Friday, February 20, 2009

Battlestar Galactica, "Deadlock": Wait till your mother gets home!

Spoilers for tonight's "Battlestar Galactica" coming up just as soon as I do some spackling...
"Any mythic revelations?" -Bill Adama
"Nope. Nothing to report, sir." -Saul Tigh
After the massive (and polarizing) info-dump that was last week's "No Exit," "Deadlock" brings the show back to more practical considerations: Can the Cylon's living goop really repair Galactica? How much longer do the rebel Cylons want to stay in this shaky alliance? With Galactica's skeleton crew made even thinner by the coup, how can the civilian refugees take care of themselves? And what on Earth (or Kobol) is proud papa-to-be Saul Tigh going to do when the love of his life turns up on a stolen Raptor?

I know that material may not feel as important to some of you as finding out who/what Starbuck is, or figuring out if Daniel still exists (right now, the Vegas favorite seems to be Daniel as Kara's father), or learning what the head characters are (Head Six makes her first appearance in a while here), or simply seeing the final battle between Cavil and the rag-tag fleet. But to me, the question of the fleet's future feels just as fundamental to the series as the more "mythic revelations."

We're told over and over that all this has happened before and will happen again, and as the Cylons threaten to leave and the humans look distrustfully at the Cylons, it's only self-hating Cylon Saul Tigh who can see that the best, only solution for the fleet is for the human and Cylon factions to become one. Separation led to nothing but tragedy on Kobol, on Earth and on the 12 colonies, and Saul (with a little pre-coma prodding from Anders) seems to be on the right track here. It's telling that, much as the Cylons want to pin their hopes on Caprica Six's unborn, Cylon-pure baby as their future, she suffers a miscarriage, while the Cylon/human hybrid Hera is still alive and well. Do we blame Liam's death on trauma from Six's fight in Dogsville? On the stress of being around her baby daddy's manipulative harpy ex-wife? Or does God -- which Ellen tries to claim she invented for the Cylon's benefit, but which Saul rightly (based on what we learned last week) says they had nothing to do with -- have no interest in a pure-bred Cylon child?

(For that matter, on what do we pin Ellen and Saul's fertility problems? We know the 13th tribe could reproduce the old-fashioned way, but are the bodies they currently occupy identical to the ones they had on Earth? Or are they identically-constructed to the more familiar skinjobs?)

Whatever the grand plan is, the episode's love triangle was beautifully sold by Michael Hogan (and his amazing acting eye), Tricia Helfer and Kate Vernon. People commented last week how different the post-resurrection Ellen seemed from the drunken trollop we remembered from episodes like "Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down." But this episode makes clear that Cavil didn't invent entirely new personalities for his "parents" when he imprisoned them in new bodies. The real version of Ellen is smarter than the one we knew, and maybe more regal, but she's still just as frakked-up, just as trapped in the ring of fire with Saul as she ever was. And it was alternately hilarious and terrifying to see her shift from playing all-knowing mother to the Cylons to being consumed with her old jealousies at the thought of her husband knocking up one of her children.

It's amazing, by the way, how having an outside observer re-enter the narrative after all this time casts a new light on things we and the characters had started to take for granted. Saul views his visions of Caprica Six with Ellen's face to be a message from God and proof of his undying love for Ellen; Ellen sees it as little more than mental porn. Saul has no idea that he's making love to a woman he helped create; Ellen looks at it as incest, and is almost as horrified by that as she is to realize Saul was able to get another woman (their "daughter" or otherwise) pregnant.

Ellen's arrival -- and the distrust she immediately engenders among the fleet hierarchy -- also leads to the marvelously squirmy spectacle of Laura Roslin trying to make nice to Caprica Six, whom she views, along with Baltar, as the face of the colonial genocide. Right here, right now, Laura sees Ellen as the greater potential threat, and so she tries to use Caprica as a wedge against her, then gets sidetracked by her fear that Liam may be part of the grand Cylon plan, only to be shamed into recognizing that Caprica is, whatever her other crimes might be, a very scared, very protective expectant mom. (Hey, even some of history's worst monsters had kids.)

And all of this led to the horrible sequence where Ellen's need to hurt Saul appeared to lead to Caprica Six's premature labor, and to the death of Liam. What Ellen says about Tigh's unwavering love for Adama isn't wrong, but her wounded ego should be besides the point while discussing the future of two races, and she doesn't realize that until Caprica's lying on a bed in sickbay and Saul is despairing over what's to come. Great acting by all three in those two scenes, and Hogan and Edward James Olmos were just as powerful in their tearful hug at the end.

No, I had no problem with the A-story being a bit less mindblowing than the last few weeks have been. My problem with "Deadlock" comes entirely with Baltar returning to the harem and then somehow talking Adama into arming up his little Manson family.

When Baltar bailed on the cult in the first half of the coup storyline, I lamented the realization that he'd been play-acting the entire time, and an episode like this one reminds me why that made me so unhappy. Baltar being a scam artist who will slip on whatever identity is most convenient and advantageous completely fits the character. The problem is that he's now slipped into so many bogus roles that it's impossible to take the character seriously anymore, in any way. It feels like the writers ran out of ideas for Baltar around the end of the New Caprica arc. They were able to stall for a while by putting him on trial (and vamped in between by trying to establish him as an underground political hero), but the cult was only interesting to me so long as I believed that Baltar believed. Once it became clear that he was just screwing around (in more ways than one), then Baltar is just a comic relief character. As played by James Callis, he's wickedly funny comic relief, but he feels superfluous to the main action, and I can't believe anything that comes out of his mouth -- even in moments where he's supposed to be sincere.

The return of Head Six, and her Cyrano role in pushing Baltar to a place where he got those guns for his special lady friends, makes me hopeful that this may be leading somewhere grander. But for a lot of this episode, I was rolling my eyes at Baltar just as much as Paula, Adama and all the other Gaius haters.

Some other thoughts:

• How, exactly, does Boomer find the fleet? And if she can do it, why can't Cavil?

• It doesn't happen in this episode, but it looks like I'm going to get that Boomer/Tyrol scene I've been waiting for ever since the Final Four were revealed in "Crossroads."

• Why is Tyrol, who just last week eagerly signed back on to be Adama's deck chief, now so willing to throw in his lot with the Cylons and get the hell out of here? That abrupt character turn almost -- almost -- ruined the delightful comedy of Tyrol's deadpan mumbling of, "Can we maybe talk about the offer, maybe deal with the baby later?" in the midst of one of Ellen and Saul's earliest arguments.

• That line, and many of the lines in this zinger-filled episode, felt very much like something you might hear in a "Buffy" script -- and the episode, of course, was the final "Galactica" script for "Buffy" and "BSG" vet Jane Espenson. By far the funniest line of the night -- possibly of the series -- was Adama trying to walk out on Baltar by claiming, "I'm gonna go to the head. Do something constructive -- a little project I've been working on."

• I thought it was a lovely little touch that the Six we saw whenever Adama went into the bowels of Galactica to check on the repair work had her hair in a very '40s style, as if she was an inter-stellar Rosie the Riveter.

• When Helo got put back in the flight rotation (isn't he the CAG these days?), shouldn't Adama have appointed a new Mayor of Dogsville? Wouldn't that be a more sensible solution, even with the military understaffed, than deputizing a bunch of Squeaky Frommes?

What did everybody else think?

85 comments:

jim treacher said...

Gaius Obama!

If this were the sort of show that won Emmys, Michael Hogan would be nominated for this episode. And his soliloquy about the love he felt should be required viewing for all women with low self-esteem.

Nicole said...

I could have done without the Baltar plot as well because I didn't care much about it except for the scene with Head Six.

The way Tigh and Ellen are continually at each other's throats despite being married "thousands of years" make me wonder why the universe hasn't been destroyed several times over. This Ellen was not as catty as when we last saw her, but she ramped up pretty quickly to her destructive tendencies, with Tigh not that far behind her.

Japenet said...

The 'old' Ellen emerging so quickly was a little jarring at first, but then it reminded me of that first big high school reunion, where it only took a couple of hours for the old personalities to come out.

(And yeah, just how did Boomer find the fleet so quickly?)

Brian said...

