Sat
Mar 14 2009 4:55pm
Battlestar Galactica Round Table: “Daybreak, Part 1”

Welcome to Tor.com’s round-table style discussion of the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica, “Daybreak, Part 1.” The participants this week are Rajan Khanna, Theresa DeLucci, Pablo Defendini, Jordan Hamessley and Robert Bland. The conversation starts after the cut, and there are many spoilers. So if you haven’t seen the episode, please stay away from this post!

Raj: I was one of the people moaning about the pace last week and yet this week, when that voice started up in my head, I quickly silenced it. Yes, backstories* coming at the very end of the series, but I loved it. It was all completely new and I went along with it figuring that we would get some new insight to the characters that we’ve come to love and hate. That it would all tie together. And it was just done well, I thought. I especially enjoyed the Baltar bits because all we knew of him pre-apocalypse was that he liked to shag a lot. I thought the inclusion of his father helped a lot to humanize him and the scene especially helped to add a new dimension to how he was seduced by Six. It was more than physical. I also liked the examination of Baltar’s motives later. Lee was right and Baltar understood that. That’s why I was surprised when Baltar didn’t cross the line in the end. I thought for sure he would as illustrative of his selfless act. But I think others are right who’ve said he’ll be sacrificed in the end. I was thinking that it will be very Christ-like in that he’ll know he’s going to be killed and he’ll go along with it anyway, because his death will accomplish more in the end.

The rest of the episode worked for me as well. We’re gearing up for a big (2 hour) confrontation, and they’ve hooked me back in. Galactica will go out in a blaze of glory. The fleet will continue to search for earth. Hopefully the Cylons will find something better to do than hunt down humanity. Or maybe Hera will help them find Earth. We still don’t know what those notes mean. Maybe they are some kind of navigation chart.

At this point I mainly want to know what’s up with Starbuck. I’ll also take some closure on the Baltar/Six front. Other than that, I guess I can let everything else go.

One last thought - the flashback to Caprica was very “our Earth”. I know they’ve kept things close to the way we do things before, but this seemed way more contemporary than we’ve seen before. The cars, the houses and so on. I know that was probably budget constraints and convenience partly, but I wonder how much of that was conscious choice at this point. **

* The flashbacks reminded me a bit of Lost.
** I noticed the round-cornered books were back.

Pablo: Thanks for kicking things off! I had to go back and watch again, since I got so sucked into it the first time!

Anyway, I agree completely: this episode kicked ass. The flashbacks to Caprica were wonderful—again, it really reinforces the bookend feel of these last few episodes.

Bill Adama in civilian garb, not wanting to do something... where’s that going? Hopefully we’ll see a bit more of this flashback in particular. It felt like it was the only one that never got ‘resolved’. Laura’s flashbacks were nice—if heartbreaking. It’s great to see even more backstory for these characters, especially this late in the show.

Caprica Six’s compassion towards Baltar’s dad felt weird at first. It felt inconsistent, like she went and got an apartment for Gaius’ old man, and then directly afterwards she stepped out and killed that baby in the stroller (from the miniseries). But I suppose it makes sense, if you take it in the context of her searching for some sort of understanding of the human condition.

Although I must say: that ‘Kara’s apartment’ set has been way overused. I kept expecting Leoben to show up with some steak knives! Speaking of which: It’s good to see the remaining Cylons over on Cavil’s side—but Leoben still shines via his absence!

The sounds Galactica has been making throughout these final episodes are amazing. Great sound design, as usual.

Was Tigh hinting that Hoshi might make admiral? Considering pretty much everyone is going off on the suicide mission (which very well may end in mutual anhilliation, or at the very least, a 99.9% casualty rate), it makes some sort of sense. But still: Hoshi strikes me as a bit too wet-behind-the-ears...WTF?

That private talk scene between Baltar and Lee was fantastic. Callis and Bamber really pulled out all the stops! Finally, Baltar is getting his comeuppance, the one time I actually think he’s being genuine! I really thought that he would join the volunteers there at the end as well, but I guess I should have known better. I don’t know about his being sacrificed at the end—that feels a bit too ham-fisted for me. I think he very well may end up taking the role of leader going forward, and doing it right this time. We’ll see, I suppose.

The scene between the Old Man and Starbuck in Ander’s room was a refreshing moment of candor between them. I was very touched. There were so many great, tiny little character moments in this episode! I could quote little snippets of fantastic dialogue all day. It looks like you’re right, Rob—it doesn’t seem like RDM and co. are as preoccupied with closure on plot points, as they are with closure on these characters, and I’m coming around to agreeing with you that this is probably a good thing. I’m now thinking that a lot of the nuts-and-bolts reveals will probably wait until The Plan... I, too, would be satisfied with the same explanations: Baltar/Head Six dynamics, what Starbuck is, and what the Hera situation is.

