Sunday, June 08, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: 'The Hub' (4x09)

This season of Battlestar has been consistently brilliant in a way the series never achieved before. With the exception of last week’s wheel spinning and odd character developments, it’s been one great episode after another. More than ever before, I have a feeling of things growing and changing, that pretty soon there’ll be no status quo to go back to. My biggest gripe with the series throughout its entire run has been this relentless pull to return to the character and plot dynamics that were set out at the start of the series. We’ve always got to have Lee and Kara in a tense, possibly romantic relationship, we’ve got to have the cylons as villains, the fleet being pursued, Adama ruling the fleet. Things have changed along the way, but invariably that change is wiped away and we return to the basic status quo.

After last season’s finale, I felt like the show was at a turning point. The revelation of the final four was so bold, and seemingly out of nowhere, it could have sunk the series if it wasn’t handled right. I’m still not sure how they were able to hide in the fleet, or what their exact nature is, but watching those characters deal with being cylons has been fascinating. But, that doesn’t really play into this episode. The other major plot that’s changed things this season is the cylon civil war. In season three, they experimented with doing a cylon plot, but it was more of a travelogue and didn’t have much forward narrative momentum. Here, the cylon plot is arguably more interesting than the humans, and it’s exciting to watch them try to work with humanity for a common goal.

This episode features a number of great things. It was great to have D’Anna back, and Lucy Lawless really ran with the role, right from the first moment when she snapped Cavill’s neck. Say what indeed. Was that the last Cavill around? I’m guessing there’ more of them out there somewhere, so hopefully we’ll see Dean Stockwell back. Her greatest moment was definitely the conversation with Roslin, where D’Anna totally fucks with her, all while kicking back in a bathrobe. If I had to get unboxed, that’s definitely how I’d roll.

Elsewhere, we get some interesting philosophical questions raised over with Helo. If this Eight has Athena’s memories, are they same? Is betraying her for Roslin like betraying his own wife? If he sleeps with her, is it really cheating? You know Helo was thinking about the threeway with two versions of Sharon, or at least I was. Anyway, Helo’s allegiance over the course of the series is interesting. He’s consistently been more likely to help out the cylons than Sharon-Athena. Sharon knows she can’t slip at all or she’ll lose her place in the fleet. As she said earlier this season, she chose a side and is going to stick with it. But, Helo is aware of the way the president is double crossing the cylons. He doesn’t like it, but there’s nothing he can do. I think it was pretty cruel of Roslin to screw them over after she made the cylons complicit in destroying the resurrection hub, but I guess she’s always been prone to value survival over doing the right thing.

The main action of the episode was the space battle, and it was perhaps the most gorgeous in the series’ history. I’ve mentioned before, but the effects team on the show has moved beyond simply creating credible images and on to creating beautiful, artistic ones. The missiles exploding like fireworks, the supernova like image of the hub exploding, the surging tracking shot through the battle, it was all gorgeous.

This episode saw Baltar swerving rapidly between zen messiah and crazy egomaniac, frequently within the same scene. Roslin brings out the worst in him, and vice versa, seldom have we seen the characters more pathetic and childish than when they were screaming at the hybrid, trying to get her to tell them something. The hybrid is one of the show’s best creations, she seems totally alien, it’s hard to imagine an actress gets in that tub and plays her every week.

Anyway, the most intense scene of the episode was Roslin grilling Baltar, finding out that he did in fact give the cylons the defense codes, but has forgiven himself for it. She’s so full of anger at him she shakes, but in the end, she decides to save him rather than let him die. I thought she already knew he had done this, but I guess hearing him say it make a difference. Baltar has owned up to his crimes, and she’s not so eager to forgive. I think Baltar actually has some good points for Roslin. Throughout the series, we’ve seen her do awful things, all in pursuit of human security. How will her desire for control mix with Lee’s ascent to president when she returns to the fleet?

But, I don’t think that’s the Roslin development most people will be talking about after the episode. Finally, she and Bill admit they’ve got feelings for each other and kiss. It’s been a long time, one of my favorite moments of last season was the scene with the two of them lying together on New Caprica. It captured a feeling of hope and idyllicness that nothing else on the show’s really had. But, here, they’re reunited and finally ready to share their feelings. It was a great ending to the episode.

It’s unfortunate we’ve got a six month break (at least) after next episode. The show’s been so good, I don’t want it to take that long a break. But, at least we’ve got one more, and what I’m sure will be an absolutely infuriating cliffhanger coming up next week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This episode was amazing - Jane Espenson's writing was superb. The FX, the directing, the acting.

I think Roslin knew of Baltar's relationship with Six on Caprica before the genocide, but I don't think she knew how it all fit together. That scene was very powerful and I felt sorry for Baltar - which is always surprising when it happens. His scene with the Centurion was one of the other highlights of the episode for me - because I think it proves that he believes in his message enough to talk to everyone about it.

The jump visions between Roslin and Elosha were complex and fascinating - and great to see the Priestess back after her death in Season Two.

I am so worried about the show disappearing for six months - it's on such a narrative roll now that I'd hate for that to be stalled.