Saturday, March 07, 2009

Battlestar Galactica, "Islanded in a Stream of Stars": Going down with the ship

Spoilers for last night's "Battlestar Galactica" coming up just as soon as I imagine that my bran muffin is a cupcake...
"I've had it up to here with destiny, prophecy, with God or the gods. Look where it's left us: The ass end of nowhere, nearly half our people are gone, Earth a worthless cinder and I can't even walk down the halls of my ship without wondering if I'm going to catch a bullet for getting us into this mess." -Bill Adama

"There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza." -Anders
It's all falling apart. And there's no fixing it, is there?

Roslin is near death. Galactica is about to be abandoned and scavenged. Hera is in the hands of Cavil, separated even from the facsimile of her mother. Baltar is so without hope for their current state of affairs that he's now giving sermons about angels and eternal life. Athena can't even look at Helo, and Helo is losing his grip on sanity. Tigh is losing more of his children, even as Ellen is forcing him to accept that they're his. Lee is barely in control of the new congress of fleet captains.

When Ron Moore said the state of things would actually get bleaker from what we saw in "Sometimes a Great Notion," he wasn't kidding. And while a dark, apocalyptic ending feels tonally appropriate to everything that's come before, I'm not sure how well I'm going to deal with all the deaths (of people and ships) that I suspect are coming in the two-week, three-hour finale.

"Islanded in a Stream of Stars," written by Michael Taylor and directed by Edward James Olmos, never let up on the sense of impending doom. Every scene on Galactica is punctuated by flickering lights and the sounds of creaking, protesting metal. Even the bathroom stall doors won't close (and Starbuck doesn't much care if Baltar sees her on the throne.) Every establishing shot of the fleet inevitably leads to a close-up of the gaping hole that Boomer left in the ship's hull. The Hera/Boomer story is bookended by scenes of little Hera wailing for a lost maternal figure (first Athena, then Boomer herself). There's no relief, no let-up. Even a relatively happy moment, like Lee assuring Kara that he doesn't care about who or what she is, isn't much of a respite, because Kara still needs to know (and so do we), and because Lee has to play dashing ex-boyfriend in front of the memorial wall.

(A quick but necessary detour: It's said that actors who direct -- particularly actors who direct their longtime co-stars -- often bring out more from the performances, and that was certainly true here with Olmos in charge. Not that the cast is anything less-than-brilliant, but almost everyone went to some new, scarier places in this one. Jamie Bamber was more coiled than he's ever been during the contentious fleet captains meeting, and then so effortlessly charming as he walked away from Kara. The number of emotions that can quickly wash across Katee Sackhoff's face seemed to triple. I never would have thought Tahmoh Penikett was capable of showing us a Helo teetering on the brink the way he did in the scene where he confronted Adama. And Grace Park got to show us two different Sharons, each coping differently with being separated from Hera. I could write entire posts just about each member of the cast's work in an episode like this, and it's a testament to them, as much as or more than the usually outstanding writing, direction, music, etc., on the series, that I'm going to be so wrecked if we get the inevitable unhappy ending.)

Though the episode finally takes us into The Colony, wakes up Anders from his coma (albeit by turning him into another babbling Hybrid), and prepares all of us for Galactica's destruction, it deliberately leaves most of the big answers for the Moore-scripted finale. We still don't know exactly what Cavil's plan is (when he talks about "playmates" for Hera, does he mean the creation of new Cylon models, or just that she's going to be spending a lot of time with the Simons?), nor what Kara's identity and role is, nor the truth of the head characters and the opera house visions, but we're getting extremely, tantalizingly close to all of it.

My favorite shot of the episode was of Kara, right after her discussion of angels with Baltar, going in to see Sam. Outside in the corridor, she's bathed in a heavenly white glow, while inside the compartment, she's suffused with a devilish red. Is she an angel? A tool of the apocalypse? Both? I need to find out, even as I suspect I won't like the answer -- not for being unsatisfying, but for signaling bad things to the many characters I care about.

Some other thoughts:

• Do you think Kara subconsciously realizes that Baltar will blab her secret, and going to him is her way of unburdening herself to her friends without having to tell them directly?

• One of the hallmarks of the four episodes that Olmos directed over the years is the way he likes to show us familiar parts of the ship in a new way, like that lovely shot of proud, tired old men Tigh and Adama splayed on the big sectional sofa in Adama's quarters. We've seen that couch a hundred times in different scenes set there, but never at that angle, in that way. For so many people in the rag-tag fleet, or even on Galactica, the last four years has felt like time in a floating metal prison, but to Bill Adama -- and to his dying lover, which Laura so movingly articulates in sickbay -- this is home.

• Gary Hutzel's F/X team were in fire with this episode, between all the shots of the hole, the dead Six floating through the fleet, and the awesome, horrifying glimpse of The Colony. (I type notes of all my reactions as I watch, and when that thing first popped up, I banged out, "WHAT THE FRAK IS THAT?") It looked very much like something H.R. Giger would have cooked up for the first "Alien" if he had access to modern CGI technology.

• I loved the funeral sequence, with the different speeches from different sources -- Colonial vs. Cylon, religious vs. secular -- laid on top of each other. Slowly but surely, all these different groups are coming together, even as it feels too late for it to matter.

• Was Baltar being sarcastic when he asked Kara who she was, or has he just slept with so many women over the last few years that he's forgotten the one who called out Apollo's name when they were in bed together?

• I loved our brief glimpse of the bad-ass Six who got into a fight with one of the Galactica repair crew, then saved him (and everyone else) while sacrificing her own life after the explosive decompression. A really memorable character in a short period of time, almost like they gave Tricia Helfer a chance to play Starbuck for a few minutes. There isn't much variation between the Eights, and none that we've seen among the other Cylon models, but it's a testament to Helfer that she's been able to play so many different versions of the same character.

