Battlestar Galactica season 4 episode 12 review and thoughts

Battlestar Galactica's latest episode really goes to prove that it's the details and little touches that matter...

There’s mutiny, mental breakdown, political intrigue and further revelations in this week’s episode as the fleet seems to continue down its inevitable path to self destruction.

The episode focuses primarily on the continued breakdown of the fleet, characterised by President Roslin and the Admiral, who for so long have been figureheads of hope and order.

The episode starts with an excellent sequence of Adama going through his routine of waking up and getting ready to command the fleet. The sequence only lasts a few moments but is shot without dialogue or speech and is every bit as painful to watch as last week’s tracking shot, which really got my juices flowing.

The almost robotic repetition of these menial tasks shows us the exhaustion of a military leader who has gone through the same motions day in and day out whilst they’ve been on the run from the Cylons and now, with seemingly all hope lost, we can see the toll it has taken. Later in the episode Adama breaks down in front of the mirror and it is in these snippets of everyday mundane actions and the time-worn way in which he carries himself, that we begin to learn that the Admiral is a leader who has given up hope.

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And he’s not the only one. President Roslin has also given up. She’s refusing her cancer treatment and, holed up on the Galactica, she’s ducking her responsibilities as commander-in-chief. Throughout the episode we see her continued mental breakdown, spurred on by her failure to deliver her people to Earth and the euphoria that her rejection of treatment has created. In a beautiful sequence where we follow Roslin as she jogs through the ship, we get to see the full extent of her breakdown as her glazed expression turns heads amongst the Galactica crew.

Elsewhere on the Galactica, the Chief finds out his son isn’t actually his, but is indeed Hotdog’s, who had an unfortunately timed clinch with his wife back on New Caprica. The chief’s conversation with the Doc also reminds us of the peril the human race have found themselves in as we are reminded that abortion is illegal given the dwindling number of survivors in the fleet.

The Chief is also treated to another highpoint of the episode, tripping over his own words as he struggles to describe the relationship with the Cylons working through everything including we, us and them. It’s a wittily written piece of dialogue but also represents the tensions being felt throughout the fleet at the uneasy alliance with the rebel Cylons and the mistrust and hypocrisy felt by the average crew member.

The now permanently pale Mr Gater is the conduit for much of this resentment and through his highly charged arguments with Starbuck and increasing disdain for his commanding officers we watch as he slowly inches towards an alliance with Tom Zarek which promises for further government fuelled mutiny and revolution to come.

All in all, it’s another brilliant episode full of the claustrophobia, political wrangling and complex psychological drama that we have come to expect from BSG. It continues to cement the credentials of the show as more than the sum of its parts, but I can’t help but hanker for a space battle in the episodes to come.

Check out a review of episode 11 here.

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29 January 2009