Sometimes I forget these people live off algae.
I believe it was Edward James Olmos who commented on how bad the folks on the fleet have it. They live in cramped quarters, and they eat algae. I can't even guess how the heads smell on those ships. Here in the real world, we're so sensitive we buy special daylight lamps to keep us happy during the winter; these foks haven't felt sunshine in months. Last week, the discovery that Earth was covered with radioactive scrub-brush sent everyone into despair. But now we've moved on to a duller, more banal feeling: the fleet is itchy. They're stuck and fed up with each other. And tempers are starting to flare.
Usually I recap the episodes rather than criticize them. But I've gotta say, this was one of those Galacticas that just didn't work. In one hour, they had to position the characters for a mutiny: the always-diabolical Vice-President Zarek teams up with Lieutenant Gaeta - still ticked that a Cylon (Sam Anders) blew his lower-leg off - to lead an insurrection against Adama, Roslin, Apollo, the Cylons, the lousy food, the lack of a flight plan, and everything else that's cramming sand in their privates. Meanwhile, Adama and Roslin are sick, tired, and checked out. Will Zarek and Gaeta pull control of the fleet away from them? And if so - well, so?
The big problem this week lies in how directionless the fleet feels. For the past four years, we've been following a fairly methodical scavenger hunt that led to Earth. Now that they have no idea where to go next, it's hard to see what the factions in the fleet are going to fight over. At the end of the day, will it come down to Adama voting "go left" and Zarek pushing for "right"? We're rearranging officer's chairs on the Titantic. (And by the way: I've read a few books about space, and from what I understand, it's big. Really big. So wandering around the place looking for a planet with 70-degree temperatures and potable water? Kind of a suckerbet.)
Of course, there's also a bigger, more specific rift in the fleet: what to do with the Cylons. Before the season break, Apollo brokered a quickie truce between the humans and D'Anna's Cylons that peacefully brought them all to Earth. Since then, the humans and Cylons have co-mingled uncomfortably - I mean, co-mingled more, and more uncomfortably than they already were - and plenty of the humans are fed up with it. By contrast, the Cylons just want to get closer. They propose an alliance, by which they really mean a union between the two races. The Cylons would become full citizens, and their ships would get the full protection of the military, and in return, they would hand out Cylon technology and help the ships go absolutely nowhere three times faster than before. What a deal! And it looks like the fleet will have to decide that one by force.
So what didn't work this week? For one thing, the episode was clunky. Maybe it's because the whole thing wasn't drenched in sorrow and strings, but much of the exposition felt wooden and tactical, and the dialogue was steadily sub-par. Here are a few choice cliches: "You know, there are days when I really hate this job." "[Fatherhood] sucks. Except for the parts that don't." "Rimshot!" "Is this how you get your kicks these days? Sorry, I meant your half-kicks."
I don't even really get that last one, but it was one of the cripple jokes that Starbuck threw at Gaeta in their big scene, which had all the fizzle of a wet matchbook. We spent the whole episode watching Gaeta get so ticked-off that he would coordinate a mutiny. But I just don't buy Gaeta playing that part. It's like getting screwed by your accountant. He's a bravo male, and he's most interesting when he's being complicit or subversive (as on New Caprica). He's not the kind of guy who would walk into Zarek's jail cell and sell out the fleet. And when he insists that Zarek's the guy who can take this whole mess and turn it around, well, you'd expect Gaeta to realize that it ain't that simple.
The tension's mounting, but we never feel it - except maybe in the scene where Baltar, still a radio preacher and a cult leader, becomes so exhausted moaning through the same drivel to the same dull-eyed followers that he finally loses it and starts blaming God for everything that's gone wrong. The details of Baltar's faith have always been vague, so it's not clear yet what turn he's taking here, but I know I'm ready for him to ditch the cloth and go back to being a man of science. He looked clear-eyed and authoritative last week. Maybe he can invent some super-gizmo that will point them to a new Earth.
- Does anyone know where the title comes from?
- Of course, the best part of the show came when we discover that baby Nicky's dad isn't Tyrol, but … Hot Dog! See? I was half-right! I knew Hot Dog had something really big ahead of him this season!
- The other best part was Tigh's response to Six's ultrasound. And boy, did that fetus look alien.
- Why is Chief Tyrol negotiating for the Cylons instead of D'anna? (EDIT: … Because D'anna's back on Earth, as you all so graciously reminded me. My dur.)
- Last week, Tigh discovered that his late wife Ellen was the fifth Cylon; this week, we discover that he's told at least Apollo about it. How did that conversation go? And who else knows?
- We're reminded again that Brother Cavil and his host of b-list Cylons are still out there somewhere. Just keeping that out there.
Sometimes I forget these people live off algae.