Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: He That Believeth in Me, Six of One
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.
Ahhhh, the sweet smell of a new season. The horrible, rancid smell of the knowledge that there’s only one full season, plus a webseries and a few TV movies, left before there’s no more BSG to watch.
He That Believeth in Me
BSG, I notice you put Simon the Cylon in the opening credits. Does that mean he’s actually going to get to do something? I’m guessing no.
Season four starts mere seconds after season three left off: Starbuck’s just rolled up alongside Lee and told him she knows the way to Earth. But they’re all going to be blown up by Cylons, so it could very well be a moot point. Everyone listening in on their conversation in the CIC is just as shocked as Lee is; Adama orders that her ship’s transponder codes be double-checked, and Roslin is convinced that it’s some sort of Cylon trick, even after Lee and Starbuck swoop into battle and start lighting up some toasters.
Tigh looks absolutely panicked—he just found out he was a Cylon a few minutes ago, and yeah, saying you’ll fight on the side of the humans is all well and good, but when the bad guys you’re actually one of are pulling some kind of sneaky trick I can see how it would be freak out-inducing. Even worse, Tigh has a waking nightmare where he shoots Adama right through the eye socket. (His right eye, the same one Tigh lost to the Cylons. Gotta love the little details.) He lets loose a Darth Vader-esque NOOOOOOO before snapping back into the real world where Adama’s telling him to pull himself together and get every single person who even vaguely knows how to fly a ship out there to fight the Cylons.
Among that group is Anders, who’s just finished Viper training but all the same isn’t quite ready to go out into a huge battle. He corners Tyrol and freaks out at him a bit, asking what he’ll do if if a switch turns in his head and he starts shooting down Vipers mid-battle. Get it together, Tyrol says. Be the man you wan to to die as. Go out and fight, because there’s really nothing else you can do. Athena hears the tail end of the conversation and assumes that Anders is just nervous, which reassures him that if one Cylon doesn’t notice he’s one of them then maybe the others won’t either.
Tyrol seems to be keeping it together pretty well, but Anders is losing it. Still, I predict that Tyrol will be the first to snap. He has a history of seeming to be completely OK… right up until the moment when he isn’t.
Things aren’t going well in the battle: Basestars are launching missiles at the Galactica and the fleet, and none of the good guys even have a clue as to how the Cylons knew where to find them. Anders finds himself unable to fire on a Raider that he has firmly in his sights. We find out later that he accidentally left the safeties on, but it seems to him—and to me—that something (programming?) stopped him from firing on a fellow Cylon. The Raider is all ready to shoot him down, but instead it scans him with its eye-radar thingy. Beep beep. One skinjob, $9.95.
I’m loving Anders more and more after the Cylon reveal. Mid-battle is like the worst place to have an existential crisis, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be doing the exact same thing.
Seeing Anders causes the entire Cylon fleet to just go away. It’s ostensibly good news, since yay, everyone won’t die, but it implies that none of the other Cylons knew that four of the final five were activated. And that’s just creepy.
Way to resolve that cliffhanger, BSG.
Meanwhile Baltar’s been bundled off to live with the religious lady Jeanne and her buds. Turns out they’re members of some sort of hippie cult that worships Baltar as their lord and savior. They have a shrine for him. It’s kind of hilarious. Also hilarious (and poignant): Even before he’s introduced to the cult as a whole, when he just knows Jeanne is a lady with a sick kid who thinks he’s magic, Baltar’s drapes the shawl she gave him as a disguise around his shoulders like he’s some sort of religious icon from a classical painting. Other characters—Gaeta, for one—have said how remarkably good Baltar is at self-preservation. That kicks into high gear in all his interactions with the cult. Baltar finds himself in a situation where people thinks he’s their savior, and he automatically adapts to fit that role, even if he thinks said people are completely bonkers.
Later on another cult member, Paulla, tells him that he can’t leave, not because he’s forced to stay there physically, but because nowhere else on the fleet will take him. It’s a pretty big hit to his ego, and Head Six shows up to reassure him that his story’s not over yet, the big baby. Without him being aware of it she physically molds him into a position so it looks like he’s praying. That catches the attention of another cultist, Tracey, who coos that he prays like the Gods are right there beside him and proceeds to undress him.
Head Six prompts Baltar to tell her that the reason she feels so hollow when she prays is that her Gods are false; Baltar takes it one step further and tells her that they’re a lie promoted by The Man to keep the little guy from learning the truth. What Paulla asks him what that truth is he’s so thoroughly distracted by his, ahem, downstairs brain that an exasperated Head Six has to remind him that, hello, there’s only one God. How many times have we been over this?!
