Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: The Ties That Bind, Escape Velocity
by Rebecca Pahle | 12:30 pm, October 30th, 2013
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.
Three episodes into the final season and a main character’s already kicked the bucket. Help me, I’m scared.
The Ties That Bind
Oh, Cally! You were never my favorite, but I didn’t want this for you! Never this.
We already knew she and Tyrol had some marital problems post-New Caprica, but it turns out that since Tyrol found out he’s a Cylon things have gotten worse. Tyrol’s never around to help raise their baby, and Cally’s started suffering from depression. A combination of that, stress over their marriage, and a general lack of sleep has caused her to be a little, shall we say, on edge. Late one night she goes to the bar to look for her husband and finds him getting all buddy-buddy with Tory. She causes a scene—as she has every right to do if her husband’s leaving her to raise her son alone so he can cheat on her.
As awful as Tyrol’s being, I kind of… understand his position, a little bit? Not that I in any way condone what he’s doing, but he’s the only one of the newbie Cylons with any really strong personal attachments. Tigh’s wife is dead. Anders’ marriage is pretty much over. Who knows about Tory. Tyrol has a wife and a newborn baby! He has all this other stuff on top of adjusting to the fact that he’s a Cylon. Don’t get me wrong, he’s skill a skeevy douchewaffle, and the way he shows absolutely no remorse for the way he’s treating Cally makes me want to hit him over the head with a two-by-four. But it’s gotta be a weird time for him, is what I’m saying.
Tyrol tries to gaslight Cally by telling her that she just imagined Tyrol and Tory being way too close for just friends. She’s having none of it, but Doc Cottle tells her Tyrol might have a point: You’re fatigued and on antidepressants, he says, and that can make you paranoid. Cally doesn’t doubt that her husband’s cheating on her—it’s later revealed that she saw them kiss in the bar—but she has begun to doubt her own sanity.
Let’s take a break to check in on Lee, Junior Politician. At a press conference meant to announce his new position as a Quorum representative reporters instead straight-up ignore him and dogpile on Roslin, asking her about the ship that Starbuck took. Roslin passes the buck to Adama since it’s a military matter, and he refuses to answer any of the yelling journos’ questions. Welcome to politics, Lee!
Roslin totally doesn’t approve of Adama giving Starbuck the Demetrius to go look for Earth, not least because the press has gotten wind of it and she’ll have to cover his ass for quite some time. The Demetrius is also a bee in Zarek’s bonnet: He sees it as a symptom of Roslin’s newfound tendency toward secrecy. He chats with Lee about it, bringing up that Roslin still holds a grudge against him for his involvement in Baltar’s trial and saying he hopes Lee will be a crusader for Truth, Justice, and the
American Caprican Way.
He has his first chance at an official quorum meeting, where he calls Roslin on the contents of a classified file that Zarek gave him. In that file, labelled Executive Order 112, are plans to create a system of tribunals that Roslin would have pretty much complete control over. The rest of the representatives, clearly sick of being shut down by the President, jump on the opportunity to prove that their Great Leader is doing something dictatorial. Roslin recovers quickly, explaining that Order 112 is only the first draft of a comprehensive legal system that eventually would’ve been taken to the Quorum for approval. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.
It’s clear that Roslin’s pissed at Lee, and for all that Roslin has her reasons for keeping things secret, I can’t be on her side here. It looks like she has nothing but contempt for both her fellow politicians and the idea of media oversight, and while the Quorum members may very well be deserving of some of that… you’re the head of a representative government, Roslin. You have to at least try to work with the representatives. Her attitude goes hand-in-hand with how she refused to accept even the possibility of trusting Starbuck last episode: She knows that she’s going to die soon, so she’s going to do whatever she has to do—become whoever she has to become, break whatever rules she has to break—to get humanity to Earth before that happens. It’s noble, but all these decisions she’s making shouldn’t be exclusively hers to make.
Over on the Demetrius Starbuck’s leading her team—which includes Helo, Gaeta, Seelix, Athena, and Anders—to Earth. Well, that’s what’s happening in theory. The reality is that Starbuck’s just poring over star charts and ordering the ship to trek around in seemingly random directions. Aside from Helo and Anders everyone thinks she’s crazy and resents her for leading them on a wild goose chase.
Side note: I want Starbuck and Gaeta to have an Odd Couple-style sitcom. The degree to which they hate each other gives me life. He undercuts her authority at every turn. She tried to have him executed that one time. Forced to live together, will they get get along? Spoiler alert: No.