So quick -- how many scenes was Tricia Helfer *NOT* in? :-)

Overall, a very "blah" episode. I didn't like the Baltar plot line at all and at this point in the series, I really don't care about the people in 'down below' unless it ties in with the plot lines most viewers care about. If we're middle of a normal season, that's fine, but it still felt like too much time was spent on these scenes.

This episode also has the "Lost" problem where people just don't ask the questions that ANYONE else would ask in the same situation.

Tell me, if you were any of the final five, wouldn't you be asking Ellen how to fix your memories the first chance you got? Wouldn't there be more questions about Earth? Naw, let's just argue about who slept with who like this is Battlestar 90210.

Number Five said...

I actually liked the Baltar storyline. I understand there's too much going on to seriously dwell on the aftereffects of the mutiny, but it showed the impact, and instead of the crew, with the refugees who we don't see much. It makes sense that after finding Earth, the Quorum was assassinated, Adama and Roslin neglected their responsibilities, etc, that the refugees would be left to fend for themselves. And most of the Marines probably died in the mutiny or can't be trusted, so in a way the armed pluralism (give them all guns!) may be their only option. And to be fair to the cult, other than being extremely, extremely sketchy, they haven't done much wrong. They're certainly not anti-Cylon the way the Sons of Ares are.

Also, I think the Chip Six reappearance was a sign Baltar will have a big role in the last few episodes. I agree he hasn't been as effectively used since Chip Six basically broke him and a lot of her prophecies about him and babies and Opera Houses didn't come true (so far). But he's still been more than comic relief and as illustrative of the big questions the show tackles as ever.

Finally, I wonder if Baltar did believe in the cult at the time, and when it was time to bail, justified it by dismissing his prior role. We've seen how his desire to survive determines even his deepest beliefs, but only until the situation changes and he has to adapt again. I think he got a lot of his preaching about God from his season 1-2 Chip Six sermons. Maybe that's just rationalizing it, I don't know.

The main plot underwhelmed, though. I certainly don't demand plot and mythology at the expense of what makes the show great, and it definitely made sense to show how Tigh, Ellen, and Six would handle the situation. But instead of the characters grappling with the big issues about their existence, history, and as Alan said, the future of the fleet, we got a love triangle that smacked of melodrama. Of course Ellen is going to be self-destructive, but she is in a unique position as the only Final Five to have her full memories. We didn't need more exposition, but we needed to see more of her sense of obligation about what to do next.

The huge decision on whether to leave the fleet should have been given a lot more room. Tory and Tigh's votes made sense, but Ellen's and especially Tyrol's were more dictated by plot mechanics.

The acting was terrific all around though, and it feels like everything's been said about him, but Michael Hogan...wow. Between the feeling love scene and the plea for unity, he took it up yet another notch.

I did re-think the episode in a more positive light after reading Alan's post, but I think this and Sine Qua Non have been the relative disappointments of this season. I still can't wait to see what happens next. Only four more episodes!

Omagus said...

This Ellen was not as catty as when we last saw her, but she ramped up pretty quickly to her destructive tendencies, with Tigh not that far behind her.

Yeah, how exactly are these two the "parents" of the Cylon race?

Anonymous said...

this sucked apples

james said...

The second half of the show was definitely better than the first.

I love the emphasis on Bill and Tigh's relationship. Through thousands of years of love this old frak of a human has such a huge role in Tigh's life. Who does he turn to once the baby dies? Adama. It was a really great way to show the various character dimensions; especially, on why Ellen is so infuriated by their relationship.

Nice little comment by Starbuck about her finally noticing a piano at the bar. Hint*Hint* haha

I'm pondering if one of the final five aren't good - let's say Torey. They've got to explain why they were nuked in the first place.

I really want to talk about the previews because it looks really gooey.

William Kaminsky said...

Well, I got nothing big or intelligent to say. So let me just offer my award for the best reaction-shot-while-standing-in-the-background: I loved the barely disguised exasperated/disgusted look Mary McDonnell chose for Laura Roslin when Laura sees that her oh-so-rapidly-falling-apart-true-love Bill Adama is the only one in the room carrying a flask of booze when Ellen asks for some.

Brian said...

Or does God -- which Ellen tries to claim she invented for the Cylon's benefit, but which Saul rightly (based on what we learned last week) says they had nothing to do with -- have no interest in a pure-bred Cylon child?

I think you have it backwards; Saul claimed they invented it, Ellen denied it.

Weird BE said...

I pretty much agree with Alan and the commenters. Not a wasted episode, but a lot of unanswered questions and not advancing the mythos at all does not a 4th-to-last episode make. Two episodes plus the two-part, three-hour finale...ye Gods I cannot wait.

But of course that's not the main Galactica news today, is it? Today brings word that there will indeed be a BSG big screen feature, but that Glen Larson, creator of the original, 1970s version, will be at the helm, and will presumably resurrect or continue his version of BSG.

To which I say: Isn't this a bit like a cracked-out mother giving birth to a baby strung out on, um, crack, but who then is forced to give up the baby to a loving couple, who raise the child so well the kid garners a 4.0 GPA. 1600 SAT and full ride to Harvard? But then, after all that, is returned to her crack addict mother?

Yeah, kind of like that.

If you are like me, when you show a friend or family member a TV show, you take it personally how that person responds to said show/movie. Don't like it? That's a judgment on you, not just the show.

Glen Larson has made my love of BSG a joke among many of those same people; they will never see the Ron Moore version, because the Larson version sullied them on BSG forever. And if any Larson movie is made, it will further erode any possibility of conversion.

Glen Larson, you are a horrible, horrible, horrible writer. Don't ruin 5 years of brilliant TV. Please. Please Gods, don't!

Myles said...

This one just plain ol' didn't work for me. In fact, my review likely reads like an enormous rant, because I just can't fit this one into any logical sense of progression.

My biggest problem with the episode is not that we're dealing with the base, almost soap operatic, concerns with Tigh, Ellen and Caprica. Like you note, Alan, the acting was spectacular, and there is the inherent irony of the traits Ellen found so vile in Cavil emerging in herself.

But my problem with the storyline is that it quite literally held the actual larger question of Cylon destiny hostage: it wasn't just that they chose to focus on the human side of the story, but the fate of the Cylon and Human races very nearly came down to a storyline ripped out of Days of Our Lives. That just doesn't make sense to me, nor does it feel necessary.

I've had problems with this season's pacing since the beginning, especially after the break, and it just feels like this episode shouldn't have played out like this. I could just sense the writers manipulating this episode, and in ways that didn't feel natural.

The metaphor that I used in my review, that I'm now overusing since I think myself too clever for my own good, is that it's as if the show is playing checkers on a chess board. It's one thing for the show to switch games entirely, as it has down numerous times, but here the board is still a complicated mess of mythology and characters, but all of a sudden the characters were making moves that didn't make sense, playing a game that felt like it didn't suit where the show and the fleet currently sit.

And this late in a show's run, an episode that screams "identity crisis" shouldn't happen. And that it did, and that "No Exit" before it was the block of exposition that it was, makes me weary for how carefully they've really got this thing figured out.

Hoosier Paul said...

Alan, I agree on the Tyrol thing. It was totally out of character for him to do a sudden about face and vote to abandon the fleet (right after he'd been voted deck chief, for Pete's sake!). It felt like a decision that was driven not by character, but by the needs of the plot.

My biggest problem with this episode is that there was absolutely no tension to it. I didn't care about the Ellen-Saul-Caprica Six triangle, I really didn't care about the Baltar subplot, and it was obvious from the revelations in last week's episode that an Ellen with her memory fully restored would never vote to abandon humanity, and was just playing mind games with Saul.

Last season, or even earlier this season, I would have just shrugged this off as a misstep. But to have an episode this defiantly average show up this late in the show's run is extremely disappointing.

Sean said...

People seem to be wondering what purpose the squabbling between Tigh and Ellen served. I, for one, think it's because the writers wanted to draw parallels between Zeus & Hera; for lack of a better term, they were the mother & father of the gods in Greek mythology, which this show actively uses. Zeus had affairs with many women, especially mortals, because it made him feel like one of them rather than the all-powerful father figure he had to be.

