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Battlestar Galactica 2K: "Kobol's Last Gleaming"

I will be sort of glad to finish commenting on this two-parter so I don't have to get the dang Star-Spangled Banner stuck in my head every time I look at the title.

I have never understood boxing. I didn't get it on VOY, I don't get it on BSG, I don't know what the appeal is, I cannot fathom why it's called "the Sweet Science" when it's vicious and not even sporting enough to call art, and a whole busload of Freudians could have a field day about Lee boxing with his father. I grasp that some sort of competition was necessary for Adama's remark about Lee acting on his instincts, but this was not what I would have chosen.

Starbuck is having sex with Baltar. (We pause for a moment as Classic BSG fans who wandered in by accident have collective apoplexy over that sentence before they realize which show we're discussing. Another pause while BSG2K viewers go "ew!" en masse.) (You know what? I'm going to pause again for another ew! because Baltar is such an oily, cowardly SOB and Kara can't possibly be that hard up.) On first watching, we thought for just a fleeting moment that the head bent over Kara's shoulder was Lee's, and when she cries his name (Starbuck having sex with Baltar -- ew! Starbuck calling out for Apollo at the point of no return... okay, I'll buy that) we were convinced that we'd seen Kara's "vision" of who she was knocking boots with. Somehow graphic without being explicit, if that makes sense -- I didn't watch the version which aired on NBC, so I don't know if the network trimmed any of the skin. Baltar is just being his established opportunist self. As for Kara, I guess she's banging Baltar because she can't have Lee? And what is the proper etiquette for that oops moment?

Tactically speaking, once Helo realized Caprica Sharon was a Cylon, he should have shot her in the head and had done with it. Or taken her more securely hostage to get off Caprica. But winging her and then yelling at her for hours is sort of dumb. I hope that in S2 we get more resolution or explanation about what Caprica Six and Caprica Doral were trying to do with Caprica Sharon and Helo, and how it ties in with the Master Plan of the Cylons. While we're at it, I'd like a little more info about the Plan itself. Thirteen episodes is enough suspense already. Give us some dish. If I wanted to be strung along ad infinitum I'd watch Lost.

Separately, however, if Caprica Sharon invited Helo to shoot her, risking that he was going to plug her in the head, it appears that whatever plan the others had, she's bucking it to some degree. She did go along with getting pregnant and courting Helo, and you could even argue that "rescuing" him was intended to bond him to her against a common enemy even though she knew there wasn't one, but putting herself and the sprog at his mercy doesn't sound like what the rest of the collective had in mind(s). Again, I'm hoping for answers soon.

Five bucks says Roslin's cancer goes into surprising remission right around the elections, and Adama calls it science (some new drug the doctor put her on) and Roslin and Elosha (the pope-woman in kente cloth) call it a miracle from the Lords of Kobol. The prophecy only calls for a dying leader, not a dead one.

I'm glad they kept little touches from one series to the next, like Pyramid. These are the details which make up the tapestry of a society, and they are the things which the fans remember and cherish.

While the dual conversations which Baltar has with Six and whomever else is in the room are grating, the moment when he yells at both the real and the non-corporeal woman "I am not your plaything!" and both Roslin and Six answer in precisely the same dry tone "Plaything?" was a zinger. I could sort of sympathize with a scientist's panic at being asked to be a literal governor, as in one who governs, but Baltar is clearly whining because he's been manipulated into this position by Six and he doesn't like either the job or being a pawn. He does love the spotlight. He's finding out, to his petulant displeasure, that being vice president isn't about glamour, it's about being a hard-working understudy. To his credit, he didn't actually ask for the job.

I wonder: in the bathroom on Colonial One, Baltar sees Six in the mirror, and she looks washed out. Is she actually wearing less makeup to indicate some kind of stripped-down state, that she's put aside some of her seductiveness because they're dealing with a problem at the heart of the Plan, or is it just the awful fluorescent lights?

As far as I remember from "You Can't Go Home Again," the Cylon Raider -- the ship Kara brought home -- was another Cylon being. The ship was organic. Shooting lasers was, I suppose, the equivalent of spitting venom or blowing snot. So how are they loading it with human-style bullets? Even if they accessed the musculature which squeezed out the laser venom and ran pulses through it like jerking a dead frog's leg around, where would the bullets be stored and how would they be fed through? And if it's organic and it's dead, wouldn't it have started to rot by now?

