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Battlestar Galactica 2K: "Torn"

A few more crossroads reached, with mostly predictable results. The various resolutions did feel a little rushed, though, which is disappointing given the show's usual pace of character development. But we do get some chunks of the Cylon puzzle at last, and the Adamas are back in charge of things.

I loved, loved the sun-in-camera work of Baltar's beach scenes. We never need more than the outlines of their physical interactions sketched anyway, since their dialogue is really what's important, and that kind of hedonistic setting is the exact opposite of the cold, mechanical, featureless baseship he's stuck in. Seeing them speak without actually being able to watch their mouths move, paired with the clarity of the looped dialogue, was really wonderful.

Ghost Six gives Baltar an important and fascinating key: "Cylon psychology is based on projection -- it's how they choose to see the world around them. The only difference... is you choose to see me." We find out later from Rebel Six that "how they choose to see the world around them" is quite literal. They sort of have mental holodeck abilities, or every hall is a holodeck grid to which they're all connected, and they can change their surroundings at whim. So Rebel Six pictures a forest rather than a redressed ship set. But this has a metaphorical slant as well, which I think will be much more important in future: Cylons project, they choose to see things, rather than actually observe, perhaps? And if Baltar has some of that ability, how? If Ghost Six is a chip, as I still think, is she giving him a limited version of that? Could he cause the Cylons to "see the world" as he chooses? Or is it the conclusion even Baltar leaps to, that he himself is one of the five missing models? (Maybe they're like anti-Klingons and they have ridged foreheads, causing the smooth-headed ones no end of embarrassment.) But one of the Simons comments about disease being an inevitable part of having taken "human form." Did the other five choose some other form? And the hybrid who sits at the living heart of the basestar -- is she one of the 12? (Although Threena snarls "she doesn't get a vote.")

Okay, too far afield too soon. Nice new piano score for the basestar scenes; kudos to the composer. It's drowsy and heavy and hypnotic and portentious all at once.

I thought Baltar was having the girls on when he was talking about his work cross-cataloging astrometrics with Earth's location, but the scene with Gaeta seems to show he wasn't. Still, he couldn't have had that much interest in it while he was president of the Bunny Patrol, so it's a little convenient that he remembers and Gaeta figures out the same business about the pulsars at the same time. (I was also amused to note the salt-and-pepper-shaker outfits of Threena and Rebel Six as they play good cop/bad cop with Baltar.) And why Earth? I think they want to get there before the Colonials to wipe them out, and destroy whatever might be left of the 13th colony, rather than having any real desire to settle there themselves. Besides, don't they have a home planet already? Where have they been living the last forty-something years? What do they need a "new" home for?

I am very pleased to see the pilots who were out of the cockpit for the last 18 months or so back on training missions. They've been doing other things for a year and a half and they need practice. And no matter how good Starbuck was, or is, she's still too damn reckless and she still refuses to stay in formation. I am astonished she's lived as long as she has taking dumbass risks like that. Yes, she's good enough to bring the dead Viper in on literally sheer will, but she is a pilot and a captain and she should know better about staying where you're expected to be on the XYZ grid. She is well overdue for some discipline -- which it seems even she realizes at the end of the ep.

Very annoyed that Lee (whose Viper reads "Major" but who knows what rank he really is) got to peel off the latex that fast. Metaphorical softness or not, getting that ripped that fast from as fat as his body double was is just not credible. Ah well.

Will Apollo and Starbuck ever get to be friends again? If Kara pulls herself together, and Lee is "back in shape," will they be allowed to get comfortable with each other again? Will Adama forgive her if she cleans up? I understand the need for drama, but the love among the extended family is one of the joys of both Classic BSG and BSG2K, and I don't want to keep wandering away from it.

Tigh seems to be making friends with the bottom of every bottle, jar, and glass he sees, it seems. Sad, but not surprising. He's always been hard and a little bitter. He's always been fighting, whatever the enemy is. When he thought Ellen was dead the first time, he grieved, learned to cope, and found a new purpose in serving with Adama. But this round he's had to do some terrible things outside ordinary warfare, and no matter how necessary they were at the time, they were still terrible things. Ellen is truly dead now -- by his own hand. It's not merely grief but guilt tearing him apart. And whatever his stoic bravery during war, during peace he has great difficulty coping. It took him what, four months? to quit drinking altogether the first time? We thought we were going to see a suicide attempt, frankly.

Okay, Kacey is cute and all, but would she remember Kara from that brief interlude? Feels convenient again. But it works, allowing us to see at the end that Kara is choosing the path of responsibility without having to spell it out for us, so I'll let it go. (But the actor who plays Anders isn't slated for more appearances, so it looks like that's still kaput.)

Maybe I've read too many Classic Trek novels, but for the scriptures to speak of space travel and say anything about eyes, beating, blinking, pulsing, etc. immediately says to me that they're talking about stars with some sort of recognizable quantity -- they flicker, they give off radiation, whatever the plot calls for. The only difficulty would have been finding which nebula.

Interesting that now Baltar is the one squalling about "how difficult this is" and how conflicted he feels, when before it was Rebel Six whining about "how much I've given up for you." These two are such a pair, using each other and shrilling about it the whole while. (The camerawork here, with the still shots interspersing with the moving ones, didn't work quite as well as the beach shots, but at least they were visually interesting.)

Was that a newly-ressurrected Eight/Sharon making sure all her parts were in place, or does that model prefer doing tai chi nekkid?

