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TV Review: Battlestar Galactica “A Measure of Salvation”

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Battlestar Galactica is definitely back to form. This week’s episode, “A Measure of Salvation,” proves it. After finding the disabled basestar, a team is sent to investigate and they find the Cylon bodies, but some are still alive. After the freaking out subsides, they decide to take some back for investigation and interrogation. The doctor quickly finds the disease to be some type of encephalitis that humans are now immune to. The Cylons however are not. This leaves Athena in question. But due to her carrying a partially human child to term, she also has been immunized.

The doctor has a vaccine, and Adama and Roslin decide to use the vaccine as collateral to extract information from one of the Simons. Being the closest to “death,” they conclude he would be most willing to give up said information in exchange. And surprisingly, he does. He explains that the other Cylons fearing contagion of the resurrection ship, abandoned them. And he doesn’t fail to inform them that Gaius Baltar provided them with the information. Adama now understands that the Cylons are on their way to Earth as well. As Simon says, to begin again, much like them.

Lee Adama comes up with an idea and it isn’t pretty. His plan is to jump the Galactica to a known passage of space where the Cylons are certain to detect them and bring in a fleet of baseships and of course the resurrection ship. When the ship gets there, they execute the Cylon prisoners who will get uploaded into the resurrection ship, basically causing the extinction of the Cylon race. And this is where it gets really good.

This plan doesn’t sit well with the XO, Agathon, because he’s married to one of the "skinjobs," Athena. He sees it as genocide and rightly so. They may not be born or organic, but they are people, they are a race, a culture. This would constitute of a crime against humanity. He argues that humanity would lose a part of their souls if they proceed with the plan. But president Roslin is quick to remind Agathon that the Cylons were not content with killing billions of humans, that they persist in hunting every last one of them to the ends of the universe. Thus the dilemma: just how far will you go to save humanity?

Adama reluctantly agrees with the plan and by reminding Roslin that he can not use biological weapons without orders from the president, passes the responsibility onto Roslin. But Roslin, wise enough to understand, but hawkish enough to persevere with it, orders Adama to render the Cylons extinct. Athena, though crushed by the news, accepts it and takes it better than her counterpart, Agathon.

The whole episode is reminiscent of ethical dilemmas found in the Star Trek universe, allegories of present world events of our daily lives, though Battlestar Galactica is far superior to the Star Trek franchises. Trek fans will recall the “I, Borg” episode where Picard and his crew capture a lone Borg and debate over whether to send him back with new command sets to replicate in the Collective and destroy the Borg. And this is what makes science-fiction so great. To pit humanity against their own darkness, to face them with difficult issues that test the very foundation of our social contracts, our culture, and the very nature of what it is to be human.

On a basestar, Baltar is facing his own demons in the torture chair of Number Three. During the torture session, which seems unbearable — but then Baltar is kind of a wuss — Gaius gets a projected visit from Six. She consoles him and reaches out to him, encouraging him to detach his mind from his suffering body, with the help of sexual healing no less. She tells him to challenge Number Three with his analytical and scientific mind, while she takes care of his body. And he does, he endures until Three is perturbed by what Baltar says and it’s not science talk. “You’re all I have left. I believe in you!” Baltar yells to Six and Three as he experiences both his reality and projection at the same time. Three is puzzled and ends the torture. “I love you with all my heart,” Baltar says as he passes out, or maybe he’s just in a post-coital sleep.

Before Adama could execute the plan, Agathon cuts off the air in the holding cell with the Cylon prisoners, killing them all before the resurrection ship is in range, thus foiling Roslin’s plan. At the end of the episode we find Roslin and Adama discussing over drinks what happened. Roslin asks who will investigate, but Adama decides to “close the book” on this one. “Convenient” she replies. Adama points out that they’re on the right track to Earth, and so are the Cylons remarks Roslin.

There were some unexpected changes in the storyline. Agathon is now a Captain. The Raptors are now super-loaded with rocket launchers. When did all this happen? Why not introduce these facts instead of simply making them appear out of the blue? How come the resurrection ship now tags along with all basestar incursions? It was rarely seen before and now the new reality is that it tags along? Or have they destroyed too many basestars?

And the episode loses credibility for having Agathon utter the most stupid justification when he said to Roslin that the Cylons had tried to live with them on New Caprica, when defending his argument against Cylon genocide. That was simply indigestible. I would have preferred he lapse into a highly philosophical debate on what consists a sentient life form, a person, a being of will, rather than he make such a eye-rolling remark that anyone immersed in the story would have hysterics about.

But as said above, the show is back to true form. 4 so-say-we-alls outta 5.

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About David Desjardins

  • Like I said, I agree, but the intensity wasn’t there for me at the beginning. It felt like it needed a kick start.

  • Interesting. I thought the suicide-bombing and vigilante-justice plotlines were amazing in the first few episodes. The sci-fi setting lets them take on stuff like this far more daringly than any movie about Iraq or Al Qaeda ever would/could. And they come up with ideas like giving Starbuck an illusory child, and committing the same murder over and over [and bizarre throwaways like putting Apollo in a fat suit] that are more imaginative than anything else being done.

  • ON BSG: Well thats very true Handy, but the season 3 premiere was a 2 hour snore-fest and everything until ep 5 was very twitchy. I like to be intimidated by the Cylons determination and capabilities. Now I am again.

    On Smallville: That show has suffered for a long time. How many cases of amnesia can one show have? Blue T-shirt and red jacket? OK WE GET IT!

  • I’m not sure BG ever really went off form…the quality and risk-taking have been steady and often phenomenal. The tone has perhaps gotten a bit heavy and solemn this season, but it’s still the best show on television.

    Now if only Smallville would return to form. It has caught a bad case of the sillies recently.