• Silly question: how does Hera even know what a cupcake is? She's only three, and for most of the life that she can remember, she's been eating nothing but an algae diet.

• One nitpick: I could have done without the vaguely Southern accent on the one fleet captain who said "and I use that term loosely" when referring to the skinjobs as "people." Seemed too on-the-nose to have the bigot sound like he could be a Klansman.

• Even in the midst of the despair, Michael Hogan can bring the funny. Ellen's going on about how the Final Five wanted to bring an end to the cycle of human/machine violence, and Saul shrugs it off and says, "That was a bust."

For the next-to-last time, a reminder of two of the basic rules around here: 1. No talking about anything in the previews, or anything you've read/seen/heard about the last two episodes, or anything that even vaguely qualifies as a spoiler. Any comment along those lines will be deleted, period, regardless of what else you've written in that comment. 2. Show respect to your fellow commenters (and those of us who try to read all the comments) by at least skimming what's come before before asking a question or making an observation that's come up a few dozen times already. At the very least, do a browser word search for whatever it is you want to talk/ask about.

What did everybody else think?

70 comments:

EOTW said...

I know nothing of spoilers or anything. I have my feelings about will happen and that is all. As good as some of this ep was, I feel it was just a bit of a let down as a whole. I just hope the last 3 hours go out on a high note because, as it stands, I'm feeling that the Zarek/Galin eps were the peak of the season and the of the show. Hogan continues to amaze and I hope it can really knock my socks off.

Charlie said...

No real mention of Anders taking control of the Galactica, but that scene was up there with The Music kicking in in the last episode.

Also, Adama saying he's got a plan for the ship, and she's going out in glory? Sounds like the Old Man's got a plan for the Old Girl.

Charlie said...

Oh yeah -- and we saw what looks like Jupiter again. JUPITER. The Colony must be very close to Real Earth. How cool is that?

Mrglass said...

in the two-week, three-hour finale.

Are you sure about the three-hour part? The Sci-Fi schedule only promises two regular episodes, 'Daybreak' 1&2. (plus, 'The last fraking special')

I have little to say about this particular episode. It was great as Galactica has been lately, but not much really happened. But damn, I will miss this show and those people.

Don't we all know the ship Galactica was always destined to blow up in the finale?

Larry C said...

At first, not sure I liked the episode. After reading Alan's summary, I realized how this episode wasn't about plot or even character, but about mood. Now, in hindsight, I see the episode did a great job of setting us up for the finale by reminding us of what has happened; not by using flashbacks, but by all the little indicators that Alan noted. Subtle but effective!

One nitpick: Haven't they been traveling for four years? How could a raptor get back to the colony so quickly?

Sammy B. said...

It was a phenomenal episode and I think you're right that we're heading towards an inevitable tragedy laced w/a glimmer of hope.

Scott Henderson said...

I gotta say that I loved the scene between Gaius and Caprica, the difficulty of their interaction, the thousand things that went unsaid, the pain and the love. It's been so long since we've seen these two together in any meaningful way considering how prominent his visions of her were for so long. I was only just still holding out hope that there will be some sort of resolution brought to this arc but with this scene, the look on Caprica's as he 'outed' Starbuck on the hanger and the imminent reveal of the relevance of the temple visions I feel much more confident.

That being said, something about Gaius' callus treatment of Starbuck on the hanger deck didn't sit right, but it may well because the waters of Baltar's motivation are so muddied right now. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on what he's selling and whether he really believes in it?

That said I don't know what Starbuck expected to achieve by telling Gaius about her discovery. I certainly don't think she expected to be outed quite so publicly although I would have said that she was perhaps getting to the point where she didn't care anymore. I suspect the slap was part out of principle and part his crass reveal of the what she already knew or (kinda knew) to be true. And yes, Sackhoff was a scene stealer for me today.

Great episode, I could've done without another emotional rage blackout from the Old Man though.

Jake said...

I think it's funny that the president gets high with Adama. That was supposed to be marijuana, wasn't it?

La G said...

I know you mentioned it, but I had no idea Tahmoh was capable of delivering that, in such a short scene. Makes me worry what Helo (and maybe Tyrol) might be driven to in the near future. Also wanted to mention Hera crashing a toy Galactica into a toy Basestar - I know it's pretty much inevitable at this point that the old lady's going down in flames and glory, but I liked that little moment.

mac13 said...

Decent episode, oddly filled with a bunch of unintentionally funny moments. That last "toke" Roslin took? How many more goofy Adama meltdowns do you think they'll pack into the finale?

Best thing about the episode was Helo's plea to Adama.

I have to disagree with the impending sense of doom. This show really lost that for me after the second season, where virtually no one of importance to the narrative has bitten the big one for reals. I'll definitely get nice and emotional for some of the endings, but I'm not going to be biting my nails watching the final conflict.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, what happened to the chief? Wouldn't he have been front and center in repairing that hole? Did he just disapear after the horrible mistake he made?

These past few episodes have been good, but not so good in the context of them being the last few. The answers and/or revelations in the finale I fear will feel rushed. Seems to be lots of late night cramming to do at this point.

Anonymous said...

I'll echo the others on here who think we've seen enough "Adama retreats to his quarters and breaks down" moments.

As much as I typically don't care for Starbuck, this episode was actually appropriate and good for her character. Overall I thought the episode was good, but we're seeing just how difficult this show is to film when Galactica isn't running/fighting cylon. In the first seasons of the show all these characters had to interact on a daily basis to keep the fleet together, now that the fleet has stalled it's amazing how some of the more major characters (Roslin, Lee, to some degree Adama) have been relegated to the background (compared to what we're used to watching).

icastico said...

Charlie said...

Oh yeah -- and we saw what looks like Jupiter again. JUPITER. The Colony must be very close to Real Earth. How cool is that?


This has been a nitpick of mine...it is unclear to me if the fleet is still in the Earth system or not. The shot of Jupiter made me think yes. Did I miss something? They haven't jumped since arriving at Earth, right?

belinda said...

