Thursday, February 26

Galactica Station's Review of "Deadlock"

Boomergirl returns to the reviewer's chair, and has praise and qualms with "Deadlock."

Fifth Cylon Ellen Tigh returned to Galactica in full boozy, bitchy, manipulative mode this week. After “No Exit”, when she was so calm, collected and mature in the face of John/Cavil’s puerile rants, there had been some hope that the horrible Ellen of seasons past was the product of Cavil’s petty programming machinations, but clearly, there’s just something in Saul that brings out the worst in Ellen no matter which life she’s in. And with last week’s heavy set up for Ellen’s return to the fleet, it was no surprise that there would be some kind of showdown in store for us when she and Boomer stepped off the Raptor onto the Galactica to Hotdog’s shocked, “How many dead chicks are out there?”

The cerebral part of us knows that nothing good could come of a love triangle between Tigh, Ellen and Caprica Six, but the newly reborn Ellen seemed so diametrically opposed to the old scheming Ellen we loved to hate, that it seemed as if the writers were tantalizing us with this unlikely what-if scenario of a reasonable conclusion to the messy ménage a trios.

All questions about how the showdown would play out are wiped away when Ellen and Tigh end up on the conference room table almost within moments of her arrival in a queasy scene intercut with Caprica Six’s sudden abdominal pains as she eats alone in Tigh’s quarters. I was a bit surprised that Ellen so quickly suspected Tigh of ‘infidelity’—if it can be called that when a man believes his wife is dead—as between the two of them, Tigh had never showed any inclinations toward waywardness; it was always Ellen who made a fool of him. Tigh’s explanation that he always thought of her doesn’t help matters. “Please do not tell me that I was your mental porn!” Ellen snaps. “That’s just sad!”

Soon afterward, as the Cylons—Ellen, Tigh, Tory, Chief, a Six and an Eight—gather around Anders’ bed, to the tune of Cottle’s grumpy, “Just don’t anybody unplug anything!” (I just love Cottle’s cigar chomping bedside charm, don’t you?) the you-know-what begins to hit the fan. First is the bombshell that the Cylons within the fleet want to abscond now that the Final Five are reunited (even with Sam in his current precarious state). Initially opposed to this plan, Ellen says that Hera is the future, only to have the unwelcome news thrust upon her that not only was her husband frakking their ‘child’ Caprica Six, but that Six is pregnant with Tigh’s son. The ensuing scene is a space-opera update of the petty, bickering family argument at Thanksgiving dinner with the comatose Sam as the turkey. Finally, Chief breaks through the arguments with, “Can we talk about the offer and deal with the baby later?” Reverting to their usual Cylon system of majority rules governance, Six and Eight say that there should be a vote and it will be binding: either they all leave or they all stay. Anders had made it clear he wanted to stay as does Tigh, and its no surprise that Tory wants to leave, but the shocker was Chief so readily expressing his desire to go. Was it just me scratching my head or did Galen Tyrol gladly accept resuming the post of Galactica’s deck chief just one episode ago?

Adama and Roslin both view the return of Ellen Tigh with some justified apprehension, but they deal with the issue in vastly different ways. Restored to some sense of equilibrium since the mutiny, Roslin finds Caprica Six to get a read on the situation now that Ellen has returned. Too bad for any viewers hoping to learn Caprica’s real name; when Roslin abashedly realizes she never knew Caprica’s handle, Caprica shoots back, “You’ve probably called me some names.” Roslin seizes on the fact that Caprica had been attacked not long ago when she had gone done to Dogsville to get some food, and takes the opportunity to apologize on behalf of the fleet, before seguewaying the conversation into the discussion of their shared dreams and the importance of Caprica’s baby.

Adama, however, is sinking deeper into the booze and the antidepressant pills. In between scenes of him shuffling mopily through the ship’s corridors as teams of Sixes and Eights paste Cylon goo into Galactica’s cracks, he has a sloshy exchange in his quarters with Tigh, in which he asks Tigh if there have been any new revelations since the meeting, and whether or not Tigh was truly ‘born’. “Great-grandpa was a power sander,” Tigh says. Did I mention that I absolutely LOVED Tigh in this episode? And this wasn’t even his finest moment.

Meanwhile, Gaius Baltar has returned to his cultish flock only to discover that in his absence, the militant Paulla Schaffer has taken over shepherding duties. A much more sour saint than Baltar, she leads by fear mongering, insisting the flock had been abandoned by Baltar and that they need to arm themselves, hoard food and safeguard themselves against marauders. Ever the wily survivalist, Baltar realizes he has to do the opposite of whatever Paulla’s doing, and when he goes with his flock into Dogsville—the lawless shantytown that exists deep in Galactica’s underbelly—and sees the starving, pitiful group assembled there, including a peaky looking little boy also named Gaius, he proposes to use his flock’s stored food to feed the huddled masses, cannily asking the protesting Paulla if she would feel better eating when children were going hungry.

The food is rounded up and distributed to the people of Dogsville, and Baltar seems to be having a gay old time rubbing Paulla’s skeptical face in it all until the Sons of Ares come and wrest the food away with their cache of bigger guns and badder attitudes.

As an aside, I found myself having a hard time summoning up any interest in this story line. Disturbing as it is to watch a broken, post-mutiny Adama peering hopelessly at the Cylonization of his beloved Galactica, I can at least feel for the Old Man; whereas I cannot conjure any sympathy or understanding for Baltar. He has reinvented himself so many times in order to save his own skin that it is almost impossible to conceive of any sincerity in anything he does. Is there truly a deeper meaning in his desire to help others? Does he really mean it when he tells Head Six (yes! She’s back!) that it felt good to help people? Is there any furtherance of the plot line to come from the struggle taking place in the bowels of the Galactica?

