Battlestar Galactica: A Measure of Salvation

The Fleet discovers the diseased ship in the Lion’s Head Nebula, and after a talk with one near-death survivor, Roslin and Adama come up with a Final Solution to the Cylon problem. On Baltar’s basestar, Three and Caprica Six interrogate (torture) Baltar about his *knowledge* of the fatal Cylon virus.

 

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.

I think one of the reasons I like Season Three so much is that it questions your preconceptions about who the good guys are. Sure, the Cylons are still the bad guys (who are becoming better), but we can already see the moral playing field getting a little tricky to navigate.

 

We got the humans, our *heroes,* deciding to wipe out an entire race, essentially killing off their rebellious offspring because they cannot be controlled. Helo was absolutely right in his big speech to Roslin and Adama: if they go through with it, this will be the moment where they will murder their souls. Even if the Cylon are monsters, Cylon genocide is just as monstrous.  

 

Let’s be fair here; Roslin’s thinking isn’t wrong either. The Cylons are still out there, bent on destroying the humans and taking Earth for themselves. New Caprica demonstrated just how much humans and Cylons are not able to play together (right now anyway), and to battle-weary soldiers and leaders on both sides, peace through genocide doesn’t sound like a bad plan.

 

(Just an aside; this episode is a perfect example of how I can love Laura Roslin despite the horrible things she does. Here, she knows Helo’s right – even if they are machines, she’s authorizing genocide. But, she looks at her future and her actions with unblinking eyes. She makes a choice, knowing that her descendants will condemn her for it, but it’s the only way to ensure her progeny will be around to damn her. And when it doesn’t work out, she has the grace to let the matter rest and let Helo get away with it. Again, brilliant. Now back to the real commentary.)

 

But, we are watching a TV show; this episode was never going to end with the total annihilation of the Cylons. Helo came through for his people (and his wife’s people) by killing the Cylon prisoners before they could download and spread the virus across the Cylon nation. He did it with the best intentions, to save all their souls, to keep them from losing another chunk of their humanity.

 

But, it doesn’t work that way. Roslin and Adama made their choice – they gave the plan the go-ahead, they pushed the button. The part of them they gave up doesn’t come back just because the plan didn’t work out. Helo’s double-cross was a stop-gap, not a cure, but no one will realize that for a while.

 

In the B plot, the Cylons are practicing some human tricks they picked up; Three (with the consent of the other Cylons, including Caprica Six) tortures Baltar for information about the virus. She keeps asking him who made it, is there a cure, is he communicating with the Fleet.

 

This is the first time we see Baltar tortured this season (and in an amazing coincidence, the second time is in another of my favorite episodes), and both times, it’s heartbreaking to watch. What this show gets right about torture scenes (other than torture isn’t a reliable method of getting information) is the toll it takes on the torturer.

 

Roslin hates Baltar, almost as much as she hates the Cylons (hey, maybe more), she ordered the destruction of an entire race, but even she weeps at his suffering and pain. Three is so moved by his pleas (for forgiveness, for love, for trust), she releases him (and ends up joining his quest for the final five down the road).     

 

Three plays a big part in this season, and already, she’s questioning her programmed beliefs and taboos (like Baltar, like Athena). and she’s becoming willing to fight back against enforced ignorance. It will cost her so much, but I bet she would say it was worth it.

 

Next up: “Hero”