Battlestar Galactica: S01E12: Kobol’s Last Gleaming pt. 1 (Alternate Review)
We begin with a four part montage intercut teaser;
-Lee and Bill Adama box each other; hitting each other smartly, and asking each other stupidly, “Are you all right?” -Kara Thrace appears in the throws of passion with some schmuck. -On Caprica, Karl Agathon runs along, still flashback befuddled; until he is intercepted by Caprica Sharon. Battlestar Boomer sits with her gun, contemplating a programming loop, -should she or shouldn’t she eat it? Right away, it is obvious : there is no joy in Colonialville.
This will be a grim episode. Bill knocks Lee on his ass. Lee gets up and Bill (father talking to son), tells him that the reason that Lee was on the floor looking up is “you didn’t let go.” Lee, misunderstanding his father thinks it is praise. It is no surprise to see Lee’s hurt at the correction, when the old battlestar commander explains, senior officer to junior, where Lee’s mistake lies. Kara cries out “Lee” and surprise (not) we see the same hurt on Gaius Baltar’s face. #6, the Heifer appears, and the same look appears on her face.(Get used to it, folks. It is the episode’s overriding theme.).
After confronting each other, with loaded guns, Caprica MARK IV TOASTER and Helo exchange a painful interlude of recriminations. Sharon holsters hers and urges Helo to shoot her. He does. Battlestar Sharon chickens out: for the moment….. BETRAYAL
The theme continues into act one. Enter Laura Roslin in the old MRI machine. If we didn’t know before, we do now. She has six months to live. This is something that she finally admits to Elosha, the priestess. Elosha, who up to this point has been more or less a secularized protestant type of clergyperson, now has to confront the “facts” of her religion.
But we get a little ahead of ourselves. Battlestar Boomer is called away from her decision loop, to pilot a Raptor reconnaissance mission. If you have been keeping score, our little Raptor pilot has found the Ragtag Fleet’s water, fuel, fought and won a major countermeasures/counter countermeasures battle with the Cylons at the Battle of the Tylium Asteroid fuel processor plant, and has a well deserved reputation as one of the Colonial’s best warriors1.
Too bad she is a Cylon. Battlestar Boomer flies her mission with her new favorite DRADIS2 operator, Crashdown, into a patented Lieutenant Gaeta in-jump. Lo and behold, amidst a panicky orbital insertion, Crashdown and Battlestar Valleri exchange speculations as to the planet they find. Little Sharon knows, “Its more important than Earth.” Like many things our little Raptor pilot gets right, she gets it “wrong”.
On the “Starbuck”3 front, things aren’t so sweet, either. She walks into a card game of triad4 where the two bantam roosters, Lee and Gaius,(Zach/Gaius5 to those who have previously read these reviews.) butt heads competitively. Baltar, who is a card counter, as well as a genius, tells Lee, “You can’t compete with me.” and lowers the boom on Kara by telling her “that’s Miser Vice President to you.” The yessir from Kara is suspiciously like the one she will give later to Lee. Things from here, go downhill fast.
We jump into act two. Return again to Laura Roslin, who by now has made her religious conversion, (Thanks to her Kamala leaf extract hallucinations.) She pours over some photos from the planet Battlestar Sharon surveyed. With her are Elosha and Billy Keikaya. The Kamala is working overtime. Laura sees the Capital of the “gods” that used to be on Kobol in the photo. Elosha pulls out the Caprican “bible” and we get an illustration match between Laura’s hallucination and the “Opera House temple” that was on Kobol. At this moment out of left field comes an arrow hallucination.
Later, Billy confronts President Roslin and calls her on the carpet concerning a harebrained scheme involving this “Arrow of Apollo”6 and the captured Cylon Raider. In effect Billy questions whether Roslin has taken leave of her senses, arguing that Roslin threatens to betray everything that he and she tried to accomplish. Back to Baltar we go. Things for Mister Vice President have been rather routine for him. He goes looking for Kara (Who knows why?
Apparently Battlestar Sharon isn’t the only one trying to punch a ticket into the hereafter.) and finds the little Raptor pilot “cleaning her gun”. In a Zachary Smith move that ranks right down there with over the top self-interest, Gaius “suggests” that the poor little Cylon follow her heart’s inclination. #6, the Heifer, for the second time appears and comments this time to Baltar as she earlier on Caprica to Darlow, that the Boomer MARK IV TOASTER is weak-but she will carry out her programming as she is a Cylon. Baltar ignores her and tries his gambit anyway. BANG. Baltar walking away doesn’t flinch, but a surprised and shocked Heifer does .
