[BSG] Jammer's Review: "The Farm"
- Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
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
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
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
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.
Copyright 2005, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
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Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...