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[BSG] Jammer's Review: "The Farm"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: The Farm Kara is shot and wakes up in a mysterious hospital. Adama returns to duty
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 25 4:51 PM
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      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

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      Battlestar Galactica: "The Farm"

      Kara is shot and wakes up in a mysterious hospital. Adama returns to duty
      where a search is ongoing for Roslin, who is trying to organize support in
      the fleet for a return trip to Kobol.

      Air date: 8/12/2005 (USA)
      Written by Carla Robinson
      Directed by Rod Hardy

      Rating out of 4: ***

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
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      As the small band of human resistance fighters on Caprica plans an attack on
      a Cylon base, Kara is shot, falls unconscious, and subsequently wakes up in
      a hospital. Her doctor, Simon (Rick Worthy, recently seen as a Xindi in
      "Enterprise's" third season), tells her that she's had surgery to remove the
      bullet, almost died, but now will be okay.

      What's the nature of this hospital? It appears to be just what it seems to
      be. But we suspect immediately that it's more than that, because if it
      wasn't, well, there'd be no episode -- at least not in the traditional sense
      that there are crises and revelations to be experienced. "Are you a Cylon?"
      Kara asks Simon. He says he's not, and he seems genuine enough, but it's not
      like asking if someone is a Cylon is going to yield the truth. It's mainly a
      way for the writers to put the cards on the table from the outset. It's not
      as though Kara is in a position to argue. She has just had surgery; she's
      weak and pumped full of drugs.

      The main story of "The Farm" on Caprica conveys the feelings of an "X-Files"
      episode, where the situation looks normal enough, but creepy things are
      happening beneath the surface, and we sense the wheels of ominous conspiracy
      turning. (Are they doing something to Kara in this hospital? Are they
      implanting a chip in Scully's neck?)

      On board the Galactica, Adama returns to duty to much applause (the episode
      picks up a week after the events of "Resistance"), but there's a sense that
      Adama himself is not quite the same after having been wounded. "I feel
      strange," he says to Tigh, "like closer to the ground."

      It's certainly nice to have Adama back. It's been said that in what is an
      ensemble cast, Edward James Olmos is like the heart of the show, and in a
      lot of ways I agree with that. He's a military man and makes very
      military-minded decisions, and he stirred up all this unrest by overreacting
      to Roslin's interference and forcing her out of office at gunpoint. And yet
      he's a man of deep feelings, thoughtfulness, humanity, and now -- after
      being shot -- obvious vulnerability.

      There's a particularly nice scene where Adama talks with Tyrol in the
      aftermath of Boomer's death by Cally's hand. Adama asks Tyrol flat-out if he
      loved Boomer. "I thought I did," Tyrol replies. Adama's response: "Well,
      when you think you love someone, you love them. That's what love is --
      thoughts." The simplicity of that statement is somehow perfect given all the
      uncertainty everyone faces -- as if to say that in desperate times, we
      cannot afford to second-guess our feelings and the trust in those we care
      about. For two years, Adama says, Boomer was a vital, living part of his
      crew, and that alone makes her more than simply a machine. It's something
      that probably many instinctively feel is true, and yet no one until now has
      allowed themselves to actually say it.

      As a counterbalance to that notion, Adama lets Cally off with a slap on the
      wrist: 30 days in the brig for "unauthorized discharge of a weapon,"
      undoubtedly on the technical grounds that Boomer was a machine and not a
      human. It's an obvious contradiction to the feelings he just talked about,
      but a necessary one in order to try to heal the ship's wounds and pick up
      the pieces.

      In tactical terms, Adama is now looking for Roslin ("She can hide, but she
      can't run"), and noteworthy is the fact that even though Adama is back in
      charge, the turmoil in the fleet is not going to magically get better. Adama
      may have more political sense than Tigh, but this is still a mess -- a mess
      that Adama had a large hand in creating, by the way.

      Roslin, Lee, and Zarek are hiding out on a cold-storage vessel, and Roslin
      wants to drum up support for a trip back to Kobol to open the Tomb of
      Athena. Zarek's idea is to have Lee publicly denounce his father for
      overstepping his authority. It's something Lee thinks he can do but
      ultimately can't. Instead, Roslin declares, "I'm playing the religion card."
      Significant, how Roslin sees this as a calculated move that is not innocent
      of taking advantage of people's faith when she herself is not necessarily a
      true believer. She approaches the prophecies from a standpoint of logic and
      a need to play the odds. Is it right to invoke religion as a "card" to play?
      I suppose she does what she must. It's politics, after all, and she's the
      president. Curious how Elosha encourages Roslin to follow through on a path
      of destiny even when Roslin is reluctant and feels it's not her place to
      serve as a de facto religious figure. Of course, I've seen this character
      arc before: His name was Benjamin Sisko.