Adama sure is crying a lot these days, so with the last scene of this episode, I'm hoping that he's finally come to terms, and badass Adama (and what plans he has for his girl) returns to take charge (of the basestar? That would be, very cool to see.)

Anyway, I have a question concerning that scene with the new quorom/flight captains. When they were all discussing how to take apart the Galactica, one of the captains asked about what Baltar thinks of all this (followed by a rather hilarious Lee "GAIUS BALTAR??"). I'm not sure what he meant by that. Was the flight captain being sarcastic, as in, why do we care about what Adama thinks? He gave weapons to Baltar, that crazy dude; or was he being sincere, as in he'd like to hear what Baltar, seen by the other ships as the civilian/military/religious leader, thinks of the matter.

Anyway. Really enjoyed a lot of the scenes (like the funeral scene, which was very powerful)in the episode despite not much happening. I guess they're saving everything they've got to the end, which is fine by me, considering how much I have enjoyed the ride thus far.

I'm tearing up already. 3 more hours. Wow. Can't believe we're here.

Anonymous said...

Alan, with the show coming to an end, are you planning on doing a "Top Ten Episodes List?" I remember something similar when "The Sopranos" ended. That would be frakking awesome!

Anonymous said...

One nitpick: Haven't they been traveling for four years? How could a raptor get back to the colony so quickly?

Boomer didn't go back to the 12 colonies where the Cylons committed genocide (Caprica, etc.). She went to "the colony", the place that the final five and the centurions went after the first cylon war and developed the skinjobs whe the 5 promised the centurions resurrection technology in exchange for ending the war.

Stepha said...

My personal (non-spoiler) theory about Adama's "plan for the old girl": he's going to use the Galactica/Sam-hybrid to attack Cavill's colony. Just like jumping into the atmosphere on New Caprica, but there's no jumping out this time. One way ticket to ridding the universe of Cavill.

Nicole said...

I'm hoping some of this is the "dark before the light" because it will be entirely too depressing if nothing positive happens for the gang from here on in.

I think that on some level Starbuck was hoping that Baltar would get her some kind of answer, and I don't think she thought through the risk of giving him this information. She always plays brave on the surface, but it's just an act, especially since finding her "body" and she just happens to be keeping it together a bit better than others for the moment.

I have noticed that Space is not airing the previews as they have in the past, which is a good thing, so when I say that I don't think Helo is going to make it beyond the finale, this is based on having read no spoilers. Helo has nothing to lose at the moment and that's always a dangerous place to be.

Anders becoming hybrid-like was also an interesting move, and suggests that the only real way for both Cylons and humans to move on is to have some joining of the two to move forward. Otherwise Cavil will just be able to annihilate the fleet, and there may be riots if Moore chooses to end the show that way. I know the ending to season 4 was a bleak earth, but that only done with a very slight chance of it being the last episode because of the writers strike. If there is not at least some small measure of hope left by the end of the finally, I think it will really take down the series as a whole. Because what will have been the point of all these years if it all just ends with nothing to show for it.

Alan, are you or any of the critics going to have a chance to get an advance preview of the final hours? I obviously can't get you to spill any secrets if it does happen, but I will probably need instant ability to comment when this series ends.

Bobman said...

Oh yeah -- and we saw what looks like Jupiter again. JUPITER. The Colony must be very close to Real Earth. How cool is that?

I thought the same thing about the planet that looked like Jupiter, but I'm curious what people mean by "real Earth." What we saw in the half-season finale was Earth. If you're holding out hope that they found some OTHER planet and the ending is going to be a happy reunion and "oh, silly us, THIS is the planet we wanted!" I wouldn't hold your breath. Earth is dead and gone and I seriously doubt they're going to deus ex machina it back for the finale.

And I believe they have jumped since finding Earth, but I can't be positive.

Annie T. said...

Did anyone else find it odd that Starbuck slapped Baltar instead of slugging him? It seemed a little out of character to me.

BeMused said...

Wow, was that Hera moment playing w/ Galactica and the basestar creepy or what? It's a bit metaphorical, come to think of it, since Hera is "the shape of things to come" and in the middle of evth...all in all, I liked this ep a lot, basically because of Starbuck. Tigh was great, as always, Hogan gets better with every episode and I didn't think that was possible :) I think the ending is gonna be epic, hard on the characters and tough to watch, but also..I don't know..poetic? I don't know why, but I just feel that a poetic ending would fit RDM's "profile"...Can't wait for next week.

Mo Ryan said...

Speaking of Olmos' direction, I thought he did get wonderful performances out of the actors, particularly Sackhoff and Penikett.

But it's worth noting that he got a note-perfect performance from the young actress playing Hera. I can only imagine what wizardly skills he drew on there, given that she's so young. But she nailed every scene.

I would certainly enjoy seeing Alan's Top 10 episodes. Myself, I'm thinking about doing a list of Top 10 moments/scenes. I'm sure it'll expand to 20 or 30, cuz I won't want to stop at 10.

Mitya said...

although i don't necessarily disagree with the person who suggest the finale will see Adama using the Galactica for a kamikaze raid on Cavil and the colony (my thought as well when i saw Hera playing with the toy ships), as of the end of the episode, Galactica has no idea where the colony is. so how he thinks he'll be sending the old girl "out in style" at this moment is a big question

Anonymous said...

I've been a mark for this show. I even got my wife to watch even though she generally hates science fiction. But sorry, I'm not on board with you.

Like EOTW, I felt the episode was a letdown. The writing staff seem to have thrown away a lot of time that could have been used to advance the story. To their credit, they have developed incredibly rich characters over these seasons. But at this point, I think moving the story forward should take precedence. Take Sam as an example. The story could have been pushed much further using his character, but we've just spun our wheels for a few weeks on Sam's brain stuff and gotten nothing for it.

