[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Exodus, Part 2"
- Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
Battlestar Galactica: "Exodus, Part 2"
Facing superior Cylon forces, the Galactica undertakes a daring mission to
evacuate the occupied population of New Caprica.
Air date: 10/20/2006 (USA)
Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
Directed by Felix Alcala
Rating out of 4: ***1/2
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
I called "Exodus, Part 1" the setup, and now I can call "Exodus, Part 2" the
payoff. It's a worthy one --good but not flawless -- elevated into the realm
of the standouts by virtue of two potent character arcs fully realized by
The rest of the time it plays like a highly entertaining -- albeit highly
telegraphed -- action/adventure, in which all avenues must absolutely and
unequivocally arrive at the predetermined solution because the previous
episode made so very much of promising that solution's delivery. When
"Occupation/Precipice" aired, I figured you could easily get ten episodes
out of the New Caprica arc. But after last week's "Exodus, Part 1," it
became very clear that New Caprica was quickly going to be left in the
rear-view mirror. It's Galactica to the rescue or bust.
I'm not sure if that decision was a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral
thing. Clearly, an occupation is a storyline that could've sustained more
than four episodes, especially when the series went so far as to jump
forward in time and reinvent itself. At the same time, with all that had
been accomplished in "Occupation/Precipice," the show probably needed to
move along to keep momentum from flagging -- which, by the way, I would
argue is somewhat what happened in "Exodus, Part 1." And since so much
already happened off-screen -- both with the one-year leap as well as the
four months of unseen occupation -- the story's structure naturally had to
be geared toward the escape. I just wonder if it could have been and done
Not that we didn't have enough. "Occupation/Precipice" had so many
storylines and characters that I'm still in awe of it, and in terms of pure
action, "Exodus, Part 2" pulls out all the stops.
Before the action, however, the story first deals with one of those many
storylines/characters: Ellen Tigh. Anders tells Tigh that he'd better "take
care of" Ellen for her betrayal -- because if Tigh doesn't, someone else
will. What follows is a scene of Shakespearean tragedy in which Tigh poisons
his own wife. (When Ellen says that she'd do what she did again if it meant
saving her husband, it reveals a mindset that's at odds with Tigh's soldier
mentality -- because the mission must be maintained at the individual's
expense, not vice versa.) Can you agree with Tigh's mindset? Probably not,
but you can probably sense a warrior's code at work. In Tigh's mind, this is
a mercy killing carried out *because* he loves her and wants to be sure she
dies on his terms and not someone else's. It's a character-defining moment.
Soon the bombs are falling, and we learn the nature of Galactica's rescue
plan. Strictly speaking, this is not a rescue mission so much as an
orchestrated diversion to keep the Cylons busy while the residents of New
Caprica flee to their now-unlocked ships and save themselves. Adama's plan
involves a series of clever tactical maneuvers that make for some
entertaining, frenetic action and impressive visual FX sequences.
I don't know, however, if I'm quite convinced by from a plausibility
standpoint. The use of FTL jumps as a battle tactic strikes me as a
dangerous tech card for the writers to play; it has an arbitrary nature and
opens a can of worms. In one scene, the Galactica FTL-jumps to a point high
in the sky above New Caprica City, does a free fall while on fire, launches
its Vipers, and then jumps away just in time to avoid crashing into the
ground at terminal velocity. It's a noisy and cool scene, but isn't FTL
being used here like a magical teleportation device rather than a function
to explain interstellar travel? Don't get me wrong: The notion of FTL is
pure fiction in any case, but when they draw attention to it like this, it
seems like it's the writers' fictional tech that's outsmarting the Cylons
rather than the plausible ingenuity of the characters.
As was said by Lee in the last two episodes and the beginning of this one,
Adama's mission is a hopeless one, and a point comes where the Galactica is
under heavy fire, outnumbered by four basestars with the FTL engines down,
and the situation looks hopeless. Obviously it's time for the Pegasus to
charge in for the rescue, in what's one of this series' most spectacular
battle sequences. In keeping with the epic scope of the episode, the Pegasus
is sacrificed in this battle -- a tactical maneuver on Lee's part. (Wouldn't
it have been a TV coup if the Galactica had been destroyed instead and next
week the show was called "Battlestar Pegasus"? Kidding.)