More on that later. Back to the brewing catfight when Ellen saunters into Tigh’s quarters with all the assurance of a woman returning to her own home, which to her credit, it was in all those long months before New Caprica. Certainly, she deserves some sympathy in seeing her place usurped by a younger, prettier model, who’s also pregnant with her husband’s child. Worse, if the Cylon ideology is correct of believing that conception only occurs when love is involved, here is in-your-face proof that her husband loves someone else. But what ensues when she confronts a visibly shaken Caprica Six is the essence of pettiness, jealousy and nastiness. With a studied chirpiness, Ellen chatters on about how her relationship with Saul had always been very volatile: “I step off the Raptor and boom! We’re making love and less than a day later, I’m screaming at him! We were always, always, always like that. But I wanted to assure you…. Oh…he didn’t tell you about the sex? And here I was, trying to be good.” Meowrr!

Caprica is rattled by Ellen’s malice, but she still holds her own. She tries to keep to the high road, suggesting that more than love was needed for Ellen and Saul to have a baby, trying to assure Ellen that Tigh really loved her, but Ellen plants her barbs with skill, first telling Caprica that she and Saul had discussed using the name Liam if they’d ever had a son, and then silkily purring, “You win. The man loves you. In fact, I’d say there isn’t much he loves more.”

And Ellen is not nearly through with Caprica. When the Cylons reconvene, Ellen announces her decision. She votes to leave. This makes the vote three to two. Saul is horrified by the notion and refuses to leave. The Cylons remind him of majority rule, which Saul waves away. He understands clearly that Ellen’s decision has nothing to do with majority rules or the good of the Cylon nation. He tries to convince them that this is the wrong road to take, but finally loses his temper and snarls at them to all leave. And with a triumphantly bitter smile, Ellen turns to Caprica: “Do you see, little girl? There is something in the universe that he loves far more than you or me, and that’s Bill Adama and the ship and the uniform…Everything else takes second place. I knew I did, but I always wondered if a baby would. Guess I know now.”

Whether it’s this information, this sudden questioning of Tigh’s love, or the attack in Dogsville the day before that is the blame, perhaps we’ll never know, but Caprica suddenly develops severe abdominal pains again and is rushed into sickbay where a startled Cottle announces that the child is in trouble. Panicked and desperate, Six begs the doctor to cut her open, to save her baby even if it means she will die. Ellen has an apparent change of heart, realizing that her cruelty and pettiness may have cost this baby his life. Appearing stricken and remorseful, she promises Caprica that she’ll take the other Cylons and leave in peace, urging Tigh to declare his love for Caprica, to reassure her. He tries, but breaks out in frustration. “This is nonsense. She knows it! I don’t need to say it. I shouldn’t need to say it to anyone. Isn’t enough that I feel it? I feel it! For her, for you, for Liam! I shouldn’t need to spout the words. I feel it less with words. Just let me gods damn feel it and I’ll fill the frakking room!”

In the hands of a lesser actor, those lines could have become maudlin, even comical, but in Michael Hogan’s hands, Saul Tigh has never had a finer moment. I know I’m not the only one who smelled an Emmy with that scene.

And then suddenly the baby monitor goes dead. A grief stricken Caprica Six sobs as Cottle ushers everyone else out of the room.

Back to Baltar and his flock of nutty cultists. Again needing a way to salvage the situation, and with Head Six’s prodding, Baltar proposes to find a way to get bigger and better guns to fight back. He goes to Adama with his proposal. Initially, the disgusted Admiral refuses to listen, saying, “I’m going to the head, do something a little more constructive…a project I’ve been working on”, but somehow, Baltar grasps on the fact that Adama is very disturbed by the Cylonization of the ship and uses this to convince Adama that helping him arm the starving and hopeless civilians will be the ‘last human solution’ for his ship. Sadly, the Admiral seems to be beaten down enough by the events of the past few months. He relents and gives Baltar’s crew a cache of weapons. Gleefully, Baltar tells Paulla, “See? You give. You give and you will receive.” Paulla’s tight little smile as she loads her gun is enough to send shivers down the spine.

Not long afterward, Tigh goes to see Adama, tearful over having lost his son, Liam, short for William, and the best friends share a poignant, beautiful moment, that seemed to me more to be the crux of hope for human-Cylon relations than any other storyline in the show.

But just as it seems that all hope has faded for everyone, the scene cuts into the sick bay where the monitors behind Sam Anders show a sudden spurt of brain activity. Do we dare to dream?

And lastly, Adama and Roslin walk past the Galactica memorial stunned to realize that the Cylons who have joined the fleet since the Alliance have put up their own memorial wall to commemorate their lost comrades. Integration, at last. “It’s already happened, hasn’t it?” Adama asks.

Overall, the episode was a bit uneven. Perhaps I had expected more since the explosive episodes of the past few weeks, but the pacing was off: in some places riveting and in others yawn-inducing, interspersed with some of the best dialogue zingers in a long time, and sadly, a few plot holes I couldn’t quite believe. How did Boomer find the Galactica? Why would Chief be so ready to leave? And why bother introducing a Cylon love child if you make the viewer question the love? As a mid-season, mid-series episode, this would have been fine. This late in the series with so many plot lines to tie up before the end, though, it feels like more needs to be told in this space. Hopefully, the pace will pick up with the remaining episodes. Tigh’s acting in this was superb, and pulled the episode to an 8/10 rating.

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