The Baltar storyline is kinda stupid to me too, but I have no doubt that his path and the zealots will tie in to the unification of the Cylon and human race, the purpose of Starbuck, and the divine intervention that Anders re-awakening leads me to believe is coming soon.

Nar said...

Hey Alan, great review as always.

Personally, I’d rather the writers spend the last episodes giving us some more mythical revelations and cleaning up the messy details than playing soap opera with Tigh and his blondes.

Hey, at least we know the bar has a piano now!

Here are my thoughts on the episode: http://tinyurl.com/dmd3oh

So say we all!

Sean Richardson said...

Overall, I was a fan of this episode. Really great scenes with Ellen/Tight/Caprica Six. Tigh has had some really great scenes this season.

I did have a few problems:

1. I agree that Tyrol's vote to go to the base ship seemed weird. Just last week he agreed to be the Chief again and committed to repairing Galactica. Now he's ready to abandon the fleet before the repairs are even finished? Didn't seem like Tyrol.

2. I guess this isn't really a problem, but it's more just something I don't get: why are there still a bunch of civilian refugees living on the Galactica? New Caprica was what, a year and a half ago? Why can't these people get back to their own ships? Why does Adama want a bunch of civilians living on a military vessel? Seems a little strange to me.

3. I'm really not getting the logic of Adama arming Baltar and his followers. I just can't see Adama going for that. Why not just have marines patrolling the place? Why not recruit or train some sort of police force? Almost anything would seem more logical than giving machine guns to a cult led by Gaius Baltar.

4. Minor one, I kind of wish previous episodes had built up Tigh's relationship with Caprica Six more. I mean, the transition from interrogations to some sex in her holding cell to loving her came a bit quick for me. On the other hand, in the last two episodes Michael Hogan certainly sold it, I mean I love all of his scenes with her. Where they're at, it's great, but I guess I just wish they spent more time getting there. I felt the same about Dee/Lee, it seemed kind of abrupt.

Otherwise though, I really enjoyed the episode. I really hope Tyrol finds out that Tory killed Cally. I wonder if they intend to address that or not.

Teev said...

That Jane Espenson...first she brings the funny (and this ep had more funny for me than we've had in a while), then she kills the baby!

But I guess it had to happen because we're headed to some sort of "integration is the new future" thing and good. That is a good message. Everyone who's had a Chip person or Head person or whatever, they've been opposite? Like if you are a Cylon you get a human and vice versa? And didn't Ellen or Sam say something last week about how they each (the Five) had someone in their head? Are the people who've seen Chip-folk the new Five? Oh wait, that would be super sad if only 5 people live.

I want more than 4 more eps. This ep may have felt less epic but I've missed the funny and the personal stories so I liked it just fine.

Nicole said...

The Larson BSG movie will make the new Trek reboot look brilliant. Even if the Trek movies didn't reimagine the original series to the same extent that BSG did with its original, it still evolved and wasn't an exact retread of the original series. Sure the Trek franchise was beat into the ground, and there is a risk that Caprica will be a pale imitation of this BSG, but at least there is some creativity, and not just an attempt to cash in on nostalgia for a show that wasn't ever that good to begin with.

As for this episode, I echo the sentiments about the pacing, as well as the pacing for this last half of the season. I may be overly picky, and it's not like I hate the episodes, but it just seems as though we are wasting time on some of this subplots. If it comes together at the end, then fine, but there are less and less episodes for that too happen. At least the Adama/Tigh friendship is back on track.

Raz Cunningham said...

I fully agree with Jim Treacher's comment: "If this were the sort of show that won Emmys, Michael Hogan would be nominated for this episode. And his soliloquy about the love he felt should be required viewing for all women with low self-esteem."

That was wonderfully written and even better performed by Hogan. Saul Tigh has become one of my favorite characters over the years, and this episode was yet another reason why.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most comments that I didn't like this episode just because the main stories covered weren't the ones I really cared about. Which makes me wonder if Ron Moore is missing his audience as he wraps it up. With only four episodes left after tonight, there's only so much "real estate" that can go around. I wonder if the stuff we, the viewers, care most about will simply be small reveals while Moore and company focus more attention on this lame Saul-Ellen-Six love triangle and the fate of Baltar. In particular, in his interview with you, Alan, Moore seemed much more interested in the Saul-Ellen storyline than any commentator I've heard.

DanKorn said...

My favorite part waas the Bear McCreary cameo, in Joe's Bar when Starbuck is downing the shot. Bear rocks! So say we all!

Mrglass said...

I actually liked the episode but, after the midseason break and all, feel confused about the BSG story. Didn't Adama and Roslin use to hate Baltar, why would they give him dozens of their best guns? And about:

When Helo got put back in the flight rotation (isn't he the CAG these days?), shouldn't Adama have appointed a new Mayor of Dogsville?

I have completely lost track of Helo, what is he up to these days? And what is a Mayor of Dogsville??


Finally, I wonder what was the point of Caprica6 getting pregnant if her baby dies just like that. Not to mention that Baltar seemed completely uninterested in the whole thing; yet during the two first seasons those two characters were passionately in love and dreaming of a child.

H E Pennypacker said...

If nothing else - I had a great laugh at the end with the 'R & D Prods' vanity card
"Where's my cheque?" LOL!

belinda said...

DanKorn said...
My favorite part waas the Bear McCreary cameo, in Joe's Bar when Starbuck is downing the shot. Bear rocks! So say we all!


I didn't even realize it til you mentioned it. Nice catch.

I think one of the things I enjoyed the most were the scenes between Tigh and Ellen. They have so much passion (be it love or hate) with each other, and are so wrapped up in their own little fights, it makes for some hilarious interjections, like the Chief's "hey, let's talk about the vote" and Caprica's "STOP IT!" when she was fighting for her life and her baby.

And I thought it was a nice touch to have the memory wall be the 'proof' that the blending has begun.

With the mention of the opera house once again, does that mean we're finally going to find out what it all means?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mo Ryan and I tag-teamed Jane Espenson with questions about "Deadlock."

Mike F said...

Booooooooooo!!!

After all these characters have learned in the last few episodes and all the new insight they should have about their lives and their universe, nobody seems to give a flying frack.

Tory, Tyrol, Ellen in particular...in last week's episode, they learn all the cosmic details of their lives. And this week, they're mostly acting like petty fools who have less, not more, perspective about their lives and their journey.

Ellen's character was so poorly written here, it was a joke.

I felt so disconnected to the meta-story here. Nobody's asking the right questions and nobody seems to care that much about all the revelations of the last episode.

JackiWhitford said...

Alan -

Thanks for the great recap and your questions posted over at Maureen Ryan's Watcher blog in the Chicago Tribune that the BSG staff answered.

Here is my two cents on Ellen and Baltar. I have met these dysfunctional personalities in real life, so here is my take on them.

Ellen is an alcoholic and reminds me a lot of my father who died of alcohol abuse at a young age (as did most of his friends). On the one hand, you are looking at a thought provoking genius. On the other, you are looking at someone swimming in a dark liquid to hide their fears and lashing out to hurt any person, place or thing that makes them feel they are not in control of their current experience.

Baltar reminds me of the other dysfunctional personality I have seen many times in life - especially in the corporate world. They are emotional changelings who can adapt on a dime to another personality to fit whatever will make them feel in control of their lives. It is a defense mechanism to say the least, and they really believe that they are sincere in their actions and words. Unfortunately, to everyone else we just think they are full of crap.

There are not black and white humans or Cylons for that matter. We are all grey and ambiguous, and some like Ellen (drunk on sex and whiskey) and Baltar (drunk on sex and power) are a just a wee bit more dysfunctional than others.

Anonymous said...

BEST.LINE.OF.THE.EPISODE:

HotDog (When Ellen arrives on BS-75):

"How many dead chicks are out there?"

Pandyora said...

Add me to the list of the frustrated. Its not that the individual plots were uninteresting, just very poorly executed. Three things in particular struck me as contrivances:

- Ellen just spent eighteen months arguing for the virtues of love and forgiveness. Did she forget her own arguments in the intervening jump back to Galactica?

- Tyrol just accepted the position of the chief. Now he wants to bail?

- Tory, Tyrol, and Tigh were desperate to learn more about their past from an incoherent Anders. A coherent Ellen shows up and they suddenly forget their questions?

