In lieu of a traditional review, we’re back with the round-table style discussion about this week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica, “A Disquiet Follows My Soul”, and then we open it up to the rest of the Tor.com community for a big ol’ discussion. The participants this week are Torie Atkinson, Threresa Delucci, Rajan Khanna, and Pablo Defendini. The conversation starts after the cut, and there are so many spoilers it’s not even funny. So if you haven’t seen the episode, please stay away from this post!
Pablo: Oh, the Roslin/Adama ‘shippers are happy this week! Although I do think that the breakdown of Adama continues, and it’s following an interesting trajectory: self-destruction by giving in to the habits and relationships of the past—all of a sudden, he’s requiting his unrequited love for Roslin, he’s back to chummy camaraderie with Tigh, and what is up with all his pill-popping? Also, his constant picking up of litter throughout the show was a great touch, and a nice metaphor for how he’s handling this utterly frakked situation: putting things back to rights, and getting everything ship-shape, as it’s always been.
The alliance between Felix and Zarek is a formidable one, and it can’t help but end badly. Both these guys are angling to be airlocked (for real this time, in the case of Gaeta).
I found the initial scene with Caprica Six and Tigh looking a the sonogram of their kid creepy as hell, and the revelation of Hot Dog as Nicky’s real dad to come utterly from left-field. I don’t really understand why that was done, other than to cut the Chief loose from any human ties, and to re-establish Hera as the only product of a Human-Cylon pairing (which may be enough, but still, it felt tacked-on). In all, a relatively quiet episode after the clusterfrak that was last week, and a great directing debut for Ron Moore.
Raj: That’s interesting because the reveal of Hot Dog as the kid’s father was my favorite part of that. It bothered me that suddenly we had two Cylon-human babies, especially because Hera seemed to be this “chosen one.” This answered one of the big questions I had after the reveal of the first four of the Final Five.
The rest of the episode felt like set-up to me. I usually can’t take my eyes away from Roslin and Adama, but they bored me to tears. Roslin’s checked out and it looks like Adama’s there, too, though he’s still going through the motions. As to the pills, I thought it was interesting that both Adama and Felix are falling apart and they are both turning to pills to help them through.
Just one last personal note—as someone whose mother has cancer, I found the part about Roslin feeling better after coming off the treatments to be very accurate and a little note that I thought helped make her behavior believable.
Theresa: As a big Roslin/Adama shipper, I was definitely pleased with this week’s episode. I’ve enjoyed their tender, quiet relationship, when they get behind closed doors and put aside their public personas. Maybe share some New Caprican tobacco. I loved the scene of Adama pulling himself together cut with Roslin jogging through the halls of Galactica. She’s having what looks like a rather public breakdown, but privately, I think she’s trying to make a last stab at controlling her life. She pleaded as much to Bill and it was admirable and heartbreaking at the same time. As someone who has wanted these two characters together for a long time, now that they finally, finally are... the countdown to the death of Laura, and the series, is really beginning. I agree that Adama’s doing the same thing, allowing himself to fall apart. But he’s The Old Man. He’ll get the Fleet back on track.
Overall, I really liked this episode. Ron Moore wrote and directed some nice character moments here. I really want to track down the podcast for this one because there were some unusual developments. Love that Zarek’s back in the fold and I think his manipulations of the Cylon-hating fleet will be just the thing to bring Adama and Roslin out of their funks. But Gaeta... he’s become such a bitch. He’s been pretty much everyone’s lapdog and he allies himself to the worst idols. Baltar and now Zarek? At this point, I’m glad Starbuck is okay with hitting a cripple. Speaking of Baltar: where is his Jim Jones plot going this season?
The Cally/Hot Dog revelation was really weird and random. Cally was, for me, defined by her pathetic blind love of the Chief. And all of her scenes in “The Ties That Bind” have less of an impact now. Is it just to give Chief less human ties? To make Hera a bigger deal? I agree that Chief’s son didn’t seem to fit with what we know about Cylon biology.
Raj: I agree about Gaeta. I thought the same thing—here is a repeat of his situation with Baltar. I thought he might become his own man, albeit through some kind of terrorist action, but I hated seeing him buying into Zarek’s spiel. I think it’s interesting to look at Baltar and Zarek. Both had some kind of morals, I think, but in both cases they are overshadowed by ego. Baltar’s chief goal is self-preservation. Zarek’s is his martyrdom.
And I forgot to mention Baltar before—I have no idea what’s going on with him now. I certainly didn’t expect a 180 degree turnaround on the whole God situation. More Baltar, please.
Pablo: Yes, Baltar certainly seems to be going down the path of renouncing the Cylon god, after having renounced the many gods of the Humans. Having had personal issues with the religious aspects of the show previously, it seems odd to me to see this happen. I wonder about RDM’s intent with all the supernatural mumbo-jumbo: could he actually have a plausible, rationalistic resolution in mind after all?