Lee goes from jealous quasi-lover to brother to captain in the space of two minutes with Kara. There's definite chemistry there, but I think I'd prefer it if they didn't get together. People can be more intimate as friends sometimes, at least on TV, at any rate. (Those punches they exchange? Partly real. Sackhoff misjudged her swing and connected with Bamber.) And maybe I'm just reading into it, but I wasn't getting the sense that Kara was being "punished" by the script or by Lee for sleeping around because she's female. Lee was angry as a captain, and as her brother/potential, but I felt like it was almost the same speech he would have given a male pilot for being equally stupid. I'm glad to see the gender equality which permeates the rest of the military setup seems to have reached the interpersonal level as well.

Nice touch by the director: Elosha hands the Book of Kobol to Roslin to show her the picture of the Opera House which she just saw in her vision, and the book jostles Roslin's bottle of Kamala pills (the ones which make her hallucinate).

Poor Galactica Sharon -- she's suicidal and terrified of herself, and the only one who walks in on her... is Baltar. Six is hissing about how weak her model is, and how he can't stop her or help her, and Baltar's way of reaching out to Sharon is to tell her, sort of as one of the damned to another, that death might not be such a bad thing. He knows he himself doesn't have the courage to end it all and stop whatever treachery Six is planning, or using him for, but he figures if he can't do anything for Sharon, then maybe he can convince her to stop herself. It's scenes like this which make me think that Baltar isn't so much calculatedly evil as he is almost psychopathically self-focused. He wants to stay alive, at any price, no matter who else is harmed by what he does to achieve that. But Sharon doesn't have to end up that way.

Baltar's Six is really regretting giving him permission to screw around. She didn't care so much about the reporter, but seeing him get busy with Starbuck set her back, and now she sneers (through gritted teeth) that he probably wants to shag Sharon as well. Looks like the Cylons are finding out that Love isn't as simple as they first thought, and that sex and Love are more intertwined than they anticipated.

The conflict between Roslin and Adama about Kobol and going back to Caprica for the Arrow of Apollo boils down to a duality of perspectives or choices: Faith vs. Science, Emotion vs. Reason, Feeling vs. Thinking. On The X-Files, at least in the first two seasons before the mythology got too heavy, many of the "bottle" shows were left open-ended so that either Mulder or Scully might have been right. On BSG, that potential to go either way doesn't exist. Both sides are presented as being equally valid to the characters, but there is a clear right and wrong answer given to the audience. ("Right" mostly being that which would move the show forward -- clearly, Roslin has to be proven correct about the Arrow of Apollo, or the setup doesn't work. But that's for next season, which hasn't happened yet.) Almost all the Good Guys seem to be painted this either/or way (we haven't seen enough of the Cylons to be sure). A character is one or the other at a given moment, and when the character surrenders to one half of the equation, the other is temporarily obliterated. When Roslin starts following her (religious) visions, she takes (military) risks. Adama stays military and sees no way to authorize sending Kara back to Caprica. His decision is military: we need the Raider for tactical deployment, to take out the basestar and rescue the downed away team. Her decision is faith-based: according to the Sacred Scrolls, the Arrow of Apollo, which is currently on Cylon-infested Caprica, placed in the Tomb of Athena, which is currently a pile of ruins on Cylon-infested Kobol, will show us the way to a mythical planet which we're not even sure exists. Adama cannot find a Rational, Scientific, or military reason to support Roslin's Emotional decision. Roslin is literally making a leap of faith. There's nothing rational about it. She's going on the feeling, on the belief, that she's right. Roslin has shown that she's capable of subverting an officer (albeit a highly-strung one) to disobey orders and disregard military objectives. This makes her tactically dangerous. Emotionally, of course, Roslin is not dangerous; she is acting in what she believes is the best interest of the fleet and the society. Because Adama doesn't see it emotionally, because he has no faith, he has to act on bare-bones Reason and Military Thinking. Lee and Tigh follow this when they board Colonial One to arrest Roslin on Adama's orders. But then Lee stops Thinking and starts Feeling, and he feels in his gut that Roslin is not a danger, that this military escalation is the real danger. And rather than using diplomacy, a tool of Reason, he threatens Tigh's life, which is an act of Emotion. (As it happens, I think Adama is wrong and Lee is right. There was no need for a coup. But it was very exciting and insanely tense and wonderfully acted.)

I feel bad for Chief Tyrol. He really does love Galactica Sharon, but her bitterness over what she's discovering of herself is crowding out everything else. If this were peacetime, or a normal life, they'd have the space to sort out their relationship, but not in this mess.

