Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Season 4 Episode 8
“Sine Qua Non”
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by Rod Hardy

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

“Because I can’t live without her…”
Aww, man, ol’ Rockface just slays me…
By the gods, if the rest of this season continues to get harder and harder to sit through, I’ll end up a quivering, blubbering, whiny puddle of emotional jello by the time the last R&D closer airs.

So the entire episode passes without us knowing what happened to the base ship after its jump, and more to the point, what happened to Roslin, Baltar, and a whole bunch of Galactica pilots, including Helo.
Meanwhile, chaos and panic ripples throughout the Fleet, with Zarek poised to take over the Presidency. A whole lot of other bits take place in this installment, so let’s take ‘em all on, one bit at a time.

Natalie’s rushed to Doc Cottle, but she expires, while having glimpses of some other, forest-y place…
Athena’s arrested, and there’s a really scary scene with Adama, as he fumes and angrily reminds her that she’s betrayed his trust. He then has her thrown in the brig, and later on, mindful of her claim that the Cylons want to take Hera away from her, has Hera sent to the brig as well, so Athena can be with her. (Not sure that thrilled Hera, though; Daddy gets taken away by a jumpy Hybrid, and I get to roost in jail with murderer Mummy. Oh, the joys of childhood.)
What I don’t get though, is why Athena just doesn’t talk to Caprica about her fears regarding Hera. At least that way, she can figure out whether she’s right about that feeling or not.
Of course, it does seem like Caprica may be the very particular Six that wants to take Hera away from her mum, so maybe Athena should just stay as far away from Caprica as Cylon-ly possible. But now that they’re both in the brig…

And speaking of Caprica Six, to try and find out where the base ship jumped to, Adama has Tigh visit her, a subplot that eventually leads to the reveal that, gasp! Caprica’s preggers! With Tigh’s baby!
Okay, I certainly didn’t see that coming. I honestly thought Tigh’s private time with Caprica was largely chatty therapy as he grappled with the whole, “Frak, I’m a toaster!” thing. Turns out Tigh was doing the nasty often enough to put a little, heh, toaster in the oven…
And doesn’t this also present a new evolutionary development as well? Hera (and Nicky) being the half-human/half-Cylon hybrid, and this baby being, what? A new kind of Cylon?
Anyway, Adama’s really ticked off about this development, and the two friends get into some nasty fisticuffs that demolishes (yet again) Adama’s model ship.
The two make peace later on though…

We are treated to some tantalizing hints as to the fates of Roslin and the missing base ship, when a damaged ship jumps back to the Fleet’s coordinates. The pilot (Pike) is dead, but they trace back the ship’s origin point, where they find the debris of a lot of Vipers, and a base ship.
So while some conjecture that, perhaps, this is the debris from the base ship the President was on, Adama would like to think otherwise.
So ol’ Rockface gets fixated on finding the President, putting the entire Fleet in danger as a result.
Adama is made to realize he’s lost his objectivity though, by Romo Lampkin, of all people. (And we’ll get to why he shows up in this installment in a teeny bit…)
And once Adama realizes that he can no longer put the Fleet at risk, but also cannot stop holding out the hope that Laura is still alive, he surrenders command of Galactica (and the Fleet), to… Toaster Tigh!
Not only that, but he also elects to stay behind in a Raptor, to await Roslin’s return to these coordinates, while the Fleet goes off on its merry way!
Both Tigh and Lee try and dissuade him from these actions, but like the man said, he can’t live without her…
And that’s how the episode ends, as Galactica and the Fleet jump off, leaving Adama in his Raptor, the damaged copy of Searider Falcon in his hands.
But there’s still one more important bit…

Even as Zarek attempts to wrest control of the Presidency, Lee sees that his father will never accept Zarek in the seat, and the whole military/government alliance will just crash and burn, taking the Fleet with it.
So Lee aspires to find another interim President, who can shepherd the Colonial government in Roslin’s absence. (You can see where this is going, can’t you?)
Lee gets Lampkin to help him run through possible candidates, and two things were fairly evident in this subplot: a) this was going to end up, however improbably, with Lee taking on the Presidency; and b) there was an undue amount of focus on Lampkin’s cat.

The first did indeed conclude with Lee ending the episode as interim President Leland Joseph Adama, while the second had a curious reveal of Lampkin’s cat actually being dead.
So Lampkin sort’a goes nutzo since the cat’s the only thing he has left of his wife, and though he’s been seeing the cat up and about (and talking to it, mind), it’s actually been dead and rotting in a bag for weeks.
At any rate, once all other candidates have been found wanting, and Lampkin has winnowed out Lee’s “repressed ambition” towards the Presidency, he also determines that Lee needs to die(!), since he would represent something hopeful for the Fleet, and Lampkin firmly believes there can no longer be any hope for the human race.
So Lampkin is holding Lee at gunpoint, but Lee manages to talk his way out of a life and death situation with a possibly certifiable lunatic, and into the office of the President.
Not bad for Mr. Passive-Aggressive Repressed Ambition.
Oh. Sorry. President Passive-Aggressive Repressed Ambition.
And Lee’s apparently first act as President, hand over New Caprica resistance hero Jake, into Lampkin’s possibly certifiable lunatic care.
Sure, let’s let the poor doggy guide Lampkin back towards mental stability…

Now, the bits that really worked for me had to do with Adama and his reactions and decisions in the wake of Laura’s little jaunt to gods-know-where.
The painful clarity of his love for the woman becomes the core of Bill Adama. This is, after all, the woman who taught him of hope, and faith.
So he stays, floating in the middle of nowhere space, her favourite book in his hands, while the Fleet leaves him behind, so he can wait for her to return.

