Monday, January 12, 2009

Season 4 Episode 10
Written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle
Directed by Michael Rymer

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

So, not only was the mid-season finale a tense little motherfraker, but it also reduced me to a blubbering idiot, before pole-axing me with that punch-in-the-stomach coda.
Man, if this is what it feels like halfway through the last hurrah, the series finale will be brutal…

So D’Anna takes the lead and announces that she’ll be holding the humans hostage, till she gets the Cylons from the Fleet. Adama and Helo aren’t thrilled by that and there’s a Mexican standoff, till Roslin asks Bill to trust her.
D’Anna then says that Adama will accompany her to the Galactica, but when he says he won’t leave, Laura whispers in his ear that D’Anna cannot be allowed to take the Five, so if things should go sour, that the base ship be destroyed, regardless of who’s on board.

The base ship and Raptor jump back to the Fleet, and when D’Anna and Adama get to the Galactica, D’Anna says she’ll wait for the four Cylons in the Fleet to join them, and only then will she release the hostages.
Toaster Tory, canny little minx, says she should return with D’Anna to the base ship, purportedly so she can bring President Roslin her meds.
Which she does, but when Laura asks her to speak with D’Anna to stand down (after Tory is revealed to indeed be a Cylon), Tory says, I don’t take orders from you anymore. (B!tch.)

Suddenly changing the game plan, D’Anna jettisons a hostage out the airlock, and she threatens to execute a hostage every 15 minutes till the still Secret Cylons turn themselves over.
There’s a hurried idea to draft a rescue plan, during which the four Fleet Cylons again have a “Watchtower” moment, that leads Tigh, Sam, and the Chief, to that apparently brand new Viper Starbuck flew back to Galactica in.
Sam and the Chief are convinced there’s something different about the Viper, something important, so when Sam says Starbuck knows this ship inside and out, Tigh tells him to get her down there, then goes off to do what he knows he has to do (something he admits he should have done from the moment it happened, if only he’d been braver).
What follows is a really great scene where Tigh admits to Adama that he’s a Cylon, and that the only way to get D’Anna to stand down, is to threaten to blow him out the airlock.

But the revelation first leads to one of those scary, volcanic moments when Adama loses his cool and rages. It’s like witnessing some volatile force that makes you terrified to even breathe, lest you trigger any more outbursts that could be directed at you.
Adama then drinks himself blind and is himself a blubbering mess, as Lee lovingly tries to get him to pull himself together.
It’s an emotionally devastating scene, where we see just how important Tigh’s friendship is to Adama. The scene is then made all the more powerful by the genuine caring that Lee shows for his father.
Brokenly, Adama admits that—should it come down to it—he just can’t kill Tigh, so Lee says he’ll take care of it.

What follows is a fraktastic stand-off sequence as D’Anna threatens to execute more hostages, while Baltar tries to talk sense to her.
On board Galactica, Tigh is placed in an airlock, with Lee ready at the button that will suck the poor one-eyed skinjob into outer space.
Lee then asks Tigh who the others are.

Meanwhile, Starbuck can’t understand why Sam and the Chief think there’s something about the Viper, but Sam says, When you had a feeling you knew how to get to Earth, I trusted you, so trust our feeling on this.
The grunts then arrive to arrest Sam and the Chief, who are brought to the airlock to keep Tigh company.
Despite Baltar trying to talk sense to D’Anna, things escalate to the point where the base ship’s weaponry is targeted at the Fleet, and Tigh is alone in the airlock, Lee ready to consign his Toaster a$ into space. Even as we see Starbuck find some reading on a gauge of the Viper (probably one that points to Earth) and start running all the way to the airlock, Tigh demands of Lee, “Well, what are you waiting for?! Do it!”

Starbuck of course arrives before first blood on either side is drawn.
She shows the readings to Lee, who takes a little convincing, before he accepts that Starbuck’s probably right.
And, in a pivotal moment, Lee decides to share the information with the Cylons. There’s another great moment in the episode, as Lee and D’Anna shake on this truce, as they both agree that human and Cylon will journey to Earth, together.

Lee than has a quiet moment with Adama, who we see is clearly broken by the Tigh-is-a-Toaster revelation. When Lee asks if he’s ready to take command again, Adama says, I don’t know.
Laura arrives, asking, What don’t you know?
Laura and Adama then have a nice, tender moment, during which Laura says, I want to see you with that first fistful of Earth.
Rockface then stands to face his immense responsibilities, leaving Laura and Lee to have that Moment I’ve been waiting for.
Lee says, Well, this is the end of the shortest Presidential term in Colonial history.
And Laura responds, You made the right choices in a very difficult situation, and this Fleet will still need that sort of strong leadership in the days to come.
So the rift between the two is on its way to healing (yahoo!), and Adama emerges in his uniform, ready to roll the hard six.

