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Battlestar Galactica Rewatch – Angels and prophets

Kara, Laura and Gaius hear they have connections to the gods, while Ellen arrives and stirs things up.



Welcome back to the Battlestar Galactica Re-watch.  Plague has finally lifted from my house, and everyone else is back from Comic-Con, so let’s get on with it.

SPOILERS for the entire series are possible. Don’t read if you care about spoilers.


Episode 107: “Six Degrees of Separation”

This is one of my favorite BSG episodes, especially of the first season. I liked it the first time around for the mystery of Shelly and the humor of the episode, but I think it’s even better now that we know more. For instance Roslin’s instantaneous recognition that there’s something fundamentally true about the accusation that Baltar was involved with the attacks we know now is because because Roslin saw him and Six before the attacks. It’s also clear in hindsight that this episode is the start of Roslin and Baltar’s extremely fractious rivalry, which will get a lot worse before it gets better.

I think Shelly (and Boomer in this episode) benefit from the additional context given to them in “The Plan,” so I know what Cavil and Co are doing in the background of this episode.  Though that knowledge also has the side-effect of making the intentional misdirect about whether Shelly is ‘real’ or not seem rather silly — we know she’s real and we know the reason she disappears is because she went out an airlock. It’s a little sad, but Shelly is not the ‘angel’ in this episode.

I’ve always loved the Cylon plot in this. It neatly traps Baltar and his Cylon Detector, because his accusations of Shelly being a Cylon sound completely self-serving (which of course they are) and it’s also true, as the Cylons well know, even if they have to manufacture the evidence of Baltar’s treachery. But it’s also ironic because the reason they do it — to get rid of the Cylon Detector — is built on Baltar’s lie that the detector exists.

The bathroom meeting scene continues to be funny because it’s so completely awkward. Is there a place you are less likely to chat with someone than the stalls of a public restroom? And yet there’s Baltar acting as if the stall is a priest confessional. Baltar’s brilliant in even his lack of social skills

I assume Head!Six takes advantage of something she knows is coming (the Cylon plot with Shelly), to teach Baltar a lesson about scorning her faith, though that isn’t unproblematic: does she also know he’ll be exonerated? Or is it a dangerous game where if she gets him to accept faith in the One True Cylon God, then does it even matter what happens to Baltar? Does she ‘win’ in some way, even if the photo is never proven a fake and Baltar had been executed?  (The external answer is always — because the writers didn’t know what Head!Six was yet — but those kind of answers don’t interest me nearly as much as trying to search for answers within the narrative itself)

In other news in this episode, Helo puts the bun in the toaster, and poor Boomer unravels a little more. So one of the Sharons gets laid (and it’s so good it creates a miracle — think about that for a moment and then feel envious for both of them), and another Sharon starts having creepy messages written on her locker mirror and petting Raiders.

Favorite Quotes: 

“We’re weaning you off the magic pills starting today. Besides, I need them for myself.” — Doctor Cottle

“No more Mister Nice Gaius!” — This will never stop being hilarious. Never.

“God’s will be done.” — As Baltar races up the steps after an undressing Head!Six.

Episode 108: “Flesh and Bone”

It’s amazing how much more creepy this episode becomes when you realize it lays the foundation for all the horribleness that will happen to Kara in Leoben’s detention on New Caprica. So much of what happens between them in that episode seems to spring from their interaction here, from his obsession getting full-blown and the ease he has of getting in her head. This episode is already creepy enough as we see ‘our heroes’ be okay with torturing and executing someone they’ve deemed not human, and you have to wonder at this stage of the game if what happened to Gina would have happened to Shelly if she’d been caught and outed in the previous episode. Is it a double standard that Gina’s raped and Leoben’s not — or is it a difference in the interrogators, that Kara wouldn’t do that, and Cain would? I’ve never been sure whether Roslin’s outrage when she sees what’s happening is because it’s torture or because it’s not working, honestly.

This episode also raises questions of prophecy. Laura seems to have prophetic dreams about Leoben, including airlocking, but was that a self-fulfilling dream? Was it telling the future or did it tell her what to do? And Leoben, he also says that Kara and the fleet will find Kobol, which we rewatchers know will happen.  How does he know? One could take his words at face-value and assume that he does in fact see ‘the streams’ and the future, but I for one, especially after the later episodes assume he doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. We will also learn that Athena knows a lot about Kobol, so it’s likely all the Cylons have some basic knowledge of the place including it’s location. So is Leoben a prophet, madman, or just a good guesser and manipulator? Maybe a little of all the above. We see the Twos hang out with the Hybrids later, so they certainly know some prophets.

The side-story involves poor Boomer, desperate to prove she’s human while at the same time, Athena makes her choice to help Helo. I do wonder what would have happened if Baltar would have told someone about Boomer. It was probably smart to not tell her to her face, since I suspect Head!Six is right and Boomer might have reflexively killed him, as messed up as her head is with her sleeper programming, but he could have told Adama or someone else later. Sadly knowing what happens to Boomer later, as bad as the result would likely have been, it might have been better for her overall.