Starbuck’s gotten way antisocial since coming back from the not-really-dead, and Anders goes to her quarters to ask her if maybe she’ll cut it out for the sake of her coworkers, some of whom (read: Him. And Nice Guy Helo. That should be a meme.) actually want to be there. Starbuck ridicules him for still caring about their marriage and says she only proposed because it was safe and easy, and he was pathetic enough to go along with it. Ouch. Ander’s counterargument is that he knows they mean something to one another even if she’s so scared she’s putting up an aggressive front. The two engage in a bit of angry fighting that evolves into a bit of angry sexing.
In their state of post-coital bliss—though it’s more like post-coital brooding-and-not-looking-at-one-another—Starbuck ask Anders whether she seems different to him. Because she sure feels different—disconnected somehow, like everything is far away and she’s only watching herself go through the motions. Anders looks at her like “oh frak.” When you’ve got a guy who just found out he’s a Cylon worrying about your mental state, things must be bad.
Over with the Cylon fleet the divide brought about by Brother Cavil deciding to lobotomize the Raiders seems to have gotten better. He tells Six that he wants them to all get along again, so he’ll stop cutting up the Raiders. He even acquiesces to Six’s request to unbox the D’annas. To re-dowload her they have to go to a server about six jumps away, but when they get there the half of the fleet the Cavils, Dorals, and Simons control turns on the half the Sixes, Eights, and Leobens control. Boomer, the only Eight on Cavil’s side, objects to him shooting the other ships down, since without a Resurrection ship in the area they’ll die for good. But Brother Cavil’s just like
Does this mean D’anna won’t be coming back? Damn you, BSG! You give me hope for more Lucy Lawless only to snatch it out of my grasp!
Also: In one of the Cylon scenes a Centurion would only escort Brother Cavil off the ship once Six told it “please.” They may be murderous machines, but they’re sticklers for etiquette.
I started this recap being depressed about Cally, and I’m going to end it the same way. She sees a note meant for Tyrol, telling him to meet in a certain time and place. She assumes the note is from Tory; in fact, it’s from Tigh. She thinks by spying on the meeting she’s going to catch her husband out at some extramarital boning, but instead she finds out that her husband, Tory, and Tigh are Cylons.
Though thoroughly in the midst of shock, Cally still manages to hightail it back to her quarters before she’s discovered. But Tory sees an open wall hatch and figures out that she was there. Tyrol gets back to their rooms shortly after Cally does and opens up to his traumatized wife, telling her he never had an affair, he really wants to make their marriage work, and he’d like it if they maybe had another kid one day.
Cally rallies long enough to beat Tyrol over the head with a wrench, grab his keys, and run away with Nicky. Go, girl. At this point I’m screaming Go to Adama! Oh my God, Cally, GO! TO! ADAMA! But I can’t blame her for not doing that. She was in a bad mental place before she found out that her husband was a Cylon, and now on top of all that she’s in shock. She’s supremely out of it.
Instead she takes herself and her infant son—who, surprise, is half-Cylon—to the airlock! Don’t do it, Cally! No!
And she doesn’t get a chance to, because Tory shows up and convinces this poor traumatized woman not to kill herself, because Tyrol only just found out about being a Cylon and you don’t want to off your kid, do you? That last part gets through to Cally, and she hands her son to Tory. CALLY, NO! Sure enough, Tory knocks her to the ground, takes Nicky to safety, and opens the airlock.
The final scene shows us Adama breaking the news to Tyrol, who’s sitting there still as a statue. It looks like he’s in shock, but we know he really doesn’t care all that much.
This show. This frakking show.
OK, so maybe I judged Tyrol a bit harshly saying he didn’t care about his wife being dead. Turns out he does care. Finding out he’s a Cylon doesn’t mean he didn’t love his wife. But he’s also being a total jerk about everything, because Cylon identity crisis. For all Tigh’s talk about “being the man we want to die as,” Tyrol’s awful close to pulling a Tory and deciding to abandon his humanity all together.
We start the episode at Cally’s funeral, where a shellshocked Tyrol pulls Tigh and Tory aside to try and get some emotional support. But emotional support wasn’t their thing even when they thought they were human, and they tell him off for not keeping their super-secret connection super-secret enough. Later the trio meets in Tyrol’s room, and it comes out that Tory didn’t spill the beans about airlocking Cally. As far as Tyrol knows he drove his wife to kill herself.
