Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?, Sine Qua Non
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.
Stuff’s about to go down. Any minute now. I can sense it.
Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?
Gaeta singing: Yay!
The reason Gaeta is singing: Oh God, no, my heart!
Let’s back up a bit.
The Demetrius and the Basetstar, with Anders, Athena, and Starbuck still on it, are prepping to jump back to the fleet. No one really knows what Adama will choose to do with the Cylon refugees, but at least he won’t blow the Basestar out of the sky as long as it and the Demetrius jump back at the same time.
So of course that mean the Demetrius’ FTL drive malfunctions at the last minute, leaving the defenseless Basestar smack dab in the middle of the fleet. And its comms are down, so they can’t even tell the Galactica “Hey! We’re good guys! Don’t shoot us!”
Nothing ever goes right for anyone on this frakking show.
On the CIC—Dee’s there! She had a generic expositionary line!—Adama goes into battle mode and orders that the Basestar be shot down. But the order is countermanded by Tigh, who senses that something weird’s going on. He’s proven right when the Demetrius shows up a few seconds later and fills Adama in.
Later on Adama asks Tigh how he knew not to fire on the ship, and Tigh responds that he didn’t know, per se. He just got lucky. Poor guy’s walking a tight rope. And Adama definitely knows something’s up.
The Six’s leader and Starbuck explain the deal to Rosin and Adama: There was a Civil War, they want to unbox D’anna and find out who the Final Five are, the Final Five can help you find Earth, yada yada yada. Tory and Tigh, also in the room, are absolutely horrified. After all the care they’ve taken to keep their Cylon identity a secret, D’anna’s just going to waltz in and spill the space beans.
Adama, Roslin, and Six strike a deal: The Cylons will lead the Galactica to the resurrection hub, which controls all the resurrection ships and houses D’anna’s boxed-up consciousness. Once D’anna gets retrieved the Galactica can blow the resurrection hub up, destroying the ability of all Cylons to download into new bodies. Then the Basestar will take the Five and go on its merry way.
Oh, did I forget to mention?, adds Six. The Final Five are in the fleet. That’s why the Raiders refused to fight you at the nebula.
Later on Adama, Roslin, Tigh, and Helo have a private meeting to decide “LOL, that’s what we told the Cylons we’d do. Now what will we actually do?” Tigh, convinced that he and his fellow Cylons will be killed on the spot if they’re discovered, tries for all he’s worth to convince Adama to ignore unboxing D’anna and just destroy the hub. But no one listens to him, because his plan is stupid. Forego this chance to find Earth because, hey, we have Roslin’s visions! Roslin’s visions are great! I’ve always thought so! You’re not being subtle, my cranky friend.
At one point Adama suggests that the Final Five might be rebels like the good(ish) Cylons, and Tigh’s face breaks my heart like sick puppies and crying children combined.
In the end Adama and Roslin decide to unbox D’anna, blow up the hub, and then refuse to turn over the Final Five until they get to Earth.
The news that the fleet is working together with the Cylons doesn’t go down well in the Quorum; the representatives, spurred along by Zarek, are pissed that they weren’t even consulted.
While all this is going on Roslin has something else on her mind: Baltar has been spreading rumors (a true one, as it happens) that she’s been sharing visions with Athena and Caprica. That would be the opera house vision, where Athena and Roslin are looking for Hera but Six and Baltar take her away instead. Lee presses Roslin to provide the people with some explanation, but she refuses, because who does he think she is? A duly represented public official accountable to the people or something?
Later on Roslin finds out that Tory’s been shacking up with Baltar and gives her absolute hell for it, calling her a “charter member of [Baltar’s] nymph squad” and just generally being a horrible, horrible person. Tory tries to explain that she’s come to believe in his spiritual message, but Roslin’s having none of it. She orders Tory to find out who told Baltar that Roslin’s been sharing visions with the Cylons. (It turns out the fairly innocuous explanation is that Caprica told him during the trial.) “I don’t really care if you have to spend the night on your knees praying or just on your knees,” says Roslin. “I want a name.”
Jesus Christ, Roslin! Sure, Tory’s shacking up with your mortal enemy, and sure her buying into his message might give you cause to think she’s a mealy brained fool. But treating her like that is not on. I want Roslin’s cancer to do another disappearing act because… well, because I don’t want her to die of cancer, but also because I want her to be faced with all the bridges she’s been burning. There’s the Quorum, the press, the people in general. It’s been established why she’s doing it—niceties are for the people who don’t have a massive goal to accomplish and little time in which to accomplish it– but I still want her to have to confront her slide toward the dictatorial at some point.
The Cylons have been doing some plotting of their own. They’re convinced (rightly) that the humans won’t let them have the Final Five and go their own way. Once the Basestar, loaded up with Vipers from the human fleet, gets to the hub, the Cylons decide take all the humans on-board hostage and exchange them for the Final Five.
Also in this episode…. oh, it saddens me so much. Gaeta does indeed get his leg amputated.
And Anders, who’s responsible for it, forces himself to watch the surgery. There’s all this crazy stuff going on both with him and with the fleet in general, but he still feels massively guilty for what he did—what he had to do—to this one guy he probably didn’t even know really well.