The cornered books never really went away, Raj. They just started introducing straight-cornered books towards the end of last season. But I agree, there was much lingering of the camera on the cut corners... I’m still not convinced that there’s no meaning behind it, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what that is.

I am so looking forward to this frakkin’ fight! Galactica droppin’ in on Cavil, guns-blazing! Frak yeah!

Theresa: I’m with Raj on not minding the flashbacks this week. They definitely challenged the images of the characters. Could you ever imagine Kara bustling around a kitchen making dinner? (Pablo, I thought the same thing: where’s Leoben? Did you notice the Eye of Jupiter painting in the foyer?) Laura at a baby shower before getting into politics? I loved the scenes with Baltar and his father the most, both horribly sad and very uncomfortable to watch. Baltar’s never much liked himself, I think, for as much as he postures and acts in a self-serving way. How could he even think to disagree with Lee’s assessment of him as a liar? I, too, thought for sure that Baltar would cross that line at the end. I can’t imagine what his end game will be, and I like it.

Was this the first time Adama and Hotdog shared screen time? Loved it. Hotdog had great delivery telling the other pilots that Adama spoke to Hybrid-Anders, too. “I know, pretty freaky.” It is. Especially juxtaposing Kara’s current marriage with Sam with the domestic bliss she once had with Zack. Also interesting was seeing the hints of Cylon in Sam back on Caprica, when he was talking about the perfection of creation.

But my favorite scene was clearly Adama rallying the troops in the hanger deck. Both of his children, Kara and Lee, behind him in uniform. I have have felt a little lump in my throat when Doc Cottle stepped up. And Hoshi as an admiral, well, why not? After this suicide mission, who would be left? Can’t wait for some big fireworks next week. Can’t believe this is it. Series finale time.

Raj: Just to touch on what Theresa said about Lee—I, too, got excited to see Lee back in uniform, involved in military planning. But one criticism of the show that I have in regard to Lee, is that he’s constantly back and forth. One day he’s in uniform, then he quits. Then he’s back again flying a Viper, then he’s in the government. Then he’s leading an assault. Then he’s back in politics again. While I understand that given the circumstances people have to pitch in where necessary (especially those with military training), it’s led to him seeming wishy-washy and lost. And I think most people are happiest when he’s the CAG or something thereabouts. As a politician he’s been shown to be very outclassed. But that’s a minor quibble, really, in the overall impression of the show.

Pablo: Agreed. I absolutely loved the Anders bit with the perfection and the mathematics, and the Cottle moment almost choked me up as well. While I agree with Raj about Lee’s back-and-forth, I do think that was a nice touch. Did you guys notice, though, that Lee was wearing absolutely no insignias on his uniform?

Jordan: It took four seasons, but they finally got rid of the spoilers in the opening sequence. About time.

This episode succeeded in pumping me up for next week. I enjoyed the flashbacks and didn’t mind them at all. Roslin really had a rough time of it. I am curious about Adama’s flash and hope that we see more of it next week. I also enjoyed the line about Lee being a “girlfriend-stealer.” Poor Lee.

Glad to see that Chief ended up in the brig. Helo and Athena are seriously messed up and I really hope that they get an ounce of happiness before this thing is over.

I loved all of the scenes with Adama, especially his scene with Kara. When he called her his daughter, I instantly choked up. I can only imagine how emotional next week is going to be. People are going to die.

I am very curious about the fate of Baltar. I am really hoping that Paula has nothing to do with his death we are all expecting. I enjoyed seeing his interactions with his father and Six. It just gives the audience more to think on about their relationship.

I’m going to have to rewatch this episode before next week now that I’ve absorbed it. I can’t wait to see the fight we’ve been waiting all season for. Cavil vs. Galactica.

Raj: I loved that moment with Doc Cottle crossing the line. I thought that was a perfect little moment and I have to admit he’s one of my favorite characters.

Rob: Wow, man, I really loved this episode. This is one show that really cares and loves their characters. But you know what? If Baltar had crossed the line, it wouldn’t have worked for me. It’s too soon. It would’ve felt forced to me. He needs to do what he so naturally does, and then he will take that one step that goes beyond his instincts. I expect him to cross the line when the line isn’t there. And I expect in the end (whether he lives or dies) it will all be about reconciling his past; the past that he’s been denying for so long.

