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Battlestar Galactica: Islanded in a Stream of Stars

Illustration for article titled Battlestar Galactica: Islanded in a Stream of Stars
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I've never served on a ship, never enlisted in the Navy. Maybe that's why I don't care more about the Battlestar Galactica. I'm not broken up about her slow, groaning death, and I'm only feeling second-hand the pain that Adama goes through as he stalks around the work areas or slaps a pointless coat of paint on a wall. His girl's dying. They couldn't have hit us any harder on the head about that. But I always thought of her as a means to an end, just the boat that would take everybody to Earth. Still, the end of the show means the end of the ship. She has five more jumps, in her, tops. And tonight, Adama gives up. He gives the order to stop the repairs, strip the vessel, and unload the civilians.

And he promises that she's going to go out "in style."

But that'll happen next week. We've got one more episode next week, and then the grand finale, which is apparently 12-hours long and narrated by Ken Burns. Tonight they really just moved the pieces around, so let's recap:

Last week, Boomer managed to steal Hera out from under everybody's watchful eyes, sneaking her in a crate (!) onto a raptor and jumping back to Brother Cavil. It's a long trip, and Boomer starts screaming at the crying child and threatening her with a morphine shot. (Boy, have I been there.) But as soon as they both settle down, Boomer starts to bond with little Hera. She gives the girl some chocolate, and she also discovers that Hera can project, which means that she can see the house Boomer always wanted to build, and play in the bedroom that Boomer's daughter would have had. They get pretty close - and then Boomer brings her back to the Cylon base, to Cavil, who pulls Hera from her arms and takes her to some creepy room where, we learn, "You'll have all sorts of new playmates pretty soon." I sense a re-kidnapping on the horizon.

About the Cylons: we still have stuff to learn about them in the home stretch, and this week we get to see their home base, the Colony. It follows the bio-creepy designs of the other Cylon vessels. It's vast and honeycombed, and actually looks like a hornet's nest. It's not clear (unless I missed the excuse) why the rebel Cylons didn't mention this place to Adama and the gang sooner. But that doesn't matter, because once they send a recon to chase after Hera and spy on the Colony, they discover it's gone: Cavil moved it, right before the Civil War. And the good guys have no clue where it could have gone.

Anders is still in a coma this week, more or less. But he gives up some interesting stuff. He's been hooked up to a computer in a hot tub, just like the Cylon Hybrids. They're trying to switch him back on - but his "neural net" is wonky. Also, his systems have been reaching out to the rest of the ship. He's subconsciously tapping into all that Cylon bio-goop they've been scraping onto the hull, and using that connection to screw with the lights, the systems, and potentially, the FTL drives. Once Tigh and the Cylons figure out what's going on and recognize the risk, they unplug Anders. But not before he spits out some weird drivel, including stuff we've heard before - like the reminder that Starbuck is "the harbinger of death," or the show's unofficial tagline: "All this has happened before … ."

Starbuck is still coming to terms with life after death. After her reunion with her dad last week, she's made up her mind to learn more about what she is - by tracking down Baltar and asking him to check out the dog tags she pulled off her own corpse. He confirms that they come from a dead body with her DNA. And typical Baltar, he does it during a funeral for all the people who died doing risky repair work on the Battlestar. He launches into a religious spiel - while all the other characters stand around, thinking, "Gods dammit Baltar, what are you trying to pull now" - and ends by saying that death is not the end: that we can "cross over," if we stare death in the face, and come out the other side. "Embrace death when it comes for us!" he cries. (Did I mention the writers based this stuff on Jim Jones?)

Baltar sounds like a nut, but sure enough, he has an ace in his sleeve. He announces that Starbuck is a living example of the walking dead, in front of everybody. She slaps him - but it's clear that she wanted this to happen, and needed this clown to out her. She opens her next scene with a look of peace on her face that we haven't seen since Dee. But instead of shooting herself in the head, she goes to visit Anders - and plugs him back in. He opens his eyes and intones, "New command."


So is death the end? That's one of the last big threads left to tie up. What does death mean, to an individual, and to a species? And what should a species do about it? Is there something to Baltar's idea of "crossing over"? Is there a life after death that's even weirder than Cylon resurrection, or good old fashioned reproduction? Is Starbuck the harbinger of a good, or purposeful death? Is all this weird shit going somewhere?

Time to bite our nails 'til next week's episode. But let's leave with Baltar's signoff: "This is Gaius Baltar, wishing you a beautiful day."


Grade: B

Stray Observations

• Gotta love the macho jokes that are slipped into almost every episode this season - like Zarek's priest joke during the mutiny, or Gaeta shouting, "What, no pity frak?" The decision tonight to have Starbuck stare down Baltar while she's taking a whiz with the door open was inspired.


• Why was Anders reciting the lyrics to "There's a Hole in the Bucket"? Bob Dylan didn't write that! Are you telling me they had two songwriters back on Earth? Someone dream up a new prophecy for this, stat.

• Why is Boomer, who just escaped from the fleet, still wearing her headset on the Raptor? So that Adama can keep shouting at her over the radio? "You come back here, dammit! I'm gonna count to five!"


• Will everyone feel a little let down if Daniel the Seventh Skinjob turns out not to be a player in the finale?  Personally, I'll be more bummed if we never find out what happened to Starbuck's ovaries.