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Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: You Can’t Go Home Again, Litmus, Six Degrees of Separation

Recap

I’m a sci-fi geek who has never seen Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know, I know. 2013 is the year I change that, and I’m blogging as I go.

How awful are things for the last surviving members of humanity this time?

You Can’t Go Home Again
If last week’s episode, Act of Contrition, could be subtitled “Starbuck gets emotional,” this one be subtitled “Starbuck gets badass.”

Well.

More badass.

The episode starts with her stranded on the planet where Kirk fought the Gorn a random moon, roused from unconsciousness by her parachute trying to drag her off a cliff. It almost manages, too, until she cuts it loose. Even such a tiny thing as waking up from a crash landing is life-or-death on this show. I’m surprised Starbuck lasts four seasons (if, indeed, she does).

Lieutenant Gaeta says that Starbuck has 46 hours of oxygen left before she dies, and Lee and Adama are determined to have Viper pilots out looking for her every second of that time, even though it damages the ships, uses up almost half the ship’s fuel reserves, and diverts resources that should be on hand to protect the fleet should the Cylons show up again. I can’t decide how much of their refusal to give up is guilt over what happened to her last episode and how much is just that she’s family, but honestly it doesn’t matter that much. It is an insanely risky thing to do for just one pilot, something that’s pointed out by Tigh, President Roslin, and Baltar.

I love how the show handles their dissent: They’re all saying the exact same thing, but Tigh comes off like a jerk, Roslin like a paragon of reason and wisdom, and Baltar like a cowardly fool. Roslin even gets really mean late in the episode, telling Adama and Lee that (paraphrasing here) they need to pull their heads out of their rears and get over what happened to Zak, and if they’ll risk so much because of a personal issue humanity doesn’t stand a chance, which, wow Laura. Way to not pull your punches.

She can get away with saying something like that and have Lee and Adama listen because she’s her: Noble, selfless, and possessing reason tempered by compassion. But if Tigh or Baltar said the exact same thing they’d get a double Adama death-glare, and not just because Roslin’s the President and they’re not. Roslin and Adama (who is convinced to call off the search) are both noble and prone to self-sacrifice, while Tigh and Baltar are self-serving, which is like the worst thing you can be in a post-apocalyptic future where everyone has to band together or die. Aside from the Cylons, Tigh and Baltar are shaping up to be the villains of the show, and I really hope they don’t get demonized. (And, likewise, that Roslin loses that “I’m so much more moral than you” sheen. It’s getting a little boring.)

Adama fails at rescuing Starbuck, but that doesn’t matter so much, ’cause Starbuck’s fully capable of rescuing her own darn self, thank you. She comes across the raider she shot down and cuts into its innards (ew), removing its brain (double ew) so she can crawl through its guts (ewewew), suck on its air tube to give herself some more time (ew^4), and figure out how to make it fly.

She eventually does get it airborne, because she’s Kara “Better Than You” Thrace (note the lack of sarcasm), but then of course the Galactica thinks she’s a Cylon. Anticipating that the pilot sent to destroy her (Lee, as it happens) might be a failwhale when it comes to proper “intercept protocol” and not realize she was a friendly, she’s painted “Starbuck” on the underside of the raider using some handy yellow paint she had about her person for some reason. Whatever. I can’t complain. Starbuck is amazing. Case closed.

The episode ends in a good place for the Galactica folks: Starbuck’s alive, she and Adama have a nice father/surrogate daughter moment in sickbay, and Chief Tyrol gets a raider to play with. Things haven’t been so great for Helo back on Caprica, though: After a night in the fallout shelter with Evil!Boomer, Cylons show up to ruin the nice romantic tension they have going. Helo hides from them, but they figure out the place isn’t empty when the toast he was making pops up at the worst possible moment.

Betrayed by the toaster, huh? I see what you did there, show.

Litmus

For the second time in five episodes, Chief Tyrol’s penis relationship with Boomer gets him into some major trouble. The pair have been ordered by Tigh (natch) to not see each other any more, but they ignore that, sneaking away to have a little alone time. As it happens that alone time coincides with a human-looking Cylon—Jill tells me that they later come to be referred to as skinjobs, so that’s what I’ll be calling them from now on—getting onto the Galactica and blowing himself up. (Right before the explosion Adama leaps at the bomber, despite the fact that his finger was on the trigger. The commander of the fleet only didn’t get blown to little bitty pieces because Tigh tackled him first. Dude. Adama. There’s a point where self-sacrifice becomes stupid.)

It can no longer remain a secret that Cylons can look like humans now, so Roslin lets the cat out of the bag, asking for the public’s help if they see any other replicas wandering around. Naturally the public’s pretty freaked out and wants answers as to how, if the higher-ups knew Cylons could look like humans, a Cylon was able to get aboard the Galactica. An independent tribunal is set up with the Master of Arms, Sergeant Hadrian, running the show. Since anyone at any level of leadership could be a conspirator she asks for complete autonomy in running the tribunals, with no military oversight. Sounds like the sort of thing a Cylon would say. She’s an agent. I’m calling it.

Four different people tell Hadrian four different things about where Tyrol was at the time of the bombing, so naturally he’s suspected of collaborating with the Cylons. (They don’t seem to think he could be one himself, which I don’t get.) Matters are made worse for him by the fact that a hatch leading to an arms locker—the one where the Cylon killed a guard and stole the bomb—was found to be open, even though his log said it was shut. Hadrian asks if Tyrol was meeting with a Cylon agent right before the bombing, which he was, just not in the way Hadrian thinks. Since the open hatch is the same one Boomer used to get to their sexytimes appointment, the implication is that she, influenced by the Cylon part of her brain, opened the hatch to let her skinjob buddy in.

