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Battlestar Galactica: The Ties That Bind

Illustration for article titled iBattlestar Galactica/i: The Ties That Bind
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Crap! They killed Cally!

Even though last week's trailer actually gave away how the episode would end, I still didn't believe it. My jaw's still hanging open. But let's start with the beginning. The sounds of a screaming half-Cylon-baby open the episode, as we check in to see how Cally's been doing lately. It turns out, badly. She doesn't realize she's married to one of the Final Five Cylons; all she knows is that her husband Tyrol is acting moody and never comes home. And "moody" from a guy who beat her like a rug two seasons ago means we're far, far in the red. To cope with the stress, Cally is on anti-depressants that make her paranoid, and when she sees Tyrol canoodling with Tory at a bar, she goes ballistic.

At first Cally just thinks her husband's having an affair. But when she follows him to a meeting of the Secret Cylons club and discovers the truth, she's devastated – devastated enough to knock him out with a wrench and try to jettison herself out an airlock, with baby Nicky in tow. She's ready to pull the switch when Tory finds her, and tricks her into giving up the kid - and then knocks her down and shoots her out of the airlock. The Cylons's secret is safe, and so is the baby.

The only way tonight's story could have been more devastating is if Cally hadn't been missing for as long as I can remember. I think the last time we paid attention to her was on New Caprica, maybe – and that's well over a year ago in Earth time. And in making Cally suicidally depressed, the writers really swung for the fences. She confesses to Doc Cottle – nice to see you, Doc – that "sometimes I wish he would lay hands on me. At least then I'd know he had some feelings about me." The scene where she attacks Tyrol is horrifying but understandable; after all, she committed the vigilante murder of a Cylon sleeper agent (Boomer) in season two, so how's she supposed to react to living with one? But the show hasn't prepared us to see her try to kill herself and her child. In fact, after all she's been through, it's kind of a tough sell.

Either way, they dropped fifty pounds of tragedy in a five pound bag - which doesn't mean it won't keep me up tonight.

So let's try to find the lighter side of tonight's episode. Baltar isn't here for comic relief, but Starbuck's expedition to Earth has to count as tragicomedy. Last week, Adama gave Starbuck command of the Demitrius, to see if she can find her own way to Earth. Tonight we learn that the crew of this long-shot secret mission includes almost every stable, sane member of the cast, including, Gaeta, Helo, Athena, and Anders. Well, Anders has hit a rocky patch, but he's stable for a Cylon, and for an ex-husband of Starbuck, who has gone deep into Kurtz territory as she holes up in her cabin, fooling around with one map after another and changing course based on her gut. The rest of the crew thinks she's nuts, and she keeps saying things like, "My body's just this alien thing that I'm still attached to … does that seem crazy to you?" It's going to be a long flight to Earth.

Tonight is also Lee Adama's debut on the Quorum, the legislative body of twelve delegates from each of the original colonies. I always thought of the Quorum as analogous to the U. S. Senate. Then a shouting match broke out and the delegates started telling each other to "kiss my ass," and I realized that it's more like the House. Lee has joined the Quorum thanks to ex-terrorist, now-vice president Zarek (Richard Hatch), and so far he's mainly here to annoy President Roslin. Tonight, he blows the lid off a confidential plan that Roslin's been cooking up for a secret tribunal system. We don't know where the plan comes from or how shady it really is, but either way, she sure seemed annoyed – and in the meantime, while they were all playing gotcha, some other delegate who was trying to talk about health care got cut off and shunted to the side. Score one for democracy.

Last but not least: the Cylons are still having a civil war. Last week, half the models opened fire on the other half, sparking a kind of "ethnic cleansing" – their words – across the fleet. Dean Stockwell leads the half that was thoroughly pantsed in last week's surprise attack; the other follows a new Trisha Helfer model, who's talked all the centurions and raiders into rebelling. Tonight, Dean Stockwell turns the war around by outwitting the other side, and mercilessly wipes them out – and unless I misunderstood, it sounds like he has completely eliminated all of the sixes, the eights (Grace Park), and maybe even the Leobens (Callum Keith Rennie), who also sided against Stockwell. They've been shot down out of reach of a resurrection ship, and that means they're as gone as the Lucy Lawless model last season.

Well, with one exception: Boomer, the one model eight that turned against the rest, is having a weird fling with Stockwell, and we see her by his side as he wins the first Cylon Civil War. She's wracked with guilt about murdering her sisters. Says Stockwell: "They can trust their God to watch over their immortal souls." "What about ours?" she shoots back, and he responds, "We're machines, dear, remember. We don't have souls." That reasoning might've even thrown Sayyid Qutb for a loop.

With all that bloodshed and mayhem, let's end on a high note. In the wake of their devastating old married couple fight last week, we get to see Roslin and Adama patch things up. She's receiving chemotherapy, and the drugs just start to hit when she hears Adama sitting by her side, reading a book. I can't tell if listening to James Edward Olmos read aloud in his gravelly basso profundo would be would be an awesome literary experience, or almost instantly annoying. But he made Roslin happy, and that's what counts.

Grade: B+

- When Starbuck wrangles with Anders in her quarters, she moans, "All I want to do right now is frak." I'm so used to hearing them say "frakkin' this" and "that's frakked up" - is that the first time "frak" has actually been used as a verb?

- Cally's death does not rule out my theory that she's the twelfth Cylon. But if she never comes back, I guess Hot Dog's odds have ticked up a notch.

- Long time fans will recognize the blonde journalist who asked the first question at the press conference as a character who's been on the show since the beginning. Aside from having sex in a restroom with Baltar, she's never been more than a background character – and yet she's been a part of the press corps forever. Now that's continuity.

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