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Episode Review: “Sine Qua Non”

June 2, 2008

For an episode that was jampacked with so much WTF-ery, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it in the end. Because there were times when my beloved characters did things that utterly shocked me, and I really had to think about to decide whether I thought they were even in character.

Let’s start with the big one:

Adama Resigns
This move actually sort of reminded me immediately of an episode of The West Wing, of all things, where President Bartlett decides to temporarily resign as president because terrorists have kidnapped his daughter and are demanding that he release political prisoners if he wants to see her alive again. He know he can’t have any objectivity about his daughter, so he turns over the reins of power to someone he’s not at all sure will hold the job responsibly, and may do it in a way that’s contrary to all his beliefs.

So here we have Adama, realizing he can’t be objective about the Cylons having “kidnapped” (of course we don’t know at this point what the Cylons intended about that) Laura Roslin and so turning over the reins of the Fleet to Tigh. Um, here’s the part that creeps me out: Bill just caught out Tigh having sex with a prisoner, and not only that, a Cylon prisoner. Uh, Bill, remember that vitriol-filled little speech you gave a few minutes earlier to Sharon about jeopardizing the Cylon-Human truce? Ditto, your best friend. And by the way, your best buddy Tigh is now basically in the same position as you are in – running the Fleet in danger of becoming completely unobjective about a woman. Oh, and did I mention? She’s a Cylon??? How is this any different than you? You might as well stay in charge.

Okay, okay, I know the answer to that one. Because she’s your sine qua non, in an episode full of sine qua nons. And I admit, I got all misty-eyed when Bill told Lee that he couldn’t live without Roslin. And it was exciting to see Bill stalking down the hangar deck in his Viper suit (where did they get a suit that size, btw, because as much as I love Bill Adama and think he’s one hell of a badass, he’s kind of unfit for the job of Viper pilot, and I was kind of lol’ing at the thought of them scouring Galactica looking for a suit that would fit him) and saying “Whaddya hear, Starbuck?” to his son and faux daughter. And Bear McCreary’s music during the whole scene at the end where Adama sits in that raptor with Searider Falcon, the book he gave Roslin and said he’s never finished, and opens it like he’s going to finally read that ending he told Laura he never did because he didn’t want the book to end.

“I ran some tests on your Cylon prisoner…”
So, this was telegraphed so obviously in the previews two weeks ago, that half the net was buzzing already with the implications of Caprica Six being pregnant, of which there are many – some intriguing and some disturbing. For starters, I don’t even want to think about how Caprica is yet another Six model who the humans have been having sex with while under captivity, because well, I want to like Col. So and So. And well, even if you take the whole thing as not manipulative and exploitative on his part, and her as an equal player in it, well, he’s not seeing Caprica, he’s seeing his dead wife when they sleep together, and he still seems to think he has the right to smack Caprica around when he wants to. It’s all very frakked up and disturbing, and I’m not sure how Bill could think that Tigh’s in love with her, except that he doesn’t want to think of his best friend of several years as a rapist.

Also seriously made of disturbing? Caprica may be manipulating Tigh, we just don’t know. But she’s certainly acting right now like she’s falling in love with Tigh, or something. When Caprica’s in love with someone, typically she makes a point of touching them; she did this all the time with Baltar, and then later, with D’Anna, when she entered into the Prettiest Threesome of Doom. Here, Caprica touches Tigh in ways that definitely suggest intimacy on her part, whereas Tigh returns with violence. Oh, Caprica, you always choose the brokey ones, don’t you? And given that the Cylons have long believed that Cylons can’t get pregnant unless there is love involved, I have to wonder if Caprica is reverse-translating this into, I’m pregnant, therefore I must be in love with Col. Tigh, even if she isn’t really. Because she shouldn’t be really.

But I am fascinated in a trainwreck sort of way about where this pregnancy is going. And on a shallow note, I am looking forward to the potential LOLs at imagining Baltar’s face when he gets back from the fugitive basestar and finds out that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with whose baby???

