Friday, October 20, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: Let's get the hell out of here

Spoilers for “Battlestar Galactica” just as soon as I go set off this nuke I have lying around...

“Galactica” is not an action show. Ron Moore says this over and over in interviews, on the podcasts, at audience panels, probably even while he’s cleaning out the litter box. But as “Exodus, Part 2” showed, it isn’t that Moore and company can’t do action, but that they usually prefer to do other things.

Because this? This was like sixty straight minutes of “Hell, yeah!” Even though I expected most of the big action beats – the arrival of the Pegasus, Starbuck twisting the knife on Leoben one last time, Gaeta pulling a gun on Baltar – long before they happened, I still cheered them all. (The Kara/Leoben moment was especially tasty, because you knew she was playing him, knew he was too blinded by the crazy to see it, and knew that she was going to get out of that damn apartment for good.) I watched a version with extremely rough computer FX, but the image of Galactica descending through the atmosphere to get the fighters off so low to the ground was awesome even in the cartoony stage.

At the same time, there were almost as many chances to mourn as there were to applaud.

Tigh taking it upon himself to kill Ellen? Devastating. The Emmys are useless, anyway, but Michael Hogan deserves some kind of award for these first four hours. As if Tigh didn’t hate himself enough, now he has this on his conscience? Even if it may have been justified – and with the rescue attempt imminent, an argument could have been made to just bind and gag Ellen and deal with her back on the ship – you just don’t come back from having to murder your own wife, and for the crime of trying to save your own miserable alkie existence.

Katee Sackhoff was also superb, both in the aforementioned Leoben scene and the moment on the hangar deck when she discovered who Kacey(sp?) really was. A wee bit convenient that the poor kid’s mother happened to be right on Galactica at that moment instead of another ship in the fleet, but since I think we all knew Kacey wasn’t really her daughter, I’ll go with it.

That entire hangar sequence was just beautiful in its contrast of triumph and tragedy, of Adama and Lee hugging and being applauded while Saul walks off to be alone with his own pain and Kara stands to the side, unwilling to accept the full truth of what just happened to her. After having made peace with her own terrible upbringing and preparing to be a better mom to Kacey than her own mom ever was to her, someone literally snatches the kid away from her life.

Some other thoughts:
  • “Damn you, Lee... Thank you, Lee.” Well, alright. I wonder if they teach you the whole “crash your Battlestar into a Cylon base ship at just the right angle that a big piece will fly away and crash into a second base ship” trick at the Caprica military academy. Now we know why Moore didn’t immediately get rid of the Pegasus the way the original show did, and I look forward to seeing the consequences of its destruction. This was the newer, stronger ship, not to mention the one with the facilities to build badly-needed new Vipers. So now the rag-tag fleet is down its strongest protector and the only place to have fun (Cloud Nine)? Something tells me the long journey to Earth is going to start feeling like those 8-hour road trips my family would take to Montreal where the only thing to pass the time was Mad Libs and the Geography game. Good times...
  • Of course Roslin wanted to get away on Caprica One. That woman doesn’t mess around. Though, with Baltar gone, the ship technically belongs to Zarek, who was elected vice-president before the settlement.
  • How horrible is Sharon’s meltdown going to be when she finds out that Hera is alive, and that the Cylons have her?
  • Yet another parallel to Iraq/Israel/Northern Ireland/etc. with the scene where Baltar asks why the Cylons won't just leave, and they tell him that they can't afford to now because the humans are going to raise their children to hate Cylons, the cycle of violence will never end, yada yada. "Live and let live" seems to be a rapidly vanishing concept.
So what did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

"This was like sixty straight minutes of 'Hell, yeah!'"

You're half-right, but I'm assuming this is a family blog.

Didn't it feel more like a season finale than an Episode 3? I don't know how they're going to top this. Perfect, just perfect. Tigh has always been my favorite character, through his advocation of suicide bombings and all, and Hogan just nailed it this week. Both of his scenes, at the beginning and the end. And with just the use of one eye!

