? Or is it the fact that he’s been emasculated by the Cylons? If and when Galactica comes back and rescues the colonists, what’s gonna happen to him? Which fate would be better for him, being tried by Adama and Roslin as a war criminal, or living as a roach under the Cylon boot, somehow managing to survive when no one else can? Maybe that quandary is what’s keeping Baltar from getting it up.

Sometimes, don’t you just wish that somebody would remind the Cylons that this occupation was their decision? When Cavil talks about how the insurgents left him to die in the hot sun with a bullet in his gut, one of the Dorals says to Baltar, ”What a noble race you are.” This from a member of a species that thinks genocide is an acceptable means of exacting revenge.

Oh, how the lies we tell ourselves, and others, come back to bite us in the ass. Did Ellen really think that she could get away clean after betraying her husband — and the whole insurgent movement — by giving that map to the Cylons? And what’s gonna be the fallout once Sharon Agathon (at least now we have a different way to refer to her) and Helo find out that their baby isn’t dead, and that Adama and Roslin colluded to hide her? We’ve seen how devastating Sharon can be when she doesn’t know she’s been programmed to wreak havoc; imagine what’ll happen when she decides to on her own. And how will Adama face the knowledge that he conspired to do a grave injustice to a woman he now calls a friend? Sharon herself once told Adama that it’s up to him to forgive himself. Can he?

It’s like what Kara tells that little girl who may or may not be her daughter: ”Grown-ups do stupid things sometimes. We get caught up in our own little world until it’s almost too late.”

What do you think? Is Ellen really at fault for doing what she thought was necessary to save her husband’s life? Who, if anybody, is gonna make it off the surface of New Caprica? And when is Lee gonna trim his fat ass down?

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