Wendymoon said...

Highlights for me were Tyrol's comment as mentioned in your review and Tigh in his grief turning to Adama.

Other than that, I think this ep was pretty trashy.

I agree with Myles, this was a stupid soap opera plot. We have love triangles, a guy stuck in a coma, people coming back from the dead...

The baby died because it wasn't loved enough? Please. Don't write in a cylon baby only to kill it like that. (Nice way to not have to explain why it happened, like dropping Chief's baby as a hybrid. LAZY.)

Last week's Ellen was much more interesting. It's disappointing to see that she's just the same old Ellen.

I hate what has happened to Baltar. I agree that they ran out of ideas for him. Head Six reappears to tell him to get more guns, bigger guns, better guns! Really really lame. Relegating Baltar to comic relief is a gross under-utilization of such a great actor/character.

Why couldn't they use Baltar by trying to figure out why he gave a pass to Ellen when he tested her as a cylon all that time ago? Let head Six show up and explain that!

The whole point of the ep is that humans and cylons need to mesh. I get it. The rest was a lot of poor filler, and we're too late in the game for that.

Heather Long said...

Great review. I question Tory as well. She divorced herself from her humanity rather swiftly and you have Galen willing to abandon the humans, I have to wonder if love is the key here too -- without Nicky and Cally, Galen feels disconected, while Saul still has Bill and Anders had Kara.

Bg Porter said...

re: Tyrol's changing teams -- my assumption was that it was driven by Boomer's re-appearance, but I wish that they'd done something to make that apparent. Wouldn't he have wanted to know (even just a little) where Boomer was going?

Karen said...

I, too, was taken aback by Tyrol casting his lot in with Tory; it seemed out of character, especially given his devotion to Galactica and his newly-restored role as Chief. I do wonder, though, if the reappearance of Boomer might have had something to do with it. I think the difference between Galen and Saul is that Saul will ALWAYS put the ship (and Adama) first, whereas Galen will focus on the woman he loves.

Incidentally, well done, @William Kaminsky, because that look of disgusted recognition on Roslin's face as Adama pulled out a flask for Ellen was CLASSIC. I roared when I saw it.

I didn't dislike this as much as many of my fellow commenters did. Yes, the elements of the story were soap-operatic, but so are the elements of many great stories; it's how their written and acted that can make a real difference. And I thought this was wonderfully written and acted, myself.

Maybe people thought that, with the Final Five back together, it would all get very high-flown and mystical, but I kind of like that they were just as riven by petty concerns as the humans are. That notion of everything that has happened happening again--that's a very human concept ("History repeats itself;" "Those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it"), and it's interesting to me to see those qualities manifesting among the Cylons. There IS a blending--the two races are not actually so different at all.

The Baltar storyline was weak; I do agree with that. It was funny watching Head Six Cyrano him, though--he's used Head arguments before, but I don't remember it ever being quite so verbatim. Paulla was a pain, and had to be dealt with, and I was glad to see her get her comeuppance (not because she was defying Baltar, but because she was so obnoxious about it), but frankly I'd forgotten all about the Sons of Ares and that storyline didn't grab me.

But perhaps the arming of Baltar's cult is part of a grand Cylon plan (assuming that Head Six is actually a real Cylon), which will be part of the climax of the series.

Dunno! But I'm willing to let the story play out.

Tahlia said...

I was watching last night's episode with a friend, and she had a wonderful explanation for Anders' sudden brain un-death, that now I can't stop thinking about:

Baby Liam downloaded into Anders.

(If anything, that would make me feel better that they got Caprica Six pregnant only to bring her pain by killing the child. Which is... ugh.)

All and all, the idea of Ellen and Tigh as the original Mom and Dad of creation casts a great line of Tigh's from Season 2 in a great, ironic light: "Thank the Gods I never had kids."

mjryan said...

I don't think the Ellen/Saul=Hera/Zeus works. Ellen is the philanderer, Hera was not. I hardly see any similarities in Saul and Zeus.

Why, when Ellen was accusing Saul of incest with a child they created, didn't Saul call her out on her relationship with Cavil on New Caprica? Another example of the characters not asking the questions or making the comments that they should.

I didn't like the episode at all. There are four episodes left. Four. F-O-U-R. That they wasted one episode on a dysfunctional family reunion really chafes. Sure, they could have and probably should have, had a messy reunion. But, it wasn't enough story for an entire episode.

Baltar should have been airlocked/assassinated two seasons ago. He's completely pointless and taking up valuable screen time.

Tyrol's character makes no sense anymore.

Adama as an alcoholic is just...wrong, imo. I'm sorry, but I just don't see it as a logical character progression.

I haven't invested as many hours as I have to abandon the show with only 4 episodes left, but I'm finding it increasingly unlikely that we're going to get the 'epic' ending that the actors have been fawning over for months.

Disappointing episode.

Rick said...

I don't care so much about the "mythic revelations". My problem is, so close to the end, we're wasting time with stories that are important to one or two characters, and not the things that matter to the survival of the human race as a whole.

Earth was a bust- so we're going to drift aimlessly for eternity?

Every representative of the civilians is dead, and the president is secretly handing over power to the Admiral's son. Doesn't that warrant more than five minutes of the last two hours?

Our military just withstood a coup- what exactly is their condition? Are they ready for a battle if one shows up? (Are we going to see another space firefight in these last four? It's been a long time...)

At the end of this series, I'd like a clear indication, good or bad, of what humanity's destiny is. As we get closer to the end, there's no suggestion that the writers care about any of it.

And as I said last week, I'll be super-pissed if I have to find out about it in the TV Movie. Or the comic book. Or the next series. Or new webisodes.

Leo said...

apparently everyone missed that Starbuck was foreshadowed as the "damaged cylon" she said that watching Ellen and Cy kiss was like watching her parents make-out and Ellen kept referring to cylons they made as her children which is why she was crept out in way that Colonel was sleeping with their daughter

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike F said...


- Tory, Tyrol, and Tigh were desperate to learn more about their past from an incoherent Anders. A coherent Ellen shows up and they suddenly forget their questions?


Exactly.

We're given no indication that anybody is interested in what Ellen has to say when in fact they should all be starving to know what she can tell them.

Instead they all want to historically important decisions based on incomplete information.

Myles said...

Mo Ryan and I tag-teamed Jane Espenson with questions about "Deadlock."

Okay, spill Alan - are you REALLY happy with those answers? Maybe it's just me, but her details on what was left out of the episode seemed far more interesting than what we actually got here (and would have done a lot to flesh out, if not explain, the Baltar situation), and the idea that Head Six's reappearance has no mythological meaning is kind of unfathomable to me.

I was frustrated with the episode before, but now? That interview just made me feel like they really have no idea what the frak they're doing.

Tyroc said...

Alan, great review as always. I liked the Baltar stuff more than you did, as he's one of the best characters on the show and has been neglected for a while so I'm happy they are focusing on him a bit.

Two questions...

Didn't Ellen sleep with Cavil back on New Caprica? That was sleeping with her son, right? Granted she didn't know, but he did. So... yuck.

And I'm a bit confused about the God stuff. I thought we learned last episode that the centurions invented the concept and then the Five built on it when creating their "children". Was this not the case?

beebobob said...

See, here's my problem with the naysayers on this season: one of the major tropes on the show has always the confluence of deeply personal conflicts and the epic movements of society, meaning that the all the broad mythic events of the show are told from the POV of and TURN ON these personal (soapy?) plot lines, like Baltar's infidelity and whorishness setting the stage for Caprica six's mission and leading to the destruction of the colonies. I think Moore would say from the beginning that these "human" stories (which many of you seem to so disdain) are the POINT of BSG, that the big action set pieces and the large mythic plots (that draw us all in and are fascinating) are really just the backdrop, the setting for telling deeply personal (and sometimes melodramatic, because sometimes life IS melodramatic) stories.

