Not that it was unexpected, but the Sci-Fi Channel has sagely renewed Ronald D. Moore's updated BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. So, those still reeling from the shocking final moments of the finale can breathe a sigh of relief. With an elegant first part, "Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2" managed to outdo its predecessor with just the right cocktail of action, politics, and emotion. While the first part played like a waltz, with each character gracefully falling into the position required of them by the plot, the second installment followed a much more militaristic beat. The characters seemed like cogs in a machine, clicking into place for a final assortment of revelations to be revealed.
With Starbuck, disillusioned by Adama's poor political savvy and fraudulent promises of salvation, on her way to Caprica in a stolen Cylon ship to search of an ancient artifact, the story seems set to divide the cast on either side of a spiritual argument. President Roslin believes herself a prophet and she's managed to sway Starbuck to her side. Meanwhile, Adama and his staff see Roslin's delusions of grandeur as a threat to the safety of their civilization and must determine how best to diffuse her power without overstepping their authority as the military subordinates to a civilian government. This contest of military versus civilian leadership has been a longstanding point of contention in the series and Moore's slow build to the events of this episode reveal a subtle skill at building tension toward an inevitable explosion. The surprise of who takes what side when the conflict breaks out illustrates a similar skill with intricately drawn characterizations.
While a war of philosophy paralyzes the fleet, the survivors of the Kobol expedition fall victim to a rarity in military science fiction. An unsure CO threatens the safety of the team and it falls to his subordinate to suggest a course of action without seeming to defy his superior's authority. Too often, such scenes play without the real world respect to rank and protocol that comes into play here. A lazy writer would have the subordinate relieve his commanding officer, but the consequences of such a scenario are rarely portrayed with any validity. Here, as in all aspects, BATTLESTAR lends real-world politicking to a realistic plight. Though Number Six's intrusions on Dr. Baltar's conscience have lately seemed a little unsubtle, the Cylon's influence takes on a mystical presence as she guides Baltar toward a revelation couched in the visage of his civilization's ancient glory. Another step of the Cylon master plan is being revealed and it will have startling ramifications for the show's characters.
Speaking of Cylons, Starbuck's arrival on Caprica finally ties Helo and Boomer back into the primary action of the story. Whereas Helo spent most of the previous episode coming to terms with his partner's seeming betrayal, his temper has cooled and a philosophical discussion with his Cylon companion fails to register its true meaning with him. The context of the Cylon assault on the colonies is slowly coming into focus alongside revelations of their eventual purpose, and viewers of STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE may have an inkling of where the show is headed. Now, if only July would get here a little sooner, we could deal with that final shot...it's a killer.