While the overall fan reaction to season four, part one seems to be very positive, I've seen some complaints here and there about the lack of forward momentum in certain storylines. As Todd VanDerWerff put it in his review of "The Road Less Traveled" at The House Next Door, "Battlestar Galactica? You’re kinda givin’ me blue balls."
And I can see where Todd and other frustrated fans are coming from, even though I've been loving almost every minute of this season. "Crossroads, Part II" packed a bunch of series-altering developments (Baltar's acquittal, the revelation of the Final Four, Starbuck's return) into the space of 10 minutes. The five hours since (not counting "Razor") have for the most part dwelt on the emotional fall-out of those developments. The various story arcs are moving -- Cylon civil war, the rise of Baltar's monotheistic movement, Roslin vs. the Quorum, the Final Four each losing their minds in different ways, and the star-crossed mission of the Demetrius -- but, to borrow some terminology from Ronald D. Moore's previous franchise, it's at impulse power when I'm sure we'd all prefer warp speed.
I suppose part of my indifference to the pace comes from having faith, misguided though it might turn out to be, in Moore in a way that, say, I didn't have in Cuse and Lindelof in the middle seasons of "Lost." I know some major plotlines over the years were conceived on the fly (like the identities of the Final Four), but I believe that Moore knows exactly where this is all going and that he's going to take us someplace interesting at the end of this journey.
Beyond that, though, I think the pace works for the stories that are being told. We need to spend a while with the Demetrius on its road to nowhere so we can understand the building threat of mutiny and why even Helo -- loyal, dependable, Starbuck's #1 pal Helo -- would eventually agree to go along with it. We need the rag-tag fleet to be in a period of relative peace (but not prosperity) for Baltar's movement to really catch fire, and for Tigh and Tyrol and Tory to have the time to go as crazy as they each have in their own way. If there were Cylon attacks every five seconds or planets to be mined or other crises to be solved, I can see Tigh or Tyrol being able to button down all their raging feelings about being Cylons, but when nothing much is happening externally, what else are they going to do but turn inwards and freak out?
And because the cast continues to knock it out of the park every week playing these wonderfully-etched characters, I can't look on these episodes as filler. "Galactica" is a show that asks lots of fundamental questions about society and even the nature of existence, but it asks them through its characters as much as through its stories. This season may be a slow build, but if I have the opportunity to watch Aaron Douglas rage against the universe or James Callis show us a genuinely repentant, even sympathetic, Gaius Baltar, I can be patient.
As to the episode itself...
We have no way of knowing whether Leoben speaks the truth about the 2/6/8 portion of the Cylon fleet, but it's nice to have the mind-frakker back around Kara and Anders. A few things to note from his time on the Demetrius:
- Kara remembers her epiphany about her mother and the other things that Head Leoben told her in "Maelstrom," even though Head Leoben insisted he had no connection to the real Leoben.
- I don't think Leoben knows Anders is a Cylon, but his usual mix of mystical double-talk hit home with Sam anyway, particularly the line about "those who embrace their nature and those who fear it."
- I understand that the crew was going stir-crazy and more anti-Cylon than usual, but why didn't Sharon speak up, even privately to Helo, to offer her own take on Leoben, and how he's considered kind of a whackjob even by the other Cylons?
- Kara is "an angel, blazing with the light of God." But if we think of the various Head characters as angels, then does this mean that she's everybody's Head Kara?
- Moore said on one of the podcasts (which are being posted slowly and in a random order) that Helo wasn't originally on the Demetrius, and that he was added to the crew after an unusually wise network note asked why Helo didn't have much to do this season. I'm trying to imagine how all of this plays out without Capt. Agathon (male) aboard. Gaeta certainly has no reason to be loyal to Kara after she nearly airlocked him, and none of the pilots (Athena included) have ever been that fond of her.
One final note: please, no discussion of the details of the preview for next week's episode. I should have learned my lesson after the Sci Fi promo department gave away most of the developments of the algae planet two-parter's conclusion, but once again I let them ruin certain things for me this week, and I don't want them to be ruined for anyone who learned their lesson better than I did.
What did everybody else think?