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[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Home, Part 2"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: Home, Part 2 Determined to reunite the fleet, Adama travels to Kobol to meet with
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2005
      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

      Battlestar Galactica: "Home, Part 2"

      Determined to reunite the fleet, Adama travels to Kobol to meet with
      Roslin's landing party, which is making its way across wet forest terrain to
      open the Tomb of Athena.

      Air date: 8/26/2005 (USA)
      Written by David Eick & Ronald D. Moore
      Directed by Jeff Woolnough

      Rating out of 4: ****

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

      The message of "Home, Part 2" is one of forgiveness and reconciliation.
      After all that has happened -- the betrayals and the philosophical
      divides -- the simple fact of the matter is that these people need each
      other too much to let these differences keep them apart.

      The episode is a rich, fully satisfying hour that provides some noteworthy
      resolution to the series' mythological elements while also establishing new
      questions for the characters. Thematically, this marks the end of season
      one, a full seven episodes into season two. It's like a bookend that
      resonates all the way back to the miniseries. At the end of "Kobol's Last
      Gleaming, Part 2," I wondered how -- or even if -- things could ever be
      repaired between these characters. This opening arc for season two has
      managed to show just how bad things can get and yet how wounds *can* indeed
      be repaired. This is done about as plausibly as possible under the
      circumstances. The writers have permitted many of these characters to
      forgive. My one hope, however, would be that that they do not forget.

      The opening sequence echoes the brilliant opening from "Kobol's Last
      Gleaming, Part 1," where the perspective cuts between characters as a
      musical piece provides the emotional backdrop. Adama makes plans to travel
      to Kobol as Roslin's party traverses the rainy terrain, with Sharon as their
      guide. ("We know more about your religion than you do," she notes of the

      Surprisingly, "Home, Part 2" tackles even more character threads than I
      might've expected given that the plot must answer the question of what lies
      within the Tomb of Athena. This episode is even more character-oriented than
      part one.

      For example: Baltar. As is the case much of the time, while the other
      characters are off discovering ancient tombs and repairing relationships,
      Baltar is off in his own little self-obsessed world with Six. In this
      particular case, in what is a fascinating scene, Baltar's hallucinations
      take a particularly sharp left turn that threatens to eject him from the
      vehicle. After appearing to him naked and being (rightfully) mocked for it,
      Six appears as a sweatshirt-and-ponytail version of herself, who laughs
      hysterically. The moment of transformation has an effectively jarring
      effect, as if Baltar's already-screwed-up reality has further shattered into
      something entirely unexpected and, thus, frightening.

      The transformation goes beyond Six's look and also into her personality.
      Tricia Helfer performs this version of Six a little closer to ground level
      (although still exaggerated); instead of cooing in his ear, she laughs in
      his face and tells him that he is indeed quite crazy. She tells him she is
      in fact not a chip in his head, and dares him to have Dr. Cottle do a brain
      scan to settle the matter. As always, James Callis is amusing to watch
      squirm under these bizarre circumstances; it's funny to see Six back him
      into a corner, at which point Baltar turns 90 degrees and keeps on backing

      Frankly, Six as a character is in need of a shake-up. (Even Baltar is
      noticing: "Do you have any notion of how ridiculous you've become? Prattling
      on about this mythical baby of ours?") It might be interesting, for example,
      to see various permutations of Six at war in Baltar's mind. Whether
      something like that will happen remains to be seen, but I for one hope this
      is not the last we see of ponytailed Six. The mystery of what exactly Six is
      (or whether Baltar is simply nuts) is still far from solved, but the writers
      at least seem to quell the notion of her being Cylon-installed technology.
      The writers also finally confirm that the Baltar/Six child isn't literally
      theirs but actually the Sharon/Helo child. I must also point out the
      harbinger of having Baltar identifying the Sharon/Helo child as his own.

      On Kobol, the characters camp in tents as they make their journey toward the
      tomb. In a particularly good example of this series' commitment to
      characters, there's a sequence where we hear conversations going on in these
      various tents. Many conversations are commentaries on the other characters.
      Roslin sits alone, poring over scriptures. Zarek comments to Meier about how
      "losing that priest really frakked her up." They discuss a possible plot
      involving Lee's assassination, and Meier suggests a plan that recruits
      Sharon. Helo and Sharon sit together, trying to imagine some sense of
      normalcy to their relationship, which may be an exercise in hopeful
      thinking. Sharon has memories from the other Sharon, and feels a sense of
      family with people that she never actually met. Lee expresses to Kara his
      distaste about Helo and Sharon: "Gives me the creeps -- seeing him acting
      like that with her." Surprising, how much ground this scene covers,
      demonstrating all the fragile relationships and hints of collision courses.

