Friday, December 8


Source: Entertainment Weekly

I'm gonna go on record here and retract a little something. Or maybe it should be classified as a clarification. When I wrote a review of this episode for EW magazine a couple of weeks ago, I gave it an A-. Now, while I do sorta stand by that grade (in hindsight, I might've bucked it down to a B+), I want to make it clear that that rave was, in truth, over only half of ''Unfinished Business.''

There's a type of episode that is unique to ship-based sci-fi: the bottle show. It's when producers confine the installment's action to the ship itself, on the standing sets, so as to not incur the expense of constructing anything new, like planetary surfaces or alien interiors. (I believe the term comes from the ol' ship in a bottle.) And that's fine. Sometimes it results in quality programming (like much of BSG's first season). Sometimes, however, you get a boxing match.

(For those playing at home — which is all of you — the boxing ring was placed in the hangar deck, an existing set. And the flashback stuff was all shot at the same time they shot all the New Caprica stuff. So this episode cost diddly-squat. Hence, its bottleness.)

Now, I like boxing. Really I do. The idea that the men and women aboard Galactica might need a forum for releasing aggression is a valid one, and probably comes from some of the military history that the BSG writing staff is so fond of mining, usually to good effect. And I kind of dug that Doc Cottle was the ringside medico. And that everyone who wanted to fight had to drop his or her dog tags in a box and leave their commissions at the door, so that no one could be called up on charges of assaulting a superior officer. And that Gaeta was the guy running the gambling. All neat little touches. And all getting in the way of what I really wanted, which was the flashbacks. (The boxing stuff was, to me, like Ryan Seacrest on American Idol. If you watch that show, you do so because you want to hear the performances and learn who makes the cut and who doesn't. Seacrest is the thing that keeps you from what you want.)

The flashback was the very, very tasty meat in the sandwich.

You remember, don't you, that moment in last season's finale when Kara had to call the Pegasus looking for meds and Duala handed Lee the phone with a not-so-subtle disdain for who was on the other end? And you thought to yourself, ''Self, what could've caused such a chilly reaction?'' Well, now we know. Kara pulled a Lucy Van Pelt on poor Lee, setting the football of love in front of him and yanking it away just as Lee let fly a heartfelt kick. (How's that for pureeing some metaphors?)

To me, the surprise was not that they slept together. Hell, I surmised as much a year ago. But it's that last little tweak that's the stunner. That after they howled their nekkid declarations of love at the moon, Kara went ahead and married Anders. Who was she trying to save? Lee, from getting embroiled in an affair that was kind of doomed from the start, or herself, from having her heart broken by another Adama? Did she really think she was doing him a favor? Was she?

And poor Duala. I want so much for her to be happy, and it's never gonna happen, not with Lee. Because she's his consolation prize. And she deserves better than that. (Still, you get the feeling that she did find out about their prairie tryst. Otherwise, why would she have been so cold to Kara on that Pegasus call? And what led Duala to believe, as she clearly did during the Kara-Lee bout, that those two have unresolved feelings for each other?)

Speaking of prairie trysts, did Bill Adama get himself some ex-presidential lovin'? He and Laura looked awfully chummy lying drunk under the stars. They're just so damned cute together. I'd watch a spin-off sitcom about them as newlyweds.

I was amazed that, merely through a cinematographic shift, New Caprica, the place we knew only as miserable and gray and oppressed, could take on such a sunny disposition. You felt the hope those colonists had for the future. They actually got to lay down their burdens before anyone caught pneumonia, or Baltar engorged himself with power, or the Cylons showed up. (I do, however, want someone to explain to me why, whenever frontier folk are having a party, they have to do a square-dance-jiggy thing.)

All in all, an episode buoyed by a peek into the past, despite being dragged down by the artifice of the present. A placeholder. A rest stop.

What do you think? Was Adama right in picking a fight with Chief Tyrol and risking possible brain damage to prove a point? What'll Anders and Duala do if and when they learn the truth about their loved ones? And did Roslin get into the Admiral's pants?

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