      Roslin's statement to the fleet certainly uses the language of a true
      believer, much to the ire of Adama, who calls it "religious crap" and
      emphasizes the point by slamming his clipboard over a console. He doesn't
      think anyone in the fleet will bite, but he's sadly mistaken. Nearly a third
      of the fleet follows Roslin back to Kobol. Adama is facing some serious
      abandonment issues. Watch his face when reminded that Lee is among those who
      have sided against him.

      But we must turn our attention back to the more pressing matters on Caprica,
      where the longer Kara lies in the hospital bed, the more suspicious she
      becomes. Simon notes that Kara is a rare commodity: a woman capable of
      giving birth, which is going to be an important thing on a world where the
      population has been mostly eradicated and the survivors must cope with
      radiation poisoning. But there are obvious ominous undercurrents when we
      think about the Cylons, and their obsession with sex, love, and
      procreation -- something humans have mastered but their Cylon "children"
      apparently have not.

      There's some psychology put into play here when Simon notes that women with
      Kara's history of child abuse -- apparently at the hands of her mother --
      are often reluctant to have children of their own. Kara's reaction to
      Simon's inquiries is one of surprising raw emotion.

      Meanwhile, Helo and Anders (Michael Trucco) lead a search party to find
      Kara. Sharon finally turns up, having been tracking them since she flew off
      in "Scattered." Sharon shows all the signs of being the first true Cylon
      defector, and offers to help them bust Kara out of the hospital and get off
      the planet. Her defection is motivated out of devotion to Helo, which would
      seem was not a part of the Cylons' admittedly convoluted Plan.

      When Kara confirms her suspicions and discovers Simon is a Cylon in cahoots
      with Six, she's understandably frightened and desperate, trapped in a
      hospital room with no weapons. But she's also a hard-core survivor. She
      pulls herself together quickly and wields her resourcefulness alongside a
      startling ability for lightning-fast lethality. The way she dispatches Simon
      with a mirror shard is both swift and savage. I liked the pure visceral
      impact of Kara screaming, "Just DIIIIIE!" Which he does -- but there are
      more copies of Simon, who is our fifth official known Cylon model.

      Kara also makes a chilling discovery: The hospital is actually a birthing
      facility (called a "farm") where human women are imprisoned, hooked up to
      machines, and used as birthing modules. This is a fairly disturbing concept,
      although not a completely unexpected one given the tone of the episode and
      our knowledge of the Cylons. Something about it reminded me of "The
      X-Files." Also "The Matrix," where the Machines needed to grow humans in
      fields to plug into VR. Among the women at this "farm" is Sue-Shaun (Tamara
      Lashley), from Anders' band of pyramid-players-turned-freedom-fighters.
      Sue-Shaun tells Kara to destroy the farm, although I was unsure of why they
      both assumed Sue-Shaun would die if they pulled the plug. Kara whispers
      something into Sue-Shaun's ear that we're not permitted to hear, which made
      me think of "Lost in Translation" more than something that existed in the
      moment.

      What's been common to the season thus far, and isn't unwelcome here, is the
      big action climax, in this case Anders and his team rescuing Kara after she
      breaks out of the hospital/farm, helped in no small part by Boomer, who has
      acquired a Cylon vessel with more firepower than a Raider.

      So what about the Cylon Plan? Boomer says the Cylons believe they need love
      as a crucial variable in order to conceive -- a strange belief for part of a
      purely biological process. I'm not completely sure what to make of it,
      honestly. But in lieu of love, the Cylons have been kidnapping women and
      putting them into these "farms." One wonders how many farms there are, and
      on how many of the 12 former Colonies the Cylons are operating them. One
      also wonders why the Cylons would nuke the Colonies first when they could've
      simply infiltrated them and started introducing hybrids into the populace.
      Much like an "X-Files" episode, logic here takes a back seat to the twisted
      and the bizarre.

      In terms of the whole Cylon love issue, Boomer and Helo are somewhat unique.
      But Boomer says Kara is also "special"; the Cylons did some sort of surgery
      or experiment involving her ovaries. What exactly happened? The story is
      (intentionally) murky about it. Kara doesn't much want to think about it.

      What seems somewhat imposed on the story is Kara's weepy-eyed closing scene
      with Anders. In the course of a week, Kara and Anders went from adversaries
      to allies to sexual partners to something ... more, I guess. Kara, Boomer,
      and Helo take the Cylon ship and the Arrow of Apollo back to the fleet.
      Anders and the resistance stay on Caprica to destroy as many "farms" as they
      can, very likely getting killed in the process. Kara is apparently
      heartbroken about this. The performances work, but something about the
      sentimentality feels overstated given Kara's character and how little of
      this relationship we were shown.

      Then again, maybe she thinks she loves the guy. And when you think you love
      someone, you love them. So says sage Adama. But maybe she also thinks she
      loves Lee. Maybe she's projecting. No wonder the Cylons are so confused
      about love and sex.

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      Copyright 2005, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.

      Star Trek: Hypertext - http://www.st-hypertext.com/
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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