Saturday, May 10

Galactica Station's Review of Escape Velocity

Gooby Rastor, encouraged by finishing the other review, finally catches up and reviews Episode 4.06, a week late.

Wow, after last week’s episode seemed determined to drag plotlines, kicking and screaming, as far as they could in ~40 minutes of television (to mixed effect), Battlestar Galactica really seemed content to let their storylines float along a bit in “Escape Velocity,” which winds up being rather inaptly named. Not that stuff wasn’t happening, but it kind of felt like an athlete running in place, and jumping rope, in preparation (one hopes) for running the mile. Since there’s a little bit of movement in so many places, let’s just hop in and I’ll try to keep the review from getting too disjointed.

The Final Four (less Anders) were up to a lot this episode, weren’t they? We had to know that there was going to be some fallout from Cally’s death, and we get to watch the (soon to be ex-) Chief beginning to lose it. And you know what? It works. Tyrol’s irrational behavior works for me in a way that Kara’s doesn’t this season. While Tyrol lashes out and gets himself thrown off the hanger deck by Adama, his motivation is always crystal clear. The man’s hurting from a number of sources, including his wife and Boomer (who knew he was carrying a torch?), the discovery of his nature and the questions as to what happened with Racetrack’s Raptor. Was it just stress that made him leave that relay in? Is this how things started with Sharon, too? All of this is conveyed with tremendous force by Aaron Douglas. As an actor, he seems to be getting the most mileage out of being a Final Five Cylon of any of them, which is a compliment to Douglas, not a slam on the other actors. Though I should mention that this quality is nothing new for Mr. Douglas. One of the things which the show has constantly been able to rely on, is that it can put Chief Tyrol into a dark place, and Aaron Douglas will chew up the scenery with it, in a very good way. From what I understand, he’s a very “in the moment” kind of actor too, which seems to serve him well. Bravo to Douglas. He’s one of the supporting characters whom I hope this show catapults to great fame and fortune; he deserves it. I could go on about all the ways I enjoy the Chief’s grief arc, but... oh all right, just a little bit. I loved it when Tyrol screamed at Adama, who honestly has never treated Tyrol all that well, I don’t know why. Chief’s mention of Bill’s promise to take Cally and shoot her if Tyrol and his men didn’t resume work (in “Dirty Hands”), was a welcome callback. Really, whether you agree with Adama’s actions or not, how does he think he can have a sympathetic chat with the man after that? Though of course Adama had to get Tyrol off of his hanger deck, and there’s no way he could have known all the inner turmoil of the man, it did seem awfully presumptuous, the way he seemed unwilling to let Tyrol grieve in his own way (despite his opening line that “no one knows how they’re going to react). When a man’s wife has died, you let him say whatever he wants to, you don’t try to shut him up. Clean up the mess later. “I’m sorry if I’m not going to do this the way you want me to, or the way you might.” You tell him, Chief, she was your wife.

Meanwhile, with Tigh’s scenes, we get a possible answer to a nitpick I had from the season opener. Now that Saul is hallucinating about dead Ellen, it becomes more possible, to my mind, that he’s engaging in a bit of toaster-style projection. If that’s the case, I’m willing to forgive the lapse of documentary-style shooting when Tigh dream-shot Adama in HTBiM. Tyrol, too, seems to have been engaging in the same, when we heard Adama casually mentioning Tyrol’s Cylon nature. Also of note, moving back to Tigh, is that he does mention to Caprica that Hera is on board, so we KNOW that the show hasn’t completely... no, no, Gooby. You had your Hera rant last episode, and this time they at least mentioned her. Stay on topic.

