Monday, November 6

Capsule Review: Battlestar: Galactica 305

Source: Battlestar Blog

As if addressing the question of whether or not the series could still delve into creative territory while maintaining a strong and consistent story arc, this episode manages to switch between traditional storytelling elements and a more surreal, dreamlike quality. Unlike the previous episode, which introduced a number of plot elements that find deeper expression in this installment, there is a distinct difference between the Human and Cylon worlds.

The Human world is stark and unrelenting. In particular, Kara and Tigh have come to the conclusion that anyone and everyone is fair game for their general hostility. In particular, they have little patience for their rescuers, and they have no problem speaking their mind. It’s clear that they are transferring their anger and self-loathing on the rest of the crew, and while the crew sees it for what it is, it’s always hard to ignore that kind of constant negativity.

Ultimately, Kara and Tigh are forced to take a good look at their psychological damage, and they react in very different ways. Kara seems to recognize that she’s spiraling out of control, and she takes the first step towards recovery. It’s unlikely to be a simple healing process, but she’s in a better position than Tigh. Tigh, however, is still falling, and there’s no telling how long it will take for him to hit rock bottom.

At the same time, Roslin and Adama finally turn back to the search for Earth. This introduces an odd plot device in the Scroll of Pythia. If they’ve always had an ancient document detailing the journey of the lost 13th tribe, why haven’t they been referencing it previously? There’s some indication that the scroll was considered a myth, and that Baltar’s research pointed to a possible translation of metaphor, but why wouldn’t anyone have thought about this?

The Cylon world is depicted in a more non-linear fashion, focusing on the idea of “projections”. They tie this idea into Baltar’s imaginary trysts with Caprica-Six, and Baltar begins to wonder if he’s a Cylon. At the same time, he learns that the seven known humaniform models of Cylon don’t talk about the remaining five, and that the Basestars have a “hybrid” processing core.

Homages to “Babylon 5” and “Minority Report” aside, this brings up an interesting philosophical question. It’s almost certain that Baltar is human. It’s also been shown that the Cylons have been incorporating organic components into their ships since the beginning (the raider in the first season comes to mind). The “hybrid” could very well be a human mind conditioned and modified to run the Basestar “ecosystem”, blurring the edges between Human and Cylon even more.

As seen in “Downloaded” in the second season, the Cylons are particularly concerned about models that are “too human”. What if the unseen five models were “boxed” for becoming too human as a whole? Better yet, what if the Cylon culture is fractured? The current seven models would represent a slim majority, and perhaps they advocate elimination or control of the Colonists. What if the remaining five are a vocal minority opposed to the war with Humanity? They could still be back on the Cylon Homeworld. In fact, this could explain why the current seven models are looking to Earth as a new home; they may not be welcome on the Cylon Homeworld anymore.

The idea of a computer virus attacking the Cylons is a bit cliché, but the treatment of it works well enough. It does seem odd, however, that the Cylons would suspect treachery on Baltar’s part. If they recognize that the 13th tribe passed through that area of space thousands of years earlier, how could they expect that the beacon was designed to attack them specifically, when the Cylons have only been around for a few generations? This does touch on the whole “this has happened before and will happen again” concept, but it seems like an odd bit of logic.

Overall, enjoyment of this episode depends largely on acceptance of the surrealism of the Cylon portion of the story. I felt that it worked well, glossing over the fact that the Cylon culture could only be shown from a human perspective and through Baltar’s mental filters. There are a number of intense moments in this episode that help keep the shift to the search for Earth from feeling like too much of a tonal shift, but it remains to be seen if the new details about the Cylons will help or hurt the series as a whole.

(As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Current episodes cover “Battlestar: Galactica”, so it might be something of interest. Go to if you want to listen!)

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