So I feel the same thing you do, that sense of where's the oomph, where's the big mythos and grandeur that we've loved in the show and I miss it too and I think, finally, that that's part of the point. As Baltar said in 33, the human body/mind has limits, tolerances that you can't go past. I think what we're finally seeing is mankind's grip on its bootsraps finally loosening. It makes perfect sense that we deal with the reprecussions of the loss of earth, the failed mutiny, the discovery of the final five, etc, and that the impact is largely personal. Ultimately sci-fi (like most art), and as Olmos said in an interview i saw once, is about using a backdrop to find a way to document genuine human reactions and interactions.

Anyway, I'm just reacting to the sense of disappointment that seems to pervade the reaction to season 4 without the concurrent recognition that what season 4 has been largely about IS disappointment. And that is completely consistent with the balance and breadth of the series. I think it's been brilliant and touching and beautiful painted and uncomfortable and slightly dissatisfying and sublime.

Liz said...

Only 4 episodes left? How are they going to wrap this up?

There were things I loved about this episode: the one-liners, Tigh's speech about love, and him going straight to Adama after Liam is gone. One of those awesome, beautiful moments BSG brings us.

And I get what happened to Ellen. As much as she and Tigh love each other, together they're toxic. We've seen this before. Only question is, can they overcome it this time? In fact, that's a question that keeps coming up a lot as the series draws to a close, isn't it?

I found myself asking it last night about Baltar. And I really don't know. I saw Laura and Bill arming him as just another way they're letting the past go. But at the same time, anytime Baltar does anything I worry it's going to turn into a disaster. I guess we'll find out.

kathy said...

FAIL. 5 hours of BSG left to go and THAT'S what we get? Really bad, and you can overlook a bad episode every once in a while but it's kinda hard to overlook it when you're at this point in the series. I was not a great fan of last week's episode, but at least there were some very interesting revelations even if the mechanism for those revelations was clunky.

Unfortunatly, it turned out the idea of Ellen Tigh returning to the Fleet was about 100x more compelling than her actual return, which was something out of a bad soap opera. Last night's episode also manged to make Gaius boring, which is quite a feat.

Bumemr of an episode, Hal.

Pandyora said...

Didn't Ellen sleep with Cavil back on New Caprica? That was sleeping with her son, right? Granted she didn't know, but he did. So... yuck.

Its even worse because Cavil was created in the image of her father. So double yuck.

annie said...

I wish this episode had Baltar as the A-plot (with a better thought-out story) and the love-triangle-with-baby as a stellar B-plot.

This would be an excellent time for Baltar (with Head Six apparition) to return to our good graces and have a backbone.

I'd like to retroactively apply for the job of continuity manager, who keeps track of things like who's CAG, who's in charge of Dogsville, and moves these minor aspects of the show along offscreen so they don't feel like cardboard props when they come onscreen.

I spent most of the ep laughing out loud at inappropriate moments and wanting to run head first into walls, but I think I'll like it more when I rewatch it in marathon format.

Mo Ryan said...

Sean wrote: Minor one, I kind of wish previous episodes had built up Tigh's relationship with Caprica Six more. I mean, the transition from interrogations to some sex in her holding cell to loving her came a bit quick for me.

Agreed, that relationship would have benefited if more time had been spent on it. I'd have traded Romo's dead cat in a gym bag for more time spent with Tigh and Caprica. Though I'm sure if we'd gotten the latter, there would have been complaints about "soapiness" etc.

As far as that complaint goes, I'm not with you. To me this show has always been about, to a great degree, the emotional impact of the choices that flawed people make. My two cents: If we don't see how those choices play out and affect people's emotions and relationships, then it's not BSG. That stuff is not a waste of time to me, imho.

Other aspects of the episode could have made more sense -- on the Galactica Sitrep blog, in the comment area on Deadlock, there's more information about what was cut from the episode, and that stuff staying in would have helped the Adama/Baltar plot quite a bit, imho. And the Chief's about face didn't really track for me.

But as for the rest, I'll have to agree to disagree about the "soap opera" factor. To me, the Caprica/Six/Ellen thing wasn't in that realm. Let's talk "BSG" soapiness - the love quadrangle between Dee, Lee, Kara and Anders in Season 3 - now that was soapiness and I did get bored by that.

Tahlia said: I was watching last night's episode with a friend, and she had a wonderful explanation for Anders' sudden brain un-death, that now I can't stop thinking about:

Baby Liam downloaded into Anders.


WHOA you just exploded my brain.tw

sycamorescribe said...

I've noticed a lot of comments from people stating that the pacing of the show is too slow. I understand. I'm not going to comment on the show's pacing. The thing I love most about this show is how psychologically tuned in it is to its characters. Life isn't always fast paced. You have to process to survive and that takes time to ask yourself the easy as well as the uncomfortable questions. Someone made a comment about obvious questions not being asked right away. I think that they are not voiced shows that there is some fear of what those answers may be. Come on, how many of us have, at one time or another, not asked a question because we didn't want to rock the boat, or we were afraid that what we thought could be true is true? I also trust that those questions will be answered. The writers of this show are excellent. I am content to wait and see how this will all play out.

Someone else commented on the votes of the final four as being a disappointing character reversal. Yeah they were, but again I am holding off judgment for later because it is, imo., too soon to see. May I suggest if you want to view some real (and irrevocable)character assassination to tune in to the L Word. That show has really gone downhill with atypical character decisions/actions.

I'm looking forward to next week's episode. Like everyone has mentioned, I too, think it will be a Starbuck centered show. I also hope that we will have the longed for reunion of Boomer and Chief. I would hate for her to get airlocked though. I'd much rather Tory get it as she seems to be the least interesting of the final 5 to me.

Anonymous said...

Re the arming of Gaius's groupie gang

To me this plays into the whole concept of "all this has happened, and will happen again.
With the return of Head Six and her suggestions to Gaius to get arms for his group, I am seeing a parallel with her originally setting him up to set of the nuclear holocaust that set off this story. Now, for the Cylons to finish off the humans, they don't need nukes, a cache of well placed arms in the hands of people with many grudges and feelings of desperation will decimate the fleet in pretty short order.

Myles said...

Mo: But as for the rest, I'll have to agree to disagree about the "soap opera" factor. To me, the Caprica/Six/Ellen thing wasn't in that realm. Let's talk "BSG" soapiness - the love quadrangle between Dee, Lee, Kara and Anders in Season 3 - now that was soapiness and I did get bored by that.

I will definitely agree with you that that was the furthest that BSG has gone into soap opera territory in terms of quality: the Love Square has never worked, going all the way back to Chaucer, and for them to think other was just a fundamentally bad idea.

But I think the difference here is that this "soap opera" storyline (And I don't think we can argue that, ignoring context for a moment, a woman come back from the dead finding her husband shacked up with her daughter who is pregnant with their child isn't a soap opera storyline) was in direct contention with and opposition to the main storyline of the series. This didn't just feel like human drama taking place in the context of the show's storyline, but rather like this WAS the show's storyline.

I've never had a problem with human drama like this, and if you were to isolate those scenes from their place within the series they'd be the best acted soap opera storyline you've ever seen. But the problem is that in order for them to happen Ellen had to abandon all of her other thoughts about the Final Five, and what should have been a reunion as mythologically complicated as "No Exit" was overwhelming and suffocating the show's complexity in favour of base human emotions.

I understand the value of this, Ellen reverting back to her former self, back to the very kind of things that drove Cavil to mutiny against them. But what we saw here was love and hate replacing things like logic, characters consistency, and the actual predicament the two fleets find themselves in.

After "No Exit" had plot at a standstill in order to shove a lot of details and back story, it just felt more than a little false for plot again to feel thrown aside in episodes where momentum is a key factor. I really feel like both this one and "No Exit" should have gone back to the drawing board: everything needed more time to build and more time to breathe.

tanveernaseer said...

I have to say that on the heels of "No Exit", this episode is really making me concerned for how we'll be able to appreciate the events in the upcoming episodes given the obvious drive to have certain plot ducks lined in a row. That's not to say that there weren't some good points to this episode as I pointed out in my own review, since the idea presented of how one differentiates the Cylon constructs of love from the human construct is an interesting one. However, the glossing over of plot points and character traits out of necessity to set up future episodes was very discouraging.

Mike F said...

I think we all would have been totally fine with a slow-paced actionless episode that rang true with all the characters and made sense within the context of the show and its history.

