SCI-FI HD - 20th February 2009 - 10.00pm

Thunk. The sound of Jane Esperson's comic-tragedy landing slam bang in the middle of the final ten episodes of the series. With just five episodes to go, Esperson's episode comes across as a squeal of brakes and, instead of ratcheting up the tension from the previous four weeks, she opts to make the inevitable Ellen - Saul - Caprica love triangle the tent pole of the narrative. And Ellen is back to her old ways, the bitchy selfish manipulator we all knew and loved. Maybe Cavil has good reason to kick back at this particular member of the Final Five because she does nothing to endear herself to the audience here. It was certainly a case of 'mother knows best' as Ellen swans in and throws her weight about, splits the Final Five and throws Saul Tigh into a tizzy. From mother of the Cylons to whore of the fleet, the personality change she undergoes is rather frightening.

Kate Vernon and Michael Hogan are undoubtedly the stars of the episode. Kate's absolutely fantastic as Ellen as she twists and turns the feelings of poor Caprica Six, huffs and puffs about Tigh's choice of partner. She also prompts the Final Five to put it to a vote as to whether to stay with the fleet or hop it with the rebel Cylons which causes all kinds of recriminations. Naturally, Ellen decides to use the vote to get back at Tigh and agrees to flee with Tory and Tyrol. Tigh decides to stay with the comatose Anders. The Final Five's obsession with racial purity kicks in and Tigh is not happy: “No wonder we had to invent some passionate God for them to believe in, we couldn’t have them deify us, could we?!”

Tigh takes comfort in Adama's arms

Meanwhile, the Galactica is, rather symbolically, getting something of a blood transfusion. Or is that Cylon ejaculate she's getting covered in? Teams of engineers and one of the Sixes spend most of the episode slapping Cylon gunk into the old girl's joints whilst being stalked by a grim-faced Adama. The sight of one of the Sixes wielding a big trowel and a paint brush was I'm sure unintentionally funny and I do hope she didn't mess up her blonde locks or get muck on that nice outfit she was wearing. Running in parallel we see Bill Adama really crumbling. He's torn over his decision to repair the ship with Cylon tech and seemingly doesn't know how to handle a disgruntled and starving populace, many of whom hate the Cylons with a passion. To compensate he's self-destructing on a diet of booze and pills. His tete a tete with Saul Tigh is actually very worrying as he slops his whisky all over the place in a state of bewilderment. Again, Hogan and Olmos are a wonderful double act, especially at the conclusion of the episode when, after the quite distressing scenes of Caprica Six losing her baby, Tigh takes comfort in Adama's arms. A bittersweet moment after the earlier snarling accusation from Ellen, “...there’s something in the universe he loves far more than you or me - it’s Bill Adama.”
Keep an eye on Paula

The other moments of comedy gold are apportioned out to the return of Gaius Baltar. He returns to his harem only to find that they've all got along without him pretty well, managing to trade for food and establish friendly relations with the rest of the ship. Their figurehead, Paula, has even managed to arm them to protect them from the violent raids from the Sons Of Aries. James Callis is charming and funny as ever as Baltar, another arch manipulator of course, and with religious fervour out of the window he decides to rely on his cult of personality to impress the ladies once again, almost going to the extent of kissing babies. The invisible Six reappears and effectively writes his speeches for him and goads him on into convincing a befuddled Adama that the threat of revolution is real and to hand over weapons to the group. Adama's really lost it if he lets the silver-tongued Baltar convince him thus. So, after promising to feed everyone and suggesting to a Cylon ambivalent Adama he is the 'last human solution' to keeping together a disaffected fleet, lots of guns are doled out. Keep an eye on Paula, I say. She's hungry for power and was cradling that very big gun rather too enthusiastically for my liking. And I loved the physical comedy of Baltar not knowing one end of a gun from the other.

The death of Six's baby Liam is in stark, tragic counterpoint to the Ellen and Baltar 'comedy of errors'. It all comes crashing down very depressingly even though this resolution to the situation does seem rather throwaway and is almost a too convenient way to end the pregant Six plotline. How does this now square with the plans of the Final Five? Oh, it's OK, they've still got Hera, after all. And I'm guessing Ellen isn't going to be flavour of the month with Tigh after her tirade of abuse seemingly triggered the complications of the pregnancy. And as baby Liam dies, suddenly Anders EEG sparks into life. Has there been some sort of transference? Will Anders recover and will we get more exposition? Where's Starbuck? Will Cavil catch up with the fleet? Will there be a Baltar and Paula revolution? C'mon, there are only five episodes left!

Previous reviews:

No Exit
Blood On The Scales
The Oath
A Disquiet Follows My Soul
Sometimes A Great Notion
The Hub
Sine Qua Non
Guess What's Coming To Dinner?
The Road Less Traveled
Escape Velocity
The Ties That Bind
He That Believeth In Me & Six Of One

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