Sunday, March 22, 2009

Daybreak, parts 2 & 3

It’s been a week of the show’s producers trying to get fans to lower their expectations. Obviously, they can’t answer every question they’ve raised. Still, Ron Moore has been working a little too hard at it. He’s warned us that it is the characters that are important, not the many plots lines he has hung their journey on. He has even debunked the idea, one I have expressed here, that Kara’s father is Daniel, the missing number seven: ‘That was something that was seized upon by fans on the internet and then gathered a momentum and a life of its own.’ Well, the idea was seized on because, whether reading a book, or watching a film or TV show, audiences are generous. We assume things happen for a reason. That the author, whether a writer, director, or producer, isn’t just making things up as he goes along, but has given the story some thought. That there is some internal consistency. That’s an important part of making stories believable. So, if we made the connection between Daniel and Kara, it’s because it is the only reasonable way to explain how her father knew the song used to trigger the four. But let’s put that all aside for now and try to take the episodes on their own terms.

Gaius is sitting alone, with Head 6 reassuring him that he made the right choice in refusing to volunteer for the mission. No one seems care. They are all too busy preparing for what’s ahead. Cottle is giving Roslin enough medication to keep her active for the next two days. The cost is that the next two days is all she will ever have. I can’t see Sherman doing something like this if it weren’t for the fact that she’s already dead. He’s just giving her the means to die on her own terms. She thanks him for all he’s done. He’s obviously touched and tells her he doesn’t know what to say. She tells him to just light a cigarette and grumble.

Throughout the ship people are debriefing their teams. Helo is talking to the raptor pilots. Athena is there, having recovered herself. Adama hands the fleet over to, now Admiral, Hoshi. In part one Hoshi spilt coffee all over the chart table and Tigh told him he’d never make admiral that way. I guess he was in on the promotion. Lee has just appointed Lampkin president and the Four have Sam hooked up to the control systems in the CIC. It will enable him to link up to the Colony’s Hybrid and shut down the Colony’s defensive guns.

Back to Gaius. It’s time for him to get on the last raptor off the battlestar. He gets up and tells his remaining followers that he isn’t going. When they object he says that he doesn’t belong to them. He tells Paula that they’re all hers. Lee throws him a rifle. As the last of the civilians leave we see the rebel Centurions marching in formation. They have painted a red sash on themselves so they can be distinguished from Cavil’s soldiers. Adama goes ‘around the horn’, having each section report on its status. Everyone reports that they are a ‘go’. Both Caprica 6 and Gaius are put in the reserve force, which will defend the ship should it be boarded. When Caprica sees him she instinctively touches his shoulder, as if to see whether it were really him or her Head Gaius.

Adama addresses them all. He tells them that this is Galactica’s last battle. If they succeed, she’ll bring them home. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter. They jump.

The Colony’s guns fire immediately and the Galactica takes some heavy hits. Sam seems disoriented at first, but quickly gets through to the Hybrid, who shuts down the defences. Adama then rams his ship into the Colony. If he expects it to be able to take them home, you have to wonder if it were made with this purpose in mind. Lee’s assault team, made up of rebel Cylons, repels from the nose of Galactica. They march forward, only pausing when they reach a pressurized area and he can remove his helmet. His hair looks a lot fuller.

The raptors launch. Racetrack and Bones are carrying nukes. They prep them, but are hit and killed. Other raptors land on the exterior of the Colony. Kara is leading a platoon of marines. There’s a shoot out with a group of old school Cylons. There is a lot of violence, but most of the carnage happens to Cylons, or even between Cylons. TV censors don’t have a lot of problems with machine ‘gore’.

Even though he knows they are under attack, Cylon Simon continues his tests on Hera. Boomer kills him and takes the child.

Caprica 6 tells Gaius that she is proud of him for joining the fight and that she has always wanted to be proud of him. They kiss, passionately, only to be interrupted by Head 6 and Head Gaius. Each can hear and see the other’s counterpart! Cavil’s Centurions breach the ship and their moment together is put on hold.

