Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 4 - Episode 14

BSG - 4x14 - A Disquiet Follows My Soul - Originally Aired: 2009-1-23

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.74

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Dualla's life has abruptly ended; yet the Cylon race is on the brink of a new start, pending the birth of Caprica Six and Saul Tigh's baby. And while they are optimistic over their new arrival, Gaeta's hatred towards the Cylons continues to rise. Then, a fluke illness leads the Chief to discover that not he – but Hot Dog – is Nicki's biological father.

Meanwhile Laura Roslin, still evading her Presidential responsibilities, leaves Zarek in charge and the Adamas at odds. When the Admiral, proposes the use of Cylon technology to complete a necessary FTL upgrade on all the fleet's ships, he is met with fierce opposition from Zarek, who rallies the Quorum of Twelve to vote with him against a human-Cylon alliance.

Certain that the Cylons are the bane of human existence, Gaeta continually questions Kara Thrace's loyalty to the fleet and her intentions for humanity. Petulant and desperate for vengeance he decides to work against the Adama and Roslin administration, by any means necessary, in order to cease Cylon existence. He affirms that "one day soon, there's going to be a reckoning… and once again people are going to have to answer for what they've done."

Leading his own coalition of rebels, Gaius Baltar, still heralded as sacred prophet, pits his followers against God – whom he totes as the reason for their suffering and pain. With impressionable minds, lacks of consciences and proper guidance from their government, the fleet's member's venture down dangerous courses.

And ironically, just as Roslin and Adama throw caution to the wind and decide to indulge in their love, Gaeta and Tom Zarek also form their own union. At odds with the state of mankind, the two team up for the start of a revolution they deem necessary, regardless of the countless lives that may be at stake. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

- The Cally retcon creates at least one technical problem which cannot be rationalized. The last paragraph of the official synopsis for The Ties That Bind reads: "Without warning, Cally grabs a wrench and strikes him in the head. He falls. She steals his access keys, grabs Nicky, and flees. Desperate to escape forever from the nightmarish truth that the father of her son is a machine — and what that means her son must be — Cally has a terrible solution in mind. Only Foster can stop her ... but Foster might not want to."
- The population of the twelve colonies is cited as 50 billion in this episode, which conflicts with the previous figure of 20 billion cited in The Resistance webisodes.

- Survivors, according to the main title: 39644. Down six. (Probably due to continued suicides, homicides, etc.)
- The opening theme has been restored to the mid-third season's version (includes cuts from the first and second seasons) except without the part about trying to find a home called Earth. Instead, it just says trying to "find a home."
- The scene where Adama reads to himself was entirely ad libbed.
- Gaeta's "so I guess a pity frak's outta the question then?" line was also ad libbed.
- Two of the children in the audience of Baltar's speech were the children of executive producer Ronald D. Moore. RDM also directed this episode, his first time.

Remarkable Scenes
- Caprica Six, Tigh, and Cottle looking at her ultrasound.
- The nurse: "That's a lot of smoking around a pregnant lady."
- Six: "No Cylon-Cylon pairing has ever produced a child, ever." She continues, smiling coyly: "Believe me, it's been tried."
- Gaeta regarding sickbay being overrun with Cylon patients while he has to wait for his turn: "No problem. Can't keep those toasters waiting."
- Lee accidentally divulging to the press that the last Cylon was a she, implying he knows who she was.
- Zarek to Lee: "Are you the President again? Sorry, I get confused what your job is on any given day."
- The discussion of whether or not to upgrade the fleet's jump drives with Cylon technology.
- Tyrol asking Adama to grant the Cylons citizenship, including a seat at the quorum.
- Tyrol discovering he isn't Nicky's father.
- Roslin avoiding taking care of her health and her duties.
- Gaeta confronting Starbuck, then sowing the seeds of mass dissent.
- Zarek calling a vote that the Cylons not be allowed to board any ship in the fleet without permission of the ship's captain and people.
- Roslin's jogging and Adama confronting her about wearing herself out, only to give in and let her "live a little" before she dies, as she asks for.
- Baltar inciting a riot.
- Tyrol attacking Hot Dog.
- The tylium ship mutinying and jumping away.
- Adama confronting Zarek in the brig, blackmailing him into giving up where the tylium ship went.
- Zarek: "You know what the difference is between you and I admiral? You wear that uniform, and I don't."
- Zarek and Gaeta plotting together.

