Friday, July 4, 2008

Season 4 Episode 4
“Escape Velocity”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Edward James Olmos

Twelve Cylon models
Seven are known
Four live in secret
One will be revealed

All right. A particularly dark and weighty installment here, so let’s get to it.

After the first truly shocking moment of the season (Cally’s murder at the hands of Toaster Tory), we see the descent of a number of characters into darkness and despair.
Obviously, the Chief, who blames himself for Cally’s “suicide,” so he starts to frak up on the job. Poor guy can’t even turn to Toasters Anonymous for help and support, since, after all, they need to stay anonymous to the rest of the fleet.
Finally, bitter and disillusioned, he stars to rant and mouth off to Adama at the bar. Angrily, he claims to have settled for Cally, “… because the ones we really wanted, the really loved, were dead, or dying, or turned out to be Cylons and they didn’t know it.”
He basically spits on the memory of Cally, and pushes Adama to the point where ol’ Rockface pulls the Chief off flight deck duty and orders him up for reassignment.
Poor Chief.

Then there’s Tigh, who’s taken to paying Caprica Six daily visits. Trying to find answers to questions he can’t really voice, Tigh begins to see Ellen in Caprica Six’s place, mouthing her words.
Tigh needs to know if there’s a switch that turns off all the pain and the guilt, but Caprica Six reassures him that she is just like any human, and that she likes the pain, because that’s how she learns. She also uses the pain as a focus, and when Tigh seems desperate for some kind of absolution, or at the very least some respite from the guilt and the confusion, Caprica Six starts to whale on Tigh (after he’s dismissed the guards on monitor duty, so he’s all alone with Caprica).
Eventually, Caprica stops, and though Tigh asks her to go on, she realizes pain is not what he needs.
And she kisses him.
I’d say “Poor Tigh,” ‘cause he’s so tortured and all, but hey, we left him in a liplock with Tricia Helfer! Ain’t nuthin’ “poor” ‘bout that!

Then there’s the President, who is reacting to her impending death with a growing disregard for the rules and conventional morality.
In dealing with the religious persecution going on against Baltar’s cult (more on that later), she passes a law that prohibits them from assembling more than a dozen individuals at once, thus effectively keeping them from holding services, and also keeping most of them out of their own home (since only 12 can be in there at any given time).
And to be fair, Roslin has a point: given what happened on New Caprica under Baltar’s leadership, who can say what will happen when he’s at the head of a group of blind, religious zealots?
Propelled by Lee however, the Quorum votes, and overturns Roslin’s law, allowing Baltar to continue preaching and conducting services. (Lee attends the episode’s climactic service, where Baltar reassures his faithful, God loves you exactly as you are, for you are all perfect. His followers are enraptured by Baltar’s words; Lee seems a lot less so.)
Poor President Roslin, wearing a wig and becoming more acclimated to being above everything now that her days are numbered. (Yes, she’s really scary right now, but I still feel for her…)

Then there’s Tory, who’s taking Baltar’s words to her evil little Toaster heart, as she’s basically become drunk on the possibilities of who she knows she is now, a Cylon, better than human, and, if Baltar is to be believed, perfect, and still loved by God, exactly as she is.
Now, this skin job, I have absolutely no sympathy for. The woman’s a dangerous sociopath that needs to be put down like the rabid dog that she is.
And you know, things might not have been so bad were it not for Baltar’s preaching, which sounds, really, on a certain level, as justification for all the evil he’s done—consciously or otherwise.
It’s all right. I’m a bad, bad person, but it’s all right. God still loves me. Because I am perfect, flaws and sins and all. (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of Baltar’s climactic teaching.)
I’m sorry, but isn’t that just the sinner giving himself leave to sin because, in the end, he is still perfect in the eyes of God? Because God still sees the inherent worth in the lowliest of scum?
Not sure if I nodded off during the service, Gaius, but where’s the personal responsibility? Where’s the need for atonement?
Don’t we need to prove ourselves worthy of God’s love? Don’t we need to strive for the perfection God sees, instead of telling ourselves that we already are perfect?

See? What did I say about this episode being weighty?
And the thing is, above and beyond my questions concerning Baltar the Holy’s doctrines, one really must ask, Are we really going to fall under the sway of a deranged, clearly frakked-up lunatic? I mean, come on! This is a man who’s allowing Head Six to jerk him around like a marionette!
I honestly used to think, Okay, maybe there is something to this Baltar the Holy, Divine Instrument of the One God thing (let’s face it, Head Six could sell ice to an Eskimo), but lately, Baltar’s just looking really loony, like this is the only way he’s had to deal with being culpable in the near-extinction of the human race. By believing he is the chosen of the One God.
And of course, Lee’s just doing what he believes is the right thing to do (allowing the people freedom of religion), but letting this madman stand at the pulpit, and preach to a collective desperate for answers?
Like I said, as scary as Prez Roslin is at the moment, I understand—and agree—with her point. Having said that, I don’t necessarily subscribe to suppressing Baltar’s right to whatever the frak religion he chooses, either. So we’re still stuck with a volatile loony at the head of a growing army of zealots-in-training. (Thank the Gods I’m not in charge.)

So while we have the episode’s main conflict of religious freedom vs. religious persecution, we also have characters acclimating to their new situations, either by continuing to fight for what they believe is right (as with Lee) or by re-aligning their mindsets to the new contexts they find themselves in (as with Tigh, the Prez, and Toaster Tory).
Hoo-boy! Things are definitely getting hairier…


(Images courtesy of SCIFI Channel and

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