Raj, I have no immediate experience with cancer patients, but Roslin’s attitude certainly rings true—trying to squeeze as much quality out of the life she has left, instead of submitting to painful and debilitating treatments.
Theresa, I think that’s exactly it, regarding Cally: cheating on the Chief with Hot Dog (come on, Hot Dog “my groin itches” Costanza??) just feels so out of character for her. I mean, it can be argued that Cally’s been pining for Galen since the beginning of the series!
I do think you’re being way to optimistic about the Old Man’s ability to pull his shit together, though. I don’t think this will end well for Bill Adama, at all. I get the feeling that we’ve already seen him take his mortal blows, and that we’re just watching him go through the motions as the effects take their toll.
Raj: I have to say I’m leaning toward your interpretation, Pablo, regarding Adama. At the very least, his heart is no longer in the game. I think that’s what this episode established. He’s moved on, whether he realizes it or not. “Sometimes I really hate this job” and not caring about the Tylium ship. What I’m wondering now is who will replace him. Lee left the military. Will we see Tigh step up? Now that he’s seemed to find some kind of peace? Or what about Helo?
Yeah, what about Helo? I mentioned I wanted more Baltar, but we haven’t seen much of Helo in ages.
Torie: This episode was a big retcon nightmare. Nothing bothered me as much as the revelation that Hotdog is the baby’s father. Are you kidding me? That makes zero sense in the context of Cally’s mental breakdown: she nearly airlocked her baby because she realized it was half Cylon. To say now that she knew the baby was human and Hotdog was the father comes out of nowhere. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the show taking established characters and then, to accomodate the needs of the plot, turning them into something else entirely. Cally’s whole life aboard Galactica in the early seasons was an unrequited love affair for the Chief. Now we learn that at the height of the fulfillment of that love (right after they got married; this isn’t when they were clearly having marital problems earlier this season), we’re supposed to believe she cheated on him with some guy she probably never interacted with.
The idea that Zarek, Mr. Ideology, is a conventionally corrupt politician, completely takes the teeth out of his arguments. I always liked that Zarek wanted what *would* be best in an ideal world (democracy and rule by the people), but would never work in the current circumstances. Now he’s just serving as a foil to the Adama-Roslim benevolent dictatorship without any believable motivations.
Did anyone else think it was striking that following the last episode’s bombshell of Dualla’s suicide, no one seems to be thinking about it or dwelling on it at all? Even Kat gets remembered repeatedly throughout the series--but no love for Dualla, so soon after her death. I do agree on the incredible creepiness of that first scene with Tigh and Caprica Six. That gave me the chills.
I find that BSG is astoundingly good at creating compelling drama and astoundingly bad at making that drama plausible. I got the distinct impression from this episode that the writers and creators have given up on continuity and are simply grinding forwards to the ending they’d like, whether it fits well into the context of the show as a whole or not.
Raj: One point of clarification - I may have misunderstood the thing with Zarek. I thought that he hadn’t really done anything wrong, but that Adama was going to release some documents to the press making it look as if he had been corrupt. Which he couldn’t bear. And that’s why he caved. I thought that Zarek was as clean as he always has been (which might not be spotless).
Pablo: Sadly, I can’t say that I disagree, Torie. I’d actually forgotten about why Cally had the baby in the airlock—you’re absolutely right.
The only thing I’d take issue with is in regards to Zarek—he’s never really struck me as Mr. Ideology, really. He’s always struck me as Mr. Opportunity—more Hugo Chávez than Che Guevara. That’s why, even though I figured that Adama was bluffing with the file he placed at Zarek’s feet, Zarek wouldn’t call his bluff—Zarek knows he’s been shady as hell, and we know it too, even if we haven’t really seen it outright. At least, that’s how I read that scene. This was reinforced to me by Zarek’s final comment to Adama: ...Murder, deceit, etc. “The only difference between you and me is that you wear that uniform.” I may have to watch again, in light of your interpretation, Raj.
Raj: I think that you guys are right - I think that Zarek did have secrets he didn’t want to come to light. But I do think that he has ideals. I just think they’re balanced against his ego and the need for him to be in the forefront. I DO think that he’s shady, but I think the show has been very careful to show that he has reasons for that and that he has a very “ends justify the means” attitude.
I thought his insistence that the captains of the ships have a right to request or refuse the Cylon upgrades was a sound one from his point of view. Adama often acts the fascist. As viewers, we can usually see both sides, and I for one think that teaming with the Cylons is the right move, but I understand the resistance to that.
Theresa: Zarek’s definitely not clean - remember the black market fiasco? (Damn, why couldn’t Bill Duke hang around for awhile?) I’m sure he’s had lots of shady dealing all throughout the fleet. Can’t he be both ideological and opportunistic? I agree with Torie - he fights for the ideas that *should* work in a society starting over. A fresh chance at democracy. But, he’s also self-serving and realistic. He knows standing for these ideals make him look like a romantic folk hero and, like Adama, a hero’s given a lot of legroom to do other, less admirable, things, too. Loved that line about Adama’s uniform.