Okay, one flaw in the perfection: The guy playing Apollo has such perfect bone structure and low body fat, when they put the fat prosthetics on his face, it just makes him look like Rondo Hatton. No more close-ups, please. Otherwise the fat suit is working, but no more close-ups.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and do you know anything about the proposed series tracing the history of the Adama family? I remember reading something about that a while back.

Anonymous said...

I would say this was the best episode of the series. While it doesseem the only logical outcome of theconflict is one sides total annihilation or subjugation of the other, I think there will be some sort of unification. I suspect Hera will be a part of that.

Just my idle speculation, though.

Eye of Polyphemus

R.A. Porter said...

Unbelievable. The most incredible four hours of television I think I've ever seen. Even my constant carping over the Starbuck story was put to bed with Katee Sackhoff's beautifully played betrayal. It was a lot of setup time for that payoff, but she made it worthwhile.

Alan, do you know what arcs are coming, or are you not much ahead of us? Because I'm guessin you've nailed a story arc to come with the fight for the Presidency between Zarek - the rightful office holder - and Roslin. Until tonight I'd been thinking they'd call for an election and win as a ticket with Roslin on top, but now I'm wondering whether Zarek will really step aside or down that easily.

Anonymous said...

So what's the line on how many episodes before we see Lee Adama slimming down to a upbeat music montage? :-P

I'm not sure how much longer I can deal with watching him in that fat-suit.

And yes, Tigh was a-fraking-mazing in tonight's episode. That scene just broke my heart. And watching the old coot hobble around on the flight deck -- just too much pain...even with his drinking problem, I just want to buy the guy a drink...

velvetcannibal said...

Did you notice how they held the credits during the scene between Ellen and Tigh? When he's sobbing over her body, they begin again: Michael Hogan. Awesome.

There are too many things to love about this episode. I was just so thrilled to see Vipers in the air FIGHTING the CYLONS again. It's been too long.

And the combined ships? Starting from square one now, with all these people who we don't really know anymore in relationships that have completely changed. I'm blown away. Those final moments were so devastating, but I have hope for the first time in so long.

PS- Where is Baltar now? Will he use Hera to rejoin the Fleet? Is Zarek technically the President?

Anonymous said...

The trip to Earth is going to feel even longer than you think Alan, Cloud 9 blew up when Six set off that nuke Baltar gave her.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Pete, I know Cloud 9 was nuked. That's what I was saying: the fleet has now lost its biggest muscle (Pegasus) and the only entertaining place to go (Cloud 9). Can you play the license plate game in outer space?

Taleena said...

Will Zarek press his claim as VP? I get the impression that Zarek is not in the current leadership.

First, Zarek tells Roslyn he wished she subverted the elections. Second he was in the firing squad tumbril right next to Roslyn; implying that Zarek had fallen out with the Vichy government of Baltar. Zarek may be a calculating terrorist but he's not a traitor to humanity.

Second, Zarek snagged the young NCP officer to guard Roslyn on her way to Colonial One.

Third, Roslyn has been keeping a government in exile accounting in her notebooks, running the underground, ect. Tom Zarek was perfectly capable of doing that on his own and must have ceded authority to Roslyn at some point.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Keep in mind that Zarek was in prison for virtually the entire occupation after refusing to play ball with the Cylons. So it's not as if he chose to not work with the resistance; he just wasn't able to.

Anonymous said...

As I elaborate in my comments, I don't think the physics of the Galactica falling was right. It shouldn't have heated up like that.

It lead me to realize that if that was the biggest complaint I had of the episode, and it was, it was a pretty damn good episode, and it was.

I truly believe this ep did the best job of any other in highlighting the show's strengths. It would, I believe, make an excellent candidate to submit to the Emmys. It's not the show's best episode, but it has many of the right ingredients that Emmy nominators love. If this doesn't get this show the nomination in a major category it deserves, nothing will.