I absolutely loved the scenes with Adama. The most powerful moment for me was the visual narrative when he walks away from the picture of Athena & Hera and then he stops cold. It was his stopping that I found most powerful. “He’s going to die,” I thought at that moment, staring at his back. “He’s going to die on his ship.” He’s going to make the decision that decides everything. No more packing his belongings to cozy himself up on the Cylon base ship. That split-second moment told me everything.

So. We have a singularity—and all that it connotes. Time travel, the great beyond where the laws of physics breaks down. Perhaps this is the device that they will use to tie it all together: Kara’s resurrection, the pattern of Hera’s dots (aka musical notes—or is it a genetic code?), Anders’ quest for the purity and perfection of creation.

Watching and listening to the ship creak and groan has been amazing. It’s all so melancholy and ceremonious. Believe it or not, this reminds me of another Admiral who took his wounded ship with a skeleton crew to go out on a dangerous mission for personal—very personal—reasons. Kirk in Star Trek III. Where the Enterprise met its demise.

Is Tory ever going to be useful again? She had more to do when she thought she was human. And I wonder if Boomer is going to thwart Cavil’s plans to genetically decode Hera.

And I wonder, after all this, what’s going to happen to the Chief. But I’m most curious about our two special humans: Baltar & Kara. One who can project and the other who can resurrect.

What does it all mean? I guess we’ll find out next week.

14 comments
Pablo Defendini
1. pablodefendini
Rob, that's a great point about the singularity, although I really, really, really hope they don't get into any time travel shenanigans.... It seems a bit late in the game to do that.
Jason Henninger
2. jasonhenninger
Please tell your dealers to stop cutting your crack with Drano.

(I'm kidding of course. No actual disrespect to any of you.)

But I can't help wondering what it is you are seeing that I am not. Seriously, what am I missing out on? This season, I have seen a show that's in denial of its immanent demise, a show that has lost its sense of pacing and meanders in a fog and doesn't seem to have anything left to offer but a big explosion or two at the very end.

This episode drove me crazy. Maybe a grand total of 6 minutes of it moved the plot forward. The rest was irrelevant. Apollo chasing a pigeon? Roslin in a fountain? Why should I give a fuck about any of that?

There's a tiny voice in my head that says maybe the writers are so amazing and clever that all this stuff that has seemed useless to me will in fact all be terribly important in the final reckoning. I'd like that, but I don't expect it.
nutmeag
3. nutmeag
While I'm also not up for wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey stuff on the show, I did see an interesting theory over on the BSGcast website. The commenter's hypothesis is that the singularity will see the humans and rebel cylons traveling back in time, where they will become the first inhabitants of Earth, creating a time loop of sorts. I'm not sure about this theory, but it is an interesting one.

As for this episode, I enjoyed the atypicalness of it--from the shortened opening to the flashbacks on Caprica. It just felt different from the beginning. It's also a good setup for the last two hours. I wasn't expecting much 'splodey happenings this week. Next week on the other hand . . .

And questions I want answered:
1) Who/what is Starbuck, and how does she know so much (sub question: how did her mom know she was special)?
2) What is Head Six and why can Baltar see her?
3) Who appeared to to the Final Five to warn them of danger on Earth 2000 years ago, and why?
4) How does the opera house vision fit in?
5) Where did Hera pick up the Final Five Theme Song, and how does its pattern fit in?
6) Who is orchestrating the whole thing? (this may answer all previous questions)
7) What was Adama not wanting to do during the flashback?
nutmeag
4. jere7my
The series opened with Adama presiding over Galactica's retirement ceremony, en route to being converted into a museum. I assumed that was what Adama was being asked to do here.
Pablo Defendini
5. pablodefendini
But Jason, the Drano, it is so tasty! And it clears up your sinuses (and trachea, and intestines, and colon, and...)

I can't say I disagree completely with you—the pace of this last season has been haphazard at best, disconcerting at worst. But I did enjoy this episode very much as a character piece, and as a lull before the coming storm. That said, if this episode had been on last week, I'd probably feel much better—I'm still skeptical of just how much ground can be covered in the final two hours. So far, however, the writers of BSG haven't disappointed me too much (minor quibbles aside), and I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until I've seen next week's episode and then The Plan afterwards.

Jere7my, you're probably right on-point concerning Adama's flashback. It certainly makes sense. However, I would have liked just a bit more information on that particular sequence in this episode, since they devoted so much more time to Roslin and Baltar—I'm not really interested in wasting time next week with flashbacks. I want to see shit go down!

