2. 5 The Farm
That, for me, was as good an episode as I’ve seen thus far of Battlestar Galactica. It’s also the most haunting piece of scripted drama I’ve seen all year.
We’ll come to why shortly, but once more, this episode quickly picks up some of the main threads left behind by the last. The fleet, as I suspect, is indeed heading off in two different directions, but this proves to be quite literally. With Roslin now safely off Galactica, her old sparring partner Adama is finally back in some kind of command, but it’s also fair to say that he’s inherited something of a mess.
Even while he tries to wrap his head around what’s happened, President Roslin broadcasts a message to the fleet, where she plays the religious card to try and bring them round to her side. Again, do you think there’s a writer somewhere making a point? Roslin asks that those listening who believe, as she does, in the prophecies, should follow her as her ship makes its way to Kobol. But how may will jump and follow her? One? Two?
No chance. This was clearly a chance for the writers to demonstrate just how divvied up the fleet is, and as it turns out, a full third of the fleet follow her. Interestingly, Apollo refuses, in the end, to record a message that would denounce his father, suggesting that things are hardly black and white in his mind, despite his following of the President.
Both sides dig in: Adama refuses to buckle, Roslin goes through with her plan, and the scene is set for an exposed fleet that’s now far more susceptible to a Cylon attack. Not that there’s much in the way of Cylons at the moment in space. I love that about the show: it quietly puts the Cylons to the side for long periods, and you barely notice it’s doing it.
It’s down on the surface of Caprica where the episode really hits home, though. After a firefight between the rebels and a batch of Cylon Centurions, Starbuck gets shot, and is whisked, under sedation, to a hospital. Supposedly, there are over 200 patients in there, but the deathly silence surrounding her eventually alerts her to the fact that all is not what it seems.
There’s also the small matter of her doctor, Simon, who soon starts explaining to Starbuck that she’s a valuable commodity, given that she’s a woman of child-bearing age. When he then calls her Starbuck, a name she hadn’t revealed to him, she makes her escape, courtesy of shards of broken mirror. Not before she’s discovered a new surgery scar though, for a procedure undertaken while she was under sedation.
And her problems don’t end there. She observes a Number Six Cylon halfway down the corridor, who she eventually disposes of, but the real shocker is to come. For Starbuck discovers a room with women wired up, with tubes leading into them, stuck in there for the sole purpose of having babies. It’s an horrific scene, as Starbuck realises that the women have been effectively raped to make babies, presumably for the Cylons. She kills one of the resistance fighters she recognises, and leaves the hospital with more scars than the ones on her body. She encounters, interestingly, another copy of Simon on her way out, so that’s one more Cylon we’ve met. How long before we meet a copy who’s somewhere in the fleet?
In a show where each week someone seems to step forward to take the acting plaudits, it’d be remiss not to give a moment’s appreciation for Katee Sackhoff in this episode. She’s impressed throughout, but every time she gives us a peek behind Starbuck’s hard-as-nails exterior, her acting range comes firmly to the fore. Here, she’s as good as she’s been so far, and as her character becomes more and more complex, I can’t help but wonder just how good she’s going to get.
Starbuck, anyway, gets off Caprica with the help of Helo and the Caprica version of Boomer. And she leaves promising the resistance that she will be back to help them.
The moving moments aren’t over, though. Throughout the show, Adama has talked about how the crew were his family, and when he heads to the morgue and looks at Galactica Boomer’s body, the Old Man breaks down and cries. Given how controlled and together he’s been thus far, it’s a sure sign that the pressure is truly now getting to everyone.
And yet there are still major problems incoming, as we head into a two parter that will presumably follow Roslin’s expedition to find the Tomb Of Athena in Home.
For now, though, The Farm ranks as an extraordinary piece of television.