Mark Watches ‘Battlestar Galactica’: S04E04 – Escape Velocity

In the fourth episode of the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica, an attack on Baltar’s “church” brings about a tense situation on the Galactica, as the Quorum decide whether freedom of religion should continue. The three Galactica Cylons also begin to face their identity issues more directly. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Battlestar Galactica.

I think at this point, all I’m trying to do is avoid sounding like a broken record. I proclaimed my love for this show a long time ago, and that feeling has continued to grow over three seasons. Now, moving through the final season (SOB), I find myself just as transfixed and enamored as I was back in July when I started this show for Mark Watches. After gushing about the beauty of “The Ties That Bind,” I told myself that I would at least try to find something to pick on with a critical mind, and then the show gives me “Escape Velocity” and I’m rendered helpless.

Who really needs to read me flailing about because of Adama and Roslin’s adorable relationship? Or praising the continued character ambiguity of the writing? Or talking about how this show never fails to shock me and keep me on the edge of the seat? Those of you who are BSG fans already know this by now, and it makes up part of the reason why you love all of this. I suppose it’s nice that I finally understand why so many people over the years swore I was missing out on something by not watching this show. That’s why I like doing this and why I’m careful when selecting things to watch for this site. One day, it might be fun to pick something I’ll probably despise, but for now, I can’t say I enjoy many things more than the process of discovering something I love.

At the heart of “Escape Velocity” is the search for identity. Aside from a brief shot at the end of the Demetrius, this entire episode is contained to the fleet. The three Cylon models–Tigh, Tory, and Tyrol OMG ALLITERATION–as well as Gaius Baltar come to terms with what their identity might be. Well, some do, and some do not. And the issue of identity is treated as the main conflict, with the obvious problem affecting the Cylons more. The most important thing we see is how the loss of Cally (which is being explained as a suicide NOW I REALLY HATE YOU, TORY FOSTER) means that Tyrol has lost his anchor. Watching his self-destructive burn is painful. The man is consumed with guilt, numb during Cally’s funeral ceremony, and confused as to whether his life is real or not. I’m still interested in the logistics of the Final Five Cylons, who all were probably created before the genocide of the human race. How much of Tyrol and Tigh’s past is a fabrication? Or were they born as Cylons??? Or were they merely inserted into the human population at a certain point with a programmed story, like in the case of Boomer?

I imagine these thoughts were running through Tyrol’s mind, which is why he was so shocked to see Tory’s frank acceptance of her Cylon nature. It seems Tory has taken a much different route, believing that she’s “perfect” because she is a Cylon. WELL THAT WAS QUICK. It’s a tad disturbing to me too; was she inspired by her murder of Cally to feel this way, after discovering the physical power she has, the ability to judge right and wrong? Is she embracing this newness she describes because she feels it completes her?

I’m satisfied to see that we get such varied stories from all of the characters, but it’s Colonel Tigh’s that intrigues me the most. First of all: HEAD ELLEN. Oh my fucking god, I was drinking water when she appeared and I started choking. WHY DO YOU DO THESE THINGS TO ME, BSG? Oh my god, Ellen, I HAVE MISSED YOU SO MUCH. I mean, yes, she’s only some vision of Tigh’s, but STILL. IT’S NICE. So, again, I can’t ignore that this is happening to other characters aside from Baltar. It has to be significant, right? It can’t just be a throwaway detail, can it?

I’ll get back to that in a second when I talk about that scene, but for Tigh, he’s just as guilt-ridden and tormented by the thought that he is a Cylon as Tyrol. In a move that could (and might) prove to be an utter disaster, he repeatedly visits Caprica Six in the brig. Good lord, every scene is absolutely amazing. Electrifying. Thrilling. And layered with a couple bajillion layers of subtext. I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH, OKAY? Obviously, the man is working through his guilt and is entranced by the idea that this Cylon can somehow trigger visions of his dead wife.