It makes sense that we'd see the Ellen/Tigh relationship fall back into some melodrama. But it overriding the rest of the show doesn't make sense.

This episode, for me, turned a bunch of smart complex characters into one note imitations of themselves.

And for the record, I've LOVED every show leading up to finding Earth and since. So, this is from a diehard.

Stuff that defied credibility in this episode...

-- Saul not mentioning Caprica Six was pregnant until the reunion scene in sick bay. Did he think she wouldn't notice? LOL

-- Tyrol's about-face without wanting to know more about his past and his present

-- The simplistic throw-her-in-the-brig attitude towards Boomer

-- Starbuck who was so interested in the possibility of answers the previous week with Anders not seeming to care about Ellen being an even better source of information

-- For that no matter, nobody caring about or reacting to the revelation that any of the final five's deaths over the past few years would have meant they wouldn't have died

-- Nobody suggesting that Ellen might be able to help Anders out of his current predicament with her god-like knowledge about skin jobs

-- Bare mention of the fall out from the epic mutiny in either of the last couple episodes.

-- A re-energized Adama stiffened by the mutiny and his fight to re-take the ship returning to a depressive barely-functional state

its all pretty mystifying to me...its like somebody wrote this script who was only loosely familiar with the show

Chaz said...

Guess I'm in the minority here in really liking this one, but that's probably because I don't really care about any grand mythic revelations. Sure it got a little soap opera-ey, but I thought Hogan, Helfer, and Vernon sold it beautifully.

Alan, I'm sort of the opposite of you on the Baltar stuff. All through the first part of the season I assumed he was full of s*** (and I think Callis said in an interview that he always thought of it like that too). It was hilarious to watch him try to wrest control of his cult back. I found it provided a nice bit of lightness to what was otherwise a real downer of an episode.

Oh and we got yet another hint/red herring about Starbuck, saying that watching Ellen and Saul kiss "was like watching my parents make out".

Anonymous said...

Number Five said: I actually liked the Baltar storyline. I understand there's too much going on to seriously dwell on the aftereffects of the mutiny, but it showed the impact, and instead of the crew, with the refugees who we don't see much . . .

Guess I'm the second vote not minding the Baltar changes and story in this episode. My impression was that GB started to believe the god-stuff under the influence of Head Six over a long period of time but the wake of earth's desolation shook him back to his more skeptical nature. Now Head Six has returned to stiffen his spine again (a return which I thought Ron Moore said in a podcast wasn't going to happen; but perhaps I misremember). In addition, this story line adds another layer of depth for Adama & the audience regarding the continuing tumult among the denizens of Galactica and illustrates Adama's desperation in turning to Baltar.

And yes there are only four episodes left but stretched over five television hours. I'm willing to cut them some soap opera slack - it seemed necessary given the circumstances of the characters.

. . .a wonderful explanation for Anders' sudden brain un-death, that now I can't stop thinking about: Baby Liam downloaded into Anders.
Yeah, but if Anders start squawking baby talk and pooping his diapers I'm outta here!
- anonymoose

Number Five said...

Myles wrote: That interview just made me feel like they really have no idea what the frak they're doing.

I wouldn't go that far, but I was disappointed by a few of the answers, particularly the revelation that they planned a scene where Tigh poisoning Ellen on New Caprica would be treated humorously. Certainly rewatching that scene won't have quite the same dramatic impact knowing Ellen will return later, but at the time it was such a gut-wrenching example of the horror of New Caprica that to make light of it would be stunningly ill-considered. Hopefully that's why it was cut.

I did like the confirmation that the Baltar scenes made more sense when including material that was cut. Hopefully the extended version that some people at an event (see Mo's site or Galactica Sitrep) will make it to the DVD.

annie's suggestion that they flip the stories is intriguing; we could have gotten more context and consequences from previous episodes in the Baltar story and cut out the weaker parts of the Ellen story while still leading to some of the same outcomes. On the other hand, Ellen arriving is a huge event and that needed to be a focus as well. BSG has built up such a rich universe that it's almost impossible for them to show everything in 42 minutes a story...I think that's the underlying problem, although it's the best kind of problem for a show to have.

beebobob wrote: Anyway, I'm just reacting to the sense of disappointment that seems to pervade the reaction to season 4 without the concurrent recognition that what season 4 has been largely about IS disappointment.

I agree about season 4 and have the same response to complaints about why this season hasn't done X or Y. That said, I think many critics this week have objections to this specific episode and not for the subject matter but the way it was handled. Also, the way the characters react and interact is based on their situation, and in this episode what we saw from the characters felt divorced from the situation they were actually in. Finally, the post-Earth devastation has been amazing to watch, but as we continue on, there are still essential questions about survival, the future of the fleet, the Final Five's choices, the Cylon/human alliance, and I was hoping for more of that this week.

Craig Ranapia said...

For that matter, on what do we pin Ellen and Saul's fertility problems?

Forget about them being Cylons -- how about the fact they were a pair of co-dependent alcoholics constantly enabling each other? When your blood alcohol level is 110 proof, it's got to seriously frak up your plumbing.s vein and have problems detecting blood in their ambrosia.

The 'old' Ellen emerging so quickly was a little jarring at first...

I don't know about that. Don't you think it would have been polite for Saul to tell his wife that he'd knocked up another woman before he fraked her? At all, would have been nice. I find it a little hard to blame Ellen for not taking it well, and it would certainly be all the way out of character if she had nothing to say about it.

Yeah, how exactly are these two the "parents" of the Cylon race?

It's entirely possible to be a genius at work, and a miserable screw up everywhere else. (Come to think of it, doesn't that sound a lot like Saul Tigh before the Ionian Nebula?) News Flash: Your parents are every bit as big a toxic waste dump as you are. Pictures at eleven. :)

Pandyora said...

@Number Five: I think many critics this week have objections to this specific episode and not for the subject matter but the way it was handled.

Exactly! I think most of my disappointment is not the fact that there weren't "more revelations" or "kick ass space battles", its more that the actions of the characters this week seemed discordant from what had come before.

That being said, I am not sure that a refocused Baltar A-storyline would have done the trick. Like Alan, I have always been a bit disappointed that the writers decided to reveal that Baltar was solely in the cult business for the brainwashed-with-benefits angle.

@MrGlass: I have completely lost track of Helo, what is he up to these days?

I believe he is tracking down the Dollhouse...er...Ellen's lost Colony...

Craig Ranapia said...

Laura sees Ellen as the greater potential threat, and so she tries to use Caprica as a wedge against her, then gets sidetracked by her fear that Liam may be part of the grand Cylon plan, only to be shamed into recognizing that Caprica is, whatever her other crimes might be, a very scared, very protective expectant mom.

Nice read, Alan. And was I the only person who picked up something about Laura -- she really is weak and only getting worse. Once upon a time, she would have played Caprica like a fiddle in the hands of a virtuoso. Feel bad about bullying a scared pregnant woman -- frak it! Get the job done now, feel bad later.

But in this scene, Laura is exactly the reverse of what she used to be -- tentative, misreads the situation, and tries to play Caprica is a way guaranteed to make her hostile. All her body language reads as total exhaustion.

Anonymous said...

Cylon reproduction speculation
Apart from the effects of alcohol, this episode prompted me to wonder if perhaps we will eventually learn that a cylon child is even more "networked" into the moods, feelings and anxieties of the mother such that whereas feelings of love promote recombinant reproductive processes, negative emotions impede these or subsequently lead the child to cease function.

I know . . . I too hate this kind of scifi overthink & I do intend to keep my day job! :)
- anonymoose

Craig Ranapia said...

Why is Tyrol, who just last week eagerly signed back on to be Adama's deck chief, now so willing to throw in his lot with the Cylons and get the hell out of here? That abrupt character turn...

Got to respectfully disagree with you there. First, I don't think he "eagerly" took on the role of Chief. In fact, he tried to talk Adama out of it, and reluctantly took on the job. So, why do it at all? Put it this way: Saul Tigh isn't the only man Bill Adama has a platonic bro'mance with. Tyrol genuinely and deeply respects the Old Man, but what else does he have holding him to the Fleet.

1) The memory of his wife -- who he's finally admitted he married out of shame and guilt and all the unresolved b.s. (more shame and more guilt) over the way he treated Boomer, when it turned out he was a Cylon too.