I get the feeling that this season's DVDs will include much more extended material than previous seasons. It might actually make me want to go out and invest in optical media for the first time in a long, long while...
ennead ennead
6. ennead
Re: Lee vs. Baltar
Baltar did make a truly selfless act when he gave Six the nuclear bomb, but he could hardly mention it. Watching him, I felt that he was thinking about this.
Josh Kidd
7. joshkidd
So... What was with Lee and the pigeon? Was that scene supposed to be him upset about Zak dying?
nutmeag
8. Mighty Marc
This episode was awesome, if only for the flashbacks. The flashbacks to the past worked great. In fact, they probably should have included flashbacks in each of the 4.5 season's episodes.

The acting and directing in season 4.5 have been incredible, but the writing only so-so. At least this episode saw some improvement on the writing front too.
Mitchell Downs
9. Beamish
As much as this season has suffered from terrible pacing and the entire series has seemed without purpose for the last two seasons - truly excellent character focused episode such as this one are hard to dislike.

From Cottle trying to cross the line, through all the flashbacks and back to Tyrol bringing Torie across the line telling her she had nothing better to do anyway - every one of those moments was a bright light in what has been a dim and cloudy season. (Was that metaphor too tortured? Yeah, I think so.)

I really was worried they were going ignominiously write off Galactica as they have so badly retconned much of the plot to get us to this point. I look forward to seeing the old girl go out the only way something named a Battlestar should: fighting. Pegasus had a great send off, they have to top that now.

Oh, and I guess it is a really good thing Lee told them to save the launch tube dismantling for last, isn't it?
nutmeag
10. thekatwoman
Only one reason for flashbacks... New series starting..Duh! Caprica starts this summer.
I always thought Head Six was just that.. in his head, and then I saw her sitting up high on the crate just smiling.. spooky.
Have you checked out the YouTube videos for the piano scene with Starbuck. That grinding piano is AWESOME.
Rajan Khanna
11. rajanyk
I have to say that while I was watching, I did wonder if we were seeing more of Caprica because the sets and sweeping shots had already been set up for the Caprica series. But since the focus was on our characters (who won't be in Caprica), it worked for me.
Pablo Defendini
12. pablodefendini
That was my impression as soon as I saw the sweeping vistas of Caprica City, as well.
Theresa DeLucci
13. theresa_delucci
Good point. I go to Vancouver in about two weeks and am wondering how familiar some of the buildings are going to look thanks to it being the base for Caprica City. (And NYC in a bunch of other movies/TV shows)

@Beamish
Topping Pegasus's send-off is going to be tough, but I'm hopeful they can pull it off, too. The escape from New Caprica was probably the best action scene in the entire run of the series.

I'm kind of resigned to the fact that with only 2 hours left, there's going to be a lot of unanswered questions and that's okay. I'm more worried about a bunch of unsatisfying answers that will be metted out quickly so we can get to the ending. I feel they really have to give us an answer about Starbuck. That's the one I'm most interested in. Beyond that, this season I just don't care much about the mythology anymore. It's too muddled for me. I'm only invested in the characters at this point, so I want to see where Adama, Kara, Helo, etc. end up emotionally.
nutmeag
14. no2pencil
Anyone think these might be flash-forwards as well as flashbacks? The Caprica moments were all definitive; deaths of family, death of career, death of domestic tranquility, death-wish (Anders), death of self-respect. I think we were given the clues to each char's core motivation, hints that these characters will get what they want. (Adama's flashback seems more obvious to me- he was being windowed; taken off status as a serving line officer)

The clock does tell us that the time for many answers has elapsed, which suggests that multiple questions must have the same answer; that humanity is stuck in some kind of loop could loosely explain a lot. If Kara is her second self, transported back through a singularity, then she could turn Hera's song into a source of (false?) hope for a plan to dive into the colony singularity, which would fulfill her prophecy as a death harbinger (OMG: what if Hera turns out to be a grand MacGuffin); Head 6 makes a lot of sense as a disembodied download from a previous loop; the song and the opera house could be future memories. None of which requires any As The World Turns deus ex machinas, BTW.

In any event, it is decisive that when lead chars polarize their loyalties, they die (Gaeta, et. al.). I'm afraid chief's 'blow-up doll' comment spells the end for him.

The big questions are; will the show reduce into (starboard) heroes becoming martyrs in defense of the (port) meek; will those who stayed behind be jettisoned (like the 99% of humanity Neo throws over without a care in The Matrix); are WE all supposed to be half-cylon; does it require a technologically corrupt morality to redeem the man who betrayed humanity into becoming the one who saves it?

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