Spoiler warning again: BSG Episode Deadlock.
So, there I was thinking after No Exit that the threads were starting to be gathered. Unfortunately, no such luck this week. There were some incredible scenes, particulalry Tigh at tha miscarriage of his child. Unfortunatey I’m seeing a pattern here…
In Episode 8 of the season, Tigh gets Caprica Six pregnant, which is quite a shocking moment when revealed. And then, guess what, it comes to nothing… Just like the other Cylon kid, Nicky Tyrol. Suddenly he’s not a Cylon anymore because we’re not allowed to have two hybrids. Then Baltar’s now floundering around having abandoned his God, and acting like he did in Season 1, but with people following him and Adama giving him a shitload of guns (what?)
There were a couple of things I wanted from this episode. First, I wanted some bold steps toward the finale, second, I wanted Ellen’s arrival on Galactica to resolve some of the as-yet unrevealed secrets regarding the Final Five. But Roslin, Lee, and Admiral Adama just kind of stand around and then bugger off. Roslin goes and asks Six if the baby is important. Maybe you should be asking Ellen, since she’s the only one with memories from the CREATION of the fucking sixes… There were no big revelations at all, and the whole episode felt on a much much smaller scale than any BSG episode I can remember. The sets felt cramped, no corridors with the hustle bustle of the ship, it all just happens in the rooms where the story happens. If it’s true Galactica is undermanned following the big mutiny, then maybe an explanation to that effect, or some attempt to deal with that would have been timely.
Instead of making clear bold strides towards a finale, what’s happening now seems to be Ronald D. Moore going “we don’t need that, we don’t need this, don’t need him, do need them, do need groupies with guns…” towards a finale which I pray will do justice to the questions the show has been built upon. And the answers I’m looking for are not abrupt ends to hanging storylines, but actual resolution. When they got off New Caprica, it took a whole season for Baltar to go to trial, resulting in the realisation that the remains of civilisation is not civilisation but a gang. Now we have Six carry the first ever Cylon-Cylon conception as a minor subplot for 8 episodes and then miscarry the child. And what have we learned? That the Season One suggestion that Cylon-Cylon procreation doesn’t work turns out not to be bogus after all.
Now, I don’t like to blame any one person for the defects of an episode of BSG, because I know the story of the epsiode is cobbled together by all the writers, but is it a coincidence that my two least favourite episodes this season have been written by Jane Espenson (The Hub and Deadlock)? I really HATE the way she writes Baltar so comically, undermining his darker side entirely and focussing on his absurd spinelessness. I hate the jokes that seem shoehorned in, the way potentially dramatic scenes are played for laughs as though all the mythology and the weight of these characters experience doesn’t matter if there’s a chance for Baltar to act like an affable English oaf… That being said, Tigh’s scene at Six’s hospital bed was wonderfully written and performed. Likewise in The Hub, I loved Baltar’s dying confession.
The more I think about it, the less I’m satisfied by the answer that the Final Five simply had their memories wiped and were inserted into the Colonies, nor the fact that Cavil knows everything. It just doesn’t explain their supposed position in Cylon/human mythology, the opera house, the space between life and death (still an unexplained concept, despite the constant references). These are questions that deserve exploration more than “what happens when Ellen finds Saul’s new Cylon bride? And given that there were at one time 13 models of Cylon, and the assertation by Ronald D. Moore that there are many copies of all twelve models, I’m beginning to fear that the Final Five were (as I originally assumed when the concept was introduced in Season 3) a narrative contrivance with no satisfying explanation, and not a wonderful and mysterious new element (as presented by the Season 3 mid-season season finale doubles).
It’s hard to imagine exactly where they’re going with all this, the next episode looks to get back to Kara, although there seems to be a worrying “we want to try Boomer for treason” idea in the trailer. That’s just what the show needs, another truncated episode long trial to sever a relationship and end a hanging story prematurely… I’m hoping it all ties up well towards the finale, but there’s a lot to get through knowing that the show is not coming back. That being said, this is the traditional rough stretch in BSG’s seasons, before they suddenly charge into a mind-blowing finale. I just hope they deliver their patented finale cliffhanger we’ve seen in previous seasons before the two-part actual finale, so whatever massive wonderfully surprising final twist they have up their sleeve won’t go unresolved. But that means really, there’s two more episodes to get to a place where the conclusion can actual take place.
Roslin and Adama got it together early on, which I felt nonplussed about, and in the past two episodes, have barely had any purpose. Starbuck is confused, we get it. Roslin is giving up, we get it. Adama is now a drunk, and is letting his ship be turned Cylon, we get it. Saul and Ellen are lovers throughout the ages, we get it, Cavil is a spoilt brat, we get it. What I want to see is what the other Cylons think of what’s going on, of discovering their lineage, meeting their makers. Where are the Simons, the Dorals, and the Leobens? Where is their drama? Leoben always spoke of the spiritual nature of the Cylons, but now he has the chance to meet his creators, and he’s not even there. At this point Simon has had storylines in less episodes than the admittedly awesome Romo Lampkin, whose two appearences this season have been ENTIRELY superfluous. I don’t think Doral has even had a line since New Caprica. I don’t know that there’s any time to play these stories now, and the whole Caprica Six pregnancy strikes me as a waste of everybody’s time, yielding perhaps two useful scenes in the entire season, ironically at the very beginning and very end of the arc. Like they just said “we’ve got a six here on the ship who’s not doing anything… Maybe we should give Tricia (Helfer) something to do?
Anyway, the irony of all this is, I can sit back and quite happily enjoy the episode (although Baltar’s scenes make me cringe) for what it is, a bottle-show (ie. a low-budget talk-heavy episode with no major effects or new sets – to subsidise earlier or later budget spending). It’s just that, with FOUR episodes to go now, i was hoping to see something like the Kobol mini-arc at the beginning of Season 2 (which stretched for seven whole episodes before the big revelation). I wanted some through-line leading us right into the finale. Instead we’re looking at four episodes left and the next episode could literally be about anything. There’s no urgency here, just a bunch of stalled storylines bunching up and looking less and less interesting as the week between episodes marches on. I would argue that without the final promised destination of Earth, the show has lost its anchor and is in danger of drifting off into abstract philosophising about Cylons and Humans. But Ronald D. Moore promises there is an ending, and it is a true final ending, full stop, underscore, the end, and I actually believe him. I just hope it doesn’t continue at this pace, and that the slow down now will be paid off with a real whizz-bang finally, all guns blazing. Fingers crossed.