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You know, I am not the type of person who doesn’t believe that things can’t get better the second time around, even when it comes to remakes of old television shows. Take for instance- well, Battlestar Galactica. The original series is a perfect example of what was really an awful show from the seventies that over time gained enough kitschy verve that people remembered they enjoyed it much more than was actually possible. I’m not saying it wasn’t fun to watch at times. If there were eight episodes on in a row on SciFi, I could, for instance, imagine a scenario wherein I would skip class and then sustain myself for eight hours with nothing but a glass bowl, a lighter, some herbs of my choice, and, of course, some Diet Dr. Pepper to wash down the mountains of Triscuit and Easy Cheese sandwiches I would start to crave about after about 45 minutes.
But that’s just one theory, and has already made this intro way too long. What I am trying to say is that one of the great things about the current Battlestar Galactica is that the producers are less concerned with staying historically accurate to a bad TV show than they are with making sure the elements of their writing will ensure that the current series has interesting plot and compelling story.All of that pontificating about the virtues of Galactica would probably have sounded a lot better if I hadn’t taken a week off from recapping it. If I loved the show so much, why would I just skip the writing? Well, for one thing, nobody really complained, so I let my labor of love slip. As for the other, the combination of a new Big Brother plus hours of football really kind of cramps my style.
Last week did have a fairly important revelation, however. Lucy Lawless showed up for a cameo as a reporter (Diana Burns) who was covering the Gideon massacre, the name given to the incident that took place after Colonel Tigh ordered marines to force supply ships to continue to stock Galactica. In the craziness that followed, several civilians were killed and Diana was about to blow the lid off the whole thing for the entire fleet, which might have been a problem for the military trying to ensure order reigns supreme. We also found out she was a Cylon, which makes things very interesting to say the least.
One of the themes of the last several weeks has been how the crew has been handling things. At first it looked like Diana would focus on scandal, but instead she focused on how the people that protect the fleet are coping with that pressure themselves. The crew of Galactica has basically been on call 24 hours a day ever since the first Cylon attack. There are no reinforcements coming, and there is nobody around to relieve them of their duty, even if they really only need a few hours of rest and relaxation.
There are a lot of people who you could say have had the most pressure on the ship. Commander Adama was shot and has been fighting with the President forever, but he lived and she is going to die, so things are kind of looking up. Colonel Tigh completely screwed things up under his command, his wife is manipulative, and he has received death threats, but really, he thought his wife was dead at the beginning of the show, and now Adama is back. Baltar might have been the person who was ultimately responsible for the Cylons being able to defeat our defenses and is plagued by visions of a Cylon, however the Cylon is hot and he has dreams of sex with her, and he has saved the fleet a number of times and is now Vice President.
Let’s see. Apollo has had to save the fleet multiple times and there was the added pressure of standing up to his father, but all of that is resolved. Starbuck was almost lost on a planet, flew to Caprica, was almost killed by a Cylon, was operated on by Cylons, but she made it back and was a hero. Helo had to spend a lot of time on Caprica with all the radiation, but really looks none the worse for wear. Boomer was shot and killed, but she came back, sort of, and she’s a Cylon with perhaps millions of copies of her, so why should we care.
No, I think the person who has had the worst time of it has been Chief Tyrel. He is responsible for keeping all of the Vipers and Raptors working, which means he is effectively responsible for the safety of the entire fleet. He then found out his girlfriend was a Cylon, watched while an incompetent commander led to the deaths of several of his crew, returned to the ship to find his girlfriend had been shot and killed. And just when he begins to cope with that, he finds out his girlfriend was cloned, and not only fell in love with another man, but is going to have his kid. Now I am not saying he should kill somebody, but I understand.
Tyrel isn’t the only person affected by Sharon’s re-emergence, however. I could see how Helo was one of the more popular officers. He selflessly gave himself up on Caprica so that Baltar would survive. Maybe one could argue that sort of altruism is nothing but a product of his circumstances, but I would have to believe that is not the case. That kind of leadership and sacrifice is the kind that make people want to follow you into battle, because they know you are not simply looking to cover your own ass. Well, Helo isn’t exactly popular these days. When he goes to sit down for a game of poker or whatever they play, he is welcomed by taunts of “Cylon lover” and he decides that it’s probably best for him to leave. Nobody really understands what happened between him and Sharon. OK, almost nobody. There is Chief, who is so lonely, we see that he is spending his time feeling up a Viper fighter while he has flashbacks to having sex with Boomer. If this guy doesn’t find something to do soon, then, well, I would stay off of the Long Island Railroad.
