A Leoben is discovered onboard one of the ships in the fleet; Starbuck interrogates (tortures) him and hears some good and bad news from the wordiest Cylon ever. On Caprica, not-Boomer decides to abandon the Cylon plan for her and Helo, and I’m going to start calling her Athena to celebrate her break with her people. I’m sure she’s thrilled.
A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.
Whew, a lot goes on this episode; no wonder it’s one of my favorites. We’ll start with the quick ones.
After the last episode, I will admit that my Gaius hatred settled down a bit, but “Flesh and Bone” just brings it right back to the surface. In the grand scheme of the genocide, Gaius really was more of a pawn than anything else, so it’s easier to forgive that (although it takes a long time to get there), but the moments where he knowingly works against the people who protect him are damn near unforgiveable.
Here, he discovers that Boomer is a Cylon, and he doesn’t tell her. Fair enough; Head Six was probably right, she would have switched into Cylon mode and just killed him. But afterward, he chose to keep that information quiet, and he put everyone in danger because he had nothing to gain personally from this revelation. It’s moments like this one, and the nuke, and the death warrant, that just make me despise him and want him dead.
The opening of “Flesh and Bone” is one of my favorite scenes in the series, mostly because it’s a freaky dream sequence, but it also has some broader truths to convey. Dreams don’t always have meaning in real life, but they always mean something in our entertainment.
Before the revelations of “Sometimes a Great Notion,” I was fairly sure that Roslin was the final Cylon, and her dream here provided some intriguing evidence to support that theory. When in danger, she runs from the Marines and toward the Cylon, who protects her. Of course, that theory has been unceremoniously debunked, but watching it now, I think the dream is about getting her to put Leoben and Starbuck together. Like Joan learned, it can suck to be catalyst, but sometimes you need an intermediary.
With that segue, let’s take about the torture.
If all the season one episodes were like “Flesh and Bone,” it could easily be my favorite. Season Two will delve into later, but we see, fresh off the pain of losing their world, the humans are not willing to see the humanity of their enemy.
Leoben is a machine, and you can’t hurt a machine, so Starbuck has zero problem (and takes a bit of delight in) watching him suffer. She had convinced herself that it’s ok, but as the episode goes on, she slowly recognizes that he is not an It; he can’t turn off the pain; and he may not be human, but he’s more than machine. It’s a subtle transformation, and Sackhoff once again shows that she was the right pick for this complicated and damaged woman.
“Pegasus” will explore that theme a bit further, but constantly we see the point raised – “You can’t love a machine.” “You can’t rape a machine.” But if you do love ‘it,’ is it still just a machine? The Cylons have been manufactured, but they look like humans; if they can pass every test (except Baltar’s), aren’t they human too?
(Yes, I know all these questions have been pored through before; I still want to consider them this time around.)
Admidst all the blood and bruising, we get to see the beginning of the downright creepy relationship between Leoben and Starbuck. One of the missed opportunities of the last run of episodes in season four is that Leoben really wasn’t around (I believe the actor had other work) and he didn’t have to deal with Starbuck 2.0 after she discovered her body on Earth.
Leoben’s always the one talking about her destiny, her path, and while he knows she’s special, he never really knew how much. He loved her like he loves God; from a distance, with patience, and with certainty that everything will eventually be ok. He was right in the long run, but I would have liked to have seen more of him.
Adama certainly had Leoben’s numbers; he doesn’t lie, he tells the truth and mixes it with lies to create havoc. One of the big themes of the first season is how fractured the humans are, while the Cylons (with the exception of Athena) are unified in their goals. Right here with Leoben’s fake secret whisper (“Adama is a Cylon”) to Roslin, we see that the biggest danger to the humanity is themselves; they will rip each other apart more effectively than any Cylon will.
Next up: “Tigh Me Up Tigh Me Down”