Last week, I took some time to review "Pegasus" the story that led into this one--and I have to admit I've glad I did. Of course, since the show spent the first three minutes of this episode re-capping "Pegasus" I began to wonder if that was really necessary, but in the long run it turned out to be a good thing.
First of all, let me just say--wow, what way for Galactica to come back from the break. A solid, strong, entertaining episode that left me hanging and literally screaming that we had to wait another week to see how things played out. This episode is really the middle third of a trilogy of episodes and that can be a hard thing to sustain--you've got the promise from part one and you're building toward the plot climax in part three, so the question is--how do you sustain interest in part two without it feeling like the storyline is treading water?
BSG shows how here. Instead of being merely content to tread water, we start to get some payoffs of the conflicts from part one, we get some setting up of things for the conclusion in part three and we get some nice charater moments. When we last saw Galactica, her fleet was rushing toward the fleet of the Pegasus. Galactica was coming to get back Adama's crew members Tyrol and Helo who'd been tried, convicted and scheduled for execution by Admiral Cain for murdering one of her crew members.
A lot of the dramatic tension from this episode came from the contrast between the two crews, as pretty well summed up in the commanders. With Cain, we see a commander who respects the absolute letter of the law. In the case of Helo and Tyrol, they killed a man on her crew. By the letter of the law, they have committed a crime and should be punished for it. Let's not take into account that her crew was torturing a prisoner and ready to rape Caprica Sharon. Let's not take into account that these two men both have strong feelings for Sharon and were protecting her. Let's not take into account a wide variety of things, but instead look at absolutes. Did they do it? Yes. So, by the reasoning of Cain, they deserve to be punished for their crimes. By the book, she can have them executed, which she decides to do.
Meanwhile, we have Adama. Over the course of the show, we've seen that while Adama respects the rules and the chain of command, he's more interested in the spirit of the law or justice rather than following the letter of the law. He's more a shades of gray kind of commander. He realizes there are rules and he follows them up to a point. If he were to stick strictly the rules, Lee would still be in the brig, Tigh wouldn't be second in command and the Galactica and her crew might well have been destroyed the Cylons long ago.
As we watch the episode unfold, it's hard to imagine that Adama would strip a civilian fleet of ships, choose those members of the fleet he needed and then order the execution of those family members of the choosen few who refused to come along on the trip. I am sure this is well within her perogative under military law as followed by Cain, but that doesn't necessarily make it the right thing to do. Also, we seem to see that Cain is willing to follow the rules or enforce them to get what she wants. She's a very rigid commander, focused on a prize or goal. She wants to preserve military order in the fleet and has little or no use for the civilians. In a lot of ways you get the feeling that had Adama died in the first few stories of the season, that Tigh would be facing many of the issues Cain is becuase of his reliance on the military rules of order and his contentious relationship with politicans.
It is interesting to watch both commanders get to the point where they realize that the one thing standing in their way of leading in the style they're used to is the other person. Roslin sees it long before Adama does, noting out loud that it'd be easier for everyone if Cain were dead. I enjoyed seeing how Roslin plants a seed and while Adama is at first reluctant to see that Cain's being out of the picture is better for the greater good of the fleet, he slowly comes around. It leads to the point in the final moments where Adama asks Starbuck to execute Cain. The chilling thing is that Adama's plan--to take advantage of a moment of victory to take out an opponent--is pretty much the exact same plan the Cylons used to get Boomer close enough to Adama for the attempted assignation to end last season. Adama has learned from his enemies--not only how to fight them. We didn't get to see Starbuck's reaction to this, but I have hope that come part two of this story, we'll see her taken aback by the Old Man's request. After all, Cain has placed faith in Starbuck and promoted her. Of course, Cain is all about what can help her at that moment and is very impulsive as we've seen and heard. I have a feeling that Starbuck's loyalty will be to Adama, though the previews were careful to now show us who was on the other end of the gun pointed at Cain in the previews. I wonder if Starbuck will have the intenstinal fortitude to go through with it or might betray Adama because she (Starbuck) wants to go back to Caprica for Anders and Cain seems to be on board with that plan while Adama is not.
Oh, the complexity of this show....how I love it. And I haven't even begun to touch the whole Baltar trying to heal the brutalized Six on Pegasus and her requests to be killed. Interesting to hear that, esp. in light of what we know about the target the two crews are new going after. To make the Cylons fear death might make them a bit less relentless in their pursuit of humanity...or will it make them even more zealous in their pursuit? And would it sever some of the connection that Baltar has to Six in his head if the ship isn't as close to the fleet? It gives you pause....
Yep, I know where I'll be on Friday nights for the next nine or so weeks. Let me just say, I cannot wait for next week. I am hopeful that it will have it all--action, laughs, character development, drama. I've said it before and I'll say it again--damn, this show is good.