Thursday, May 8

Galactica Station's Review of "The Road Less Traveled"

Well folks, from the looks of it, we are about to be thrown into the action of Season 4. “The Road Less Traveled” focused solely on the Demetrius and Baltar storylines, and although the focus made it seem slower in terms of pushing the story forward, it appeared to be preparing us for the season ahead. The episode was chock full of emotion and was very effective in displaying the reactions of every character featured. And as always, it left us with more questions than it answered.

Let’s begin with Baltar. As Season 4 began, we watched Baltar rattle around uncomfortably, trying to figure out if he was safe and if he had to remain with his lovely ladies for much longer. It seems that Baltar has always wanted two things: fame and belonging. Before the genocide of the Humans on the twelve colonies, Baltar was a famous, powerful, coveted scientist. After escaping the genocide, he was often portrayed as the guilt-ridden loser who muddled into positions that made things worse for the fleet. He continued this way until after the trial in Season 3, when he was spirited away by the mysterious women. This is classic Baltar. He stumbles into dumb luck and follows whatever path is open to him.

By the current episode, we see Baltar fully stepping into his role as a religious leader and I find myself wondering “Does he really believe what he is saying? Is it possible that he has transformed and is doing what he believes in, or is this just another way for him to seize fame, glory, and belonging? Baltar has been through a lot and has survived it all. He could be realizing, just as he said in his speech, that “someone” out there loves him. But what persuades him that it is Six’s “One True God” who is seeing him through all of his escapades? How does he know that the twelve colonial Gods do not exist? Is the Six in his head that infallible? It also baffles me as to why Baltar no longer questions his visions of the Six in his head (off topic I know). More disturbingly, he seems to have adjusted to seeing himself! Come on Baltar, do you really think that’s normal? Or are you just that special? Sure beats me.

While we’re on the subject of Gaius Baltar, I have got to mention his new wardrobe. Ladies and Gentlemen, Baltar imposes no limits on “dressing the part.” This week, he’s all decked out in a long, dark, purple robe with gold trim that appears to be made of velvet. When we first see him, he is wearing a bright blue shirt underneath the robe, making the costume even stranger. I think he should go back to the slacks and collared shirts.

Enough about Baltar’s outfit, let’s talk about Tyrol. The depth of the emotion exhibited by Tyrol in the episode is absolutely stunning. Tyrol, recently demoted to specialist for provoking Admiral Adama, appears to be feeling the full force of his wife’s death. He floats through the episode in a sort of dazed state, but we can see that he is consumed with guilt and the need to understand what had happened to Cally. When we first see him, Tyrol is jumping rope rather determinedly in his chamber. Nicky is behind him in his crib, and they are listening to Baltar speech on the radio. Tyrol stops jumping and cuts off the radio, only to receive a squeal of protest from his young son. Tyrol turns the radio back on and continues to jump, almost as if he would like to be left to his own thoughts. I was really hoping we would get to see a Nicky/Tyrol moment. Coupled with the fact that Nicky has just lost his mother and is probably too young to process it, it would have given us a glimpse of fatherhood according to Galen Tyrol. Perhaps Tyrol is too distraught to reach out to his son right now.

Later on, Tyrol interacts with Tory at the site of Cally’s death and he confides that he does not believe Cally would have killed herself. Tory takes the opportunity to manipulate Tyrol’s fears and cover her own tracks – is that chick creepy or what? It’s open to interpretation I suppose, but you can guess my feelings. Tory isn’t the only FF Tyrol talks to. In a scene that captures the depth of anger felt by Tyrol, Tyrol tells Tigh that he can’t forget things he’s done as quickly as Tigh can. Tyrol then challenges Tigh on his spending time with Caprica Six. Ouch, you do hit hard when you’re hurt, don’t you, Tyrol? On one hand, this is not something Tyrol would have said to Tigh under normal circumstances. However, he’s right; things have changed for all of them and no one is who they used to be, including Colonel Tigh.

Later, Baltar comes to speak to Tyrol and something causes Tyrol to accept his hand. Perhaps this isn’t so surprising when one considers that no one else has been shown to offer plain sympathy to Tyrol. His employees need him at work, Adama is done with him, and Tigh and Tory want him to start moving past Cally’s death. Baltar however, has nothing visible to gain from Tyrol “feeling better” and maybe something about that gets to Tyrol. However, Baltar reaching out to Tyrol is something I can’t explain. What motivates Baltar? There’s no love lost there.