What follows is a tremendously moving sequence as the Fleet and the damaged base ship make that final jump to the coordinates they believe are going to take them to Earth.
The sequence is brilliant, capturing all the hope and bittersweet emotions of this jump to what they have held out will be their salvation.
After poor Felix confirms the stellar coordinates, Adama makes a moving speech over the wireless, and we see faces across Galactica and the Fleet, even the faces of some of the Not-So-Secret-Anymore Cylons, particularly Tigh (who’s alone, getting sloshed) and the Chief, who’s with Nicky, and of course, Cally’s absence is overwhelming.
It’s a sequence both joyous and melancholy, bringing home the point that this is what the Fleet has been striving for since that horrible day the Cylons attacked, while reminding us of what this apparent victory has cost.

Then, as some ships make that Earth entry, and they’re flying through the clouds, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, thinking, Okay, we’re here. But when?
Will it be pre-history, and will the Fleet end up being the first humans to populate the planet?
Will it be 2008, and will we suddenly attack the ships, thinking it’s some kind of alien invasion, thus opening up hostilities between Earth and the Fleet, and a new, perhaps even more tragic war, begins?

But when we see Adama pick up that first fistful of earth, and we hear that Geiger counter making that terrible noise, and we see the devastated reactions of all these people we’ve come to love and hate over the course of five years, and we see what at first looks like ancient ruins around them, before it becomes apparent that what we’re looking at are the remains of a bridge, and a city in the distance, we know that the other shoe has most definitely dropped, and we are so not yet at the end of this particular road.

Gods, Moore and Eick (and Thompson and Weddle) are evil.

So, has the Fleet arrived after the planet has already been ruined by humanity’s own raging stupidity?
Or did some other Cylons somehow get to Earth before the Fleet and a war broke out?
Ooooh, where’s that second half?

Getting back to the here and now though, aside from that “jump to Earth” sequence, I think the most potent bits of this episode were those moments when we see the reactions people have to the Secret Cylon reveals.
There’s Adama, of course, but Starbuck’s reaction to Sam’s being a Cylon was also a great Moment that worked without the sturm und drang of the Tigh-is-a-Toaster plot development.
As is sometimes too often the case with BSG, it killed me that we didn’t have enough time in this episode to get a better sense of how characters were reacting to events, particularly the Cylon revelations.
Well, just some more bits to look forward to in the next half of the season. (I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Adama and Tigh work through this curveball in their friendship.)

Onward to January 16, 2009, eh?

Parting shot: It seems, at the moment, that the series’ final episode has grown to a 2-hour finale, so I’m hereby re-calibrating the countdown.


(Images courtesy of and

Season 4 Episode 9
“The Hub”
Written by Jane Espenson
Directed by Paul Edwards

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

So we get to see what became of the damaged base ship and all on board—particularly President Roslin—and it’s a doozy.

It turns out that the Hybrid is panicked, thus her sudden jump (merely the first of several), and it’s revealed shortly that the Hybrid is panicked since she’s detected that Natalie is no longer on-line (if that’s the correct term).
The Eight in the Hybrid’s chamber soon determines that the Hybrid is jumping towards the Resurrection Hub, so the mission still looks like a go.
During each jump though—in the interstice between points in actual physical space—Laura meets the deceased Elosha (I’ve missed her), in an apparently deserted Galactica. She’s then shown that the only people here are the Adamas and Starbuck, gathered around a cancer-ridden Laura on her deathbed.

That alone was such a heart-rending idea: of finding a dying Roslin in an empty Galactica.
Elosha tells her that she doesn’t really love anyone, that she hasn’t, in effect, opened herself up to anyone (a sentiment echoed when Baltar insists that one can communicate with the Hybrid, if one focuses on her, which Roslin seems incapable of doing).
Then, as the Hybrid continues to make repeated jumps, Laura’s tutelage at Elosha’s side unfolds over the course of the episode.

Meanwhile, Helo finds that the Eight in the Hybrid chamber, curious about Athena and her hybrid child, accessed Athena’s memories when she last downloaded. So basically, this Eight has Athena’s memories up to that point, when Helo was forced to shoot her so she could download back to the Cylons, and retrieve Hera.
Later on, there’s some tension between the Galactica pilots and the Cylon pilots, but the pseudo-Athena makes a speech about needing to rely on each other, particularly once the Hub has been destroyed, because at that point, everyone will be in the same boat in the mortality sweepstakes.