I also feel Admiral Adama has been mishandled. He should only have had that one big cry. That meant something. His crying this episode didn't mean anything. I saw his breakdown coming a mile away and decided that checking e-mail on my phone would be more interesting. What new thing would I learn about Adama by watching that? We all know he loves the ship and that it tears him apart to make the hard decision. We don't need to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer on this point. As a consequence, the writers have diminished the character unnecessarily. No, I don't need characters to be invincible. I just don't want to watch all this crying all the time. I got it a few episodes ago.

These episodes remind me a lot of how I felt about the Wachowski brothers after the second Matrix movie. The first was an original. It made me think they were truly creative. The second showed that they might have just been lucky. It made me think of college students in a creative writing class who get by on style but ultimately have no real ideas to convey. I really fight the urge to feel the same way about BSG because I loved the series up to the big reveal of the fifth. But it's so hard given that it really feels like we could have gotten much further, plot-wise, since Ellen came back....

kishkeking said...

Mo, you just stole my thunder. The actress playing Hera hit it just right; a rare thing for such a young child. I've been very excited about all the answers for months. Yet, after last nights episode I realized that for me, the answers to all the big questions really aren't that important... just the journey. As the dying eight said to Tigh, "too much confusion" (another reference to Watchtower), that's where we are and I think that's where the show is heading which is fine for me. I've come to accept Starbuck as Lazarus without question. Maybe Balter is too. We never did see him go from his home to Helo's raptor in the miniseries.

Was that white and then red lighting behind Starbuck in that one scene awesome or what?

I loved this episode. My only gripe, however, was with the audio The Galactica was rumbling so loud the entire hour I sometimes found it hard to hear dialogue and had to turn on the closed captioning.

Kensington said...

Count me amongst the (foolishly) hopeful at this point. My gut says we're seeing the darkest night before the dawn. Would Ron Moore really go out on a down beat?

Still, it's hard to deny the foreboding inherent in all that stuff, pointedly reasserted last night, about Kara leading them all to their death as well as the return of "all this has happened before and will happen again." I just don't know what to think.

Finally, those reaction shots of Katee Sackhoff during her scene with Lee were nothing less than breathtaking. I forget sometimes, especially when Starbuck is being badass, how sweetly vulnerable she can be. For several minutes, I could not advance beyond that scene, because I kept rewinding the DVR in order to watch the progression of emotions across her face. It was so captivating. So beautiful.

AJ said...

I'm puzzled by the Watchtower song - the final five recognize it as the song that woke them up, and see the link that Hera wrote the notes for it. But not the link that Starbucks father taught it to her? For a second I thought that Tory was going to say "hey, what does it mean that Thrace Sr knew the song?", but... nothing. Is Tory keeping that to herself or nafarious reasons, or does nobody make that connection?

kishkeking said...

I'm really surprised some people didn't like this episode. What could have been better? Think about it. The ship is literally ripping apart and the admiral has time to share a "blunt" with his dying girlfriend. We got to see Starbuck going to the bathroom and actually heard her peeing. We got to see Anders morph into a hybrid. We saw a bad Boomer really scare the heck out of a two year old with a needle. We saw a beautiful and painful unrequited love moment with Baltar and Caprica Six. We saw some more crazy eye acting with Tigh. We saw so many different expressions on Starbucks face I lost count. Not to mention that we saw Helo wonderfully freak out and Adama paint his cabin. Awesome and too much confusion!

The only thing we didn't see was Tyrol for which I'm glad. I think it would have been to painful to see him banging his head bloody against a wall.

Last thing and I hope someone can answer it. Whatever happened to Leoben? I know Deanna stayed on earth, but did he stay too? I don't remember.

Sean said...

The feeling of dread, of inevitable doom for the fleet, was palpable this episode. I could easily imagine a scenario where most, if not all, of the fleet puts it all on the line to rescue Hera.

I think my favorite shot of the episode was that final one in Adama's room, it perfectly summed up where we are now; two soldiers, one human and one Cylon, sharing a drink in front of a painting of a battle during a human-Cylon war of old.

Chiaroscuro said...

Count me in the "loved it" column. The deceptively leisurely story-telling allows me to savor every last minute of this saga.

I only hope that Moore and Co. will have managed to avoid -- or at least fill -- plot holes by series' end.

This episode left me wondering just how the Five cooked up the skinjobs for the Centurians on The Colony -- presumably in the neighborhood of the Twelve Colonies -- and now it seems to be on the other side of the galaxy in orbit over Jupiter.

In fact, every recent episode features a constellation or planet that suggests Cavil and the Fleet have been playing hide and seek in the outer reaches of our solar system for weeks, if not months.

Ellen said Cavil "moved" The Colony although she didn't know where. Does this mean that Cavil, in addition to engineering events, somehow managed to also bring along that honking great ship without anyone knowing?

We must assume that he's had access to The Colony from the beginning and has been able to keep it from the other Cylons despite their data links. So loss of the Hub couldn't have been more than an inconvenience for Cavil.

This Colony ship seems to be opening up more questions than it's worth as a plot device. Please, Ron Moore, don't tell us that everything that's happened is the result of psycho-boy Cavil's bitter plotting. Surely such an epic story has a more meaningful genesis.

Anonymous said...

kishkeking wrote: I've come to accept Starbuck as Lazarus without question. Maybe Balter is too. We never did see him go from his home to Helo's raptor in the miniseries.

Very interesting point. Early on in the series, I remember one of my big questions was how Baltar survives the blast that completely obliterates his house, and manages to get to the field where the Raptor is parked. After a while, I just assumed that Caprica Six died taking the brunt of the blast in order to save Baltar’s life. But what if Baltar was resurrected like Starbuck? On an earlier post, I suggested as others have that Head characters might happen only for Cylons and possibly Hybrids. If that’s true, then this would mean that Baltar is a Hybrid who has been resurrected, similar to what most people think is the case for Starbuck.

