Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogging Battlestar - Trials and Tribulations

For tonight's Battlestar Galactica rewatch, a double feature: "Litmus" and "Six Degrees of Separation".

The dominant plotline of "Litmus" concerns Sergeant Hadrian's McCarthy-esque witchhunt for Cylon sleeper agents in the wake of a suicide bombing by a Dorrel aboard Galactica. What's most interesting about Hadrian's overzealousness to uncover a conspiracy isn't that she goes out of line to the point of putting Commander Adama to the question, because, after all, Adama knew that fear of sleeper agents would make people paranoid, and Roslin warned that tribunals can turn on unexpected people in improper ways. Nor is it interesting in the sense that Hadrian's clearly subscribing to the philosphy that a good offence is the best defence, in an effort to hide the obvious, catastrophic inability of her security staff to stop a man from killing a guard and stealing weapons, and their inability to tell that a man's walking through the corridors with a butt-load of explosives strapped under his jacket. No, what's interesting about Hadrian's ferocity is that she keeps coming back to the improper, concealed relationship between the Chief and Boomer, even though that relationship's relevance is sketchy at best. It's so vicious, in fact, that I have to wonder if it's personal, if this is a bit of scorned woman syndrome at work here. Maybe it's simpler than that, maybe she's just getting back at the Chief for pulling rank on her (or at least putting her in her place reminding her that he holds a higher rank) during the early stages of her investigation. But her intensity seems to be more than that would warrant. Admittedly, there's nothing in the earlier episodes (and I think she only appeared in one prior epi - the one with the drone that accidentally goes off in the hanger, killing 13 pilots) to indicate Hadrian had eyes for the Chief, so maybe I'm reading too much into this. But really, her attitude in trying to impale the Chief and Boomer for their relationship goes beyond the investigative, even the paranoid, into the angrily personal. She wants revenge on someone because she wants someone and can't have him (or her?!).

Meanwhile, back on Caprica, another trial of sorts is taking place: the Cylons are setting the stage for Helo and Sharon's love on the run, and part of that involves hurting Sharon to make sure she looks like she's really had it hard in the metal clutches of the centurians. And the rooftop beating is a very interesting scene. Not out of some adolescent thrill for an imminent catfight, because this isn't a fight, Sharon isn't defending herself, and there's no thrill to seeing this kind of brutality as Six does everything short of curb-stomping the 8. What's interesting is that quick little smile Six gives before laying into Sharon, because that's the second major revelation of the state of Cylon culture that the series has given us. The first, obviously, is that at least two of the models (the Leobens and the Sixes) are deeply religeous. But this feral grin as prelude to attack shows us that all is not well in terms of inter-model relations. The Sixes, or at least this Six personality, don't like the 8's. I seem to recall Dorrel asking Six at one point (perhaps in an earlier episode) whether she was jealous that Sharon was picked to fall in love with Helo and to attempt to get pregnancy. That smile shows that clearly she is. And this is one little crack between Cylon models that hints of the abyss beteween models that will tear their society apart in later seasons.

Another Six moment in the epi that's worth mentioning is the imaginary/angel Six's bullying of Baltar aboard Galactica. "Don't make me angry, Gaius. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." she snarls, following it with a gentle kiss. Damn, she was scarier with that than Bruce Banner ever was before going Hulk on some asshole.

"Six Degrees of Separation" is when it appears the chickens have finally come home to roost for Baltar - a Six appears claiming to have evidence that Baltar allowed Colonial defence security to be compromised, facilitating the holocaust that destroyed their civilization. Some great character-development moments for Baltar as his terror - and seemingly the evidence against him - mounts. It gives us the brilliant washroom scene where we see the extent to which Baltar is willing to go to cultivate allies, clear his name, and confront enemies, and getting nowhere doing it. Except, that is, to deliver one of the best lines in the entire series: "No more Mr Nice Gaius!" We also see Adama and Roslin come clean about how they feel about Baltar. And we can see in that scene at the end aboard Colonial One when Roslin is giving the apology press conference, in that one long look that Baltar gives her, that he's marked her as an enemy, that the apology is in no way personal, and that she's just made his list - a sign of things to come.
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