I wonder how good the mental projection of the Cylons is. On a holodeck, you could never hit a wall, because the combination of force fields and transporters would keep shifting you around. But if Rebel Six took a right in her forest hallway, would there suddenly be a tree there, or would she bang into empty air?

I think we can pretty well assume that Ghost Six is not known to the collective consciousness -- certainly Rebel Six acts like she doesn't know about Ghost Six, since Ghost Six has slipped in and out while Rebel Six was around and Rebel Six doesn't react. The question still remains whether Ghost Six is an independent personality who can access Cylon data. (and for the record, Baltar should have said he was "thinking out loud," since talking is "out loud" by definition.)

Athena! :D nice tip of the hat to the old series, and at last giving the moniker to someone who actually has a role beyond looking cute and answering phones (poor Maren Jensen). Plus it gives us something besides "Sharon" to call the individual Eights we've come to know and who love human men.

I don't recognize the pilot who's sitting with Athena :) and Helo, but I have to imagine she's one who stayed on Galactica and therefore has come to know this particular Cylon as being on the Colonials' side. I don't think everyone who was on New Caprica would hate Athena on sight, but I doubt any of them would be willing to play cards with her mere weeks after escaping enslavement. To the credit of all the pilots, though, most of the nicknames yelled out -- Digital Dame, Windup Toy, Toaster Bait, Microchip, Transitor, Titanium-- are affectionate jests, not epithets. So she seems to have found some kind of place for herself.

The conversation with Starbuck and Tigh jabbing at the pilots was important -- something I thought we actually should have seen more of. It shouldn't have been resolved in these one or two scenes. This kind of fracture is going on all over the ship as people reintegrate. Yes, the people on Galactica suffered, but let's face it, it wasn't the privation and terror of the people on the ground, and yet the people on the ground chose to be there. (They didn't choose to be invaded, however.) But the resentment on both sides is real, and while it's well-represented here, we should have seen it in other places and other characters.

The hybrid was a truly fascinating notion. Since we know that the Raiders have a canine-level intelligence, I wondered if the baseships had something similar -- we knew they were alive after Boomer first flew into one in "Kobol's Last Gleaming" and realized she was inside its thoracic cavity. It seems that while the ship has some amount of bio-matter as well as metal parts, the brain of it is a fairly coalesced, if not coherent, personality. She seemed to be sort of like the Borg Queen, with tubes and wires jacked into flesh parts, but floating in the tub of mystery goo that the newly resurrected awaken in. (Although you'd think she'd be a complete prune by now, after all these years immersed in liquid.) And of course it's the woo-woo Leobens who think that the hybrid's glossolalia is straight from God's lips to hers.

Baltar is panicking about being forced to volunteer for the mission to the infected ship. But in convincing him, Ghost Six has a flaw in her logic: she says "What are the chances that a human could catch something that infects a Centurion or a Raider?" But the High Command just stated that everyone, all the models, on the basestar, were infected. And if Athena and Helo proved that humans and Cylons can interbreed -- that they are enough alike down to a cellular level -- then it stands to reason that the chances are very good that whatever infected the Cylons could infect a human. Unless they prove that it's the machine and not flesh parts which are being attacked by the disease, Baltar has every reason to be nervous. (I'm guessing it's just some ancient Kobolian flu the Cylons have no antibodies for.)

Jumping seems to be particularly, uh, enjoyable for the hybrid, don't you think?...

The actors who get to play the various models must get a kick out of being able to have numerous dramatic death scenes but still get to come back next week. Especially Helfer -- how many times has a Six died now? At least three I can think of.

Why were all the Cylons on the infected ship barefoot? Was it a hippie commune kind of ship, or did they access data streams with their toes?

The beacon came into view, and suddenly I'm thinking of Nomad and its mission to "sterilize imperfections" and destroy "biological infestations."

Baltar really has a twisted relationship with the various Sixes, doesn't he? Loves 'em, abuses 'em, worships 'em, strangles 'em, fears 'em.

Interestingly, the disease manages to wreak havoc even on those it hasn't infected, as the High Command splits half a dozen ways arguing what should be done. Threena complained about the humans dividing them and destroying their easy agreements, but this crisis seems to have done the same thing just as easily.

Adama's speech (and dare) to Starbuck and Tigh is right on target... just one episode too soon. This should have been allowed to fester. Having said that, his ploy was perfect: if you're going to kill me, just do it cleanly, not by bits and pieces. And his dig at Kara, saying she's no longer a daughter to him -- could he have cut her deeper, with just that sentence? That alone was probably what moved her, not threatening to toss her off Galactica and out of the fleet. Kara still has feeling left. But Tigh doesn't; he's burned out, feeling only pain and guilt and anger and trying his damnedest to numb it all with alcohol. So while he has enough honor not to shoot Adama point-blank (besides having no motive), he has no reason left to try to live up to Adama's expectations any more. We were both expecting him to turn the gun on himself at that moment.

I like that Kara's next two scenes have no dialogue from her. She stares at herself in the mirror, and finally chops off her hair. Then, dressed properly in uniform, she goes to look for Kacey, and while we see her speak, we can't hear her. It's irrelevant; we see what she does, and the ache on her face.

What happens if they bring back something from the infected ship and Athena gets sick? Do they use her as a test case and create a cure? Do they offer it to the Cylons in exchange for peace? Threaten them with the disease as a weapon? Let Athena stay infected and send her back to the Cylons as a living bomb? I can't believe Adama would ask her to make that sacrifice, though -- she's worked too hard and suffered too much to ask her to turn not merely traitor but mass murderer.

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