By Mike Moody
(Please note: I'm sicker than a dog as I write this, but i have a deadline to meet. It's hard to focus, what with my head turning to mush and all. Please forgive the lack of insight or any Nyquil-induced dips into excessive hyperbole. My head, and my brain, are hurtin' bad ... Really.)
(41,401 still survive.)
Rejoice. This wasn't a filler ep, nor was it a gimmick ep like I feared it would be. After the slow grind that was "The Eye of Jupiter" and the Internet chatter about executive producer Ron Moore wanting to "shock" fans and kill off a major character, I was glad to see that "Rapture" stayed tense, smart and surprising almost from the outset. Even the supernova effects were impressive.
I was in-and-out for the first few minutes, but my eyes were locked on the blue glow after Helo went against the fleet's best interests and smoked Sharon. This, I thought, is what the series is all about. "Galactica" isn't just a simple political allegory set in space as many glossy magazines might have you believe -- it's about people and what they do to survive. This idea was played out perfectly in this ep and it was underscored in almost every plot thread.
Was Adama ready to nuke the planet to keep the Cylons from finding Earth? His actions prior to this would make me say no, but the opening scenes were still tense. This is a series where people are changed by circumstance and are sometimes governed by impulse. Even Adama must make sacrifices to survive. I was glad to see the nuke standoff ended soon, since there were many more plot points left hanging from the last ep, including D'Anna and Baltar's vision quest, Sharon's plan to find Hera and the fate of Starbuck.
How bad was Starbuck's crash? Bad enough to make me think "Man, Katee Sackhoff looks like crap." We catch up with the impulsive Kara Thrace sitting inside the smoky crash site with puffy bruises and sliced hands. It's fascinating how this series continues to cut, bruise and bleed its leading characters on screen. War is hell, and top billing won't save anyone on "Galactica." The survival theme was played out here with Dee and Starbuck reluctantly working together to pilot the beaten ship back into orbit. I'm not a fan of the darker Dianne and Sam dynamic now hovering over Apollo and Starbuck, but I like the way it was played out here. Seeing Starbuck and Dee help each other and seeing Lee and Anders come to a shaky truce in the name of survival felt realistic -- miles away from the soap operatics that were on display in "Jupiter."
The question of "Will Sharon (Athena) betray the fleet?" weighed heavy in the first half of this ep. Grace Park really sold the emotion and ambiguity here, leaving space for the thought that, maybe, she'll side with the Cylons and deliver the goods on Galactica. Like Roslin warned, we still don't know if she can be trusted. But it seems Sharon only wanted to ensure her family's survival and -- in an applause worthy twist -- Caprica Six, who's now stuck in Galactica's brig, helped her do that.
Baltar -- who's looking more and more like Ron Moore in every ep -- is also, I assume, now stuck in the brig. It was great fun watching him subtly manipulate D'Anna to ensure his own survival and answer his burning existential questions. Is he a Cylon? i hope not. I'm not sure about most fans, but I'm rooting for the little weasel to come out on top somewhow. Maybe it's just James Callis' bizarre line readings and facial expressions, but I always look forward to the Baltar scenes, especially when he's on edge, as he was in this entire ep. Capping his mini-arc off with the death of D'Anna was a good kick in the gut.
I really wasn't sucked in by all the mythology people were babbling about. It was hard to make sense of it all, especially with a medicine head, but it seems the characters didn't know what to make of the Temple of Five or the Eye of Jupiter either. What did it all mean? That and some other very intriguing questions remain:
- What will come of the Chief's spiritual awakening?
- Why did Tigh put the wounded "civie" in the brig?
- Who is the Cylon that D'Anna apologized to? Is it Starbuck -- she who scribbles prophetic circles?
I can't wait to see what' will be done with Six and Baltar. It's about time they got back on Galactica and off that eerie base ship. And is it just me, or is everyone else glad that we won't have to endure that awkward crib on the base ship visual anymore?
SciFi should have the ep up for streaming, not to mention Ron Moore's podcast commentary, soon. Next week: Will Lee choose Starbuck?
Tyrol: (To Baltar right before he knocks him out) "Welcome home, Mr. President."