      Adama, Tyrol, and Billy arrive on Kobol. The need for reunifying the fleet
      is demonstrated vividly via microcosm by the level of emotion played in the
      scene where Adama is reunited with his son and with Kara. That these scenes
      don't shy away from the emotional angle is an example of how this is more
      than simply a plot point but a character arc about abandonment and
      reconciliation. Similarly, Roslin is reunited with Billy.

      We get a significant scene of resolution between Adama and Roslin that
      hearkens all the way back to the debate they had in the miniseries, where
      Roslin convinced Adama to flee rather than stand and fight. With news now
      that there are resistance movements on the Colonies, Roslin wonders if it
      was the right decision. Adama believes that it was, and that every day of
      life since they decided to flee is a gift. I liked the story's notion of
      having these two reanalyze their original differences of opinion in its
      larger goal of bringing about this reconciliation.

      Then there's the whole Sharon issue, one of enormous multidimensional
      complexity. As an attempt to draw her into his plot to assassinate Lee,
      Meier tells Sharon how the other Sharon was killed in cold blood, and how
      "everyone just let it happen." Sharon's subsequent conversations with Helo
      reveal her distrust in anyone's ability to see her as anything but a
      toaster. The fact that Adama gave Cally only 30 days in the brig for killing
      the other Sharon is a point Sharon specifically cites as his belief that
      Cylons are merely toasters. The irony, of course, is that she was not privy
      to the soul-searching Adama had in coming to that punishment (see his scene
      with Tyrol in "The Farm"), and his acknowledgement that Sharon was indeed
      more than just a machine.

      And how about the scene where Tyrol tries to talk to this new Sharon? Talk
      about your awkward situations complicated by sci-fi circumstances. There's
      the issue of what exactly Sharon does and doesn't remember from her other
      self, and the presence of Helo makes this into the most bizarre of would-be
      love triangles; I liked Helo's subtle observation in this scene, as if he's
      sizing up all the possible angles.

      And there's also the intriguing ambivalence in the scene where Adama first
      sees Sharon and reacts viscerally, throwing her to the ground and choking
      her. He intends at first to kill her, but then releases her and clutches his
      chest. What does this mean? Is it the rage he feels in his chest that he
      spoke of bursting in "Home, Part 1"? Is there something else going on here?
      What about the fact that Sharon seems to know that he stood over the other
      Sharon's corpse and asked "Why?" This scene supplies hints but gives no
      specific answers. It does seem possible, however, that Sharon may remember
      more than she is letting on.

      After three-fourths of an episode filled with character development, we
      finally get to the Tomb of Athena, where Sharon makes a very deliberate
      choice of turning Meier's assassination plot against him in a way that she
      hopes will earn her some trust in everyone else's eyes. She shoots Meier
      when she easily could've shot Adama, and then hands the gun to him. As trust
      goes, I suppose this is a start, although I was glad to see that by the end
      of the episode Sharon is still not considered a friend and is locked up. Her
      future is still very much in question.

      The big payoff in the Tomb of Athena is itself depicted fairly
      straightforwardly, and the Arrow of Apollo shows the characters a map room
      of constellations as seen from Earth. In terms of tone, visuals, and
      atmosphere, this scene is just about perfect in its simple, low-key way,
      supplying the necessary sense of emotion and awe as our characters figure
      out what they are seeing. It's a payoff worthy of what has been set up in
      this arc; it definitively ties the BSG mythos into the Earth's zodiac.
      (Whether this was already done in the original series I don't know, but it
      works here.) The only thing I continue not to understand (and this goes all
      the way back to the miniseries) is exactly how the 12 Colonies were
      spatially arranged. I'd previously thought the suggestion was that they were
      all in the same star system (impossible as that may be), but the suggestion
      here is that they lie in completely different constellations.

      The episode ends with a big speech by Adama and a slowly building applause
      for Roslin's reinstatement. It's a cliche of sorts, but one that this arc
      has earned with its depiction of struggle and hardship and gradual
      realizations. The feeling is that some semblance of normalcy can now resume.
      "Home, Part 2" is a stellar resolution to a stellar story arc.

      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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