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Battlestar Galactica season 4 ep 18: Okay, Perhaps Two Winged Angels?

March 7, 2009

“Islanded in a Stream of Stars”

Maybe I’ve tapped into the BSG neural net like Sam had this week, because last week’s BSG recap title looks pretty prescient as Baltar spent a lot of time talking about angels this week. The dire condition of the Galactica and the importance of Hera took up most of the screen time this week, and Starbuck’s life after death melodrama was to carry the emotional heft.

The Galactica may not get to the promised land with the rest of the fleet, and neither may Roslin, who is spending a lot more time in a hospital bed. She’s still wired into Hera via the reoccurring dream she shares with Six, Baltar and Athena/Boomer.

Starbuck goaded Baltar into investigating her death and rebirth, and after finding scientific proof he announced his findings to the fleet in dramatic fashion. I don’t care for the decision to make Baltar sound like a cult leader. One can easily see how they could turn his flock into an ugly Jim Jones type situation with his newfound believe that one could live forever (he has no clue that Starbuck is likely a hybrid). However we do see him in the Hera dream leaving with her and Six, so perhaps it will be left to him to find the answers to those mysteries.

No hints as to what is to come in the title, it’s an on-the-nose quote from Henry Beston.

This was basically a set-up for the events to take place in the final few episodes, so there wasn’t much deserving of commentary save the continued excellence of Hogan and Callis.

One good thing about the series coming to an end (besides being able to focus on watching the new season of “Breaking Bad”) is we wont have to watch yet another scene where Adama breaks down behind the doors of his cabin. How many times have we seen that over the course of five seasons? This is some old Trek writing leaking into the BSG universe; the captain who loves his ship more than women (and the trusted first officer who would take the captain over just about anything) wine and song. There are certainly more interesting ways to define character and devotion to duty and crew than tugging out this rotting old cliché.

When Baltar outs Starbuck, she walks over to him and slaps him in the face. Of course we’d have expected her to pimp slap him or kick him in the gnads or something, but she doesn’t because as I’ve said she wanted him to have the knowledge and do what he will. It was more importantly a hint that Sackhoff is actually capable of doing something beyond the one-note tortured soldier act she’s been asked to do the entire series (and the one-note tortured soldier act she did on Bionic Woman).

Finally, this piece that has appeared in Slate and jumped up on Facebook and has been roundly thrashed by the Geek Continuum of the Internet regarding the anti-feminist themes slipping into BSG. I don’t think that BSG is any more or less feminist than other sci-fi shows, or say, “The Sopranos,” which is to say it is exploring society that is already patriarchal and dealing with a subset of that society which is at its root patriarchal (Tony’s mobbed up crew didn’t have to worry about being forced to accept women by some government slobs like we’re to assume Caprica’s military did). So I think the author’s deconstructionist fueled assertions are a bit off. BSG is

One thing she’s right about, but for the wrong reason, is that sci-fi shows do tend to women as bait for the viewer, especially when they are in serious danger of being canceled. I call it the “Jeri Ryan Maneuver,” named after the actress who was often invited to the cast of failing sci-fi shows in the 90’s (The Sentinel, Dark Skies, ST: Voyager).

Show creators know in advance, unless they’re creating a show for basic cable, that the network suits are going to be looking for boobs. Sometimes they fight the impulse, as Chris Carter did in going to bat to cast Gillian Anderson as Scully. Sometimes they don’t.

**BSG is more like “The Sopranos” in that it is one of the shows that the creators believe are exploring milieus that are on far shakier moral ground than we’re used to. What’s funny about those shows is that we too often end up rooting for those with the questionable morals (“The Shield” is a fine example given the number of people who thought Vic being stuck at a desk was justice served).

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