Caprica Boomer interlude; Poor Caprica TOASTER MARK IV huddles in the rain. A vengeful Agathon has no sympathy for the shivering “toaster”. He rails at her. He won’t acknowledge her suffering, emotionally or physically. In some ways he acts as monstrously as any Centurion he has previously shot. When the wounded Sharon tries to explain that she is more than he imagines or believes, she gets a pistol shot past her eyes for her pleading.
Betrayal is on three levels, here, folks. Caprica Sharon betrays her Cylon programming by her love for “Helo”. She betrays the Cylon plan by refusing to labrat her love. Karl betrays his humanity by acting without mercy-either in killing the “toaster” or showing her compassion. Yet more Baltar: The next time we see old Zachary/Gaius, he meets with Laura Roslin and Billy Keikaya for a government in-brief to bring him up to speed as Vice President, if Roslin dies. The Heifer appears to announce to Gaius that her needs to get off the “Galactica” as it is no longer safe. Gaius goes into a rebellious puppet routine.
He rants that he doesn’t work for whom? Both Laura and the Heifer have the same look.(Yes that look again.). Later in the executive bathroom of Colonial one, the Heifer slams Baltar, headfirst, into a mirror and warns him again to get off the Galactica. (That at least answers the chip question. She is inside Baltar’s head.). The Second Go-Around at Kobo going into act three William Adama dispatches a three Raptor7 survey group to determine if the planet is suitable for settlement. His best Raptor pilot isn’t going. She shot her cheek out while “cleaning her gun.” In the planning for the survey expedition: involving Adama , the elder, Roslin, and their respective entourages, Gaius weasels his way onto the expedition. For the third time the Heifer warns him to get off Galactica.
Gaius listens at last and acts to save himself-even though he may not understand the why of it. Meanwhile Battlestar Boomer is visited by Chief Tyrol. She and he, exchange final pleasantries. Foursquare Tyrol doesn’t believe her “clean her gun” story and offers to get Sharon help, but betrayed Sharon “dismisses” him.
There is that salute again! As for the Raptor group, they in-jump next to a Cylon base star and a horde of Raiders. one Raptor dies in a collision, one under orders, out-jumps and guess which one is headed for a planet “crashdown”?(pun intended). Gaius rides it in, getting in everybody’s way as Crashdown tries to clear the pilot out of the seat and make planetary entry before the canopy fails. The returning Raptor brings the news of betrayal to the battlestar. Gee, one wonders who told the Cylons where Kobol was?
On the Lee, Kara front: The two of them confront each other in the starboard hanger bay. Kara is loading what looks like 12.7 mm machine gun ammunition into the Cylon Raider. She and Lee fight over the Baltar fling. This is Lee’s second boxing lesson and once again he fails to learn. He gets hit far harder than the counter-punch he threw at Kara. Later as William and Lee Adama discuss plans for rescuing their shotdown Raptor on Kobol, Colonel Tigh mentions that Kara worked up a plan of rescue(what else would you expect from the Colonial’s best tactician? After the evidence from The Hand of God would you expect less?).
Lee, feeling betrayed, goes off to confront Kara, yet again! This time it is his professional pride that is hurt. He dresses her down about the chain of command, tries to humiliate her with “cadet” discipline and generally makes himself look like the small man he actually is. once more the Baltar incident comes up and we see(all too obviously) the real reason for Lee’s sense of betrayal. Somehow, in all of this, the captured Cylon Raider has to play a role in the overriding theme. It will. For you see, Laura Roslin’s plan involves the Raider and by extension, Kara Thrace. Laura, at least, has the honor to try and negotiate with William Adama for the use of the Raider.
She lays out her reasons and her logic. The “Husker”8 thinks she is crazy. He politely, with reasonable speech, tells her so. She, in spite of William’s polite warning, plans to impose her will, anyway. Remembering Kara from “Flesh and Bone”. Laura plans to prey on Kara’s religiousness to get her, that is Laura’s, way. Poor Billy is made the errand boy to get Thrace despite his remonstrations to Laura about the political consequences of such an act.