Kara’s team runs into Boomer, or vice versa. She gives Hera to Athena and tells them that their raptors have been destroyed, that they can’t go back the way they came. Athena answers, ‘Yeah, well, that’s not the plan…’ Kara interjects, ‘Can we not tell her the plan?!’ ‘Right.’ Athena shoots Boomer. Her last words are, ‘Tell the old man I owed him one.’ We flashback to her early days on Galactica. She has been messing up landing after landing. She has been called in to Adama and Tigh, who are enjoying a drink together. When they give her another chance, she tells Adama that she owes him one. He tells her that a lot of people owe him, but few repay. She insists she will and that it will mean something.

Lee and Kara and their teams make the rendezvous point. They tell Adama they have the prize and return to Galactica. Roslin has been helping in sick bay. She has a vision of Hera in the Opera House and leaves. Helo is shot and Hera runs off. We get an extended sequence of her, Roslin, Athena, Caprica and Gaius running through the ship and through the Opera House. Her rescuers aren’t the only ones after her. Cavil is leading a group of Cylons. They are almost on top of her when Roslin gets there and grabs Hera. They hide behind some boxes as Cavil storms past. Once safe, Roslin turns to the child and the child is gone! She runs out to find her and meets up with Athena. This is a scene we’ve seen played out in the Opera House many times. They almost have the girl when Caprica steps out of no where and grabs her up. She steps through a hatch and is gone. She hasn’t even seen the other women. She meets up with Gaius and they take the child into the CIC

The CIC is bloody mess. Adama has just repelled Cavil and his Cylon’s. They look up at the platform, where Sam and the other Four are, and see the vision of the Five in the Opera House. But Cavil has survived and he quickly grabs a gun and Hera. She holds the key of his people’s survival and he isn’t leaving without her. Gaius steps up. Hera holds the key to humanity future, too. How does he know that? Because he sees angels in that very room. We see their angelic counterparts. He appeals to Cavil, telling him that there are greater forces at work. Cavil asks how he knows god is on his side, he replies that god isn’t on anyone’s side. Cavil asks how his extinction would serve some greater purpose. Tigh steps in. If he ends the war, they will give him resurrection technology. Adama asks how they’ll know Cavil’s people will keep their word. That will be his leap of faith. Both sides stand down.

They’ve lost four vipers and seven raptors. This being the last episode we may never get a body count. I say ‘may’ because when this is broadcast again it will be three regular length episodes, this final one being parts two and three. The battle is largely in part two, so when part three is broadcast we may learn how many lives have been lost since the start of the previous episode. Anyway.

It turns out Ellen was right. She couldn’t rebuild the resurrection technology herself. Each of them knows a part of it. They will all reach into the water that Sam is sitting in and everything they know will be shared. At the same time the information will be transferred to the Colony. Tory seems very nervous about all this. She keeps talking about how they’ve all made mistakes. Cavil calls up to them, reminding them that they are keeping two civilizations waiting. Saul tells her she’s forgiven her dark secrets, but she seems more concerned about Galen. She keeps looking in his direction. Soon we see why, as her murder of Callie is played out before their eyes. Enraged he takes his hands out of the water, disrupting the data flow. Cavil’s Cylons think they’ve been tricked and a gun fight bursts out in the CIC. Galen grabs Tory by the neck and throttles her to death. Marine fire quickly overwhelms the Cylons and Cavil puts his gun in his mouth, rather than surrender.

If the humans quickly win fight in the CIC, the fight outside doesn’t go so well. The Colony’s Hybrid is active and so are its guns, which are pounding Galactica once again. We get our first shot of the Colony vessel in its entirety and it is a dead ringer for one of the Shadow vessels on Babylon 5.

Racetrack and Skull are dead, but as any Bogart fan can tell use, even a dead bee can sting. A piece of debris hits their raptor and knocks Racetrack over. Her dead hand hit’s a button, firing off their already primed nukes right into the Colony.

