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TV Review: Battlestar Galactica “Torn”

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It took all but 6 episodes to get season 3 underway. Episode 4, Exodus part II was the Big Reset, where the rag tag fleet was brought back together after the assault on New Caprica to liberate the colonists from Cylon occupation; giving us a glimpse of hope following the disastrous season 3, 2 hour bore-fest-opener. Don’t get me wrong, I think Battlestar Galactica is the greatest TV series of all time all genres mixed together but the season 3 opener was a bust, many die hard fans also agree.

Episode 5, Collaborators, in which The Circle, a special Star Chamber-like court doles out punishment to those who collaborated with the Cylon invaders served as the Boot Sequence. The secret court was ordered by then Interim President Tom Zarek who in the same episode realizes he’s not the man to be president and promises Laura Roslin the presidency. Things seem to be falling back into place, but it isn’t the same image as before.

In episode 6, Battlestar Galactica is booted up, scripts have been run and the previously good version has been restored. Too many computer analogies? Just how good is it? Is it back to the greatness is once was? Is it still the best TV show of all time? Well, Apollo has dropped some serious poundage and he’s back where he should be, in the cockpit. We even gleam at his markings on his viper, Maj. Lee Adama, not Commander. He’s giving Starbuck a load of crap for being careless and grounds her.

Gaius Baltar is back in self-preservation mode; selling out his species in exchange he remains in the good graces of his Cylon hosts. Colonel Tigh has jumped off the wagon – yes jumped, no falling – and is back on the bottle like a madman. Boomer is back in the gang; the gang even finds her a new call sign after she claims Boomer was another person. We hear a load of toaster flavored call signs being suggested but all said in a friendly tone. But they settle on Athena, Greek goddesses of war. But we all know Grace Park is a Goddess, period.

So let’s run down the list. Starbuck is in trouble with the CAG, Apollo. Check. Tigh is pacifying himself with alcohol. Check. Baltar is a sniveling paranoid megalomaniac doing everything he can to remain alive. Check. Sharon is back in the fold and hot. Check. Adama is still commanding. Check. Starbuck and Tigh are getting drunk together and having a good time, taking down the morale of everyone else and agreeing with each other. Che… Woe! Wait. What?

That’s right Starbuck and Tigh; both grounded, are consuming mass quantities of hooch in the rec-room like old war buddies and taking pot-shots at the other pilots who weren’t part of the sequestered colonists on New Caprica. They say the fleet viper jockeys are a bunch of cowards and unmeritorious of gratitude for saving them on New Caprica. Obviously for both to agree, it’s because they are working out frustrations and anger stemming from the events that unfolded on the surface during the occupation.

Not helping Kara’s matters is that Kacey (KC, Kara’s Cylon) wanted to visit her with her mom. But Starbuck wanted nothing to do with the poor child who only wanted a big hug. The cute as a button kid is so happy to see her that Kara’s repudiation is only heart breaking. The mother is not too happy with this, but if she only knew how they used the child to manipulate Starbuck, she might understand. Starbuck is still reeling from the events and is herself psychologically on the edge.

Meanwhile back on the Cylon farm, the fleshbots want to know the location of Earth. They intend to make it their new home, reciprocally so does President Roslin and Commander Adama. Both sides are working furiously to find the 13th colony. Geata has found Baltar’s research material on finding planet earth at the same time as Gaius is spilling the beans on this same research to the toaster army. The prophecy from the Scrolls of Pythia speaks of the red and blue eye of the Lion’s head; a binary star in the Lion’s head nebula. Both sides quickly find the system and head straight for it.

Of course the technologically superior Cylons get there first. But something goes seriously wrong. The Cylon fleet gets a distress signal from the baseship sent to investigate what lies beyond the binary system. The ship and its crew have been overtaken by a virus. The ships are just as alive as the Cylons and are built of organic material. The ship even has an avatar called The Hybrid. The Hybrid resides in a resurrection basin, plugged into the ship. Every living Cylon on the ship is infected. The Cylons don’t know what to do about this. They pull the resurrection ship away so the dying Cylons won’t carry the contagion with them as they are reborn. They are literally torn as to what to do. They even show more compassion than our rag tag fleet does when they have to blow up a ship with humans on it.

So Baltar volunteers for a recon mission after Number 6 (the one in his mind) tells him to, so that he can score more points with the Cylons and prolong his life expectancy. When Baltar reaches the ship with a captured Raptor (not a Cylon Heavy Raider because of the biological components) he finds endless corridors filled with bodies or dying Cylons. He finds a device of obvious human design and the body of a Number 6 with black hair. She’s heavily infected and delirious and recognizes him as “the human” but not as Baltar. She starts ranting and raving, blaming Gaius for the contagion, yelling at him that he wants to infect the other ships – after he’s taken a sample. Driving the already fragile Gaius over the edge, for which she pays with her life as he strangles her. Perhaps he does intend to sabotage the Cylon fleet, but this is doubtful.

Ultimately the Cylons leave the basestar behind. A lone Raptor arrives with Athena (Sharon) at the helm to investigate the same system and find the abandoned and dead basestar with raiders floating aimlessly around it. But back on the Battlestar, Adama has been informed of the moral problem and confronts Tigh and Starbuck. Both are unresponsive to Adama claims. He demands Starbucks sidearm, takes the safety off and asks one of them to shoot him, telling them that their actions are tantamount to shooting him. When Kara tries to leave, he harshly throws her to the ground. He tells her:

“You were like a daughter to me once – no more. You’re a malcontent and a cancer, and I won’t have you on my ship. So you have a choice – you can figure out how to become a human being again, and an officer; or you can find another place to live, off of this ship. You’re dismissed.”

Adama always finds the words to say with deep impact. Or maybe it’s just the authority he weaves. Kara complies and cuts her hair and seemingly gets back on the saddle and even gives us this moment, the ones I live for, those little moments of humanity. She of course visits Kacey. It’s those moments that resolve Sci-Fi’s meaning as storytelling. Tigh on the other hand, drowns his sorrows in a bottle in utter desperation.

But what puts Battlestar Galactica back on track? What’s new? Well during a discussion between Caprica 6 and Gaius, we find out why the ships are so bland and boring on the inside – except for the part where they walk into a room with a buck naked Number 8 (Boomer) doing some Cylon Tai Chi. Cylons use projection. They project the environment they individually prefer to experience.

Caprica 6 prefers to live in “God’s creation” as she eloquently puts it, a lush green forest. It doesn’t take long for Gaius to put 2 and 2 together. With all the free-fall hallucinations he has of him and In-his-head-6 in paradisiacal locales, he asks if he is a Cylon. And if he wasn’t unstable enough, this will most likely drive him mad in future episodes. We even see him looking for other Cylons than the 7 models we’ve seen so far when he’s investigating the infected basestar. We don’t talk about them, 6 replies. This only makes Gaius even more nervous. What’s wrong with the 5 other models? This makes the plot even more intriguing to fans in my opinion.

Are they even heavier than the seven current models? Are they Godlike? More evolved? Less Evolved? Are they less human? What went so wrong that the powerful Cylons won’t speak of them? Is Gaius Baltar a Cylon?

So with the new plot thickeners of projection and 5 Cylon models no one wants to speak about and traces of humanity coming back to surface for Starbuck. Battlestar Galactica is back on track after a fresh reboot. A fraking good 4 outta 5.

About David Desjardins