But Tigh, one of the most anti-Cylon voices on the ship, repeatedly visits Caprica Six. You can tell the guards outside who are monitoring these visits are increasingly confused by all of this; even Caprica Six herself is flabbergasted as to why this man continues to see her. But strangely so, I think she knows what he is and who he is. Part of that comes from her waking up and seeing Tigh pull an Edward Cullen, I’m sure, but she senses that he is not here to harm her; he’s already in pain himself. I was completely transfixed with Caprica Six’s explanation of how pain helps her learn, and how losing Baltar helped her to realize that she has feelings just like the humans do. It was at that point that I knew she wasn’t just ironically being helpful towards Tigh.

Yet I couldn’t ignore that this was rapidly approaching some dangerous territory for the two of them, since they were under surveillance. SO TIGH KICKS OUT THE MARINES AND DEACTIVATES THE EQUIPMENT. I was about ready to wet myself out of joy. Was it really going to happen? Would he admit he was a Cylon to Caprica Six?

Funny thing is, he never really had to. When Caprica Six takes off Tigh’s eyepatch, I’m simultaneously moved by how affectionate it is, and disturbed by its unsettling nature as well. Tigh has experienced such terrible loss and grief over the past three seasons, and in this moment, he believes his wife has returned. Well, sort of. Because once Caprica Six starts punching him in the face, trying to bring about the “clarity” she as a Cylon has experienced through pain, there’s no mistaking that this is not Ellen Tigh. But even more bewildering is her sudden claim that he doesn’t need pain, but something else.

And she kisses him. And I don’t know what the fuck is going on with anything at all. THIS SHOW.

This isn’t the only moment of pure chaos and shock. God, “Escape Velocity” gives us three fantastic story lines and I wouldn’t take a single one of them out. How absolutely mind-blowing is Head Adama when he appears to Tyrol at the bar? I mean, perhaps this one is just a hallucination spawned from grief, as Head Adama is only around for a few seconds. BUT OH MY GOD I fall for these visions EVERY GODDAMN TIME.

Yet Tyrol’s story is not just leading to that moment, a chance to have his mind play tricks on him. In his pursuit for identity in “Escape Velocity,” we watch the Chief pervasively lash out to Admiral Adama in Joe’s Bar. It’s one of those scenes where I just held my head in my heads and just kept thinking, OH GOD PLEASE LET THIS STOP RIGHT NOW. As Tyrol continues to dig himself further into his own grave, insulting Adama and rejecting every opportunity that his boss gives him to just walk away, he finally demands that Adama demote him and kick him off the ship. TYROL WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING. Oh god AND THE ADMIRAL OBLIGES. So, to recap: Tigh is having bizarre mouth hug parties with Caprica Six, Tory Foster thinks she’s perfect, and Tyrol has just sabotaged his career.


So, amidst all of this, we get a war of belief and legislature between Roslin, Lee, and Gaius Baltar. Well, first we actually get a confusing sex scene between Tory Foster and Baltar. Tory seems bent on discovering more of her own capacity for Cylon perfection, only this time through giving Baltar conflicting sensations of pain and pleasure? IDEK WHAT THIS IS, THIS IS SO AWKWARD. But their sexy time party is interrupted by the Sons of Ares, who should all be thrown in an airlock as soon as possible. Turns out that Baltar’s monotheistic preaching has rubbed a few people who follow the Lords of Kobol the wrong way! So obviously the best thing to do is enter the church, destroy everything, and punch a bunch of women in the face. THAT WORKS. THAT’S A REAL GOOD IDEA.

You know what’s a better idea? Taking this traumatic, horrific event, one filled with pain, resentment, and injustice, and PERPETRATING ON PEOPLE WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ACTUAL ATTACK. Head Six, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO BALTAR? That was my first question and I think it’s answered by the end of the episode. But at the time, I knew that Baltar storming towards a temple would not end well.  And guess what? IT DOESN’T! IT’S A FUCKING DISASTER. Baltar. Baltar. Look at that life of yours. Look at the choices you are making. Vandalizing a temple will gain you pretty much nothing. Oh, and it makes you a total asshole.

