Battlestar Galactica

Season 4 Episode 1

He That Believeth in Me

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Apr 04, 2008 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (34)

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  • Television's finest sci-fi drama in a decade is back - and the audience is begging for answers

    UK airdate: 15th April, 2008

    In the 1990s, Babylon 5 ushered in a new form of science-fiction television - not only using the genre to tackle questions of relevance to the times, but also daring to define a series that was truly galactic in its extent. In doing so, and despite the wobbles of the 4th and 5th season, it set a whole new benchmark for television science-fiction that remained unchallenged.

    Battlestar Galactica despite the screams of so-called "purists" who cannot get their heads outside of the 1970's precursor has taken the bar set by Babylon 5 - and shot it into orbit.

    While BSG has had its own wobbles - notably for this reviewer that latter part of season 2 / start of season 3, where the producers seemed to have more episodes than they had story arc elements (hence the atrocious "scar" et al) - it has nevertheless repeatedly delivered the most outstanding and relevant television drama. Ever.

    "He That believeth.." proves why. Aired in the UK as the first half of a "double header" season premier (edited together with "Six of One" to form a single 105-minute episode), it escalates the tensions from the end of Season 3 to new - and different levels.

    - Kara Thrace has mysteriously returned from the dead
    - The newly-revealed 4 Cylons (Tigh, Anders, Tyrol and Tory are forced to confront the realities of their own identities
    - Gaius Baltar's transformation into a Messiah continues - but to what end?
    - The cracks evidenced in the humano-cylon ranks start to open into fissures
    - The fleet goes from facing almost certain destruction by an overwhelming Cylon force to the threat of internal factions ripping it apart

    During the episode, the core arcs left from season 3 are continued - clearly most notably through Baltar and the "revealed final four", while new arcs are opened: who - or what - is Kara Thrace? How balanced is Laura Roslyn's judgment (first questioned during Baltar's trial)? What is happening among the ranks of humano-cylons? Indeed, such is the manner in which tensions are raised and new story arcs are opened, this reviewer did start to worry about how the production team can draw all these various strings together smoothly, and answer all the necessary questions to bring full, and proper, closure to the series in just 20 short episodes. However, such is the pace and subtlety of "He That Believeth..." that these concerns are subsumed by 42-minutes of top-notch drama. BSG has always fired best when dealing with intense character interplay interwoven with the central concept of the show: the struggle for survival. In "He That Believeth..." both are delivered in spades - and continued through "Six of One".

    From the opening sequence - which picks up directly from Lee Adama's "discovery" of Starbuck calmly piloting her Mark II which closed the end of season 3 - we run the gauntlet of the Cylon assault on the helpless fleet. This latter brings out the fears and worries of the "revealed four", notably voiced by Anders, that they might yet betray the Colonials, albeit unwillingly - and confirmation of the fact that they truly are Cylons. This latter confirmation comes as Anders is scanned by a Raider - with the result that the attack on the fleet ceases and the Raiders systematically return to their basestars.

    This in turn precipitates a crisis within the humano-cylon ranks. Six, Leoben and Valerii realise the Raiders have evolved: they have identified the location of the final five, and collectively opted to break off their assigned attack on the Colonials. The remaining three - Steven, Doral and Cavel - find both the concept of the Raiders evolving and the idea that the final five could possibly be among the humans respectively repugnant and impossible. At the same time, new potential crises are developing in the ranks of the humans: the growing cult (largely, but not exclusively, female) around Giaus Baltar. While this initially appears to be a cult of personality, as the story unfolds, it starts to become evident that this cult runs deeper: that the "philosophy" of the "one true God" is beginning to take root among the humans - and Baltar is obviously the Anointed Son. What is more, Baltar himself, fragile after recent events, starts believing it himself. This in turn will clearly, and inevitably lead to a further clash between Baltar and Roslyn - the question is, who will precipitate it? On past performance, one would tend towards it being Roslyn herself. In this, a crisis closer to home is looming: a potential and lasting rift between her and Adama. The catalyst for this is the return of Starbuck herself; the woman who has apparently exceeded Roslyn by not so much gathering clues to the whereabouts of Earth - she's actually been there. In her mistrust of Starbuck, Roslyn is both demonstrating what was first alluded to in Baltar's trial: her own absolute belief that she is "right" in all matters of leadership - and she is placing Adama in a cleft stick, essentially asking him to put presidential leadership before "family". And what of Starbuck? Who or what is she? A Cylon? One would hope not. We know one humano-cylon has yet to be revealed, and I hope to god it does not turn out to be Starbuck. This would not so much be a great reveal as it would be a telegraphed double-bluff ("look we're making you think she is a Cylon through her disappearance, then we're going to convince you she isn't - only to whammy you with the fact she is! Aren't we clever?!"). So if not Cylon - that what? How did she survive the destruction of her Viper in the gravity well of the gas giant? Was her ship actually destroyed? If not, what did Lee Adama witness....and how come Thrace returned to Galactica in what appears to be a brand-spanking new Viper?