Seeing the ruthlessness of the President, did anyone doubt that Laura would use Kara’s loyalty and belief in honor to betray “Starbuck” into doing Roslin’s will? So Kara asks William Adama “How long until we reach Earth?” He lies. Comes the weapons test with the Raider, and the scrambled communication to William Adama, “I believed you!” Kara out-jumps leaving “Apollo” with his Viper and his jaw hanging.
The writing. Enough said. The acting. Everyone, except James Callis, rose to the challenge-especially the Heifer.
Tricia Helfer had little dialogue to screw up, but she has plainly been on a hyperbolic course developing her role over the last three episodes. She still mangles lines, but she no longer looks or acts like a stiff mannequin. There was genuine jealousy and anger emoted; and I believed, it when she portrayed herself as hurt and betrayed by Baltar’s romp with Kara.
The CGI was very good-especially the Raptor/Raider furball.
No obvious Ron Moore clichés or rip-offs for once.(OOPS see the footnotes. D.) The music is getting better-especially the classical music mixed to the opening teaser. Bad things. The camera work needs to compromise a little. I know that Ron Moore that Ron Moore likes the close-up and the free camera style, but if an episode screamed out for tripod mid group shots, this one was it. This was especially true of the chaos in the falling Raptor heading in to crash on Kobol.
The chaos of bodies tumbling around in the Raptor needed steady camera work not to lose the eye, watching it. James Callis, still clowns the part of Baltar. That rant he gave in the scene with Mary McDonnell and Tricia Helfer when he whines about not working for the both of them was pure “Richard the Third” villain scenery chewing and was AWFUL. It was an embarrassment to the otherwise superb work put out by everyone-including and especially the Heifer. Curiosities If the Colonials left Kobol two thousand years ago and Kobol is within two hundred light-years of Caprica, how soon after their exodus did they make planetfall? Did I miss something or did Elosha mention a war among the “gods” that preceded the Colonial’s original Exodus? Did anybody notice the “bombed” nature of the ruins on Kobol? Though I never covered it in the body of this review, the importance of those Cylon transponders that Lieutenant Gaeta has finally analyzed forms the basis of Kara’s Kamikaze plan to use the Raider to smuggle a bomb aboard the Cylon base star orbiting Kobol.
Did anybody notice that Kara had her plan ready before Gaeta explained the identification friend or foe feature to William Adama?
1. Its not hard to really cheer for both Boomers. Still, you wonder how much of Battlestar Sharon’s heroics are her own or what the Cylons let her accomplish?
2. DRADIS: Direction, RAnge and DIStance; what the Colonials use for radar.
3. “STARBUCK” With Kara I am having a hard time resisting the nickname “STARDOE”. Up to the moment EVERYBODY has picked on poor little Kara. Laura Roslin’s bullying on top of the Lee Adama/Gaius Baltar chivying just sent my sympathy meter pegging into the red zone with regards to her. In the past we have seen William Adama turn to her to do ALL of the hard lifting and the dirty work. In this series, the only one who is more dumped on is Boomer(Battlestar Sharon or Caprica Valleri; either one.)
4. Ron Moore screwed up. He confused the card game of Pyramid with the sports game of Triad. So in the new series when they play the sport of Triad it will be Pyramid.
5. For those of you who missed it previously, James Callis is acting very much in the vein of the comedic villain Zachary Smith as portrayed by Jonathan Harris of “Lost in Space” fame.
6. The “Arrow of Apollo”. Where did this come from? Now we get an artifact that once put into an archaeological dig points the way to Earth?(So I was wrong! Ron Moore did have his weekly cliche ripoff. Can one say “Raiders of the Lost Ark”?)
7. Along with a Viper shortage, the Colonials are soon to suffer a Raptor shortage. Not counting the eighteen so Viper pilots killed to this point and the ten Vipers lost due to all causes, we can now add two Raptors with their pilots from the Galactica flight wing.
8. “Husker” was apparently William Adama’s callsign when he flew against the Cylons in the first war. Postscript: SPOILERS for Kobold’s Last Gleaming Part II For those of you who hypthesized the the Galactica would be spared by the Cylon transponder that was originally installed in her during the mini-series? It isn’t so. For proof I refer you to the Battle of Ragnar Station. The transponder offered no defence there.
The identification friend or foe feature of the transponder allows Cylons to recognize each other at short range. That is all. As you will discover, it takes a countermeasures platform(a Raptor) and a CYLON to make it work at long range.
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This Battlestar Galactica review is © 2005 Frank Reddick.
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