In the third part of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, the surviving humans come to realize just how significant and invasive the Cylon force actually is.
Well, could this get any more bleak than it already is? If this is what the writers choose to do to open this re-imagining of the series, I’m actually excited to see where things could go from here. No time has wasted for things to get real on this show, and I still have over seventy episodes to go. I mean…they basically killed off seven million people in the pilot/miniseries. MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.
But christ, this isn’t getting any better. This is now a time for the survivors to take a moment to reflect on the reality of what’s just happened to them, and the difficult decisions continue to roll in. The beginning of the second half of the miniseries focuses on how distant and detached everyone is, both literally and figuratively. Boomer drifts into space, hoping someone will find her. Adama is heartbroken at the loss of another crowd, the main console room silent with shock and grief, and he’s forced to continue on instead of taking a moment to mourn. Starbuck returns to learn that Prosna and Lee have both died, and that Boomer is missing.
Everyone has to move on. There’s nothing they can do.
And so Commander Adama orders the Galactica to make the jump to Ragnar, setting up the next immediate conflict that the miniseries concerns itself with. What do the remaining survivors do now? Is the rescue effort being run by President Roslin more important than the war being led by Commander Adama? Even deeper than that, is it perfectly fine to admit that they lost the war against the Cylons in just twenty-four hours? Personally, I’d side with Roslin on this one. After losing over 90% of the population of humankind, how can you possibly win at this point?
I’m not going to pretend to understand the science behind Lee’s use of the electromagnetic burst that saved the Colonial One. This is one of those moments in a science-fiction show where I just nod my head and smile, happy that these characters are still alive. YES, LEE ADAMA, I BELIEVE YOU. JUST CARRY ON.
It finally seems, though, that all of these separate story lines are going to come together, and part of that is due to Lee’s quick thinking about the Colonial One. Boomer is found by the ship, and the crew continues to work towards seeking out survivors scattered about the universe.
But Commander Adama soon discovers that he’s got a problem of his own that is going to require everyone to rethink their “war” against the Cylons. (Is it even a war at this point? It seems much more like a slaughter.) It was obvious to me that Baltar was the only one who truly knew the nature of the “upgraded” Cylons, that Cylons could look and act just like us. And, as that hallucinated Six will point out later, it’s not like Baltar can just waltz up to Adama and announce that he knows information about the Cylons without arousing suspicion. I’m now getting the sense that the writers are going to save Baltar for much bigger things; he gets to avoid that confrontation when Adama comes face-to-face with a newer model Cylon himself. It’s actually a brilliant way to have the other characters find out this unsettling development without sacrificing Baltar. Those scenes inside the Ragnar station are claustrophobic, disorienting, and tense, especially as I could not figure out why the man Adama gets trapped with, Conoy, was getting so violently ill. Adama was able to put it together a lot quicker than I was, but there’s still a brutal fight between the two of them. Is it true that the Cylons can still remember everything they experienced in their other bodies? Because that is awful. They’re like the very best kind of spies! Death doesn’t matter to them if they can merely be uploaded into a new body.
The confrontation between Conoy and Adama didn’t just help to advance the plot forward, though. It also acts to expose us to another side of Commander Adama. I knew there was no way that the show would kill of Adama in the miniseries, so I was just waiting to see how they’d get him away from Conoy, who was trying quite hard to murder this man. Would I have guessed that Adama would bludgeon Conoy to death WITH A FLASHLIGHTB? No. No, I would not have guessed that. But christ, that image of his determined and frightened face pulling up to the camera, covered in his own and Conoy’s blood is just….good god. I know now that Adama has the capacity for violence, even in terms of just self-defense, and it makes him a lot more intimidating and layered as a character.
We get to see another side of Roslin as well when her rescue plans begin to fall apart. She is perfectly capable (and quite amazing) as a President, and it seems so natural to her to do what she does. But when Boomer returns from a recon mission and a Cylon Raider scouting ship follows her, it shows us that random chance and forced brutality can render anyone helpless. It’s not that Roslin does anything wrong here, as she makes the choice that is the most sensible and logical, given the situation. But only two-thirds of the ships in the convoy she’s assembled are even capable of faster-than-light travel. There’s a great parallel to XO Tigh’s decompression choice in the previous part, in that time is a huge factor in what the end result might be. If Tyrol had had forty more seconds, eighty-five crew might not have died, but the fire could have spread. If Roslin had had more time, she probably could have transported as many survivors, but with the Cylon fighters soon arriving, she is faced with a terrible choice: save more and lose everyone, or sacrifice many to save the most. Of every decision that Roslin has had to make as the newly-sworn President, this is certainly the most challenging of it all.
Unlike Commander Adama, though, Roslin wears her emotions openly while still being in charge of the situation, and I kind of adore her for that. She doesn’t care that she’s emotional, and I’d say that is one of her best qualities as a leader. She doesn’t hide her tears as she chooses to doom twenty entire ships to certain death. Hell, how could you? The decision she just made will kill thousands of people. But to me, that’s why I’m glad she’s in charge. She knows how to make a difficult decision like this when necessary.
Upon finally making the jump to Ragnar, it is here that all of our characters come together, and I was not at all surprised that the very first meeting between Roslin and those on the Galactica was wrought with tension and conflict. I (so far) enjoy the bulk of these characters, and I do this thing in my head when this happens: when the characters start having negative interactions with one another, it’s akin to watching your parents argue. I just want it to stop. So once Tigh and Roslin clearly started to go at each other’s throats, I wanted to reach through the screen and just hug them and tell them that everything will be okay. It seems that Lee provides the final push that Roslin needs to get Tigh to agree partially to her plan, and it’s part of a larger issue at hand: No one seems to want to listen to an “inexperienced” woman, and it takes another man for Tigh to finally concede something to her. I’m guessing, though, that this behavior is going to have negative consequences for everyone. I’m still maintaining that she’s right about what these survivors need to do.
Baltar, who is quickly becoming the most intriguing character of the bunch, is learning that it is also not going to be that easy for him to escape his past. I don’t know the reason for the “visions” of Six that he is experiencing, but they are too real and too present to merely be hallucinations. Are they manifestations of his guilt? Is that why Six seems to be helping Baltar? In that sense, it can’t be an actual Cylon. I suppose it doesn’t really matter, though, because what Six helps Baltar discover is way more important: There is a humanoid Cylon on board the Galactica.
GOD DAMN IT. WHO? HOW? And if they are on board, can’t they also send any information back to the other Cylons upon death?
It’s actually a fascinating idea and a twist on a sci-fi/horror trope, somewhere in between dopplegangers and hidden infections. It’s something that can fuel a whole lot of story telling for the future, too. And based on what we do know about Cylons, it seems there are only twelve of the same version? Or something? Either way, I haven’t figured out the specifics, but Baltar’s actions upon discovering this information lead his character in a direction I wouldn’t have been able to anticipate. He’s found a way to begin his own redemption process, in a way, but it’s not entirely pure or genuine. Baltar can’t resist helping himself, so I started to worry when he brought up this entire issue to Commander Adama and Tigh. I think he genuinely does want to create a method to determine Cylons from humans, but when he pointed the finger at Doral, I was concerned. It doesn’t feel right to me! Not only is it too convenient, but Baltar didn’t sound confident enough for me to believe that Doral was the humanoid Cylon on board.
I’m guessing that the writers are exploring Baltar’s nature through this: There’s a part of him that wants to good, but it’s overshadowed by the part that just wants to stay alive and benefit from the world around him. I just don’t feel right in believing that Doral is the one. I mean, it’s just so sudden! Oh, Baltar, you confuse me.
I think it’s also a testament to the writing that not only can I feel this strongly about Baltar’s actions, but that this early into the show, I can be touched by Lee’s interactions with both his father and Starbuck. I think the writers were smart for starting the healing process here in the miniseries, as I don’t know that I could stomach years of the same subplot drawn out. Obviously, it’s not entirely over, of course, but it was nice to see Lee have a tender (if awkward) moment with his father. I think it’s fair to say that his conversation with Starbuck is just as awkward and tender as that with Commander Adama. I think that having such a close brush with death is certainly a part of it. If the world is ending around you, you’d probably start appreciating the few people left behind. Even Starbuck seems finally willing to set aside some of her derision for Lee, though the bulk of this is set aside to be dealt with later when she reveals that SHE was the one who mistakenly passed Zak Adama, not Lee’s father. WELL. OKAY. THAT’S AWKWARD. Plus, it reveals that Lee has been harsh on his father for something he never really did. So is there now hope that Lee can repair things with his father?
This third part ends on a less hopeful note, though: Starbuck’s recon mission reveals that the Cylon forces are merely waiting outside the EM storm cloud for the survivors to come out. With everyone in the same area, are our characters going to come to a final clash when they decide what to do? Will even more get left behind in order to preserve the human race?