    Is she a clone? Possibly - but again, if so, who created her? Oddly, this does lead back to the Cylons...they certainly have the technology...and she was in their "care" long enough for them to collect sufficient cell cultures to generate a "new", fully-human Kara Thrace...and they have the capability to capture her essence at the point of death and return it to a new body....

    But if that is the would suggest the Cylons - or a faction therein - already know the location of Earth. Is this possible? Yes. "Razor" opened that door with the introduction of the Guardians. And the question of identities leads us to - for me - two of the most intriguing questions of all:

    - Who - or what - is Giaus Baltar?
    - What happened to the real Saul Tigh?

    Baltar must have died back in season one. Why do I assert this? Simply because we know the humano-cylons are as fragile as the humans upon which they are modelled. Bullets can kill them, as can knives (or pens), they can be beaten up.

    There is certainly nothing in them that can apparently withstand a nuclear blast...yet, in the mini-series that is precisely what we're being asked to believe....that Six somehow protected Baltar from the shockwave of a local nuclear blast during the initial attack on Caprica. So how did Baltar survive? There seems to be only one answer: his consciousness was taken with that of Six at the point of destruction, and downloaded into a new body.

    So, does this make him the last of the final five? Actually, it might....but equally, it is entirely possible that the Giaus Baltar we now is (like Starbuck) a Cylon-created clone. Either way, the whole idea of his "resurrection" is entirely in keeping with his growing Messiah status / complex. Furthermore, the idea of him being downloaded / resurrected goes a long way to explaining how the Six inside his head is able to continue to have such insights into the Cylon's plans....and why the resurrected Six carried her own Giaus Baltar. Put simply, during the joint download process (and note how Six places her hand of Baltar's head just prior to the shockwave hitting his house in the title sequence), their mental essence combined, and a little part of each of them remained with the other during "rebirth". And in the case of the Six in Baltar's head, the link back to her group was possibly retained. Either way, if Baltar's miraculous survival isn't revealed by the end of the series (and "miraculous" opens up another possibility....), then it'll be something of a disappointment. is it that Saul Tigh is a Cylon? At the time of the first Cylon attack, the Cylons were "walking chrome toasters" (to quote Baltar et al) the end of the war (as defined in "Razor") were apparently only just beginning the development of their human models.

    Yet Saul Tigh fought in the original war. He has served alongside of Bill Adama for some 40 years in and out of the service. If he has been a Cylon throughout this period, then it is a substantial re-writing of all we've been lead to believe(and (given the producers have admitted they only settled on Tigh during the development of season 3), significantly alters the premise of BSG....that the Cylons evolved _after_ the cessation of the original hostilities. If Tigh has NOT been a Cylon all this time - then it begs the question...what happened to the real Saul Tigh? If the "real" Tigh were "replaced" at some point...could it be that all the humano-cylons are actually copied from "real" humans - and thus the memories of their upbringing, etc., are not so much implants as they are the memories of the original? Certainly it brings a whole new underlying meaning to Six's frequent references to her and her cohorts being the "children of mankind" a new potential meaning. Again, if the series is to have proper closure, these issues should be addressed. At the very least, IF the current Tigh is a copy made from a human original….it could link in with Baltar's and Starbuck's potential resurrections…

    But that said...on a series that has had far more hits than misses, "He That Believeth..." has once again up the ante.

    Here's to the rest of the series!
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