I rewatched the episode this morning with fresh eyes. Last night I felt I was channeling Temperance Brennan. For those of you who don’t know who I am referring to, she’s the forensic anthropologist extraordinaire on Bones and her signature line is some sort of variation on “What does that mean?” I found myself asking that question a lot. I'm just not sure what the point was. There was nothing really new here and shouldn't they be making every episode count?
I still feel that Jane Espenson lacks a grasp of these characters. I was happy Lee was only present in Laura’s visions. And as much as I appreciated the comedic pairing of Laura and Baltar, it didn’t feel right. Baltar regressed to his Season 1 persona and I wasn’t sure why, especially as he was trying to manipulate the centurion. How would getting a centurion to side with him or turn on the others be an asset? Did he just want to cause trouble? Did he want to make a power play and take over the ship? And to what end? I was amused by watching the centurion seemingly grow as annoyed with Baltar as humans and skinjobs alike, yet it felt like I was watching comedy for comedy’s sake. On BSG that is a very bad fit. Combining horror with comedy worked on Buffy, but Jane was working with a very different set of characters (teenage characters) and the supernatural rather than the actual near annihilation of humanity.
In addition to Baltar’s personality regression, his drug-induced confession didn’t sit quite right with me either. Much like Lee’s presidency, I knew, someday, Baltar would fess up about his part, however unintentional, in the destruction of the colonies. I just always thought the moment would be bigger. Maybe I also wanted to see some desire on his part to come clean. Instead, it’s a result from being weak from blood loss (which, by the way, is not going to be stopped by taping a piece of gauze over a gaping wound) and pain killers and he’s simply not thinking clearly. He’s also apparently completely bought into the religion he’s preaching to others. He has a clean slate. He no longer feels any guilt for what he did. That, again, is disappointing to me. And his reasoning is iffy at best on that point. God didn’t absolve him of his guilt, he did that himself.
Pythia described a flood that wiped out most of humanity? OK, then. We’ve had ‘All Along the Watchtower’, Zarek quoting Lincoln, Baltar quoting Shakespeare, Romo knowing Latin, and now a reference to Noah and the flood. If this has all happened before and will happen again, these references could be an indication it started with us. Did life begin out there or here on earth? Humanity might not be finding a new home, they might be coming home.
While Helo and Athena 2.0 was an interesting dynamic, I have to wonder why the show chose to create another Athena. Two scenarios occur to me and I care for neither. The first is they needed to set up a moral dilemma for Helo. With Athena 2.0 present it creates a connection to the Sharon models and makes him question his mission. As Laura rightly and succinctly points out, he’s not married to the entire production line. Added to that, his theory that all the Eights are different falls apart in the face of Boomer’s choices.
The other scenario is that we now have a backup Athena. If Athena on Galactica dies, then, no problem!, here is another Athena to take her place. But how close are the two? Do shared memories make them the same person? It was clear to me that through Athena’s memories, Athena 2.0 had feelings for Helo. And they were very close during the mission. However, when Helo revealed he had to follow orders (which made me smirk given his past picking and choosing of which orders to follow), Sharon was hurt and angry that he betrayed her trust and made a fool of her. If she really was Athena then she would have understood why Helo made the choice he made. Hell, Athena would have done the same thing.
To add to the earth references, The Beatles apparently had it right, all you need is love. I don’t have a problem with that idea. Love has been an important thread in the fabric of the series since the beginning. We’ve experienced the need for the love of friends and family, the love of God, the love of idealism – the list could go on. Human beings need love and the Cylons have a desire to know what it’s like to be loved, exemplified by the Six line. So saying that Laura, who has increasingly closed herself off to the world and people, needs love, yes, I can accept this. I just had issues with how this revelation was depicted.
As thrilled as I was to see Elosha back, who and what was she really? I suppose we could view her as another Head character, yet the show has made it clear Laura Roslin is not the final Cylon. I have enough faith in the show to believe that D’Anna is not going to play another round of Gotcha! with Laura. Is Elosha a side effect of the Chamalla, which I have assumed that Laura has been using in combination with the Diloxin? If she is, why haven’t we seen her before now? She appeared whenever the basestar jumped so I suppose we are to believe she is a by-product of those moments when the basestar exists outside the norms of time and space. But why is Laura the only one having visions and speaking to the dead? Kara suffered migraines during jumps upon her return to the fleet, but she didn’t see dead people. Having Elosha back was cool and a potentially good idea, but there is no explanation as to why she is there and that frustrates me.