It makes for epic drama, but it leaves out some of the more realistic
aspects of this series. I found myself wondering: Can a skeleton crew really
pilot a battlestar through such a crucible of fire? Also, given the levels
of trickery on display here, couldn't a way have been devised from the
outset that used both battlestars to carry out the mission, with the
sacrifice of one ship drawn up as an acceptable outcome? Perhaps it would've
been too big of a risk, but it seems like it would've caused more confusion
for the Cylons and made more sense than the Galactica going it alone.
I quibble on logic, but the truth of the matter is that these scenes are
exciting and well executed. Much like "Pegasus," this is an episode that's
less grounded in reality, and a little larger than life.
There's plenty of action on the ground as well, nicely shot in the "Saving
Private Ryan" cinema verite style. (Duplicating the feel of documentary
footage, it seems to me that "SPR" basically set the visual format for all
realistic movie war footage ever since. One wonders if it has become easier
to stage war action simply by adjusting the shutter speed on the camera.)
On the character front, we've still got Kara and Leoben in a twisted
situation where she has become somewhat more submissive to life in captivity
simply because her maternal instincts have kicked in to care for Kacey,
allegedly her daughter. Leoben, meanwhile, seems to want some sort of
admission of love from Kara, no matter how staged. Kara ends up in one of
the most skin-crawling kissing close-ups imaginable. For the life of me, I
don't know what Leoben even thinks he gains by getting such a coerced and
false "I love you" out of Kara. One suspects this is not about love and the
Cylon procreation plan (cf. Helo and Sharon); this is more about power in
the rape-predator sense. When Kara stabs Leoben in mid-kiss and then twists
the knife, we feel simultaneously glad and unclean.
Meanwhile, Baltar is the ultimate Cylon stooge. As the Cylons plan their
evacuation, he sits powerlessly until D'Anna invites him to join the Cylons
as they leave (since the humans will surely want his head). There's a
showdown between Baltar and Gaeta that manages to keep both characters alive
and supply Baltar an avenue for dignity: He will stop D'Anna from setting
off a nuke. I find myself wondering what goes through this guy's head. He's
clearly been suicidal, yet he couldn't take a bullet to stop the executions
in "Precipice." Now he's willing to kill D'Anna to save humanity. When that
doesn't go as planned, he ends up joining the Cylons because he simply has
nowhere else to go.
As with the good dramatic victories, this one does not come without a
substantial cost. Specifically, Maya is killed during the exodus, hybrid
baby Hera survives, and D'Anna finds her, in keeping with her premonition.
Despite every dire warning being issued by Roslin and Tory, Maya and the
child could not be secured, and now the baby finds its way into the hands of
the Cylons. Just wait until Sharon finds out. I love how victories on this
show include ominous failures that hint at future disaster.
There are character costs as well. The episode's celebratory shots aboard
Galactica have substantial power, but not for the reasons you would've
thought. Adama is raised up on the crew's shoulders and cheered, but the
scene is really about Tigh and Kara, who have been left very damaged by what
has happened. The music (a solemn counterpoint to the celebration) and the
focus on these two characters says more than dialog ever could, or would
need to. Consider: Tigh lost his wife in an even worse way than a random
Cylon killing, and Kara learns that Kacey is not her daughter, but simply a
random child that was kidnapped and inserted into a very elaborate and cruel
deception. In its subtle way, you can almost see Kara's spirit break in this
It's realizations like these that elevate "Exodus, Part 2" into something
more than the action-packed conclusion of a plot. The residents of New
Caprica have made their escape, but what happened while they were there will
leave more than its share of scars.
Copyright 2006, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is prohibited.
Jammer's Reviews - http://www.jammersreviews.com
Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...