Battlestar Galactica season 4 episode 3 review: The Ties That Bind

Rachel says goodbye to a much beloved character. Spoilers ahoy!

Cally

If you’ve still to watch this week’s episode of Battlestar Galactica, I’m almost jealous – it was the best of the series so far, combining four plot threads, a shocking death and a surprising new twist to the tale, effortlessly. This is why Ronald D. Moore is a millionaire and you’re not. Probably.

Let’s commence with the Cylons (old-timey numbered variety) – after all, they started it. At the end of last week’s episode, the centurions were armed with the power of reason, and Brother Cavil et al were on their way to the warm liquid goo phase. We now catch up with everyone’s favourite wrinkly priest on a resurrection ship, catapulting himself out of the bath and into the arms of model-turncoat Boomer. She wraps him in a wimple-like towel arrangement, and they kiss. Not one for watching while eating dinner, but at least this explains her loyalty to the lobotomy crew. And the topless tai chi.

Brother Cavil then uses his considerable political smarts (he and Roslin should team up) and manages to convince the far-too-trusting Sixes and Eights (presumably Leoben’s off treating himself to a revelatory wank) that he and the others are willing to stop chopping up the raiders, resurrect D’Anna’s line and all get together to find out more about the final five. The fact that Six buys it all is a little too convenient – while she’s all about the communal love-in she seems to too easily forget Cavil’s previous slow motion, head shaking, rather patronising no. Still, they all head off, on separate base stars, to the nearest resurrection hub, to be there when D’Anna wakes up and tells all. Only once they jump in, Cavil and crew surround the ships of the other Cylons and start civil war. That’s as far as we get this week, so questions abound: is Cavil channelling Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson? Does that mean Six is Ulysses S. Grant? Will she be able to grow a convincing enough beard? The similarities to American Civil War politics are obvious, but I doubt this is really the end of the Sixes, Leobens and Eights…

It is the end, however, for Cally. Just a background character when the show started, her popularity grew and she became an integral member of the main cast. As a side note, on her blog (nickiclyne.com) ten days ago Nicki Clyne, the actor who plays Cally, has referred to being busy with ‘my commitments to Battlestar’. Is she implying her character will be back later this series, perhaps in flashback, or is it just press commitments?

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Anyway, Cally’s death is arguably the most surprising moment in the show since Adama was shot. The conflicts that lead up to it begin with her and the Chief fighting over his hours – being stuck in a triangular room with an enormous pudgey baby can be difficult at the best of times, but when he’s out at work all day, and you’re alone trying to care for another enormous, pudgey baby, life becomes unbearable. In a sad scene with Doc Cottle (who would almost certainly be referred to as a ‘legend’ if I was that sort of ‘person’) Cally admits her relationship with the Chief has never been psychologically great, and that she feels unloved. It seems she’s also suffering from post-natal depression. After seeing the Chief with Tory in Joe’s Bar, though, Cally goes from sad to heartbroken and becomes convinced her husband is having an affair, a theory which is borne out when she finds a secret note organising a meeting. Spying on the meeting, Cally overhears everything she needs. Tyrol’s not an adulterer – it’s much, much worse – he’s a Cylon. Distraught, Cally goes back to their rooms, and, on his return, she beats Tyrol over the head with a spanner, steals his airlock key, and heads for the hanger deck with Nicky, their algae-hating son.

Tory’s guessed that she’s discovered them, however, and follows her right into the airlock. She manages to talk Cally out of pressing the release button, and as she breaks down, Tory ‘we’re not evil’ Foster takes Nicky, and hits Cally around the head with an almighty smack. Cylon’s super strength and endurance has up to this moment been underplayed – a bit more resistance to radiation, fatigue, etc – while their susceptibility to new diseases has been dealt with in depth. Perhaps, as a good friend of mine suggested, a Cylon-Human baby in peril allows Tory access to her super strength. Still, it’s more than enough to knock Cally out, and when she comes round Tory is outside the airlock with Nicky. She presses the release button, and Cally is sucked out into space.

Meanwhile, on the SS Hit, Kara has been surprisingly joined by a disgruntled group of ‘volunteers’. Apparently Gaeta, Seelix, Anders, Athena (where’s Hera? Would Athena and Helo really have left her alone back on Galactica?) and a few other stragglers wanted to get in on Starbuck’s gut feeling, but after ten ‘course corrections’, and a map that involves Kara painting on the side of the ship with a spatula, they’ve strangely become a little cynical. Luckily for her, however, Anders’ newly revealed Cylon status has had the effect of growing him a pair, and he stops taking her horrible insults and seems to start giving as good as he gets.

Finally, Lee experiences the professional side of Laura Roslin, and looks a pillock in his first Quorum meeting, while she seems to be going further and further towards dictatorship. If she gains universal powers, perhaps she can stop him wearing such ridiculous ties. At any rate, she’s obviously very conscious of how close she is to going out the airlock herself (albeit in an actual coffin) and her temporary control-obsessed insanity can’t be being helped by Adama’s insistence on reading the adventures of Jake Bullet, Cybernautics Division, straight after chemotherapy.

Apologies for the length, but one must do justice to something as important as Cally’s death. I’m glad all TV isn’t as good as Battlestar. If it were, my rear would be meshing with the sofa in some kind of fleshy unison as we speak. See you next week, for the Cylon Antietam, Lee Adama back in Gieves and Hawkes (please) and all the rest of the fallout from the airlock (sorry)…