The other problem I had with the reappearance of Elosha and forcing Laura to watch herself on her death bed. It was heavy handed and some of what we saw in those scenes had been conveyed to us in previous episodes in a far subtler manner. Lee had already talked to Laura about the need to reconnect with the people and humanity and I felt she was starting to see his point of view. She’s stated that she knows time is slipping away from her. Did she actually have to witness her death and Adama placing his wedding ring on her dead body to realize she didn’t have many chances left? I was also put off by Head Elosha’s declaration that Laura didn’t make room for people anymore and didn’t love anyone. I don’t believe that to be true. I feel Laura’s compartmentalized her feelings, packed her personal needs and desires away, because she had decided she needed to put humanity first – the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few or the one. She was being selfless. And her motives were, unfortunately, lost to those outside a very few (Adama, Lee, Billy, Tory). It hurt her presidency by not showing the general population how much she does care. But those closest to her knew full well she was capable of love. Yes, I know, this was probably just her subconscious expressing her worst fears to her, but the way this story was structured it’s hard for me to determine intent.
The, what I shall call, Han Solo Moment at the end also didn’t sit right with me.
Laura: "I love you."
Adama: "About time."
That should have been reversed. Adama finally admitted to others that he couldn’t live without Laura and took action rather than wallowing in teenage angst. Laura, in my humble opinion, has been wise to Adama’s feeling for some time. I would have loved for him to get off that raptor, reveal his feelings, and her to say in return, "About time." It also would have worked better, for me, since I don’t believe she has the depth of feelings for him that he has for her.
I did appreciate two aspects of Laura’s storyline. Nearly letting Baltar die was very in character. At last, she had her suspicions confirmed and had an opportunity to do what she had attempted to do with the trial – act as judge, jury, and executioner. And given that much of the focus of the episode was Laura’s sacrifices to be the leader of humanity she felt she needed to be, a position she was put in by Baltar’s actions, there had to be an element of personal payback. But I was relieved her conscience told her that she was better than what she was about to do.
The other thing I really liked was the parallel drawn between Laura and Lee and their potentially dueling presidencies. It seems that they may be closer than they realize and that Laura hasn’t completely lost her idealism. Head Elosha talked to Laura about humanity proving itself worthy of surviving and Laura helping humanity earn its "right to survive". In ‘Sine Qua Non’, Lee stated, "Faith in ourselves, in our right to survive as a species, as a people, that’s not a given, that’s a choice." Laura, perhaps, had taken for granted that humanity had an inherent right to continue. But, here, she made choices that reaffirmed not only her right to survive, but held out hope for humanity. She helped Baltar to live, acknowledging that, even given his past, his life, all lives, have the potential for worth. And she allowed herself the opportunity to love, realizing in sacrificing so much of herself, she was sacrificing what she was fighting for.
Thoughts on various other moments:
I liked the shot of Adama, Lee, and Kara at Laura’s bedside. In her imagination, it’s important to her that those three people should be at her side in her final hours. And I loved that Lee was visibly upset by her impending death and Kara had to comfort him. Given the various emotions and gestures taking place, it was a Shippers Unite! moment.
Recall how I bitched about Emily’s final hours in ‘Faith’ and how the show got it wrong, wrong, wrong? Well, they got Laura’s death right.
I’ve never had strong feelings one way or another about D’Anna, but I really enjoyed her return. Snapping Cavil’s neck, telling Boomer she’ll switch allegiances as soon as something shiny catches her eye, and totally faking out Laura.
Of course, D’Anna seemed to have lost a few brain cells during the latest resurrection informing Laura that Baltar had been injured. REALLY? What was the tip off? His white complexion or the pool of blood she was standing in? :p
Couldn’t the Cylons build another Hub? Sure, it would probably take years, but I don’t see why they couldn’t start over. Recall how the rebels celebrated blowing up the Death Star? They already had another one under construction!
Was this the first time Helo said, "Athena, my wife"? Is there going to be a shift in how he refers to her with the reveal of another Sharon having her memories? And did anyone else think of Farscape and Aeryn’s dilemma with the two Johns?