A hilariously unsmooth Baltar proceeds to get sexed up right under a shrine to his own glorious self. Cult subplot: I think I love you.
Starbuck’s landed on the hangar deck and totally doesn’t get why everyone’s looking at her like she’s a ghost. Turns out that while to everyone else she’s been dead for two months she only thinks she’s been away for six hours. She has an emotional reunion with Lee and a somewhat less emotional reunion with Anders before Adama orders that she be escorted to sick bay under armed guard.
After being examined by Doc Cottle she has a meeting with Adama and Roslin, who’s convinced that she’s still a Cylon even if Baltar’s Cylon-detector test (oh, that old thing) says she isn’t. Roslin explains that her Viper took some hits and she woke up above a star system that matched the description of Earth found in the scrolls of Pythia. Furthermore, the pictures she took of the surrounding constellations match those from the map in the Tomb of Athena. After taking the pictures she turned the ship around, saw a gas giant with rings (ohai Saturn!), a comet, and a flashing triple star before blacking out again. She doesn’t know how she got back or why she perceived it as only six hours, but she didn’t imagine what happened to her.
The Viper Starbuck flew back in looks like the same one she was in before—same model, same ID number—but it’s brand new. There’s no data on the nav computer, and the paint’s not even scratched. The Cylons must’ve replaced it at some point, but it’s a pretty obvious switch; they must’ve known the humans would pick up on it. It’s probably part of their plan, whatever that plan is.
Roslin demands that Starbuck be taken the brig, which Lee objects to. Sure, there’s a lot of weird stuff going on, but there’s no actual evidence that she’s a Cylon. The Cylon test came back negative, after all. Tigh points out that the test isn’t exactly reliable since it said Boomer was human when she isn’t. Oh, dramatic irony! Roslin tells Adama that the Cylons could be counting on him to be sympathetic to Starbuck. She could be waiting to lead the fleet into an ambush or assassinate someone. Or, worse, use psychological manipulation to take over the Galactica’s PA system. Lee brings up the completely valid point that they went to the Eye of Nebula to find the next clue as to the location of Earth, and maybe Starbuck’s that clue. But it’s not enough to convince Roslin, who’s seemed to have strayed a bit from her “Religion! Signs! Destiny!” viewpoint of earlier seasons. Hey, the post-apocalypse will harden a woman.
Back in the hippie cult abode Jeanne springs her dying child Derrick on Baltar while Baltar’s sleeping nude and post-coital alongside Tracey. I get that you want your son to die with you and not in sickbay, Baltar’s face says, but let a dude put some pants on before you put a little kid right next to him, OK? Baltar tells Jeanne that she prayed for her son, but it’s more like he’s reassuring himself than he’s reassuring her. You know I did everything I could do, right? You know I tried? I’m not to blame here. It relates to him being an expert at self-preservation; he can make him look the part fine, but he seems insecure that he’s never actually what he promotes himself as being.
Meanwhile the four newbie Cylons sit in a room chatting about whether they’ve been programmed to help the Cylons. Tigh outright rejects the concept–Boomer may have been programmed to shoot Adama, he says, but she didn’t know what she is, and we do. He’s convinced that he can override his programming through stubbornness and sheer strength of will.
Either he can’t and he ends up doing something really bad, or he can and the sheer power of his bro-love for Adama makes it so he’s able to keep himself from hurting him when the Cylons inevitably order him to. Either way, this is going to hurt like a motherfrakker, and I’m scared.
Roslin goes to Caprica and asks her for the 411 on the Final Five. But there’s not much Caprica can say other than she senses that they’re close, since the non-FF skinjobs have been programmed not to think about their mysterious brethren. Well your programming doesn’t work, Roslin points out, because you’re thinking about them now. Even trying not to think about them is still thinking about them. How do you rationalize that?
Yeah, President Roslin! Yeah logic!
Back on the CIC Starbuck has enlisted Gaeta’s help to find the star system that matches the pictures of Earth she took. He’s being less than cooperative, though, because he—like everyone who doesn’t think she’s a Cylon—just thinks she’s plain crazy. Gaeta, I love you, but stop being a douche. Helo tells Starbuck that the only way to make people believe her is to find the system, but she responds that it’s not that easy. She didn’t know that she was at Earth because of star charts and calculations. She knew it because of the feeling she got when she was there. And the further the fleet jumps away from the Eye of Jupiter the more than feeling fades, the less likely it becomes that she’ll ever be able to find her way back.