Also, Roslin gives Helo express orders to take D’Anna to her (and her alone) once she is retrieved. Helo tries to argue that this isn’t what was agreed upon, and isn’t honest, but Roslin claims that this is about the security of the human race.
Roslin says this is what the Cylons would do, in my place. And Helo counters, No, not all of them. Not the Eights.
Roslin says she can’t afford sentimentality right now, and she can’t afford Helo to be sentimental either (“Captain, you are not married to the entire production line…”).

Over at the Hub, Cavil de-boxes D’Anna himself, telling her of the civil war, and trying to convince her to help end it.
Cavil claims to be uninterested in the identities of the Final Five, as he still firmly believes they aren’t meant to know them.
D’Anna ends up killing Cavil, making Boomer run for the proverbial hills.

The attack on the Hub commences, during which, a number of events take place:

We see the jumping of the dying Pike back to the Fleet (which then of course, led to the Fleet finding the debris of this very battle).

Helo and the pseudo-Athena find D’Anna, taking her back to the base ship.
When they get on board, Helo reveals the change of plans, telling the pseudo-Athena that he may not agree with it, but he’s only following orders.
Disillusioned, pseudo-Athena lets Helo go on his way, with D’Anna.

While preaching/ranting to a Centurion, an explosion wounds Baltar severely, and he’s bleeding heavily when he’s brought to Laura, who tries to attend to his injuries.
Under the morpha haze, Baltar makes mention of his guilt, which has now been lifted from him, by the mercy and love of God. In an amazingly tense scene, Laura asks after the nature of this guilt, and Baltar admits to his culpability in the annihilation of the human race.
Mary McDonnell is amazing here, as she absorbs the shock of what she’s suspected for the longest time: that Baltar is guilty.
Baltar asks her to pray with him, but instead, she undresses the wound and allows it to bleed freely, ignoring Baltar’s pleas.

But the Hybrid jumps again, away from the battle, and Laura is taught one more lesson, as she witnesses her own death, and Adama’s heartbreaking reaction.
Elosha tells Laura that she needs to learn to love, and that even a bad man can feel guilt just as much as a good man. The moment of Laura’s conversion is astounding, as is her desperation when the jump ends and she scrambles to stop Baltar’s bleeding.

Helo arrives with D’Anna, and smartly, acknowledging that she’s the only Three left in the entire universe, uses her knowledge of the Final Five’s identities as leverage for her safety.
She says she won’t divulge the information till she’s safely been transported to the Fleet.
(Though not before a singular fake-out moment of shock as D’Anna makes Laura think that she’s one of the Five. At least, it seems to have been a fake-out. I mean, I was leaning towards Laura being the last, unrevealed Cylon. If it isn’t her, who is? One of the Adamas? Starbuck, after all?)

We then rejoin Adama, on his lone vigil, as the base ship arrives, and the beautiful reunion between Laura and Bill, where Laura finally says, “I love you,” and ol’ Rockface half-jokes, “About time.”

So, great lead-up to the midseason finale, and a big part of why this one works so well is that, unlike Baltar’s conversion, Laura’s feels more genuine, the emotions distinctly more palpable.
And, even though both were presented as arcs that moved through an entire episode, this particular arc seemed more potent, more believable.
I’ll cop to the possibility though that this one works better for me since I’m emotionally invested in Laura and her fate, whereas I still can’t be bothered to give a rat’s a$ about Baltar. (Sorry, Gaius, but as it stands, you’re in better hands with Laura than you are with me…)
And it’s not that I can’t forgive the poor schmuck, but that I still can’t feel any remorse from the sodding bastard. It still feels like he’s leading us on, the way he always has.

Now, it’s not as simple as saying Mary McDonnell is a more genuine performer than James Callis (though I feel an argument could be made for that point).
I think it’s more that Baltar doesn’t seem to be a character made to be sympathetic (at least in the beginning), unlike Laura, who is diagnosed with cancer from the miniseries’ first episode.
But then again, the events of Season 3 made me care for Tigh in a way I’d never have anticipated from BSG’s early days.
Of course, Tigh didn’t cause the deaths of untold millions…
I dunno. I guess I’m still decidedly anti-Gaius.

Oh, and it’s great to see Lucy Lawless back.