The bits I’m not entirely sold on, were the ones involved in the “let’s make Lee president” subplot. The whole “Lampkin’s cat is dead” thing just seemed a bit too contrived, and like I said, Lee sliding his way into the President’s seat seemed vaguely improbable.
In the wake of it, I just didn’t get the sense that the Old Man was proud of his son’s achievement. (Then again, he was worried about Laura…)
Having said that, it does put a new spin on things, and I am curious to see where the writers take this. Will Lee turn out to be the President the whole Fleet’s been waiting for? Is this his true calling? Or will this—as we’ve seen sometimes happen before where Lee is concerned—all end in tears?
And with Tigh steering the Galactica now, well…

Having mentioned Tigh, I’m also intensely curious where the “Tigh as expectant Toaster father” subplot goes.
And what’s to happen to Hera? I really hope Athena gets to keep her. I certainly don’t condone what she did to poor Natalie, but Athena’s gone through too much to have Hera get taken from her because of some visions.

Crap. Mid-season break’s looming.


Saturday, December 6, 2008


Forrest J Ackerman
November 24, 1916 – December 4, 2008

Famous Monsters of Filmland was among the first genre publications that fueled my love for all things fantastic. (The grade school library of my alma mater had bookbound issues in all their horror-filled glory.)
Uncle Forry was the man behind FMoF, and the man who brought us Ray Bradbury.
The following is a fact: I would not be the horror geek I am today if not for Uncle Forry and Famous Monsters of Filmland.

AICN has a tribute page up here, where Phil Tippett and Rick Baker have left their own loving recollections of Uncle Forry and his influence on them.
Also on the page are his own thoughts on mortality, circa 2003.

Rest easy, Dr. Acula. You will be fondly remembered.

(Image courtesy of moviejuice.com.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008


“My name is Benjamin Keynes. I work for the Directorate of Operations within the Central Intelligence Agency.
“Three days after 9/11, reconnaissance satellites picked up a radioactive heat signature in a remote tribal region of Afghanistan.
“The Agency feared that Al-Qaeda may have finally gotten their hands on a nuclear weapon. However, I was told by a local source with a high degree of confidence that it may be something much more powerful.”

After the disappointment that was Solstice (review in Archive), I put a lot of stock on The Objective as a film that would turn me around on Daniel Myrick.
I’m glad to report that it does.

We open in Ghazni Province, the date, November 2001.
Benjamin Keynes (The Killing of John Lennon’s Jonas Ball) has been tasked by the CIA to lead Special Forces Team 392 on a mission deep into Afghanistan to find one Mohammed Aban, a cleric considered by the locals to be the “spiritual force that helped the Mujahadeen defeat the Soviets.”
All else is on a need-to-know basis, and it’s this veil of military secrecy that fuels the mystery of The Objective.

Co-writing the script with Mark A. Patton and Wesley Clark, Jr., Myrick successfully captures the feeling of a squad of soldiers in enemy territory, off on a trek whose exact nature is kept from them by the Powers That Be (of which Keynes is the on-the-ground representative).
Assisted by DP Stephanie Martin, Myrick conjures the harsh beauty of the inhospitable terrain of this foreign country, effectively utilizing Morocco as locale stand-in, while Kays Al-Atrakchi’s music drapes the film’s soundscape with a disturbing score that heightens the scenario’s unsettling strangeness.
It’s these elements more than anything else—elements certainly more potent than your average Hollywood thriller’s over-dependence on CGI and epileptic editing—that make The Objective such a noteworthy triumph.

There’s also a good cast here, made up of unfamiliar faces, who deliver largely natural, straight-forward performances, which is, in the end, the key to keeping the audience involved while the weird sh!t gradually asserts itself over the film’s goings-on.
Do they reek the Hollywood hardcase Special Forces air we’ve come to expect from the movies and television? Perhaps not, but they do come across as real people, and that’s a big plus for a film like this.

Beyond that, I really shouldn’t say much more, other than that The Objective is ultimately about a government’s hunger for power, and how all else falls by the wayside in light of that all-encompassing yearning for the upper hand.
And while this isn’t the sort of film where everything’s neatly underlined and explained—the atmosphere and tantalizing bits are the tools for the audience to piece together the big picture—this is a solid cinematic experience which plays much better than The Blair Witch Project (which Myrick co-directed with Eduardo Sánchez), and is decidedly light years better than Solstice.
Now, I’m most definitely looking forward to Myrick’s next film.

Parting shot: Aside from containing a review of Solstice, the Archive also houses a review of Eduardo Sánchez’s Altered.

(The Objective OS courtesy of shocktillyoudrop.com and images courtesy of availableimages.com.)