We’re back to the two-story frame for episodes; on one side, Roslin and Adama try to get information about the Cylon plan from Baltar – using any means necessary. On the other side, Lee and Starbuck are forced to make a choice about their relationships.
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 what’s always left me so unsatisfied with “The Eye of Jupiter” and “Rapure” two-parter is how busy the episodes are; the writers know they have to reach certain plot points and ‘take care of business’ and while the plot elements are interesting, the plot-plot-plot structure doesn’t provide moments that linger in my mind afterward.
This episode is all about lingering, from shots of Baltar being pushed underwater by the ghost of a dead child, to Lee weeping after losing his wedding ring/wife, to Gaeta’s attempted murder of Baltar, practically every scene sticks around in my mind (in case you were in doubt, this episode is one of my six favorites for the season).
Now, I could understand a viewer who grows impatient/bored at the love-quartet on display here between Lee/Dualla and Anders/Starbuck, but for once, the will-they-or-won’t-they styling doesn’t bother me, mainly because for the all teasing, Starbuck and Lee are not meant to be together, and the show does a fantastic of showing us that.
Lee and Starbuck have a lot in common, and one of the main commonalties is their inability to make a decision without wondering if it’s the right one. Both of them continually go back and forth on their feelings and their actions…could you imagine them trying to make a marriage work? There would be no trust, no consistency, no foundation either one of them could rely on.
Starbuck is a little quicker to realize this, but it doesn’t stop her from offering Lee a shot with her that she will most likely not honor. Lee is the epitome of the ‘don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ school of life, and fortunately he smartens up enough to fight to get his marriage back together.
Truthfully, Dualla and Anders would probably be a lot better off if they cut their spouses out of their lives and never looked back, but well, they are in love, and they want to be with their respective spouses. Ain’t love grand.
On the other side, Roslin and Adama have certainly come a long way; way back in season one, Adama authorized Starbuck to torture Leoben for information. He didn’t want to get his hands dirty and farmed it out to someone who wouldn’t mind, and Roslin put a stop to it when she found out about it.
And now, when they have the man responsible for all their problems in front of them (never mind what Roslin told Adama about that kind of thinking in “Hero”), bring on the sleep deprivation, force feeding, imprisonment without trial and hallucinogenic brain function manipulation. Not all change is good.
Our intrepid leaders are looking for Earth, and they know now that the Cylons are also looking for Earth, and since Baltar spent several weeks (months?) on their ships, giving them information, they conclude that he must know everything the Cylons know. That information is worth any price to their souls, and they never stop to consider that maybe Baltar really is telling them truth when he says he knows nothing.
Yeah, I wouldn’t believe it either. One of the more fascinating aspects of the torture scenes (outside of the unforgettable visuals provided by Edward James Olmos) is how subtly Roslin and Adama switch places. All of a sudden, she’s the one willing to pull back, and he’s the one who is offering to disappear their former president.
She’s all rage and guilt and regret in this episode, still tearing herself apart because she didn’t steal that election and she let Gaius Baltar lead them to the Cylon occupation. He’s just trucking with the rage because after weeks and weeks of losing people and losing food and losing ground, he’s in control and he has all the power.
Together, they are one formidable force that Baltar barely escapes from, and together they bring the humanity back to each other. They decide that, because he’s one of them, he deserves a trial. They are angered at the results of said trial, but they never regret going through with it.
This episode marks the first time I really thought that Head Six was corporeal (at least some of the time). Exhibit A – when Baltar tries to kill himself, she kicks the bed out from under him, something he could not have done for himself.
Gaeta tries to kill Baltar twice in this episode, and his regret there is palpable. Everyone takes Baltar’s treachery personal, but for Gaeta, a man who believed in Baltar and who gave him his presidency, Baltar’s duplicity (even before the Cylons showed up) was a betrayal. Never break an idealist’s heart – it’s never a clean break.
Baltar is another one that has come a long way, somewhat for the better. He’s still a frakker, but he’s developing a bit of a conscience, and while guilt just isn’t in him, he knows what he has done. He’s not a Cylon; he betrayed his people and his “No” response is one of best scenes for the character and my favorite for the actor. It’s an entire journey in one word.
Kudos to Tyrol for not getting sucked into Lee’s pity party of regret. Lee, your marital problems are your own business, not anybody else’s.
That move Roslin does with the lighter – classic.
Next up: “The Woman King”