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[BSG] Jammer's Review: "He That Believeth in Me"

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  • Jamahl Epsicokhan
    Note: This review contains significant spoilers. ... Battlestar Galactica: He That Believeth in Me The crew of Galactica is stunned to learn that Kara is
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 10, 2008
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      Note: This review contains significant spoilers.

      Battlestar Galactica: "He That Believeth in Me"

      The crew of Galactica is stunned to learn that Kara is still alive,
      and quickly becomes suspicious when she claims to have been to Earth.
      Meanwhile, four members of the crew who have learned they are Cylons
      must grapple with their new realities.

      Air date: 4/4/2008 (USA)
      Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
      Directed by Michael Rymer

      Rating out of 4: ***

      Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

      At the end of the review, I wrote, "If you step back and look
      at 'Crossroads,' it is really a story about hope." That seems far
      less true after seeing "Razor" and now "He That Believeth in Me,"
      which reveals far more trepidation than hope. Clearly there is a fork
      in the road here. There are questions to ask and arguments to make.
      And it may not be long before sides must be taken. (Surely you
      weren't expecting uplifting things to happen in a "Battlestar" season
      premiere? Ye of too much faith.)

      Kara Thrace has returned from the apparent dead, which happens right
      in the middle of a battle zone in a nebula where the Galactica is
      vastly outmatched by the Cylons. Meanwhile, the four Cylons unveiled
      at the end of "Crossroads, Part 2" -- Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and Tory --
      proceed with business as usual, fighting as Colonial warriors, but
      fearing that they might very well be capable of turning at any
      moment. In a powerful moment of subjective internal point of view,
      Tigh imagines himself shooting Adama in the head in a crowded CIC
      right in the middle of the battle. More powerful than the shock of
      the image itself is Tigh's anguish in the immediate beat afterward.
      To be at the mercy of things completely beyond our control is among
      the worst of all fears.

      The opening teaser is a tour de force of chaotic, beautifully
      designed space battle action. It may very well be the most elaborate
      and well-made CGI action yet on this series, and that's saying
      something. Still, despite all the hardware and explosions and
      visceral impact (a civilian ship is destroyed with 600 people on
      board) the most haunting moment is played out in excruciating slow-
      motion, as Anders, in his first flight as a Viper pilot, has an
      encounter with a Cylon Raider. His weapons misfire, and the Raider,
      rather than blowing him out of the sky, beams its sweeping red light
      straight into Anders' eye -- and then the entire Cylon fleet suddenly
      withdrawals from a fight where they had every advantage.

      So what has happened here? Was Anders sent a program by a Cylon that
      recognized him? The close-up on Anders' eye as it briefly turns red
      can absolutely not be dismissed, but the story plays its hand close,
      and Anders proceeds on as if unchanged by the experience. I'm still
      holding out hope that the Final Five Cylons play by different rules
      than the other seven, but one can't rule out any scenario based on
      what we see here.

      Then there's Kara, who believes she has only been gone for a few
      hours when it has actually been nearly two months. Roslin immediately
      smells a Cylon trick. Is Kara a Cylon? Kara brushes off the idea as
      absurd, but cannot explain away the many holes in her story, like how
      she traveled to Earth and then to the nebula without an FTL drive in
      a matter of hours (or even two months), or why her Viper is brand-
      new, with none of the wear it had before she died/disappeared, or why
      her flight log is blank. She has photos from her orbit of Earth, but
      that's about it.

      Roslin immediately takes to the "Thrace is no longer trustworthy"
      camp and seems firm in that belief. Not only is she unwilling to
      follow Kara's alleged path to Earth (which Kara describes as a
      feeling more than a science), but Roslin would just as soon have Kara
      thrown in the brig, arguing that the crew's closeness to Kara would
      be exactly what the Cylons are counting on as an avenue of trust to

      About that, I have my own questions. Why did the Cylon fleet jump
      away when they could've wiped out the entire fleet? Either the
      writers are toying with us (or letting themselves off the hook of
      their own cliffhanger), or destroying humanity is no longer the
      Cylons' goal, possibly because Anders and other Cylon infiltrators
      are now (apparently) known to them to be in place. Either way, the
      motivation of the Cylons seems a bit muddled. They come out firing
      and then they pull a 180. Their New Plan must really be something.

      For that matter, everyone on Galactica should probably now assume
      that simple destruction is no longer the Cylon goal. The Cylons
      could've destroyed the fleet, but didn't. So what do they really
      want? Perhaps answers about Earth? What do the Colonials have that
      could actually help in that regard?

