Friday, April 18, 2008

Battlestar 4X03: "The Ties That Bind" Review (SPOILERS)

This was definitely one of the better episodes they've done. The show really benefits from more serialization akin to a show like Lost, or Moore's own season of Carnivale (Season One, aka the good season). They've set up a bunch of really interesting arcs for the season to explore and there're some satisfying developments on several fronts in this episode.

The leaast interesting of these was the introduction of a status quo on the Demetrius, the garbage scow Adama gave Starbuck to search for Earth. (Among the crew: Anders, Athena, Helo, Gaeta, Racetrack. Presuambly, Hera is with them, as well.) Necessary, but not much more than an establishing shot.

The politics, on the other hand, absolutely crackled in both the colonial and Cylon fleets. The Quorum of 12 meeting was especially well-done, if overdue. I wish they'd been focusing more on Roslin and fleet politics all along, in this quasi-West Wing fashion (or maybe it's more like a sci-fi Julius Caesar). But better late than never.

They've been teasing this season's Lee arc--let's call it the "Lee finally becomes an interesting character" arc--since he turned the gun on Col. Tigh during his father's coup attempt in Season 1, choosing civilian control over the military rather than the other way around.

And now, as the representative of Caprica to the Quorum of 12, Lee accepts the questionable patronage of former terrorist Tom Zarek as the cost of making an ambitious debut at his first meeting. He leaves no doubt that he intends to resume the interrogation of Roslin he began at Baltar's trial, carrying it into this new, far more threatening, arena. Threatening to her, that is. And to him as well, given the nature of politics, not to mention the nature of his adversary.

It feels like the series is finally acknowledging and planning to deal with the fact that Roslin is a tyrant.

Lee's remark to Zarek (that sometimes people need a "benevolent tyrant" to pull them through) seems to indicate he isn't starting out with the intent of toppling Roslin -- succeeding her, maybe, but not toppling. He came to her defense over the question of the Demetrius -- an olive branch she swatted away in suitably reptilian fashion. A very satisfying moment--for both. This should be a good fight.

It's that Titan/Olympian theme again. (Remember, all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again). The progeny rising up to consume and replace the elder generation, which is mirrored perfectly by what's playing out in the Cylon fleet. It was ... unbelievably naive (and well-observed by the writers) of Six, Three and Leoben to believe they could get Cavil & Co to agree to their demands... Unboxing D'Anna would insure that Cavil gets outvoted every time. So, obviously, he answered Six & Co's challenge with treachery and, then, full scale war.

Will Roslin now attempt to do the same to Lee... respond to his little, laregly symbolic insurrection with nuclear intensity?

And, needless to say, this week's Final Four plotline was wrenching. Tory suddenly has this ancient, icy quality to her (especially in the eyes). She's the first one who's been given the opportunity to make it real, and she knocked it out of the park. It will be interesting if they give a plot like this to each of them in turn, dealing with how their newfound stataus changes their priorities and loyalties.

(This episode was written by Michael Taylor, who just struck a deal with Ron Moore to create a 2 hour backdoor pilot movie called Virtuality for Fox.)


Blogger J James said...

Without a doubt this was my favorite episode of the season, so far.

I believe that Tory is the least interested of the final four in maintaining her humanity...and is the most likely to betray the humans. (Which she has already done, in a killing Callie.)

Callie, incidentally, was my least favorite character on the show...and I'm glad she's gone.

Now...if only they'd find a way to off Gaeta and Dualla...

4/22/08, 5:48 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

If Cally had been allowed to live, Tory would've ended up shackled, interrogated, probably beaten/tortured, possibly even raped... and THEN pitched out the airlock. 'cause that's what humans do to Cylons. So I think what Tory did was INCREDIBLY human: she chose her own survival over Cally's (as most of us would, if we're honest).

Which is not to say that Tory is the most moral person in the world even before she knew she was a Cylon. It was her idea to falsify the election results, and--on New Caprica--she said she'd rather kill Hera than see her fall into Cylon hands...

4/22/08, 7:55 PM  
Blogger J James said...

All very true...very true.

I'm also basing my assessment of Tory on comments she seems to be making in the previews for the upcoming episode.

I am so excited to see the return of Ellen Tigh...even if it's only a hallucination of poor Colonel Tigh.

Awesome show!

4/22/08, 7:59 PM  

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