Yes, Tyrel is quickly becoming more unhinged with his reality, and if there is one person he doesn’t want to see, it is Helo. Unfortunately, Helo’s only sanctuary appears to be the Raptor that he and Sharon piloted, which is in the hangar where the Chief spends all of his time. Helo is willing to listen to Tyrel talk about getting married and having kids with Sharon, but Tyrel also wants to fight, and Helo wants none of that, until Tyrel says he is happy he doesn’t have Sharon because the freak baby isn’t his. Nobody talks about Helo’s freak baby like that and eventually things boil over until the point where we see Tyrel about to pound Helo’s head in with a wrench. But the chief realizes that he really isn’t mad at Helo, because his Sharon is not in the brig, his Sharon is dead, and he had better deal with it.
So Tyrel needs a hobby, but there is not much that he can do besides fix ships and distill alcohol. He could do a lot of the second, but selling bootleg booze only lines his pockets, and he would still be left feeling empty inside. Fixing airplanes is going to have to do, and he has a great idea. Because there are so few spare parts, a lot of the Vipers have been decommissioned. By why can’t they build a new Viper? He calls in a bunch of his friends and tells them about the crazy idea. Let’s build a new ship! And let’s do it on our own time! Nobody else has quite the hard-on for the project that Tyrel does, but he decides to continue on with it himself.
I really can’t blame the rest of the crew for being kind of skeptical about this whole brand new fighter ship thing. There is plenty of other important things to worry about on Galactica. Most of the crew is already behind on what they are doing, and just recently it has been revealed that the computer network that Gaeta created in the face of a Cylon attack has been compromised, and it looks like it is starting to have an effect on the ships systems.
At first, they notice a constant signal being sent from Galactica, which might be the perfect way for the Cylons to track them, but it gets worse from there. After doing some investigation, it turns out that what is infecting the systems is a Cylon logic bomb. As Baltar explains it, it is a heuristic virus that has probably been testing out which systems it can control before completely taking them over. There might not be one system that is safe.
To give you an idea of what the ramifications of the logic bomb, which BTW sounds like some sort of maneuver you attempt during the tag-team portion of Academic Decathalon, we cut to a scene of Apollo, Starbuck and random jab taking target practice. For some motivation, the human targets now have Sharon’s face on them. During this target practice, Apollo is talking shit about Tyrel’s plane. He has been unhappy that the chief seems like he is diverting his time away from other projects, like fixing planes. Starbuck says that she would test fly the plane if he ever gets it built, and then everybody starts giggling. Now, I am not sure how many areas of the plane have little oxygen meters, but the firing range had one, and it told us that the Oxygen was dropping, meaning there was more Nitrogen in the air, which meant that the people inside would laugh themselves to sleep and then die. Apollo and Starbuck manage to use an explosive round to open the blast door and save everybody, but this is obviously a situation that needs to be resolved.
Gaeta and Baltar get to work on the computer systems and Tyrel keeps chugging away at his plane. People want to laugh at him, and Colonel Tigh wants to shut him down, but Adama says that Tyrel needs something to keep him going. As long as it keeps him sane, he’ll let the project continue. Perhaps taking a little pity on the poor guy, some other people start helping out. Starbuck is working on navigation control, and there is Dualla helping on com systems. And even Cally the Killer is helping on the engines.
If the crew is having fun on anything, Tigh has to put an end to it. He discovers that Tyrel is bootlegging alcohol to barter for some parts, but he is having trouble with some engines, and he knows that they won’t be able to take any from the Vipers because they are still much more important. Tigh reluctantly tells the Chief that there was somebody in the fleet looking to get rid of some engines that were taking up space somewhere, and he would send a crew to get it. And since nothing is free, he takes some of Tyrel’s moonshine for himself.
After we get that feel good scene with Tyrel’s ship, we get a little bit of filler piece. I wouldn’t even mention it, except that it does have some minor possibility for something later on. Apollo is teaching Dualla some hand to hand. That’s combat, you sick bastards. They are fighting and rolling around, and they get pretty close. Close enough that Apollo has that look in his eyes like he wants to hump her in front of the whole dojo. I am starting to think Apollo is a bigger slut than Starbuck. Before anything can happen, Billy walks in looking for Dualla, and she scampers off to meet him and have another round of awkward sex that is as good as she can get and better than anything he can ever imagine.
It’s decided that the best thing to do about the Cylon virus is to ask Sharon. Helo goes to talk to her, but first he needs to know a few things like does she really love him. Even though Tyrel’s Sharon was killed, Helo’s Sharon still has some of her memories, including all of those good times they had sex while he imagined he was repairing ships. However, she says that he is the father of her child and he will always come first. OK, cool, now what about this virus? She says she has to see Commander Adama, and I think to myself “Oh shit, I hope this doesn’t cause her to go crazy and kill people again”. My fears were unfounded and when she sees the Commander, he tells her that the program is set to use the Galactica against itself and the fleet. Phew! I was getting worried that there might be trouble.