Later she asks Adama to please trust her, even though there’s so much about her return that doesn’t add up and she’s not really giving him much to go on, Earth-wise. But Adama refuses.
I’m normally on Team Logic, and there’s no real logical reason to follow Starbuck’s hunch, but even so, I’m on her side here and kind of judge Adama for not being. The fleet’s just randomly jumping around. Roslin had a “hunch” that the Eye of Jupiter would lead humanity to Earth; there was no real proof there, either. Why not follow Starbuck’s course? And as for her being a Cylon… well, I think that’s a chance that they have to take. Even if she’s a Cylon, she’s still Starbuck. Cylons can still be true to their human selves. Exhibit A: Boomer. And Adama’s got to realize, as a tactician, that it’s like 99% sure humanity will eventually be killed by the Cylons. Can they really afford not to take a risk and follow Starbuck’s lead? It’s not like they have any others.
Sometimes, in the words of George Michael, you gotta have faith.
Adama then has a conversation with Lee where—hold onto your butts, ’cause this is big—they managed to disagree about two separate things without the conversation devolving into three-year-olds having a slap fight. Adama wants Lee to come back to the military, but Lee says thanks but no thanks, there’s a job opening in the government where he can do some real good. And Adama’s convinced that Starbuck’s not trustworthy, but Lee says she is. If it was my brother Zak in Starbuck’s place, he asks, would it matter if he’d always been a Cylon? Would it change how we feel about him?
Also: It comes out in this conversation that Roslin’s sleeping in Adama’s quarters until the Colonial One gets fixed.
Back in the hippie commune Baltar prays for the little boy’s life: The child hasn’t sinned against you, so you can’t want to punish him. I’m the one who’s sinned, so if you want someone to suffer, take me. It appears that his prayer didn’t work, since a few days down the line Derrick’s doing worse. Paulla takes him to the bathroom to shave off his Jesus beard (RIP), and a few minutes later he’s attacked by a guy whose son was shot by the human soldiers on New Caprica. I’m gonna include this exchange, because I think it says a lot about Baltar’s character:
Dude: We met at the groundbreaking ceremony on New Caprica. Introduced you to my son Kevin. He told you he wanted to be President when he grew up. You told him that he could be if he stuck to his schoolwork.
Baltar: He’s a redhead little boy, isn’t he? About eight or nine years old…
Dude: Seven years old.
Baltar: How is, um…
Dude: He’s dead.
Baltar. Do not even act like you didn’t remember that boy’s name, you giant poser. You probably remembered it before the father even told you. Baltar can be remarkably sincere when there aren’t people watching—when he started praying, for example, everyone was asleep, and you could tell he really felt for that boy. But as soon as he has an audience up goes the wall of indifference.
The dude’s goon pins Paulla down and the dude himself—he has a name, but whatever—handles Baltar, holding a razor to his neck and demanding that he scream and beg. But he doesn’t. Head Six asks him whether he meant what he said about asking God to take his own life, and Baltar just tells the dude to go on ahead kill him. Paulla takes a level in badass and manages to immobilize both the dude and his muscly assistant. I know God wouldn’t desert you, she tells Baltar. I felt God giving me the strength to smite those guys. Damn, girl. Smite on.
They get back to cult central and discover that Derrick’s magically gotten better. Baltar looks completely shocked, like Damn, am I actually magic? Head Six looks at him like she knows something he doesn’t. When does she not?
Starbuck’s at the memorial wall looking at her picture; she asks Anders when he comes up why no one ever took it down. Unspoken is that no one took it down because no one’s quite sure that she did come back, at least not the same her. Starbuck confides in Anders that maybe she is a Cylon, or something the Cylons grew in a lab from parts they took off her when she was in one of the Farms on Caprica. But if you were a Cylon, Anders says, then you were one from the beginning. It wouldn’t change who you really are. I’d still love you no matter what.
Well that makes you a better person than I am, Starbuck retorts, ’cause if I found out you were a Cylon I’d put a bullet between your eyes.
The fleet makes another jump, and Starbuck tells Anders that they’re going in the wrong direction and if they make one more jump she won’t be able to find her way back to Earth. Determined to get to Roslin, Starbuck beats up the guards assigned to follow her, taking out Anders in the process, and makes her way to Adama’s quarters. All hopes that maybe she just wants to have a reasonable chat evaporates when she uses a grenade to take out the marines outside the door and trains a gun on Roslin.
