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Episode Review: “Escape Velocity”

April 27, 2008

by Millari

All in all, I enjoyed this episode, although it did also feel like a whole lot of setup for stuff to come in the next two weeks. But first, we’ll start with some niggling plot holes I found kind of frustrating:

Why Must They Do These Things at Dawn? Or at All?
Pass the Word: Colonel Crazysauce Report Immediately to the CIC
Are Dee and Hoshi Running the CIC Now?
Where’s the Power to Smite The Heathens When You Need It?
Where’s Baby Eve?
Your Dylan Four Weekly Status Check

Why Must They Do These Things at Dawn? Or at All?
I don’t begrudge her a funeral in principle, but why does Cally get a major funeral and not say, Kara? Elosha? Billy? Kat? Did the President ever even MEET Cally before?

Pass the Word: Colonel Crazysauce Report Immediately to the CIC
Seriously, why isn’t anyone taking Bill aside and saying, “Uh, by the way, Sir, your XO is more made of crazysauce than usual these days and we think he might try to kill your prisoner? Here, look at this brig surveillance camera montage we’ve put together of him on a daily basis watching her while she sleeps, having super defensive conversations with her, etc.”

I mean, I know Tigh has a reputation as a drunk and is second in command, but it starts to feel kind of creepily Abu Ghraib when the Marines in charge of watching the cameras are like, “What the hell is he going to do to her?” and then basically shrug and say, “Oh well, he told us to shut the cameras off and leave, and he seems to be about to beat the crap out of her, for what seems like intensely personal reasons. How could that go wrong?”

Are Dee and Hoshi Running the CIC Now?
Because all we see Adama doing these days is attending funerals and reading pulp novels to Roslin in chemo, which is really cute, but come on. Cause his XO’s a little busy in the brig right now; his deck chief done lost his mind; and his best pilot has taken off with the CAG, his Officer of the Watch (and primary plot jumper, btw), and most of his top pilots off to gods-know where on a trash barge following the Migraine of Destiny. Meanwhile, his second best pilot has left entirely to pursue his mancrush on democracy. Um, who is CAG at this point?

Where’s the Power to Smite The Heathens When You Need It?
Um, was God’s love not coursing through SmiteThem!Woman (Paulla) this week? Where was her holy lead pipe when they needed it? I am sorely disappointed. I was convinced she was going to be a terrestrial Head!Six in the making, but apparently, that’s going to be Tory.

Where’s Baby Eve?
It’s been said before on this blog, but I echo the concern: Where the hell is Hera? After fighting like crazy (including intentionally downloading) to get her back, after finding out that she has psychological problems from surviving New Caprica and captivity on a Cylon basestar, are we to believe that Helo and Sharon just left their precious hybrid baby at daycare? Is she on the Demetrius with them? (Note to writers: This could all potentially be forgiven with one scene of any of the following having to change Hera’s diaper: Kara, Helo, Gaeta or Racetrack)

Ok, let’s start the review off with a Dylan Four Weekly Status Check:

  • Chief: Obsessed with Boomer. Waiting for that Cylon programming to kick in any day. Slowly going crazy.
  • Tigh: Obsessed with Caprica Six. Waiting for that Cylon programming to kick in any day. Slowly going crazy.
  • Tory: Gone to Crazytown. Enjoying the ride immensely.
  • Anders: Following the Migraine of Destiny. Status unclear. But like Tigh, he’s watching women sleep, so not a good sign.

Calandra Henderson Tyrol
Well, that was a little detail to file under, too little too late, huh? But then, Calandra had never been anything but Cally on that deck, had she? My friends were noting they’d always assumed Cally was her original last name, like Anastasia Dualla is “Dee”. I never liked Cally much after Season 1, but how could I when she was always an adjunct to the Chief? Cally rarely had time onscreen to shine on her own, and when she did, it was frequently an ugly caricature – usually as a rabid Cylon-hater (but not until we reached a point in the show where we were beginning to empathize with various Cylons), or as a general ticking time bomb of fury whose explosions of rage often seemed abrupt and childish.