Obviously, word gets around Galactica pretty quickly and Adama and Roslin have to get involved to stop a possible religious war on the ship. (Well, plus we get that goddamn depressing scene about Adama saving the last chapter of Searider Falcon until he’s ready. And when the other shoe drops…jesus christ, I will need to be held until the end of time.) I can’t deny that they’re right: Baltar has a way of riling up the fleet in a way that no other person can. It’s here that Roslin decides to do a very beautiful thing. It is a thing which is so perfect and scathing and honest and I am reminded just why I love this character so much:

She tells Baltar she is tired of his shit.

In as many words, I mean. But…my god, Laura Roslin, you could not be any more perfect. And might I say you look fabulous in that wig of yours, too!

But this is not enough for Battlestar Galactica! I’ll admit to the fact that the inclusion is spread a little thin, but the entire “conflict” between Baltar’s group and the Sons of Ares forces the Quorum (led mostly by Lee Adama) to challenge Roslin’s executive order that limits how many of Baltar’s group may be in one room at a time. It’s an issue of religious freedom tied in with the charismatic personality of Gaius Baltar, and it’s one of those situations where, yet again, the show doesn’t really paint either side as being more moral than the other. Roslin is right that Baltar is provoking fundamentalist groups on purpose, and Lee and the other Quorum members are right in stating that this will set a disastrous precedent if enacted. I admire Lee for fighting for the freedom of Baltar’s group to practice their religion, and I think if I’d been in his position, I probably would have done the same thing. Still, I can’t ignore Roslin’s emotional plea to the Quorum to remember the last time Baltar held power over a large number of people. Ugh, her voice cracks and I CAN’T HANDLE ANY OF THIS.

Despite all of this, I wasn’t expecting where “Escape Velocity” would take Gaius Baltar. He’s always straddled the line between caring about those around him and acting entirely out of self-interest, admittedly landing on the latter more often than not. But when Lee visits Baltar at the end of the episode, he witnesses exactly what he’s allowed to continue. It confuses Lee just as much as it unsettles him. Is this what he’s set free?

I found myself far more perplexed and fascinated by what Baltar says here, though. For the first time in a long while, I believe what he says, at least to an extent. Baltar’s identity since he joined the Galactica has been one of guilt, and he’s now the head of a movement that absolves him of that. I think he’s stopped using this as a method to further himself, and might actually be on the road towards healing himself.

The last image of “Escape Velocity” is of Head Six turning to look at Tory Foster. She knows, doesn’t she? Is she trying to influence Baltar to bring the Final Five Cylons to him? AGGGH I UNDERSTAND NOTHING.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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44 Responses to Mark Watches ‘Battlestar Galactica’: S04E04 – Escape Velocity

  1. How Tyrol Coped with Cally's Death

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  2. Ryan Lohner says:

    After the season three finale, there were some fans upset that Tory was one of the newly discovered Cylons, as we knew pretty much nothing about her and could have no emotional attachment to the reveal. But here you really start to see why that was done: they needed someone who would actually look at their new identity as a good thing, and if it happened to pretty much any other character, we wouldn't accept that. But given that we knew so little about Tory before this, there's nothing to say she wouldn't have acted exactly like this.

    • kristinc says:

      … I dunno. There must have been some way to develop an actual character who would have reasons for welcoming her Cylon identity, as opposed to Tory who was just a non-entity.

      Like, sure, we had no reason to think she wouldn't see her new identity as a good thing, but we also had no particular reason to think she would. Because we had no reason to think anything at all about her.

  3. katherinemh says:

    Okay, so I don't have time to read this at the moment, but I just wanted to share this video, in which Bear McCreary plays Prelude to War on an accordion.

    Bear McCreary.

    Plays Prelude to War.

    On an accordion.

