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Battlestar Galactica 2K: "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2"

GAH! That was quite possibly the most spectacular left turn a show has ever taken in TV history. I've never seen a program create its own alternate universe to live in. It's like if ENT had actually stayed in the "Twilight" timeline but nobody died. We're going to need seven months just to digest all that! A dozen cheers to Ron Moore and company for the brilliance and guts, and another three to SCI-FI for letting them get away with it.

Not only are they putting cut scenes into the Highlight Reel, they're putting different versions of the cut scenes. The "I'm not leaving you" scene with Lee and Dee was not the same as last week. (Although I was surprised that the Highlight Reel was so long it became the teaser; they rolled credits immediately. And then went straight to Act I, no ads!)

Hey, are they going to change the wording of the credits next season, if the Colonials aren't searching for Earth now? What about the survivor count?

So Kara did remember the Farms, because she demands coup de grâce rather than return to one, but she doesn't think she can rescue anyone there?

I guess this does take place shortly after "Downloaded," if Rebel Six and Boomer were able to talk the rest of the group into leaving Caprica at that moment. Although from various contexts it's not the immediate morning after; I think only a week or so may have passed.

I don't think the numbers for the rescue team and rescuees on Caprica work out. Let's say 17 Raptors landed, with pilot, co-pilot, and two Marines in each. That makes 68 people. Let's say a round half went to find the Resistance, so 35. Even saying there were 20 in Mr. UM's group, that's a total of 55. Did all of them fit in that little stone bunker, or did they lose a huge amount to the Cylon raid? And when they sent out a "recon crew," there were over a dozen people! Including Sharon! Why send so many if they're all going the same direction? Why risk their guide back?

We were mostly convinced by the one-hour mark that Tori, Roslin's campaign manager, was a Cylon by the way she encouraged Roslin to cheat. But then, as Brother Cy pointed out last week, humans do terrible things every day. Just because she suggests something illegal doesn't make her a Cylon, doesn't make her the enemy bent on our destruction. It just makes her wrong. And yes, people are that stupid and short-sighted to vote for the quick fix which is the spectacularly wrong answer in the long run. It's just that you can show the consequences of that much faster on TV than in real life.

What a double-take we did when Dean Stockwell showed up as the same priest character on Colonial One and Caprica at the same moment! But the intrigue didn't last long, because he was serving a different purpose. (Which on Caprica I was expecting to be a rain of shells on the suddenly uncovered heads of the Marines and bowed heads of the entire group. The Lords of Kobol will not care if you pray with your eyes open and watching the terrain for enemies.)

Roslin was right to ask Baltar to set aside the settlement issue in terms of the good of the fleet -- which should, frankly, really be the biggest concern of both of them -- but there was no way he was going to give up his single issue and guarantee losing the election. She was acting like a leader. He was acting like a politician. It was when she stooped to politics, and cheating, that she lost. And speaking of politics, who did either of them choose for their running mates? I can't imagine that Colonial policy allows the president to choose a VP after the election; Roslin choosing Baltar was provoked by Zarek's motion in Quorum -- she didn't want to work with him. Zarek was his campaign manager and never mentioned as VP. Roslin needed to choose someone else if she was running on a new slate when Baltar declared his own breakaway candidacy. Political parties haven't been mentioned on the show, but so far Colonial government has worked pretty much like the U.S.'s, where each party puts up one set of candidates for the top two offices. If Roslin is running for her party, Baltar has to be running under a different party. Even if there aren't parties per se, it would be stupid to have a system set up wherein a vice president could run for president, lose, and still be vice president to the winner. (And Roslin's real problem is, if she wins by cheating and gets caught, she would still have to resign...and let her vice president take over. Baltar wins no matter what.)

Before the last half-hour I would have worried now that Roslin has alerted Adama about Baltar and Caprica Six, and Ghost Six realizes that Roslin knows, but it's all water under the bridge at this point....

At first I couldn't figure out why Kara was so flustered to introduce Adama to Mr. UM (besides his stunning lack of being interesting), but then I remembered she was engaged to Zak and has/had a thing for Lee, so she's introducing the replacement for two of his sons. But Adama knows that even his dead son has more charisma than this guy, so he's unruffled.