I’m calling it: There is no way on God’s green Earth that Starbuck’s a Cylon. One, they wouldn’t reveal the last Cylon in the season premiere. Two, the Cylons are being awfully obvious about making it look like she’s a Cylon. The new ship, the time difference. Granted, back when Tyrol first thought he was a Cylon I thought he wasn’t because there was no way the Cylons would be that obvious. My intuition’s been wrong before. And the grand destiny Leoben talks about could have something to do with Starbuck being the Cylon big daddy. Actually, that would make a lot of sense, because what else could her destiny be referring to?
Holy hell, is Starbuck the last Cylon?
No, she’s not. That’s way too cut-and-dried, and there’s a whole season left.
But maybe she is?
No, she’s not.
What’s going onnnnnnn?
Six of One
Starbuck’s not ready to kill Roslin quite yet: Instead she tries to convince the President to trust her, which doesn’t seem all that likely when Starbuck charges in with a gun, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. It was your vision that sent us down to Kobol to find the Temple of Athena, says says. It was dangerous, and a lot of people died, but I trusted you based on a vision. I’ve actually seen Earth. Why can’t you trust me?
The reason, of course, is that Roslin thinks Starbuck’s a Cylon. Starbuck, knowing that, gives Roslin her gun and tells her to go ahead and shoot. She does, but at a distance of only a few feet she misses, shooting a picture of herself and Adama instead. (I’m going to just say Awww, that’s cute, Adama has a picture of him and Roslin on his wall instead of focusing on the potential symbolism/foreshadowing of Roslin shooting it. It’s just a coincidence, brain. Juuuuust a coincidence.)
Tigh and Helo bust in along with a group of marines, who wrestle a screaming Starbuck to the ground. Even Helo, who’s always been on her side, looks at her like she’s crazy. As she’s being dragged from the room to the brig she yells that Roslin’s going to have to kill her because she won’t stop trying to get them to Earth.
There’s a bit of drama brewing among the Cylons: Brother Cavil, upset that the Raiders refused to shoot Anders, wants to basically lobotomize them, removing their higher brain functions and turning them into nothing more than machines. A Six and the Eights object on the grounds that A) it’s wrong, as the Raiders are sentient and B) the Raiders must’ve refused to fight because they sensed that the Final Five were on the Galactica. Cavil essentially puts his hands to his ears and goes LALALALALA! We’re specifically forbidden from discussing the Final Five, he says. There’s a reason we were programmed that way, and to try and exceed that programming is dangerous.
The Cylon models vote on whether to lobotomize the Raiders, but with three (the Cavils, Simons, and Dorals) voting for and three (the Sixes, Eights, and Leobens) against they find themselves deadlocked. But then Boomer—the Eight we know—switches sides and joins Cavil. It’s an unprecedented occurrence, but there’s no rule against it, so the Sixes, Leobens, and the rest of the Eights have to either surrender…
… or pull a trick of their own. Unsurprisingly, they opt for door number two. We learned earlier in the show that the Centurions have a fancy technical whatjahoozit that keeps them from having any higher brain functions. Six removes that and tells the Centurions, Hey, you know your buddies the Raiders? Guess what Cavil wants to do to them? The Centurions, newly sentient, gun down Cavil, Simon, and Doral, delaying the lobotomies and initiating open conflict among the Cylons.
You go, Six. That was amazing.
Back to the Galactica. Tyrol, Tigh, Anders, and Tory have one of their Cylon clubhouse meetings wherein they share their fears about Starbuck (Adama locked her up for thinking she was a Cylon, and they really are Cylons) and their speculation about the final Cylon. Tyrol mentions that Baltar was chatting with D’anna about the Final Five on the algae planet, so he might know something. They decide that the best way to get through Baltar’s little cult and find out what he knows is to appeal to his libido by having Tory seduce him.
And then—oh boy, this is weird. Tory chats him up in the mess a bit, and then Head Baltar shows up and basically convinces Baltar that Tory’s “special” and he should sleep with her.
One: Baltar, your new outfit is silly. It’s like you’re trying to be a male model. You’re wearing a cravat. Stop it.
Two: Baltar interacting with Head Baltar is H I L A R I O U S. At one point Baltar asks Head Baltar whether he’s really Six, and Head Baltar reponds that Six would have no reason to disguise herself. Baltar says he has a good point and his doppelgänger nods in a gesture of “Yes, we both know how brilliant I am.”
Three: OH MY GOD HEAD BALTAR IS APPEARING TO BALTAR NOW.
Four: Is… is the sort of General Hallucination Person (Head Six and Head Baltar) the final Cylon? Because it’s weird that four of the Final Five plan for Tory to seduce Baltar, and then the hallucination shows up to essentially make that happen. Baltar was really suspicious of Tory before Head Baltar showed up and started singing her merits. And the Cylons see the Final Five as a sort of collective unit… maybe the Big Boss Cylon has been on the Galactica the whole time, waiting for the others to show up. Maybe he was the one who triggered them.
