‘Battlestar Galactica’ Countdown: “Deadlock”

The first time through, I hated “Deadlock” — especially coming on the heels of the dense, if awkward, “No Exit,” which offered a ton of information in an awkward plot device.

Now, I don’t hate “Deadlock” — except for one particular moment — but I think it’s the season’s weak link.

Here, let me tell you why…

Things that don’t make sense: Caprica walking around Dogsville alone. Starbuck out flying patrols after sitting at Sam’s bedside for who knows how long, seeming not the least bit shaken or distracted. And, most of all, the thing about Caprica’s pregnancy proving Saul loves her. But I’ll get to that.

There’s actually something elegant about Starbuck greeting the raptor from Cavill’s baseship and being the one to bring in Ellen and Boomer. The scene when the raptor lands is the highlight of the episode, from the Chief smoldering as he stares intently at the Eight, saying “Nice to see you” to her before telling Roslin and Adama “This is Boomer.”

And Hot Dog, asking, “How many dead chicks are out there?” — voicing something a skeptical viewer might ask. Though I immediately want to ask why it’s always dead chicks: As plenty of us have noticed before, the show does have a habit of killing off far more women than men, in terms of recognizable characters.

It’s telling, though I’m not sure what it tells, that Ellen’s demeanor with Adama is instantly different that it’s been with Cavill. It’s sort of sly, a little bossy, not that patient parent with an unruly child she was on the baseship. And she shifts from this weird, sultry Ellen behavior to the straightforwardness with which she asks Adama and Roslin to imagine that instead of 50,000 survivors, there are only five. It’s another level to the everything happening before, and everything happening again — demonstrating that it’s not always the same losers, the same deaths, the exact same battle.

Caprica starts to have trouble with the baby the instant Saul and Ellen start having sex. How could you really program a Cylon to depend on love to carry a child? All Ellen hears, when the Six and Eight and Tory start talking about reasons to go back to the baseship and jump away, is the news that Caprica is pregnant, and that news is what this entire episode pivots on — somewhat annoyingly.

(For one last time: I’m still having impossible problems with the idea that the Chief – who’s otherwise putting so much effort into saving Galactica – would instantly vote to go. I just don’t buy it. When has he ever demonstrated that he’d rather be with Cylons than with humanity? Is it related to Boomer’s appearance?)

The Gaius plot, with Paula taking over in his absence, is problematic, but the demonstration that humanity is still self-serving, still only looking out for itself (and Gaius looking out for himself, with the pretty mother), is an interesting counterpoint, I suppose, to the Cylons doing the same thing, trying to take care of themselves – even as Cylon tech is fixing the ship. What does humanity currently have to offer the Cylons? Gaius isn’t thinking about that, as we see later; everything he does is to get his people bigger guns, even as he explains to Adama that “this,” whatever it is, is the last “human” solution he’s going to get. I’m still wary of Baltar’s self-serving nature, and wary of where this situation – what he describes as not a mutiny, but a rebellion — is going to take this part of humanity. And, of course, what the Six in his head — the one exec producer Ron D. Moore has said is from a higher power — has to do with it all. Why’s she wearing white this time?

It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing when Starbuck asks the barkeep when he got a piano, and the bartender just looks at her. And Slick in the background, his cheerful music at odds with the bitterness coming off both Starbuck and the Chief.

But everything is about love, and Caprica’s unborn baby. It proves Saul loves her, somehow, in some weird Cylon logic that links reproduction to the nebulous, undefinable, intangible idea of love. But it’s also about brotherly love, about Ellen proving to Saul, to herself and to Caprica that Saul loves Adama, the ship and the uniform more than any of them, including the baby. She says she just wanted to hurt Saul by pointing this out, but it appears to have immediate consequences for the fetus — and Ellen, with her certainty that the fetus proved loved, had to know that. Is her fatal flaw, her most human quality, always going to be a thoughtless selfishness that hurts those around her more than she can fix? Is that what it was on New Caprica, too?

As the Cylons vote to leave, to strand humanity — with Anders and Saul the dissenting votes (and, in my mind, the Chief a third; show, I cannot forgive you for this) — the Galactica becomes more and more blended. I’m not sure whether the point here is that humanity needs the Cylons more than the Cylons need humanity, or simply that even the blending isn’t enough to save everyone, since the ship obviously has a limited lifespan (as I type this, Adama is yelling in previews about Galactica’s last mission). If the Cylon goo saves the ship, Adama says, she’ll be Galactica on the outside, but won’t know what she is anymore. Is the ship mirroring Starbuck?

The best part of this episode could very well be the simple grace of the perfectly human display that is Cylon part of the memory wall. “It’s already happened, hasn’t it,” Adama says. And yes. It has to. Now it’s just left to see who fights it, and who adapts.

Ending on a random note, I’m still thinking about how it’s Saul – formerly the strongest Cylon-hater, now the most human Cylon – who points out that purity on either side doesn’t work. And it’s Ellen who claims that the Cylons didn’t invent their compassionate god. Both of these things are clearly going to play out in the finale – I hope.

On to “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

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