‘Battlestar Galactica’ Countdown: “No Exit”

And we continue (from the mutiny-centric “The Oath” and “Blood on the Scales”) with the info-heavy “No Exit,” which found me mostly just typing, somewhat frantically, in an attempt to keep up with everything Sam Anders says. It’s important, it’s relevant, “It’s the miracle, right here,” as he says to Saul Tigh.

So let’s see what the Cylon says…

“No Exit” changes the opening sequence, giving more history — a nice warning for how much history we’re about to get dumped on us in rapid succession.

• Ellen waking up is a fantastic place to start, but what I love about this scene is the way the tone is set for her to be something so much more than we’ve seen her be before — through her politeness to the Centurion. Beautiful.

• Oh, Sam Anders. Sam Anders and the Bullet of Exposition, and his wife Kara Thrace and Her Special Destiny. I can hardly believe how much info gets piled on in this episode, and while it’s not exactly graceful, it’s still fairly satisfying.

• The power play with Ellen and Cavill instantly makes both of their characters are far more interesting: his petulance, resentment, endless anger at the imperfections she gave him, and her welcoming of uncertainty, of change, of nuance (how do you define machine? It’s one of the first things she suggests. What does it mean?). And there’s a lot to ponder in the suggestion, later confirmed by Sam, that Cavill always knew who the final five were. When Ellen, her memories blocked, was sleeping with him on New Caprica, trying to keep Saul alive, Cavill knew. The entire time. It makes that entire sequence so much darker, and shows that the reason he boxed D’Anna wasn’t because she learned forbidden knowledge, but because she might tell the Five who they were, and they might find him out, I think.

• “I need a Chief, and all I have is a Galen,” is such a lovely line, and an acceptance of how important Tyrol is no matter what his title.

• Ellen says something about Centurion values like belief in a Cylon god. Still fascinated by this. And the way Cavill says he’s deleted a subroutine about sleeping; how, where? How does it work?

• Cavill’s endless bitterness about his resemblance to humanity is so telling, so huge, for the whole story. It’s not just about hating humanity for building and using the Centurions; it’s about actually hating the flaws of humanity, the imperfections. He wants to make Cylons better, and by better meaning more like machines. Which is what Boomer says, that Cavill is teaching her to be a better machine.

• I cannot type fast enough to keep up with Sam’s infodump. But the first key thing he says is that the five reinvented resurrection tech, organic memory transfer, that it came from Kobol with the 13th tribe. But they aren’t the 13th tribe? Who IS the 13th tribe? The original Cylons? Previous Cylons, since it keeps happening again?

• “These old planets, that’s not who we are anymore. We’re a fleet now, and our daily lives are defined by the ship we’re from.” Lee’s a smartypants. But so is Roslin, when she points out, “You’re so hellbent on doing the right thing that you sometimes don’t do the smart thing.”

• The Galactica needing, absolutely requiring, Cylon help — it’s a fantastic illustration (a word I keep using) of the reality of the universe in which these people live. Joining forces isn’t optional anymore.

• “We needed to find the other tribes and warn them,” Anders says. They knew the tribes would create artificial life and they wanted to warn them to keep the Centurions close, not war with them – is the implication that the nuclear holocaust on Earth was a war between these skinjobs and their Centurions?

• When they got to the colonies, the survivors of Earth made a deal with the Centurions that if they stopped the war with humanity, they’d help them develop humanoid bodies – hence, the eight models. And Kara jumps right on that number. Eight. Which is also interesting in that it implies the Eight was the last skinjob series created – the impulsive, emotional one.

• Interesting that the temple they found comes back up again. The 13th tribe left Kobol, stopped at that temple, and it showed them the way to Earth. Thus, their ancestors had already taken that path? Ellen tells Cavill that the five didn’t plant anything there, no signs, no symbols: “We backtracked the path of our ancestors, found their temple. The one true god must have orchestrated these events.” So she actually believes in this god that I thought she said was a Centurion value. I’m still a little confused by this. And Cavill argues that the five created their children in this flawed, human-like way because “they thought that God wanted it that way.” Hmm.

• “We didn’t limit you,” Ellen says. “We gave you something wonderful. Free will. The ability to think creatively, to reach out to others with compassion.” And the ability to love. Boomer asks, love who? Humans? Who would she want to love? This becomes way more interesting in light of Ellen’s obsession with Caprica’s pregnancy proving Tigh loves her.