Adama tells Kara to make a blind jump. At this point it really doesn’t matter where. She remembers the coded message Hera gave her - there must be some way out of here - and punches in the numbers she has generated based on the musical notes. The ship jumps. It lands, for lack of a better word, with a terrible shudder. It is falling apart. The engines and life support are down and it will never work again. They ask where they are and we get an exterior shot of the ship passing over the moon - our moon, Luna - and right in front of them is Earth. Our Earth.

Twelve hours later and Admiral Hoshi has brought the rest of the fleet to join them. Tigh, Cottle, Adama, and Baltar are lying in some long grass in an African field, watching some prehistoric tribesmen. Hoshi joins them and gives Adama back his pips. Gaius says that, according to Cottle, our DNA is compatible, so we can breed with them. Or, I guess I should say they can breed with us, since we now know that their Earth isn’t ours. Adama tells him he has a one track mind. When Gaius starts to take offence, he also tells him he has no sense of humour.

Lampkin proposes that they build a city, but Lee says no. Let’s throw all the technology aside and make a clean start. Science races ahead and leaves our souls behind. Let’s give these people the best of ourselves. Everyone agrees to this. Lampkin says he’s shocked, so we don’t have to be, and they decide to spread themselves out over several continents. The humanoid Cylons join them. The Centurions are given the baseship and set out to find their own destiny. They still wear the red paint they put on for the battle. Anders will remain aboard the Galactica and guide the entire fleet of, now empty, ships into the sun. Kara says a tearful goodbye. When she’s gone he replies, ‘I’ll see you on the other side.’

Like the last episode, this one offers flashbacks of life Caprica, before the fall. They are mainly at the beginning, though there are more once they arrive on Earth. Adama is at a nightclub with Saul and Ellen. Saul tries to buy him a lap dance, but he won’t have it. They are celebrating their upcoming retirement. Adama is being offered a high paying civilian job, but one of the requirements is that he passes a lie detector test. That’s what he’s been objecting to. He gets pretty drunk, and we see him on the streets puking his guts out. When he flies the last Viper off Galactica, we get to see the interview. One of the questions is, ‘Are you a Cylon?’ and I am 99.44 percent sure that one of the people administering the test is the Cylon Simon! Adama object to the whole process and says he would rather spend the rest of his career on a broken down ship than have his word questioned.

Lee is lecturing Kara on her civic responsibilities, but Zach warns her that his brother only appears idealistic. That he is really a cynic. They too drink to excess. Zach passes out on the couch and Lee and Kara start doing shots. She confesses to him that she thinks about death all the time, but isn’t afraid of it. What she is afraid of is being forgotten. They continue to drink and then decide to have sex. Right there on the table, with Zach passed out on the couch. They start, but Zach suddenly wakes up and says, ‘Something’s broken’ before passing out again. The two come to their senses and Lee leaves.

It turns out the reason Roslin’s date’s name sounded familiar is because he was once a student of hers. We don’t see anything of their date, except that they end up in bed together. She tells him to leave, that it won’t happen again, and then calls Adar to tell him that she will be joining his campaign after all. She too has been drinking, though not to the kind of excess the others have been. It was a drunk driver that killed her father and sisters. In flashback after flashback a theme emerges. Life on Caprica wasn’t so great. Okay, they weren’t being hunted by genocidal robots, but they were anaesthetizing themselves with booze. Zach said something was broken, because Lee and Kara had knocked something off the table, but maybe the line was hinting at a deeper truth. Roslin’s life was killed months before she learned of her cancer. Adama had reached the end of his career and there was no where he wanted to go. Kara seemed to be happy, but once her inhibitions were down, she was ready to destroy her relationship. Lee was where he was only to get somewhere else. At least that’s what he told himself. Only Sam seemed happy in his pursuit of kinesiological perfection. But his life was a complete lie. He wasn’t a human at all.

