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Episode Review: “The Hub”

June 9, 2008

Check behind the cut for millari‘s review of the latest episode — the one that made at least one legion of shippers go awwww….

Fleet Mom is dying.

We got a brutal, up-close examination of that fact this week. No hybrid baby’s blood to save her this time, no chance of avoiding the inevitable. This week’s episode opened with shots of what apparently will be Roslin’s end one of these days soon in sickbay, a slow, silent, gasping death from cancer. One suspects that it may even be a death accelerated by this unexpected separation from the Fleet and lack of regular access to the Doloxan that Roslin was taking to fight the cancer.

And not only is this death made difficult and ugly to watch by its very nature, we are given an extra layer of ugliness to it, thanks to our latest Head!Person – Elosha. Yes, you heard me right. Elosha, who died in Season 2. (Personally, I’d been hoping for Head!Billy all along, but Elosha is pretty awesome too, and she makes a lot of sense, perhaps even more sense, since she was Roslin’s religious advisor.) Head!Elosha appears here as Roslin’s spiritual guide and turns out to be the toughest cookie of all the Head!People so far, beating out even Head!Baltar and Head!Leoben for the award for Least Likely to Tell their Charges Happy Shiny Things They Want to Hear.

Turns out Elosha has a lot to say about the Roslin we’ve been seeing in the last throes of Season 3 and much of Season 4: In the name of a noble, selfless cause, Roslin’s become disturbingly hard, ruthless, inaccessible. As Elosha puts it, “You don’t love people.”

But Roslin doesn’t seem to learn much from this. She immediately turns around and tells Helo some pretty ruthless things, even after he raises the issue of how dangerous the mission is, how the Cylons are taking as huge a risk as the humans are, and in fact, have more to lose from it, since if it successful, they will forever lose their ability to resurrect. Roslin has no sympathy for them and seems determined to take the first chance to betray them, unable to imagine that the Cylons would act any differently given half the chance. She seems uninterested in examining the deeper implications of these rebel Cylons being willing to open their species to the possibility of extinction in short order (Cylons don’t exactly reproduce easily, lest we forget.) And even the humans are going to have a pretty hard time keeping their species alive with less than 40,000 souls left. So it’s very likely that this move by the rebels heralds the beginning of the end of the Cylon species. (Could this be what the Hybrid meant when she told Starbuck that she is the “harbinger of death” who will “lead them all to their end”? What if all along, the Hybrid meant the end of the Cylons? Additionally frightening to contemplates is how that might fit in with Head!Six’s assertion in Season 2 to Baltar that she’s an angel of God sent to guide him “to the end of the human race.”)

I loved the banter between Roslin and Elosha. But I found it particularly disturbing when Roslin asked her, “Are you saying that humanity died because I did?” and Elosha replies with an answer that seems reassuring on the surface, but contains a potential hidden prophecy slipped right by Roslin (and us) in plain sight. When Elosha answers with a chuckle, “Humanity didn’t die because you did,” notice that she doesn’t actually deny that humanity died.  Which leads us to some key moments in the episode:

Are We Worth Saving?

“I did not see a garden. I saw a scar. This island had saved my life and I had done it no service.”  These words, which Adama reads to Roslin, (from a story that reads just like a Dashiel Hammett pulp adventure story-Adama enjoys a morally bleak fictional universe, like those of us watching the show) loop back to touch on the issue he raised in the mini-series, and that the show is foregrounding again as it hurtles towards Earth and its conclusion: do we deserve to survive? Are we more than a blight upon the world?

Helo’s Dilemma:
First of all, did anyone else find it sort of odd and slightly disturbing how easily Helo kept falling into subconsciously thinking that the Eight with whom he was working on this basestar was his wife Athena? Roslin was dead on when she chided him, “You’re not married to the entire production line.” And yet, Helo continues to being right on the money, when he tells her that it isn’t honest, and therefore a bad idea to betray the cylons. It neatly parallels the choice Laura faces in letting Baltar live or die: it’s not so much about what they would do, or what they have done in the past, but who she is and what she does, right then and there. A pity Elosha didn’t needle her about this choice, too.

