I took too long to write about last Friday’s episode of Battlestar Galactica, and hereby vow (with fingers only a little bit crossed) to do better in the future. But there are a couple of things I want to scribble down before tonight’s episode airs …
“A Disquiet Follows My Soul” was initially plenty entertaining â€” and totally disappointing once I took the time to think about it even a little bit more. Friends convinced me that between being shot by a Cylon, duped by a Cylon back on New Caprica, wary of Cylons in general and in charge of the nav systems â€” and therefore deeply skeptical of bringing Cylon tech aboard the fleet’s ships â€” there’s reason enough for Gaeta’s mutiny. So I’ve come around to the plot â€” to a point. The problem is, the show’s telling me Gaeta’s cracked without showing me anything that convinces me it’s in keeping with the character. Was he willing to lie on the stand to get a conviction for Baltar? Yes, but I always thought that had more to do with Baltar â€” and what he knew about Gaeta â€” than pure Cylon hatred. I’m not certain it all adds up, and that the showrunners weren’t just looking for a smaller-part character who wasn’t completely loyal to Admiral Adama. (I will admit that discovering that the things that happened with Gaeta in the “Face of the Enemy” webisodes took place between last week’s episode and this â€” as opposed to between seasons 4.0 and 4.5 â€” make me a touch more sympathetic to Gaeta’s emotional state.)
(As an aside, you really expect me to believe that every single soldier in that mess hall was interested in rising up against Adama? Every one? I’m holding out hope that what we didn’t see in the previews for this week was that Adama knew all along; someone pretended to go along with Gaeta, but was just planning to let the admiral know what was up.)
In other character news: Apparently everyone knows that Ellen Tigh is the fifth super-special Cylon, but no one’s talking about it; President Roslin is busy running laps and getting busy with the admiral but not doing her job, thereby acting incredibly irresponsibly and leaving the government in the hands of a near nutjob, Tom Zarek; Baltar is preaching about how bad God’s been, which really makes me hope that the idea of the Cylon god being either another model of Cylon (a Zero?) or a human programmer gets explored; and oh, yeah, the Chief finds out his kid isn’t really his kid.
And here the show shows its ass. In the first half of season four, in “The Ties that Bind,” poor Cylon-hating Cally found out her husband, Galen Tyrol, was a Cylon, and promptly tried to airlock herself and their son. There was absolutely no reason to believe she wasn’t airlocking the kid because he was half Cylon, and to now pretend that it was because she didn’t want the kid raised by a Cylon is to underestimate the intelligence of the audience. In other words, if they knew, back in 4.0, that the kid was actually the son of Viper jock Hot Dog, Cally would have at least considered handing him off. Yes, she was nuts, but she wasn’t that nuts; she was hurting like crazy and depressed to boot. She could have left Nicky in a basket outside the pilots’ racks with a note. She could have done something. The show’s executive producer, Ron Moore, pretty much says that the paternity issue was retconned, and for the obvious reasons: They’d established that Hera was the first (and, apparently, only) human-Cylon baby, and then they decided Tyrol was a Cylon; something had to go. I understand that storytelling doesn’t always go where you want it to, but there had to be a more elegant solution.
But really, it’s not just that BSG‘s creators first killed Cally off and then rewrote her to be a cheating harlot in death (sorry, Moore, your revamped timeline just isn’t convincing me). It’s that they killed Dee to make a point about hopelessness, then gave her not a moment’s thought except to have her death serve as a way for Lee to feel some nice noble pain, and for Adam to go have it out with his Cylon second-in-command. It’s that they’re showing every sign of sidelining Starbuck, whose story is among the show’s most fascinating, and whose brief time on Earth was absolutely heartbreaking. It’s that they’ve sent Roslin off to the crazy place where she doesn’t take her cancer treatments and thinks only of herself, leaving the Lee/Adama/Zarek trio of certainty and misplaced ideals at the helm of the rest of humanity. It’s that Caprica Six is now relegated to mom-to-be and not appearing in Gaius’ head, steering so many stories from her strange perch in his imagination. It’s that Athena killed Natalie, Three (ostensibly) stayed on Earth and we’ve not been back to a Cylon ship since Earth was found. It’s that there’s more to the dream of the Opera House.
BSG doesn’t always fail its women, but it has been lately. As further commentary, I give you Llama Mama’s Top Five Suicides on the Reimagined Battlestar Galactica.
I have other complaints â€”Â we’re being told too much and shown too little; what’s up with the Final Five and their sudden position as speaking for the Cylon fleet? When, oh, when do Anders and Starbuck have their “Frak you, Cylon husband!” scene? â€” but the crushing of the female characters is really on my mind, and not only because it’s what’s been discussed among friends and on message boards since the episode aired. It’s not, however, all bad. It’s still Battlestar, and I, for one, will always have hope.
Oh, show. Be better. (And, on a random note, please show us something the previous Earth existences of Tory and Anders. Please? To go with Tyrol and Tigh’s? Please?) Give me more to think â€” and type â€”Â about than how frustrated I am. Mmmkay?
Further reading from people who are smarter than me and not in a raging hurry (OK, I’m guessing at that last part): Sharp-eyed film-geek words from Todd VanDerWerff at the fantastic The House Next Door; understandable frustration (and a nice dose of snark) from Lisa Fary at Pink Raygun.
The next episode can’t come fast enough.