SkyHD - 15th April 2008 - 9.00pm
Thanks to Sky bigging up the premiere of Season 4 we get the first two episodes shown as one 90 minute chunk across the evening. Anyway, where were we? Last time...Gaius Baltar was acquitted for his war crimes; Anders, The Chief, Tory and Tigh all discovered they were four of The Final Five Cylons; and the Cylon fleet had suddenly caught up with Galactica in the nebula. Figggghhhhhht!
Er, not quite. There's the thorny question of why Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace has suddenly popped up in her Viper in the middle of it all and made Apollo literally shit his knickers. How can she be back from the dead?
So after the teasing statement of ‘one will be revealed’ we go slam bang into an eye-popping visual effects fest of the conflict in the nebula. It's a stunning tour-de-force of effects work, very exciting and ramps up the tension as various ships get spectacularly wasted. In the middle of the mayhem, the four Cylons prevaricate over what to do next. Best to resume business as usual it seems.
The mystery of Thrace's return deepens when it is discovered that she believes she's only been gone for six hours when in fact it's been two months. And her ship is brand new, just out of the showroom, without a scratch and no navigation data on the flight computer. Was that the 'Twilight Zone' theme I heard just then? But she's got some lovely snaps of her visit to Earth and vehemently claims she's been there and knows the way back. Mad as a box of frogs, I tell ya.
So the paranoia gets ratcheted up, the crew gives Thrace all the odd looks they can muster and naturally Adama is tortured as to whether he believes her or the soothsaying President Roslin. I love Eddie Olmos and he's great at the whole Adama riddled with doubts, weighing it all up and going on a gut instinct. A lovely, subtle performance which inevitably leads us to the rather obvious conclusion of the second episode - he sends Thrace out on a mission, unbeknownst to Roslin, to find Earth. All this after Katie Sackhoff does much throwing of tantrums, rolling about and screaming on the floor of her cell. 'We're going the wrong way' she screams repeatedly. Perhaps she's screaming at Ron Moore for deciding to make this year's season the last? I still can't quite bring myself to like Sackhoff's portrayal of Starbuck. I often feel like slapping her round the chops for being so bloody selfish. Ah, flawed heroes. The climax of the first episode ends with her bursting into the President's quarters and them both having a ding-dong over who's going the right way to Earth. Starbuck's hysteria is brilliantly countered by Mary McDonnell's Roslin who is doing a lovely job of a cancer-riddled, drugged up school-teacher cum President coping with a blonde sociopath. Her scenes with Eddie Olmos are always a treat to watch as both are very subtle players.
Back to the Four. Anders gets scanned by a Raider during the battle and he puts the fear of God (literally) into them so that they all scarper with their tails between their legs and the battle is over. Tigh, meanwhile, has a perplexing vision of shooting Adama in the head. Tory, in consultation with the other three, decides to pump (literally) Gaius for more information about the Cylon plan and starts making puppy dog eyes at him. Inevitably, she ends up gaining his confidence and his libido. Naughty girl! Gaius, still entertainingly played with great charm by James Callis, is spirited away by a gaggle of Gaius worshippers who've bunged a few fairy lights up, some nice drapes and a whopping great shrine to the man himself. Here he 'cures' a sick child and everyone's convinced he's the second coming. These monotheists are yet another riff on the One God sub-plot that's been established but I'm not sure where this is all going. Six pops up to reassure Gaius he's doing the right thing but alarmingly he has visions of another Gaius chattering away to him. An amusing riff on the Gaius/Six axis but again where exactly is this going? This and the harem of believers tend to stop dead the ongoing plots of the Four Cylons and Starbuck despite the amusing presence of Callis.
The second episode also tends to deal with the bittersweet goodbye of Apollo to the rest of the Viper jocks. He also firmly believes Kara's story of her trip to Earth and in searching for a new career in a new town shares a great deal of 'destiny' with Starbuck. How terribly spiritual. His leaving do is typical Galactica cheese with a side order of cheese, all back slapping, nudge-nudge, crotch grabbing nonsense as usual. He also looks like he's knocking back shots of Flash floor cleaner. That'll clean his insides out. Kills all known Viper pilots.
And the Cylons are getting all hot under the collar over Brother Cavill's attempts to send the Cylon troopers back to the factory to get their brains bypassed. There's a lot of offscreen voting, plenty of huffing and tutting, and a series of dissolves showing big surgical tools drilling into blood-spattered Cylon inards. Very nice. So lots of strops from Six and she later marches into the boardroom with her sidekicks and gets all 'Robocop' on Cavill and his smug entourage who go down in hail of gunfire. Ooops, I feel a Civil War coming on, what with Cylon troopers that can think for themselves and Boomer voting against her own model...and the potential of the others, having been mowed down here, downloading and getting heavy on Six's ass!
So Kara buggers off in a flying sewer, Gaius 'oh, my giddy aunt' Baltar clearly has an inkling about what Tory is up to and has a twin to debate these matters with - love that whole analogy to the orchestra tuning up too (cue Bear McCreary's own tongue in cheek incidentals) - and the Four continue to twitch in anticipation of heinous acts they're programmed to visit on the fleet.
If you wandered into this unprepared you'd think it was utterly bonkers. It's a series now rumbling along on the potential energy of its story arc and sub-plots and loyal viewers will now hopefully get some answers and a satisfying conclusion. New viewers will be rather puzzled, I should think. As ever, it's beautifully made and looks fabulous in HD, McCreary's music is some of the best incidental scoring for a television series and the plot twists keep coming. A good start to this final season.
- Freelance writer and film and television researcher (for hire).
He has contributed to a number of books and websites about British archive television and cinema as well as recent television series including work for Moviemail, Frame Rated and Arrow Video. Publications include I.B Tauris's 'Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour - A Critical
Celebration of the Matt Smith and Steven Moffat Era' (2013) and 'Doctor
Who - The Pandorica Opens' (2010).
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