Sunday, December 10, 2006

Battlestar Galactica—The Passage

The Upshot from Sci-Fi Channel: An accidental contamination of the fleet's food-processing systems leaves it without anything to eat. As tens of thousands of people quickly succumb to starvation, the Galactica's overtaxed pilots must fly multiple back-to-back missions to lead the fleet through a hazardous region of space to a new food source. Meanwhile, Capt. Louanne "Kat" Katraine’s (Luciano Carro) past catches up to her, and the Cylon D'Anna (Lucy Lawless) edges closer to uncovering a dangerous secret of the Cylons.

Standard SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t yet seen this episode and plan to catch the encore broadcast on Monday at 11 a.m. E.S.T., stop reading now.

This was a solid character episode through and through but unlike last week’s episode, Unfinished Business, there was a decent enough of space action—the best of both worlds.

The episode opens with the fleet already in crisis as the entire food supply has somehow become contaminated, leaving everyone—all 41,420 survivors—in danger of starving to death. Talk about a crash diet.

Sharon/Athena (Grace Park) has discovered a planet filled with a plethora of edible algae (yummy!). The rub is that the world located on the wrong side of a massive star cluster. Flying around the cluster will take too long, and flying through it will expose the unshielded civilian ships to intense, deadly radiation.

Athena—thanks to her Cylon physiology—barely makes it back alive, maxing out her radiation exposure in the process. The fleet can’t jump over it, they can’t fly around it, they’ll have to leap frog through it—jumping once into the cluster long enough to get a jump fix then jump again to the planet.

But besides the deadly radiation is a blinding, disorienting light and violent storm guaranteed to throw the ships off course and into certain death. A plan is devised to divide fleet into five groups and match each civilian ship with a raptor to serve as its eyes in the storm.

As dire as this set up sounds, this was actually the “B” plot. The main story actually centered around Kat—a one time extra character who has grown into a foil for Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) and who really gets a chance to shine here.

We find out that “Louanne Katraine” actually died just before the Cylon attack—the officer we’ve known as “Kat” is actually “Sasha”—a former drug smuggler who took Louanne’s identity to start a new life after the holocaust. But her past has caught up with her as her old partner in crime recognizes her.

When Starbuck confronts her, “Kat” confesses everything and begs for the opportunity to tell Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) herself. Burdened by the disgust of her rival, Starbuck, and having hit her tolerable limit deadly radiation, Kat embarks on a mission of redemption, knowing it will likely be a lethal escort passage through the cluster. In the end she manages to save a lost ship but at a terrible cost for her.

Meanwhile aboard the Cylon basestar, Gaius Baltar (James Callis) and D’Anna team up. Baltar is attempting to discover if he is a Cylon, while D’Anna continues to kill herself and resurrect in order to see the face of the Cylon God. For their efforts, they find clues to the “Eye of Jupiter,” another road-marker to earth, which plants the seeds for another confrontation with the fleet next week.

By the way, did we fail to mention that Gaius now shares his bed with both Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer) AND D’Anna?? Talk about sleeping your way to the top. But we digress.

Back to Kat, it’s nothing less than a crying shame that Luciano Carro’s best episode would be her last. She quite ably carried this episode and more than held her own with Edward James Olmos. Their death-bed scene together was poignant in the extreme.

When Adama tells her he’s promoting her back to C.A.G./the fleet’s senior pilot as a death-bed gesture--the position she previously held during the skeleton crew phase--the look of mingled joy and sadness she gives was more powerful than any words in the script.

Something else worth noting, Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) has finally gotten back in uniform and made his way back to the C.I.C (Combat Information Center) to “help” Adama. A scene in Adama’s quarters as Tigh reports fleet status and how some have resorted to eating paper, they share a belly laugh together.

The rift between the two estranged friends is indeed healing and the writers have been wise to let it play out as along as it has, but we hope that by next week we don’t see them back to “themselves”…at least not right away.

With the episode’s conclusion, despite Kat’s ultimate sacrifice, many more lives among the fleet have been lost—we counted at least two ships—it would surprise us not at all to see the survivor count during next week’s credits to have whittle down to the mid-30,000s.

Next week is the mid-season finale and the last BSG of 2006 before Galactica returns to a new night and time on Sunday at 10 a.m. We hope this move will attract more viewers—even as we are already staining at the thought of staying up to watch it on a school nite.


Anonymous Capitol Ideas said...

Here, here.
There was nary a dry eye in the house when we made it to the end of this episode. I'd written Kat off as an afterthought, but in the course of just 45 minutes, she became a fully-fleshed our character and her death was a poignant one.
And Baltar ... wotta hound.

1:04 PM, December 12, 2006  

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