And Speaking of Baltar:

Is Baltar’s scene with the Centurion there to serve an actual purpose, or just to make him seem more of a jackass so that later when Roslin tries to kill him, we have more sympathy for her intentions? Is this going to lead to a new robot uprising, and will the humans and skinjobs have to team up to survive? Are the drone models going to develop a voice? (It’s a telling contrast that the original Cylon models could speak, whereas the new Centurions, the ones that still actually look like ‘walking chrome toasters’, can’t. It’s so much easier for the skinjobs to ignore the will of literally voiceless masses.)  Baltar rousing the robot rabble then explosively transitions to Baltar bleeding out in front of Laura.

True Confessions

So, I have to say, James Callis’ acting was pretty amazing in this scene, managing to squeeze moments of gentle humor out of what was a very tense, grisly scene, filled with physical agony and intense confessional: One moment, Baltar is whimpering in agony from what looks like a very painful wound. The next moment, he is half-drunk on morpha, comically confessing to Roslin that he finds her “very pretty,” like a kindergartener with a crush on the teacher (it even seems to throw Roslin for a loop momentarily). Then, without warning, he is giving Roslin everything she has wanted to hear since “Six Degrees of Separation” – an admission of his guilt. She never so much wanted to hear Baltar admit complicity in the Attacks; she probably already has already known since the end of Season 3 that Baltar didn’t betray humanity intentionally. What she’s really wanted to hear is that Baltar feels guilty about it. And she got that this episode. Unlike his implied confession in “Taking A Break From All Your Worries,” here Baltar lays it all out plainly: He admits that he gave the Cylons access to the Colonial defense grid and that he had “soulcrushing guilt” because of it. Pretty heady stuff. And yet, in a moment just as emotional, Baltar is comical: “you need God, Laura,” he says, like he’s offering a bong hit of his primo weed.  Mary McDonnell is no slouch either in this scene.  One can see her body freeze with predatory anticipation when Baltar first mentions his guilt.  She handles the scene perfectly, projecting delicate ruthlessness as Roslin exploits Baltar’s delirium, luring him into revealing his most closely held secret.

Pike: Dead Man Snarking

Wow, Pike the Red Shirt was so annoying me this episode. Every time he opened his mouth I found myself strangely, disturbingly gleeful to know in the back of my mind that he was already dead. I also found it odd that he would have such little sense of military protocol, that he would feel comfortable defying his CAG in front of everyone – both his fellow pilots and the Cylon ones. Of course, Pike has been through quite a bit at this point, what with the hijinks on the Demetrius, I suppose (and he was already complaining even then) to convince him that military protocol is hardly worth the manual it’s printed on. Also, like every other pilot recruited from the Fleet, he’s never been through Basic Training.  He hasn’t been indoctrinated to FOLLOW ORDERS, the way the few remaining older pilots have.  Maybe, if he’d shut up and listen to the advice of a proven survivor like Helo, his frozen corpse wouldn’t have been floating around in his Raptor for poor Racetrack to find.

Still, in the moment of explaining this critical plan to the troops, any other CAG, say Starbuck, would have seen the need to very visibly put Pike in his place right then and there, and Helo’s heart is just not in it. He’s just never seemed like the ideal guy to put in charge of a bunch of cocky, even arrogant Viper pilots. But it’s fascinating that the not-Athena Eight is far better at whipping Pike, etc. into shape than affable old Karl is.

Adama/Roslin shippers: Ready … Set … SQUEE!

So, Jiminy Elosha gets Roslin back in touch with her own humanity again, largely by showing us how devastated the Adama family (Papadama, Lee & Kara) are at her death bed. She’s unmoved, until she sees Adama crying, almost whimpering, when her heart finally stops. (Can we get an amen for EJO absolutely selling this moment? Not a Shatner bone in that man’s body.) And then he puts his wedding ring on her dead hand. And that’s when the President’s heart went from three sizes too small to two sizes too big. Flashing back to reality, and Laura is suddenly desperate to save Gaius, a man she has wanted dead for months if not years. (And an amen for Mary McD, too?)

Leading to the beautiful moment when Adama and Roslin see each other again. Either your heart warms to see such a touching scene, or you are dead inside. What a great ending to a roller-coaster episode. Now RDM and company just have to bring Lee and Kara together, and most of BSG ship-dom can die happy.

Next week:

One can’t, and shouldn’t, judge an episode by its previews, but I’ll venture this prediction: they make it to Earth. Which means that they’ll have TEN episodes of making sense of what they find. I have no idea how they’ll do that, but I definitely would never have predicted it at any time over the past four years.

(Oh, and thanks to wyrdwritere for a few suggesting a few notions. Like Shatner bones. Blame that on him.)

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