K J Gillenwater said...

"They haven't jumped since arriving at Earth, right?"

When I saw Jupiter by the Colony, my first thought was...they never did get to 'our' Earth.

When did we ever find out for sure that was 'our' Earth that they discovered? All we have are a few flashbacks from the Final Five's time on the planet before it was destroyed. Did they ever show us anything that screamed "EARTH"? I don't think so.

It took Boomer twelve jumps, I think she said, to get to the Colony, there is no way she'd need to do that many jumps in order to get to Jupiter from Earth.

Even if Galactica did jump away from Earth after they found out it was useless, I KNOW they didn't do twelve jumps or more in order to force Boomer to do that many jumps back.

Please give me some evidence that I may have forgotten that the 'earth' they found was 'ours.'

Number Five said...

This wasn't Deadlock-level, but it was disappointing. As always, I wasn't looking for plot, action, or mythology - I know that's waiting for the finale - but I thought we would get a sense of the fleet backed up against a wall, hanging on by their fingertips, at the end of their rope, etc. I don't mean just emotionally, but in terms of their literal survival. It looked like we were getting that in the beginning with the section venting dozens into space and the fleet captains meeting. But then they backed away and let the characters wallow in all their despair.

There's definitely a place for that, and I thought it was brilliantly depicted in the two full episodes after they found Earth. But the mutiny was supposed to be a wake-up call. And now the ship is literally falling apart. It shouldn't have taken that long and that many moments for Adama to do what needed to be done.

I liked the captains meeting so much because it showed the real reason to worry about abandoning Galactica isn't its sentimental value but the entirely reasonable fear that the protector of humanity would now be a Cylon base ship. I understand the emotional attachment to ships held by the Navy, but refusing to let go was poor leadership. In fact, I kept siding with the characters like Baltar, Helo, and the captains who were thinking about what to do next, rather than those like Adama, Tigh, and Lee whose heads were stuck in the sand. Roslin was about to die, of course, but I liked she gave Adama a final nudge. And Starbuck was, as usual, conflicted and exhibited both traits.

I don't mean to sound too critical - there were tons of terrific moments pointed out by Alan and other commenters, and I loved the continued pervasive atmosphere of existential dread. It's just I love this show so much I was hoping for not more plot urgency, but character urgency leading up to the finale.

hcp said...

I think the complete opposite of you Alan, this show is not going to go out so low.
I see 1 of two possible outcomes:
1 - The Ship is used to nuke the colony and destroy the rest of the cylons. And probably Ty, Anders and the rest of the original Cylons will have to stay on the ship to steer it or something. Of course the argument against this idea is that they essentially did it already.

2 - The other option is that they discover that the humans can be reborn like Kara. That is why she is the harbinger of death - thru their deaths they are able to be reborn somehow. How ironic, the cylons will become the 'humans' with only one death, while the humans can be reborn.

Matsu said...

I was somewhat surprised at how quickly this episode would be over, but as a setup for the final three hours it also felt right to spread up the screen time more equally between characters.

Now, I'm not sure to what extent this is going to be pursued in the finale, but Baltar tending to his beard very much reminded me of Adama's shaving scenes in earlier episodes. I wonder if this is meant as cue to him taking on a greater responsibility. "What would Gaius Baltar think" is interesting though, considering that about one year ago most of the fleet would have him airlocked within an instant.

Finally, a tiny bit of information regarding Tyrol:
Composer Bear McCreary mentions on his blog (http://www.bearmccreary.com/blog/?p=1671) that (again) several scenes had to be dropped or shortened for the TV broadcast.

I hope this doesn't go against your spoiler policy, Alan (seeing as it's rather an unaired bit of THIS episode than a big reveal for "Daybreak")... anyway, Bear writes that the Chief indeed had to face the consequences for his actions in "Someone to Watch Over Me" and was put in the brig for the time being. No details on the "missing" dialog, though there seems to be hope for an extended DVD version.

Rachel said...

I don't understand any of Gaius Baltar's motivations any more. Why did he feel compelled to reveal Starbuck's secret at the mass funeral? Was he being self-serving, or trying to bring the fleet together, or trying to get in Caprica 6's pants, or what?

I am very confused.

Trent said...

Yeah, Rachel, that's how I've felt about Baltar since the beginning of this season. I think it's a little too late in the game for another heel/face turn from him.

laet-v said...

Anonymous Mars 7 at 1:01 said :

"I also feel Admiral Adama has been mishandled. He should only have had that one big cry. That meant something. His crying this episode didn't mean anything. I saw his breakdown coming a mile away and decided that checking e-mail on my phone would be more interesting. What new thing would I learn about Adama by watching that? We all know he loves the ship and that it tears him apart to make the hard decision. We don't need to be hit over the head with a sledgehammer on this point. As a consequence, the writers have diminished the character unnecessarily."

First sorry for my english, I'm not an english-speaker pleople. I don't mean to be harsh or whatever.

I think you have been too dismissive of that scene, you already classified it before seing it. What did we learn ? An essential point.

It's not really a breakdown or a meltdown we saw here. And they didn't intend to shwo us how he loves his ship. NOT AT ALL!

At the beginning of the episode, there is a scene between Adama and Roslin in sickbay, and when she told him his 2 girls are dying, what did he anwser ?

Adama : "No one's going anywhere. And neither one of my women are dying. They just need a little more...care and attention."

He did not face this reality, he can not cope with that idea.

And then after, he just realized,he just came to term with that : he is losing his both loves.

Yes, it was...uncomfortable to see that. But it was very well handle.

Adama started to paint the wall, because he can't let her (them) go, and he knew how futile it was to do that, and he felt angry and grief, and ect... and he finally accepted, she is lost (they)...

The scene was perfect. Yes, it's hard to watch an hero becomes emotional like he did.

But this one scene was logical and necessary ( unlike one or two we saw earlier in the season), he needed to do that to move on.

