”Battlestar Galactica” recap: Kara loses control
Contrary to popular belief, memories don’t really fade. If anything, time only sets them firmer in our minds. An event that was good becomes great. A tragedy may not hurt as much, but the echo of it is as loud as it ever was.
There were two stories in this week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica — a downshift from our usual kaleidoscope of plot — but each of them dealt with the image people hold, in their mind’s eye, of those whom they loved as friends or despised as enemies. Is the Kara Thrace who reappeared from beyond the same woman beside whom Helo bled on occupied Caprica a scant couple of years ago? And is Gaius Baltar the same man who, time and time again, opened the door to humanity’s destruction?
GALEN AND GAIUS: THE ODD COUPLE
Okay, Baltar and his Hawt Love Cult are now officially out of control. We caught up with the good doctor as he prepared for another pirate radio show proselytizing to the fleet. But it’s so hard to take him seriously when he comes on like Hugh Hefner, lounging in the Hawt Love Cult den in his jammies, spreading the gospel of love (and monotheism). Every time I feel the show goes a little too far in its religious zeal — a tack I’ve never been a huge fan of — the producers do something like make Baltar openly say that the gods’ failure to intervene in a holocaust means that those gods don’t exist. Pretty ballsy for a show that took much of its lead from the aftermath of 9/11.
What a difference an episode makes for ex-chief Galen Tyrol, who now looks like Vincent D’Onofrio in Full Metal Jacket, newly shorn and working the jump rope like a fighter. A man driven, possessed by the faulty logic of Cally’s death. (And how much must it irk Tyrol that his kid likes the sound of Baltar’s voice?)
A man who has spent his adult life solving mechanical problems, fitting things together in the way that makes the most sense, Tyrol wasn’t going to accept the official explanation of Cally’s demise. As much as he was drawing away from her, after his Cylon awakening, he knew her; he knew that if she was just depressed over a supposed tryst with Tory, she’d absolutely leave him, and take their son with her. But suicide? It doesn’t fit. And neither Tory’s nor Tigh’s attempts to get him back on track and back into his life were going to work.
So — and here’s where this episode lost me — why did Tyrol allow himself to get pulled into the Baltar-sphere? Because Tory let some of her newly converted fervor ooze all over the airlock? Didn’t buy it. He should have been like Detective Tyrol, unwavering in his commitment to solving his wife’s apparent murder.
However thin the excuse, at least it led us to a nice couple of scenes between Baltar and Tyrol. The first was a beautiful little object lesson in how Baltar’s new standing as a spiritual leader has led him to believe his own hype. He thought that he could force his beatific will upon Tyrol, convince him that forgiving the man who gift-wrapped humanity for the Cylons is what his dead wife would’ve wanted. Which is the last thing you should tell a widower. Watching Galen wrap his hand around Baltar’s neck was probably more satisfying than it should’ve been.
The second was Gaius’ visit to Galen’s quarters, and his heartfelt mea culpa. The way that scene unspooled, with Tyrol not saying a word, just lying there with a pistol on his belly, was a deft masterstroke. (I will say, though, that the same part of me that dug the Baltar choking wanted to see Galen hoist the pistol and plug Baltar in the dome.)
NEXT: Kara and Leoben reunited
THE MUTINY ON THE DEMETRIUS
What do you do when a friend goes off the deep end? How far do you indulge her? How much rope do you give her? Just enough so she can hang herself?
Kara was still ”out there,” still chasing after the voices in her head and leading her super-duper ragtag crew further away from Galactica and the fleet. And poor Helo had to balance remaining true to the Starbuck he thought he knew and the demands of a military he has devoted his life to. And Kara didn’t make it easier on him by allowing a Leoben — drifting through space in a crippled heavy raider after the Cavil attack — onto the Demetrius.
Here’s the thing about Leoben: He’s like Loki, the Norse god of mischief. His lies are so effective because they’re always interwoven with the truth. And he preyed upon Kara’s hunger to believe — that she was getting closer, that he was the key to her destiny, that maybe all she needed was a good Cylon kiss. (That is what they were doing, in Kara’s quarters, when Anders broke them apart, right?)
When Starbuck decided to follow Leoben’s advice and use the coordinates salvaged from his heavy raider (before it blew up and killed Sergeant Mathias) to find a wounded basestar, her crew had had enough. The rebellion that had been growing, jump after pointless jump, had come to a head — even Helo, who had decked a pilot in Kara’s defense, couldn’t swallow it anymore. And as we all know, when Helo, the true-bluest of Colonial officers, turns on you, you’re in a bad way.
Tell me: When did you notice that neither Adama, Roslin, Lee, nor any Cylon besides Leoben was in this episode? Did it bother you as much as it did me? It’s not that nothing happened in this episode, just nothing happened that I much cared about. We knew the crew was gonna revolt against Kara; it was only a matter of time. Tyrol and Baltar are buddies, sort of. Oh-kay. The only nugget of story that propelled anything was the idea of a Cylon-human truce — which came almost in passing during Leoben’s butt kicking.
I know that there are certain storytelling blocks that have to fall into place in order for us to get to the finale that Ron Moore and Co. have preordained. But I just want each of these final episodes to matter.
What did you think? Was Helo right to take the Demetrius away from Starbuck, or should he have trusted her and left her in command? Should Tyrol have shaken Baltar’s hand, forgiving him for his crimes? Is Tory just an emotionally checked-out superfreak, or does her closeness with Baltar have a purpose? And who’s watching baby Nicholas when Tyrol is out going crazy?