2) The son who isn't his son?

3) The prospect that anything he does to try and prevent the Galactica from falling apart around his ears will be viewed with suspicion? That every damn thing will be another 12 rounds with Adama. That he's going to have to face people who used to be his friends -- and a few days before would have blown his dirty Cylon head off?

Who wouldn't leap at a chance to get the hell out of there, and try and start again with Boomer -- the woman he always really loved?

Jennifer said...

Yup, it was a 90210 episode. Though the funny was nice, especially Adama's bathroom humor. And the stuff about the cut Centurion talk at least clarifies the "last human solution" thing, which didn't make sense on screen why anyone would think Baltar's cult should get guns (answer: it still beats Centurions). Loved Paula. Loved that SOMEONE wasn't taken in by Baltar's crap any more.

I honestly have no interest in Baltar the character any more- no offense meant to the actor, but his role feels so played out and done and pretty much has since the trial ended. I rather wish he was airlocked because I don't care about his cult or him playing Lord Bountiful alluva sudden (though "oops, I slept with you? ummm..." was amusing), and I was annoyed that so much screen time had to be paid to Baltar just so he can get re-established so they can get to the Opera House whatever. Do not care. Would rather watch anything else right now than him.

Joan said...

For that matter, on what do we pin Ellen and Saul's fertility problems?

While Craig R's points about both of them being alcoholics may be valid, one thing leapt out at me immediately: it wasn't Tigh who didn't love Ellen enough for them to conceive -- Caprica conceived his child while he was projecting Ellen onto her. It was Ellen who didn't love Tigh enough to conceive. It seems completely obvious to me that Ellen's soul is too small to ever be able to love selflessly. Her jealousy and pettiness stand in sharp contrast to all the lofty ideals she was spouting at Cavil before Boomer got her out of there.

The Baltar plot was a snooze and Head Six creeps me out. Adama is drinking too much because he always drinks too much when he loses control of a situation, and right now the entire fleet is running on fumes and Bill is waiting for Laura to die, which also explains the decision to arm Baltar's little cult.

Michael Hogan is absolutely incredible, this show was his Emmy reel for certain. Even a "bad" ep of BSG is way better than most everything else that's on, so I'm not complaining.

Anonymous said...

This episode, more than others, felt forced, likely due to corporate constraints (money). Wouldn't it have been more profitable to extend the show to 90 minutes (which would have raised additional advertising revenue) by keeping the parts that appear to have been left on the editing room floor? I believe many people would have continued to watch BSG for 90 minutes or more; did anyone stay up to watch yet another repeat of Stargate?

This episode didn't meet my expectations, but maybe my expectations were wrong. Not every episode is going to have the impact like the ones in early January. Most people who didn't like this episode will probably review it in the future for what they missed while complaining about it (I'm one of them). I think this episode was a victim of needing to jam too much info and emotion into a short span of time. I hope a future DVD collection will have a director's cut of these episodes.

Craig Ranapia said...

This episode, more than others, felt forced, likely due to corporate constraints (money). Wouldn't it have been more profitable to extend the show to 90 minutes (which would have raised additional advertising revenue) by keeping the parts that appear to have been left on the editing room floor?

Of course, anonymous, there have been episodes that ran to 90 minutes, but they've tended to be openers or season finales. (And I believe both parts of 'Daybreak' -- the series finale -- will run at 90 minutes.)

But I think Ron's attitude has been that you've actually got to have a pretty strong case to take to the network -- who, quite understandably, are always going to be a little iffy about screwing with the schedules. 'Pegasus' for example, wasn't felt that there was enough strong additional material to justify a 60-65 minute running time, but that there was enough to justify a 'director's cut' on the DVD. I don't think fans are going to be thankful for a few minutes of good stuff and lot of padding.

H E Pennypacker said...

At first I was dissappointed by the soap opera turn the ep took - but after thinking about it logically they had to address this Saul/Ellen/Six triangle, they couldn't just gloss over it so at least it was true to the characters IMO

PoconoGirl said...

Alan, I have to say I love your blog and your insightful comments, observations, and connections.

This episode sorely disappointed me. BSG is THE ONLY TV show I watch. In the past, I have been impressed with the plot lines of each episode and enraptured by the greater, overarching plot of the entire series. The creators and writers of this show got me hooked onto this show with their vision, far thinking, and the superb character development.

I am sad to say but I fear that, instead of this show improving in quality and continuing to build suspense, the show is spiraling downward toward the finish line. Ever since the humans went to New Caprica, I have felt disappointed and un-fulfilled. Excellent acting cannot redeem scripts that do not significantly build and connect to the series' larger storyline.

Anonymous said...

Not sure I am following all of the back and forth trips and timelines - can somebody clarify?

Exodus #4: 12 Colonies to Earth & ? (Started 3-4 years ago).

Exodus #3: 13th Tribe from Earth to 12 Colonies (Ended 50 years ago but started 2,000 years ago relatively speaking (for the Final 5, the trip took months/years at subluminal speed and thus time slowed down for them as compared to Earth and the 12 Colonies - I used to know this math, but you can calculate the duration of the F5 trip based on the 2,000 dating of the destruction of Earth).

Exodus #2(a): 13th Tribe from Kobol to Earth (about 4,000 years ago, stopping off to build Temple of Five/Hope and dropping off the Lion's Head Probe); this ties both to the dates dropped earlier in the series and if you presume that the 13th Tribe did not have jumptech but had to travel subluminally like the Final Five in Exodus #3.

Exodus #2(b): Other 12 Tribes to 12 Colonies (about 4,000 years ago).

Exodus #1: Earth to Kobol (at least 6,000 years ago for the same jumptech/relativity reason in Exodus #2); this Exodus must have occurred: how else could the Temple of Athena have the Zodiac constellations as seen from the point of view of an observer on Earth.

Anonymous said...

I thought Tyrol's vote to abandon the fleet made zero sense. Of course Tigh is going to vote to stay and Tory to go, but did they really need a "majority rules" plot to make Ellen the swing vote? It was really out of character and lame.

The transition from cool, clever scientist Ellen back to petty, dumb, floozy Ellen was absurd. Other than to show where Cavil gets his psychotic jealosy, I think the whole Ellen character as written in these last 2 episodes deserves some "razzy" awards. Really bad writing. Of course she'd be upset and concerned about hubby impregnating one of their creations, but her response was silly.

AND completely out of touch with the storyline. If Ellen remembers everything Sam did and more, how could she or the others even consider leaving? Cylons + cylons didn't work with the 13th tribe, but suddenly they are ready to run off because 1 cylon-cylon mating resulted in a pregnancy? If the 5 can redesign resurrection, isn't the result the same? They don't need the humans? Is that the real reason for the miscarriage - cylon/cylon reproduction displeases god?

The most interesting part of the episode was the return to highlighting Saul's obsessive man-love of Adama. That's what keeps Saul with the fleet, and what really gets under Ellen's skin. Those 2 guys should get it on and see if that pleases the 1 true god.

Anonymous said...

This has all happened before and will again. Is the whole sequence a lesson/punishment for trying to play god and create "life"? Humans make cylons, cylons make cylons, Dr. Frankenstein makes a monster, all lead to destruction in one form or another? Stop trying to play god and peace will ensue?

Oh, and arming the least bad or best positioned group is what the government does in crisis situations. We did that in Iraq and all over the world to keep the peace. I have no problem believing that Adama would arm Baltar's group since his marines are stretched too thin.

Butch said...

I think this is probably the fifth or sixth episode where Tyrol did something that was exactly the opposite of what happened the previous week, no?

I agree that this was one of the funniest episodes in awhile. Hot Dog's line ("how many dead chicks are out there?") was great. The worried look on the cylon faces when the Tighs are arguing was a classic "are mommy and daddy getting a divorce?" moment. And when Ellen comes back and puts her hand on Saul's shoulder at Caprica's bedside, they very much look like worried parents at a child's bedside.

Anonymous said...

I just watched again, and like this episode quite a bit better upon 2nd viewing. The baby dies when Ellen says her selfless speech to Caprica6 and Saul looks at her with love - suggesting he felt more love for Ellen at that moment so the baby kicked off. It seems obvious that Ellen never got pregnant because she doesn't have the love (not Saul's fault).