Very well acted and directed!!!

( I agree in other episode, they pinpointed his care and love for the ship too much - Deadlock, but this lack of subtility was the brand of that episode)

Teev said...

Now that Sam's a hybrid (and that arm grabbing scene freaked me right the frak out, even though in retrospect it was rather heavily telegraphed), maybe he can tune into the colony somehow - we know the hybrids could communicate with each other across the stars. Or Boomer, who never did learn to pick a damn side already, will re-kidnap Hera and bring her back.

And now that we've learned about jumping as weapon, and the hybrids can insta-jump with no spooling up (right?), seems like Sam could damage jump the shit out of the colony and whatever basestars Cavil still has. I don't know that that would be any better than just driving right into them though. Certainly the old girl has to go out in a big explosion.

Baltar had better not turn out to be a godsdamn magical snowflake. I feel like the whole point of his character arc has been the idea of what do you do when you realize you don't have a super special destiny and your future will result from your actions and not your mythological roots (i.e., when you grow up and realize you're not gonna be a rockstar or the last starfighter). And for Baltar, what you do is always the worst possible thing that will get you the most attention. He can't be rewarded for this. No.

When I talk with my friends about this show and the over arching themes and messages they are positive, but I have a feeling the show is going to end darkly. How many people will be left floating in that little Raptor in the middle of nowhere, waiting to die? My money's on two.

Teev said...

Oh, and "where's Leoben?' indeed. I think probably they just don't want to pay yet another actor, but I like to think that the reason we never see the twos on goo painting or Sam watching duty is because they're total shirkers (that shirt is the giveaway) and when the sixes and eights are all, "we're headed over to Galactica, are you coming?" the twos are all "I will totally be right there as soon as I find my other sandal," and then the minute the sixes and eights are gone the twos make a Dagwood and pop in Die Hard and spend the rest of the day on the couch. Sadly, every week these scenes end up on the cutting room floor.

electricia said...

I liked the episode... I think. I'm just worried that the wrap-up is going to feel rushed, and that there could have been more story advancement mixed in with the mood and character stuff, especially after after the stuff with Kara's father from last week.

I thought the Starbuck stuff was all played amazingly well, but it's hard for me to accept all of the heavy emotional stuff with Baltar "outing" Kara, because I don't know what the big deal is. What IS the big deal? Everyone already knew that Kara "died". That she was missing for months and showed up again in a shiny new viper. That her old viper exploded right in front of Lee. So they didn't know that she found her body on Earth, but I really don't see what that changes, why that's this terrible secret. So while I thought all of those scenes were incredibly well-played, they just didn't mean anything to me.

That said, my favorite parts of this episode were definitely the Anders bits, even if we did see it coming a mile away. And also, Bill and Laura sharing a doob. After all, it's medicinal.

Bill McNeil said...

A wonder review, as always Alan.

I was struck by how much this episode made it feel as if this was a civilization at it's end. I'm hoping there will be a silver lining, but I'm not holding out for it. Just like Adama came to grips with Galactica's mortality, I think we need to prepare ourselves for the finale.

Finally, I haven't seen this mentioned before, but when Boomer flies into the colony, there's a brief shot of the old style Raiders we saw in Razor taking off. I vaguely remember that Athena said the older centurians were guarding something, but no one knew what it was. Could it be the Final Five resurrection technology?

Anonymous said...

The Leobens did get a quick mention this week. When the deckhand is reporting to Adama about the hull breach, he says, "the Leobens are calling it the proverbial straw". So I take it that they've been overseeing the Galactica repairs.

Karen said...

I thought the whole episode was genius. I watched it a second time after finishing the first time. Olmos did an amazing job of directing.

I agree with @laet-v about the scene of Adama crying after his futile pass at painting with the Cylon goo. That was the moment he realized he had to leave his girl, and that is as heartbreaking for him as losing Laura--as Laura herself noted, probably more.

There were so many wonderful moments, but I think the scene that got to me the most was the mischievous, almost little-girl face that Lee got out of Kara, right before he walked off and she turned back to put her own photo on the Memorial Wall. Oh, geez, that scene killed me. Weeping like a willow.

I don't know if the series finale will take us down or lift us up, but I'm not worried about it. I feel so much trust for Ronald Moore, that I think whatever decision he makes will be the right one, whether it's the popular one or not.

Master Prudent said...

@ electricia
I think the big deal with the Kara stuff is that everyone was holding onto the idea of a miraculous survival. Now everyone knows that the Kara of seasons 1-3 did indeed die in that viper. The question for those who care has changed from being, "How did she survive?" to, "What and who is she?".

dark tyler said...

Teev wins the thread!

Craig Ranapia said...

Oh, and "where's Leoben?' indeed. I think probably they just don't want to pay yet another actor, but I like to think that the reason we never see the twos on goo painting or Sam watching duty is because they're total shirkers (that shirt is the giveaway

I'll have to track it down, but I recall RDM saying in an interview that Calum Rennie is an extremely popular and busy actor, so you're hardly going to turn the whole schedule upside down just do an actor can come in for half a day and end up being the most expensive extra ever.

The Amazing Acting Eye said...

The scene at the end after the decision to abandon ship had Titanic-esque music playing --

and with Adama and Tigh on the sofa, I was reminded of an Alan Shore/Denny Crane moment.

Can't wait for the last 3 hours and hope nothing gets spoiled for me.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The scene at the end after the decision to abandon ship had Titanic-esque music playing --

That's the Adama family theme, which dates back to season one.

RAZ said...

My predictions:

1. Baltar is Cavil's offspring.

2. Baltar will be revealed to be the meta-villain, programming and deleting the Cavil's memories as Cavil has done to the Final Five's memories.

3. Baltar will condemn humanity, but it will be saved by an ultimate betrayal by Boomer.

4. Hera will vanquish Baltar, peel off her fake skin and reveal herself to be the starchild hybrid human/reptilian Visitor from "V", Marc singer and Dirk Benedict will walk out from behind the Baseship Galactica's hybrid, kiss each other and laugh maniacally.

