A friend of mine who also got to see this one in advance complained to me that very little happened to advance the developments from the last 15 minutes or so of season three. We don't have any further details about the origins of the Final Four (or the identity of the Final Fifth), nothing significant on the nature of Starbuck's survival, etc.
And I see what she's saying, to an extent. Very little in "He That Believeth In Me" moved the stories forward, save maybe us getting more details about the religious cult that rescued Baltar from the angry mob. But my friend's complaint reminded me of some of the few negative comments I heard about this season's "Lost" premiere, from people who felt that it spent an hour reiterating things we had learned in the last five minutes of the previous season. My retort, then as now, is that sometimes plot has to take a backseat to character. If we don't care about the people involved in these crazy stories and how they're responding to the events as they unfold, how can we care about the events themselves? The "Lost" premiere was about the emotional response to the mind-blowing revelations of the previous cliffhanger, and that's primarily what "He That Believeth In Me" has on its agenda.
No, we're not any closer to understanding exactly how Saul Mother-Frakking Tigh is a Cylon, how Starbuck survived the explosion of her Viper (or if she even survived at all), but we got to see more of the characters reacting to these two stunning developments. And given this superb cast, and the fact that it was our first visit with these characters in a little more than a year -- not counting the flashback events of "Razor" -- I'm more than happy with that. A lot of very heavy knowledge was dropped on us and the characters at the end of "Crossroads," and it's not the sort of thing that can be just taken as fact while we move straight into the plot. Finding out you're a Cylon sleeper agent, or that you've been presumed dead for the last two months and are currently suspected of being a Cylon, takes some getting used to, and I'm glad we're not glossing over that.
This is the last season -- or the next to last season, depending on your view of semantics and how Sci Fi winds up scheduling these 20 episodes -- and I expect Ron Moore to answer every single question of import by the end of the run. I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of Tigh and Tyrol's true identities, of Kara's survival, of the identity of the last of the 12 Cylon models, the nature of the schism between the 7 and the 5, even the nature of the figment of the imagination versions of Six and Baltar.
I've got faith that all that information is coming, and therefore was able to groove on that mind-frak of a pre-credits sequence (the craziest space battle they've ever given us), or Baltar again using a mixture of Chip Six hallucinations and religious rhetoric to get laid, or Kara calmly telling Anders that she would put a bullet between his eyes if she found out he was a Cylon, or all the other wonderful character moments in this hour.
And there were little clues here and there for us to spend the next week picking over, including:
- If the Cylons -- or, at least, the advanced skinjob models like Number Six -- are programmed not to even think about the Final Five, who programmed them that way? And what kind of residual programming was left so that a simple scan of Anders' eye would cause the Cylon fleet to retreat, instantly?
- Even if Kara herself somehow bailed out of her Viper before the explosion (which I doubt, since as I recall, the canopy looked intact from Lee's point of view), where did the shiny new perfect duplicate Viper come from?
- Caprica Six tells Laura that "The Five are close. I can feel them." I'm sure everyone has been assuming that the last of the 12 was a character we've already met, and this should clinch that. So who? It almost seems too obvious to be Starbuck.
- Near the end of "Razor," the Hybrid told Kendra Shaw that "Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end, she is the herald of the apocalypse, the harbinger of death; they must not follow her." If he was telling the truth -- and we know so little of him and his motives that I have no idea about his honesty level -- then Laura is absolutely right to lock up Kara and jump the fleet away from Kara's directions. But, again, why should we assume the Hybrid was telling the truth? Maybe Lee was right, and Kara was the next signpost they were supposed to find.
- Whether the "Galactica" universe has one true deity or a pantheon, why have the heavens been so kind to Baltar? Again, he's the recipient of divine intervention, both with the healing of little Derek and his improbable survival in that bathroom ambush, and again Chip Six seems to know what's going to happen before it does.
- And, not that it comes up here, but I feel like reiterating some of my Final Four questions from the end of last season: Given how long Adama and Tigh have known each other, and that Tigh fought in the first Cylon War, does that mean that skinjobs can age? That Tigh and the others actually replaced human versions of themselves? And what are the odds that four of the Final Five Cylon models would survive not only the initial genocide, but all the later skirmishes, and Sam's time on the wasteland of old Caprica, and the insurgency on New Caprica (where these four, along with Laura, were, coincidentally or not, the leaders of the resistance)? Could there, in fact, be many copies of these four as well? Is there some guy on one of the ore processing ships in the ragtag fleet who's constantly being told he looks like that famous Pyramid player Sam Anders? Does Tigh have a long-haired, peace-loving doppleganger out there who's like the Oscar Bluth to his George?