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January 23, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: A Disquiet Follows My Soul Discussion Thread

Nine episodes left. Last week's was a little uneven. My recap is below the fold.

From last season's promotional materials. Click here for a really big version. Good for looking at and stuff.

Spoiler Policy: Anything from the miniseries and the show up to and including tonight's episode is fair game; no need to warn or in some way obscure text for anything that comes from that material. However, anything you may have heard about future episodes should be kept to yourself. Thanks.

Recap for Sometimes a Great Notion:

We start where we ended. The main characters are shell-shocked by what they’ve found on Earth: a post-nuclear wasteland last inhabited about 2,000 years ago. That’s not the surprising part. The real mindfrak is the truth about the Thirteenth Tribe: cylons, every last one of them. They had their own unique kind of toasters, too.

The twists keep on coming, though, when it turns out that the Final Five lived on Earth when the nuclear holocaust occurred and had some means of ensuring that their personalities would be "reborn, together" some 2,000 years later for the next turn of the cycle. We also know why D’Anna only asked for four of the Final Five when they unboxed her. The Final Cylon, Ellen Tigh, was already dead.

Last but not least, Starbuck discovers the wreckage of her Viper (the one which exploded in the gas giant) along with her decomposing body. She burns it and Leoben is the only person who knows. Leoben’s shock at realizing that Starbuck is not what she seems scares him enough to send him running from her. He’s been going on for four seasons now about her “special destiny” but this apparently wasn’t what he expected. Even finding the ruins on Earth didn’t shake him. But finding Starbuck’s body? This was fear bordering on panic.

We’re left with several questions, helpfully placed into Anders’ mouth: what is the connection between the Thirteenth Tribe and the Colonies? How did the Final Five go from their deaths 2,000 years ago to living now?

This is all Myth Arc stuff. That part was fine, and I loved those elements of the episode. However, this week there wasn’t any plot. The TV Guide caption for this episode could be: “The characters react to discovering that Earth is a radioactive ruin.” And that’s it. It flits from scene to scene as characters attempt to cope or simply give up because Earth has been achieved and it is terrible.

In the latter group: Roslin, Adama, D’Anna, and Dualla. Roslin burns her bible and refuses her cancer treatment. Adama also gets suicidal (in a spectacularly unsuccessful scene between Olmos and Hogan; I was laughing out loud at the Teeth-Clench of Doom & Despair). D’Anna chooses to stay behind on Earth. Dualla offs herself.

Apollo and Tigh seem to be handling it the best. Tigh because he’s already hit bottom so many times he’s used to it; he’s probably the most grounded person left in the leadership and now he’s handing out pep-talks like a pro. Apollo because he always goes through the motions of doing the “right thing” or at least whatever he thinks is the right thing. Also he generally seems to be about ten minutes behind everyone else, so maybe it’ll sink in next week.

About Dualla’s death, this is something that bothers me about this show. Every time the writers decide they want to really kick the viewers in the guts they kill a second-tier woman on the cast. Ellen, of course, was the most important of these, but they’ve also killed Elosha, Kat, Cally, Gunny Mathias, Barolay, Boomer (she got better), and the renegade Six all for no real reason except that they wanted to somehow emphasize how emotional the circumstances are for the rest of the characters. Admiral Cain and Kendra Shaw probably come close to this category, but they were more one-offs who were always intended to die, not actual recurring characters. At this point it’s so predictable that as soon as the camera lingered on Dualla picking up the jacks on the beach that I knew she’d be dead by the end of the episode. It’s cliché. It’s sloppy. Come on, writers, you can do better.

What did work this week? Well, there are two technically brilliant tracking shots which follow Adama through the corridors and reveal the deteriorating state of morale on the ship.

Where to from here? Adama orders Gaeta to find the nearest habitable planet and they set off once again. But before they leave her behind D’Anna reminds us that Cavil is still out there and he’s probably pissed.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 08:32 PM

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