The scene in the Raptors where the Cylons attack and everyone is screaming wildly was disturbing and frightening (as it should have been). James Callis bugs his eyes so far out of his head the whites of his eyes are nearly glowing. Hubby was impressed by the windshield crack expanding under pressure first from vacuum and then from atmosphere. I was practically heebie-jeebieing off my chair in sympathy.

I'm glad that Billy is serving as a young but useful kind of first officer for Roslin. He supports her, he knows her enough to probe and to back off, and she trusts him to tell her the ugly truth. A good leader needs a second like that. Of course, because he is so young and he's inexperienced, Roslin can override him without much effort, but you do get the sense that she is listening to him, and that he's not afraid to speak up when it's critical.

Does Roslin choose Starbuck for her Caprica mission just because she had the Raider, or because she was volatile enough to be manipulated? When she told Kara about Adama's morale-boosting fairytale, did she know that Kara would respond so emotionally, or was she just trying to convince the pilot to her side? It's in character for everyone but the pieces fit together so well it's a touch contrived.

Nice fatherly zing from Adama to Kara: "Make sure whatever you do, you don't regret it." That's a line to keep you up nights.

Baltar falls in a conveniently cross-like position when he collapses on the hillside. C'mon, guys, don't telegraph.

I'm beginning to think that all the Sharons have a suicidal streak. Why else would Caprica Sharon tell the guy who's holding her hostage at gunpoint, and has already shot her, to "take that tough-guy attitude and shove it up your ass"? At this point she hasn't told him about her pregnancy, so there's nothing to "protect" her. Or maybe the shy, sweet, lean-on-my-man thing is only an act for the Sharon model, and at their hearts they're as tough and manipulative as the Sixes.

Interesting how Adama doesn't really hold Kara responsible for her own mutiny. Is that an emotional blind spot towards his surrogate daughter, or is he so angry at Roslin that he's allowing himself to displace Kara's blame onto the president as well? (This is more of the Emotion-or-Reason dichotomy I was talking about. He's very calm, but he loves Kara so much he's not going to take her to task for her military breach. That's a mistake; he should bust her ass down to whatever's below Private.)

Is it mere coincidence that Caprica is Kara's "home," or was Galactica a Caprica-based ship? There are people from the other colonies aboard, obviously. Or does she mean "home" in the general sense of the colonial planets? (and not for anything, but after two millennia, isn't it about time to admit you're no longer a colony of something else but an entity in your own right?)

The design of the basestar is bea-u-tiful. Weird and alien and sensuous and deadly.

I thought it was kind of stupid for Kara to shoot the glass of the display case from 15 feet away. She could have damaged the arrow. Why not break the glass from closer range, or shatter it with a piece of debris? And why does she use it to fight with? Caprica Six could have broken it in half and rendered it useless. (I bet it's going to be like the staff and disk acting as a kind of sundial in Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

If the basestar is an organic ship like the Raider, was Galactica Sharon essentially flying around inside its chest cavity? its stomach? intestines? And the Raiders on the walls were what, villi? (which look a little silli -- oops, sorry, Schoolhouse Rock flashback)

Did they do something different to Grace Park when she was portraying the legions of nekkid Sharon drones? Makeup, hair, lighting? It doesn't actually look like the two Sharons we know. And poor girl -- talk about "we have seen the enemy, and they is us." She's seeing the enemy, and realizing it's herself. She's one of them. And they're forgiving her for carrying out her mission to destroy them, her, herself. (In a creepy way, too -- "don't worry about us, we'll see you again...we love you, Sharon. And we always will.") And then one of the drones caresses the bomb -- I was reminded of VOY's "Warhead," with Holodoc talking to the machine like an injured colleague before they realize it's a bomb.

At least they got the explosion right, in a sphere rather than a wave like Praxis. (yes, I'm going to harp on that until the day I die. They got it wrong, dammit!)

The look on Kara's face, and that scream when Helo tells her Caprica Sharon's pregnant -- Sackhoff manages to jam anger and revulsion and disappointment all into a few frantic eyerolls and one howl. Every line of her body is screaming How could you?! better than any speech.

The music in the scene on Kobol in the Opera House was suitably freaky and seductive, almost like the waltz which the devil plays for Lily in Legend. It really makes the atmosphere and helps the audience get into Baltar's frame of (altered) mind.

Okay, even seeing it a second and third time, I still gasped when Galactica Sharon shot Adama. It's so shockingly rude, that he's complimented her and everyone's applauding and he's reaching out to shake her hand and she just plugs him. Brrr! Now that's how you end a season.