EPISODE REVIEWS: Battlestar Galactica: “No Exit” (Season 4, Episode 15)

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…and suddenly, just like that, we know everything!

We start out 18 months ago, with Saul Tigh killing Ellen. Ellen then resurrects in a Base Ship, and is met by Brother Cavil - “John” - who evidently has known who the Final Five were all along, but has kept it from the others for unstated reasons.

On Galactica, Anders has a bullet in his brain that has removed whatever kind of memory blocks were in place, and he starts relating The Story So Far to the final five:

Humans on Kobol evolved the original Cylons, who rebelled, lost, and escaped in to space. They settled on earth, evolved flesh bodies, began to procreate naturally, and then developed Cylons of their own. We’re a bit fuzzy about what happened next, but probably these Earth-Cylons revolted and killed off humanity and themselves in the process). Tigh, Ellen, Anders, Tyrol, and Tori were researchers on earth who were experimenting with Organic Resurrection, an art known to the Kobollians, but lost and abandoned once meat-cylons on earth started making babies. Ellen figured out how to get it going again. The Earth-Metal-Cylons attack, and those five are killed.

They resurrected on a ship and backtracked their way to Cobol, hoping to warn humanity about the cycle of man makes machine makes man, but it took too long because Earth didn’t have jump drive. By the time they got to the colonies, humanity was already at war with the Colonial Cylons. Interestingly, these Colonial Cylons had already developed a belief in the One True God.

The Colonial Cylons were already experimenting with meat-bodies, so the Final Five contacted them, and negotiated an end to the war in exchange for their biotech, in hopes that their religious awakening would govern their future actions. They then engineered the Significant Seven. John Cavil was first, built to resemble Ellen’s own father on earth.

Cavil aided the Five in their building of the rest of the seven. Cavil knew who the Final Five were all along, but never told the others in order to keep power, apparently.

Cavil, however, was sadistic and cruel, and resented his physical form and the nature of his own creation. He had the orginal Model Seven - an artist - killed, and eventually he rebelled against the five, killing them off and boxing them. Then he resurrected them one-after-another with fake memories like Boomer.

“I wanted you to know what it was like to be human. I gave you ringside seats to apocalypse.” He did it to punish them. Ellen and (likely) Anders died on the colonies, but they were resurrected - with blank spots in their memories - to be useful to Cavil, and for his sheer joy in torturing them.

And that, my friends, is the story so far.

It’s told while we’re having a series of downloaded-like flashbacks while Ellen is held captive aboard Cavil’s base ship. Once he Resurrection Hub is destroyed, he demands Ellen tell him how to fix it. She refuses, so he decides to cut her open and extract the info from her brain.

Boomer defects (Again) and helps Ellen escape.

Meanwhile, on the Galactica, Anders relates some of this same story, but he needs brain surgery from the PC Guy from those annoying “I’m a Mac and I’m a PC” commercials, and is in a bad way. They do the surgery, which goes perfectly, but evidently he’s braindead.

Meanwhile Roslin and Apollo are talking about the massacre of the Quorum. Apollo says this might be a good time to re-think the way they run things - delegates from planets that don’t exist anymore may not work for people who live on ships. Roslin says that’s a brilliant idea, and he should consider it when he reconstitutes the government. She says she’s going to remain titular president, but Apollo will be doing the heavy lifting from now on.

Meanwhile, Tyrol once again becomes Galactica crew chief, and evidently he’s the Chief Engineer now, too. He points out how fatally screwed up the Galactica is to Adama, and while actually fixing the damage, he discovers that the entire ship is riddled with structural fatigue. After some desparation, Adama allows Tyrol to use Cylon Tech to repair the damage.

OBSERVATIONS:

Easily the most exposition-heavy episode ever in the run of the series, yet it mostly works. It didn’t feel terribly rushed, and learning the story from two characters in two different situations helped quite a bit. And it all kinda’ makes sense. Kinda.

I thought Admiral Al really caught Cavil’s outrage at being trapped in a human form very well. He never looses it, but he’s quietly fuming through the whole episode.

Ellen’s freakout, then gradually calming as the memory of who she is washed over her was gripping and well-played as well.

Easily Ander’s best scenes are in this episode. I particularly like his struggling with aphasia briefly. Who knew the guy could act? Starbuck’s scenes were pretty well played, too. Generally I find her all sturm and drang and no subtlety, but here she genuinely seems to care for and love Sam, despite the fact that she’s a crazy person who cheats on him constantly.

Conversely, casting the PC Guy as the brain surgeon seemed wrong, a little too frivolous and hokey-jokey given the severity of what was going on.

There’s a heretofore unmentioned ship in the fleet called the “Inchon Valley?” Really? “Inchon” like the place in Korea? Really? Huh.

87 people have died in Gaeta’s Mutiny. I miscalculated last week. There were still a lot of wounded laying around, so evidently this episode is no more than a day after the end of the fighting. That execution must have taken place pretty damn quickly!

Baltar and Helo are conspicuously absent in this episode.

Something is wrong with Adama: His short howl of pain when he realized how badly damaged Galactica was was well played, but we again see him popping pills and grimacing in pain. At first I thought he was taking uppers a few weeks ago, but now I think they’re painkillers. Something is wrong with him. I think he’s dying, since Moses can’t enter the Promised Land.

In fact, we’re told that a “Dying Leader” will bring them to earth: now we have three dying leaders: Adama, Roslin, and the Galactica itself.

There’s a very obvious cut in this episode from Boomer on the Base Ship to Tyrol on Galactica. I assume the two of them will end up getting back together shortly, and picking up their relationship from where they left off, now that she’s kicked Cavil to the curb.

The New Galactica has managed to hit all the major tropes of the original show in one way or another, even the more subtle ones: Baltar commanding a base ship tracking galactica on the original show became baltar as a prisoner on a base ship tracking galactica in the new show. The Seraphs from the Original Show became Final Five from the new show, and so on. The one big arc of the old show they haven’t hit in some form was the “Terra” subplot, and now I think they’re gonna’ hit it. There was a mention of “The Colony” where Ellen and the others did their research on the biological cylons. I’m assuming that’s where humanity will end up, and it’ll be named “Terra.”

Finally, there’s a quasi-gnostic theme in tonight’s episode: Ellen’s assertion that her people didn’t arrange the supernova that destroyed the Algae Planet, and that it must have been orchestrated by The One True God. She appears to actually believe this when she says it. The final five made the significant seven, but don’t consider themselves to be God or gods, and believe in a power higher than their own. Cavil rejects this, and hates her as a petulant child hates his parents. He states several times that “God didn’t make me, you did!” brining to the forefront a theme that’s been in the show all along about the penalties of playing God, and the question of wether or not creations are inherently worthy of existence.

It’s heady stuff that I’d talk more about if I weren’t wiped out and tired from having 3 reviews back to back.

Sorry. I need sleep.

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