Archive for Athena

‘Galactica’ review: It takes a battlestar to save a child

Posted in Battlestar Galactica, Fantasy/sci-fi, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2009 by Dawn Raftery

My first thought when Friday night’s “Battlestar Galactica” began with a look at Caprica City before the fall: What the frak? This is the second-to-last episode, and I want to know what’s going on now. I want to watch what happens as humanity’s last survivors say goodbye to the ship Galactica, which for fans has as much sentimental value as any of the beloved characters.

But as these vignettes unfolded, I became drawn into the deceptively happy lives of Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell), Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff), Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) and Gaius Baltar (James Callis) before the Cylon nuclear attack reduced the planet’s population to a mere 50,298. A healthy, youthful-looking Roslin throws a baby shower for her pregnant younger sister. A blissful Kara plays domestic goddess in the kitchen for dinner with her fiancé Zak and his brother, Lee. Gaius embarks on a high-class seduction of Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer), complete with stretch limousine and loads of liquor. Eventually, Lee staggers home quite inebriated from his first meeting with Kara, only to swat at a pigeon fluttering around his apartment.

The serene snapshots don’t last long. We learn that Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos) didn’t want the job of helming Galactica. Roslin receives the news from police that her father and two sisters were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. In between bouts of womanizing, Gaius takes care of his cantankerous father, who has just stabbed his nurse with a steak knife. We recoil as an angry, embarrassed Gaius insults his father, with Caprica Six as distressed witness before he asks her to leave.

Why are we being shown these poignant scenes? Because to arrive at the end, often we must reflect on our beginnings. And despite the epic nature of the TV show—“Battlestar Galactica” is such a harbinger of our future, it’s a frakkin’ United Nations panel discussion Tuesday—David Eick and Ronald D. Moore know that it’s the small moments in life that define us. And in a move evocative of the storytelling device that makes “Lost” so compelling and successful, the episode continues to cut between the present and the past.

“Daybreak: Part 1” functions mostly as a setup to next week’s two-hour season finale, where Adama and those brave enough to follow him undertake a mission to rescue the daughter of Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) and Athena (Grace Park). Since Hera’s abduction by the duplicitous and increasingly torn Boomer, we haven’t seen much of Helo and Athena, but the occasional peek into their private quarters divulges just how devastated they are by her loss, and how broken their relationship is. I’ve always liked Helo—his sense of intregrity is part of his charm—but I feel for Athena, who was forced to be a voyeur while Helo and Boomer played where to house his Raptor for the night. It’s understandable that Athena’s not quickly getting over this unintentional betrayal, especially when her husband’s infidelity led to the loss of their child.

Another important moment takes place in the brig between Helo and Chief (Aaron Douglas), who sought punishment for his role in Boomer’s escape. Helo is trying to convince Chief that even though they look alike, the Number Eights are not carbon copies of each other. A bitter Chief tells Helo all the Sharons are the same—machines you can’t trust. “She’s a blow-up doll, Karl,” he says.

Ouch. These two men once came together to save Athena from rape, but they’re on opposite sides of the brig now, as well as on opposite sides of the argument about whether Cylons are capable of having human emotions. (I vote yes. Athena and Caprica Six are just as emotionally vulnerable as the rest of the fleet, and anyone who doesn’t see that is a frakkin’ idiot.)

It’s interesting to note that while giving his speech to the assembly on the hangar deck—and certainly we don’t hear the full speech—Adama doesn’t appeal to philosophical questions about humans and Cylons. He simply states a child has been abducted from the ship recently. He didn’t sanction a search mission because he considered it impractical. But through gossip in different parts of the ship, it’s revealed that Adama has discovered where Hera is being held. During a scene the rest of the fleet isn’t privy to—only Starbuck—Adama learns the Colony’s location by questioning Sam Anders the hybrid (Michael Trucco).

Chief may now view the Sharons as duplicates of each other, but Adama knows better. He has grown to love and trust Athena, much as he once loved and trusted Boomer before she shot him. He’s a man who’s had to evolve and grow at an alarming rate in this late stage of his life when he should have been retired, and he has the kind of valor that we normally associate with warriors of old. But Adama is a fighter with a heart. It’s a photo of a smiling Athena hugging Hera on the wall—left behind—that directs Adama on his path, the path that Laura Roslin has been gently nudging him toward since last week’s quixotic “Islanded in a Stream of Stars.”

Like President Roslin, Admiral Adama has a way with words—even simple ones—and he manages to stir enough of the crew to carry out what he himself deems a one-way trip. Most of those who cross the red taped line to join the rescue force aren’t much of a surprise: Lee, Ellen (Kate Vernon) and Tigh (Michael Hogan), Caprica Six, Chief and Tory (Rekha Sharma). Kara is already standing there, and I’m assuming that although you don’t see him, Helo is not going to sit this one out; I’m not so sure about Athena, who is shattered and hopeless. These are the people most vested in finding the half-human, half-Cylon Hera. But I didn’t expect Hot Dog (Bodie Olmos, youngest son of Edward James Olmos) or Doc Cottle (Donnelly Rhodes), whom Adama sends back. Even the greatest military leader in the fleet knows they can’t afford to lose a doctor.

