Monday, January 29, 2007

Battlestar Galactica: 'Taking a Break From All Your Worries' (3x13)

BSG has come back strong after the break with a couple of top notch episodes. While 'Rapture' had a lot more obvious showy, meaningful stuff, I think this was actually the stronger episode, with one of their strongest A stories in a while. The subplot held things back a bit, but on the whole, it was a great experience.

My favorite characters on the show have always been Baltar, Sharon and Six. This season we've gotten a somewhat neutered Baltar, first powerless under the Cylon occupation, then powerless during his Cylon captivity. The man is at his best when he's got an agenda, and is scheming to get around things. So far this year, he's been just trying to survive, so we haven't got that great charge that comes from watching him trying to play Adama and Roslin. This episode, despite the catastrophic injuries caused, marks the first time we see Baltar return to full strength since the fantastic scene on New Caprica where he wakes up in bed with two hookers.

It baffles me to see people describe Baltar as a villain. I think the show is beyond clear cut ideas of good and evil, I wouldn't even call the Cylons villains, they're just viewing things from a different perspective. I'd still contend it's absolutely ridiculous to blame Baltar for what happened on New Caprica, particularly after 'Unfinished Business,' which showed that in its early days, the planet was the best these people have had in a long time. If Roslin had won and they had never settled there, there's no guarantee they wouldn't continue on a long, fruitless search for Earth and think back to what could have been if they had just settled back there.

One of the things I constantly struggle with on BSG is the writers' intent. My view of things is so biased by my character attachments, I find it hard to believe that Roslin really blames Baltar for what the Cylons did. If she was President, and refused to sign the order, would it have really changed anything? The Cylons would have deposed her, probably killed her, and installed a new President in her place. Baltar becomes a place in which they can sink all their lingering negative feelings about what happened, and maybe get some form of vengeance by breaking him. She's seeking the exact same thing that the crew in 'Collaborators' was, and apparently ignoring her own message about forgiving and moving on. Now, she claims that they are doing what they're doing because they want to find out what the Cylons know about Earth. That may be a part of it, but there's a lot of anger going into it too.

So, I'm not sure how we're supposed to respond to the whole thing. Personally, I sympathize with what Adama and Roslin are doing, but I was hoping that Baltar would survive this, and not get busted for his role in what happened on Caprica. He's just such a compelling character that I'll forgive him a lot. Because they got a lot of screentime together, I saw more of the issue I pointed out last week, that Roslin and Adama have become virtually interchangable characters. They have the same agenda, approve the same means and never question each other. I like their closeness, but we seriously need an opposing voice in there. Maybe it'll be Baltar, or perhaps Zarek, but there's got to be something. I'd like to see it become an issue among the civilians that the military and the president are now so close, particularly considering they already stole an election, isn't the democratic government at serious risk?

The show continues to be visually superlative. No show on TV is as consistently surreal and experimental as BSG. I loved the water interrogation sequence, particularly the gorgeous underwater photography. The show is very dark, and nasty sometimes, but always beautiful. Baltar's two tub dreams were great as well.

The end of the episode sees Baltar regaining some power, and getting a trial. I love how he looks more and more like Jesus, seeing the old non-bearded Gaius in the flashbacks was jarring. The Jesus thing goes beyond just the look, I love his soul searching surrounding his status as the Chosen One. Reaching back into episodes past, he ponders his role in things and is left with few answers, but increased confidence.

All episode I was waiting for Caprica Six to make an appearance, and it took until the post-episode bonus scene to get her. That scene was great and really should have been in the episode proper. But, it works nicely as a teaser for what's to come. I'm not sure what Caprica's agenda is on the Galactica, by fleeing the baseship, she has made herself an outlaw from the Cylons, but what could she find with the humans? Does she just want to get back together with Gaius, if so, then why would she testify at his trial? I suppose it could be revenge for his dalliance with D'Anna, but it remains unclear.

Elsewhere, there was more love quadrangle stuff. This plot just seems to go in circles, and I'm hoping this ends it for a while. I want to see unhinged, indiscrimintately fucking Kara, not angsty responsibility laden Kara, and Lee is rarely interesting, even when in a good story. Basically, I was left wishing they'd just not stare at each other, don't they know that D and Anders are probably watching them. Either really try to make it work or just break up.

So, this was a really good episode, it's great that Baltar's back and I'm eager to see more of his story, though apparently that will not happen for two weeks. Anyone know why they're skipping a week?


Tinsie said...

Great show indeed. I was gutted about the two-week break (which I believe is because of the Super Bowl?) and can't wait for ep. 14!

crossoverman said...

This was easily the stronger episode. Although it was only half a strong episode, with the B-story of the love quadrangle really annoying the crap out of me - and being intercut with the A-story in the most random of ways, it detracted from the strength of the Baltar stuff. Whereas last week's was pretty plot and effects heavy, with the Sharon/Helo/Hera story saving it.

But all that aside - I need to read more of your B5 reviews man! I'm obsessed all over again :-)

Patrick said...

Ah, the Super Bowl, that makes a lot of sense. And yeah, the intercutting was downright nonsensical at times, why was Baltar's great stuff weighed down with cycle twelve of the exact same plot events?

And a new Babylon 5 is in the works right now, it'll be up shortly, 4x05-4x08.