My Review
Aside from the The Face of the Enemy, this episode is perhaps the first true filler of the season. Granted, there are some important events here as there are with most episodes of BSG, including the filler, but what we get here is a mix of some irrelevant plots, some poorly executed plots, some downright annoying plots, with a few interesting and worthwhile things here and there.

First, let's talk about what was good in this episode. There are two stand out plots that make the episode worth watching. One is the Roslin and Adama story. Little needs to be said about the Roslin and Adama story as it measures up quite nicely to its usual charm. The other great plot thread is the exposition about the rebel Cylons wanting to gain citizenship in the colonial fleet, including a seat on the quorum of twelve. Ostensibly it would then become a quorum of thirteen. ;) The thirteen tribes back together again!

In exchange, the Cylons would offer to share their technology with the fleet. This is a plot which was hinted at, or rather spoiled depending on how you look at it, in the Face of the Enemy in which Tigh mentions to Gaeta that Cylon technology is going to keep the fleet running.

Other less significant nice details of the episode include the visual theme of Adama picking up crumpled up papers on the Galactica variously along with a focus on his daily routine, signifying that he's picking up the pieces of the fleet and his life in an attempt to return to normalcy. Likewise much of the episode had fascinatingly organic scene transitions, as if the camera was simply wandering the ship observing various concurrent events. It contrasts the previous episode nicely in which we could see mass depression and apathy throughout the ship in the background as well as the foreground. Now in this episode the organic feel of the directing creates a sense of life returning to the ship.

Another highly insignificant but amusing tidbit is the line "the president is resting comfortably aboard Galactica." I like the use of that line because it's precisely what they told the press when Roslin was jailed when she sent Starbuck on a mission against orders. Now of course the same line takes on an entirely different meaning. Another nice piece of trivial continuity is Zarek's line to Lee about Lee having held so many different jobs in the fleet. Amusing since Lee has in fact been everything from an ordinary pilot, to the CAG, to military adviser to President Roslin, to the XO of the Pegasus, to the commander of the Pegasus, to a lawyer, to a member of the quorum of twelve, to finally serving as acting president briefly. That's a lot of hats to wear in just a few years.

Unfortunately though these nuggets of gold are buried by the story being dominated by bad plots. The most important of these is the growing dissent about the pending permanence of the alliance with the rebel Cylons. We knew of Gaeta's objections in The Face of the Enemy, but of course the motivations behind his objections were not well understood. It's easier to understand his position after seeing this episode, but unfortunately his motives are still somewhat lacking in the usual complexity BSG affords antagonists.

I say antagonist in this case because it is obvious to the audience that the proposed alliance is entirely a good thing. Moreover, the dissenters are few and far between. Basically the only people who oppose the alliance are Gaeta, Zarek, and a bunch of extras. Granted some important name dropping goes on. All of the quorum seems at least somewhat opposed to the alliance, and a fair amount of ships in the fleet refused to allow Cylons to board their ships. However, with only two characters we know well backing the dissent, their motives lacking sufficient complexity, and their being relatively unimportant characters in the first place leaves the entire issue heavily lopsided, making it difficult for the audience to sympathize with the dissenters. The entire issue seems to lack that certain shade of gray that BSG strives for.

Indeed, Zarek too struck me as somewhat two dimensional in his motives in this episode. Once again, Zarek is using a controversial issue to make a power grab by attempting to undermine the popularity of the decisions made by the current administration. Adama even proves the man's susceptibility to corruption in an incredibly well executed bluff near the end of the episode. While this was a nice moment for Adama, it seems to imply that Zarek's political positions and sensationalism are wholly manufactured simply to facilitate the aforementioned power grab(s). This, I think, is a disservice to his character. I'd like to think he's more complex than this.

It's worth noting, however, the singular goal of attempting a power grab isn't by itself a sign of a two dimensional character. This very episode featured a classy scene in which Baltar similarly manipulates a crowd of his followers into rejecting the Cylon god with a sensationalist speech. The implication is that by continuing to deliver these rousing speeches, he's gaining an ever more numerous and loyal following. Unlike Zarek, Baltar's manipulations are subtle, complex, and layered.

