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BSG Watch: Might as Well Jump

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Roslin (Mary McDonnell) confronts life and death. / SCI FI Channel Photo: Carole Segal

SPOILER ALERT: Spoilers for Friday’s Battlestar Galactica coming up after the “Jump!… Jump!… Jump!…”

Since BSG is a show about howw people respond in extremis when their survival at stake—whether they retain their principles and scruples or ditch them as dead weight—it’s interesting that the character through which this question has best played out has not been one of the military men (like Tigh or Adama) but the civilian leader, Roslin. Initially mistrusted as possibly weak and unauthoritative when she came into the presidency, she has—especially since her canccer diagnosis—become the hardest of the hardcore, willing to undertake nearly any power play or deception in the name of what she thinks will save the fleet. She’s hardened her heart in order to harden humanity’s defenses.

In that sense, when the revivified D’Anna teased her by making her believe she was one of the Final Five, it was a partly a trick on the audience—if you saw the preview last week, you had seen this “revelation”—but partly a truth told slant: she has in some ways met the Cylons on their own moral level in the name of defeating them. That she should confront that by facing an admission from her biggest rival—Baltar, confessing his inadvertent role in the Cylon genocidal attack—made it all the more challenging, and apt, for her to rediscover her capacity for forgiveness then. (At least Roslin, or her subconscious, is capable of recognizing the ironies in her actions. That’s more than you can say for Cavil, who reacts flabbergasted when he realizes the rebel Cylons are attacking the hub: “That would be mass murder!,” as if the Cylons had never perpetrated that before.)

One thing that’s always given me difficulty with BSG—and I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing—is the multiplicity of different visions/hallucinations/fantasy sequences (see also Baltar’s conversations with Six and with himself), and the ambiguity as to whether they come from the characters’ subconscious or external sources (the gods, an implanted chip, etc.). In this case, was it Roslin’s subconscious/superego talking, and bringing her to feel sympathy for Baltar, or was it someone else? In other words, did she have compassion for Baltar, and regret about her capacity to love, in her all along, or was it talked into her?

Of course, this is a larger question with faith and visions in general—are you talking to God/the universe/etc. or really talking to yourself, and is there a difference—so I’ll write this down as a good thing for now.

A strong episode all around on every other level: there was, of course, the moving reunion between Adama and Roslin (who is now finally able to say “I love you,” but I also dug the fascinating interaction between Helo and the Sharon who downloaded Athena’s memories. Care to upload your thoughts?