Episode 109: “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down”

It’s very obvious when watching several episodes in sequence, that this episode is directed very differently (by Edward James Olmos). The coverage of the actors and the pacing feels almost experimental, and in parts feels like a different show altogether. It’s certainly a change from the show’s regular style. It’s funnier too, especially in Baltar’s frustration in testing and retesting the samples. But I don’t care for how the direction changes Roslin; she feels very much as if she’s playing a role rather than being Laura, and it’s an odd delivery.

Ellen’s a pretty divisive character and I know I found her pretty unlikeable until she mellowed a bit in Season Two. She’s funny, but oftentimes it’s a hurtful sort of funny which I don’t like, and even though Saul Tigh wasn’t my favorite character, her attempt to  manipulate him about Bill’s ‘advances’ toward her felt callous and unnecessary. I still don’t like that part of her character, an aspect I don’t recall seeing so strongly again until late 4.5 with some of her cruelty toward Caprica, I like her aspects of being a tough and loyal woman, who does love her husband, but the cattiness remains off-putting.

But  of all the revelations of the Final Five on rewatch, Ellen’s is the least retcon-y. It is never stated what result Baltar found. Since we know he kept Boomer’s result a secret, it’s entirely possible he knew Ellen’s result too, and sat on it, waiting for a time he might need it. Or maybe he never even ran the test at all, since he was so busy making out with Six in his brain most of the time he was in the lab.

The question brings us the best quote of the episode from Roslin: “You actually think that woman [Ellen] is a Cylon?” Oh, Laura, that is even funnier in hindsight, because not only yes, she’s a Cylon, but that woman made those Cylons.

Episode 110: “The Hand of God”

Oh the snakes on the podium! I forgot this was that episode, which begins Laura’s belief that she’s the Dying Leader, while Baltar simultaneously gets his belief in gear that he’s an instrument of god, because he picked the tylium locations properly. So, instrument of God, or a good guesser? Head!Six giving him clues? She does seem to suggest that the ‘voice of God’ doesn’t speak in words and if she’s in his head anyway, it’s not a big stretch to get him to pick the right thing. It’s obvious that both his fingering of Doral in the mini and this are similar leaps. I don’t have a problem with them being more than intuition, since I’m not one of those people who believe Battlestar was bereft of religious/supernatural occurrences until the finale (because I don’t know what show those people were watching), but if it’s not a lucky guess, then the question is who told him and why.

Meanwhile it’s been 39 days in space (I love the first season’s attention to the calendar) and fuel reserves are low and wouldn’t you know, Boomer and Crashdown find the fuel the fleet desperately needs, except oops, the place is already a Cylon station. So Bill wants to bring the fight to them and so we get one of the best space battles the entire show ever does.

The moment between the Adamas when “Wander my friends” starts gets me so choked up now. It’s a lovely scene on its own, but that piece of music has gathered so many other emotional resonances now that when it plays, it’s not this scene I remember, it’s all of them. It’s dusty, and I’m sniffling from the remnants of our germ attack.

Finally, I think that for pure visual spectacle of battle, this episode is pretty amazing, as is the set up.  We watch the plan unfold from the same position as the Cylons, more or less, and when Lee’s squadron appears, we realize we’ve been suckered, too. But it is glorious. Then he starts his attack run on the Basestar, and it’s pretty whiz-bang awesome. It’s definitely one of my favorite battles, probably nudged aside only by the spectacle of “Exodus” when the Galactica comes screaming into New Caprica.

Come back next week for the end of season one and the Kobol Arc begins.

Photo Credit: NBCU

5 Responses to “Battlestar Galactica Rewatch – Angels and prophets”

July 22, 2012 at 1:11 AM

You’re right about the irony of Ellen Tigh turning out to be the final Cylon! In watching BSG for the second time, I’ve found the show to be even more enjoyable because I can appreciate those bits of irony. Knowing what happens makes rewatching the show a whole new experience, and what’s more, it has not made it any less compelling – in fact, I’ve been blazing through the series, already nearly half way through season 4, because the story remains amazingly compelling. I literally cannot wait to go on to the next episode, even though I know what follows. How often does that happen?

“No more Mister Nice Gaius!” One of the funniest lines of the series. :D Gaius is deplorable in many ways (and sympathetic in other ways), but I’ve never been able to hate him because he is so freakin’ hilarious. When a character makes you laugh that much, you cannot wish him ill.

July 23, 2012 at 12:18 PM

I remember faintly hearing Boomer’s sidearm (possibly hidden behind her) power up as she was about to get the news in 108. Now I need to go back and see if that was real or imagined on my part ;-)

August 12, 2012 at 12:49 AM

I don’t know if this has ever been brought up but I’m rewatching the series as well, for probably about the fifth or sixth time…. and only now I’m wondering… I honestly expect that gaius would have tested his own blood himself…… so two seasons later…. it seems weird that he’d be asking the cylons and the hybrid if he’s one of them…. anyone thought of this before?

August 16, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Are you only watching 3 episodes a month?

August 17, 2012 at 2:50 AM

No, sorry, I had to take an unexpected hiatus with some other things going on. I’ll be out of the country for two weeks, but the rewatch should continue in September.

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