Lee’s speech in the season two finale about how the awful situation humanity’s in means they’ve all had to do horrible things without looking back needs an addendum: “… but then there’s Anders.”
At various times during the episode we get some cutaway scenes of Mr. Voice of an Angel Gaeta singing in his hospital bed, which he does whenever he’s bothered by his phantom limb. During one of those times we see Baltar looking in on him, and ow, I did not expect that to hurt as much as it did.
Gaeta. My baby. My poor, poor baby.
(Also, I get the sense that the showrunners found out that his actor has a wonderful voice and was like screw it, we’re milking this, let’s cut away to Gaeta singing like five times. I approve.)
Lee visits Roslin in sickbay and tells her that the Quorum is considering a vote of no-confidence against her. They’re terrified, he explains, and they just need you to do them the courtesy of explaining to them why we’re working with the Cylons now. Roslin agrees and brings Caprica in to talk to the Quorum. It’s a pretty eloquent speech about mortality and the meaning of life, but, as Six tells Eight and Leoben later on, it didn’t win the Quorum over. Of course it didn’t. You’re probably the first one of those notoriously eeeevil skinjobs they’ve ever laid eyes on! Six decides that they should back down on taking hostages, since it’s a plan born of suspicion and fear, and what if the Final Five are watching them and judging them based on how they handle things? But the Centurions have already been won over to the previous plan, and it’ll take time to get them to back down. Six rushes off to the Galactica to meet with Adama and somehow stall the operation.
Meanwhile Roslin’s decided to take a jaunt to the baseship, a result of Starbuck mentioning what the hybrid said about the dying leader knowing the truth of the opera house. Her visions have been getting worse (I guess the hybrid’s statement wasn’t a metaphor for Roslin accepting the Cylon faith after all. Sigh.), so she high-tails it over to meet with the hybrid and figure out what’s up once and for all. She drags Baltar along since he’s in the visions too.
While this is happening Hera—who’s been doodling pictures of Six like a creepy demon Cybaby—has run off. A frantic Athena chases her through the halls and finds her with Six, who wasn’t engaged in any baby-stealing—Hera just walked right up to her. Athena, who’s been über-paranoid about Six taking her baby, loses her mind and screams that Six is never going to take her child before shooting her twice in the chest.
And it turns out all the Cylons’ plans to kidnap humans-except-wait-no-don’t! are moot, because when the hybrid gets plugged in so Roslin can talk to it it order the Baseship to jump, effectively taking Roslin, Baltar, and half the Vipers in the fleet hostage without meaning to. Whoops.
Sine Qua Non
The last episode ended with Athena shooting Six—killing her, as we find out—and the hybrid jumping the Basestar away with Roslin, Baltar, Colonial marines, and a bunch of Vipers on board. We know those two events happening at the same time was a coincidence (or, knowing BSG, divine intervention), but to everyone in the fleet it looks like the Cylons kidnapped the President as retaliation for Six being killed.
And Adama FLIPS.
If I were an Adama/Roslin shipper* I think I’d love this episode, but I’m not, and instead I just found it kind of boring in a one step up from a monster of the week episode sort of way. Some important stuff went down, but on the whole Sine Qua Non just felt like 45 minutes you had to slog through before getting to the actual interesting bits.
Anyway. Now that Roslin’s gone Zarek has stepped up as temporary President, which poses a major problem because Adama straight-up refuses to even try and work with him. Sigh. He and Roslin are meant for each other. The Quorum’s freaking out because they don’t know what happened and Adama’s essentially shut them out, and Lee’s trying to make everyone get along, but he doesn’t have much success.
The only practical solution is to find someone to be the interim president. To do that Lee enlists the help of
Mark Sheppard Romo Lampkin. He’s back, baby!
The temporary president need to be three things.
One: Popular enough that the Quorum will vote him in to replace Zarek.
Two: Someone who Adama will work with.
And three: Someone who isn’t power-hungry enough to actually want to be President. That’s the polar opposite of Zarek, who as soon as he’s in office starts talking smack about how Roslin and Adama have essentially formed a two-person dictatorship. Which is true, to be honest. But with President Zarek in office civil war won’t be far behind.
Sigh. Battlestar. Given these three criteria, it’s obvious that you’re talking about Lee here. C’mon. Do we really need a whole episode of he and Romo going “But who could our interim President possibly be?”
Meanwhile Adama’s devoting all available resources to tracking down the resurrection hub, which in theory will lead him to Roslin. Tigh asks Caprica what she knows about it, which isn’t much: The hybrids can sense where it is after it makes a jump, but they can’t figure out where it goes before it goes there.
Their relationship is so weird. Caprica is still turning into Ellen periodically, which is why Tigh’s there. But I get the sense that Caprica doesn’t know about the late Mrs. Tigh’s guest appearances. She seems to think a genuine relationship is forming, though I’m guessing she sees it as one in which Tigh has fallen for her and she can eventually use that to her advantage. But he still hates her (her-her, and probably Ellen-her too). She calls him “Saul.” He derisively refers to her as “lady.” Caprica asks Tigh if she loves him and then turns into Ellen, but the moment is interrupted when the shipwide alarm goes off. Tigh yells that he doesn’t know what kind of mind games she’s been playing, but they end here.
