Episode Review: “Faith”May 16, 2008
Well, file this review under the header of “better late than never”. Sorry for anyone who came looking for this review earlier in the week, but it’s been a busy one, and well, I think there was a lot of tough emotional stuff in this episode to try and process that may have made it difficult to squeeze into stolen moments of writing time this week.Anyway, there was a definite lack of humor in this week’s episode, perhaps the only possibilities being the bittersweet moments of humor between Laura and her fellow cancer patient and the quietly panicked expressions on Sam’s face every time he got close to Cylons, Cylon goo, or heard anything about the Final Five. And speaking of Sam, I again give you (what there is of one):
Your Dylan Four Weeky Update:
Tory: Surprising lack of crazy
Tyrol, Tigh: MIA this week
Anders: Armed and freaking out. A lot.
The Mutiny on the Demetrius
Okay, so I have to get this out of the way – THEY SHOT GAETA!!!
Writers? When I said give Gaeta more to do, I didn’t mean die of gangrene! I mean, I had a feeling from the spoilery trailer that the knee shooting was going to happen, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be so HORRIBLE. Will Gaeta lose his leg? Hmmm…after I got over the initial shock, I decided that no, I don’t think so. They done have time to get into a secondary character’s recovery arc, not when there’s alliances to be made and Earth to find and The Shape of Things to Come to sort out, y’all. So I’m thinking that was there just to ratchet up the tension during this episode, and it’ll all end happily by the next two episodes. But wow, Alessandro Juliani, who plays Gaeta, really sold me on just how much it would frakking hurt to get shot in the knee. That has so gone on my list of things I never want to happen to me.
Incidentally, I loved Helo in this episode. He was so calm in the middle of chaos – Sam going all Rambo, Gaeta screaming his head off with a gunshot wound, Kara screaming that she needs a medkit, and every Marine on the ship pointing guns everywhere. And the way he bothered to come and check on Gaeta of course also won my heart. I do have to admit that i was almost worth Gaeta getting shot to get that really hearbreaking scene between him and Helo. I love how the writers have set up hints of a friendship between these two guys ever since Helo took over as temporary XO at the end of Season 3, because damnit, it’s about time someone treats my boy nice. Gaeta’s assignment to The Demetrius was a nice followup to that, and so by the time we get to this scene, I was really believing the pain of this interaction for the two of them.
Gaeta knew better, but somewhere in his heart, you could tell he wished Helo would pick him over Kara, over the mission. And Helo knew he’d never do it, but you could tell it hurt him to have to say he’d never jump the ship early, even for a friend, even to save his leg. The friendship that has been slowly hinted at between these two had such a great payoff in how hard a decision it was for Helo, despite it being absolutely clear to him where his loyalties lay.
Speaking of loyalty, Sharon “Athena” Agathon provided an interesting, if at times confusing meditation on what loyalty really means, and what she was willing to do to stick with her chosen side.
But before we get into that, can I just say wow was it emotionally satisfying to see Kara’s vision have some concrete connection to reality, even if it wasn’t Earth that she saw? I felt so incredibly happy for her when she started laughing. It felt like Season 1 Kara. And how much I loved the moment when Leoben in his perpetually gleefully clueless way tells Athena how going to the damaged basestar will be like a homecoming for her and she doesn’t even dignify him with an answer, she just mutters, “Keep him the frak away from me.” Leoben can be such a monstrous character sometimes, but then there are times where you get a window into how clueless his cruelty, how strangely boyish he can be, and how the other Cylons must just think of him as such the whack job (further reinforced by Natalie’s offhand comment later on in the episode that they’ve all been “very tolerant of your model’s obsession with [Kara Thrace].”
Ok, back to Athena: She does some very emotionally difficult things by going back to that basestar, and I think it was played in a really nice, understated way by Grace Park. Besides simply confronting the fellow Cylons she betrayed when she left old Caprica with Helo, Athena has to stick her hand in the Cylon data goo, which basically means hooking herself back up to a data bank that once gave her all the memories of her sister Eights and possibly the Hybrid. In other words, imagine going back to the family from which you were so estranged you hated them and never talked to them anymore. Then imagine that you were forced to receive all of their emotions, their memories and sort through them. I think this is what is happening to Athena when she sticks her hand in that goo and why the expression on her face is so clearly pained.
So when she gets to the final denouement of her journey, when the Centurion shoots one of the Eights for taking the Hybrid offline, Sharon cannot fulfill her request and take her dying sister’s hand. She has made her choice and moving back and forth between the two sides is just too painful and too full of risk for her. Ever since Athena was accepted into the Colonial fleet as one its own, she has always been on her guard, as if she let herself slip for just a second, all that she has sacrificed to be with the Colonials might become meaningless, and all the good will she has built up might become meaningless. It’s almost as if she doesn’t trust herself to interact with her fellow Cylons anymore, although this may just be fanwank, since I have no proof of it.
