Battlestar Galactica season 2 episode 8 review: Final Cut

The media moves into the spotlight as Battlestar Galactica brings Xena The Warrior Princess into the mix...

2.8. Final Cut

We’ve done religion, we’ve done politics, and now, Battlestar Galactica turns its eye on the media.

As part of the fallout from the splitting of the fleet, that was resolved in the last episode, there’s the small matter of the so-called Gideon Massacre, where civilians were gunned down by colonial troops. This is causing ripples through the fleet, and once more the fickle finger of anger is firmly directed at Colonel Tigh, given that all this happened on his watch.

But the media wants more, and reporter D’Anna Biers (played by Xena herself, Lucy Lawless) has found new footage of the massacre, that she’s about to broadcast to the fleet. That is, until Adama and Roslin step in, and invite her onboard Colonial One. There, she’s told to surrender the tape, but that she’ll get what she’s been requesting for some time: unrestricted access for a special report on Galactica itself. Thus, with her cameraman in tow, she begins what the clearly uncomfortable Adama will later describe as a “warts and all” documentary.

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And it doesn’t go entirely as Adama and Roslin were hoping. There’s some fun early material here, as Biers is given a tour of the dullest parts of the ship that Dualla – their guide for the occasion – can find. It’s fair to say that Biers isn’t particularly impressed, and the attempted manipulation of the media is, at this stage, going entirely to plan.

However, things are afoot, that throw the character of Tigh firmly back into the spotlight. He discovers a message written in blood on the mirror of his quarters, with a threat left for him with words lifted from a Caprican poet. This, actually, turned out to be the weak part of the episode, as shoehorned in is a self-contained whodunit. In this one episode we see the threat, then Tigh and his wife get attacked in their quarters later on, and then – thanks to Biers’ film – we work out who did it. The benefit of this, though, is that one of the crew who was part of the aforementioned massacre gets to vent how emotionally broken he is by it, which allows Tigh to revert back to type, and oddly seems to give him strength.

The real highlight of the episode, though, was nicely bubbling up, even though we don’t find out what it is until the very end.

But before then, the filming goes on, and it’s interesting to see the cynicism with which the military greet the media presence on their ship. Some of the interviews that Biers gets are very rough and ready, and she gets some footage of Tigh knocking back drinks while discussing the Gideon Massacre. But the most damning footage is when she sees the Caprica version of Sharon, screaming about her baby.

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Which is where Adama steps in. He basically appeals to Biers, telling her that if she shows that, there’d be meltdown, undermining once more the fragility of the fleet. He takes the tape, the audience smack their head in unison, and then – as nobody at all in the entire galaxy could have predicted – she’s seen to have done the old switcheroo. Blimey.

The comedy moment, although it wasn’t a great one, was Baltar trying to snag – at Number 6’s bidding – an interview, while not trying to appear too keen. His moment of glory, which surely he’s actually going to grab at some point, goes when Cylon Raiders are detected, cueing up a neat battle sequence viewed entirely from reactions at the CIC. It might save money on effects, but it works exceptionally well, anyway.

In the end, Biers’ film turns out to be sympathetic to Galactica, but even before he knows that, Adama declares himself proud of it – to Tigh’s amazement – and agrees that she can show it. Roslin, too, is pleased, and there’s a happy ending for a change. Phew.

Only, it isn’t. Because it’s rug pull out of nowhere time, as we cut to a cinema with a new version of Sharon, Number 6 and Doral viewing the film. There appears to be a fourth person there, too, but before we can focus on that, the human-form Cylons then get to see the scenes that were cut. Sharon is thrilled, as she realised that the clone of herself is actually still alive, and Doral says that the baby has to be protected. That’s the smell of future shit hitting the fan right there.

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Arguably, the most powerful weapon the Cylons have got now, it appears, is the snippet of film that shows Sharon still on board Galactica. After all, propaganda, as Galactica shows, will generally beat bullets.

But before there’s any time left to dwell on that, the identity of the other figure in the room is revealed. And we chalk off another one on the Cylon list, as a copy of Biers sits with the other three. Cue me screaming at the telly, and cursing the day I’m going to have to wait before I can watch the next episode, Flight Of The Phoenix. Final Cut, though, was a super episode. And to everyone else writing TV shows in the world? That’s how you do an ending to an episode.