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[BSG] Jammer's Review: "Rapture"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: Rapture Sharon and Helo take extreme measures to rescue their daughter from the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2007
      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

      Battlestar Galactica: "Rapture"

      Sharon and Helo take extreme measures to rescue their daughter from the
      Cylons. Meanwhile, the fates of all on the planet hang in the balance when
      the Cylons engage Galactica's ground forces to obtain the secrets of the Eye
      of Jupiter.

      Air date: 1/21/2007 (USA)
      Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
      Directed by Michael Rymer

      Rating out of 4: ***

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

      As is necessary for most mythology episodes, "Rapture" creates as many new
      plot questions as it answers. It also seems to confirm the cycle that is the
      series of BSG: Each half-season starts out with a show that sends everyone
      off in new directions. If season 3.5 follows in the footsteps of 2.5 and
      3.0, we'll have an adjustment period where we can all comes to grips with
      the realignment of the characters (likely to be the most interesting
      episodes) before we then get a smattering of standalones and a sense of
      flagging momentum.

      But I'm getting ahead of myself. "Rapture" is a satisfying and entertaining
      effort that proves even better than its setup episode, "Eye of Jupiter."
      There's a lot going on, and by the end several characters will be on new

      As expected, the cliffhanger was much ado about overly amped-up situations
      that have no choice but to immediately defuse themselves. The Cylons decide
      *not* to call Adama's bluff and turn back their Heavy Raiders -- except for
      one, which D'Anna sends through against the wishes of the Cylon majority.
      The lone ship has Baltar and D'Anna on board to fulfill what they believe to
      be their destinies as outlined by the Hybrid. Adama stands down the nukes,
      not wanting to play out Armageddon over one ship. Meanwhile, D'Anna's
      disobedience forms friction within the Cylon ranks.

      Here's an idea: Why not air "Rapture" the week after "The Eye of Jupiter"
      instead of splitting the storyline in half and airing the resolution so many
      weeks later? Yeah, yeah -- I understand the cliffhanger theory as an attempt
      to create marketing buzz and return viewers, but does it really work? In
      this day and age, cliffhangers are cliche. Given how "Rapture" ends,
      wouldn't there still be enough viewers who would be sufficiently interested
      to come back and watch what happens next? (But I think I've said all this

      Fortunately, the episode does not dwell on its cliffhanger structure (it's
      merely a means to an end for the previous episode, whereas this episode has
      its own means and ends). For example, one thing I wasn't expecting was the
      moment when Helo shoots and kills Sharon as a matter of risky strategy so
      she can be downloaded onto the Cylon ship where she can see her baby, whom
      Boomer had told her was seriously ill.

      The scene plays out as a tough, agonizing choice born out of desperation.
      That Helo must shoot his own wife is emotional, but what I also found
      interesting was the story's acknowledgement that it might not even be his
      (or Sharon's) right to make this choice. As Roslin points out, the risks
      involved are huge because Sharon has knowledge that could affect the safety
      of the entire fleet. Even if we can assume Sharon's loyalty to Galactica,
      the Cylons will have her in custody and might not give her the choice not to
      betray Galactica. Still, Helo stands up to Roslin. When he blames her for
      the situation having gotten to this point, he isn't exactly wrong; Roslin
      must shoulder her own share of the blame for stealing Hera and hiding her
      from the parents.

      Sharon wakes up on the Cylon ship and is greeted by Caprica Six, where she
      begins running a game to gain her trust. Who's fooling whom here? That's the
      question. Can Sharon beat the Cylons at their own game of deception, or will
      they use her as a tool against Galactica?

      Perhaps neither. Among the episode's most interesting character work is a
      scene where we learn that Caprica Six is still very much interested in a
      peaceful resolution with humanity. Boomer, meanwhile, most definitely is
      not. It's actually startling to see how far back into the Cylon nest Boomer
      has returned. There's a scene where Caprica, Boomer, and Athena are all in
      the same room discussing Hera's fate, and for a moment it looks like Boomer
      is prepared to snap Hera's neck. Caprica Six saves Hera by punching Boomer
      in the face and snapping her neck. Caprica then agrees to help get Athena
      off the basestar. (I suppose we've come full circle; Caprica snapped a
      baby's neck in the miniseries, and now she's saving babies from that fate.)

      Running concurrent with the Galactica and Cylon basestar plots is the story
      on the ground of the algae planet, where Lee orders Dee to go after Kara's
      downed Raptor while he and Anders and their troops attempt to hold off Cylon
      Centurions long enough for Tyrol to find the Eye of Jupiter -- a search that
      is not going well, by the way. This leads to some well-filmed (if familiar)
      ground infantry action inspired by many war movies. Like with WWII, the name
      of the game is valuable real estate and protecting it from falling into
      enemy hands. There's even a shot lifted directly from "Saving Private Ryan,"
      where Dee rolls over a felled man to reveal that there's a hole where his
      face used to be.

