”Battlestar Galactica” recap: Losing your grip
I’ve gotta say, after the events of last week’s episode — well recapped by Young Master Vary — I’ve become rather taken with Tory as a character. The Cally-cide gave us a window into what had previously been a wallflower of a woman. Sure, she’d had a couple of peaks (scheming to steal the election from Baltar; frakking around with Anders), but she had receded into the background. But when she found out she is a Cylon, it was as if she had been bitten by a radioactive spider or something and turned into the superpowered Marquise de Sade.
The scary thing about Tory is that now she thinks that simply because she’s different — stronger, faster, able to live without guilt — she’s better. In her words, she’s perfect. In essence, she’s living la vida Magneto (from X-Men, natch). And that way lies madness, even for a machine. Machines can go mad, too, right?
And that madness seemed to be the overriding theme of this week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica: How madness can manifest itself, and how people deal with it. Oh, and the peanut-butter-and-jelly-ness of pain and pleasure.
HAIL TO THE CHIEF…ER, SPECIALIST
I forgot that Galen Tyrol, before he was chief of the deck, was a PK, a preacher’s kid. He knows the Colonial religion, the ways of the gods, like he was born to it, because he was. And so his eulogy for Calandra Henderson Tyrol (aw, Calandra’s an awful pretty name) was moving. But his shifty machine eyes kept scanning the funeral attendees, making sure no one saw. Saw what? Saw him drop the ”human” act, ever so slightly?
Later, consumed by guilt (or was it distracted by guilt?), he almost killed Racetrack through simple absentmindedness. And when no one called him on his error, he started shouting like a crazy man. I’d say it’ll only be a matter of time before Tyrol hauls off and kills somebody with malice in his heart — or maybe malice because he doesn’t have a heart — but I think the Chief is smarter than that.
See, I think his going wingnut loony is part of a plan he didn’t tell his fellow Cylons about. Maybe the Chief realized, when he nearly offed Racetrack by accident, that he was in too sensitive a position for a man who might be one of the most well-seeded sleeper agents of all time. So he blew up at everyone in a manner they can’t ignore. Even ”the Old Man” couldn’t turn a blind eye when Galen exploded at him at the bar. So now we’ve got Specialist Tyrol, soon to be transferred off Galactica to a place where he can’t endanger hundreds of lives or bring the fleet to a grinding halt. Or, at least, not as easily. Maybe he’s the only one who understands that it’s not a good idea for Cylons to be running the ship — or be too close to the people who are. He’s the only one willing to take responsibility for who and what he is.
THE HAWT LOVE CULT WILL RISE AGAIN
Let me just say, for the record, that I didn’t buy Baltar’s newfound conversion to pulpit bulldog. This is the same man who, when the Sons of Aries came to burn down his harem, hid in the rafters. But now, fueled by shame-anger, he stormed into a church service and started insulting the parishioners, tossing relics to and fro? Really? This is a man who has proven himself, over the past three years, to be interested in preserving his safety — physical and egotistical. He’s gonna become a Freedom Walker?
No. When the moment called for him to walk into the jaws of death — or, at the very least, a serious beating at the hands of the security detail barring the displaced Love Cult from reentering its hawt den — Baltar had to be dragged by Head Six into the fray. (Which made for one of the funniest things I’ve seen on this show in a while, Raggedy Gaius getting his arse kicked. Though maybe that was a poor directorial choice — laughter wasn’t what was needed there.)
”When you’re in pain, that’s when you know who you really are.” Or so said Six to Colonel Tigh, who’s been visiting her in her cell on a daily basis. Why? To find out how she lives with the guilt of having destroyed the human race. To find out how to live as a Cylon. He’s another man trying to figure out how to cope, but Tigh had his wife’s death on his mind — the same wife he killed for being a Cylon collaborator. The irony isn’t lost on him, which may be why he kept seeing Ellen every time he went to Six’s cell. (Ah, science fiction, where character death means nothing to the working actor.)
The eeriest thing I’ve heard in a good long while was Six/Ellen talking about their love for their respective men, and how completely interchangeable Tigh and Baltar were to the women who loved them. And it’s not that all love is the same, but that true love exacts the same thing from everyone: a full measure of devotion. Even if your full measure might be different from mine — just as Six’s is different from Ellen’s — the giving of everything is what binds them together. It’s what’s universal.
Of course, beating the snot out of a monocular old coot and then smooching him, that’s all Six. Good luck with that, Colonel.
NEXT: Roslin’s exit strategy
FAREWELL TO THE QUEEN
”I like this service….I want you to know what I like.” There’s a real poignancy to what’s beginning to feel like Laura Roslin’s farewell tour. But does every exchange with her need to be about her mortality? Everything didn’t revolve around her imminent death the last time she was dying. What’s different? Is it that she’s forged a bond with Adama, that she’s got someone to share her final days with, so she’s willing to face it head on? Regardless, that brunet wig is more than a little sexy, n’est-ce pas?
We haven’t seen much of the old Laura, but we got a nice little flash of the steel we’ve come to know and love when she visited Baltar in the brig. Clear-eyed and serious as an airlock accident. As she put it, people on an irrevocable path to the grave ”just don’t care that much about rules and laws and conventional morality.” Which is getting her into all kinds of trouble with Colonial watchdog Lee Adama and the rest of the Quorum of Twelve.
(A little aside: Earlier this spring, BSG mastermind Ron Moore told Entertainment Weekly, ”Once we took [Lee Adama] out of the flight suit and had him in a legal and political setting, the character seemed to come alive for all of us.” Well, I’m glad Lee is interesting to someone. Because at this point, he seems to exist to (a) get in Roslin’s way while she bends the rules as she sees fit or (b) mysteriously appear to save the day, like a deus ex machina that spends a lot of time in the gym.)
I still relish the tenderness between Bill and Laura, especially his reading to her as she gets her cancer treatments. But as much as I like fiction within fiction — the idea that an alien culture has eons of literature that’s brandie-new to us is intoxicating, the very stuff that sci-fi is all about — it’s a tricky thing to pull off. Sometimes it’s magical, as in the case of the Black Freighter story strand in Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Other times, it just kinda sits there, like the novel Sawyer was reading on the beach a few seasons back on Lost. (It was called Bad Twin. Thanks, Doc Jensen.) What makes it so hard is that there’s the temptation to force the meta-fiction to add new depth to what we, the audience, are watching. But that’s nigh impossible to pull off, especially while having the meta-fiction be interesting in its own right. It helped to have an actor like Olmos reading the fictional fiction, Searider Falcon. It’s so easy to get lulled by his voice; you didn’t need to pay too much attention to the substance of what he was saying, beyond the vague realization that it underlined the idea of faith and a perilous voyage.
A fine episode that handled everything but Baltar’s ascension to the clergy with aplomb. Things are moving, and that’s what I want from a show like this: constant evolution.
So, what did you think? Did you miss Starbuck, or was it nice to have a rest from that particular brand of crazy? Will Tigh and Six live happily ever after? And should we prepare ourselves for the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Fifth Cylon has already died?