Wow, poor Sharon sunk harder and faster than I anticipated. Unless she's suffering from some sort of post-partum condition exacerbated by grief? (ooh, wouldn't it completely suck if the Cylons figured out how to reproduce sexually with humans, but then every time a Cylon gave birth, she went into post-partum psychosis?) I did not expect that she would even turn on Helo. Maybe she's just lashing out in her anguish and despair. We didn't see her a year later, so we don't know if she's even alive, and if she is whether Adama has kept her in the brig for a year.

The scene with Kara getting progressively drunker with Mr. UM was really sad. I can't bear being around drunks, so I don't find it particularly funny. Kara was being childishly ostentatious for Lee's benefit (Mr. UM has no way of knowing their history unless she told him, so he can be forgiven for just responding to what she was doing). He's an athlete who has just been saved from the end of civilization, so he's going to go a bit overboard in his celebrations. Between them it was a sloppy, excessive mess (although it was only immature, not irresponsible). And poor Lee gets the shaft again, plus she insults Dee, so no wonder he walked off in quiet disgust. He tried to join in if they would have let him -- they offer him a drink and he says "sure, why not" -- but Kara was more interested in showing off how she didn't need Lee and she'd succeeded at something at last, and Mr. UM was just so damned glad to be alive he'd probably have licked the Raptors clean if that had been the price.

"Oopsie! That whole genocide thing? A mistake. And hunting you folks to the brink of extinction? Our bad too. But we're big enough to admit it. So we'll just let bygones be bygones, whaddya say?" Good grief, did they really think that was going to fly? (Which makes the majority of the Fleet even stupider for believing it.) "We spent forty years evolving ourselves to pass for you so we could come back and annihilate you, and nine months later we've called it off because we changed our minds"? Even if the characters don't know the Cylons well enough, the audience shouldn't be swallowing this. Then both copies of Brother Cy start saying there isn't even a Cylon god, let alone the Lords of Kobol. That can't have been from the War Heroes Rebel Six and Boomer -- or at least, it can't be what Rebel Six really believes, since the Sixes are so relentlessly fundamentalist. The whole thing smelled wrong. (But it was supposed to.)

Note Brother Cy says "You've been given a reprieve," not "we've called a truce" or "we want peace" or "the war is over." That alone should have clued them in. Even a year later, with Baltar nominally in charge, Adama should not have stood down after hearing that.

I understand Roslin's desperation, and how she would act in what is genuinely the best interests of the Fleet and the species even though it's cheating. It's unfortunate that the two leaders are then faced with a choice between what's moral and what's right. If they steal the election or stage a coup, they open the door for someone else to do the same. If they admit to the cheating, Baltar wins, which (as they predicted) turns out to be a disaster. I admired Roslin's calm bravery in admitting her deeds. Adama concurs with her ends, but not her means, and respectfully pulls her up short. She respects Adama, and rule of law, enough to capitulate without a drawn-out fight. (Mary McDonnell so deserves an Emmy for that scene.)

Doesn't anyone get punished? Reprimanded? I imagine Tori's fired (which is just as well; I didn't care for her much), but Tigh and Dee and the NPC grunts were also involved. I guess Adama was disgusted enough with Baltar's win that he figured it was sufficient punishment for everyone. I'm not surprised that Tigh trusted Dee as his assistant -- she's smart and discreet, especially if she's carrying on with the CO of Pegasus.

"I suggest that you take your victory, and leave it at that... Doctor," Adama rasps. I love the underlying implication -- yeah, I did actually make you president, and I can take it away too.

Why New Caprica? Just because Baltar lived there? Was it the capital planet of the colonies or something?

Now, this was the one-hour mark, and here I was sort of musing "I can't believe there's still another half hour to go. They could have ended it right there." Little did we know...

I felt really bad for Gina in her last scene with Baltar. (Which was tempered somewhat afterwards.) She has to prostitute herself -- still covered in scars, still vulnerable, still afraid -- to soothe the fuss so that Baltar won't suspect her of anything, and the reason she needs to deflect suspicion is that shortly she's going to annihilate herself and lots of other people. Gina's had a rough incarnation. With the Resurrection Ship gone, this is also her last. Her sad repetition of "I'm not going to New Caprica" is poignant in retrospect. And let's take a moment to admire the writing of a show where we can sit here and discuss our sympathies for a suicide bomber who took out not just the luxury cruiser she was on but at least two other ships and a shuttlecraft as collateral, and whose manner of death/suicide/homicide left a flag for the rest of her species to find the humans. (I think that was deliberate on her part. I don't know how far in advance that sort of thing could have been planned for, but I have little doubt that she intended for the other Cylons to find that radiation signature. The Six in the final scene kind of swallowed in horror at the mention.) But really, did Baltar think that he could bring down a Cylon model to the planet where all the other humans were and not get caught somehow? With humans who do know what Sixes look like? It's known that the Six from Pegasus escaped. For a genius, he's spectacularly blind about certain things when he doesn't want to admit that something's in his way. And he's so completely ruled by his little weasel that all she has to do is strip -- shaking, ashamed, scarred, frightened -- and he hones in like a magnet.