Once Caprica Six crosses over, she and Gaius seem to share some significant glances. It makes sense that they still have a connection. Gaius may have have never dreamt about the Opera House, but we know that he is there in the visions, along with Hera, Athena, Roslin and Caprica Six. In the aftermath of his heated discussion with Lee, where he petitions for a seat on the Quorum, contending the sheer numbers of his faction warrant it, and Lee asks him to name one selfless sacrifice, you expect Gaius to step over the red line. He doesn’t. You can see his internal struggle—he even moves a shoulder in the right direction—but it looks pathetic when you watch the visibly ill Roslin slowly make her way to the front after leaving the sick bay.

Still, this is the only episode where I felt anything for Gaius other than disgust or reluctant amusement. I felt pity as he is forced to deal with his belligerent parent. The debonair Gaius is out of his element when it comes to controlling his father. “Now shut up! You’re in enough trouble already!” he screams before turning to the nurse, who is leaving. “I’ll take away all the knives. He’ll be on a liquid diet forever.” But for all his verbal flogging of his father, Gaius sends Caprica Six away because he doesn’t trust his father to be on his own all evening. He loves him. And that capacity for love—real love, not just a sexual one—may be Gaius’ one redeeming quality in the days to come.

Last thoughts

Watching the crew strip down Battlestar Galactica was painful. It was like watching Carrie Bradshaw pack away all her clothes in “Sex and the City: The Movie.” (Yes, a girl can enjoy sci-fi and strappy sandals.)

What’s going on with Hot Dog’s baby? He’s very large, like the Bamm-Bamm Rubble of outer space. Are we sure it’s not Chief’s?

Does anyone else think it’s weird that Adama’s most trusted advisers now include, besides Lee, Kara and Tigh, who make sense, Ellen, Tory and Chief? Especially on this last mission? What about Hela and Athena?

One of the creepiest scenes: Little Hera, surrounded by her scary new playmates. With the exception of Boomer, she’s in the company of the most unattractive Cylons: Cavil (Dean Stockwell), Doral (Matthew Bennett) and Simon (Rick Worthy). Maybe that’s why they’re so intent on destroying humanity. They’re upset with the genetic cards they were specifically dealt.

“Dots, lots and lots and lots of dots,” Cavil observes as Hera draws, obviously not connecting the dots as Kara now would. Hera’s drawings obviously mean something. “Let’s get a tube in her and get her ready.”

The scene ends with a sound akin to the drill at the dentist, and you start to really worry about the lengths to which the three Cylon ogres will go to uncrack her genetic code. I guess we have to wait until next week to find out. Frak.

‘Battlestar Galactica’ review: Too many Sharons on board?

Posted in Battlestar Galactica, Fantasy/sci-fi, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Dawn Raftery

I tuned into tonight’s “Battlestar Galactica” with trepidation, still disappointed in last week’s raging Ellen fest and worried that with only four episodes left everything won’t be brought to a satisfying end. And although the pacing hasn’t worked itself out yet—the first 40 minutes were snoozeworthy—I enjoyed it because it focused on two of my favorite and more complicated female characters: Boomer and Starbuck.

My suspicion that Cavil (Dean Stockwell)—or should we call him John like Ellen does?—sent Boomer (Grace Park) to Galactica on a nefarious mission was proven true, but it didn’t make me happy to watch her break Chief’s heart once again. In the early episodes, Boomer is compelling because she was in such turmoil over her dual identity. Her only memories were of being human, yet she could sense this other identity trying to take control of her body—and she was scared.

Well, apparently Boomer is no longer confused about who she wants to pay allegiance to. “Personal feelings are what Sharon Valeri preys upon,” President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) tells Chief. Harsh words, but after Boomer escapes the brig with Chief’s help, it’s revealed to be an accurate assessment. Because even as she’s kissing Chief (Aaron Douglas) and telling him she loves him, she’s already played him for a fool.

The plotline involving Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) remains as muddled as ever. I was hoping to find out who or what Starbuck is. Unfortunately, those answers weren’t given. We learn instead about her childhood, about the father who taught her to play piano but left her behind with that crazy, abusive mother to go on the road. Uh-huh. So what? We’re no closer to discovering whether she’s human, Cylon or some kind of hybrid. That’s what I care about.

Of brigs and betrayals

The intensity and emotion between Chief and Boomer are palpable. He drinks in the sight of her like a starving man, and although Boomer’s motives are a mystery—really, what kind of hold does the decrepit Cavil have over her? The swirl???—I’m going to continue to believe that she has feeling for Chief, despite her betrayal.