So on the one hand, I was glad to see some of Cally’s lesser qualities acknowledged, and gratified to see Chief acknowledge that he loved Boomer and that he let her down. But at the same time, it was *very* difficult to hear the Chief refer to Cally in this episode with such venom and disgust. I spent that whole scene in Joe’s bar with Adama trying to figure out, “Is he genuine? Is this whole secret Cylon thing making him lose his mind and see his relationship with Cally in a very black and white manner right now? Is he just trying anything and everything to piss off Adama and get himself demoted so he won’t endanger any more pilots with his grief, or he is worried about his programming switching on and killing them all? And where is he going now? Based on his shaved head in next week’s promo, he’s either being reassigned to such crap duty that they’re goint to shave his head like a raw recruit, or else, he’s going all “What is your major malfunction, Private Pyle?” on everyone’s ass next week. Given BSG’s history of hair symbolism, I’m strongly tipping towards the latter.

Laura Roslin: First Lady of Kickassery
Oh, and speaking of pathos, did anyone else spot the hidden layer of “ouch” in that little exchange between Roslin and Adama when she says, “I want you to know what I like.” On the surface level, it was another moment of the dying Roslin not having time or patience anymore for the slow discovery of a smoldering courtship. But go one layer deeper, and that’s Roslin letting Bill know what she’d like at her own funeral. And I’m pretty sure his mild doubletake there meant he got it. Gah. Gone is the girlish Roslin we saw through the end of Season 3, giggling uncontrollably in the hallways on her way to her presidential debate, getting high on New Caprica, patient with all the walls Adama puts up to protect himself.

The prospect of dying has always made Roslin sharper in her game, but this season? Lee and the Quorum just keeping throwing stuff at her and she is a tight smiling avatar of unflappability, bluntness, and when necessary, flawless political maneuvering. She makes my jaw drop every time she and the Quorum are on screen, and it’s the only part of that arc I’m excited to see – how is Roslin going to turn the tables on Lee this time? It’s both beautiful and painful, given her cancer and their history together. But Roslin now has that fearlessness of those facing death head on, and she is not turning back. Even her biggest anger button – Gaius Baltar – can’t touch her now. In the brig, even just woken up, Baltar was immediately ready to play all their old, familiar cat and mouse games and she just sat there above it all, calling him by his first name for the first time in gods knows how long, coolly using HER OWN WEAKNESS to slay him completely. She left him openmouthed, barely able to look at her, unable to come up with any response except what actually seemed like a truly gutted, “I’m sorry.” And she wouldn’t even let him have that. She just told him bluntly, without rancor, without almost any emotion at all – You don’t matter anymore. You’re not worth getting worked up over, Gaius. Game, set and championship, Laura.

The Cylon and the Pirate Toaster
I personally found this whole theme about pain bringing clarity kind of confusing. I hope it’s setup for the next couple of weeks where it’ll all be explained. I could see that they were trying to create an unexpected (and kind of disturbing) link between Tigh and Baltar by having Caprica talk about them both in the same breath, describing Baltar in ways that could totally be applied to Tigh, plus creating the visual of the two of them both getting their heads beat in the presence of a Six; it all did seem to be somehow connected to the idea of clarity, but it wasn’t a consistent enough parallel to make sense yet to me. Because by the end of the episode, Tigh was all bloodied, but with no great certainty about where to go next, weakly asking Caprica, “more?” whereas Baltar, for better or for worse, was chock full of bloody-faced certainty. (It may also have something to do, by the way, with Edward James Olmos directing this episode. He did a similar thing with “Taking A Break From All Your Worries” in Season 3, where he tried really hard with editing to thematically tie together things that maybe weren’t originally meant to be tied together.) *Shrug*. I’m passing on that one for now.

Still, no complaints about Caprica, who was fascinating in this episode. She was yet another woman this week who totally took charge, which almost makes up for the distressing amount of denigrating and gratuitous kicking around of women that went on this week. She didn’t let Tigh push her around one bit, and yet she responded to his facile insults with compassion, trying to teach him about life, about himself, about how to be a better person. Wow, how much time do you think she wasted in her life fantasizing about having that conversation about learning from pain and guilt with Baltar?) You know, the more I think about it, for all the episode’s posturing of Baltar as the Jesus figure, Caprica is actually the more accurate parallel. Philosophically, she’s certainly more apt a comparison than Baltar, whom the writers have going through all the Jesus motions, but with a moral philosophy that’s a lot more ambiguous and potentially ugly. Of course, Jesus didn’t go around clocking people like Caprica, so maybe I’m taking this a bit far….

