Note: This review contains significant spoilers.
Battlestar Galactica: "The Ties That Bind"
Tyrol's marriage faces a meltdown amid a series of suspicions by
Cally. Meanwhile, deep ideological divisions threaten the Cylons with
Air date: 4/18/2008 (USA)
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by Michael Nankin
Rating out of 4: ***1/2
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
There's a lot going on in "The Ties That Bind," and if there's a
unifying theme, it's that friction and dissent in all the storylines
seems ready to explode. In some cases the ticking bombs keep ticking
for another day. And in other cases they do, indeed, blow up.
In Plot A, we have the Secret Four (actually three, since one is
currently off the ship) still trying to come to grips with their
discovery. There's a fork in the road, and that fork is whether to
resist the road to Cylon-town and continue as a human, or to embrace
new discoveries as an opportunity to start from scratch and do what
you feel. The seeds of the episode's dark climax are sown right up
front with Tyrol and Tory sitting in Joe's Bar and discussing their
grappling with this new problem.
Tyrol's marriage is on the rocks (and thrashing upon massive shards
of broken glass, for that matter) and he's approaching his Cylon
problem like a man who has learned he has a secret illness about
which he can discuss only with members of a support group sharing
that illness. Tory, meanwhile, seems to approach Cylon-hood as a
newfound gift: Hey, now I can throw away all the crap that used to be
my life and start again as something else. Tyrol's take on the matter
is just the opposite, and very honest and simple in its Tyrol-
ness: "I don't do well with change." Some of us don't.
What I love about the fact that these people are Cylons is that it's
treated in terms of the human condition. It's not simply a plot
element; it's a personal crisis and the story is about how to live
with it. Like I said in my "Six of One" review that I posted last
week (har, har), it's like a psychological condition because it has
no other (known, as of yet) symptom other than the fact that some
people might be willing to kill you for having it.
Cally sees Tory and Tyrol together and assumes they're having an
affair, which has a cascading effect of suspicions and accusations,
climaxing with her finding a note (left by Tigh, about where the
Secret Three are to meet), which she follows to Weapons Locker 1701D
(a cute touch worth a grin) and hears the conversation that confirms
not her worst fear, but something far worse -- that her husband is a
Cylon, and her child is thus ... *something*.
In Plot B we have the Demetrius, a ship helmed by Kara and supplied
the oh-so-simple mission of "Find Earth." Kara's role as commander
seems to consist mostly of locking herself in her quarters and
painting dreamlike images on the walls in a desperate attempt to
remember where Earth might be, if in fact she actually was there. The
ship (whose crew includes such notables as Helo, Anders, Gaeta, and
Seelix) is brewing with tension, as multiple malcontents grumble
aloud their doubts concerning this dubious mission and its even more
dubious commander. This is gonna be a problem.
And you thought Kara and Anders had a dysfunctional, volatile
relationship *before* she died. Kara pretty much tells him that their
marriage is a joke (which was never exactly a secret), before then
telling him that "I just want to frak," which they do, angrily. So to
recap: He's a Cylon, which she doesn't know. And she's back from the
dead and now experiences life like a disconnected, out-of-body dream.
Sex must sure be interesting, though perhaps not very fun. Their
feelings, whatever they may be, are helplessly confused and
complicated by not only their present situations, but their messy
In plot C, we have governmental politics brought back to the
forefront in a way not seen for quite some time, and perhaps not with
quite this overall feeling/tone since the first season. It begins
with Roslin forced to field questions about the Demetrius, which she
has to downplay; the whole situation has put her and Adama at slight
odds, even though Adama still reads to Roslin as she lies in her
hospital bed. (What a great, complex relationship these two have.)
I like that the series is gearing the political machinations back up,
and thrusting Lee right into the middle of it feels like the right
choice. Lee is installed to the Quorum, and we've got VP Zarek back
in the mix giving advice to Lee that may be motivated by Zarek's own
agenda. This should prove to be an interesting dynamic. Right off the
bat, Zarek is sounding the alarm about Roslin and her increasing
secrecy in conducting government under the label "classified," and he
urges Lee to push back against it where appropriate.
Push back Lee does, but perhaps not in the way Zarek expected: In the
list of curious secret executive orders, Lee brings up "Executive
Order 112," which I believe is the order Zarek gave (and Roslin did
not know about, and vehemently disagreed with when she found out)
in "Collaborators" to enact secret tribunals to dispatch with the New
Caprica traitors. Lee could be a thorn in everyone's side here, which
might not be what Zarek had in mind. Interesting how this particular
instance backfires on Zarek.
In plot D, we have the Cylons and their divisions. Dissent among the
Cylons is still split down the middle following Six's violently bold
statement at the end of "Six of One." Cavil reluctantly agrees to
negotiate, saying violence is not the answer. Meanwhile, the
Centurions want to hear the word "please" when they're ordered
around. Cavil warns of the can of worms Six has opened, and Six says
she wants the D'Annas unboxed to make the deciding vote over whether
to seek out the Final Five. As a footnote in all this, Boomer is the
lone Eight to stand apart from her model.
This aspect of the episode gets perhaps the shortest shrift, but
that's okay. It does what it needs to, culminating in the reveal of a
ruthless deception by Cavil as he initially seems to acquiesce to Six
and unite the splintered Cylon fleet, only to lure them into a trap
with no resurrection ships and open fire on them. Six seems
blindsided: "They're *really* trying to kill us!" This move
constitutes a game-changer in the series' factional makeup. Here we
see a Cylon civil war with the Colonials relegated (temporarily, at
least) to the sidelines.
It's perhaps a blessing that Plot E, Baltar's Religious Cult, is kept
off-screen for the hour. In a story so jam-packed with goings-on, I
doubt another storyline could've been sustained.
What will be remembered most about "The Ties That Bind" is how
Cally's story ends with dark, tragic consequences. As I said, the
opening scene sets the stage, and the closing passage writes the
inevitable (in retrospect) conclusion. Cally is aghast at learning
the truth about Tyrol, and it leads her to the brink of flushing
herself and her half-Cylon baby out an airlock. The one who steps in
and stops her is Tory, and what happens between them is interesting
because of how telling it really is.
The story approaches this problem from the personalities and
psychologies of the characters: Cally as a hopelessly distraught
woman who had already reached the end of her rope; Tory as a born-
again opportunist who now feels she can write herself a license to do
whatever she can get away with. Cally can't see beyond her own
invectives of Cylon skin-jobs who are the enemy, even if her husband
is one of them. And Tory talks Cally down from suicide just long
enough to get her hands on Cally's son and then flush Cally out the
The episode's most intriguing line is Tory's, when she assures
Cally, "We're not evil." Perhaps not. But Tory does commit a clearly
evil act. The point here, is that it's not "a Cylon" that murders
Cally. It's Tory, a woman with free will, who turns a corner and
makes a decision *because* she has this new knowledge that she is a
Cylon, and that knowledge *itself* allows her to commit evil. It's a
fascinating turn of events. Would Tory have done what she did if she
didn't know she was a Cylon? No. But I suspect she would've been just
as capable of it. It may be that the knowledge of being a Cylon will
simply reveal to the Secret Four what their true colors always were.
Footnote: I stopped watching Sci Fi's ridiculously spoiler-prone
trailers after the one for "The Ties That Bind," which basically
showed Tory airlocking Cally. I understand the need to market your
show, but if you give away the shock ending to your upcoming episode,
you've clearly crossed the line.
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@...