Or not.

Raz said...

5. And the Galactica's goo neural network will allow the BSG to repair and improve itself so the great Phoenician Battlestat will rise from its scuttled ashes, ready to go.

Anonymous said...

"Oh yeah -- and we saw what looks like Jupiter again. JUPITER. The Colony must be very close to Real Earth. How cool is that"


I do not normally post but I will say something about this Jupiter idea.
I do not think that was Jupiter, it might be, it might not be. I am not a expert but the only feature that I know of that really marks Jupiter is its eye and I did not see that. I have read on some forums that that moon looks like a particular moon that orbits Jupiter. To me it looks like what I would imagine a moon to look like round, grayish, and full of craters

They have jumped at least once since they got to Earth, in Face of the Enemy. If that was “our” Earth then I do not think that was Jupiter last night. I have always though of Jumps as an inter-system form of travel. In the Mini series they were able to plot out Cylon baseships with in their system, so they must have some method of scanning a system to see what is there (Maybe this was just from wireless reports and I am wrong). They jumped to Ragnar to avoid the Cylons and my impression was that this was a very long distance away in terms of within the system but still only one jump.

Boomer says that they have “a dozen” jumps left. She might have been exaggerating but even if she was, they probably had more than four. Now if it takes a Raptor 4 or 12 jumps to go from Jupiter to the asteroid belt in our system then my whole sense of portion has been dead wrong for the entire series.

When they are looking for water, minerals, whatever, I remember them doing scans, long range scans – which I take to mean beyond one star system – and send Raptors to look more closely. Again that implies to me that a Raptor can jump pretty far, with 12 jumps putting you out of a star system or at least further away from Jupiter to where our asteroid belt is.

Remember at the end of season 4.0 that everyone was saying “OMG that’s the Brooklyn Bridge!!!!! Its New York!!!!.” I was not convinced then and there was a site that put the screencap next a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge and while they looked similar they were not the same bridge. I have the same feeling this time.

Joey from Jersey said...

I enjoyed seeing Baltar the scientist return, but that doesn't negate the debacle that his character's become since the end of his trial; seems like he's had no direction since then.

I once adored Baltar, and he's had a few great scenes since the end of the trial (most recently w/ Gaeta); but from him becoming a faith-healing conman, to faith-healer who believed his nonsense, to cowardly survivalist, to feeder of the poor, to Adama allowing him to arm a cult (?!), to upstaging a funeral to rant like a loon, it's a shame that writers of such talent couldn't produce something more cohesive and better for an actor of James Callis' talents.

Hopefully Baltar will go out w/ a bang -- especially w/ the Opera House returning and Balter/Six's association w/ it -- since he once seemed integral to the show.

Well hopefully Baltar and Caprica Six will reunite, as will Ellen and Saul. Maybe there will be an ultra-happy ending yet!

As for Adama, yes, enough tantrums; all that was missing was the destruction of his model ship.

Joey from Jersey said...

BTW, does anyone actually know how many such meltdowns Bill Odama has had? Off the top of my head @ the end of season three when he learns Saul is a Cylon; when he learns that Kara died; and now tonight. All of the scenes were well-acted and well-written, but IMO I think they just kind of lose their effectiveness/power after one or two takes. . . . What a contrast to the mini-series to Bill's steel look when he thought Lee died w/ Rosalin! (not sure what the exact expression was since I haven't seen it in a few yrs, but it certainly wasn't hysterics!). The Old Man's grown soft in his older yrs lol.

jim treacher said...

I like Kate Vernon more than most BG fans, it seems, but she is no match for Michael Hogan. When she says "You're a Cyclon," and he just growls, "Yeah..." Damn, that guy is good. Tigh's been my favorite character ever since he first stumbled down the corridor in a drunken stupor.

RAKS said...

Another wonderful episode of BSG, but perhaps not as thematically unified as past outings…or was it? Can we tie the disparate strands of this episode together with an analysis of its title? “Islanded in a Stream of Stars” sound suspiciously similar to “Islands in the Stream,” the 1983 hit duet sung by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. And who wrote the song? The Bee Gees! Get it? BGs…BsG…Am I reaching here? Perhaps, but consider the lyrics of the chorus:

"Islands in the stream
That is what we are
No one in-between
How can we be wrong
Sail away with me to another world
And we rely on each other, ah-ah
From one lover to another, ah-ah"

This episode was about stranded love, from Adama coming to terms with the inevitable death of both his girls, to Baltar’s realization of his now unrequited love for Caprica Six, to Lee and Kara’s acceptance of their stranded relationship, Kara’s acceptance of her still unexplained death, and of her stalled love for Anders. From the impasse of Helo and Athena’s relationship, to the conflicted feelings Boomer obviously has about what she’s done to Hera (and to Tyrol by implication). And to the final shot of Saul and Bill sitting on the couch contemplating the end of Galactica, with the painting of the first Cylon War behind them, looking for all the world like they’re watching the telly – looking like we all looked as we watched our love take its penultimate bow. All of these relationships, including ours to BSG, are ones of stranded, unresolved love.

"I cant live without you if the love was gone
Everything is nothing when you got no one
And you walk in the night
Slowly losing sight of the real thing
But that won't happen to us and we got no doubt
Too deep in love and we got no way out
And the message is clear
This could be the year for the real thing
No more will you cry
Baby I will hurt you never
We start and end as one
In love forever
We can ride it together , ah ha
Making love with each other , ah ha"

This episode was a love song to BSG; a final paean before, as I expect, all hell breaks loose.

Anonymous said...

Not that I don’t appreciate your BeeGee’s analogy RAKS (and I have been humming that song to myself for the last two days), but Battlestar Wiki reports that “Islanded in a Stream of Stars” is a phrase from “The Outermost House” by Henry Beston:

“For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars – pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time.”

mac13 said...

