Well, frak me. Didn't see that one coming.
"Guess What's Coming to Dinner?" concludes on a couple of shocking developments that should blow the shaky human/Cylon alliance all to hell, as Athena empties her gun into Natalie just for looking at Hera funny while the Hybrid is reactivated and immediately jumps the baseship away with Roslin, Baltar, half of Galactica's fighter strength, and a whole bunch of pissed-off Centurions aboard.
I feel like I come to the end of every episode this season thinking, "Oh, this is not going to end well," but this one seemed particularly doomsday-ish. If this were a mid-season or season-ending cliffhanger in the earlier days of the series, I could imagine a way in which the pieces are eventually put back together, but we're close enough to the end, and have had way too many hints about what's coming, to think that any good can come from this.
Like a lot of "Galactica" fans, I tend to rag on the Michael Angeli-written episodes as being as subtle as a blowtorch, but this one seemed less on the nose than most of his efforts. That, or director Wayne Rose and the editing team did such a masterful job of creating suspense throughout the hour that I was too busy sweating to notice each character delivering a monologue explaining who they are and which literary archetype they represent.
From the poorly-timed arrival of the baseship, sans Demetrius, in the opening to the sequence of Sharon chasing after Hera on Galactica, Sharon doing the same in the opera house, and Helo escorting Roslin and Baltar onto the baseship, this was as masterfully-cut an episode of the show as I can remember. (It was also one of the best-looking. Gary Hutzel and his team are really outdoing themselves this season: the fleet jumping away from the scary baseship and the baseship hangar deck were works of art.)
Over at The House Next Door, Todd Van Der Werff had some issues with Athena's willingness to give Natalie a fatal case of lead poisoning, given that the Six in the opera house visions was clearly the platinum-blonde Caprica Six and not the dirty-blonde Natalie Six, and since Sharon the mutinous Cylon would be one of the only people in the fleet to actually know or care about variations within each Cylon model. But I bought it, for a couple of reasons. First, Natalie explicitly mentions Hera to Sharon right before they jump back to the fleet, and in a way that Sharon perceived to be predatory. Second, Sharon's already had her baby stolen twice from her (first by Roslin, then by the Cylons), and now she's plagued by these shared visions (which she knows are more than just dreams) of a Six stealing her a third time, and Hera is doing ominous horror movie things like saying "Bye-bye" and drawing endless pictures of Six in her sketch pad (for her age, the kid's a good artist), and here Sharon finds her runaway daughter in the arms of a Six, and I don't think at that point she cared whether it was the Six. Ordinary moms don't play when it comes to the safety of their children, let alone trained warrior alien robot moms. Ironically, I suspect that in killing Natalie, Sharon is going to only increase the chance of Hera being taken away by Caprica and Baltar, either because she'll be locked away in the brig for it (though, given what happened to Cally for killing Boomer, probably not), or because this will only inflame tensions between the human and rebel Cylon fleets.
(Speaking of which, I can't be the only one to get "Star Wars" original trilogy flashbacks whenever Adama or someone else referred to "the rebel baseship" or "the rebel leader." Help me, Gaius Baltar. You're my only hope.)
The mortality theme continues, as the Cylons have suddenly (in between episodes, really) decided that they don't really want to resurrect anymore. It was interesting to watch the reactions of Tigh and Tory as all of this was discussed. Tigh, of course, is a self-loathing Final Fiver and doesn't want to hear any further talk of how he's different from humans, but you could see Tory realizing for the first time that he could conceivably have an eternal life, and then just as quickly realizing that the proposed mission could snatch that immortality away from her. All of the Final Four performers got to do some great silent acting in this one, whether it was Tory contemplating resurrection, or Anders listening to Gaeta sing (hell of a voice on Alessandro Juliani), or Tyrol being the only person in the corridor stand-off to know that Sharon, in trying to protect her child from a Cylon, handed it off to another Cylon.
(And gods, I hope that both those characters survive until Tyrol is outed -- or, at least, that Tyrol and Boomer do. The conversation he could have with either Sharon about their relationship, sudden Cylon self-knowledge, etc., should be one of the best scenes of the series.)
This is later than I wanted to post this, so I'll hit a few bullet points and open things up to comments:
- Given that the Final Four discovered their identities through song, is Gaeta's singing (which composer Bear McCreary discusses in detail at his blog) supposed to be a clue to him as the Final Fifth, or just a stylistic flourish?
- Loved the utter contempt Zarek showed for the plan, with his "blah blah blah" over the important detail that if they did this, they might no longer be dealing with an unbeatable enemy. Lee's been whinier than usual since joining the Quorum, but he has a point when he tells Laura she'd be better served with a little transparency.
- Actually, now that I think on it, Lee's speech about what it was like to be a civilian during an emergency jump was very Angeli-esque in its "tell, don't show" qualities.
- Does the fact that Laura has Searider Falcon with her for this trip suggest she'll be reading the final chapter (and then dying) before she'll make it back to the fleet?