Thursday, May 15, 2008

Galactica Log: Faith

Faith. We all have to have it. Faith in God. Faith in our leaders. Faith in ourselves. This week's episode followed the pattern of last week's by concentrating on just a couple of storylines, but it is a much better episode. One story moved everything forward and the other saw an important character look deeper into herself and the developments around her.

The first story took us back to the Demetrius and picked up where last week left off. Thrace wants to jump to the Cylon base star, everyone else just wants to go home. The crew mutinies and Helo relieves Kara of command. Kara attempts to initiate the jump herself. I don't know what good that would be - the jump takes a while to spool up, and someone else could abort it at any time - but Athena restrains her and Helo calls in the marines. The marines? Just how big is the Demetrius' crew? Gaeta starts to initiate the jump home, when Sam steps up and pulls a gun. He isn't going to let the mutiny stand. He shoots Gaeta in the leg, and Kara jumps in with a counter proposal. She admits she was wrong to plan to take all to the Cylon. She'll go in a Raptor with just a few others. The rest will stay where they are, waiting for them until the last possible moment, and then returning to the Galactica. It's a plan everyone can get behind.

It's also obvious enough that I have to wonder why a skilled tactician like Thrace didn't come up with it as Plan A. Kara asks Athena to go with her, saying that she speaks Cylon. Given that everyone speaks English, I have to assume she means that she understands the Cylons. Sam also goes along, of course. And Leoben. An unexpected member is Jean Barolay. A member of Sam's resistance unit and the Circle, the Star Chamber that was spacing collaborators, she hates Cylons. So much so that Athena warns her to stay away from her. When Kara initially offered her Plan B, Barolay's response was 'Let the Cylon go!' Now she wants to go, too. It's quite the 180, but there's been a lot of abrupt changes and Kara's not in any position to condemn anyone for attacking authority. Meanwhile Gaeta is actually acting like someone who's just been shot. It's a pretty grisly wound and I don't blame him for being afraid that he might lose his leg. Besides, everyone keeps calling him Felix. It's his name, of course, but people usually call him Gaeta. It the sort of forced familiarity that implies nothing good is going to happen.

The clock is set at fourteen hours and forty minutes. If Thrace isn't back by then, she's on her own.

The arrival at the base star takes us to the aftermath of Cavils' devastating attack. They really get to show off their new budget. Wreckage is strewn about like torn limbs. It's an horrific, yet beautiful sight. She's sees their destination, a damaged base star orbiting a gas giant and realizes that it's the comet in her vision. Confirmation! Perhaps the wreckage accounts for the triple star as well. Could all the speculation about ships of light be just a well played red herring? Exploding munitions are everywhere and the Raptor soon comes under fire. We don't know why they are targeted - presumably it's an automated system, but we don't know that. We cut to commercial and the next thing we know, they're already aboard the base star. Once aboard, however, things take some interesting, and not particularly positive turns.

A group of 8s approach Athena. She was the first to show they could break their programming. She inspires them. Now they want her to lead a mutiny against the 6s: 'The 6s have made one mistake after the other. ' She won't have anything to do with it. Or them. If they want to have anything, they have to make their decision and stick with it. The idea of being defined by the consequences of our choices is an interesting one, but it raises the question of just how well she speaks Cylon after all. Consequences just don't weigh as heavily on a group of people who are theoretically interchangeable with any number of identical models. Whose deaths, theoretically, just mean being downloaded and picking up where they left off. The 6s are presented as sheep, desperate for a new leader. That doesn't really ring true, either. Not only is Athena the first to break off and leave her programmed destiny behind. The Sharon with Cavil was the first to vote against her model. The 6s have shown they can stand up for themselves more than once, so why do they need Athena's leadership now?

Meanwhile Barolay meets up with the wrong 8. When we were first introduced to the Cylons we were told that if they die they simply download into another body. And that's true. But it was made to sound simple, easy. Maybe it was before the war. Before the violence, when every member of a model line lived pretty much the same life as all the others. But we've seen since that it isn't easy. Resurrection is hard. Traumatic. On Caprica one 8 was wounded and dumped into a septic tank, where her last memory was of her killer watching her die, drowning in waste. A terrible death and one that's haunted her. She tells Barolay of it and Barolay doesn't really get it. She tells the Cylon she'd be 'happy to put her down again.' Enraged, the 6 smashes her head into the side of the Rapter. Barolay picks herself up, tells everyone she's okay, and then drops dead. This leads to a confrontation and a life for a life, but things are unravelling for the Cylons. Division is leading to division.

