Thursday, May 1, 2008

Galactica Log: Escape Velocity

After two episodes that pushed the story line hard, we now get one that pauses long enough to let the consequences sink in. Its title, Escape Velocity, refers to the speed an object needs to reach in order to overcome the force of gravity. To become unbound, as it were. And unbound aptly describes what is happening to many characters in this episode.

It begins with Cally's funeral service. When Galen gives Tigh and Tory just a little too much attention at the service, they go to his quarters and tell him how they think he should react. Tory thinks they are perfect and that he doesn't need to feel any pain. Tigh tells him to go right on wallowing in it, but not to give them all away. Tigh does something unexpected here. Little Nicky needs his diaper changed. Galen knows it, but doesn't do anything. So Tigh changes the diaper. It happens off camera. One moment he's crying and the next he's not. I don't know if it is meant to represent anything, but it's our first sign that Galen isn't up to handling even the most basic of responsibilities.

Tigh isn't doing much better, though. He has been making daily visits to their captive Six and she's finding his interest more than a little odd. He's racked with guilt for causing the death of his wife and doesn't know how to live with it, so he goes to see history's greatest mass murderer (a woman whose subterfuge brought the Colonial population from 20 billion to 40 thousand) and wants to know how she can live with herself. The trouble is, when he goes to her he sees his guilt, in the form of Ellen, his dead wife, staring back at him. Tory's idea, that they can turn off the pain, gives him a strange hope. He asks her if they can, and she avoids answering his question by telling him that she wants the pain. That the pain helps her understand who she is. Then things get a little weird. They are alone, unguarded and unmonitored. She begins to demonstrate her point by beating him! Bloodying his mouth. He puts up no defence. She then sees that this isn't what he needs and she kisses him. Earlier, in a scene I'll be getting too, there is a strong S&M inference. I don't think that's what this is meant to lead to. I have no idea where it is meant to lead, but Saul Tigh is a lost soul and getter further and further from any idea of what or who he is.

Another lost soul is Galen Tyrol. His absences and secrecy led to his wife's death. He is so distracted that he fails in a bit of routine maintenance and almost kills two pilots. But everyone knows how bad things are for him, everyone pities him, and even the pilots he almost killed won't hold him responsible. And that's what he needs. Some accountability. He goes to the bar and is met by Admiral Adama himself. The Admiral tries to be sympathetic, consoling, but he has no idea how angry Galen is. When he starts to praise Cally, Galen reminds him that he was about to shoot her not very long ago. On Bill Adama's ship the needs of today always outweigh the consequences of yesterday's actions and the Admiral doesn't have a response to this. Cally married the man she loved, but Galen married the woman who murdered the woman he loved. He 'settled.' It's not entirely true. He wouldn't he as turned inside out if it were. But in the end he gets what he wants. He is held accountable for the crash. He is demoted and taken from the hanger deck. They may be a good thing in the end, taking a Cylon out of a position of authority, but it leaves Galen without his anchor. Demoted, a widower, and with a child he can seem to take care of.

For Gaius Baltar, on the other hand, things are moving in a very different direction. His story starts with a visit from Tory. She wakes him up with a surprising combination of pleasure and pain. She tells how signals can be crossed. How pain and pleasure can be confused. He replies, 'I think I liked you better when you cried.' Having denied the dichotomy between pain and pleasure she quickly segues to an idea of amoral perfection. She really seems in touch with her inner sociopath. Baltar's response is cut short when a violent group attack him and his 'heretic' followers. They beat up some of the women who follow him (it's implied that they do worse, but they time their attack and are only there a couple of minutes). They want him, but he manfully hides and let's them beat the women. But his mental version of Six eggs him to take a stand up and soon he and his followers are retaliating, crashing a religious service held by traditional pagan worshippers. He ends up in jail and Roslin decides its time to crack down on his movement by limiting the right of assembly. A decision that raises more problems than it solves when Lee organizes the Quorum to stand against her. Before they can act, Baltar is released and finds himself barred from entering his own quarters. There are twelve people in there already and his entering would be a violation of the new rules of assembly. He attempts to enter anyway and is beaten. He is encouraged to continue trying by his mental Six, who is seen to lift him up and help him to go forward. This scene has sparked some controversy. Some viewers think that she physically manifested herself and literally lifted him, but I think she was all in his head and that we were seeing the event from his perspective. He, in fact, raised himself up. Things don't go much further, as Lee arrives to tell them that the emergency order has been overturned by the Quorum. Later, Roslin tells the Admiral 'that sometimes the right thing can have profoundly dangerous consequences and it's almost as though [Lee] doesn't want that to be true.' That reminded me of Adama's conversation with Tyrol. Should consequences be ignored? Back in their quarters Baltar comforts his followers with what is the first statement of his beliefs:

I'm not a priest. I've never even been a particularly good man. I have, in fact, been a profoundly selfish man. But that doesn't matter, you see. Something in the universe loves me. Something in the universe loves the entity that is me. I will choose to call this something 'God,' a singular spark that dwells in the soul of every living being. If you look inside yourself, you will find this spark, too. You will. But you have to look. Deep. Love your faults. Embrace them. If God embraces them, then how can they be faults? Love yourself. You have to love yourself. If we don't love ourselves, how can we love others? And when we know what we are, then we can find the truth out about others. See what they are, the truth about them. And you know what the truth is. The truth about them, about you, about me, do you? The truth is, we are all perfect, just as we are. God only loves that which is perfect, and he loves you. And he loves you because you are perfect. You are perfect just as you are.
Sound familiar? It sounds a lot like what Tory was saying earlier. She played an important role the conclusion of the last episode and she's playing one here too. As a Statement Of Belief it comes across as New Age/pop psych babble, but its early days yet. It could develop into something more than a Statement of Baltar's Narcissism. I believe his little group is going to an important role in linking the Colonists and the Cylons.

I am going to wrap things up this week by pointing you in another direction altogether. Over at io9.com there is an interesting article on Kara's wall art in Ties That Bind. Are those Ships of Light? I'll let you read it, but these vessels were a part of the original show's universe. They carried beings of light called Seraphs. The old show differs from the new one in having had many alien species, so I don't know how exactly the re-imagined series could introduce its first one at this late time (well, I do have an idea) but its worth noting that the Five have always appeared in visions as beings of light. Tomorrow's episode concentrates on Kara and the crew of the Demetrius, so answers to these questions may be coming sooner rather than later.

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