Tigh and Tory serve as the angel and demon, respectively, on Tyrol’s angst-ridden shoulders. Tory tells him that God made them all perfect, and since they’re all perfect they don’t need to feel any guilt and can do whatever they want. Tigh’s response is “What’s that? Baltar’s crap?” Self-affirmation? Feeling good about yourself? Pah! What you’re feeling, he tells Tyrol, is what a man feels when his wife days in a way that’s kinda-sorta his fault. “Be a man, Chief,” he says. “Feel what you gotta feel.” Don’t push it down like Tory says. But don’t risk everyone else, either.
You hear that, Tyrol? Feeling are manly! MANLY emotions! GRARRRRGH!
Later in the episode we see exactly how badly Tyrol is doing: He’s unfocused at work and almost causes Racetrack’s ship to blow up. It’s completely to be expected if his wife just died, but any time anyone suggests giving him a break or even shows him sympathy he completely flies off the handle.
All that comes to a head when Adama visits him in the bar and offers to give him some time off off or let him take more shifts. Adama’s been working through his own preemptive grief with Roslin dying, but if he expected any poignant tidbits from Tyrol he’s way off the mark. Tyrol hallucinates Adama saying Cally couldn’t take being married to a Cylon and giving birth to a “half-breed abomination,” and he—not to put too fine a point on it—loses his sh*t. He goes off on his dead wife, yelling to the whole bar about how he only married “that shriek” because the one he really loved, meaning Boomer, turned out to be a Cylon. When he says he didn’t pick “this life,” it seems to the barflies that he’s talking about marriage to Cally, but we know he means something different: Being human. Still, with all that talk about how Adama’s not in “our club,” you’re not being exactly subtle, dude. A royally pissed Adama eventually shuts him down and tells him that he’s being reassigned.
Tigh’s been having an awful time himself, because when is he not? He could be frolicking through a field of alcohol-producing daisies and still gripe about how the sun’s too bright. He’s been visiting Caprica every day, and she’s noticed that something’s off. But he only opens up as to the true nature of his visits when he starts to hallucinate that Caprica is Ellen. What he really wants to know, he tells her over the course of his next few visits—one of which starts with him watching her sleep, weird—is how she manages to live with the guilt over her part in the destruction of humanity.
You’re not being particularly subtle yourself, Tigh. Asking a Cylon who knows there are five other mystery Cylons how she deals with massive, species-betraying levels of guilt?
The key, Caprica-as-normal-Caprica says, is to let myself feel pain, because it’s how I learn. She turns into Ellen and starts talking about how being in love with a human made her understand that she’d betrayed the one she loved. Tigh sees Ellen, but it’s still Caprica talking, so the human in question is Baltar. When she says his name Tigh snaps and yells at her not to talk about him.
Oh man. Tigh just wants to hear his wife say she loves him. After he killed her for collaborating with the Cylons, when he is a Cylon. He sees himself as having betrayed her and, in a way, the entire rest of humanity, too.
Caprica-as-Ellen explains to Tigh that when you’re in pain you have clarity. So Caprica-as-Caprica starts beating the bejeesus out of him, which is one way to do it, I suppose. Except then she realizes that’s not working, even though he likes being punched—probably thinks he deserves it—and starts to get with the smooching instead.
I’m going to talk about the other characters now.
Over in the hippie commune Tory wakes Baltar up by plucking his hair out then proceeds to go all femme fatale by talking about pain and pleasure and “being bad.” They’re interrupted by the splinter fundamentalist group Sons of Ares storming the commune looking for Baltar, who manages to hide. Here’s a tip, boneheads: If you have two minutes to find someone before the fuzz shows up, don’t use a person-obscuring smokebomb.
The attack makes Baltar realize that the proponents of the old Gods won’t just sit still and let his fancy new one-God religion do its thing. He’s reluctant to do anything about it, but Head Six convinces him to go on the offensive. She falls back on that old standby: Appealing to his vanity. The man who takes on the Gods will be like a God himself, she says. Baltar’s response is that none of the cult stuff is about personal glory—his only concern is that people are being targeted for what they believe.
Don’t get me wrong. During this episode we see perhaps an unparalleled level of sincerity in Baltar. I believe he genuinely does care about the members of his hippie cult. But would he care about them quiiiiite so much if they didn’t worship him and house him and provide with him unlimited sex? I’m thinking no.
