SPOILER ALERT: Considering this episode of Battlestar Galactica aired Friday, you really have no excuse to have waited three days to watch it—um, like I did…
Mother’s Day plans, and the Survivor finale, got in the way of my normal time-shifted viewing of BSG, so of course it makes perfect sense that this one should have turned out to be a pistol from start to finish. And apropos of Mother’s Day, it also reminded us that BSG—contrary to the usual image of TV sci-fi—is a series most of whose most interesting characters are women. Not to take anything away from, say, Baltar or Adama (nice “You made me believe” moment at the close of the episode with Roslin), but this episode really showcased BSG’s fascinating women: Starbuck, Sharon and Roslin on the Colonial side, and on the Cylon side, the Sixes, the Eights—and, of course, the hybrid. Since I’m running late to begin with, I’ll go straight to the hail of bullets and let you join in:
* So the big Hybrid prophecy first. I liked that BSG did not fall into the trap of making her message more puzzling to the characters on the show than it was to the audience: they figured out quickly (unless they, and I, are wrong) that the “Three” is the boxed D’Anna and that the “home of the Thirteen” is Earth. But that bit about Kara Thrace as a “harbinger of death… lead[ing] them to their end”? Depends what you mean by “them” and what you mean by “end.” It seems just as likely to me that the “end” could mean “destination,” and that “death” could be anyone’s (including the Hybrid’s).
* Speaking of death, Roslin’s subplot was handled wonderfully. It’s easy to forget in the week-to-week action, at least for me, that the remaining humans in the fleet are not just at war but are the survivors of a massive trauma: most of them have lost many, if not most or all, off their loved ones. To a population like that, the idea of one’s departed family waiting on the shore, and Baltar’s entire religious message, must havee great potential appeal. To be honest, one thing that has thrown me a bit this season is that Baltar’s transformation into a cult figure has seemed a little abrupt. But the idea that someone in the fleet would be calling for a massive religious and philosophical change, and that that message would spread like wildfire, makes perfect sense.
* Interesting how the episode turned on two separate prophetic voices: the Hybrid’s, and Baltar’s disembodied on the audiotape. (Where, in his reference to “the undiscovered country,” he seems to have somehow read Hamlet.) I’ve talked a lot about the political/social, post-9/11 parallels of BSG, but finally it may be more interesting as a religious/philosophical show. The Hybrids, in particular, are a genius conception: computer/oracles that combine systems updates with pronouncements with seeming gibberish, in such a way that even her most attentive Cylon audience cannot agree as to whether their words are worth paying attention to. How do you sift the wisdom from the crazy talk, the signal from the noise?
* That last is Roslin’s challenge now: how does she judge the validity of Baltar’s message separately from her opinion of the messenger? Does she finally have to agree, with her dying friend, that he may be on to something? If so, what does that mean for her conception of herself as a leader/prophet? Hmmm: daing female leader has a hard time grasping the messianic appeal of her charismatic adversary—must… resist… political analogy…
* Finally, more very interesting intra-Cylon dynamics in this episode, from Sharon lecturing the other Eights on loyalty (within a Cylon civil war!), to the Hot Six on Six action (and more seriously, the lingering psychological scars of New Caprica, not just for the humans but for their former occupiers), Anders’ very uncomfortable encounter with his own kind on their home ground, and the possibility of Three coming out of the box and roiling things further. Any guesses as to where this goes now?