As humanity spreads out, the show’s leads are saying goodbye to one another. Galen, from the brief description he gives, is off to Caledonia. He says goodbye to the Tighs. We get a flashback of them back at the club. She is happy with his upcoming retirement. All she has ever wanted was him to herself and now all they will ever have is each other.

Adama and Roslin are watching some antelope. She asks him if the planet has a name. Earth. That’s the dream they’ve been chasing, after all. Her two days are almost up. He offers her a better look at the antelope and carries her to a raptor. Lee and Kara come out to see them off. Lee’s hair is looking redder, too. For reasons unexplained, they aren’t going to be seeing one another again. With the raptor gone, Kara tells Lee that she has completed her journey and he won’t be seeing her either. He tells her that he had hoped, once they were safe, that he would be able to settle down and do as little as possible, but now all he wants to do is explore their new world. He turns to her and she’s gone. Vanished. I hope she’s met Sam on the other side.

Adama and Roslin are flying over the herds. He’s telling her of the cabin they are going to have and she dies. He keeps talking. He takes his wedding band off and places it on her finger. Later, he has built a cairn over her, still talking of the life they were meant to have together.

Gaius and Caprica are watching the Agathons. Helo survived his gun shot. Their angels appear. I find it interesting that the human has a Cylon angel and the Cylon has a human angel. They tell the two that they have done their part. We get a flashback of them meeting at a park in Caprica. He has decided to let her see the defence mainframe. He inadvertently admits that he took this risk, one that could cost him his life, because he loves her. Back in the present he tells her of some land he’d seen. Land good for cultivation. ‘I know about cultivation.’ He almost cries. Born to a subsistent farmer, he spent all his energies trying to escape his origins, only to lose everything, including his sanity, and to end up exactly what he was born as.

Helo and Athena are telling Hera all the things they are going to teach her. She runs ahead. Hera looks up and we are given a panoramic view of the Earth, ending 150,000 years later in Manhattan. Angel Gaius and Caprica are reading over a man’s shoulders. He is reading about mitochondria Eve, the common ancestor of all humanity. Hera. They debate whether the cycle has been broken. She thinks it has. The law of averages says that it has to be sometime. But as they leave we are treated to a series of images. Our early attempts at androids. And that it! A few lines of Hendrix singing Watchtower and the saga is over.

So, is it any good? The first episode, ‘Daybreak, part 2’, offered a great, extended action sequence, and the second, ‘Daybreak, part 3’, a long farewell to the people we’ve gotten to know over the last four seasons. Watching it, experiencing it, the show resonated emotionally. It all worked at our hearts, and did so skilfully, but I don’ know how well it will play in the end. From Moore’s comments many of the show’s important plot points, the engines that drove things from week to week were just a long series of MacGuffins. A type of plot device that is important only because to drives the story forward and has no value in itself. Hitchcock was famous for his use of them. Hitchcock was also famous for cameos in his pictures, and it looks like Ron Moore has followed his lead there too. He was the man reading about mitochondrial Eve. I can’t help but feel it will weaken the show in the long run. Science fiction series make their name by winning loyal fanbases that will follow them years, even decades, after they are off the air. How are people going to become engaged in a program knowing that so much of the story means nothing at all? The show’s topical nature has also been praised, but the more topical something is, the more quickly it becomes dated. I liked the two episodes. I was engaged by them. But I wasn’t entirely won over. As smart as the show is, as high as the quality of the performances and the production, it needed to someone to sit down and rough out what was going on and what would be happened over the course of the series. People don’t watch TV on a week by week basis anymore. DVDs have taught us to value arcs, episodes form chapters of a greater story, and you can’t do that well if you just make stuff up as you go along. The idea that Daniel is Kara’s father, for example, is the simplest, most elegant solution to many problems the storyline offered. For the fans to see that and the creators to be taken by surprise… It’s not a good thing.

Is this the end of Galactica Log too? For the time being. A TV movie is in the works, as is a direct to DVD release that may serve as the pilot for a future series. Right now I am just taking it by ear. But thanks for reading. I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts with you and hearing your feedback.

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