Sunday, November 12, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: I, bored

Actually, I wasn't especially bored by the latest "Battlestar Galactica," but given the episode's obvious Jean-Luc Picard influence (which even Ron Moore copped to in the podcast), I couldn't resist the hacky play on words. Sue me. Spoilers ho...

Does humanity deserve to survive? Sharon suggested otherwise early in season two, and that question was the subtext of "A Measure of Salvation." On the one hand, the Cylons have made it clear that they're going to keep coming after humanity and won't stop until they've either destroyed or imprisoned every last person in the ragtag fleet. They are by far the superior military power, and barring a miracle, it's only a matter of time before they overwhelm Adama and company. Under those circumstances, genocide becomes self-defense. But again, if you have to completely wipe out your enemy to survive -- even an enemy that has tried to wipe you out with little to no provacation -- do you deserve to?

I think Roslin and Helo both make legitimate cases, even if I'm more inclined to side with her, because, again... the Cylons aren't going to stop, ever. Helo's dream of converting them through love one at a time will take longer than the lifespan of the babies born on New Caprica, and what good is love when everybody's dead?

It's a weighty subject, one that the episode didn't have enough time to deal with in full depth, even after cutting significant subplots/scenes involving Doc Cottle studying the virus and Starbuck torturing the Cylon prisoners for information. (Look to the left for a glimpse of the latter bit.) It's rare that the series bites off more than it can chew, but it happened here. I liked the episode overall and lots of moments in it (the Raptors nudging their way through the dead Cylon ships, the Helo/Sharon scenes, anything with Adama and Roslin, plus the entire sex/torture/sex sequence with Baltar, but I'll get to that in a minute), but at the same time felt like we got the Cliff's Notes version (or is it Spark Notes now? I'm old, so I don't know) of a story about what to do with the option of wiping out the Cylons once and for all.

(Something that I really hope comes up once the humans get over the shock of learning that Baltar's alive and helping the Cylons: should they even keep looking for Earth at this point? Moore has talked about how they're approaching the search for Earth as a "race," but if the humans and Cylons are both looking for it and have the same rough directions, is it much of a prize if humanity finishes first and 12 Cylon baseships pop up a few weeks later? The value of Earth was supposed to be that the Cylons didn't know its location; now the fleet's probably better off going on a needle in a haystack search for some other New Caprica-esque world that the Cylons don't know about. Unless the series takes place far in the future and Earth has some hardcore technology, hooking up with the 13th colony's not going to do a lot of good, I don't think.)

Meanwhile, looks like Baltar's going to have more than one amazonian Cylon blonde getting hot for him after his expressions of romantic/sexual/religious ecstasy while simultaneously being tortured by D'Anna and mercy-boinked by Head Six. The writers have often played the note where Baltar has to cover in the real world for something he said to Head Six, but this is the first time the naughty talk appears to be doing him some good. I ask again, though: who/what the hell is Head Six?

There have been too many occasions where she told him things he couldn't possibly know for her to be just a hallucination. Doc Cottle couldn't find evidence of anything inappropriate in Baltar's brain, but at the same time, the Cylons are indistinguishable from humans on close examination, even though Sharon can jam a fiber-optic cable up her arm and use it to wipe out a Cylon fleet. So there could be some kind of technology in there that an ordinary MRI wouldn't spot. On the other hand, D'Anna sure seemed to think Gaius was talking to her and only to her, and Caprica has never once inquired about the thing she put in Baltar's head. In the opening moments of "Downloaded," I briefly harbored the notion that the Baltar who "survived" the nuclear detonation was, in fact, a Number Six's personality downloaded into a Baltar lookalike body but with that knowledge repressed, ala Boomer not knowing her true identity. But even with last week's questions about Baltar being one of the unseen five models, I think my scenario's too far-fetched. Theories?

Much as the fleet is finding its way after the New Caprica exodus and Roslin's reinstatement, it feels like the show itself is doing the same. It's not running in place, as significant things have happened, but the absolute narrative confidence that was in place from "Lay Down Your Burdens Pt. 2" through "Collaborators" has taken a hit. But whatever the problems are, the show sure ain't dull.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

Interesting how Roslin has gone from dove to hawk over the course of the series. Or maybe not so much a hawk as a pragmatist. There was a time when she would have said much the same thing as Helo, but now she can barely stand to be in the same room with him.

Wonder how they're going to solve the Earth problem? Anybody else remember Galactica 1980? No? Good.

Hey, how did everybody like Dr. Who? This week he was more like Dr. Who-Wants-Some!

dark tyler said...

Baltar couldn't be a Cylon since he wasn't infected by the virus, right?

Well, I loved the episode. I mean, I don't know if there is a chance of another TV show, ever, to make a case both for and against genocide, and have them both be ligitimate. I usually walk away from my TV screen wondering stuff like "Are they right for each other?" (LOL) or at the most, about what's wrong with the system, etc. But genocide? And with an emotional stake, too? Oh, how I love my BSG...

Taleena said...

You know alot of people were bitching about this episode because of the whole "is genocide wrong?" storyline but I liked the episode as a whole. I wish they had stretched it out and not cut some of the interrogation or medical exploration because I think that is more facinating that the Helo/Athena relationship angst.

Head Six (and Head Baltar let's not forget him) are hyper manifestations of Caprica Six and Baltar's unconcious minds. I would not rule out baltar being the pinnacle of Cylon Technology. They are attempting to make themselves human.

They went to human looking and have attempted to crossbreed with humans. They want human worlds - including Earth. They want to replace humans in the entire universe, because they think they are humans 2.0.

We know that sleeper cylons have been in place for years and years. What if Baltar is the last project of Cylon engineering - their first attempt at human/cylon cross, bred (not built) in a lab and placed as a sleeper.

Head Baltar and Head Six are the product of Baltar's weird link to the cylons. He can not download, there are no copies. He both worked in the sense that he is alive but a failure because he is barking insane. So Cylons moved on to a direct breeding program in an attempt to correct the 'bug'.

Remember Head Six saying that Hera was supposed to be her and Baltar's child - not Helo and Athena's child? If my theory is correct Baltar has a deep seated imperitive to breed with a Cylon and Caprica Six was his handler.

And yes, I have expended way too much thought on this show.

Jason said...

My wacky theory is that Baltar's Six is actually a religious vision of the Cylon God.

What's the Cylon God? Something else. A machine intelligence, maybe -- the introduction of the Hybrids makes me think that maybe just as we spawned the Cylons, the Cylons have spawned... something else.

Anonymous said...

I thought this ep sucked. And it's not because it dealt with genocide. It's because the script and acting felt dumbed down, and the pacing was too slow. When Lee had his Big Idea to use the disease to wipe out the Cylons my reaction was, "Duh!" And the acting for Helo just fell flat, IMO. The biggest gripe I had is that I felt like I was being lectured to by the writers.

The parts I did like were little bits. I liked Sharon's line about keeping her word even if she's the last Cylon in the universe, and asking if a human could do the same. And I liked the scene in which Admiral Adama told Roslin he needed an order from her to use biological warfare.

I thought it would have been intersting to watch and entire fleet of Cylons get sick and die from the resurrection of diseased Cylons. I also would have enjoyed it if the Cylons' theory that resurrecting a diseased Cylon would cause mass destruction turned out to be a paranoid guess and the disease didn't spread. But, thanks to Helo, we wmay never know.