Sunday, April 10, 2016

Battlestar Galactica: Rapture (S3/E12)

by JASmius

Rating: ** (out of four)

Written by: Mark Verheiden, David Weddle & Brad Thompson
Directed By: Michael Rymer

The Cylons decide to call Adama’s bluff and send several raiders toward the surface. Adama promptly readies his nukes and begins the process of nuclear release. The Cylons detect it and decide not to press their luck – all except for D’Anna, who refuses to recall her raider arguing that Adama won’t go nuclear in response to just one ship.

She ends up being right. But the other six models aren’t happy with her defiance, or her budding individuality – which is budding in tandem with her new-found “friendship” with Baltar. Hardly a coincidence.

Baltar, of course, has his own self-serving reasons for aiding Biers’ quest. He wants to know if he’s a Cylon, so that, if he is, as he put it a few episodes back, “I can go from being a traitor to one race to being a hero to the other.” Funny that it’s Biers he’s using now, since I recall it wasn’t all that long ago that she saw him for what he really is and was rebuking Caprica Six for her hopeless love for him.

At any rate, this sets up another Mexican standoff, with centurions clanking their way toward the temple but not enough to overwhelm the Humans on the surface right away.

Now we have to go back to the soap opera crap, which despite ironies that ought to be delicious simply does not satisfy, because nothing brings it to a frakking end.

Starbuck is aloft in a Raptor reconnoitering the approaching Cylon platoon. She’s shot down and crashes in the nearby hills. Also nearby is Major Adama, and Sam Anders just happens to be with him. Anders, stupidly devoted to his estranged wife (which is to say, he knows what she is but loves her anyway), is determined to charge off into the hills to rescue her regardless of the mission to hold the Temple at all costs. Apollo is equally as determined to keep him from doing so. Finally he has a subordinate pull a sidearm on Anders. Anders replies that Apollo will have to shoot him to keep him from going after Kara. Lee’s solution is, shall we say, Solomonic: he orders his wife to rescue his lover.

Dualla dutifully carries out her husband’s order, too. I’d like to think that she’d extract a hefty price for this involuntary errand of mercy, but somehow I’m just not counting on it.

Meanwhile Tyrol has been in the Temple all of this time and still hasn’t deciphered any of the hieroglyphs, or at least not enough to be able to read the, er, handwriting on the wall. That’s its own irony, I suppose; here’s a guy who never believed in “that religious crap” standing right in the middle of a temple that holds the key to finding Earth, and he can’t even read the frakking welcome mat. And he’s on a rapidly approaching deadline, both from the approaching toasters and from the fact, discovered early on by Gaeta, that the system’s star is about to go nova. A fact to which Baltar’s former chief of staff attaches a great deal of mystical significance that I need a detour into the episode’s third story track to work up the interest to analyze.

One of the Cylon delegation that shuttles over to Galactica is Boomer, the #8 (aka Sharon Valerii) model that was originally on the last battlestar and banging Tyrol. When she sees her “sister” Athena (aka Sharon Agathon, mother of Hybrid Hera), she repeats what D’Anna Biers told her back on New Caprica: Hera is alive, in Cylon hands, and Roslin and Adama stole her baby from her and lied to her about Hera’s death.

Working off the principle that once is a fluke, twice a coincidence, thrice is a trend, Athena goes to Adama and asks him about it point blank. The admiral, perfectly in character, entrusts her with the truth.

I’m still puzzling over Athena’s reaction. I certainly remember her reaction to being told that her baby was dead – enraged disbelief. Almost strangled Doc Cottle, if memory serves. I speculated back in “Lay Down Your Burdens” that she deliberately led the fleet to New Caprica in order to help the Cylons find them as an act of revenge. But so far this season Athena has been scrupulously loyal, refusing to believe that her Human friends would do something that despicable to her.

Here Adama admits it point blank. And Athena in essence thanks him for telling her the truth and remains loyal to him.

Beats me. Maybe Helo’s unconditional love is what’s keeping her grounded on the side of right. Maybe she was so relieved to learn that her baby still lives, and aware that she still needs the Humans to help save her, that she’s saving her retribution for later. But that’s a time bomb that I can’t believe won’t be ticking as the season winds down.

The only compelling part of this episode is how Athena goes about rescuing her daughter: she asks her husband to kill her.