Ellen seemed right on board the whole time with the notion that if Saul wavered in his love, the baby couldn't exist. maybe that is part of cylon programming and she knows it? That would explain why she was so hurt by the fact of the pregnancy.

I also enjoyed the Baltar storyline better this time. The military cannot be the civilian police as well (they currently need cylons to help with everything military - pilots, repairs, etc), and unless they take the time to recruit and train a civilian police force, a stand-in is required. With the cylon/human alliance not being all that acceptable to the humans, but the necessity of it obvious to Adama, arming and empowering Baltar's somewhat benevolent and mostly female force seems like the only short term plan.

It was a good set up episode for the final 4 shows. If Sam wakes up, the final 5 will be together and presumably the cylon baseship leaving the fleet won't be an option. Caprica6 can get back to being herself, Hera is the only answer for the cylons, Baltar's cult will be armed and dangerous, and Cavil will have to be dealt with.

Opera house? Starbuck? Daniel? Lots to cover in 4 episodes, even if some are extended. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

"But I think Ron's attitude has been that you've actually got to have a pretty strong case to take to the network -- who, quite understandably, are always going to be a little iffy about screwing with the schedules. "

I still believe they would have made more money selling advertising during the show, even if it went 10 minutes into the next hour. I doubt the ratings for the Stargate rerun or any other show they would have aired could match the advertising revenue of an original episode of BSG. Well, the SciFi channel never struck me as have too much business sense, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Someone's favorite moment: a toilet joke. Someone else's: "Wow, dead chicks in space"
This had to be one of the most off-center, melodramatic, and poorly written shows of the Battlestar series -- including the original. It's as if someone -- David Eick? Ronald Moore? -- threw an episode of one of the greatest TV shows in the past 25 years to some friend who was owed a favor and just let her write whatever she felt like -- Which could even be okay if the writing was any good. But it was terrible. My money says J. Espenson will have a hard time finding work after this piece of ***.

Anonymous said...

Bloggers unite! What abunch of spin-crap. Jane Espenson, A WELL-KNOWN BLOGGER, Maureen Ryan, A WELL-KNOWN media blogger, and you, with your "What's Alan Watching?" -- and nary a discouraging word about "Deadlock," which was dead wrong. What happened to opinions based on the material and not on networking and back-scratching with a writer from the show? Look at your frakking posts, Alan. Look at what most people are saying, Ms. Ryan! This episode was universally panned. Will you quit trying to make the proverbial silk purse? Honestly, you both should be embarrassed.

Linda C.
LA, CA

Alan Sepinwall said...

What happened to opinions based on the material and not on networking and back-scratching with a writer from the show? Look at your frakking posts, Alan. Look at what most people are saying, Ms. Ryan! This episode was universally panned. Will you quit trying to make the proverbial silk purse? Honestly, you both should be embarrassed.

Yes, I am so, so, so ashamed for expressing my honest (and mixed) opinion about an episode of "BSG."

What, exactly, does sucking up to Jane Espenson get me? I'm not a reporter who needs to keep the scoop train running, and I'm not trying to break into the business. I'm not going to get extra page views because I say nice things about an episode -- if anything, rants tend to draw more traffic from rubberneckers.

Isn't it possible -- maybe, just maybe -- that not everyone shares the same opinion about everything?

beebobob said...

Exactly Alan.

The show was not universally panned.

I personally thought it was completely consistent thematically with the rest of BSG (see my earlier post).

Craig Ranapia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Ranapia said...

Linda C.:

Mo and Alan have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Alleged fans posting misogynistic, hateful personal abuse (elsewhere) like "How many c**ks does this no-talent c**t suck to get work?" do.

When I read hateful and cowardly bullshit like that -- abuse I don't recall being thrown at Michael Angelli and Mark Verheiden for being the credited writers on poorly-received clunkers like 'Black Market' and 'The Woman King', BTW -- I'm ashamed to call myself a sci-fi fan.

Jane Espenson's work most definitely is not beyond criticism -- she sure couldn't turn me into a Gilmore Girl! But when the criticism gets that personal, poisonous and entirely disproportionate to her actual role in the episode, forgive for wondering if there's an elephant in the room. And it's called Sexism if not outright Misogyny.

Joseph said...

I think Espenson does good work in general, and loved the comical touches to this episode. Adama's line may have been a bit lowbrow, and MAYBE not completely in character, but I laughed out loud and the argument can be made that he has such contempt for Baltar he would use such a line to excuse himself - as in, his bathroom trip takes precedence over anything Baltar has to say.

I also loved when the clip in Baltar's gun fell out, and his reaction.

Mike F said...

Geez, I disagree with Alan sometimes when I read his posts...but appreciate that he's willing to express his genuine opinions and thoughts about everything...whether he's with popular opinion or against it

shame on that post...Alan clearly has a great deal of intellectual integrity....he's allowed to be wrong sometimes :)

groovekiller said...

Hi Alan -

Just watched the ep on DVR, then read your recap and Mo's post on the Watcher.

Were you able to ever get clarification on how Boomer & Ellen were able to so easily find the fleet?

Anonymous said...

That's the whole point, ALAN. You don't have an opinion. And in not having one, you get to have everything. You get to post the vitriol of others without having to answer for it. You get to wink-wink with those objects of scorn by getting all high-minded about having an opinion, that EVERYONE has an opinion and we're all entitled to our opinions and nobody's ever going to stop Alan from watching them go by. And I won't even stoop to daring you into printing this because the message is for you.

PoconoGirl said...

I thik if the commenters paid as much attention to reading/understanding/responding to the Bailout Bill as they do to nit-picking Alan's BSG observations, this country would be in a lot better shape! People--focus your angst and criticism on a target that really needs attention! Alan: keep up the good work! I look forward to reading what you think, even if I don't agree with you all the time.

Anne said...

Y'all are going to think I'm crazy, but I *just started watching.* With the start of 4.5. I am so confused! But having a great time! ;-)

Since I don't have the long history of all these characters and interactions I think I get a bit different view of them. Last week I was really intrigued by Ellen and repulsed by John. I felt a surge of hope when Ellen headed off toward the fleet.

But this week I realized that John's cruelty and discomfort in his skin is part and parcel of Ellen's make-up. He is no crueler than her, and her desperate need for evidence that she is loved points to part of his motivation.

I had the sense that Caprica's baby was not to be, and that there was some connection between the baby and Sam's consciousness. Remember that the baby started moving after Sam's brain stopped?

I do get the feeling that these episodes are more like a big story cut into slices rather than crafted chapters to a bigger story.

I still don't get the mutiny. From the perspective of the proximity of the end of the series, what need does the mutiny create or move forward that jolts the story to where it needs to be for the ending.

I am also left wondering "where is the planet?" These are not a space-dwelling people and nothing in the plot suggests that they're preparing to become that. Yet nothing since the bombed-out earth episode suggests that anyone has a clue where the next planet might be. Yes, it should be a surprise, but with 5 hours to go it seems like there should be clues appearing lest it show up like a deus ex machina.

But as I type that, I realize that could be exactly what happens -- the god from the machine.

erin said...

I didn't dislike this ep as much as others did (and the prior week's with all the exposition really annoyed me--this was tame by comparison), and I actually liked the fact that as "above it all" as the final five are supposed to be...they're not. They're scheming and petty and loyal and loving and difficult and intractable and...human. I loved that Ellen is still the difficult, selfish b**** she was back in the day, and how she can manipulate everyone around her. And I love how Saul's greatest love is not either of the women in his life...but Bill. Although I teared up at both his emotional moments in the show--Hogan is such an amazing actor. The actual sci-fi storyline doesn't interest me nearly as much as the people in it, so I wasn't disappointed in "Deadlock". Although devoting as much time to Baltar was silly, I dug the return of Chip Six and her control of him.

As for Tyrol, he's one of my faves, so when I heard him say they should leave the fleet I said out loud "Oh, no Galen! Don't do that!" Because I'm an overly attached goober. But I hope he and Boomer get back together and find their happily ever after! Which makes me an overly-attached romantic goober.