Battlestar Galactica

Season 4 Episode 5

The Road Less Traveled (1)

Aired Friday 10:00 PM May 02, 2008 on Syfy

Episode Fan Reviews (20)

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  • Character takes the front seat as we begin a new two-parter

    It's always difficult to review the first part of any multi-part story, because what may seem like a weakness or a plot hole could easily be resolved by the end of the tale. There's precious little resolution to be found. Most of this episode is devoted to setting up the next turn in the season arc, now that the introductory elements have been put in place.

    The title of the episode refers to the famous poem by Robert Frost, in which the road less traveled is the more difficult path, yet ultimately the more rewarding. It's been a favorite literary metaphor in the arts (almost to the point of cliché), but there's a reason it works so well. We all want to believe that making the hard effort will grant us the greatest reward. It happens so little in life that it's cathartic to see it happen on the stage or screen.

    In this case, the metaphor applies to three individuals, all at a crossroads: Kara Thrace, Galen Tyrol, and Gaius Baltar. The most obvious example is Kara and her search for Earth. Her "road less traveled" is through the disbelief and disloyalty of her crew; she must find a way to follow her instincts despite the roadblocks thrown in her path. It doesn't help that the journey may require trusting the one Cylon that has been her personal nemesis: Leoben.

    Leoben has always been touched by a certain mystical insight, and his avatar was used in "Maelstrom" to lead Kara into the abyss. In fact, that must be one reason why she's willing to listen to what he says about her visions and destiny. She's the only one with that knowledge, however, so her decisions seem completely unhinged. To some extent, they are, but her intersection with reality has been tenuous since her return anyway. Whatever the case, she has internal justification for trusting her instincts.

    The interaction between Anders and Leoben is interesting in that Leoben doesn't seem to recognize that Anders is actually one of the Final Five. Not counting D'Anna (since her model is still boxed), I would have expected Leoben to have some insight. On the other hand, Leoben's model has been on Cavil's side of the Cylon Civil War, so why would he even begin to consider that Anders would be one of his own? It's one of those apparent inconsistencies that will need to get cleared up before much longer.

    Back on Galactica, Tyrol is not reacting well to his sudden free time. He's still trying to get his bearings after recognizing his true nature, and Tigh and Tory have done little to help him find a purpose. He spends most of this episode resisting the urge to give Baltar's message consideration, but it seems like a lost cause. It would be quite ironic if the newly revealed Cylons all wound up listening and following, overtly or covertly, Baltar's message about God.

    Baltar continues to follow his own difficult path as he begins to believe in the possibility of his own redemption. There are a couple of ways to interpret Baltar's current arc, both of which would be equally valid based on the character to date. On one hand, Baltar could be living in the most complete example of self-delusion ever encountered. On the other hand, he could have started the journey as an opportunist and found something true and powerful within the message somewhere along the way.

    The connective tissue in all cases is the impact that each individual could have on the Colonist society. Baltar's cult is slowly but surely growing, and as conditions within the fleet continue to degrade, it could begin to catch on with more and more influential members of the government. If Tyrol, a public figure with a very public breakdown, joins the cause in a substantial way, that could be the beginning of the process. Should Kara's "road less traveled" somehow produce something that ties into Baltar's new philosophy, it could go ever further. I look forward to seeing if the conclusion of this particular story confirms this suspicion.