What's worse about Gaeta's and Zarek's mutual objections to the alliance is that they seem to stem from nothing more than simple bigotry. While I suppose this is understandable among some of the fleet's population, both Gaeta and Zarek have a history of seeming like characters who wouldn't be stupid enough to let their bigotries blind them to progress. Especially Gaeta, given his prior willingness to collaborate with the Cylons.

Still worse, the entire tylium ship plot was completely unnecessary. It seemed like little more than manufactured danger to get Adama a good reason to confront, threaten, and attempt to blackmail Zarek. But on top of the tylium ship plot's irrelevance, it doesn't make a whole lot sense either. Why would jumping away from the fleet be useful for them? And even if they did for some fantastical reason believe staying away from the fleet would be a good idea, why not jump again when Athena located them? Did they just get scared of being all alone and decide it's time to go home?

But the worst sin of the episode is the Cally retcon. It's irrelevant like the tylium ship, poorly executed like Gaeta's and Zarek's motivations, and on top of that highly annoying all in one. The revelation that Tyrol is not Nicky's father is of absolutely no consequence in this episode. The only possible purpose for it is to render Hera the only hybrid Cylon child once again; the significance of which may or may not be used for some other interesting plot thread later.

I don't necessarily have a problem with Hera being the only hybrid, but the degree of plot fudging necessary to swallow this retcon is beyond what I consider acceptable. None of the prior Cally material can't be rationalized, but it significantly tramples on the aesthetic of previous episodes. For example, instead of believing Cally devoted herself to Tyrol after their rather unusual but sweet pairing in Lay Down Your Burdens, we must now accept the idea that she was sleeping around with other men while they were dating just prior to getting married presumably several months after her beat down, as evidenced by the fact that she was still pregnant one year later.

Also, when Cally decided to kill herself and Nicky in The Ties That Bind, it was heavily implied that she wanted to destroy her Cylon hybrid son. Instead, given the retcon, the scene now plays simply as her not wanting her fully human son to be raised by a Cylon who thinks he's the father. This all works in the context of the narrative, but strongly diminishes Cally's character. However, regardless of how well you feel this retcon can be rationalized, the very fact that it was even necessary to begin with is incredibly poor writing. An unfortunate product of BSG's "make it up as you go along" writing style, which usually doesn't create major problems, but here it reeks heavily of bad writing.

The final and perhaps most annoying sin of this episode is that once again this bottle show sheds no light on any of the outstanding overarching long term unanswered plot questions raised by prior episodes. I need not list the litany of these outstanding questions once again; suffice it to say that the longer they remain ignored, the more annoying these questions get and the more they risk becoming simple plot holes.

Overall, this episode commits a multitude of sins for which I cannot grant much of a score.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Dan Hartnett on 2009-01-26 at 1:53pm:
    Why does everyone think that she KNEW it was not his son? Last time I checked women who cheat don't inherently know who got them pregnant. Is it not just possible by plausible that she was just plain cheating on the Chief and was with both men around the same time?

    Again, I find it amazing that many reviewers are clinging to what is nothing more then a unexplained twist, not a hole in the plot. I have seen bigger holes in House, which is one of my favorite shows! ;)
  • From Kethinov on 2009-01-27 at 1:47am:
    It was stated in the episode by Doc Cottle that she had a paternity test done so that she would know for sure.
  • From Luke on 2009-06-30 at 12:17pm:
    RE: The tyliam ship, when Athena showed up they may well have not have their FTL spun up, and therefore were unable to jump before being boarded by the Galactica Marines
  • From bazzlevi on 2010-10-28 at 1:26pm:
    I totally agree with you about the Nicky paternity revelation here. This and the rather silly plot twist regarding the miscarriage of Saul and Six's child are cheap and transparent attempts at making Hera the only "child of significance" in the show. Given how the show ended, would it really have mattered if Nicky were a hybrid? Would it really have made that much difference if Six had given birth to her child? Why did they need to have Six get pregnant in the first place? It obviously didn't go anywhere, and strained credibility in the process. Anyway, I guess I should leave these comments on the review of THAT episode, but these two plot points are "of a piece", as Ron Moore would say.

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