And yet, it’s fascinating that on the Demetrius, she was engaging in what basically was the same thing her sister Eights ask her to do – lead a mutiny. While she didn’t actually invoke the military law to relieve Kara of duty (she left that to Helo the XO to do), she was quietly planting the seed for a long time.
Sam I Am
Poor Sammy. He had the most adorable panicked expressions this week. When Kara and the Cylons were like, “Hey! The Final Five know where Earth is! And we can find out who they are by going and asking the Threes! Hurray!” Sam got this terrified look in his eyes that said, “Crap. I don’t know what’s worse: That they’re going to find out I’m a Cylon or that I have no idea where Earth is.”
Sam went through sort of a mirror image experience to Athena – who was desperately trying to maintain boundaries between herself and the Cylons who used to have an intense emotional connection with her. Sam is hovering between establishing that connection and falling back on a connection that means less and less to him these days. After all, do we really get a sense that Sam wanted to be a pilot? Really? He seems to not be very good at it. He doesn’t talk about flying with any joy, like say the way that Kara used to. And his connection with Kara is clearly going nowhere. She insults him, treats him like a frak toy or else ordering him around by his last name, like just another one of her soldiers.
No, he’s the first to volunteer to go with Kara to the basestar, and I don’t think it was because Kara was going. Not really. He desperately wants to touch that Cylon goo and find out who Sam Anders really is.
Yet, this man was a Resistance fighter on two planets. He doesn’t give up that identity so easily, even as he is desperately trying to find out what it means to be a Cylon while hiding that fact from everyone around him. The moment where he tells the Six who kills Jean Barolay “You’re a machine! You’re nothing!” I think is just as directed at himself as it is at the Six. In her he sees the kind of person he could become, someone who could kill a living, breathing being with the flick of a hand, and with about that much thought. And he says ostensibly to Kara: “I’m not going to do it.” I took that as possibly being a reference to him not giving in to his Cylon identity. It’s an interesting role reversal he ends up in with Kara here, one that recalls “Collaborators” and The Circle. Back then, Sam left the Circle because he wouldn’t be part of a blood for blood way of thinking anymore. But now, we see the poor guy so frazzled by the idea that he and this cavalierly murderous Six might be cut from the same cloth, the poor guy would rather embrace an ugly side of his humanity.
But then, Natalie calls his bluff, shows him what he’s actually running to in refuge, and Sam immediately realizes that it horrifies him. Fairly quickly, he comes full circle from being so terrified of his Cylonhood he’s willing to murder, to giving literal aid and comfort to his supposed enemy – the Eight that gets fatally shot by the Centurion angry with her for taking the Hybrid offline. After a visible moment of indecision, he steps forward and offers comfort and connection where Athena, appropriately, cannot.
An Old Foe, A New God
Laura Roslin’s scenes were just magic this episode, many of them also utterly hard to watch. The scene with Tory, where Laura can’t quite finish her sentences “I’m not quite sure of what I’m doing right…I’m sort of…” and then swallows down that moment where she was just about to lose it? It’s every child’s worst fear – their parents are fallible, human, mortal. Mary McDonnell communicates the humanness, the frailty of this woman, who has served as mother figure to the Fleet for years now with both quiet dignity, and painfully undignified frankness. Just wow. Watching Mary on the screen in many of these scenes made me feel like this little rich fictional world I’ve invested so much time and mental energy into for the last five years was at stake. And to watch its center collapsing in on itself was totally mindcrushing.
I’m not sure what they mean exactly by this, but I was noticing throughout the entire episode that the edits seemed to be associating the Hybrid’s mysterious ramblings with the ramblings of Baltar’s sermons on the wireless. I haven’t bothered to go look up other people’s take on why they would have Baltar’s sermons be riddled with Shakespeare references, nor why both he and the Hybrid would make such similar references to death as another “another country” (Baltar) and “the children of the one reborn” finding “their own country” (the Hybrid). But it’s a fascinating linkage if we take the Hybrid’s words to mean that “the one reborn” is Kara and “their own country” is Earth. It links the finding of Earth to an afterlife or at least death, which makes me wonder again about “You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace.” And who is the “obstinate toy soldier” who “becomes pliant”? I have seen a lot of guesses on the Internet that this is Sam, but somehow, that description sounds more like Lee, the “serial contrarian”. I don’t know what Lee would have to do with all this, but I’m intrigued to wonder how he might be related.
At first, I was really taken aback by Roslin – who as recently as the beginning of the episode was completely skeptical about Baltar and his “fantasy” god talk would be a convert just because of a dream. But the more I thought about it, I realized that this is a woman who has for years now been following her gut instinct. And she is long accustomed now to believing hallucinations, so maybe a dream isn’t a big stretch for her. I still think it’s amazing that she would be able to overcome her hatred of Baltar and skepticism about anything associated with him so suddenly, but I think I’m willing to run with it for another episode or two and see where it goes.
Especially since I don’t have to wait more than an hour now….