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12A Disquiet Follows My Soul
Okay, so, there are certain things we can't tell V’Ger. Or Decker.
Last week I couldn’t stop asking “What Happens Now?!” The show has answered that question with “Same thing as last week, jeez, take a valium.” That is to say: there are no answers, nor clear directions, nor hope. The futility of Earth has sunk in and they’re just as directionless as before, only without the drama. You want magic to happen you’ve got to make it happen yourself.
The episode feels like we’re just hanging around Galactica all day, like it’s a coffee shop we’ve spent too much time at. That’s either a criticism or its strong point, depending on whether you liked it. I mostly liked it. Sure I missed having a big plot development but there’s only so many left and I know they’ll come in their own time. The writers can resolve all the outstanding questions as quickly as they like. It takes much longer to pose the questions (“Where did the Earth’s Cylon’s come from 2000 years ago?”, “What is God’s plan in all this?”) then it will to answer them (“Bob’s Centurion supply, 3rd moon of Alpha Centauri. Tell ’em Jimbo sent you”, “Got bored of masturbating, created life instead”).
I don’t mind that the backdrop is smaller moments with our characters instead of the big reveals. Certainly if it means BSG finds time for Doc Cottle smoking around pregnant chicks, Roslin’s jogging (I’ll get to that later) or the Gaeta/Starbuck verbal smack-downs (“You tried to throw me out an airlock” / “Still crying about that?”). Adama’s act-out line “Y’know, there are days when I really hate this job” was exactly the kind of restraint I begged for during The Leprechaun Incident. Besides, the plot demands some isolation. One of BSG’s central themes emerges: Give them some free time and Humans will frak things up all by themselves.
The fleet is uneasy about the Cylons in their midst. Some ships are refusing the Cylon-based jump drive upgrade, notably the fuel storage & manufacturing ship (last seen in Dirty Hands). There was an excellent sense of the division within the fleet with Gaeta voicing what many must be thinking. It was the stuff I wish earlier seasons had contained more of; things have always been conveniently cohesive. Perhaps mythical Earth bound them together more than I had realized. With that hope now lost, I realize it actually makes more sense to do this kind of episode now.
Warning: Hatch does tend to go on. Although hearing his rants about how the SciFi network hates SciFi is also a form of entertainment.
Front and centre of it all is apparently Tom Zarek. Ahh, Tom. Tom! Why you no call? I miss you long time! Is he causing trouble or is he trying to fix it? Baltar famously asked “Do you honestly believe that the Fleet will ever be commanded by somebody whose last name is not Adama?” (3x16) and it sounds strangely prescient now. Zarek has been marginalized since before the series began and he understands he’ll never receive the Roslin/Adama blessing. But he will not be stopped and continues to find ways to power. He helped engineer Baltar’s presidency and now it appears he will side with Gaeta in a revolution. Yet I can’t fault him. He’s not done anything more reprehensible than anyone else on this show, in fact he truly seems motivated by concern for others. He’s the elected Vice-President (Once President, but that couldn’t be allowed) and here the commander of the military and his son are running things as though they have carte blanche to do as they please. There is no plan and the pipe dream they’ve been selling for the last three years, although delivered, proved sorely lacking. While technically it’s I can see why some might question letting The Good Ol’ Adama Boyz continue running the show.
And the Cylons want in? Full seat at the quorum, eh? Oh man. Good luck you naive chumps.
I sometimes hate on Roslin, but Mary Macdonald is consistently brilliant and her performance this episode was jaw droppingly amazing. When she talks with Adama in the corridor the turmoil of her thoughts, the desperation, the hope, it was all there on her face, in her presence. When she says “maybe today is all we have left. And maybe. Just maybe I’ve earned the right to live a little before I die. Haven’t I? What do you think? Haven’t I?” How could anyone not acquiesce? It’s a question she’s agonized over but I believe the answer is unfortunately no. The thing about following gods’ plan is that things don’t always go down how you think they will. After GhostElosha forced her to face her own inhumanity she then had the dream of Earth torn away from her and now she’s just shell-shocked. Perhaps she really is feeling better. Perhaps only the temporary euphoria of ending her drug treatments. Perhaps the gods are not done with her and I think that’s what’s scariest for her. Roslin has not appeared so vulnerable and so relatable in years. She once said she was going to “play the religious card” (2x05) but in the end I think it played her.
One of the most interesting possibilities I can imagine for the series is that the Humans and Cylons are going to have to create their own future. No “take two shots of Chamalla, rest, and find a magic future in the morning”. A deus ex machina could appear any episode, sure, but we’re seeing various characters try to carve out their own futures as best they can. Roslin is certainly on a journey to find who she will become next. She’s running (literally) away but she’s also trying to embrace those parts of her she’s closed off for so long. And somewhere in there was also faith and hope.
Baltar not giving a toss: Priceless
Tyrol, meanwhile, carves out his own future as Dad of the Year. I’m serious. Discovering that Cally’s child was not a Human/Cylon didn’t sit well with me at first. Upon reflection I decided it’s all good; so there are only two magic babies on the show instead of three. Also, the episode did something really amazingly cool with that red-herring (named Nicholas apparently). After discovering Hot Dog is the child’s biological father Tyrol does what most men would do: get drunk and punch the living shit out of the guy.
But then Tyrol sits Hot Dog down and explains “Lesson number one about being a parent.” These two men are now joined whether they like it or not by a child that plainly exists. Roslin talked about living for today but it’s Tyrol who’s let go of the past. Tyrols attitude: time to man-up, adjust quick and start living with the new reality, because it ain’t going anywhere. His surprising decision is rooted squarely in creating the best future possible. As well re-imagining My Two Dads, their story seems a microcosm of the fleet as a whole. Humans and Cylons thrust together with plenty of reasons to hate and maybe an outcome no one’s quite expecting.
Only, I suppose, it’s not like the Cylons just fracked the fleet’s wife, it’s like they fracked her, then blew her up along with everyone that ever lived and then chased them down and tried to kill the fleet too. But hey, I’m sure the Cylons have their side of the story too. Maybe one that began 2000 years ago?
Could Baltar be any less enthusiastic about tending his flock? Do you think Zarek is justified? Are the Adamas? And my wife Janine asks: With Tigh’s proven success, will he now be sent out to stud?