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

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: Exodus, Part 2 Facing superior Cylon forces, the Galactica undertakes a daring
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3 6:25 PM
      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 end.

      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@...
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