Tuesday, June 17

Galactica Station's Review of Sine Qua Non

Captain Kickass escapes the tedium of unpacking to bring you the long awaited, very late review of Sine Qua Non (My apologies). This was an extremely ambitious episode that aimed to explore several issues, but the execution was somewhat disappointing.

The episode began with Natalie being rushed into surgery soon followed by a segment in which Adama demands an explanation from Athena. Clearly the Admiral fully sees Athena as a member of the Colonial fleet, but hasn’t forgotten that she’s a Cylon. It also appears that he’s noticed that Athena doesn’t stick up for her kind very much. It’s even more intriguing that although many others see her as Athena and differentiate her from other 8s, it’s not immediately certain that Athena distinguishes certain models of one cylon for others of the same model. We see that her vision implies that it is Caprica Six, not Natalie, who scoops Hera up along with Baltar. So, why does Athena shoot Natalie? My guess is Athena was in Mama Lion mode and she reacted before she gave thought to her actions. She looked at Natalie and in her panic, saw a Six, and shot her. On one end, I was sympathetic as Sharon was trying to protect her child, but on the other, it did strike me that Sharon appeared to do to Natalie (dismiss her as a Six) what she had been fighting for others NOT to do to her. Hmmm.

The heart of this episode was its exploration of roles that the various characters are supposed to fulfill. At the beginning of the episode, Adama is the Admiral, Tigh is the XO, Zarek is Vice-President of the Colonies, Lee is a member of the Quorum of Twelve, and Starbuck’s status is uncertain. By the end of Sine Qua Non, all these roles are turned inside out. Adama’s fears for Roslin causes him to get into a raptor and wait for her, Tigh becomes Interim Admiral despite his misgivings, Zarek unhappily stays VP, Lee Adama suddenly becomes the Interim President and Starbuck is a pilot again. In many respects, these revolving roles are uniquely tied to the idea that everyone has something that they live and fight for and in this view, these role changes are mostly understandable. However, just a few episodes ago, Starbuck was sent off to prove herself and suddenly she’s just reinstated? No explanation scene at all? We can assume all manner of things, but in my view, the Starbuck angle was pushed conveniently out of the way. Yes, of course those in charge are busy with the new alliance and plans for the resurrection hub, but a line from Tigh or Zarek reminding Starbuck she was not off the hook yet would have made more sense.

Zarek was also puzzling in this episode. Now, while I think that Lee Adama is a fabulous character who has undergone great growth in four years, my issue is not so much with him as with the way he got his new position. Lee and Romo decided to search for a new Interim President because Adama would never accept Zarek as President. Excuse me, but why does Admiral Adama get to decide who runs the Colonial Government? Zarek was rightfully in line for the Presidency, and Roslin had been physically ill for a long time. Adama must have known that Zarek would take the Presidency, so why the protest? Part of the reason may be that Adama was so consumed with worry for Roslin that he was not thinking straight. However, Zarek was correct, the VP position gave him the power to become President in Roslin’s absence, and Roslin kept him as her VP to legitimize things. However, for reasons that are unclear, Zarek did back down to let Lee handle things. As Lee said, there exists the ideal and the real (in different words, of course). Maybe Zarek had to accept it. However, it kind of made Zarek a wimp in my eyes. He spoke out about the presidency on the radio, but he was the one who acquiesced to Lee. Why did Zarek not get the Quorum to back him up?

On to Adama and Tigh. Olmos and Hogan were amazing in this scene. When he realized that Tigh had been having “secret meetings” with Caprica Six and had gotten her pregnant, Adama was furious. Tigh then made the colossal mistake of retorting to Adama that he was blindly going after Roslin and this led the two old friends to throw punches at one another for a few minutes. The scene was reminiscent of Unfinished Business, in that while the two men had a long and true friendship, they had several unresolved resentments between them. The end of the scene implied a renewed understanding and acceptance between Adama and Tigh. I think this scene was possibly my favorite because it implied that all people are emotionally affected by others, even when they may not want to be. I did find myself wishing that that the pregnancy had been discussed further, but maybe they tried to convey that there were no words for the situation.

Ok, let’s go to Romo. As highly anticipated as Romo Lampkin’s return was, some of his scenes with Lee and Adama seemed rushed and forced. He spent much of the episode telling Lee that the search was pointless and a lost cause, and ultimately manipulated Lee into the position of Interim President. I did enjoy the short scene with Adama in which Romo and Adama discussed “sine qua non” or “that without which [life wouldn’t be worth living]. It is in this scene that we first got an idea of Romo having lost someone in his past.

Later, Romo held Lee at gunpoint and ultimately forced him to the realization that he, Lee, would be the best choice for Interim President. During the scene, Romo revealed that he had terrible guilt from leaving his family during the attacks and pretended to want to doom humanity. This scene would have played better if we had seen bits and pieces of Romo’s guilt or memories beforehand. We did have a brief snippet with Adama, but Romo’s confession of guilt out of the blue, his gun, and the mysterious dead cat made it seem as if Romo put on an act and used his past simply in order to force Lee to take the presidency. Lee fell hook, line, and sinker and took the bait. Additionally, Lee Adama had real qualifications, but he had to be convinced of them. The presidency appeared to be no more his choice than Roslin’s the first time around, and maybe this isn’t such a good thing for a growing, maturing society. Romo may have been right about repressed desire for power and fixed outcomes, but it made Lee look like the sacrificial lamb. We know he’s a good candidate, but what stopped Lee from nominating himself? Is someone who accepts a position for the good of society automatically better than one with ambition and vision? I don’t know.

All in all, I liked the focus on roles and circumstances that may change roles that was shown in Sine Qua Non. I also liked the focus on emotional bonds as evidenced by Tigh and Adama and Roslin and Adama. On the other hand, several storylines seemed rushed and glossed over, resulting in missed opportunities and plot holes. Overall, I rate Sine Qua Non a 6 out of 10.

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