Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Battlestar Galactica: Sine Qua Non

Illustration for article titled Battlestar Galactica: Sine Qua Non

Tonight's episode had one purpose: to keep you on the edge of your seat until next week's episode, when we'll see what happened to Roslin, Baltar and the gang after they blipped away on that crippled basestar. We get a few clue stonight, but the full story of their adventures in Cylonspace will have to wait. Tonight, we were back on the Fleet - watching serious people have serious conversations about politics. So if you're only into this show for the robots and the dogfights, you'll be disappointed. (Again.)

The fleet's in the middle of a crisis. First off, Baltar's gone, so somebody has to drone on about God on the shortwave and keep the nymph squad in silk and baby powder. But we hear nothing about that situation; instead, we jump to the Quorum, where they're waving their arms and spreading gossip as they decide what to do without a President. Vice-President Tom Zarek is next in line, but with Admiral Adama refusing to back an ex-terrorist, a Zarek Presidency is a non-starter - which leaves Apollo, the newest member of our little legislature, to start a "search committee" and look for someone who can keep the chair warm until Roslin gets back, or until the next election.

It's no surprise that Apollo pulls a Dick Cheney, and takes the job himself. Several people in the comments called this one at the start of the season, when Lee first went into government. But the episode makes the promotion more interesting by bringing back charismatic super-attorney Romo Lamkin (Mark Sheppard). I don't know if Lamkin is really a "fan favorite." Sure he's a wacky scenery-chewer, and those guys are always a breath of fresh air. But this is Battlestar Galactica, and Lamkin's always been a bit edgy - especially tonight.

We find Lamkin holed up in his quarters, staring out his little porthole and talking to a dead cat. As he advises Lee on the presidential search, he spouts some pompous but fantastic lines that nicely sum up the entire show - like when he's going down a list of great candidates and in frustration, bursts out, "What does this search for paragons net us anyway, but greater guilt at our own failings?"

That's a great set-up for Admiral Adama, who's more than bummed that President Roslin is missing, presumed atomized. First he comes down like a hammer on everyone who let him down: Athena, for shooting down a Cylon diplomat, and Tigh, for - well, we'll get to that. Then he starts risking the last ships in the fleet to track them down, until he's even rebuked by Starbuck (who did a 180 after she got off the sewer ship: all of a sudden she's sensible, sane, and acting like she could take care of anything bigger than a goldfish). Adama's judgment is impaired right when they can least afford it. So he does the only smart thing: he admits that he has his limits - and his limit is Roslin. He gives up his command and decides to stay behind in a raptor while the fleet moves on, waiting at the rendezvous site for Roslin to come back. Take note, all you kids out there: that is romantic.

But before he gives up his command, Adama makes one giant mistake: he promotes Tigh. The problem with having such a small, tight cast on this show is that they keep giving important jobs to people who are mentally way out of pocket. And once again, I don't buy it. Not only is Tigh acting wackier than usual, and not only was his last stint at the head of the fleet an unmitigated disaster, but we just found out that Tigh has been canoodling with Caprica Six - and managed to get her pregnant. This is the first known Cylon-Cylon pregnancy, which is fascinating enough (and doesn't get enough explication - does the Six know she's pregnant? What does Cottle think?). But it also shows that Tigh is a little fragile. (And kudos to the actor, Michael Hogan, who at one point tonight gives us a look so crazed, the missing eye bugged out.)

I like seeing Adama, the stoic leader, admit his weakness; but the obvious, obvious, obvious thing to do here - you know, if the fate of the human race were at stake or something - would be to put Apollo back in uniform and find some other yutz to sit in for Roslin. And as much as we all love Apollo, he's not exactly a veteran politician. What kind of a government would hand the Presidency to a guy who hasn't even finished his first term in the legislature? I mean seriously.

But all of this is prelude to next week, when we'll find out what happened to everyone on that baseship. Our only clue comes when a damaged raptor jumps back from what looks like a terrific battle: it's leaking fuel and oxygen, and inside is the body of Pike - and that copy of Searider Falcon Roslin was holding, charred but intact. And so we're left to wonder: what the hell happened out there … ?

Grade: B

- We've complained several times about the spoilerific teasers they run after each episode. But tonight's teaser takes the cake. I don't see any way we can't discuss it here - and anyway, the meaning is inconclusive - but let's try to say "SPOILER" or something before we start talking about what's probably just a cheap fake-out.

- After tonight, if I had to guess on who's the twelfth Cylon, I'd put even more money on Doc Cottle. When he loomed over Natalie as she died, I got a terrific Gepetto vibe.

- Seeing the older Adama cramming his paunch into a flight suit was a great wardrobe moment. But what was up with Lee strutting around in that wine-colored shirt with his collar open? He looked like he should be slapped in the face with a glove.