On to Starbuck and the Demetrius. As the show opens, Helo walks in to find Starbuck immersed in papers. He tells her that he wishes to talk about their scheduled rendezvous with the Galactica, but Starbuck insists on another course change instead. When Helo returns to convey the directions to the rest of the crew, they are extremely unhappy. I, for one, was very pleased with how the Demetrius story was set-up and executed. You have a person under suspicion by everyone around her (Starbuck) who is being given one last chance by those who desperately want to believe her (Adama and Helo) but is given this chance to prove herself with a crew of people who could not distrust her more. And why should they? They’ve watched their families and friends die at the hands of the Cylons. So, they see Starbuck, once a hero of the fleet, who mysteriously “died” and returned and assume that she must be a cylon. Then, they are put on a ship with her away from the fleet and Galactica to follow (what they must think of as) her crazy visions. Is it any wonder that they are jumpy? Starbuck is either oblivious to or disinterested in her crew’s feelings – probably both. She is too absorbed in her maps and charts to care; after all she has to find Earth, and it is this uncaring attitude that lands her in chains at the end of the episode.

Leoben is a rare treat on Battlestar Galactica. Every time he pops up, he manages to frak with the minds of Kara and anyone else he encounters. They all want to believe he is lying but his words hold a kernel of truth that makes each character doubt him/herself. True to form, Leoben does the same on the Demetrius. When he is first brought in, Starbuck appears ready to imprison him, but stops when he makes references to Earth.

The next time we see Starbuck and Leoben, they are holding onto each other and adding to the painting that Starbuck has begun on her walls. Anders rushes in when he sees them and begins to pummel Leoben. Starbuck screams at him to stop and that Leoben knows about Earth. Helo and the guards rush in, and the guards take Leoben away with Anders following. Helo says to Kara what I had been thinking. Why was Kara listening to Leoben after all he had done to her? Kara is convinced that he can help them and the Cylons know about Earth. Ok, so we know that Kara is impulsive and crazy, but what exactly did Leoben say to her? If there’s one big problem in this episode, it’s that we have no idea what occurred between Kara and Leoben this time around. I’ve always been able to place Kara’s actions with what was happening at that moment, but this time, I’ve got nothing. Is she so desperate to find Earth that Leoben uttering the simplest detail convinced her of his sincerity? Did he give her more substantial evidence of his claim? Kara’s relationship with Leoben has always been inexplicably toxic, but at least we had more to go on in other episodes. The only thing we know is that Leoben claims that he received his information from the Hybrid and that he wants Kara to see the Hybrid. I suppose we will have to wait until next week. Darn.

Next, Anders confronts Leoben and asks him what he wants from Kara. Leoben takes the opportunity to play mind games with Anders. He alludes to the idea that Anders is more than he appears which unsettles Anders and puts him on guard. Does Leoben know Anders’ secret, or just that Anders has a secret? How much does Leoben know about the big picture? We don’t know… and he (and the BSG crew) has kept us guessing for 3 years now. Leoben then tells Anders that the Cylon are at war and the war is between “those who embrace our nature and those who fear it.” This admission is quite interesting. We know the bit about the war to be true but Anders does not; furthermore Leoben’s statement implies that the nature of a Cylon is destructive, at least from Leoben’s standpoint. Is that what all Cylons believe?

Certainly Athena may agree with Leoben. She has spent the last few years working so hard to gain acceptance by the fleet and has even gone so far as to choose humanity over the cylon. Thus, it is not a shock that Athena is the first one to suggest mutiny on the Demetrius. The crew argues back and forth about mutiny, but two things happen that ultimately lead to a decision. One, Starbuck announces that she’s decided to follow Leoben to his baseship in search of answers. The crew is alarmed that it could be an ambush and that Kara is determined to go anyway. Second, Sergeant Mathias is examining Leoben’s raider and is about to return when an explosion kills her, which angers the crew. These are the catalysts that ultimately force Helo to listen to the concerns of his crew and commit mutiny by arresting Starbuck. It’s hard to defend Starbuck. Yes, the leader of a ship should expect to be obeyed, but Starbuck is flying her own course without regard to the well-being of her crew or the dictates of those above her in rank. She brought the mutiny on herself.

In essence, “The Road Less Traveled” is incredibly impressive in showing consistency between events and characters’ reactions to them. Starbuck is singly devoted to finding Earth and all her actions are in line with that goal. The crew distrusts Starbuck for legitimate reasons and moves to commit mutiny. Helo and Anders are Starbuck’s only supporters and Helo only defects when forced to it. Leoben is as devious, manipulative, and mysterious as ever, Baltar is carrying on with his newfound path, Tory is creepy as usual, and Tyrol is full of raw grief and anger.

As said before, I think this episode would have benefited from more insight into Tyrol/Nicky, Baltar’s motivations for reaching out to Tyrol, and Leoben/Starbuck. Again, I was left with too many questions and not enough answers, but as frustrating as that can be, I have to admit that the uncertainty adds to the magic of BSG. All in all, I’m excited to see what’s in store for us, and I cannot wait to see how things play out on the next episode.

Overall, I give this episode 8 out of 10. Pretty good, but could have been better.

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