Battlestar Galactica: S02E02: Valley of Darkness

When I first read that the Galactica was going to be boarded by Cylon Centurions, I had a very un-sadgeezerly thought. How the hell are they going to pay for all that CGI? According to rumour, the centurions are the easiest and most common way for the show to blow it special effects budget for an episode. So I wondered how they would ever find the money for all the graphics without emptying other episodes coffers. It turns out the writers and directors found an inexpensive way to show a centurion attack on the Galactica. They learned from Hitchcock and made the viewer imagine much of the attack. The suspense worked in their favour, and it was a great episode for it.

Remember that Cylon infested virus that temporarily got into Galactica’s as hock network last week? Remember how it appeared to be destroyed when the network was physically disconnected? Well it wasn’t destroyed. Fragments of the bug have invaded various systems of the ship, knocking out the lights, most power, and communications. Of course artificial gravity was still working.

Whilst the command staff in CIC are struggling to get the ship in working order, the brainless pilots barely even notice. They’re too high from their “victory” against the Cylons last week, err a few minutes earlier.

The nugget pilots and Apollo talk up their recent experiences on their way to the officers mess and brig, respectively. on their way back though they encounter a Centurion in the hallway. Flyboy takes three talons to the chest and drops. The other pilots take a few pot shots with their pistols before running like hell away. Apollo for the first time in the new series, shows some actual leadership traits, and selfless evacuates the nuggets to relative safety up a ladder. But its too late for him. The centurion is giving chase, and Apollo’s pellet gun just won’t work against the heavily armoured foe. In traditional climatic sense, the centurions heads explodes just as its about to slice Apollo open. Some marines were responding to the invasion, and followed the rouge centurion toward Apollo, and the pilots. In their very recent combat experience, they’ve learned that normal rounds won’t harm the centurions, only explosive bullets. They brief Apollo and the nuggets of the situation. Apollo decides to takes charge of the offensive by proclaiming “Let’s go toaster shopping”.

Despite downed internal communications, reports have reached the CIC that centurions have boarded the ship. Gaeta gets on the radio and announces to the fleet that they have been boarded and that no ships should attempt to board or get near the Galactica. When he tries to repeat the message, the Cylons jam his transmission. That or Gaeta held the mic to close the speaker, because it sounded like a nasty feedback loop.
Early reports indicate that the Cylons have split into two groups; one headed fore, the other aft. Tigh recognizes this strategy from the first Cylon war and the brutal hand-to-robotic-hand combat they he engaged in. The Cylons plan to go to auxiliary damage control and fire control. Their plan is to override the safeties and vent the entire ship, killing everyone aboard. At the same time they also plan to turn the Galactica’s guns against the rest of the rag tag fleet. Tigh orders that the crew protect those two locations. Too bad he has no way to tell his marines his plan immediately.

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The strong point of this episode was its suspense and creepiness factor. The director achieves this by having distant sounds of screams, gunshots and combat through the bulkheads. It unnerves not only the people aboard the Galactica, but also some of the viewers. Roslin is one such person who is getting freaked out. She demands that she be released from her cell, lest she be gunned down by the Cylons. Billy presses the issue, and the pussy guard Cpl. Venner agrees. The three are about to leave when Apollo and his posse find them. After some tense dialogue, Apollo gives a gun to Billy and tells the presidential group to seek refuge in med bay. The two groups part ways, but don’t fear! They’ll see each other again soon.

Helo and Starbuck are still having some trouble interacting with each other on Caprica. Starbuck won’t let Helo forget that he was suckered by Boomer. He confronts her about it and admits that he was an idiot, but that biocylons have a way of manipulating people. This only serves to depress Starbuck more. As they walk through Delphi, they pass her old apartment and she decides that it’s time to go home.

Flash to Kobol, where Baltar wakes up only to find Adama and several dozen crew members near the ruins. Adama approaches him and asks Baltar what’s he’s holding. A blanketed baby mysteriously appear in Baltar’s arms. If it wasn’t already obvious that this scene is a dream, it should be now. Baltar replies that it is a baby, and Adama infers that she’s a hybrid. He asks to hold her and Baltar naively lets him. Adama then walks off with the baby toward the river. Baltar watches powerlessly as Adama drowns his baby in the river.

In the background, you can actually hear people changing the channel. People turned out during the mini series after #6 snapped a babies neck. The producers said that was a mistake in and won’t do it again. They lied. It should be noted that this episode was the lowest rated to date.
Baltar awakens in the forest of Kobol, in a cold sweat. #6 is there to comfort him, and basically tells him that humans are evil, that we hunt for sport, and turn our backs on god. She starts making some subtle suggestions to Baltar that Adama is the leader of that evil and shouldn’t be trusted, for he will kill their daughter. Baltar is very quickly heading down the path of insanity.

