Monday, March 9

Galactica Station's Review of "Islanded in a Stream of Stars"

Boomergirl signs off on her last BSG review for Galactica Station, "Islanded in a Stream of Stars."

"For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in a stream of stars—pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across the eternal seas of space and time.”

- Henry Beston
The Outermost House

Never underestimate the powers of this series’ creators to generate a big black hole of despair. We start with the already weakened Galactica now further damaged by the enormous breach that Boomer put in its hull when she made the FTL jump too close to the ship; we have the hole that Boomer left in the lives of Athena and Helo when she stole their daughter, and we have the punctured hopes of the Cylons when they lost their one chance for the future. Starbuck is still struggling to come to terms with who or what she is, and cannot turn to the comatose Anders for any support. Laura Roslin, thankfully, is alive, but it seems that her cancer has taken a turn for the worse, and it’s clear from the scenes in the opera house that the dying leader is coming closer to learning a truth that we might not want to know.

And that’s just the beginning. In the words of Admiral Adama: “I’ve had it up to here with destiny, prophecy. With God. Or the Gods. Look where it’s left us. The ass end of nowhere.”

I can certainly sympathize with him. After all he’s been through, he’s no nearer to leading the fleet to safe haven than he was four years ago, and what’s worse, he’s soon about to lose both of his beloved women. He knows this with his mind, but he isn’t near close to accepting this with his heart. It’s no wonder that when the Final Five sans Chief (who mysteriously or perhaps purposefully did not appear at all in this episode), and Starbuck appeal to Adama to send out a search party for the Cylons’ secret Colony to recover the kidnapped Hera, he has no energy to spare any interest or enthusiasm in the mission.

But time and disaster wait for no man. As Adama tries to avoid confronting the inevitable, part of the Galactica’s hull weakens further, ripping apart and throwing several human and Cylon workers out into the void of space and severely injuring several others. In a short scene that will hopefully help define future human-Cylon relations in the fleet, a Six who had moments before been arguing with a human deck employee, now sacrifices herself to save his life.

Still, before we allow ourselves any hopes for a rose-strewn future, the scene shifts to the new congress of ships’ captains who have convened to discuss the future of the fleet’s protection. Lee outlines a very unpopular contingency plan to have the military move to the Cylon base ship, which will then become the sole protection of the fleet, albeit, under the command of Adama, and complemented with Galactica’s Vipers, Raptors and pilots. Even through their protests, though, the captains understand that this future is inevitable, and soon fall like a pack of vultures on divvying up the remains of the battlestar. One captain puts in dibs for the CO2 scrubbers, and another wants the FTL drives. A horrified Lee would no sooner consider cannibalizing the Galactica than he would his own father, and like the Old Man, tells them all to forget any such plans.

The slow breakdown of Galactica, this island in the stream of stars, is the main background story in this episode, but several other story lines are also moving toward their resolution:

Boomer has Hera and is heading toward the secret Cylon Colony. It’s clear that Hera knows that this Eight is not her mother, and it’s also clear that Boomer is resentful of the fact that she never got a chance to have a child like Hera. Just as she once threatened to snap infant Hera’s neck, now Boomer aims a tranquilizer needle toward Hera’s arm in an effort to still the irritating cries of the child for her real mother. But there must be something in Hera’s sobs or in her eyes that stays Boomer’s hand. Instead of drugging Hera, she decides on another course of action, taking Hera into the Cylon projection of her dream home on Picon that she wanted to share with Chief. There’s something very heartbreaking about the fact that Boomer did truly love Chief, but is so broken that she ultimately chose to betray him.

Ellen tells Adama of the Cylons’ secret Colony, and he agrees to send out a Raptor for a reconnaissance mission to rescue Hera, but Ellen is not contented with this. Alone in their quarters (is it now their quarters again?) with Tigh, she tries to convince Tigh that the one hope for the future of the Cylon nation is heading into Cavil’s grasp and more needs to be done, but Tigh has had enough of the Cylon nation. He made his choice back in the nebula to be Saul Tigh, Colonial military officer. While Liam’s presence might have persuaded Tigh to embrace his Cylon nature had the child survived, his death seems to have reminded Tigh that the only constants he can be sure of are the Galactica and his position on this ship. Cylons be damned. “You wanna know who my people are, lady?” he bellows to Ellen. “The ones on this ship! The ones I fought with and bled with! The Old Man. This crew. They’re my family. The only one I’ve known and the only one I care to!”