“But the humans on Kobol made us,” Tory says. Let me see if I can get this straight:

1. Humanity, on Kobol, makes Cylons.
2. Thirteen tribes leave Kobol for the colonies and Earth.
3. The tribe that leaves Kobol for Earth is made up of Cylons.
4. On Earth, the Cylons began to reproduce, so stopped using resurrection tech.
5. But then the final five reinvented resurrection tech – why? And how old are the final five? Did they already resurrect? When were they born/created?
6. Then there was a nuclear holocaust and they wanted to warn the other colonies, knowing they would try to create artificial life and that that life would rise up and rebel.
7. Thus, the nuclear holocaust on Earth was caused by the Centurions, which the skinjobs had as servants, destroying them?

• Ellen says, and seriously seems to believe, it would take all five of them to rebuild resurrection. Cavill says she’s no better than the humans that enslaved them. But when did the humans enslave the skinjobs? Or is that leftover from Centurion brains? And how can Cavill complain so much about this when he dumbed down the raiders and the Centurions? He’s the one whose arrogance leads to things like Centurions destroying their creators – assuming that’s what happened on Earth.

• Cavill was first and helped them build the others.

• The Centurions had a single loving God; Ellen said it changed everything. If Cylons learned love and mercy, the cycle would change. Cavill turned on the five of them, trapped them, suffocated them, killed them, downloaded and blocked their memories, implanted them with false ones and sent to the colonies after boxing them for a while. Back on Earth, Sam says, they saw different warning signs — a woman, a man — that no one else could see. I still didn’t hear him use the word “angels,” which everyone else has quoted. Maybe it was in one of those moments when someone else is talking over him.

• Sam says, “Seven was the Daniel. Daniel died. He was Seven. I’m sure.” At first I thought Kara’s fixation on the name meant it rang a bell for her, but later, she says, “I thought maybe I was the Seven. I need to be something,” and it’s almost heartbreaking: Certainty, for her, that she’s nothing anyone knows. (I keep wondering, What did Leoben think he knew, when he locked her up in a house with him as her fake partner, Kara and a Cylon? I don’t think the show knew who the Cylons were yet, which makes Leoben’s actions even stranger, more fascinating – and so sadly forgotten.)

• Sam insists the Cylons stay with the fleet. “It’s all starting.” On the baseship, Cavill tells Ellen, “I gave you all grandstand seats to a holocaust.” And Ellen argues about everything Cavill’s done — taking Galen’s confession, torturing Saul — all being so that they’d come back and tell him he was right, give him approval: “You are driven by the most petty of human emotions: Jealousy, and rage.”

The Daniel conversation between Ellen and Cavill, with Boomer in the room:
“I know what you did to Daniel.”
“That Seven didn’t thrive. Sad. It’s too bad we’re not made out of something more sturdy.”
“Daniel was an artist. So sensitive to the world. I was very close to him. But John decided I was playing favorites. Maybe I was. Someone contaminated the amniotic fluid in which we were maturing all the Daniel copies, and corrupted the genetic formula.”

• Is it telling that she says all the Daniel copies? Can we take that to mean there was an original Daniel?

• Cavill says that if he’s flawed it’s his maker’s fault, not his. And Ellen wants him to accept himself as he is, despite his mistakes. There’s a weird forgiveness thing going on here, like Baltar’s God from whom he wants forgiveness, or to forgive. And later, when Boomer takes Ellen to the fleet, she claims she’s forgiving her. Knowing, now, that it’s all a plot to get Hera, makes this more interesting: Cavill clearly believed Ellen when she said she couldn’t recreate resurrection alone, so he turns to the reproduction option, wanting Hera. Or else it’s a trap to bring the fleet, and with them the final five, to the mentioned-for-the-first-time Colony (rather like the Hub, that), where he can lure them all intro recreating resurrection. However, given that the Galactica is getting the shit kicked out of her in the previews for the finale, I don’t think any fear for the five’s lives is stopping Cavill from firing on the ship.

• “We should’ve brought a tumbril. … Nevermind.” What’s a tumbril?

On to “Deadlock,” which isn’t a favorite of mine.