Tuesday, February 17
Gooby Rastor seeks a way out of his latest existential crisis by reviewing episode 4.17, “No Exit.”
Hell is other robots.
Sorry, that was obligatory for me. And the title’s reference to the Sartre play is an appropriate one, as much of the episode relies on exposition in the form of dialogue, almost to the extent of the original. The success of this episode is a bit surprising, considering that it so egregiously breaks one of the cardinal rules of film and television making: Show, don’t tell. “No Exit” puts a lot, I mean a LOT, in the mouths of Michael Trucco, Kate Vernon, and Dean Stockwell. The benefit of this is really the same reason why schoolteachers like me sometimes just love to lecture: People talking can be a remarkably efficient way to transmit information in a short amount of time. Lectures can be a great bore too, so it’s nice that the actors make the watching worthwhile.
There’s not too much in the way of direct fallout from Gaeta’s mutiny the week after. Some, sure, including Ander’s wound and Tyrol’s discovery. But mostly, we’re turning to new business, and uncovering much of the mystery surrounding the Cylons. And boy oh boy what we learn about the Cylons! Sam Anders tells us the story of the 13th Tribe, all of which is very interesting stuff, but is nothing compared to the real “No Exit” scene between Ellen, (John) Cavil, and Boomer, where we learn the full story of our modern Cylons and the development of the skinjobs.
There are no flashbacks, no tricks with the timeline, just all the bad blood of the Cylons coming out to the surface between Ellen and John. One of the things I liked about this so much is that not only do we get the story on what the relationship is between the Final Five and the other Cylons, and what “the Centurion side of the family” brought to the table, but also we get to hear Brother Cavil’s perspective on things. He may be the chief antagonist, but he’s got a valid, albeit twisted reason for what he does. These scenes are exactly how exposition dialogue should be, as they are eminently watchable. Dean Stockwell and Kate Vernon really do a phenomenal job with their screen time.
The scenes between Kara, Anders and the rest were also informative and well-done. Seeing Anders with aphasia was kind of fun, wasn’t it? From what I understand, the brain surgeon was a bit of stunt casting, but I didn’t recognize him, so you all will have to decide if it was a positive or a negative.
A couple bits of Cylon related business to toss in here: First, this heretofore unknown “Daniel” model of Cylon, whom it’s a good bet is the father of one Kara Thrace. I hate spoilers, so I’m not shelling out any here, but Daniel is a piece of the jigsaw puzzle which links things up so nicely, which makes it all add up so wall, that I’ll be honestly stupefied if he doesn’t turn out to be her absent father. Second, there’s Boomer. The show is plainly setting her up to get a little bit of peace, which she should have. But my biggest qualm with this episode is how... unearned I’m afraid she and the Chief’s happiness will be. We haven’t seen Boomer at all in so long, we haven’t had any sense of her psyche or her journey. I can’t help but think that Boomer’s redemption would have been so much sweeter had we gotten a better sense of her descent and her relationship with Cavil. Additionally, there seemed to be a great opportunity lost with Boomer in this episode. Ellen spoke to her about the great gift which the Final Five had given the other Cylons. Free will, she mentioned. I doubt I was the only one who wondered why Boomer didn’t scream at Ellen about how she had explicitly been denied free will. I really do want to see Boomer healed; I expected that her story would be pure tragedy, but at this point, I think there’s been plenty of that with Gaeta and Dualla. But I really wish it hadn’t been so quick and sudden a reversal.
On the human side of things was Lee’s sensible notion to do away with the outmoded idea of the 12 colonies, which dovetailed in with Roslin’s continued inability to show any leadership. Really, wasn’t that what got them into that trouble with the mutiny in the first place? But Lee seems fully prepared to step up, as he has to. After all he’s the only one left.
Lastly, I suspected last week that the Chief’s discovery of the cracks in Galactica were a foreshadowing of the ship’s coming demise. It still might turn out to be. But this week, we see that things are a lot worse on the old ship than it seemed. And that there might be hope for her, just so long as the Admiral can stomach transforming her into a half-Cylon. You know what they say; have some irony, it’s good for your blood.
To sum up: Not perfect, and only really good if you can dig the heavy amount of dialogue used to get the back story across. But I could, and did, and am grateful for the amount we learned. 9.3/10