Baltar’s Big Fat Faux Christian Epiphany
So suddenly, we have a religious war on our hands? Really? I wish they had developed this idea over at least a few episodes, the way they used to do things on my show. Really, there were plenty of scenes in the latter half of Season 3 and even some scenes in this season that could have gone on a little less rambly for my taste and made room for some hints of these fundamentalist splinter groups forming. But whatever, show. Fine. *sigh*

Oh, Baltar? Darling crazyboy? Can we talk? See, the thing that’s become clear to me about you in these last three seasons, is that you’re intelligent enough to recognize insanity when you hear it reflected back at you, but apparently not whenever it comes out of your own mouth. Perfect example? Let’s take Gina in Season 2:

  • Her suggesting you win the presidency to pave the way for a Cylon invasion? CRAZY. You spotted that one. See how easy it is? Good job.
  • Your deciding to give the woman a Valentine’s Day nuclear gift assortment? ALSO CRAZY. Yeah, you kind of missed that one, got a whole lot of people blow’d up and put your (other) genocidal ex-lover’s people right on humanity’s trail. Needs a bit of work.

So hon, let’s think about how we’re going through a very similar kind of blindness here. You balked when Six told you you had to ascend to godhead status. That was good. Why did you balk? Because hearing it reflected back to yourself, it sounded as creepy to you as it did to us. But don’t then turn your brain off and start talking about how we’re all perfect, especially er, YOU – no matter our selfishness, no matter our weaknesses. God doesn’t want us to try to be better people? He just wants us to stagnate at status quo morality, because He thinks we’re just swell exactly the way we are? Does that really make sense if you stop and think about it for longer than oh say, I don’t know, ten seconds?

Does God loves the Sons of Ares just the way they are, Gaius? Should they feel free to bring their perfect selves back to your headquarters and take out your scrawny ass? Yeah, I thought so.

I mean, I can see how this philosophy would be extremely appealing to someone who has been compensating for poor self-esteem with arrogance all his life. I can see how maybe the ten-year-old in you is railing at the gods of his childhood for not making sense – who victimize humans because they feel like it (Zeus = serial rapist, yes we get that; was a quid pro quo throwing around of statues and ranting really the most pro-active answer you could come up with to the Sons of Ares attack? Real frakking mature, Gaius). But what are you moving towards? To the idea that we all have the divine spark within us? Sure. To the idea that your creator loves you and doesn’t want you to live in fear of attracting his or her attention, lest you offend him or provoke his baser desires? Okay. To the idea that we’re perfect? With all the arrogance and laziness and self-justified cupidity that such an idea implies?

Wait, no.

Gaius, if you get to Earth and become a televangelist with your own One True God ™ theme park, I’m so gonna kick your ass. And I’ll let the Sons of Ares watch.

Nevertheless, whatever Baltar means by all this new talk, it’s a little this side of scary, because this time it’s for real. No matter that he stole the idea an hour earlier from Tory. He believes in it, fervently, in a “this is too important to take time to wash the blood off my face first” kind of way. I don’t think he was just punch drunk. I think Lee was just starting to get this through his head by the end of the episode, and he looked kind of horrified. When he gets back to Colonial One and the Quorum, I think Roslin is going to be waiting for him with a big ol’ plateful of humble pie, and he’s going to feel too guilty not to eat it.

And yet, I feel so torn about all that, because what’s so weird about this Baltar craziness is that you know on a fundamental level, Roslin is right: What Gaius Baltar could do with blind religious devotion, especially at the foot of Head!Six, IS potentially hide-under-the-table terrifying; and yet, Roslin is advocating civil liberties abuses that are kinda freaking me out.

Oh show. There you go again, putting me into the morally gray end of the pool and leaving me to thrash around. And yet you know I’ll be back next week. Besides, I’m pretty sure you’re making my fangirl wish come true next week. The Dread Pirate Gaeta!

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2 comments

  1. Millari, I just found your recaps over here, and I love them! You crack me up. And I cannot wait to see Dread Pirate Gaeta…. and to read your take on it!


  2. Thanks, blueheaven! I’m glad you like them as much as I enjoy writing them! Gaeta Pirate Fans, Unite!



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