Archive for Donnelly Rhodes

‘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.