"Any mythic revelations?" -Bill AdamaAfter 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?
"Nope. Nothing to report, sir." -Saul Tigh
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?