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Things still suck on the Galactica. Apollo and his posse make way to the nearest weapons locker. Before they get there they encounter a half dozen dead bodies. Victims of the centurions. When they arrive at the locker, they open it only to find Jammer cowering inside. Despite his pathetic excuses, Jammer is conscripted into the toaster hunters. The weapons locker is largely empty though. There are only 6 explosive rounds, one for each person and an extra for Apollo.

Starbuck’s apartment is a real shit hole. It hasn’t been cleaned in… forever. But we learn some interesting things about her. She is an artist, and uses one of the walls of her efficiency to practice her “artwork”. She puts on a track of her father’s music (using batteries) and relaxes on the couch. Helo takes a seat opposite her. Things are silent for a while, until Starbuck points out that unlike the rest of humanity, she’s not fighting to get back her former life. Instead she is just fighting. Helo remains silent the whole time.

After a few hours of downtime, Starbuck pulls out some keys from her jacket pocket and asks Helo if he’s tired of walking. They leave her apartment to her garage and get into her hummer. Of course Starbuck would drive and overpowered, inefficient hunk like a humvee. They break through the gate with the leviathon and drive onward to where ever.

Roslin’s group encounter their own massacre on their way to sickbay. They find more dead bodies and one still barely alive. Dualla is found with a concussion behind one of the bulkheads. Billy is there to comfort her, despite how she was a dick to him earlier in the episode.

With the finding of Dualla comes more new hope. Reports reach the CIC that foreword centurions have either been destroyed or contained. But sadly the ones heading for aft damage control have yet to be challenged successfully. The centurions opened a few key corridors to space, which will prevent reinforcements from getting back there to stop them. Of course we sadgeezers at home know better. Its obvious that Apollo and/or Roslin’s group will be there to take out the centurions.
On Kobol, Tyrol and Cally arrive too late to help Socinus. Sellix announces that nothing can be done for him. But with the second med kit they can now give him a lethal dose of painkillers so he doesn’t have to die a horrible painful death. Tyrol is still disturbed by Tarn’s death and doesn’t want to hear it. But after some futile yelling, he realizes that it’s over. He takes the syringe and injects it into Socinus to see hi off peacefully. He proceeds to tell Socinus that help has arrived and that he’s going home. Socinus is happy about this, and smiles as he passes out, never to wake up again. Everyone in the party shed a tear, as well as some viewers at home. It was a sad scene, which only demonstrates how dark but strong the episode is.

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Apollo has Jammer fix one of the phones so he can contact the CIC. Apollo talks with Tigh, and learns about the threat to aft damage control and the entire ship. Tigh orders him to neutralize the Centurions immediately.
The group make their way to aft damage control and set up some defensive positions when they arrive. Meanwhile because of the spaced sections, Roslin and her protectors have to find another way to sickbay.

his new route takes them past aft damage control. They arrive just before the Centurions burst onto the scene. The group hides behind bulkheads when the centurions pass.
As Murphy’s Law would hav it, Billy is a klutz and accidentally fires his gun, alerting the Cylons to their position. This gives Apollo the distraction her needs and orders his group to fire at the centurions.

hey take out one. But the other is still up. It exchanges fire, and kills two marines in the process. The centurion makes a beeline toward the Apollo and the damage control. As it tries to jump on Apollo, Apollo fires an explosive round directly into its head. The busted centurion fly past him and into a wall.

The threat has been contained.
In typical charcter form, Jammer starts trash talking about the Centurions, claiming that “they aren’t so big now”. Apollo politely tells him to shut the frak up, by replying “they were big enough”, and looking at the two dead marines.

At the end of the day, 11 crewman were killed. And as a thanks for their hard work, Roslin and Apollo are sent back to the brig.

I give this a tense episode a 39,870 out of 10

Dissecting the Episode:

What is the significance of the number of survivors in today’s episodes?The credits in this episode indicate that there are 47,874 survivors in looking for earth at the beginning of the episode. It’s well known that Ronald Moore is a member of the cult of 47 (see: 47 Society). The belief is that the number 47 is the most commonly used number in the universe. To perpetuate this, he and other Hollywood types sneak the number in, whenever possible. It happens a lot in other shows such as Alias, various Star Treks, Lost and Alias (its worth repeating). Tonight’s survivor total features it twice. 47,874. The second occurrence is 74 (47 backwards). Besides the survivor count, 47 is also found as coordinates that Gaeta shouts out, a call number for a raptor, and passenger numbers on certain ships. Check out the transcripts for more details.

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Copyright 2005 Ryan Bechtel

Battlestar Galactica names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Sci-Fi Channel, NBC Universal and R&D Television.

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