Meanwhile, Starbuck surprises Gaius Baltar in the bathroom while he’s shaving and she’s—ahem…on the throne. She first asks him if he believes all the bilge he spews out about angels, but then comes to the point. She pulls out the dog tags she took off her dead body on Earth and asks Baltar to run some tests on them, to help her answer the question of just what she is. She then goes to see Sam, who has been plugged into a tank like the hybrids on the Cylon base stars. The Cylons had wanted to jumpstart him like a car by hooking him into the neural net, but he continues to lie comatose within the tank. Tearfully, Starbuck confesses to him that in the end, she has come to realize that human or Cylon doesn’t matter. That he was her Sam and that she wants to remember him that way. She pulls out her sidearm, but before she is able to fire the shot, Sam comes online, grabbing her arm and spewing his own version of the hybrids’ insane-speak. “You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace. You will lead them all to their end. End of line.”

The harbinger of death seems also be coming for someone else in this episode. Laura Roslin lies in sickbay as Adama reads to her. But Roslin’s not the one who needs to be comforted. Sharing a secret toke with the Admiral, she talks to him about what his love and companionship have meant to her, and how being with him has made her feel she is at home for the first time in her life. And then she gently tries to prepare him to accept the inevitable. She is dying and so is the Galactica. He has to be able to face the loss of both his women. I must confess here, that I’ve always been a big Adama/Roslin shipper and I find the subtle evolution of their love to have been something beautiful, without mindless, frenetic passion, but rather with an elegance, and maturity and true sense of belonging and mutual understanding that is rarely ever seen on the screen, big or small.

The devastation that Boomer left in her wake has left its mark big time on Helo and Athena. Athena is so distraught over the loss of her daughter and over Helo’s role in the tragedy that it seems their once legendary love might have been destroyed. She can’t even look him in the eye to tell him she hates him. Desperate to find a way to redeem himself in Athena’s eyes as well as to recover his beloved child, a disheveled Helo goes to the Admiral, losing his composure as he begs to be given a Raptor to search for his daughter. Adama is sympathetic; after all, he lost a child once, too. But he knows that what Helo is proposing is as fruitless as grabbing at straws. The recon mission returned with the report that Cavil had moved the Cylon Colony, and there is no way they could possibly find Hera. The Admiral tells Helo to let it go. But for once, Helo the perfect soldier is submerged under Helo the hysterical, distraught father. Angrily, Helo tells Adama that the Admiral is the one who can’t let go. Adama is pouring all his resources into saving a dying ship, instead of taking every opportunity to save a still-living little girl.

After snapping at Helo to pull himself together, Adama heads to the funeral services planned for the people—both human and Cylon—who were killed in the blast when the damaged section of Galactica’s hull snapped. However much individuals might resist the integration of the peoples, this multifaith, multiracial and multicultural service moves the fleet ever and ever closer to a true reconciliation of the races that may become their one true hope for the future.

And yet, the powers that be still manage to snatch the hope away from us. Just as the service ends, Baltar announces that there are true angels among us, that he has investigated the dog tags that Kara Thrace gave him, that he now has conclusive evidence that she is a person who has crossed over to the other side and is now an angel among us. Starbuck silences his rant with a slap, but you really have to wonder if she wanted him to announce this news to the fleet all along. Baltar’s announcement has finally freed Starbuck to accept that Kara Thrace died and she is a reborn version of herself.

By now, Boomer has reached the Colony. She carries Hera off the Raptor and into Cavil’s arms. A panicked Hera, who once cried for her mother, now cries for Boomer. As Cavil takes her away, his assurances that she will soon have many playmates sounds anything but reassuring. And Boomer, with tears in her eyes, seems to know this. Has she realized only too late the wrongness of her choice born out of anger and desire for revenge?

Adama returns to his quarters after the funeral, through what must seem like miles of endless repairs and finally confronts the truth in a cathartic breakdown. He will lose the Galactica just as he will lose Roslin. He tells Tigh to abandon repairs. The move to the base star will commence. Galactica has served them too well, and they must send her off in style. Talk about a buddy couch scene over a glass of beer, the one in which both Adama and Tigh accept the fact that their life on Galactica has come to an end is one of the most powerful I’ve ever seen.

Final thoughts: Very, very powerful performances from several cast members. Edward James Olmos, and Mary McDonnell are always stellar performers, but Grace Park and Tricia Helfer have done amazing jobs in the past couple of episodes portraying such separate and distinct versions of their models. Tahmoh Penikett does some of his best work as the grieving Helo, and Michael Trucco as the hybrid {“There’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza, dear Liza. End of line.”) really gave me the chills. With so many questions burning in my mind, I find myself impatient for some resolution of at least some story lines. To still be treading water this late in the story arc of the show is frustrating, but combined with the great acting, I’d give this an 8/10.

Oh, and thanks to JustLooking from the Ragnar Anchorage for the heads up on the Henry Beston quote.

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