Battlestar Galactica – Episode 4-15 Review

After the frantic pace of the last four episodes of Battlestar Galactica, “No Exit” was obviously intended as a chance for everyone to catch their breath. Instead of having a meaningless filler episode for that though, “No Exit” also laid a ton of groundwork for numerous plots that should play out over the rest of the season, answered a bunch of questions and gave us some new ones to ponder.

The night’s biggest revelations came from the conversations between Boomer, Ellen and Cavil (or John, as he was originally named). First, Ellen is alive. The Final Five can resurrect just like the others (or they could prior to the destruction of the Resurrection Hub). She, like the other members of the Final Five, had no idea she was a Cylon prior to waking up on board the ship.

The Final Five came to the colonies to try and prevent war between Cylons and humans, but they arrived too late. So they made a deal with the Cylons, giving them humanoid model Cylons in exchange for peace with humanity. The first model they created was One/Cavil/John and the others followed. John had a real loathing for humanity (no surprise there) and wasn’t a fan of the Final Five’s peace plan. So he betrayed and murdered them and then eventually resurrected them, implanting them (with false memories) among the colonies, in much the same way that Boomer was implanted.

John has always known who the Final Five were. It is never implicitly stated, but it seemed clear that he was the only one to possess that knowledge (perhaps the other Ones do as well, but certainly none of the other models). He presumably was the one to impose the rules against talking about or seeking out the Final Five as well. It certainly sheds some additional light on his boxing D’Anna and the entire line of Threes after she saw the faces of the Five.

After Ellen revived from her death on New Caprica, she quickly regained the memories that John had hidden from her while she was masquerading as a human. This resulted in a rather kinder, more nurturing, and more confident Ellen than the one we knew from her days a human. She and John spent the last year and a half debating the pros and cons of humanity, with Boomer as an observer and very occasional participant.

The Final Five are also the only ones who possess the ability to restore resurrection technology to the Cylons. Ellen herself may or may not know enough to do it single-handedly, but it is clear that none of the new models (One through Eight) have any insight into the matter.

It was only mentioned briefly, but we also learned there’s a colony out there the humans don’t know about, where Ellen’s tools are. It was never said if that is an active colony, a deserted but fertile colony, or if it ended up like Earth, but if it’s either of the first two options that would certainly give the human/Cylon alliance a viable destination now that Earth is out of the picture.

Finding out there were actually eight humanoid Cylon models, excluding the Final Five, answered the long-lingering (and personally irksome) question of why the non-Final Five model numbers skipped number seven. Previously, I thought that meant that one of the Five had been created before the Eight (technically that is true, if only because all five were created before any of the others); I never even considered the possibility of a murdered model. We will have to wait and see what impact, if any, Daniel will have/had on the series.

That’s quite an extensive list of things we learned, just from the scenes with John and Ellen. There were other Cylon revelations from Sam as well, though some of them overlapped with Ellen’s. I thought one of the more interesting of the throwaway revelations is that apparently Chief and Tory were madly in love back on Earth. Their human personalities seem far less compatible (I got a good laugh when Sam said they lived together and the Chief’s response was “Like roommates?”).

While I was watching the episode, I was expecting Sam would either lose his memories, post-surgery, or die. Either way I figured he would be prevented from remembering/sharing everything. Now though, with Ellen on her way to the fleet, there doesn’t really seem to be any reason for him to lose his memories. My guess is he’ll just stay in a seemingly brain-dead coma for another episode or two.

On the Sam front, I thought the storyline was pretty effective. It has been great to see Starbuck really caring about Sam these last couple episodes as opposed to repeatedly mistreating him as she often does. And they did a great job of portraying the dilemna Starbuck faced. Accept Sam’s wishes and let him keep talking, finding his own answers, and maybe even her own; or think of his health, go against his express wishes and get him into surgery as soon as possible. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and it was portrayed quite well.

I did have one complaint about Sam’s plot though, and that was the use of John Hodgeman. John Hodgeman is a very funny guy; just Thursday night he greatly amused me while I was watching The Daily Show with his suggestion we fix the economy by declaring Friday “Emergency Christmas.” The problem is he was John Hodgeman in this episode. Sam’s dire medical condition wasn’t really the right time to play for laughs.

People from The Daily Show have been doctors in serious sci-fi shows before. Aasif Mandvi played the recurring role of Dr. Kenshi on Jericho and while Aasif Mandvi is a very funny guy how TDS, he didn’t carry that persona with him on to Jericho where it would have felt entirely out of place. John Hodgeman, however, played his character as you would have expected him to if it had been a bit for The Daily Show. I did actually laugh a couple times, but it felt entirely out of place for the plot.

The Chief and Adama had their own mini-subplot which should have a larger impact on the rest of the season. It seems that Galatica is falling apart. It’s been in action for over fifty years, it wasn’t built to spec (I loved that Adama took that as almost a personal insult), and it’s been through an awful lot over the last few years. With human technology, there is no way to fix the ship, short of replacing just about every piece of metal on the ship. Cylon technology can save, or at least stabilize, the ship though. Adama balked at the idea at first, but he soon realized that if he didn’t accept Cylon technology, there wouldn’t be a ship for much longer.

The melding of Cylon and human technology on Galatica seems like a huge symbolic step in solidifying the human-Cylon alliance as permanent thing. The humans and the Cylons are quickly coming to literally need each other to survive. Stuff like this gives us hope that the series will end on a relatively upbeat note.

The other main development received very little screen-time but it answered a question I asked last week. What happens next, now that Quorum has been murdered. It looks like they are indeed going to take advantage of the vacuum to set up a new system of representation, based on ship rather than colony.

It was kind of troubling though, that this new system seems to be (at least for the moment) divorced from democracy. Roslin is keeping her position as president, but she is turning over all the real decision-making to Lee Adama. And from the way Roslin spoke, it sounded like it will be up to Lee to select representatives for the new government. Now it’s entirely possible he plans to select them through elections, or these selections are intended to be temporary ones until elections can be held, but the complete absence of the words “elections” and “democracy” from Lee and Roslin’s talk has me wondering.

It certainly wasn’t an action-packed episode, but “No Exit” managed to convey a staggeringly large amount of information. In a slower season, that information would have been doled out over three or four episodes. Instead, we got it all in one giant dose. Fortunately it was all stuff we care about though, so there was no risk of information overload.

Prediction for Next Week:

Well, I was pretty much completely wrong with my prediction last week. I predicted Ellen was only back in Sam’s flashbacks. But Sam didn’t actually have any flashbacks, Ellen was back for real (though many of her scenes were flashbacks of a sort, in that they took place over the last 18 months).

Space, for some reason, didn’t show the preview for next week, but thankfully the internet was more helpful. Looks like Ellen’s not wasting any time finding the fleet and “the final five are reunited” (though I didn’t see Sam in any shot; he’s probably busy with his coma). The Final Five (or Four of them) have a decision to make about whether to stay or go (it wasn’t made clear, but I assume it was to the colony that was previously mentioned). I don’t see the Final Five leaving the fleet, so I’m going to predict they decide to bring the fleet with them on their journey. Though I suppose it’s possible that they’ll leave and come back later.

Trevor MacKay is the sci-fi/horror/fantasy/cheesy/random geeky stuff guy. If something is geeky and/or unbelievably cheesy, he’s there.

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