One of Tyrol’s underlings, Socinus, takes the fall, saying that he left his post to get some grub and accidentally left he hatch open. Case closed, then! Except Hadrian’s power has gone a bit to her head: She summons Adama to the hearing and upbraids him for not telling the people about skinjobs, saying if security had known about it the bombing may have been prevented. Oh, and that he’s also responsible for the bombing because he knew about Boomer and Tyrol but didn’t make them stop. Adama’s response, justifiably, is “Woah, simmer down there.” The tribunal is turning into a witch hunt, and he won’t have that nonsense on his ship. He has no authority to shut it down, technically, but he manages it anyway through sheer gravitas.

Elsewhere on the Galactica, Six tells Gaius that the bomber was trying to blow up his Cylon detector research. The other Cylons don’t know she’s been hanging out in his head, she explains. I’m not sure whether I believe her. When Baltar says he might as well destroy the project and blame it on sabotage, Six goes a little nuts and proceeds to choke him. And then she quotes the Hulk with no apparent irony, uttering the words “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” in a serious scene with dramatic music swelling in the background. I can’t decide whether it’s supposed to be funny or not, but I’m leaning toward “no.”

Meanwhile, on Caprica, Helo’s looking for a Cylon-napped Boomer, who’s actually just hanging around on rooftops watching him with Six and a replica of the bomber. To carry out their plan, whatever it is, Caprica!Boomer has to get beaten up and then “rescued” by Helo. Six takes great pleasure in helping with the first part. I sense some animosity here. Is it because Boomer can be open about her human boyfriend (Helo) and Six can’t about hers (Gaius)? As Helo is rescuing Caprica!Boomer, back on the Galactica Tyrol is breaking up with SecretAgent!Boomer, because he’s feeling all angsty about Socinus getting in trouble because of him. Tyrol asks Boomer if she didn’t by any chance leave the hatch open. Oh, irony.

6 Degrees of Separation

And I thought the previous episode, with Six’s random Hulk reference, was weird. This episode puts that one to shame. Five words: “No more Mr. Nice Gaius.”

The basic plot of the episode is that Gaius still doesn’t take the Cylon god seriously, so Six decides to pay him back by waltzing one of her copies—named Shelly Godfrey, nice and subtle—onto the Galactica with evidence that he betrayed humanity by letting Cylons into the defense mainframe, which of course he actually did. Gaius claims that Shelly’s a Cylon agent who has it in for him (also true), but Adama and Roslin eventually come to believe that Gaius is guilty, so he’s locked up. He has a breakdown and prays to the Cylon god, saying if he’s saved he’ll devote the entire rest of his life to serving his cause. Shelly’s evidence is revealed as a fake, she disappears, and Gaius is released, more trusted by Roslin and Adama than ever.

Sounds fairly innocuous. Now for a list of all the completely frakking crazy things that characters said/did this episode:

  • The aforementioned instance of Gaius yelling “No more Mr. nice Gaius!”…
  • …which he says to Shelly in a bathroom, after he literally followed Gaeta in there to see how his investigation into Shelly’s evidence was going.
  • Seriously, Gaius follows Gaeta into the bathroom to interrogate him about his day. He opens the conversation—when Gaeta is in a bathroom stall!—with “So… how ya doing?” (Though I have to say I’m pleased BSG shows us a bathroom, because that doesn’t really happen in spaceship-set movies and TV all that often.)
  • After cornering him in the bathroom, Gaius asks Gaeta if they can take a few minutes alone together to examine Shelly’s evidence. No one else would need to know. That… kinda seemed like he was proposing something different, to be honest.
  • Six-as-Shelly tries to seduce Adama. He immediately gets suspicious of her; it’s good to know his BS detector is operational. But still, Six kissing Adama and asking if he ever just wanted to be held ranks up there in the list of things I didn’t think I’d see on this show.
  • Laura causes a fleet-wide panic when she collapses, and to get back on her feet the Doctor has to give her a shot. She holds out her arm and is told “It’s not that kind of shot.” Butt jokes. Butt jokes in Battlestar Galactica. What is going on here?!
  • At the end of the episode Gaius asks Six if Shelly ever actually existed, and it seems like it might be a relevant question. But then Six distracts him with nudity, and he makes this face while unzipping his pants. (Click the link. Trust me.)
  • There’s an overwrought romantic confession between Helo and Caprica!Boomer, and then they have sexytimes in the rain. Not weird on the scale of weird things in this episode, but not what I would have expected from BSG.

The whole episode was just really out of place, and I can’t decide whether I like that because it provided a change of pace, or if I hate it because it messes with the show’s rhythm. I’m leaning toward the latter. There were two endgames in this episode: One, make Gaius loyal to the Cylon god. Two, get Adama and Roslin to trust Gaius. But we had a “Gaius doubts God and Six brings him around via threats” plotline only a few episodes ago! Did we really another one? As for Gaius getting on Adama and Roslin’s good side, I’m not firmly convinced they really trust him all that much, and even if they do, something tells me he’ll lose that trust fairly quickly. He’s kind of shady like that. But I guess I’ll see later whether this 43 minutes of insanity had any wider purpose, or whether it was just the Battlestar Galactica equivalent of a monster-of-the-week episode.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, comments on this post have been locked. However, Jill and Susana will be reading comments over at our Facebook page. So if there’s anything you’d like to say in response to this post, head on over this way. Former Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recaps can be found here.

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