Thanks to the miracle of transatlantic telepathy, I can bring you further thoughts on the new season of Battlestar Galactica.
Battlestar Galactica – 2×02 – The Valley of Fear
I’ve noticed that Galactica tends to repeatedly stumble into stock territory in its plots-of-the-week, the writers being far more interested in the underlying themes and where the characters are headed. Although this episode hits the ground running in the middle of a multi-episode arc, its central plot is pretty familiar, and the structure essentially involves a lot of different people running around a lot. It’s something of an accomplishment, therefore, that the episode is satisfying on a character level.
We’re plunged straight into some nicely savage combat scenes between the Cylon boarding party and the humans. In the running-around scenes we get some cursory insight at best into Apollo and Roslin, and a little bit of sweet romance courtesy of Dualla and Billy, but these scenes are really about reminding us of the threat the Cylons pose (and it’s pleasing that the Cylons actually do have a sensible reason for being there). I should note that last week’s unconvincing virus becomes an even more unconvincing macguffin.
If the action on Galactica provides the “ticking clock”, the rest of the episode is more interesting:
Tigh is still in command, but keeping a lid on things very nicely, thank you very much, although I’d be interested to hear where his previous experience of Cylon boarding parties came from. Baltar is bonkers-as-usual, but coming around to Six’s point of view on the whole baby issue. (His dream sequence is the second baby murder in the show’s history – it’s like they’re actively trying to upset people!) The Chief’s disastrous mission to recover medicine becomes even more futile and Vietnam-tinged; a mixture of pleasing bleakness and interesting characterisation, let down by the cliched resolution.
Lastly, the episode gives some welcome screen time to Starbuck and Helo, who were a short-changed last week. Again, they don’t get to do much, but Helo does manage to have a much-needed conversation about his experiences with Boomer. We’re also treated to a marvellous, existential visit to Starbuck’s old apartment, in which she gets to muse on what humanity has lost and what keeps people going. The atmospheric piano music, recorded by her father, recurs over closing scenes dealing with a different father entirely. Very nice.