Lee Adama: Philosopher King
Okay, Lee has had a mancrush on democracy since forever now, since the Miniseries, really. This is why I have a real hard time swallowing how this character could possibly think that it made sense to install him as President, when nobody voted for him (except the Quorum, who seem to be a bunch of empty shirts anyway) and when he’s the son of the guy who’s basically revealed himself to be the military dictator of the Fleet. And well, it was painfully obvious to everyone watching, except Lee of course, that Lee was going to end the episode as President. What I found disturbingly amusing about that particular development was remembering Baltar’s prediction to Tyrol at the end of “Dirty Hands” last season – “Do you seriously think that this fleet will ever be run by someone whose last name isn’t Adama?”

That being said, the episode seemed to be setting Lee up as the most fit man for the job because he is essentially one of Plato’s philosopher kings – the kind of men Plato though most fit to rule because they had no ambition to rule, and so therefore would only have the best interests of their people in mind. The philosopher kings, were by implication, rich, wise but humble men who didn’t need to seek power for money or for power’s sake. I get that, but as much as I like Lee and his moral code most of the time, I have to admit that he’s kind of indecisive when he’s not in a Viper, and frankly, right now the Fleet does need a leader who can make a decision on a dime.

That’s not Lee. I mean, it ended up that the next president got picked essentially by Romo and Lee sitting in a back room, but at first Lee was ready to have an extended search committee process to select a new president, an idea at which even Pissed-off Rightful President Zarek was like, “LOL, grow up Leland.” And I found it kind of disturbing that the Lee Adama who once committed mutiny in favor of the legitimate power of the Executive Office and held a gun to Col. Tigh’s head to do it was like, “Oh, well, you know my dad! He’s quite the prickly pair. He’ll never listen to Zarek. I guess we just better completely throw away the line of succession, roll over and accept it.” And also, if Lee really cared about democracy, why didn’t he step down after his father left and push for Tigh to accept Zarek as President?

*sigh*

RDM, I Love You to Pieces. But You Are Not M. Night Shayamalan
So Romo returns. And sees dead people cats. I think they’ve gone a little overboard with the Head!People when it starts crossing species, honestly.

I was very excited at the return of Romo. Mark Sheppard completely won me over last season with his performance, because honestly, I sometimes found the dialogue written for Romo a bit precious; but Mark played the lines with such panache, it was sheer brilliance, and I just didn’t worry about it. I think he got kind of the short shrift in this episode, as glad as I was to see him and his walking, quirky patchwork of observations on the human psyche back on my screen. I felt kind of bad for him having to play out that gun-toting scene, because I didn’t think it got built up very well, and then also, some of his lines about who makes a good president were so more-Romo-than-Romo that I found them kind of unrealistic to be coming out of anyone’s mouth – even a crazy guy who’s seeing his dead cat everywhere.

Speaking of the dead cat: I didn’t see it coming, although I guess I should have, once I talked to other people. They noticed that sometimes when Romo looks at Lance, Lee’s voice is all echoed, as if Romo is in another world. There’s a shot towards the middle where we see Lance on the bed next to Romo, then we cut away and he’s not there, then we cut back and he’s there again, illogically. Plus, there’s an awkward cut in Romo’s second-to-last scene (where he’s writing Lee’s name on the whiteboard), where we see Lance on the bed, then see Romo make as if to pack him up, except that we never see Lance actually put into his carrying case.

I can get that Romo got sent over the edge by losing the last vestige of his old life. The pathos of that, given that he always claimed never to like the cat very much, was kind of compelling. I was down with that. I had no problem with Romo not wanting those rotten dregs of humanity getting a chance to thrive and kill someone else’s cat just because he defended a guy whom someone had to defend in order for there to be a democracy. I get it.

What didn’t really make sense to me was how it all led to Lee Adama is a Shining Beacon of Hope. Really? Is that what people think of Lee Adama? He’s completely inexperienced for the Presidency. He’s the son of the aforementioned military dictator. He’s been a Quorum delegate for about 20 minutes. I mean granted, the Quorum does seem rather ineffectual, but I would think that the average person in the Fleet might see Lee Adama as a member of an elite who has drifted from prestigious job to prestigious job that has been handed to him (yes, like the keys to the daddy’s sportscar, to paraphrase Kendra Shaw), then left the Good Guys to save Baltar from the airlock. I mean, I call serious shennanigans on this one, because ahem – they killed Romo’s cat, and who had ever heard of Romo before Baltar’s trial?