      Perhaps Kara is a plan meant to take the fleet in the wrong direction
      while the Cylons continue in the right one. Who knows? All I can say
      is: Kara is sure she knows. She is convinced she can find Earth, and
      every FTL jump following the original course (the wrong one, to her)
      is like a shock to her system, and her internal Earth beacon fades.
      In a powerfully quiet scene acted with great precision by Olmos and
      Sackhoff, Kara makes an emotional appeal to Adama to believe in her.
      But he can't, because the evidence brings up too many unanswerable

      There's another quietly affecting scene in the pilot's ready room,
      where Lee repeatedly watches his flight video of Kara's death
      in "Maelstrom." He asks his father, should we believe our eyes our
      hearts? The scene reveals the full complicated nature of the two
      Adamas' relationship, with both the love and the strained hardship.
      Like that first scene between them in the miniseries, where Adama
      never even looked at Lee, director Michael Rymer uses the physical
      space to suggest the emotional distance; here Adama and his son sit
      in the chairs on the farthest opposite ends of the row.

      Interesting that Lee does not accept reinstatement when Adama offers
      it to him. His life as CAG is apparently over, and he talks of a job
      opening in the government. He also asks his father a tough
      question: "If my brother had climbed out of that cockpit, would it
      matter if he were a Cylon -- if he always had been? When all is said
      and done, would that really change how we feel about him?"

      It's one of the series' big questions, and it's an intriguing one.
      (Note that it comes from Lee, who has previously been in favor of
      destroying the Cylons completely.) The hatred for the Cylons runs
      deep in such a seemingly monolithic way, but when push comes to
      shove -- if Kara is really a Cylon -- then does it?

      Apparently it does for Kara, who tells Anders she'd put a bullet in
      his head if she ever found out he were a Cylon. Not something you
      want to hear from your resurrected wife when you've just found out
      you're a Cylon. BSG relationships sure are tricky...

      I think the point here is that it's not even clear anymore what it
      truly means to be a Cylon. Certainly not for the recently self-
      discovered four, who know of no hidden motives or agendas, and vow to
      kill themselves before turning on their comrades (not that they know
      if they would even have that choice). And how about the irony of six
      people in a room discussing the possibility of Kara being a Cylon
      agent -- when three of those six are, in fact, Cylons? Yes, the
      layers of identity crises are most definitely stacking up here.

      What didn't work so well for me was the subplot surrounding Baltar's
      new life as the subject of worship by a cult of crazies looking
      for ... well, I'm not sure. Faith in ... something. In Baltar They
      Trust, although I have no idea why. (Is it because of his prison
      manifesto? It's not mentioned here.) While I found interesting
      Baltar's struggle with himself, his past misdeeds, and looking for
      some meaning or sign from God, I found the cult itself to be
      underwritten and too broadly played. Strange, how Baltar's cult is so
      overwhelming young, attractive, and female. (This would undoubtedly
      be for the same reasons Caprica Six can sit in a cell every day and
      still look like she's had her hair and makeup done by professionals.)
      Also curious is how these civilians have their own private area in a
      large storage room on Galactica, where they can come and go (and beat
      people to death) as they please. Wouldn't security have something to
      say about this?

      One of the cultists offers her body to Baltar on behalf of, I guess,
      the Cult Welcoming Committee. (Baltar gets just the cult that suits
      him, conveniently appealing to his natures as an egoist and a
      womanizer.) I did find interesting Baltar's witnessing of a miracle
      in the recovery of a sick young boy. I also liked the inevitable run-
      in with comeuppance via the man prepared to cut his throat, where
      Baltar seems quite prepared to die for his sins. But leave it to
      Baltar (earlier, with the young boy) to use prayer not only during a
      genuine crisis of personal conflict, but also as an opportunity to
      perform on his stage for his new followers.

      Undoubtedly, next week's episode will answer the question of what
      happens after Kara puts a gun to Roslin's head in an effort to force
      the fleet to follow her. Lines will be drawn.

      Footnote: Is there a rhyme or reason for when "to be continued" gets
      used at the end of a BSG cliffhanger? Sometimes they use it (like
      here), and sometimes they don't (like "Precipice"). I could do
      without it entirely, because we *know* a serialized show is to be
      continued. Duh.

      Copyright 2008, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved.
      Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this article is

      Jammer's Reviews - http://www.jammersreviews.com
      Jamahl Epsicokhan - jammer@...
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