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''Battlestar Galactica'': An epidemic of bigotry

On ”Battlestar Galactica,” a disease strikes the Sagittaron minority, and Helo discovers that a Caprican physician is killing his patients

Posted on

Carole Segal

Battlestar Galactica

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
09/06/06

”Battlestar Galactica”: An epidemic of bigotry

This episode of Battlestar Galactica is brought to you by Tahmoh Penikett’s crazy oblique muscles.

Man, I’d have bad dreams too if I were the mayor of cubicle city, like poor Helo. Could you read the longing on his face when he kissed Sharon goodbye and she ran off to the (relatively) carefree life of a pilot? I guess the Sagittarons are supposed to be like Christian Scientists, who don’t believe in that newfangled medicine and feel that prayer will heal all that ails them. Still, it’s a little unclear why everyone seems to hate them so much. (Then again, they do also act a bit like hippies, with all that burning of incense-y branches. And not everyone loves hippies either.)

I had a little difficulty buying Dr. Roberts, not only because it seems unlikely that such a fully formed bigot would rise to becoming a respected doctor but also because I kept thinking of him as Dr. Bob. Which, despite Bruce Davidson’s fine portrayal, rendered him a little silly in my own head. But then again, my head is nowhere anyone wants to be, not on a Sunday night.

Tom Zarek, the voice of reason. He’s probably right that the trial of Baltar will consume the fleet with a pungent, divisive hate. But Laura should be very careful about listening to Zarek: It seems that those who do follow his advice get what they want, as Baltar did, but not exactly in the manner in which they wanted it. And Laura was wrong when she said that she’d never seen Zarek like that. He was just as heated when he first warned her what would happen if she tried Cylon collaborators in an open forum. And his speech then was astonishingly like his speech now. He’s like a weatherman of political discord. (And, for my money, Richard Hatch is one of the real acting surprises of this show. He’s always a joy to watch, and it makes you wonder why he doesn’t get more work.)

Head Baltar! Whoo-hoo! I always like to see him — it’s a little reminder that machines can be just as kooky as humans. But is it me, or is James Callis barely fitting into that miniseries suit? Those pinstripes seem like they’re bending in weird ways.

Helo is like Captain Id. He does, by and large, whatever he feels like doing at the time. Sleep with Sharon on New Caprica? Check. Suffocate Cylon prisoners before they can download a virus into the resurrection ship? Sure. Shoot your wife? Done. Deck a vastly superior officer? Why not? Yes, Colonel Tigh was absolutely asking to be cracked in the jaw, and he deserved it. But should Helo have done it? No frakking way. Not if he likes wearing a uniform.

For a second there, I actually thought, ”Holy crap, is Dualla dead?” Of course she isn’t. By now, we know that if the producers are gonna kill off a regular character, that regular gets an episode built around him or her — as when Billy or Kat bought it. But that was a pretty decent act break.

And I appreciated Adama’s apology to Helo for dismissing his hunches. That’s a big part of command, knowing that you need to own your actions, when they’re right and when they’re wrong. (I completely understand why the producers cut that little bit of the scene where Helo admitted to sabotaging Adama’s plan for destroying the Cylons with that virus. Unless you can play that beat for everything that it’s worth, don’t just tease us with that. It would be cruel.)

Truly, the only quibble I had with the episode was with the motives behind Dr. Bob’s killing spree. I saw it coming a mile away. I’m sure you did, too. Because you’ve actually seen some television shows before. And it was so obvious that I was hoping that it wasn’t true. Part of me wanted Dr. Bob to be a serial killer who works in clinical triage because no one will look twice if a person dies here or there. People expire all the time, as Doc Cottle told Helo. It would be the perfect cover for a twisted healer. But, no, his bigotry fueled his actions. Bo-ring.

Finally, an episode with real issues. Not silly romantic quadrangles or invented food shortages. No, this was an episode about ethics. It’s said that a society is judged by how it treats its weakest members. How will Galactica and, by extension, the colonial government, be viewed after what’s happened with Dr. Bob? This episode touched on a bunch of different story threads that needed touching on, and incorporated an interesting subplot that illuminated our main characters. And that’s what I want out of Galactica — with a little bit of space combat thrown in for good measure.

What do you think? Why would everyone dislike the Sagittarons so much? Was the mystery of their deaths solved a little too easily? And will Helo’s insubordination ever get him in real trouble?