Thursday, June 5, 2008

Galatica Log: Sine Qua Non

Recent episodes have concentrated on only a couple of characters at a time and this week those characters were William and Lee Adama. Both men under went important turning points in the episode. One was a long time coming, the other a complete surprise.

Starting with the first, Lee Adama is now the president of the Colonies. They’ve been building towards this for a long time, so it’s hardly a surprise. The last episode ended with Natalie being shot by Athena and the Hybrid being activated only to have her jump the base ship, with the President and most of the Vipers and their crews aboard. Is there a connection? The Quorum wants answers, but the Admiral won’t take Zarek’s calls. Lee tries to intercede and get his father to talk with Quorum. The Admiral replies, ‘If this fleet needs reassuring, then you reassure them. That’s your job now.’

Lee tells Zarek that he has to face reality and accept that his father will never trust him with the presidency and that they have to search for a new president. Why this is so is never explained. Sure, Roslin may be dead, and she is dying of cancer, but why don’t they give Adama a chance to find her before looking for a successor? Zarek eventually lets Lee draw up a list of candidates from which to propose a new president. Lee has had four mentors during the run of this show. First was Roslin, but they don’t really talk anymore. Then his dad, but his dad has turned this problem over to him. Next is Zarek. The V.P. has groomed Lee for political life, but… Well, I’ll get back to Zarek. Finally, there’s Romo Lampkin, Baltar’s trial lawyer and the man who led Lee out of the military. And it’s Lampkin that Lee turns to now.

There is a lot of back and forth between the two characters, but ultimately, the obvious choice is made. Who has the qualities that we want and need in a president? Leland Joseph Adama, of course. Yeah, I had the exact same response, ‘Leland?’ Romo comes to this conclusion through a long dialogue with his cat. He takes his decision to the future leader of humanity and tells them that they really don’t deserve him. He means it. He pulls a gun on Lee and launches into a diatribe against humanity. We are a doomed species and we don’t deserve to survive. Case in point, his cat. When the Cylons attacked he was picking his wife’s cat up from the vet. He had two choices: he could go home and try to save his wife and two daughters, or he could stay on the ship and flee for his life. Like most, he fled. Now all he has left is his wife’s cat. And in return for saving Baltar, the good people of the Colonies poisoned the cat. He’s been brooding in his room, carrying the dead animal around, ever since. Sure, we’ve seen the cat, but only from Romo’s perspective. It’s an ‘I see dead kittens’ thing. He, and the others survivors, do not deserve to be saved. Lee tells him that he knows all about his wife. It was in the file put together when he was appointed to Baltar’s defence. Lee, basically, tells him to get over it. Every one of the thousands who survived has a similar story. Lampkin doesn’t shoot and Lee is sworn in.

But Lee wasn’t the only Adama to see his life turned radically around in this episode. William Adama has lost the one thing he can’t live without, Laura Roslin. Is Athena to blame? He too wonders if the jump was connected to the shooting of Natalie. He castigates Athena as a self-hating Cylon, and isn’t ready to listen to her story of the vision. He tells her that she has shot an ‘unarmed woman.’ Not Cylon. And sends her in the brig. She only cares about keeping her daughter, but prison is no place for a child. She tried to keep her child only to lose it.

Then two things happen. First, they discover the Resurrection Hub is gone. Then a Raptor appears. It is badly damaged, though it provides a nice CGI shot of a spacewalk. Its pilot, Pike, is dead. It’s the same one that took Roslin’s party to the base ship. The book he had given her is inside, and badly damaged. They figure out where it’s jumped from and Adama orders the Galactica to jump there immediately. He leaves the whole fleet a sitting duck. Tigh is amazed. Lee is amazed. The whole Quorum is amazed. It was an extremely stupid move. They find a debris field. There has been a battle and there are Vipers in it. Is it the Resurrection Hub? Adama realizes that he needs to go back, but he leaves a lot of the Vipers there to search for evidence.

Back with the fleet Cottle gives the Admiral some interesting news. Caprica 6 is pregnant and Tigh is the father. Adama is furious. As he tears into his Executive Officer, Tigh defends his loyalty. Adama tells him he needs more, he needs judgement, competency. In his search for Roslin, of course, his own judgement and competency have been put aside. Their argument leads to blows, but their anger is quickly spent. Later Romo gives the Admiral a nice little speech about luck and how his pilots are giving theirs away. It gets through to him. He has always cared about his pilots. But Roslin is someone without which he cannot continue (sine qua non, ‘without which not’). He turns over command to Tigh and calls the Vipers home. He can’t be objective when it comes to Roslin and he won’t risk anyone else’s life. He suits up and, calling himself Husker once again, he takes out a Raptor and goes in search of his life’s meaning. If Lee’s elevation to the presidency had been a long time coming, this came out of nowhere. Even Tigh was shocked: ‘In case you forgot, my last term at the helm was a complete disaster.’ ‘That was a long time ago. You’re not the same man you were.’ Well, that much is true! But it is made very plain that this is a temporary transfer of command. Unlike Lee replacing Roslin, Adama will be getting his command back. His last order to Tigh is to give Athena her child back. The episode ends with him sitting in the Raptor, reading the book he gave Laura.

It was a very eventful episode, with a lot of interesting bits and pieces. Natalie’s prayers, as she lay dying, call on her heavenly father. Lee shows a gift for rhetoric, not only when he talks Lampkin out of shooting him, but with lines like ‘[Zarek has the Quorum] inhaling fear and exhaling anger.’ And I can see the William ‘Husker’ Adama action figure right now. But the episode, taken as a whole, had problems. The single biggest revelation was all but passed over. Tigh, a Cylon, has impregnated another Cylon. Perhaps the Five reproduce as humans do, with their Cylonness (Cylonhood? Cylonity?) being passed on from generation to generation. I have no idea how. This whole idea was just filed away for a future episode.

The biggest problem with the episode was that it seemed more concerned with covering all the points it needed to and less concerned with the pacing of the story. The problem is Lampkin. I like the character as much as anyone, but he was a distraction from the episode. We didn’t need the hunt for the president sub-plot. We know the Zarek has been grooming Lee. What would he have been grooming him for, if not leadership? In the episode Zarek seemed to forget that, insisting on his due as the Vice-President. But he’s always known that he couldn’t take the presidency; that the military would never allow him. It would have made more sense for him to be pushing Lee to take the job. Romo was also the one who got through to Adama about the risks for Roslin. But why would Adama listen to Romo? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have Lee deliver the same speech? That would tie the two stories neatly together and give Lee’s presidency a nice start. The revelation of the new pregnancy was also a poor fit. Perhaps if Cottle had confronted Tigh, instead of informing the Admiral? Then we’d know, Tigh would know, and Adama’s decision to leave Tigh in control wouldn’t seem so wrong footed.

Rounding up news from cyberspace, viewership is up! After settling down to last season’s ratings, the show has seen the numbers climb back up past the two million threshold as people are interested in finding out who the final Cylon is. Bookies say Dualla, but Aaron Douglas says that most guesses, even the popular ones, are not even close. No one on the cast is saying who it is, but they are almost done filming and the cast does know who the last Cylon is. I am still saying Bill Adama, based on the fact that… Well, not based on any facts at all. I just don’t think that a minor character, or one like Dualla, who we’ve seen practically nothing of this season, would carry enough weight to make the revelation worth it. Could it be Lee? If the Five don’t reproduce mechanically, perhaps. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

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