    [youtube oPu3XBSlJyk youtube]

  4. knut_knut says:

    …Roslin isn’t dead, right? She just fell asleep while Adama was reading to her, right? RIGHT?! WHAT HAS THIS SHOW DONE TO ME? People fall asleep and I assume they’ve died O_O

    I know this was brought up yesterday, but I’m still not feeling Tory. I wish she wasn’t such a background character before she was revealed as a Cylon, because I don’t really care now, especially when her journey of self-discovery (I actually have no idea what Tory is up to other than killing people I love and just kind of being there…) is up against Tigh’s journey of ENDLESS TEARS 🙁 🙁 🙁 If only I could “borrow” the TARDIS and save Ellen! It would probably seriously muck things up, but…but… *sob*

    • monkeybutter says:

      I was pleasantly surprised that Ellen was (sorta) back to simultaneously confuse and help sort out Tigh's mind.

      I think Roslin is okay. For now. :c

  5. monkeybutter says:

    "No, we are not going to talk about the fragile body of Gaius frakking Baltar" has to be the most hysterical line ever uttered on this show.

  6. NB2000 says:

    Tory continues to find ways to be deeply unpleasent. You're actually going to whine about having to attend a memorial that YOU CAUSED? There are not enough fires for you to die in.

    Bill and Laura continue to be adorable and heartbreaking, telling him what she wants for her own funerary arrangements is a tiny moment but so sad. The Searider Falcon passage is so damn beautiful though.

    The confrontation between Gaius and the guard who won't let him or the rest of the group into their space is really well done. The shots of Gaius being lifted by Six where she isn't visible are so creepy, the way he's dragged about like a puppet.

    Part of that comes from her waking up and seeing Tigh pull an Edward Cullen,

    ROFL. That whole storyline, like Boomer/Cavil before just fills me with so much DO NOT FUCKING WANT!

  7. BSGfan1 says:

    If only we could have Mark Read "Searider Falcon"

  8. Noybusiness says:

    “The last image of Escape Velocity is of Head Six turning to look at Tory Foster. She knows, doesn’t she?”

    Jryy, bs pbhefr. Fur’f na natry, vg’f ure wbo gb xabj guvatf.

  9. leighzzz31 says:

    So, I don't really care about Tory, like, at all. She's been pretty much a non-entity this far in the show so her story is boring me but I cannot get over the squeeky feelings I get when I see her with Baltar. I mean, Baltar is a questionable character at the best of times but I have no idea how I'm supposed to react with them together. Just, blagh, to be honest.

    Baltar's cult is creepy and I don't care about this plot, I'm sorry. I just don't.

    Other than that though, can I just gush about about how much I loved the Tigh/Caprica Six scenes? These two have always been two of my favourite characters (and actors) and it's so fascinating watching them interact. Also, Ellen? Can't believe I'm saying this but I totally missed your face. And it's heartbreaking what it does to Tigh. Why am I so drawn to really messed up characters? Whyyyyyy?

  10. Megg says:

    I will forever miss Laura Roslin's epic hair.

  11. enigmaticagentscully says:

    Oh, that scene with Tyrol in the bar badmouthing Cally was SO hard to watch. Partly because I've heard a lot of people say the same things on the internet…there are a lot of fans out there who irrationally hate Cally because they loved Tyrol/Boomer.

    Adama and Roslin continue to completely break my heart in every scene they're in. My god.

  12. Suzannezibar says:

    "Who really needs to read me flailing about because of Adama and Roslin’s adorable relationship?"

    I DO, ALWAYS AND FOREVER. When I watched this show I shipped these two so hard and everyone else I watched it with thought I was being silly and did the metaphorical pat on the head every time something adorable/heartbreaking/wonderful happened between the two of them that made me flail my heart out. SOOOOO I cannot even begin to describe how happy it makes me that you love these two just as much as I do. It's usually something like this:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Also, I could watch that scene between Roslin and Baltar over and over and over again. she is such a BAMF

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      YES there is never enough flailing over Adama and Roslin!

      When I was watching the show for the first time, all my friends were obsessed with Lee/Kara and I was like 'ARE WE EVEN WATCHING THE SAME SHOW???'