Regardless, Baltar leads his cult members on a field trip to some religious ceremony, where he proceeds to cause a giant scene, wrecking the religious accoutrements and calling out the old religion for being complete and total BS.
Later on Adama and Roslin chat about the whole Baltar issue. Adama is sympathetic toward him, at least insofar as what the Sons of Ares did is completely unconscionable. But as far as Roslin’s concerned Baltar is Satan incarnate, and if he’s attacked it’s only because he’s a sh*tstain who goes around provoking people. Honestly, I would not be surprised if Roslin had something to do with the Sons of Ares attack—or maybe she knew it was going to happen and decided not to mention it. At this point someone could kill Baltar and drag his body around the Galactica and the most she’d do is issue them a citation for littering.
But still, they can’t have a religious war breaking out. So Roslin goes to visit Baltar in the brig and lay down the law. Basically she’s going to pursue the Sons of Ares and enact new crowd control measures that’ll make it so his people won’t be attacked again. But I’m dying, she tells him, and as the great hereafter approacheth I’m getting less and less tolerant of your bullcrap. You don’t stir anything up, and I won’t move heaven and Earth to drag you to the depths of hell with me when I die. Capiche?
I Googled “Laura Roslin mic drop gif” and didn’t find anything. I am disappoint, Battlestar Galactica fandom. I am disappoint.
Also: I love her wig. I mean, no, I hate her wig, because it means she’s dying of cancer, and also Mary McDonnell‘s normal hair is lovely. But I love how it’s this dark brown, severe slash of hair. It’s her business wig.
At a Quorum meeting Lee objects to the crowd control measure Roslin’s enacted, since instead of protecting Baltar’s cult what it basically ends up doing is making it so they can’t meet at all. Roslin doesn’t even pretend that she’s at all concerned with upholding the values of religious freedom or freedom of assembly: This law is meant to screw over Baltar, because he’s dangerous to humanity even when he doesn’t have a gaggle of worshipful peons trailing behind him. Lee insists, against Roslin’s wishes, that the Quorum be allowed to vote on the bill.
Roslin quietly moves the bill proposing that it be punishable by death to have a name rhyming with Fry-us Maltar to the bottom of the stack. It will have to wait for another day.
Meanwhile, a marine is guarding the door of the Casa de la Hippie Cult, refusing to let Baltar in because there are already 12 people inside. Baltar objects, obviously, since he lives there, but the marine refuses to budge. Head Six tries to get him to challenge the guard, which he doesn’t want to do—he only consents when she promises he won’t be hurt.
Of course when he steps forward the marine pistol whips him. I’m sorry, says Head Six, did I say I promise you won’t be hurt? I think you need to get your hearing checked. She physically manhandles him into getting up again and again, which only earns him more beatings. Before it can go on for too long Lee runs up and announces that the Quorum voted to undo Roslin’s crowd control measures.
Good on you, Lee. Not only does he stand up against Roslin—who’s on the warpath as far as Baltar’s concerned—but once he gets the cult’s right of assembly restored he thinks Hey, maybe they’d like to know about this. I’m going to go let them know, even though I have no respect for Baltar on a personal level, because it’s the right thing to do.
Back in hippie commune-ville, Baltar slips into sermon mode before his adoring crowd (and Lee). I’ve always been a selfish man, he says, but it doesn’t matter. Something in the universe loves me. That something loves each and every one of us, even with our faults. All of us are perfect just the way we are. We have to love ourselves, because if we don’t, how can we love others?”
“We may do awful, awful things, but it doesn’t matter, because the Cylon God thinks we’re perfect just the way we are.” That would be the spiritual philosophy Mr. Self Preservation comes around to, wouldn’t it? Don’t take my gif usage the wrong way—I don’t think Baltar’s trying to trick or manipulate anyone here. In this moment he’s drinking his own Kool-Aid; in fact, this represents a great character moment because it very well may be the first time we’ve seen him actually believe everything he’s saying, with zero ulterior motives or reservations.
Not that the ulterior motives won’t come back. And everyone else (save, I’m guessing, Lee) buys into his sermon too, which is problematic when this great “love thyself” philosophy is the end result of years of psychological manipulation on Head Six’s part. She told Baltar that he’s the Chosen One, that it’s OK if he screws over humanity to save his own skin because nothing he can do can make God stop loving him.
And now, after all the “I believe in God! No, really! He’s going to help me out of this jam, right?” false starts, she’s finally converted him.
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