Meanwhile, there's a great scene in which Sam almost uses the Cylon interface. Will he be revealed? Not in this episode. I had wondered if the Raiders and Centurians would recognize him for one of the Five, but they haven't yet. Kara, however, gets to meet the wizard, and she has no idea what to think. After listening to the Hybrid rattle on, they decide to hook up the wounded base star to the Raptor's jump system. This results in a little violence and blood being splattered into the Hybrids pool. Finally, Kara gets to hear the big news: 'Thus will it come to pass. A dying leader will know the truth of the opera house. A missing 3 with give you Five, who've come from the home of the Thirteen. You are the harbinger of death Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end. End of line.' They piece it all together. The 3 is the boxed D'anna model, who knows the identity of the Five. The Five know the way to Earth. So, get D'anna, find out who the Five are, and ask them the way to Earth. Of course, we know that four of the Five don't know the way to Earth. It's interesting how well Kara took the message. There was a moment of introspection, but she doesn't seem too worried about being the harbinger of death. Of course, this message wasn't as ominous as the one Kendra Shaw got ("Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end, she is the herald of the apocalypse, the harbinger of death; they must not follow her."), but it's possible that Thrace wasn't hearing exactly what we were hearing. In a society filled with oracles, its possible that she just isn't predisposed to take these things at face value. I don't know anything about tarot, other than what I see in the movies, but there it's often emphasized that death means change, not. . . well, death.

In discussing what it all means, they decide the Five must some from Earth; that is, the 'home of the Thirteen' is the home of the thirteenth tribe. Or maybe it is the home of all thirteen tribes; the Hybrid said 'thirteen', not 'thirteenth'. That can't mean Kobol. Been there, done that. But it is interesting that the closer they get to Earth, the further back in their own history they go. Kobol was two thousand years ago, the Temple of the Five four thousand years ago. Maybe the settlement on Kobol was from Earth and the Twelve Colonies are, essentially, lost colonies from our far future. We'll see.

Meanwhile back on the Demetrius, the clock ticks down to zero. It's time to go. And just as they're about to, of course the base star appears. A bit of a cliché. Surely the tension could have been maintained for another week if they'd just missed each other. And, if they really did wait to the last minute, and then continued to wait, doesn't that mean they missed their rendezvous with Galactica? Of course not.

On Galactica Roslin is finishing up her final course of treatment. She has lost her hair. She turns the running of her office over to Tory! Shouldn't that be her Vice President's job? But this isn't a political episode. She spends her time in the hospital talking over spirituality and death and what it all means with another cancer patient named Emily. Emily is played by Deep Space Nine's Nana Visitor, the first Star Trek alum I can remember on the show.* Emily is brassy, opinionated, but full of heart. She's from whatever colony represents New York. And she's been taking a lot of solace from the broadcasts of one Gaius Baltar. Baltar doesn't appear in the episode. We just hear him. The message and not the messenger. Emily isn't a flake. She's not a part of Baltar's harem. That she can take him serious gives Roslin pause. No she isn't going to convert. The gods are just metaphors to her and Baltar's god is the god of the Cylons. Which he must be, Emily replies, if there is only one god, then he is everyone's god.

Of course, Emily dies, but the story is Roslin's. It's been a long time since she was the spiritual leader, searching for the Temple of Athena and the way to Earth. She's a hard nosed politico, and if she's dying, that just means she doesn't have time to play nice. But in this episode she came to realize that the old ways have been undermined by the destruction of the colonies. People don't want metaphors. They want gods, or a god, and spiritual leadership they can believe in. That will impact them in a personal way. Maybe now Roslin will pick up the mantle again and be the prophesied dying leader that shows them the way to Earth. The episode ends with her visiting Adama, his only appearance in the episode. She confides her doubts and questions to him. He tells her that he used to believe Earth was a pipe dream, a carrot for the fleet, 'You made me believe.'

*Megan, a co-worker who tapes the show for me (thanks, Megan!), has pointed out to me that Michelle Forbes is also a Star Trek alumin. Stupid me.

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