      But my best friend always ships the same ships I do, so that's ok. ^^
      Sometimes there'll be just two minor characters who appear in just in one episode of something and we'll meet up the next day and be all…

      – 'Weren't those two totally in love??'
      – 'YES I know right???'

      …and so on.

  13. echinodermata says:

    Tory is a character I want to like because I think the writers are giving her a shit deal and giving her unsympathetic things to do without really characterizing her. I think the writing for her sucks, basically, and I don't like seeing hate for her character when all I want to do is blame the writers for it all.

  14. kristinc says:

    "Baltar. Baltar. Look at that life of yours. Look at the choices you are making. " Pretty sure I said at exactly this episode that Baltar really needs a Sassy Gay Friend.

    Where *did* Laura get such a well-fitted wig, anyway?

  15. robin says:

    I love how messed up they let Tyrol be. He has so many reasons to be guilt ridden and yet torn about Cally — resenting that she gave up and let him to deal with their son (he thinks), grieving for future possibilities that are now gone, and also there's the fact that his anger towards her has got to be forcing him to finally consider now he went and married the person who'd killed the last woman he loved (and he really has to acknowledge Boomer now as a person and a woman, since he himself is a Cylon — if he's real and matters then she did too). It's no wonder that he's lashing out at father-figure Adama and trying to punish himself.

    I feel like they got the psychology very on point for Tyrol.

    And Caprica Six just wins ALL THE AWARDS. God, she is just so amazing. Her journey towards finding her personhood and identity, and also learning how to connect with others and see their personhood… it's one of the most compelling character arcs of the series for me. She comes at everything in this completely alien-to-us-way but she's so earnest about it and trying to do what she thinks is right at the time. It's fascinating.

  16. ChronicReader91 says:

    I know it’s not the same at all, but all the talk about “the old gods fighting back” made me instantly think of American Gods. 😀 And the fact that some of Baltar’s followers are trying to mix aspects of their old religion with his teachings just made me happy, because hello real world parallels!

    I was definitely going “FFFFUUU TORY” most of the time she was on screen, and I’m really not fond of what they’re doing with her character. I even talked about this not long ago in regards to Cain, but it’s even worse for Tory, because by making her accept her cylon nature, and use that to conclude that she’s perfect and doesn’t need to feel guilt about anything, including murder, I feel like we’ve been cheated out of any kind of real characterization for her. I can’t exactly say that her reaction is “true to character” because I don’t KNOW her character well enough to judge. I’ll admit that one of the not-quite-Final Four not fighting their nature makes for an interesting dynamic, but she seemed to get to that point incredibly fast, without any apparent doubt.

    So, to recap: Tigh is having bizarre mouth hug parties with Caprica Six, Tory Foster thinks she’s perfect, and Tyrol has just sabotaged his career.

    LMAO mouth hug parties. I’m as confused about why Tigh is seeing Caprica Six as Ellen as I am about anything else, but I loved these scenes, not only because they provided some needed LOL’s (“Should I get used to waking up to this face?” “No, we’re not talking about the fragile body of Gaius frakking Baltar!”), but Tigh's journey might just be the most fascinating of the Four. Who would have thought Saul Tigh would ever be reaching out to a cylon for help? It's obviously not easy for him just because he knows he's one himself, as his constant back and forth made obvious.

    The one moment that was stretched the believability a little too far for me was Head Six literally picking Baltar up and walking him over to the guard. I mean, come on!

    • Noybusiness says:

      Well, she claims to be an angel, and don't people go on religio-telly and demonstrate "God moving them" and whatnot?

    • robin says:

      //"I’m as confused about why Tigh is seeing Caprica Six as Ellen"//
      Cylons think with projection… That's what I've always assumed was going on there.

      I do wish we knew more about Tory beforehand. But I like the idea of her latching onto the idea of being a Cylon and using that as an excuse for everything. It's kind of like what Baltar was searching for before, hoping that he was a Cylon.