Or maybe not. Cylons are tricky, and I’m not exactly 100% on my predictions.
Later on Tory and Baltar do get jiggy with it, and Tory explains that she’s always cried during sex and she doesn’t know why. Baltar calls it an “abundance of feeling,” and Tory says that it could be worse: She could be a Cylon. I don’t know about that, Baltar says. Cylons have feelings just like the rest of us. We were all created by the one true God. I’ve gotten tired of denying that truth.
Somewhere Head Six is doing a fistpump. Finally.
Adama visits Starbuck in the brig, and she tries to convince him that she knows the way to Earth, to no avail. Her stunt with the President really pissed him off, but on her end she judges him for not having the guts to defy Roslin. He snaps, pushing her to the ground and starting to choke the life out of her.
But something she said clearly got to him, as in a later scene he defends Starbuck to Roslin. What if she’s telling the truth?, he asks. What if her coming back was a miracle? On the other side, Roslin’s not absolutely convinced that Starbuck’s a Cylon, but she’s not willing to take that chance. She put her life in front of a bullet as if it has no meaning, she argues. Yeah, because she’s Starbuck, and she has capital-I Issues.
Roslin tells Adama that he wants to believe that Starbuck’s not a Cylon, because otherwise he’ll have lost her and Lee, and eventually her too. Adama comes back with a bit of psychoanalysis of his own: You’re terrified that you’re not some great prophesized leader destined to get humanity to Earth. Your death might be as meaningless as everyone else’s. Though she doesn’t respond, you can tell the accusation cuts deep. After he leaves she fiddles with her glorious red hair, which starts to come out, and she starts crying.
In this scene you really get to see that Roslin’s not just depressed because her cancer’s come back, or scared, or frustrated—she’s angry. After all she’s done, all that she’s been through, she’s probably going to die before she completes her final mission, and that pisses her off. This woman who once had such faith in miracles and signs now refuses to admit that one might be right in front of her because she’s not willing to risk having one of her final actions being inadvertently bringing about the destruction of humanity. It’s a wonderful bit of character development.
Meanwhile Lee has two ceremonies to celebrate his leaving the service: An informal party with the pilots, and a fancy one that you know is supposed to be emotionally poignant because there’s bagpipe music. He exchanges a few words of goodbye with Dee, who apparently is now officially his ex-wife.
Wait. Hold up. Dee left Lee in the season finale, but that didn’t exactly seem like a resolution of their plotline. The reason for her leaving was Lee’s courtroom-related douchebaggery, but he redeemed himself at the end of the episode. Even Adama, a card-carrying member of the I Hate Gaius Baltar Club, thinks so! After a whole season of belaboring the relationship drama, of do-I-really-love-my-wife, do-I-choose-her-over-Starbuck, that’s it? Dee just leaves, and whatever conversations still needed to take place happened off-screen and aren’t even referenced? Because there were absolutely still conversations that needed to take place. Dee was incredibly important to Lee’s storyline during season two. Do we not get to see what she thought of his big courtroom speech? After Lee’s big “I’m going work on this marriage!” character moment, are we just supposed to accept that he just… stopped?
Ugh. Whatever. I haven’t made my feelings toward last season’s romance plotline a secret, and if the writers realized that certain aspects of it didn’t work and say sayonara to them during season four…. well, there are worse things to leave unresolved. But if this means the show ditches Dee, I’m going to be so angry. I don’t necessarily think that it will, but after all but one episode of season two reduced Dee’s narrative purpose to Lee Adama’s Wife… well, I’m a little worried. Don’t disappoint me, show. You’re better than that.
Lee visits Starbuck and tells her about his new gig: Being Caprica’s representative in the Quorum. It means he’ll be buddy-buddying up with Zarek, but hey, politics feels like it’s what he’s always been meant to do. They wish each other good luck on their respective journeys and have an emotional bit of kiss ‘n’ hugging. Lee tells Starbuck that he believes her, which warms my heart. The fleet makes another jump, which sets Starbuck screaming again.
But then Adama pulls through: He brings her to the flight deck and says he’s sending her, Helo, and a small hand-picked crew out in a ship called the Demetrius to look for Earth. He doesn’t know if she’s right about knowing the way, but he can’t take the chance that she is and not do anything about it. He’s sick of turning away from things he wants to believe in, and he doesn’t want to lose her, so he’s giving her a chance.
Adama, you deserve this:
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