The acting was amazing all around, but I'd also like to take a moment to salute Hair & Makeup and Costuming for how they transform Tricia Helfer so that she really looks like different people. Helfer is the one who brings the haunted looks or shaky smile to Gina and Rebel Six. But Ghost Six is seductive, in clingy outfits, with white-platinum tresses. Rebel Six has toned-down makeup and buttoned-up shirts. Gina has brown roots and burns. The visual cues allow us to see the actress becoming another character.

Something else which occurs to me: in "Resurrection Ship part 2," Gina puts a gun in Baltar's hand and begs him to kill her. "Suicide is a sin, but I want to die," she tells him. But she sets off the bomb while sitting next to it, which clearly results in her death. How did she rationalize that? It was a bomb meant to take out Cloud Nine, and she just happened to be there? She was willing to risk the sin? Had she been blowing smoke to Baltar earlier?

If Baltar was insistent that "every last single one of us is going to New Caprica," why were there still crewed ships in orbit? Only the battlestars are "military"; the rest are civilian ships. I would have liked to have seen that fight. (Well, I would have liked to have seen any and all of the intervening year! But it's okay that we didn't.)

Contrasting Baltar's oathtaking with Roslin's in the credits is a little unsettling. Okay, a lot unsettling. Especially how he lied through his teeth about having no "moral reservation or mental evasion." (Then he signs his first official executive order, for settlements on New Caprica, and Gina sets off the bomb directly on its heels. You can almost hear Roslin cackling just for a second "Didn't happen on my watch, buddy!")

Kudos to James Callis for the little touches like tearing up over Gina's death. Baltar is amoral and breathtakingly selfish, and his tears are really more for himself than for her, but a truly hard and evil man wouldn't be able to cry over her death (or her suffering last season). I like the nuance, even in our traitor. Then he quietly states to Adama "I don't have to listen. I'm the President," and the least flicker of goodwill we might feel for him is smothered by the resurgence of his cold-blooded arrogance. It's a difficult balancing act, and Callis is doing a marvelous job.

Did Baltar reward Gaeta with an assistantcy because he discovered the faulty ballots, was it based on his devotion from "Six Degrees of Separation" back in S1, or did Gaeta volunteer?

I didn't realize until second viewing that if Baltar landed and is still living in Colonial One, the room which is behind the Octagon Office chair was the one Roslin used for a press briefing room. He turned it into his bedroom. And look at the contrast in the other furniture: Roslin had a plain metal desk; Baltar's is heavy dark wood. He's added comfy chairs, luxurious bookcases, executive-style desk accessories, and a benevolent-despot portrait of himself to the Office. He's wallowing in his power and doesn't care about answering to the people who gave it to him. (and what "pills" is he taking? Plain old uppers? Viagra? Something more sinister?)

Adama has a mustache? Oh no, it's the return of Lt. Castillo!

When Adama stops by the flickering light in the hallway, I remembered that in the miniseries, Galactica is about to be retired to a museum piece. She wasn't meant to hold together so long. Without constant maintenance, she's showing her age again.

New Caprica City was a real shock. The apparent poverty, the desperation, the lack of supplies and resources, the scrabbling for survival. Roslin predicted it all. I imagine these conditions, having boiled for a year offscreen, will be part of the spark of any coup movement.

Moogie asks, why is everyone living in tents a year later? Granted that they didn't cannibalize the ships the way the colony did in "Twilight," since the vessels are still in orbit. But were there absolutely no trees for lumber? They have dirt, they can make mud, is there not even enough sunshine to make bricks? Is it supposed to be another indirect measure of Weaseltar's incompetence that his people are still living in collapsible shelters rather than actual buildings while he gallivants with bunnies?

