The frantic pace of the new Battlestar Galactica series comes to a sudden and abrupt halt in Litmus. Unlike previous episodes, this is definitely not an action oriented story. The focus here is overwhelmingly on two characters and on the paranoia that builds after it is revealed that Cylons can take a human form.
Conceptually its a great episode tackling subjects that are ripe for development. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work out as planned. There is something wrong with the pacing of the whole episode. Whereas previous episodes of the show have built on what has come before, almost everything in this one is developed too quickly and without adequate exploration.
It would have been much better to have had the information about the Cylons new forms be released a couple of episodes ago and let that slowly fester in the minds of the survivors instead of rushing it all within the space of one episode. Similarly the power an influence of the independent board of inquiry simply came out of nowhere and its own level of paranoia is not explored at all. It would have worked much better if we’d built slowly to this over a few episodes.
Other elements in the show work much better however. Edward James Olmos is truly brilliant as Adama in yet another understated yet authoritative performance. His scenes are the highlight of the show, particularly when he faces up to the inquiry.
Also strong is the relationship between Boomer and Tyroll and how they interact. The script does a good job of shading in the gray areas particularly when you consider that Boomer is a Cylon.
Another plus is the potential for future conflict that this story creates. Adama has weakened his own credibility by first creating and then ending the inquiry. The level of paranoia amongst the civilian population can only grow as time passes. With elections due in the not too distant future, that raises all sorts of interesting possibilities.