The cause of the alarm is that the Raptor that took Roslin to the Basestar has jumped back to the fleet, seriously damaged and with its pilot dead. Through some technical jiggery-pokery they’re able to find out where the Raptor jumped from, and when the Galactica gets there they discover a debris field full of destroyed Vipers and bits of Basestar.
It’s pretty obvious what went down: The Basestar went to the resurrection hub, destroyed it, and was destroyed itself. Adama, against all logic, insists that Roslin isn’t dead. We know he’s right, because they’re not going to randomly kill Roslin offscreen, but to the other characters in the show he looks obsessed, edging toward mentally unbalanced. That impression isn’t helped by the fact that the Galactica ditched the rest of the fleet when they went to search the debris field, leaving the vast majority of humanity completely defenseless. The Quorum, needless to say, is not pleased.
Adama started the episode unhinged—he railed on Athena for shooting Six and took her daughter away from her, and while she deserves punishment, Adama was making it personal—and he only gets worse as things progress. We’ve seen throughout this season that he has issues relating to people leaving him, and now Roslin’s been taken. She’s probably going to die if she doesn’t get back to the Galactica soon, because she needs to keep up with her cancer treatments.
All this angst comes to head in a scene where Adama confronts Tigh about his relationship with Caprica. Tigh’s tried to keep it under wraps, but now Caprica’s pregnant, so that ew-inducing-relationship cat is out of the bag.
We don’t know if Tigh and Ellen ever tried to have a kid, but I’m going to speculate that some of their chronic relationship unhappiness springs from not having been able to conceive. (Shhhh, let me have my fairly reasonably headcanon.) But now, after years of disappointment, after Ellen’s dead, when Tigh’s in a horrible time in his life, he is able to have a kid with Ellen… only it’s really a Cylon who occasionally wears Ellen’s face. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to go sit in a corner and try to get over that and probably not be able to.
Adama slams Tigh for “jeopordizing this ship with your weakness” (methinks you’re projecting a bit, eh Bill?), Tigh comes back that Adama’s risking the entire fleet to find Roslin, and the whole thing devolves into a fist fight.
… wait, hold up. Caprica is pregnant?
Eventually Adama realizes that he’s lost his objectivity and decides to take a leave of absence from the fleet so he can look for Roslin without risking the entire rest of humanity. He gives command of the Galactica to Tigh, who’s a bit taken aback, because him being Captain didn’t really work out well the first time. But that was a long time ago, Adama says. You’re not the same man you were before. (I see what you did there, show.) They have a manly bro hug, and Adama gives him one last order—give Athena her daughter back—before Tigh becomes Captain yet again.
I thought Adama might be figuring it out about Tigh being a Cylon, but surely he wouldn’t give him command of the Galactica if he were that far ahead, right? Maybe he’s still suspicious of a generic something.
Meanwhile Romo has a conversation with his cat (that’s important) wherein he finally comes to the obvious conclusion that Lee should be the interim President.
He meets Lee out in the hall and goes grade-A bonkers, holding a gun on him and yelling that you’re the perfect president, a shining beacon of hope, but humanity’s doomed and to pretend otherwise is only to prolong the inevitable. To prove his case that life is awful, he submits to Lee the evidence of… the corpse of his cat. It’s been dead for weeks. He then starts talking about his family, how when the Cylons attacked he could’ve gone back to save them but instead he elected to save his own skin.
Romo is practically threatening to kill him and Lee just looks a mixture of exasperated and vaguely confused. The lack of seriousness with which he takes Romo’s rant is splendid. It’s definitely over-exaggeration on Romo’s part; he never would’ve shot Lee. And talking Romo down from his guilt trip (we need to have faith in ourselves and do what we can to help humanity, because’s there’s still hope, etc. etc.) convinces him that he should be President, because bam, next scene he’s being sworn in.
I’d say Romo’s making up stories and laying the angst on thick to bring Lee around to his point of view, like he did with Baltar, but…
…the dude was hallucinating his dead cat.
Romo, you are a mystery wrapped in a riddle and I love you.
The episode ends with Adama having a quick chat with his son President Adama, wherein he explains that he’s going after Roslin because he “can’t live without her.” Then he goes off in a Raptor and the fleet jumps away, leaving him to find their MIA President all by his lonesome.
Stuff gets more interesting next episode, right?
*I’m not not an Adama/Roslin shipper. I like them both, and I find their relationship interesting, and I like the way BSG’s made one of its main relationships be between middle-aged folks, which you don’t see often. Yay variety! But I always have a hard time shipping things on shows where everything is awful and depressing all the time. The epitome of that is Game of Thrones. I want my OTPs to get a happy ending, and “happy ending” and “Battlestar Galactica” don’t seem to together. The one exception to my “don’t ship doom and gloom couples” tendency was Lee/Starbuck, until season three came along and made me hate everything associated with it.
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