Saturday, November 04, 2006

Battlestar Galactica – Torn

The Upshot from the Sci-Fi Channel: As Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) and Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) stir up discontent aboard the Galactica, while a new and deadly virus forces the Cylons to take drastic measures to protect the future of their race. Even as Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) risks his life to hold his crew together, Baltar (James Callis) realizes that he must face the irrational wrath of the Cylons alone.

We’re already several episodes into BSG’s third season and after a gangbusters premiere with some of the best episodes of this series to date, it would not have come as a surprise to see the show lose a little momentum as Galactica transitions into a new story line.

Yet what Torn lacks in action it more than makes up for in its deft character development and building tension.

Viewers get to see the return of Baltar’s imaginary Cylon Number 6 (Tricia Helfer). After months of hanging around with the flesh and blood (and circuit) Cylon—most recently as a “guest” aboard a Cylon basestar, Baltar retreats inside his head to renew his acquaintance with his synaptic specter.

Just what is she? It’s become clear from Baltar’s time among the real Cylons that “Ghost Six” is not operating at their direction and in the previous season, a CAT-scan disproved the presence of a chip in Baltar’s brain.

Maybe he IS truly a mad scientist or maybe its what Ghost Six is telling him—she’s an angel of God sent to help Baltar, just as she always has.

Back in reality, the Cylons want Baltar’s assistance in order to help them find the 13th lost colony known as Earth—as they have decided that Earth is to be their new home.

Torn provides viewers with the most extensive peak to date at the life of the Cylon. We learn not only about the mechanics of a Cylon basestar and the societal interactions of the various Cylon, but we learn as Baltar presses for answers that we’ve seen only 7 of the 12 Cylon human models.

When he asks where the other five are, Number Six gives him a sharp rebuke that it’s never discussed. Hit a nerve did he? Hmmmmm

This revelation came as the Cylons discover a virus that is savagely and quickly killing them—human model and centurion (“toaster”) model alike. But worry not Dr. Gaius Baltar is there to save the day. God help them indeed.

Meanwhile back among the fleet, we see the human race is down to 41,422 survivors and the transition back to “normal” following the Second Exodus from New Caprica continues—although not so smoothly.

We see a demoted Major Lee Adama/Apollo (Jamie Bamber) back in a Viper and out of the fat suit as his character has managed to shed all of that extra poundage in record time—just by jumping rope. It really should be that easy for all of us Lee.

We see that Apollo’s time as Commander of the Battlestar Pegasus has made him rusty during a training exercise dog fight. Apparently Apollo is back at his old job as the CAG (but since he’s a major now…wouldn’t that make him the MAG??—just wondering).

This was a minor but serious disappointment for us. With the destruction of the fleet’s second battlestar, Lee had become very much redundant to his father the Admiral so it was to be expected that Apollo would have to adjust to a new role but Apollo just as easily could have been tapped as ship’s XO—despite Col. Tigh’s return and Helo’s able filling of the role during Galactica’s skeleton cruise.

Whether by accident or by design, the writers really cheated the viewers out of the opportunity to see on camera how the new command structure was and continues to be resolved. We hope this is addressed in a future episode.

A quick shout out to our man Mr. Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani). He’s come a long way in a short time. Last week, Felix was a hair-trigger away from being blown out an airlock by a post-rescue star chamber-like “court” as a suspected Cylon collaborator. This week he is conferring with Admiral Adama and President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) as he reviews Baltar’s research for a way to Earth.

In another fine moment, we see Galactica’s reformed Cylon, Lt. Sharon Agathon (Grace Park) has, with a couple exceptions we’ll discuss in a moment, been fully accepted as part of Galactica’s crew and family. But don’t call her “Boomer.” That was someone else, she says.

So the pilots come up with a new call sign for her—Athena after the goddess of wisdom and war.

We also are enjoying the irony that Grace Park has managed to sort-of be recast from not one but two characters from the original '70s Battlestar—first Boomer and now Athena (Maren Jensen, the actress who dropped off the face of the earth after she dated Don Henley—but we digress).

But not all is well in the pilot’s room. Tigh and Starbuck—who once not so cordially detested each other before New Caprica—have formed a strange bond as traumatized, wounded victims of the occupation. Misery does indeed enjoy company.

The pair quickly succeeds in destroying morale and crew unity by cutting down anyone and everyone who didn’t suffer as they suffered on New Caprica. If you remained aboard ship during the occupation, you’re no damn good in their eyes—not even the invocation of the pilots who died to rescue them will assuage their bitterness.

Admiral Adama is soon forced to step in. Adama is—dare we say it…torn—by his sorrow and his contempt for these two. Starbuck had been “like a daughter” to him while his friendship with Tigh is 30-years old.

But their pain and bitterness and they way they opt to express it is a cancer that must be dealt with before it consumes the crew. Adama’s tough love speech appears to move Starbuck in the right direction but it also seems to push Tigh further away and deeper down the bottle.

The episode ends with Athena and Racetrack jumping their raptor to the coordinates to find “the map to Earth” only to see a Cylon Basestar and fighters floating around dying. Athena seems to recognize this from one of God’s prophecies and Racetrack urges them to get the frak out of there.

Since it’s a Cylon deadly virus out there and reformed or not, Athena is a Cylon, was she infected—you know what the say…To Be Continued.


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