      The great thing about the Tory plotline is that she doesn't know anything about the Cylons, really. While the viewer knows there's conflict between them, confusion, how they don't always *know*… Tory only has a idealized image of them and uses the idea of Cylons as an excuse to abandon morality & responsibility and feel confident again — something that would be a lot of comfort for a random someone who's survived the destruction of the colonies and lived like a worn-torn refugee for like 2 years now.

      • notemily says:

        That's a good point, about how Tory is using an idealized version of a Cylon as her role model and excuse. It's really a very human thing to do, when you think about it.

    • notemily says:

      by making her accept her cylon nature, and use that to conclude that she’s perfect and doesn’t need to feel guilt about anything, including murder, I feel like we’ve been cheated out of any kind of real characterization for her.

      I agree. We didn't know Tory before this and I don't think it tells us much about her as a person. What's her past like? Or, her invented past, if it wasn't real? Where did she come from? What were her hopes and dreams before the Cylon attack?

      I also don't like that she's the only female Final Four-er and this is what she does. I would have liked to have seen a different female character coming to terms with her Cylon-ness and then having to go on with her life in the fleet, one that was a more developed character. I guess we have Starbuck trying to deal with whatever the hell is going on with her. But to have the only woman in this group also be the only one who is seemingly turning straight-up evil is kind of awkward.

  17. notemily says:

    What did Chief see or sense that made him stop and grab Tigh? I so want him to find out that Tory murdered his wife. Especially since he thinks she killed herself. 🙁

    "Probably turns its brain off. Frakking toaster." And then Tigh looks at her like "I wish I could turn MY brain off."

    AGH, seeing Six with Ellen's face is just creepy. I assume he's been going to see her every day because he wants to ~understand~ his identity as a Cylon, not see weird visions of his dead wife.

    OMG, the next scene with Nicky crying, my foster kitten (who is sitting on my chest watching this with me) looked up all alarmed like "What? Who's crying??" I don't know if he thinks it's a kitten, or if he's been around babies before, or what. My parents' dog gets agitated when he hears my niece cry. He goes over to her and sniffs at her all concerned. But that's dogs. I didn't think cats gave a crap about babies.

    It seems like Tory is going down the road of "I am a perfect machine, therefore nothing I do is a bad idea." Yeah, that isn't a great place to go.

    "What are you doing?" "Pulling one hair from your head at a time." Let me guess, Tory's the kind of person who tortured small animals as a child just to see what would happen.

    I find Gaius's character development here interesting. Head Six (in teal for once) is no longer just leading him to save his own skin, now she's leading him to be a messiah figure–something he doesn't seem to really want to do. But he kind of does it anyway, by accident? I don't know, maybe that's the only way to really become a messiah figure, because if you TRY, people will just hate you.

    I hate this religious crap. Can't we just say "it's wrong to go around setting off tear-gas bombs and hitting people" without bringing religion into it? Although I do love Gaius's rant about Zeus being a serial rapist and giving birth out of his own forehead. Oh Gaius, it's a good thing you're so entertaining.

    BU qhqr, V whfg pbaarpgrq Ynhen'f arj fgenvtug jvt jvgu ure unve va gur Bcren Ubhfr ivfvbaf.

    OK, now Chief is seeing visions of Adama knowing he's a Cylon? Man. And then he decides the best way to honor Cally's memory is by insulting her. Thanks for that. :/

    "So go ahead. Vote." I don't really like Laura when she starts getting close to dying and caring less about right and wrong (last time she was close to death she almost forced Sharon to have an abortion and then stole her fetal blood), but that line was pretty excellently delivered.

    "We are not gonna talk about the fragile body of Gaius frakking Baltar!" Hee hee hee hee hee.

    LOL @ "mouth hug parties."

    You know what’s a better idea? Taking this traumatic, horrific event, one filled with pain, resentment, and injustice, and PERPETRATING ON PEOPLE WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ACTUAL ATTACK.


    I see what they did there.

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