Battlestar Galactica

Season 4 Episode 4

Escape Velocity

3
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Apr 25, 2008 on Syfy
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (22)

8.4
out of 10
Average
529 votes
  • A transitional episode uplifted by philosophy

    7.0
    Jane Espenson, the writer for this episode, was on the writing staff of the Joss Whedon cult favorite "Firefly", a series that is held in high regard among the Galactica production crew. In one of the episodes ("War Stories"), a peculiar philosophy is mentioned. In short, the idea is: by torturing someone to his or her very limits, that person's true self will emerge. That episode of "Firefly" immediately came to mind while watching the story unfold.

    Because this is largely a transitional piece, the key to success was character exploration and, in turn, a philosophical theme. Almost everyone involved in this episode was tested by some kind of pain or strife. Tyrol, for example, was tested by the knowledge that his wife's "suicide" was anything but (though he doesn't seem sure), and the real man who emerges is not a pleasant sight. Tyrol's growing numbness could leave him vulnerable to Tory's manipulation.

    Tory has done a fairly good job of turning herself into an agent of pain, using it to push Baltar's buttons (rather effectively, I might add). Though it's not explicitly stated, it wouldn't be shocking to discover that she's manipulating Tigh, Tyrol, and Roslin with equal deftness. As noted in the review for the previous episode, she is the one "new" Cylon who has embraced the benefits of her newly-revealed nature. There has always been an amoral aspect to Tory's character, but the moment of revelation has seemingly stripped away some of her internal checks and balances.

    Tigh, like Tyrol, is struggling with the knowledge of his true nature, and his conversation with Caprica Six is revealing. I'm not sure I was completely sold on her actions and reactions in this episode; the characterization felt "off". Tigh's guilt and self-loathing came through very clearly, but her dialogue choices were too "perfect" for the occasion. Even so, this provided an interesting parallel between her and Tory; they both act upon others to help them "know themselves".

    In addition to Tory's possible influence, Roslin's own recognition of her impending death has pushed her towards an even more fascist mindset. Roslin has always been an interesting character, because she has been willing to subvert the popular masses in the name of their survival. Her decision to stand up to Adama in the first season was all about saving Humanity, and as she says in this episode, as time runs out, she's less and less concerned about the opinions of others.

    So Roslin is more than happy to change the law to frustrate Gaius Baltar and paint Lee Adama as naïve for questioning it. Adama, having a rather flexible definition of morality himself (particularly when it comes to his "family"), doesn't disagree. The episode itself suggests that Roslin might have been right to be concerned about Baltar, because the result of his trial is a renewed sense of confidence. Even Lee seemed concerned with the consequences of his decision.

    Ironically, I'm still convinced that the survival of Humanity is through a blending with the Cylons. Baltar and his monotheistic cult could very likely be a part of that movement, along with Kara's search for Earth, and that puts Roslin as more of an impediment to survival than a benefit. Yet in very many ways, they never would have gotten so far without her, and it's quite possible that she's the final Cylon, acting from unseen and unrealized influences.

    The episode gave me enough to enjoy on a philosophical level that the minor character and style choices didn't bother me as much as I initially thought. From a style perspective, I thought the arrangement of the episode, simply from the editing aspect, didn't always work for me. Taken with some of the dialogue, it left me feeling a bit bothered in a very vague sense. The transitional nature of the story also didn't help. But as a fan of shows like "Lost", sometimes all I need is a good philosophical hook, and this episode had that in excess.
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