I had no problem relating to Karl Agathon’s agonizing and bizarre dilemma. He wants his daughter back as much as Athena does, but the only way to do that is to blow her away so that she will download over on one of the Cylon base ships. He knows she won’t die for good, but he doesn’t know if she’ll come back to him with little Hera, or if she’ll be able to. But even assuming the rosiest scenario, how weird would it be to be asked by your own wife to shoot her point-blank? He does it, but not without a howl of torment.

Even more intriguing is the scene afterwards where Helo is dressed down by Roslin and Adama. They point out, rightly, that by sending Athena, who has inside knowledge of military secrets and details of the mission down on the surface, into Cylon hands, Helo has endangered the entire fleet. Helo retorts that if Roslin and Adama hadn’t abducted Hera and covered up the act, the child would never have fallen into Cylon hands in the first place.

The president and the admiral are left essentially speechless because there really isn’t anything they can say. To this day Roslin has never explained why she was so obsessed with isolating the Human-Cylon hybrid child; neither have the Cylons, really. Just a lot of gaseous bloviating about “the shape of things to come” and “the next generation.” Maybe just plain fear of the Unknown – and lingering distrust of a Cylon who really did switch sides.

That was made abundantly apparent upon the completion of Athena’s download. Amazing how two members of the same model are able to recognize each other as individuals. Interesting as well how Boomer has changed, dismissing her time on Galactica as “a closed chapter” of her li[v]e[s]. The knowledge of how she was a tool of what she once thought was the enemy, and the failure of hers and Caprica Six’s Great Benevolent Experiment on New Caprica seems to have embittered her, as she enviously recriminates Athena’s chance at love with Helo that she was denied with Tyrol and the child it produced, even growling that she should “snap [Hera’s] little neck.” The better to shut her up from her yowling over what Athena quickly diagnoses as an intestinal blockage. Or maybe it was just loneliness, since she’s left in this crib in the middle of a big, empty room. Looked like classic child neglect to me.

At any rate, who should snap Boomer’s little neck instead but Caprica Six, who now teams up with Athena to take Hera back to the Galactica. And who will she find there but her former/current/future lover, ex-President Baltar himself.

Apollo and Anders and their squad can’t hold off the Cylons any longer, and Tyrol chickens out on blowing up the temple, which falls into Cylon hands. But they can’t find the Eye of Jupiter any more than Tyrol could. Then the sun goes nova, and this strange fairy light shines down into the middle of the temple, and there are five belighted figures standing there, and D’Anna recognizes them, and she’s so enraptured that she never identifies any of them to a frantic Baltar before she collapses. Before he can do anything else, the Cylons leave, Tyrol returns to pistol-whip him (“Welcome back, Mr. President…”), and the Raptors return to Galactica, which jumps out just as the nova shock wave destroys the planet and the temple with it.

But not the Eye. I guess. Perhaps. Maybe. Why? Because, as Gaeta speculates afterwards, it was the nova itself that was the Eye. How this could possibly point the way further down the Earth trail when the thirteenth tribe couldn’t possibly have known when that star would blow up is a real good question that is not, of course, answered. How could it when Tyrol never finished deciphering the temple inscriptions? Anyway, Gaeta thinks it means they should look for nova remnants in the local cosmic neighborhood that may have exploded four thousand years ago when the thirteenth tribe supposedly rolled through the system, and mentions one thirteen thousand light-years away that kinda-sorta looks similar. Now that’s something worth blowing him out an airlock for. Maybe Adama was right in the first place – this is all just a bunch of “religious crap.”

D’Anna, for her part, wasn’t so lucky. Her fellow six models “boxed” her own as punishment for her own dalliance in “religious crap.” I guess Lucy Lawless’ contract wasn’t renewed.

As for Archie, Reggie, Betty, and Veronica, their painfully contrived ecstatic reunions, with Lee and Kara looking at each other from their respective, far-from-oblivious spouses’ embraces (Dualla really should have kicked Lee in the jewels instead) was rendered a pathetic sideshow beside the genuine article put forth by the Agathons, who have their baby back, and a Playboy model to boot.

Well, that’s where all the male Eyes were looking, anyway.

Next: the long-awaited day of reckoning – and Baltar’s, too.

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