On ''Battlestar Galactica,'' Kat redeems her shady past and helps save the starving humans with an act of heroism; meanwhile, Baltar wants to be a Cylon
James Callis, Battlestar Galactica

”Battlestar Galactica”: Reinventions

Before we get started, I just want to make sure that you all, the Battlestar faithful, are listening to Ron Moore’s podcasts. If you aren’t, I can’t recommend them highly enough. Essentially, they’re commentary tracks for each episode of BSG (I think they eventually end up on the DVDs, but who wants to wait that long?) done by the executive producer, occasionally with special guests. Actors like Grace Park and Tahmoh Penikett stop by, as do other writers and producers, like David Eick. And Mrs. Ron, Moore’s wife, is around more often than not, checking in to see what condition her scotch-drinking, American Spirit-smoking husband is in. The most recent podcast is pretty terrific, with Jamie Bamber, James Callis, guest player Mark Sheppard (who has a major part in the season finale — be careful when you listen, because some spoiler-y stuff does pop up), Penikett, and Mrs. Ron just talking about the show: evolution of the characters, what they like and dislike about working on BSG, answering viewer questions, where they think the story will end — basically, it’s Galactica crack. Download and inhale.

Okay, onto the business at hand. Hunger and secrets.

There’s something elemental about this episode; it forms a trilogy of sorts with ”33” and ”Water” in that it’s about maintaining humanity’s basic needs. Those other two episodes were about sleep and, er, water. In ”The Passage,” we’re looking for food. While I didn’t quite follow the explanation of why the entire fleet didn’t have any vittles — some business about contamination — the why isn’t really important. It was enough to just get us into the story. What this episode never really made convincing was that everyone was on the brink of starvation. You would expect more desperation — and maybe the eating of pets — not to mention folks looking a whole lot more like starving refugees.

One of the things I’ve always loved about Galactica is its steadfast refusal to let outer space look boring. Rarely do we just see deep black, punctuated by stars, and this episode was no different. Gotta love the idea of being blinded by what you see out the window. Unless you’re a raptor pilot, of course.

Kat’s real name is Sasha, huh? I guess stringent background checks fell by the wayside along with most of the other old-school formalities when the Cylons attacked. No one bothered to fingerprint her, or check her picture against ship manifests before letting her climb into a priceless viper? For someone as protocol-conscious as Adama, this feels a little half-assed. (Yes, I know, they were desperate for pilots, but still…)

There was something very old-high-school-boyfriend about Kat’s tattooed drug-dealing buddy, Enzo. Like, Kat went off to college and got herself a whole new batch of friends, but this guy just wouldn’t stop hanging around, wishing things were the way they were. Sounds like the kind of story one might’ve seen on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fancy that, since Jane Espenson, who was a co-executive producer on Joss Whedon’s baby, wrote this episode. But the really strange thing is, this dude Enzo was the weakest part of the episode. He had no real purpose other than to be Starbuck’s clue that Kat wasn’t who she claimed to be. And to give Kat a little bit of action before her picture went up in Milk Carton Corridor.

Welcome back, Saul. Good to see him return to the CIC, but why isn’t he sporting a black patch? If you’re gonna do it, go the full Nick Fury. That flesh-colored job just doesn’t, I dunno, own it. I’m still trying to figure out everyone’s new roles, now that the Pegasus is gone and the New Capricans are back. Why isn’t Duala the communications officer anymore? And is Helo now back to being a raptor pilot?

While Baltar may lack a whole lot of commendable human traits, he’s still got the gift of self-examination. And, probably, a copy of Paradise Lost. ”I could stop being a traitor to one set of people and be a hero to another” sounds an awful lot like ”Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”

”The hand that lies in the shadow of the light, in the eye of the husband, the eye of the cow…” Methinks we’re starting to head back into ”Tomb of Athena/Arrow of Apollo” territory. While I didn’t exactly hate that stuff, the prophecy parts of BSG are never my favorites. And the hybrid seems to be a slightly less ambulatory version of that black priestess who died on the surface of Kobol a couple of seasons ago, someone who offers up clues that are just cryptic enough to get people stumbling in the direction they need to go. (Though, if you start to play around with the hybrid’s words, a hand has five fingers, Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun….Damned clues!)

It’s funny, of all the human characters we’ve come to know since BSG started, Kat is the only one who actually started a new life when the bombs started to fall. She’s the only one who embraced the potential for reinvention. Everyone else clung to what they knew — those in the military stayed in the military, those in the government stayed in the government. (Okay, maybe Tom Zarek reinvented himself too. I’ll give him that.) So it’s a little odd that someone who saw apocalypse as a way to start over is the one who bought it.

And it’s nice she died a hero, even if I couldn’t really stand her. I guess it’s like that doorway-of-death promotion: an appropriate gift to give someone before they move on.

All in all, not an episode I was in love with, but one that I could respect.

What about you? Do you think Adama and Starbuck were right to let Kat’s past stay in the past? Who should be the Galactica XO? (Tigh, Apollo, and Helo all have legitimate claims.) And what color would you choose for your eye patch?

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