It’s good to have a solid director back in the Captain’s Chair of this series. Whether you liked the episode or not, you have to admit that the assembly and overall presentation is a great improvement of the previous episode. We are in filler mode now, as a handful of stories that are episode specific and don’t have much of an overreaching effect on the mythos of the series. This can be frustrating for me because I’m so hooked on the wider story arc. It’s not all bad though, because we’ve been given some fantastic single story episodes, one of my favorites being “Scar”. While this episode won’t go down in history as one of my favorite episodes, it is a solid entry and a welcome recovery from the mess that the previous episode was.
In “The Woman King”, Helo is ordered to deal with an influx of refugees coming to Galactica. He must find them places to stay and get them medical care if necessary. It’s unsaid but I like to think its punishment for his actions in recent episodes of the series, most recently killing his Cylon wife so she would awaken on a Cylon base ship and grab her daughter and hightail it back to Galactica. Anyway, the biggest problem is a group called Sagitarans who don’t believe in the use of modern medicine are appearing to be spreading a disease that if un-medicated will kill them and anyone they spread it too. A civilian doctor that is respected by the military staff is put in charge of administering a vaccine that will cure the disease before it becomes lethal.
After the death of one of the Sagitarans who had supposedly been medicated Helo begins an investigation because he believes the doctor may be a racist. This is an interesting place for Helo to be character-wise because he is married to a Cylon, someone that many people in the fleet still hate just because of what she is regardless of what she’s done to help them. You’d think Sharon would support him in his cause because of what happened to her and how hard it was for her to become a part of the Galatica crew. But, in a very human move, she wants him to drop it, not wanting any more attention brought to her leaving Helo in the same position he was when he tried to help her, alone in his crusade.
There are just a few scenes in this episode that attempt to tie it into the coming larger story, that of Baltar’s trial. In an impassioned bit of classic sci-fi scene chewing Vice President Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch) warns the President that Baltar’s trial will cause civil unrest and assignation attempts. That’s really about all we get on this storyline. It really just felt like it was stuck in there to prepare us for a larger story to come (During sweeps?). There is however one great scene with Caprica seeing her imaginary Baltar that brings the fantasy elements back to a fairly grounded episode. The theme music for these two is fantastic; it really makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
The producers have warned us to be ready for a pretty wild ride and not to be surprised to see a main character get killed off during this season. Many fans believed it was D’Anna but I didn’t because I feel like she’ll be “unboxed” when the time is right. I almost believed last night that it was going to be Dualla when she got sick and had to get medication. She also is a Sagitaran. Alas, that wasn’t the case but it would’ve been really dramatic and something that would have affected the series dramatically in the long run.
There’s not much surprising about this episode, in fact it’s about the most predictable one we’ve seen but it’s not meant to be surprising in the typical plot twist way. This episode is supposed to deepen Helo’s character and show us what makes him tick and why he makes the decisions he makes. Helo is someone I was really starting to hate, someone that felt like more of a plot device than a person, so he needed this development and it works well adding meaning to the decisions he’s made in previous episodes. His interactions with his superiors show them realizing more about Helo too and respecting it. The drama and character development is solid and the social commentary and timeliness of the episode are examples of what makes BSG one of the best series on television. It looks like next week is going to be filler too. If it’s as solid as this episode was then it’ll make the wait for the major stories to kick in a little easier to bear.