After several months of cooling our heels in Earth Orbit, not doing anything, and after several weeks of randomly moving the scrabble tiles back and forth along the tabletop, but not actually progressing the story, suddenly we get moving again.
This episode was something of a format-breaker, divided somewhat randomly between the present and the past with an extended series of flashbacks.
In the present, the stripping of the Galactica prior to her scuttling continues. Roslin is clearly not long for this world, Adama's quarters are empty, and Apollo is supervising the salvage operations. Helo is talking to Cheif Tyrol in the brig, trying to get him to give them information that will help them rescue Hera, but the Cheif is having a depressive episode, and won't help. "No, Carl, I'm just a stupid two-thousand-year-old man who can't seem to get it through his head that they're all the same. Boomer, Sharon, they're all the same."
Baltar is confering with his Baltarts (NO, I'm not that cool, I didn't think that up. Someone else did. I'd been calling them "The Bunnies" but "Baltarts" is much, much better) who inform him that following "The explosion" (I'm not sure what she means by that? The hull breach from last week? A sudden bout of evangelical success resulting in a lot of new converts? What?) their people now have slight majorities on 20 ships in the fleet. Baltar confers with Apollo asking for representation for his people in the new government, but Apollo refuses. Baltar starts to whine and manipulate about this, "My people are to be denied representation because Gaius Baltar doesn't meet Lee Adama's character test?"
"I don't think you even meet Gaius Baltar's character test. Go on, tell me about one thing you've done for completely selfless reasons, one moral stand you took that didn't benefit you in some way. Go on, tell me! I'll even believe you! Go on!"
After a long pause, Baltar replies, "No, I wouldn't trust me either," and walks off dejected.
Meanwhile, Adama and Starbuck are down in the sickbay, talking to the newly-hybrided Anders. They ask him a question, "Where is Hera?" and he tells them. Adama decides that a last blaze of glory is better for the Galactica than to simply scuttle her, and announces an all-volunteer mission. No one has to go, but military personell, children over fifteen, and even mutineers incarcerated in the Astral Queen will be allowed to serve if they want to. He informs them that it is almost certainly a one way mission. Helo tries to encourage Athena, but she's given up hope.
Racetrack and Skulls - out of the prison barge - run recon, and discover the Cylon Colony is orbiting a black hole, with only one good jump point in our out, which is "Less than a klick" from the colony itself. They begin to plan the mission.
Meanwhile, in the past -
We see Roslin and her sisters happy at a baby shower, quickly followed by Roslin being informed her entire family is dead from a drunk driving accident. We then see Roslin standing in a fountain evidently in grief - I really don't know what that was all about - and then eating Sushi and agreeing to go on a date.
We see Adama complaining to someone about not wanting to do something, and the other person says "It's only an hour out of your life, Bill, we all need to do things we don't want to at times."
We see Baltar and 6 evidently right after their first meeting, and we meet Baltar's elderly father and see how abusive their relationship is. 6 fixes the situation for Baltar in the midst of his whoremongering.
We see Anders being interviewed by a sportscaster when he admits that he doesn't really care all that much about the team, or the season, or the game, what he's into are moments of perfection - the perfect throw, the perfect block, the glory of physics - that's what he wants to be a part of.
We see Starbuck and Apollo's first meeting, when he comes to have dinner with her and Zack at her apartment.
We see Apollo trash his apartment trying to get a bird out of it.
Yet another episode in which not much happens, but at least it's obvious that things are ramping up for the big finish next week.
The scenes of the stripped sets in the galactica - an understaffed control room, Adama's quarters bare of furniture, the Memorial Hallway with only a few pictures left on the walls - was strangely moving. The explanation of the remaining pictures was particularly effective as Hotdog explains "No one knows who these people are. They must have been put up by friends and family who didn't survive the voyage."
By the way, was that Hotdog's one and only scene with his real-life dad (Olmos) in the series so far? I think it was.
It bothers me how the Cheif has fallen apart. He used to be the moral center of the show, second only to Helo himself, but in the last season he's confessed he never loved his wife, betrayed Adama, attempted to abandon the fleet, broken Boomer out of jail, and (Evidently) abandoned the kid he thought was his all along. He's become a deadbeat dad, and there's little more loathsome than that. His character has lost almost all the sympathy and like we ever held for him, the only thing that keeps him from being a total waste now is that he's clearly got some remorse. Even still, am I alone in saying I don't like the Cheif anymore, and I regret the sad pass he's come to?
Simon the Cylon sighting! First time we've seen him in like half a season or more. His bedside manner hasn't improved any.
Adama's scene where Starbuck confesses to him that she was dead plays well:
"I don't know what I am."
"I know what you are: You're my daughter. Don't you forget that."
It's surprisingly heartfelt.
The best scene in the episode is the people talking about the mission. We see Adama start to make an announcement, and then we cut away to people all over the ship talking about it shortly afterwards. It's a clever way to get across the information since it's visualy intersting, and save us yet another speech. Watching it, I was like "Why can't the whole show have this kind of energy?"
Conversely, the "Who will volunteer" sequence was probably not as emotional as it was meant to be, though that processed shot of the hanger bay completely packed with people was neat. And, hey, was that Doc Cottle's one scene with Adama *outside* of the sick bay? I think it was. Certainly it's the first time we've seen the Doc outside of there since his turn as a MASH surgeon on New Caprica.
I'm not sure if all the flashbacks took place at the same time or not. Internal references with Baltar would seem to indicate that his flashbacks are two years before the fall, but I think Zack died closer to three years before the fall of the colonies, and all the Roslin scenes take place prior to the Adar presidency. Wasn't he in his second term when the show began? And there's nothing whatsoever to anchor Ander's scene - it could have been at any moment up until about five minutes before the bombing started.
All the flashbacks seem rather random, and don't add much to the story, but I'm assuming they're all setting up stuff that will happen next week. In particular the Bill Adama flashback is unresolved, indicating more to come. What was the thing he didn't want to do for an hour?
In the end, a pretty good episode that can't quite cover up everyone's - cast, crew, audience - waning interest in the show itself.