"The scene at the end after the decision to abandon ship had Titanic-esque music playing --"
Sepinwall - "That's the Adama family theme, which dates back to season one."

Yeah, but it does sound a lot like Titanic. Actually, now that the issue has come up, I always thought that the new BSG borrowed a lot from the style and mood of Cameron's Titanic. And there's a hint of Braveheart too at times. They got a pretty interesting, romantic feel for a space opera by doing that.

Girl Detective said...

I want to say again that I get so much more out of the show after reading Alan's review and the comments here. A few have touched on this, but I suspect Boomer is going to be pivotal in the end games because she's so tormented by her experiences as a human. Cavil should watch his back.

The Wife said...

That's the Adama family theme, which dates back to season one.

I was skimming and read this as the "Addams Family theme" and was wondering if I had been watching a different episode.

Anonymous said...

Just a brief thought on the final scene - I think it held a double meaning, with Adama and Tigh not only contemplating their final goodbye to Galactica, the ship, but also saying goodbye to us, the audience. When Adama says "we're going to send her out in style", I also picked up a message to us: buckle your seatbelts, audience, the last 3 hours is going to be quite a ride.

Anonymous said...

I was really impressed with Grace Park's portrayal of Boomer in the episode. In contrast to a few things I've read online, I find her character quite sympathetic, despite her harmful manipulations. I don't see her as being that different from Athena; instead, I see her life circumstances bringing out the more destructive personality traits of the 8 model.

Boomer is the nay to Athena's yay: Boomer is the 8 who was denied the chance of living her human dream, of love and motherhood, whereas Athena was granted that dream. You see how obsessed and vengeful Athena can be when Hera is threatened - she killed the 6 in season 4.0 because of that, and you see how hateful she has become of Helo in the last episode. If Boomer had been granted her dream, she wouldn't have turned to the "dark side", she might have been, well, just like Athena, who is no selfless angel.

And now that Boomer had a chance to be mama to Hera, we see the same maternal instincts surfacing, with her crying as Hera calls out to her at the end of the episode.

I predict Boomer will ultimately do something to help the fleet, probably some sort of final suicidal act.

I haven't said anything here about Galen Tyrol. But this guy just can't catch a break. You got to feel for him.

John C. Baker said...

I'm getting the same feeling here that I got when Ron Moore ended DS9. A quick (more quickly than plausible) end to the main conflict (DS9: Dominion War, BSG: Second Cylon War) thanks to wholesale dissension in the ranks of the enemy, a quick dash of religion (DS9: Pah Wraiths, BSG: "One True God") and some unanswered question lingering from the pilot, sailing through the series but ultimately go unanswered (DS9: Does Bajor join the Federation?, BSG: What is Head Six [and whatever happened to Caprica's Head Baltar?]?).

Nar said...

I truly enjoyed this episode. Wonderfully acted, brilliantly directed, and the Visual Effects Team really delivered. But I still feel like the BSG writers are holding back.

Can they really cram every loose end into the final three hours? The good news is, they’ve run out of time — there is no more holding back. The bad news is, MY FAVORITE SHOW IS COMING TO AN END!!! FRAK!!!

I'm thinking ahead to the ending: Will the whole human fleet bite the stardust before it’s over? I think it’s likely.

I've posted more of my thoughts here: http://tinyurl.com/dmsjez

Anonymous said...

Olmos did a really good job. It's rare to find an actor who can also direct so well in TV. It would be interesting to see how he tackles one of the FX heavy episodes... if only there was more episodes.

As far as the dark ending, the finale is called "Daybreak" so we're either going to get light at the end of the tunnel (I suspect a bittersweet ending, not totally happy, but hopeful despite some feelings of profound loss) or Moore is being really ironic.

Archie said...

I'm glad I read the comments because two people did say what I wanted to - that the night is darkest before "Daybreak". I didn't even know the finale was called that .... so, I actually now have a lot of hope. While I was broken up about D's and Gaeta's deaths, I accepted them in the grander scheme of things - especially once Alan explained how D died at her highest point in recent times - how she was happiest at that moment.

I've been reading and agreeing with a lot of the comments in the past (especially with the previous week's episode) about the pace of the show, but then I had a thought.

Aren't we all only chomping at the bit because it's the series finale?? What if it wasn't?? Wouldn't the pace of all the episodes be perfectly acceptable, desirable, even, if this was just a normal season???? I discovered BSG late enough that I saw the first 3 seasons completely on DVD, at my own pace - and it's a common theme. The opening is all about shock, the middle is all about character development and the finale is all about blowing the frak out of your minds!!!

Why is this season different???

JackiWhitford said...

I watched this episode three times to make sure I picked up all the nuances. Adama and Tigh said Galactica is going out in style. Could Hera be foreseeing that it will ram Cavill's base ship? And will Sam be used to make the jumps to the colony and be sacrified to ram Cavill?

And if Kara is a hybrid, isn't she along with Hera a good bet to help save the races? I mean if her and Apollo get back together? Just sayin.

And what Earth/Colony will they arrive at? Present Day 2009? Or some futuristic version?

Three more hours of pure torture to the climatic ending. And it had better be work the wait.

Anonymous said...

Old sci-fi fans marveled when Asimov tied his "Foundation" ad "Robot" series together in a final epic novel. I'd love to see Moore do a similar thing with BSG and Star Trek and reveal the whole show is being run by Q.

English said...

I don't think Hera was crashing into the basestar with Galactica, I think in a child like way she was bringing them together. Which was the underlying story of the whole episode. Anyway all this has happened before, kinda like being in a role play or an internet/PC multiplayer game. Plus you can die and come back to life in those.

Bob Watts said...

Wasn't "Dear Liza" the song Jason Street sang over the phone to his son? And if so, can humans and cylons find refuge together in Dillon, TX?