Right, sorry. Tigh and his Six scenes. Obviously, Tigh sees an opportunity in being a Cylon, just different from the one Tory sees. Tigh’s got a hunch that being a toaster means that pain has now become optional, if only Caprica can teach him the trick. Of course, this is also the time when Ellen’s ghost shows up to haunt Saul, spurring him on that much more. Ironic too, though not exactly out of character, that the first tactic which the Six tries to help(?) Tigh is beating him bloody. As an aside, I really like that they have Tricia Helfer showing Six’s glee at pummeling someone again. That model really likes doing that, ya know? It’s not a lot that we get with these scenes between Cylons, but they do seem to indicate where the character is headed, and that’s good.

Tory continues to have a character-establishment arc, involving such notions as her supplying Baltar’s notion of being “perfect just the way we are,” adopting the charming idea of turning off her sense of guilt, and possibly coordinating the attack on Baltar’s cult with the Sons of Ares. All right, I’ll admit that the last point is me extrapolating a bit, but what gave with her staring down Gaius after the thugs left? So we also see where she’s heading, but we knew that last week.

Baltar, on the other hand, I don’t know where they’re going with. I’ll admit however that right now, the Baltar storyline is the one that intrigues me most about this show, perhaps because I don’t know where it’s going, yet I feel certain that it’s going to go somewhere. This episode wasn’t just treading water with Gaius, either. At least, not as much as with the other plots. He rants à la Jesus in the Temple, and give a sermon which is sort of the opposite of Christian thinking, regarding how we’re all flawed creatures in need of God’s grace. Hm, if only there were a term which described a Christ-like figure, only the opposite thereof. Ah well.

Anyway, Baltar’s situation also gives us a glimpse into the incremental movement of the political plot, where Lee and the quorum refuse to roll over for Roslin, despite her invoking the memory of nine-elev—New Caprica, I mean. There’s some notes of the current U.S. political situation; with Roslin scoffing at the naïveté of the young idealistic Lee Obama, but the pace of this storyline is still more C-SPAN than anything else, and I don’t know that I see it changing anytime soon.

So let’s take a quick step back to a storyline that, as mentioned, seems full of steam. Virtual Six continues to build up Gaius’ image to her own opaque ends, even lifting the poor guy up and back into the tender mercies of an unsympathetic soldier. If there’s a Cylon on the show who still seems to have a Plan, it’s the devil in the blue dress. The writers have promised us answers to what exactly is up with Six, and at least she seems to be a pretty integral part of the story this year. Virtual Baltar on the other hand, still goes woefully underused. I’m starting to think that the writers didn’t really think through exactly how to use that character, and just decided to stick him in wherever they thought it would look cool... and that’s a bleeding shame, because when they first introduced him in “Downloaded,” yes it was cool, but it also seemed to enjoy a symmetry with Virtual Six’s actions. I’m pretty surprised that the writers seem to have some block regarding this character, but I don’t know how else to explain his disjointed, random appearances on the show.

And now the words I’ve been waiting to type all season:

Starbuck wasn’t in this episode.

Okay, okay, we saw her sleeping briefly. But no Crazy Kara to distract us tonight. I never would’ve thought it, but I needed a break from the girl. On the same note, nothing on the Cylon front to report, but it looks like Leoben next week, so... that might just have something to do with Kara. Yippee.

Oh, and? That shot of Racetrack’s Raptor taking off from the Galactica was pretty good-looking; and the crash was intense, though I didn’t care for the way both she and Skulls got off injury-free. It wasn’t utterly implausible, but it was a little... they did explode a couple of times after all. (I didn’t really know where to put these observations. Sore Thumb Zone it is!)

“Escape Velocity” is a bit of a step up from “The Ties That Bind,” in that the show gives us fewer WTF? moments, but then, it also seems to be an episode content to tread water. (If this were Top Chef, this episode would be taken to task at Judge’s Table for not cooking to win, but rather cooking not to lose). Thankfully, Tyrol’s scenes were winners, and while Baltar’s were fairly safe and predictable, they do keep me wanting to see more. I can’t go all the way up to 8/10, but I’ll have fun with decimals, instead.


“C. Shows improvement, but still not up to usual quality. I know you can do better, young lady.

No comments: