In the sixteenth episode of the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica, the writers find yet another way to make everything so painfully awkward that I start to wonder if it’s the only way they could subsist in our universe. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Battlestar Galactica.
I don’t think episode (until the end) is much like many others in the entire series, and it certainly doesn’t have as many mind-melting, hands-being-thrown-in-the-air moments of frustration or confusion as the majority of episodes in season four. It’s not that “Deadlock” takes a break, though, as it’s a direct continuation from the ramifications of “No Exit.” Instead, this story is one of transition, and it’s one that can only belong at the end of this show.
I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of season four, but there are so many subtle turns (amidst some not-so-subtle predicaments) that make this a thoughtful episode for me, one that examines how much the line between Cylon and human has been almost entirely obliterated. I think this episode in particular shows us how various characters–Tigh, Baltar, Adama, Ellen, and Caprica Six–cope with the reality that nothing is really “pure” anymore, that things are so complicated and mixed up that even simple definitions don’t work.
It wasn’t until long after “No Exit” had finished and I’d already written the review did a disturbing thought enter my head: oh shit, Tigh is going to have a child with Caprica Six. WELL THAT’S FUCKING AWKWARD. What I thought would be just awkward becomes MONUMENTALLY HORRIFIC, exponentially increasing in awfulness as the very “human” nature of Ellen Tigh begins to come out in response. It’s tied in with Tigh’s ultimate rejection of Cylon rule; it’s related to Adama’s despondency over losing the “identity” of Galactica as more of the resin is used to repair the hull and internal parts of the ship. All of these characters deal with Cylon and human cultures crashing together.
But let’s just start with what might be one of the oddest scenes in the whole series: Ellen Tigh speaking with Roslin, Lee, Tigh, and Adama in Adama’s quarters about….well, they have a whole lot to talk about, not the least of which is her sudden reappearance. And as she tries to relate what’s going on to them, I couldn’t help but laugh at the not-giving-one-fuck faces of Lee, Roslin, and Adama, who are all so tired and probably irritated at the ongoing Cylon drama. I MEAN SERIOUSLY THEY JUST QUASHED A MUTINY CAN THEY GET ONE WITH THEIR LIVES. Of course, you also have to think about how little the humans understand about the complicated past of the Cylons. Adama demonstrates a bit of knowledge about them later in the episode (in that amazing drunk scene with Tigh), but I think most of this escapes them.
Baltar’s off in his own little world (surprise!!!), but he is also faced with a change in purity. In this case, his followers are not necessarily quite as devoted to him as before, particularly Paulla Schaffer. His absence, when he left to “hide” on the base ship during the mutiny, forced those he left behind to start to take control of things themselves. I love Paulla Schaffer dearly, and I love how she made this transformation from a follower to a leader, especially one who can see right through Baltar’s ridiculous bullshit. It’s actually pretty entertaining to watch her and Baltar continue to one-up one another, both astutely aware of what the other one is doing.
Oh, right. OH MY GOD HEAD SIX IS BACK I HAVE MISSED YOU SINCE FOREVER. Oh god WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Did she reappear because Baltar was losing control of his little “cult”? It seems so, though it does raise more questions for me: why does she push the whole “God” of the Cylons? We know now that the belief is, in essence, artificial. Whether it stands that the single God of the Centurions is actually real has yet to be addressed, but the Final Five put these thoughts into the other eight models. So why was Head Six always nudging Baltar in this direction?
I suppose that there’s a larger question here, and it has more to do with the idea of Cylon projection. Multiple characters have projected the existence of someone in their physical world, a person (or a cat) that they can see and interact with. Obviously, Gaius Baltar’s entire story arch over four seasons wouldn’t nearly be as interesting without Head Six, but we see another manifestation of the same thing with Tigh when he has sex with Ellen. I’m still confused as to when Caprica Six and Tigh even had sex to begin with, since we were never shown it; it’s not an unbelievable thing, though, especially since Tigh projected his dead wife onto Six when he was visiting her earlier in the season.
I don’t know that I need an answer or an explanation for this, and I tend to watch and read things and enjoy the magic that comes along with it. I wouldn’t mind some sort of hint or clue towards what these visions are, but at the same time, I would still be satisfied with the mechanics of it being unexplained.
so hey how’s all that awkwardness going. Oh, so the Cylons want to vote on leaving the fleet entirely and use the hope of Tigh and Caprica’s child to rebuild the Cylon race as a pure thing? Oh, Tigh forgot to tell Ellen about Liam? Oh, the disaster that is this episode. What’s fascinating to me as an outside viewer to what unfolds between the Cylons is the obvious, unspoken hypocrisy of it all. The ironic references to “No Exit” are what make this story so strong, at least to me, because Ellen insisted that it was a good thing that the eight humanoid models created by the Final Five were so human in design, that they all possessed traits and tendencies that would bring them closer to God and perfection.
What we see throughout “Deadlock” is how human traits and behaviors backfire against us, and it’s through the Cylons we witness some of the worst of the worst: jealousy, petty revenge, rage, and massively horrific superiority complexes. It takes the ending for Ellen to self-reflect upon what’s happen, but I was enamored that it was finally Tigh as the one who resisted this all. The process of becoming a Cylon has strangles been the most humanizing thing that’s happened to him; he’s never been more sympathetic or likable. Which is not to say I’ve disliked him at all! He’s a wonderful character and the writers have consistently given him spectacular storylines. After all the tragedy that he’s gone through, it seems he genuinely loves Caprica, and that he’s excited for his new son. And perhaps Anders’s warning to Tigh to stay on the ship for the “miracle” that is about to happen carried a lot of wait, but either way, the man refuses to abandon Galactica. It’s all he’s ever known in this version of his life.
It’s all anyone has ever known. Baltar has only known being manipulative, controlling, shifty, and more Slytherin than anyone ever. Roslin has only known Caprica Six through the visions she shared with her. Tyrol has only really known his life being taken away from him, one piece at a time. (Side note: Wow, how much was the theme of “No Exit” so applicable to Tyrol? If anyone truly believed that hell is other people, it’s him.) And Adama has only known his ship as one thing. How do they cope with this? Their worlds and their perspective is being forced into a new paradigm, and it’s not something they can ignore anymore.
So Adama accepts it. God, how great is that scene between him and Tigh as they get progressively more drunk? He so lovingly accepts his friend, regardless of being a Cylon, and it’s just beautiful to me, okay? More so than anyone else, Adama is willing to adapt. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t begrudgingly got there; he hasn’t done this with a giant smile on his face, skipping through the corridors of the Galactica while hugging all the new Cylon members of the ship. It’s been a tough road for him, but he’s willing to turn over a new leaf. I think he’s just done fighting, done resisting change and instead just wants to see where things go.
Baltar? Not so much, though. I groaned every single time he tried to utilize the sympathy of the people in Dogsville to oppose Paula. GOD I CAN SEE RIGHT THROUGH YOU, BALTAR. However, I think that is what Baltar uses to his credit; I think he realizes that he can’t beat Paula at her game, especially after their food was stolen by the Sons of Ares. So, instead, he chooses to engage her. Why fight the militarization ? Why fight what she’s demanding? It’s so brilliant, as much as it is devious, but Head Six helps Baltar to convince the group that they should have hope (and guns). He does it in a way to completely deflate Paula’s rage and make it seem like it was his idea in the first place. Yet I have to admit…when Baltar does get the weapons, Paula has a very smug, satisfied look on her face. And it made me think that this is what she wanted all along. oh god SHE PLAYED HIM, DIDN’T SHE? this is my canon.
Well, you know…I skipped over something. And I’m just quoting it here and now because the writing on this show is so ridiculous.
“Galactica is slipping away from you, drop by drop. You are pouring Cylon blood into her veins. I see the Cylon pilots. We all see them! We all see the Cylon work force. Where they’re going into the far recesses of the ship? When are you inviting the Centurions over, to join in all the fun we’re having over here? Of course when you do that, that very moment, this becomes a blended ship. Only half human. And right now, I an here to tell you your people…your people are not ready for that. I am offering you the last human solution you will ever be presented with.”
SWEET SUMMER CHILD. I mean…THE GODDAMN SUBTEXT. The irony that it’s Baltar saying this, that he’s preying on the exact conflict that Adama is dealing with internally, the fact that it’s actually completely true. I love this show. I LOVE IT.
But “Deadlock” really does put a lot of narrative weight on the tragedy that strikes Caprica Six. I still don’t know if Ellen Tigh did this on purpose, if she did it inadvertently by upsetting Caprica so resolutely, or if it’s just a coincidence. Either way, it doesn’t make this any easier to deal with or categorize. Unsurprisingly, Michael Hogan and Tricia Helfer give performances worthy of any number awards that they didn’t get because apparently only tasteless bigots give out awards. I will admit to a full showing of waterworks turning themselves on when Liam’s heart rate stopped. It’s awful, horrifying, and something that feels like a rug was pulled out from underneath you. While this is a gigantic blow to the Cylon’s plan to secede from the human force, it’s played much more intimately: Caprica Six just lost her child, and Tigh won’t be a father.
I can only hope that in the remainder of this series, I never have to see Tigh breakdown and cry to Adama like that. After everything that has happened to him, it’s just….the man has experienced too much tragedy. I hope that Caprica Six finds some sort of solace from this, though I cannot imagine the devastation that she’s going through. But that’s where these characters are, and I think that final scene in the Memorial Hallway is indicative of the massive change in everything since this show started. Now Cylons and humans are both suffering loss. It’s all mixed up. It’s all repeating.
jesus christ what is this show going to do to me next