The other Sharons aren’t faring so well. One No. 8 is knocked out by Chief and placed in the brig so Boomer can run amok on the ship. And Athena is having a really bad day. We haven’t seen Athena in weeks, and when we do, she gets beaten up and tossed in a locker, where she is forced to witness the torrid love scene between her husband, Helo (Tahmoh Penikett), and Boomer. Their writhing around on the floor and Boomer’s moans of pleasure make up one of the most passionate sexual encounters I’ve ever seen on “Battlestar”—let’s all try to forget Ellen and Tigh on a table last week—and it’s ironic that it occurs between Helo and a No. 8. I’m reminded of another Roslin verbal gem, her rebuke to Helo in an earlier episode: “You’re not married to the entire line.”

One of the trickier elements of this episode—tricky because it’s easy to appear mawkish—is the fantasy landscape Boomer has created for herself and Chief, a dream house where they live and raise Hera, the little girl that could have been theirs. Boomer is able to convey this fantasy to Chief using the powers of Cylon projection. As cynical as I am, I began to believe they could have a future together. In retrospect, though, you have to reevaluate every word she says to Chief, including, “The most important thing is we both know who we are now. Let’s make the most with the time we have left.”

A Cylon pick-up line: “I’ve thought about you every day since that moment I died in your arms,” Boomer says to Chief.

Starbuck’s serenade

OK, so in the last few minutes of the show it’s obvious why Starbuck’s past has been dredged up: She needs to have the musical skill to play a special song on the piano. But getting to that point is a painful journey. The episode feels slow and dreamlike from the start. It’s told, at least in the opening sequence, from Starbuck’s perspective. Her days are ordered and monotonous and boring, perhaps to illustrate how disconnected she feels from everyone and everything around her. The montage of banal scenes is in contrast to the many times we’ve witnessed her being emotional and messy. I can picture the screaming going on inside Starbuck’s head as she gives flight orders from the dais. I wonder if she could hear the screaming in my head as I tried to stay awake.

The musician she meets in a bar, the man who becomes her friend and confidante, ends up being a figment of her imagination and an overhanded substitute for her father, but he serves his purpose. With his guidance, Kara overcomes her reluctance to play the piano again and realizes that a drawing given to her by Hera is in fact musical notes. When she plays the notes in the bar, the song—”All Along the Watchtower”—immediately resonates with Col. Saul Tigh (the wonderful Michael Hogan), Ellen (Kate Vernon) and Tory (Rekha Sharma), who, by the way, seem to have mistaken the bottom of a liquor bottle as the solution for how to save humanity.

The priceless moment in that scene: The camera zooming in on Tigh’s one eye as it widens and him uttering, “What the frak?”

Burning questions: What is the name of Starbuck’s father? Could it be Daniel? What are the show’s creators up to by making Anders (Michael Trucco) the writer of “All Along the Watchtower,” which in this reality was written and recorded by Bob Dylan? Are Dylan and—gulp—Anders the same person in parallel universes? Is Anders going to in a coma from now on, or will he wake up again and spout more critical information in a nonsensical way like the hybrids do? And why is the little girl who plays Hera so strange looking, with curly hair that looks like a wig and abnormally rosy cheeks? How does she at all resemble either one of her parents?

The vicious circle of vendettas

The one bright note in tonight’s episode—the one sign that humans and Cylons may be able to coexist peacefully—comes from an unusual source: Lee Adama. Lee (Jamie Bamber), who has been vocal in his hatred and distrust of Cylons, overcomes his prejudice enough to give one of the Sixes a seat on the Quorum.

If only those around him demonstrated such leadership and integrity. Roslin and Adama need to step down. Now. Once such insightful, inspiring and effective leaders, they are dangerously out of touch with the citizens and circumstances they are supposed to govern. Didn’t they see how desperate Chief was? Didn’t it occur to them, especially after the mutiny recently carried out by Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani), that their word is no longer considered law by people? That Chief would do what he felt he had to do to save the woman he loves? (Actually, since tonight’s show concluded with Roslin on the floor, maybe she has stepped down—permanently.)

Roslin is too complacent, Adama too bitter. But whereas Roslin is aware of her growing disinterest, Adama doesn’t recognizes his shortcomings or that he can’t think straight when it comes to Boomer, who as we all know shot him twice in the chest and nearly killed him. He’s too concerned with payback.

But that one bright note in tonight’s episode is also the darkest, because it’s another example of revenge gone wrong. The first Cylon government official in the fleet makes the request to have Boomer released so she can be tried for treason for siding with Cavil—an act that sets all the other tragic events in motion. Without this thirst for retribution from the Cylons, who show themselves to be all too human time and time again, Chief would have not made the poor decisions he did and Hera would be home safe with her parents.

So what’s the lesson today, boys and girls? Vengeance is not the key to survival, especially when your numbers are very limited.

Best quote of the night: “The last thing we need is you jerking our chains with a lot of quack ideas. So why don’t you take them somewhere else?” Ahhhh, the wonderful Dr. Cottle (Donnelly Rhodes), telling it like it is.