President Roslin is scheduled to return to her ship. Adama always lets her use his quarters when she needs some time on the Galactica. Although she has restored the confidence in Democracy and found a way home to earth, the other part of the prophecy is that she will die, and the doctor gives her a month (at most) to live. Adama tells her about the Cylon attack and you can really take it two ways. Either it sucks because there goes, you know, civilization as we know it, or it rocks because she’s going to die anyway, why not with a bang?
The main purpose of the meeting is that Adama needs some advice about Sharon. They have an idea on how to combat the Cylons. As Roslin says, the Cylons are expert manipulators. On the other hand, this Sharon is not the one that shot him, and she has already proven she is willing to help, and the love she has for her baby (which, btw you would think she would start to show at least a little bit of a bump) would make it less likely that she would do anything to jeopardize it’s future. Still, it comes back to the point that we created them, so there has to be some sort of common ground we can be happy with other than mutually assured destruction.
Gaeta and Gaius (there should be some G&G Cylon Factory joke in there somewhere) have decided that it will be possible to destroy the cylon virus, they just need to completely erase the hard drives and restore the programs from backups. It’s no big deal other than it will leave Galactica defenseless and there are thousands of Cylon raiders bearing down on the ship waiting to completely destroy it. Is there anything Galactica can do?
Enter Sharon. She knows a lot about Cylons, so she is being walked to the bridge, and by walked, I mean they have her transported in a manner that is only missing the weird Hannibal Lecter facemask. And whenever I mention Hannibl Lecter, I try to work a fava beans/nice chianti joke, worthy of a thpthtpthtpththttpt, but I got nothing right now. Once there she asks Dualla if she has the knife her dad gave her, and she does. She also needs a direct link to the computer. She proceeds to cut herself open with a knife and stick the fiber optic cable directly into her hand. What is it about watching a knife dig into somebody’s palm that always makes me cringe?
Now that Sharon is plugged in, I hope she has something good planned, because there seems to be about 100 Cylons for every Viper. The Cylons aren’t firing, and Sharon tells Gaeta to erase the hard drives. Still nothing is happening and the Cylons are getting closer. Tigh thinks they have been double-crossed again, and wants to shoot Boomer. Commander Adama gets a gun and puts it to her head while Tigh is yelling “Do it!” like a one man lynch mob. Before any shots are heard, Boomer slumps over, and look, all of the Cylon ships are now motionless, out of control, and have lost power.
What happened? The Cylons gave Galactica a virus, and they were sending a signal to tell the virus to activate. When Boomer was plugged in, she received the signal, and sent the virus to the Cylons. They were helpless in space and the fighter pilots were mowing them down like it was target practice. At first you kind of feel bad because it isn’t even really a fight, but then you realize it was the exact same shit the Cylons pulled, and with the lives of everybody on the line, something had to be done.
Her job over, Sharon goes back to her cell, and the rest of the Galactica crew goes on about their business like nothing happened. They are all busy working on the new ship, but their is a big problem in that there is no sheet metal to use for the skin. It would be too bad if all of that work went for nothing, if only there was something else they could use instead. Out of nowhere, Helo says “why don’t we use carbon composites?”. It seems like a perfectly reasonable idea, and would probably help make the ship stealth as well. Why they have lots of carbon composites lying around is news to me, or even enough scrap to make their own composites, but it seems to work, and Starbuck takes it on a test drive.
When it was first in space, the Blackbird, as thy have called the new ship because carbon fiber is black, giving the ship a sleek appearance, Starbuck has some trouble piloting it, but eventually gets control. The Blackbird was designed for speed, so she takes off. They tried to make us think that she has crashed since nobody could contact her, but Surprise! it’s a stealth ship, you’re not supposed to be able to see it. Like 24, you kind of have to believe this ship is stealth in all conditions even though actual science might say differently. Again, that is not what makes this show great, so I don’t care.
The Blackbird means a lot to the crew of the Galactica. In a ceremony celebrating the ship Adama calls it an act of faith, and proves that human ingenuity is still a strong force, and together, they will make it. OK, it was pretty cheesy shit, and stuff that we have heard before, but it still meant a lot to the crew. In an act of appreciation, they named the Blackbird “Laura” after the President Roslin, and the significance of the crew naming their creation after is not lost on her. Once again, we get a scene with all of these people in the hangar clapping. There is some champgne passed around, and the soundtrack from “Far and Away” is turned up all the way, just in case you missed the memo that this was supposed to be emotional.
Overall, I really liked this episode. Lots of good character development, and you can really feel the emotion on screen. Next week marks the last episode of the season when they come across another Battlestar that apparently made it out alive. After a month or so off, the third season starts back up again.