      When Dee reaches Kara's shuttle, we get one of those Awkward Situations
      where the spouse confronts the one carrying on the affair. There's really
      not much to say about these scenes except that they happen, and that they at
      least put everything out in the open. Kara tries to mitigate the awkwardness
      by explaining to Dee that Lee won't cheat. ("He's too honorable," she says.
      Yeah, except for those times in the Raptor and all the ensuing lies.) To
      summarize this watchable but less-than-compelling love triangle (or Z, or
      whatever): Kara is completely screwed up when it comes to relationships, Lee
      is in love with the screw-up, and Dee and Anders are quasi-willing doormats
      to it all. At least until next week's episode when this all comes to a

      Meanwhile, there's a star about to go nova. Well, I would certainly hope so.
      If a storyline sets up in part one the possibility that a star is going
      nova, then you'd better believe it's going nova in part two. (I suppose
      that's the rule of Chekhov's Gun as applied to solar systems.)

      All the plot pieces collide in a way that only God (or Ronald D. Moore)
      could engineer so serendipitously. Lee's ground infantry abandons the temple
      as the Cylon reinforcements arrive, and Tyrol prepares to blow it up. As
      he's walking down the mountain with the detonator, Baltar and D'Anna (and a
      Cavil that had me wondering exactly where he came from) go into the temple
      and deactivate all the charges. Just then, the star goes nova, delivering a
      shock wave that will destroy the solar system within an hour. The nova
      creates some sort of magical light ray (the nova *is* the Eye of Jupiter,
      Tyrol realizes) that allows D'Anna (but not Baltar) to be pulled into an
      encounter with the Final Five Cylons, or the Face of God -- or something.
      This encounter is ultimately deadly, because to look into the face of God is
      to bring about madness and death and so forth.

      This might all sound (and indeed be) quite ridiculous, but it's to the
      credit of "Rapture" that the show has the conviction and showmanship to make
      all of this interesting, mysterious, and filled with awe. When D'Anna looks
      into the eyes of one of the Final Five and says, "*You*. Forgive me, I had
      no idea," I for one was intrigued by the possibilities. Who are the Final
      Five? Baltar believes he might still be one of them (I'm laying odds against
      it), but the answers are not forthcoming. Baltar, stranded in the temple
      with no solution to his problem, is recaptured and taken back to Galactica.
      (The story finds a note of satisfying humor in the way Baltar is universally
      regarded: "Welcome back, Mr. President." *Whack*.) The destruction of the
      planet by the shock wave is fairly spectacular, albeit not quite as
      spectacular as the similar scene in "Star Trek: Generations," from which
      Moore is obviously cribbing (his own material no less).

      What makes "Rapture" really come together is an expositional final act that
      brings insight to all the madness we've witnessed. Baltar is brought back to
      the fleet, secretly transported to Galactica in a body bag. What happens to
      Baltar next is a story teeming with possibilities. Meanwhile, Sharon returns
      with her daughter, bringing back a surrendering Caprica Six (who's promptly
      thrown into a cell).

      Meanwhile, it's speculated that the nova was a hint as to the next pointer
      on the map to Earth -- a reference to the location of another nova witnessed
      by the 13th tribe 4,000 years ago. And in what might be my favorite touch of
      continuity, Helo recognizes that the drawings in the temple look like the
      paintings that Kara used to create as a child (as seen in her apartment on
      Caprica in "Valley of Darkness"). This creepily raises more questions
      regarding all that Leoben told Kara about her destiny in "Flesh and Bone."
      Where is this headed?

      As for D'Anna, her disobedience -- and the perception by her fellow Cylons
      that she is playing out a dangerous religious obsession -- seals her fate:
      Cavil tells her that her entire model line will be boxed. Something D'Anna
      alludes to before Cavil shuts her down, however, struck me as particularly
      interesting: She mentions the mystery of the evolution of the Cylon race,
      and it got me thinking that maybe their evolution was external rather than
      internal, having something to do with God and destiny more than the
      self-improvement that I had always assumed. Could it be that the Final Five
      were not evolved from the Cylons at all, that they were perhaps an external
      force that made the Cylons what they are today?

      It's questions like these that make the mystery of the mythology more than
      simply an execution of plot points. While "Rapture" contains a lot of
      scurrying around for the sake of plot, it does pose several intriguing
      questions about the Cylons, about Earth, and about where the characters are
      headed now that several major chess pieces on the board have been moved into
      new positions.

      Copyright 2007, 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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