262[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Scattered"
- Jul 20, 2005Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
Battlestar Galactica: "Scattered"
A tactical mishap separates Galactica from the rest of the fleet, and in
order to locate it, Colonel Tigh must reluctantly fill Adama's role as
Air date: 7/15/2005 (USA)
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Michael Rymer
Rating out of 4: ***
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"Bitch took my ride." -- Starbuck
"Scattered" is a down-and-dirty, nitty-gritty, good old-fashioned war story.
As a follow-up to what is one of the best season cliffhangers I've seen, it
does exactly what it must: It continues the story from the big mess we were
in the middle of at the end of "Kobol's Last Gleaming" and it doesn't make
the mistake of answering too many questions too soon. At the beginning of
"Scattered," everyone is in limbo. By the end of "Scattered," everyone is
still in limbo. Think DS9's "A Time to Stand."
In terms of characters, this is Colonel Tigh's episode, focusing on some of
his backstory and the question of whether he can step up to the plate with
Adama out of action. Even after all the cliffhanger elements set up in the
previous episodes, "Scattered" is not satisfied and feels the need to add
yet another crisis: A Cylon base star appears (destroying one turns out to
be kind of pointless, because there's always another right behind) and the
fleet is forced to make an emergency FTL jump. When the Galactica arrives on
the other side, the fleet is completely gone. Where are they? We've gone
from the frying pan to the fire and now to an empty void.
It turns out to be a tactical mishap: In the midst of the carnage and
mayhem, Gaeta failed to transmit the adjusted calculated coordinates to the
fleet, so they jumped to the unadjusted coordinates while Galactica jumped
to the correct coordinates. The stand-alone plot for "Scattered" is to solve
the problem of finding the fleet. To do so, the Galactica must jump back to
the original position and run calculations to un-adjust for the adjustment.
The problem is that the calculation will take 12 hours to run, there's a
base star waiting for them, and holding off a base star for 12 hours is not
I wasn't quite sure of a couple things here. First, if the Galactica had
jumped to the correct location based on adjusted calculations to compensate
for error variables, wouldn't they already have the results for the "wrong"
location stored somewhere? Why would they have to jump *back* to the
original location in order to crunch the numbers? They know where they are
and they know where they were, and they know what calculations were made, so
wouldn't they be able to plot a course without returning to the original
location? Perhaps it can't all be done using just maps and simulations, and
perhaps I just don't know enough about FTL course-plotting.
Meanwhile, Adama lies dying on an operating table. Time in finding the fleet
is of the essence, because the Galactica's surgeon is on the Rising Star.
Tigh is in the hot seat because he must find a way to find the fleet before
Adama dies. In the meantime, a less qualified medic will have to step it up
herself and become a surgeon for today.
Lee is put in a cell. Sharon is put in a cell. Roslin is already in a cell.
What does it say when three of the series' seven top-billed regular
characters are in jail? It can't mean that things are going well for the
Much of what comes out of "Scattered" does little to shed light on where
this is all going (which is not a negative). With Sharon revealed as a
Cylon, there's a viscerally energized scene where Tigh questions and beats
on her. She has little to say, mainly because she doesn't know anything. At
one point she provokes Tigh ("Just get it over with, you frakking coward")
because (1) she doesn't much like him anyway and (2) she doesn't much care
about living anymore. She doesn't prove useful as a prisoner here (perhaps
Tigh's heavy-handed tactics are the problem), and the scene leaves us
puzzling over what in the world they're going to do with this character now
that she's been exposed.
There's also the question of the people stranded on Kobol, who must take
cover from an unseen enemy (presumably Cylon), that have landed nearby. One
character follow-up in this storyline is the question of the Cylon/human
hybrid child that Six told Baltar about. I'd assumed she was talking about
the Helo/Sharon pregnancy, but here she says the baby is hers and Baltar's.
How is that possible? What does that mean? I guess the thing with Six is
that you never know if what she says is to be taken literally or
metaphorically (or as truth or lie), or whether it's Baltar's mind and
paranoia playing tricks on him.
The scenes on Kobol are conventional, well-executed dramatizations of
military ground tactics -- transporting wounded, finding cover, evading the
enemy. There's continued exploration of Crashdown's inexperience, Tyrol's
experience, and the fact that Crashdown is in command and Tyrol is not.
After retreating into the forest, half the unit (three soldiers) has to go
back to the crash site to retrieve a missing med kit, or their wounded man
will die. Leaving the med kit behind is on Crashdown, because he gave the
order to bypass the equipment check. Tyrol and his team retrieve the med kit
but the unseen enemy opens fire on them, and a man is shot and killed. This
sequence has a visceral impact but, above all, demonstrates how soldiers in
war sometimes don't die heroically but instead pointlessly, and without
The Galactica scenes also deal with war strategy, but more high-tech and
involving the use of ships and war machines. Gaeta comes up with a plan to
network four major computer systems together in a way that will allow
Galactica to plot the course in 10 minutes instead of 12 hours, but this
goes against one of Adama's core standing rules: no networks on the ship. It
leaves the computer systems vulnerable to Cylon viruses, with only software
firewalls to provide temporary protection. It's Tigh's big decision to take
this risk, and he does so standing on his own.
I was a little unsure about the software points here. First, how could Gaeta
implement a plan so quickly that goes against the primary standing rules of
execution? Would the Galactica technology even support it? Second, how is it
the Cylons can hack an internal network from wireless remote just because
four computers have been connected to each other with cables? Isn't that
sort of like saying you could hack an internal LAN from the Internet even if
the LAN itself wasn't connected to the Internet? Perhaps there's an
explanation involving software security and the way the Galactica and Cylon
technology works that could explain this, but it's not in the episode.
Which, by the way, is the right choice, because people don't watch this show
to learn about computer networks.
Besides, as a plot device, this race against the clock of software firewalls
being penetrated works fairly well when put alongside a battle sequence
involving a base star, hundreds of Raiders, and lots of battlestar artillery
exploding. My one question is how the Viper pilots can repel a superior
force, even for a few minutes, that seems to outnumber them -- oh, I
dunno -- 20 to one.
The story's character arc is clearly Tigh's, and it makes for an
interesting, if not yet conclusive, one. It's about this guy, the
no-nonsense XO, taking the reins of command and making the life-or-death
decisions he never wanted to make. There's a moment where he's standing over
an unconscious Adama in the operating room and says, "I don't want a
command. I never did." The flashback narrative reveals some intriguing
nuggets but doesn't give away all the backstory. It would seem that both
Adama and Tigh at one point had been out of the Colonial Fleet for years,
before Adama somehow got back in, exploited his political connections, and
finally pulled Tigh back in at a point where Tigh, washed-up and drunk,
could not have gotten back in any other way.
Getting the short end of the stick, as usual (although one hopes the trend
will change this season), is Cylon-occupied Caprica, which is given just one
scene in the episode. Starbuck basically wants to kill Sharon, but Helo
stops her, and while they're arguing, Sharon steals Starbuck's Raider. This
leads to the show's best line, which you gotta admit when said by Starbuck
is funny and true to character: "Bitch took my ride."
I really wanted to see more of this storyline, but that's sort of the point
of "Scattered" -- it bides its time and leaves you thirsting for more. The
episode knows what the main storyline is about (Tigh taking command) and
keeps its focus where it is needed, while reminding us that all the other
characters are still in play. As the season heats up, the other storylines
likely will, too.
Copyright 2005, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...