I am an unabashed BSG fan and I wear that moniker proudly. Through its first three seasons, it has grown to become one of the best written and most compelling series on television. With that said, I do still have memories of the less than stellar mini series that kicked the series off, so there’s always this little fear that the series will fail me. With the most recent episode, “Taking a Break from All Your Worries” the series didn’t fail me, but it did stumble just a bit.
In this episode, Baltar and Caprica are imprisoned on Galactica and President Roslin wants to know everything Baltar can tell her about the Cylons and what he might have told them about the fleet. Getting nowhere with him by trying to use both threats and guilt, and even bringing Gaeta as someone Baltar might trust, she and Admiral Adama resort to using hallucinogenic drugs to get as much information as they can from Baltar without killing him. They do learn a good bit, mostly that the Cylons weren’t actually concerned with Earth during the last encounter and that they were trying to discover the identities of the final five Cylons. They also learn that Baltar himself believed that he might be one of these final five but he now doesn’t believe it.
At the same time, Starbuck, Apollo, Dee, and Sam are trying to work out their feelings for each other. Not long ago, Apollo offered to leave Dee for Starbuck but Starbuck refused saying she couldn’t break her vow. Now, Sam believes that Starbuck must go to Apollo if she loves him and he shares these feelings with her. So, she goes to Apollo and asks if that previous offer still stands, and of course, it does not. I said it in last week’s review and I’ll say it again, this nonsense has to end before it destroys the series. Having people deal with love and loss in this situation is not only reasonable, it’s required, but this particular story arc has fallen into soap opera cliché.
Edward James Olmos directed this episode and he nearly grounds it under his boot, or maybe the editor is too blame. Either way, this episode is the worst assembled of the series to date. There’s an interrogation scene where Roslin is talking calmly to Baltar and she appears to turn and walk away, as if she might be leaving but instead there’s a hard cut and she’s suddenly tossing pictures from down on New Caprica at Baltar and screaming. There are instances of cutting from Baltar to Apollo that feel just jarring and senseless throughout the episode. There’s one example where Baltar gets to speak just a few words and suddenly he’s cut off to go back to Apollo. Normally I love the shooting and editing style of the series and normally it’s expertly executed but in this episode the whole thing just comes off clumsy.
At the end of the episode, there’s a bonus scene, and on the web the scene is extended. The bonus scene answered a question for me, “Why aren’t they interrogating Caprica?” Roslin even asks Baltar about the blonde woman she saw him with back on Caprica. According to Roslin’s flashbacks, she got a fair view of the woman, fair enough to recognize her as the Cylon the have in the brig at that very moment. Also, why didn’t anybody recognize her as the woman who accused Baltar of blowing up the security system back on Caprica? In the bonus scene, Roslin talks to her very briefly. The scene is even further extended on the SCIFI Channel website. Seems to me this ended up being a bonus scene because Olmos and his editor couldn’t find a way to make it work within the confines of the messy episode they were assembling.
Battlestar Galactica is a very complex series to produce and in the right hands, it is the best show on television, obviously in the wrong hands it can devolve into a mess. There is a bright side though, Roslin and Adama know about the mysterious final five and in one scene Roslin even begins to draw connections with their religious writings. This could open the door to some really fascinating story arcs to come, especially if D’Anna gets to come back. I’m also happy to see Baltar back on Galactica. As great as he was on the Cylon ship, he mostly came off as a pawn for Caprica and D’Anna. In the end, that may be all he turns out to be but at least on Galactica, he can spare with Roslin again. Many fans really hate the boxing episode, but I think this one is worse. It can only get better from here.