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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Battlestar Galactica: The Passage (S3/E10)

by JASmius



Rating: **1/2 (out of four)

Written by: Jane Espenson
Directed By: Michael Nankin


The time has come to prune the cast, which had grown too large to for long last; too many faces to look at, so they drew straws and the short one went to….

Okay, so I’m a lousy poet. But I’m good at cheesy, teasing suspense.

This week we were presented with yet another overwrought jeopardy premise in which all of surviving Humanity is in imminent danger of perishing. The difference this time is that the Cylons have nothing to do with it.

It seems that the rag-tag fleet’s food supply got contaminated somehow, another parting gift from the miserable New Caprica detour. It also seems that the fleet has arrived at a star cluster that they could go around were it not for the bare collective pantry issue. The question becomes if there is sustenance to be found on the other side in time to keep everybody from starving to death.

Being the expendable Cylon token, Athena volunteers to go through the star cluster and reconnoiter. She comes back not much the worse for wear and with good news: she found an Old Country Buffet in the first system she came to out the other side, and it’s “steak & seafood” night to the first 41,804 customers.

Alright, she found a planet teeming with edible algae scum. I think I’d prefer to try and consume the star cluster instead, but I’m not starving to death, either. Now you know why I don’t post pictures of myself online.

Being his usual practical, non-daring self, Admiral Adama (Say, why didn’t he demote back to the rank of commander since his son had to take the grade reduction back to major? After all, he’s no longer in command of two battlestars….) makes the best choice he can, which also happens to be his only choice: Cram as many civilians aboard the radiation-shielded Galactica as possible and shuttle them through the star cluster, and use the space force squadrons to shepherd the skeleton-crewed civilian ships to the other side.

New jeopardy premise: none of the Raptors or civilian ships are similarly radiation-shielded, and the visible spectrum emissions (i.e. starlight) are blinding to the pilots. Oh, and by the way, it’ll take at least five round trips to get the whole fleet through the cluster.

Common sense tells the viewer that a whooooole lotta pilots (at the very least) would die in this little exercise in interstellar transit. Common sense also tells the viewer that the entire pilot roster isn’t going to be written off as crispy strips of Human jerky, either. So what’s the answer?

Isn’t it obvious? Now-Captain Louanne “Kat” Katraine has a secret.

Don’t you just love my segues? And why does everybody on this show have a deep, dark secret?

In this case, because somebody’s going to be wri…

<*AHEM*> Sorry, almost spoiled the suspense.

As the influx of civilians board the last battlestar, a too-obvious scumbag named Enzo sees Captain Katraine and publicly confronts her about “running away from her former life.” She angrily pushes him away but he persists periodically throughout the hour. Why this prick never surfaced before is anybody’s guess. But as plot devices go, I suppose Enzo is far from the worst I’ve ever seen. Besides, without him would Kat have comm….

<*AHEM*> Whoops, almost did it again.

On the fourth round trip Captain Katraine loses a civilian ship – the TCKS Adriatic – and is crushed by the inevitable guilt, in addition to being debilitated, along with her fellow pilots, by the multiple radiation exposures she’s taken. Which makes it the perfect time for Enzo to haze her again, and none other than Starbuck to be unexpected witness to their latest confrontation.

Captain Thrace, being who she is, forces another confrontation with the woman who took her top-gun beer stein back in “Scar”. I guess she wasn’t quite as debilitated as Kat, who completely breaks down and tells her bitterest rival her whole sordid backstory: that she isn’t really “Louanne ‘Kat’ Katraine” at all, that she’s really an ex-drug runner who assumed the identity of a deceased Viper jockey in order to improve her life status in the fleet, and Enzo the Scumbag was her drug supplier.

Starbuck, being who she is, didn’t well up with compassion for the other woman, but walked away in disgust and contempt for her instead. So now Kat had two guilt trips – one for losing the Adriatic, and one for lying to everybody – and only one trip left in and with which to redeem herself.

Since the nature of the story utterly precluded a routine fifth trip through the star cluster, it had to be dismayingly similar to the last one, with Kat’s civilian ship getting lost again and time running out to jump out of the cluster with her life intact. So, naturally, she stayed in the cluster until she found the ship, saving it and dooming herself in the process.

And, naturally, she had to make it back to the Galactica and by sheer willpower march out of her Raptor and receive a hero’s welcome before gallantly collapsing to the deck, earning the accolades of her fellow pilots, the respect of Admiral Adama (whose reaction to the truth she most feared), and the forgiveness of Captain Thrace, who actually leaked around the eyes – but only after Kat was safely dead.

I guess I don’t mean to make this review sound so cynical. It was a by-the-numbers plot, but it wasn’t a bad one. And if the writers were going to off a minor character, there are plenty of worse ways of doing so. Instead they gave Kat a rousing sendoff.

Too bad they didn’t place Enzo on the Adriatic, though.

Meanwhile, in this week’s Gaius Baltar update, the former Kobolian president and vice president is now porking #3 (D’Anna Biers), sometimes in threesomes with Caprica Six, sometimes not. And Biers has become obsessed with the state of consciousness between Cylonoid death and the next “downloading,” so much so that she keeps killing herself in the hopes of seeing the faces of the five Cylonoid “models” not yet introduced on the show.

I must say it seems really goofy to make that into some sort of…well, deep & dark secret. Is there some reason why there are twelve models, but the seven we know don’t know the other five? Why are the other five a mystery? Where are they? WHO are they? And why should the viewer care one way or the other?

The answer, of course, is that that is a vehicle for introducing a third “faction” into the story arc in addition to the Cylons and the Human diaspora – perhaps an alien race that captured and “reprogrammed” the Cylons, or vice versa. After all, with both the rag-tag fleet and, evidently, the entire Cylon civilization in a race for Earth, the story possibilities don’t seem to be abundant – especially with the writers killing off minor characters willy-nilly.

The other possibility – a rather intriguing one at that – is that Baltar himself may be one of those missing five Cylonoid models. A proposition made plausible by the Cylons’ ability to “project” any “reality” around their perceived immediate surroundings that they choose, which bears a more than passing resemblance to Baltar’s own ribald day-dreams about imaginary-Six.

Of course, it hopelessly convolutes the whole “Baltar the horny patsy” angle vis-a-vie the original Cylon holocaust. If Baltar was an even DEEPER cover Cylon sleeper agent, why was Caprica Six needed to infiltrate the Colonial Pentagon, get in Gaius’ pants, and dupe him into giving her access to the Kobolian defense net? Couldn’t his own programming have kicked in when needed, just like Boomer’s did when she blew two holes in Adama’s chest?

Or are the five unseen “models,” including Baltar, the original creation of the Colonial defense establishment itself, designed to infiltrate the Cylons and provoke another war to give the former something to do, and the Baltar model simply malfunctioned?

Or am I just babbling as an indication of the corner into which the writers may have painted themselves with the Baltar character?

Now THAT’s suspense….


Next: So much fuss over one lousy Eye.

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