Starbuck -- with long hair! Starbuck -- married! (Starbuck calling Mr. UM a moron...not a shock.) Moore lost no opportunity in changing the lives of whomever he could in this completely open frontier. Kara is married. Dee is a lieutenant, and we imagine still with Lee. Helo on Galactica's bridge -- where's Sharon? Could she have been left in the brig for a year? Chief and Cally are at least a couple if not married also. Roslin -- I'm such an idiot; I completely forgot she was a teacher before she was a politician, and once a teacher always a teacher.

Where is Zarek? Baltar would never permit a "power behind the throne" kind of thing. If Gaeta is Baltar's assistant, is Zarek a VP? a secretary of some kind? Did he keep his Quorum seat? I think if Zarek still has some power -- if he's still the representative for Sagittaron, making him sort of a governor of one of 12 states -- then he'll stay on Baltar's side. But if Baltar doesn't even want his allies to have any say over anything, then Zarek is going to return to his prole-revolution roots and take up with Chief, or his counterparts. Zarek wants to be a leader, he wants to be in the inner circle, because he feels that he has a unique connection to The People and can speak for them when TPTB won't. If he's shut out of that, he'll fight his way in.

I'm glad Chief is now union leader. At least it means he's got his confidence and some semblance of a life back. (and with a roundly pregnant Cally beside him, it looks like he's got a life and a half.) Was it because of or in spite of the advice he got from the priest who turned out to be a Cylon? ("I know you're not a Cylon, because I'm a Cylon and I haven't seen you at any of the meetings!" Wow, he wasn't kidding!) He's giving a fairly typical union speech in the background, but then we connect the dots and realize that when Gaeta brought the message to Weaseltar about "the unions," he meant Chief Tyrol, and this sets up a potential crisis. I assume we'll see next season what has brought such a patient man to such measures.

How desperate have things become that Kara willingly hugs Tigh and is genuinely glad to see him...and the feeling seems to be mutual? How low has everyone sunk? (At what point did Helo pass Baltar in a hallway and kick himself for giving up his space on his Raptor in the mini so that guy could be saved?)

Maya as Roslin's assistant: good choice. Maya would believe that Roslin, fortunes fallen, would come to her, and it allows Roslin to keep her eye on a very valuable resource. (Which I also presume Baltar was not told about. As president he should have been, but I agree that such information should be kept from that individual.) And Roslin is a believable elementary-school teacher too -- the right mix of chivvy and leading and praise and enthusiasm and real affection for her students. The only problem with the scene is that Hera (or whatever she's called now) is supposed to be over a year old, and Maya was holding an infant of six months or so. Hera would be nearly walking, not still swaddled.

I have to assume we'll learn in flashback next season how Kara and Lee fell out? And again we're back to Starbuck and Apollo barely on speaking terms? :(

Then, before we're barely had a chance to absorb this wild new world we're in, the Cylons resurface. And the Adamas make the same choice that Bill Adama and Roslin had to make in the mini: run to save ourselves, because if we stay to protect the others we will all die. In that one brief scene we do get a glimpse of how father and son have grown into a comfortable working relationship as Commander and Admiral -- Lee is respectful, but the tone is still intimate; Adama is calm and clear-headed, but warmer than if he were speaking to Tigh.

I love Ghost Six's little smirk after she quietly announces "Judgment Day" to a panicking, wild-eyed Weaseltar. She did preach this a while ago...

Is the Leoben looking for Kara because she's important to Adama, or because she has some "special destiny," or because they have the results from her stolen ovaries? And Mr. UM should recognize him, if he's not delirious.

Is it Rebel Six and Boomer who are with the Doral to demand Weaseltar's surrender? Or is this Six somehow in possession of Rebel Six's memories, or even Ghost Six's? If they are Rebel Six and Boomer, are they going along with this Doral to pacify him and are planning to turn on him? (A traitor human working with traitor Cylons...the mind boggles.) If the War Heroes wanted to stop the fighting, why seize the human colony?

That's a good general question, actually. Are they keeping the humans penned up so they can't bother the rest of the galaxy or re-spread? Are they going to set up another breeding farm? Revenge for their own slavery? Divine mission?

The final statement over the end credits was the kind of deliciously frightening doubletalk which is going to echo for the whole season to come. I can't wait. (oh, man, October?)

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