SkyHD - 29th April 2008 - 9.00pm

Blimey. Talk about a transitional episode! This is, I'm afraid, a bit of a plod. And that's a shame as there are some rather superb scenes in it. It eschews the action for more heavyweight matters and that's fine but it did feel like I was being repeatedly hit over the head with the 'Contemporary Analogy Mallet'. Whack! This bit is about the current Bush policies enacted under Homeland Security. Bang! This scene is the clash of East and West religious beliefs. Thanks, Jane Esperson, but I didn't need that explaining to me.

The running theme of the story is the revelatory power of pain. From the encounter between Six, imprisoned on Galactica, and Tigh; Tyrol's dispassionate attitude towards his wife's death and to Baltar becoming a religious punch-bag. All experiencing pain as a conduit to revealing part of their nature. Pain as manipulative force as the hidden Cylons turn in on themselves to dig out their true natures. That naughty Tory is also getting very good at pulling strings and pushing people into strange emotional spaces. She alone seems to understand the kind of power she's now acquired as one of the Cylons whilst the others seem to self-implode on their odyssey into their very hearts of darkness. She's revelling in having no conscience.

When Tigh starts to obsess about the captured Six and sees her transform into his dead wife, he takes the idea of using pain to shed light into his soul to the ultimate degree. I have to say that the editing and direction here are quite superb as Six switches identities with the deceased Mrs. Tigh. His guilt trip runs in parallel to Tyrol's descent into self-loathing.

If knowing your true self is the theme, then Gaius Baltar decides to eat a full packet of Smarties and overdose on the religious E-numbers. James Callis is rather fantastic in that final 'you're perfect as you are' speech to the assembled harem and the monotheism is all looking like a springboard towards a melding between Cylon and human as the outcome of the series. Roslin's attempts to block him also indicate that she's on a rocky path into being an uncaring totalitarian and her illness is perhaps a wee bit too obvious a metaphor for all the 'radicalisation' of certain contemporary religious groups - be they Christian or Muslim fundamentalists. She's so in thrall to her cancer that she's getting less and less bothered about the concerns and problems of others. And she'll bend and change the law to do it. How terribly George Dubbya of her.

So, it gets quite heavy in this episode and I did find I eyed the clock part the way through this as it is terribly unrelenting. Ain't no light relief here. I hope this is just a plateau and that the various sub-plots get going again next week. For instance, there is little screen time for Starbuck's Shit Ship mission apart from the very brief coda towards the end of the episode and Cavill & Co are very conspicuous by their complete absence too. A tad too much philosophical navel gazing - in the dark - without a match or a torch. That said, Bear McCreary's incidental music is utterly sublime throughout, the acting is top notch stuff and definite kudos to the editing and direction too.

Previous reviews:

The Ties That Bind
He That Believeth In Me & Six Of One

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