Sharon Agathon: All This Has Happened Before…
I have to say, I’m kind of bewildered as to what is going on in Sharon’s brain lately. She is paranoid about Hera being taken away from her. I can understand that. Those visions must be plaguing her. But she knows very well that the Six in her visions that she’s been sharing with Roslin are of Caprica Six. Why does she suspect Natalie? Just because Natalie knew Hera’s name? Um, did she forget that that she and Natalie are Cylons??? They SHARE BRAINZ half the time! Besides, Hera was on a basestar for HOW MANY MONTHS? Oh, and not to mention, in trying to protect Hera from being stolen away by Baltar and Six and given to the Final Five, Sharon essentially cut out the middleman and handed Hera over to one of the FF. Oh, the irony.

ANYWAY.

Nevertheless, all I have to say about the scene with Sharon in Adama’s quarters was that it was very reminiscent of Adama going off on Kara back in Season 1 when he found out about Zak. Perhaps deliberately so. Because I was reminded about something regarding Bill: He has a tendency to pick these special people to adopt as his faux children or faux sibling (Tigh), often at the expense of affection to his own actual children, but whatever. Still, when you cross Papadama, he is the meanest, most vicious, most below-the-belt father figure ever. That whole scene, I kept chanting to myself, “He’s being such a terrible dad right now…” But as always, Adama always comes back around eventually, because well, he’s a big old softie at the end of the day. Cain was kind of right about him in that way, I have to admit.

Sine Qua Nons
Ok, to wrap up, here’s my sine qua nons count. Let me know if you saw more:

  • Adama’s was Roslin
  • Tigh’s is Ellen
  • Romo’s is Lance
  • Sharon’s is Hera
  • Lee’s is the trappings of democracy

Interestingly, the most obvious (and some might say infamous) of all the sine qua nons shown to us in the episode (Kara and Lee) really packed no punch in this episode. I saw none of the starcrossed chemistry between these two. They barely looked at each other when seeing Dad off to save Mom. Have we truly seen the end of Kara and Lee? Oh, and incidentally, is Kara suddenly back to normal? She sure seemed to be, running the CAP and everything, looking very Season 1/Season 2 Kara.

Well, next week looks pretty intriguing, as the camera lens settles back onto the runaway basestar. Will we find out what happened to Roslin, Baltar, Helo and half of Galactica’s pilots? Will we find out how they destroyed the Hub? Will the humans find out the secret identities of the Dylan Four? Will the Hybrid tell Roslin anything more interesting and prophetic than “JUMP!”

Tune in next week….

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2 comments

  1. Another great review, Millari! Yes, I was very happy that Bill finally admitted he can’t live without Laura. *squee* But there were oh so many reasons why he should NOT have let the fleet leave him behind for a rendezvous that might never happen. That he could go from chewing out & punching out Tigh to hugging him at the end was a stretch I had trouble making.

    Loved Tricia Helfer’s continuing performance as Caprica. I got the distinct impression that she has the ability to project the image of Ellen into Tigh’s mind. I recalled from “Flesh & Bone” that she never asked Athena if she loved Helo, just if he loved her. Perhaps they think it is only necessary for the man to be in love for the woman to conceive. She knows Tigh loved/loves Ellen and so uses that image to entice him. Curiouser and curiouser….

    Romo….great to have him back, but I agree, it looked like they crafted a script just to bring him back, not because they really needed him. The scene between Romo & Bill had such a lame premise. I was glad to see Jake the dog again, but not sure Romo’s going to be the best owner…

    Yeah, spent a lot of time going, “What the f***?!”


  2. Your point about Lee acquiescing to exactly the same tyranny that had earlier led him to mutiny is well-taken. However, his reason for doing so is sound: his father will not recognize Zarek as even interim president. Since the fleet needs a civilian leader who can work with the Admiral, someone else must fill that role. True, Lee could have fought about more, but he’s older and wiser and knows, as we know, that it won’t make any difference. Lee is a man of principles, and remains so. He’s merely acting on his insight from the end of last season: that they are a gang on the run, and they must do as they must do to survive.

    As for the wisdom of appointing him president: we haven’t seen much of him doing his new job, but what we have seen suggests that he’s actually good at it. Moreover, the Kendra Shaw dig applies here as it did before, but as it turned out, Lee was actually a good choice to command the Pegasus. I bet he’ll be a good choice for chief executive, too.

    So to add to your list of sine qua nons:

    the fleet must have the galactica

    the military must recognize civilian rule



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