Once again the space aliens have been kind to me, and the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica has been beamed into my fillings by microwave radation.
Battlestar Galactica – 2×04 – Resistance
One of the strengths of this series is the complex motivation and shifting loyalty of its characters. Here we see the fascinating ebb and flow of the struggle for control within the fleet, with Tigh at its heart. Roslin takes a decisive step which is both noble and potentially disastrous, resentment in the fleet flares up into violence, and several among Galactica’s own staff choose to jeopardise their careers by siding with democracy over martial law – even as the President’s own aide refuses to cross the line. It’s this deft characterisation that makes the show an absorbing experience.
Even within Tigh’s own marriage the situation is far from straightforward; his wife remains a one-dimensional gold-digger, but Tigh seems to take on extra layers of complexity every week. On several occasions he comes palpably close to doing the right thing, but always fails; sometimes because of his own venal weaknesses – alcohol, sex – and sometimes because he’s manipulated. He’s refreshing because he’s so very clear-sighted about his own flaws. He knows he’s not up to the task, that he’s in thrall to his addictions, and that he’s being played – even as he can’t help but give in. What’s fascinating about Tigh is not that he’s a screw-up, but that we can see the man he could be.
It’s almost a shame when Adama re-enters the stage at the end of the episode, because the disintegration of the fleet is so well drawn, and there’s the irresistible feeling that Adama is about to wipe everyone’s bloody noses and send them to their rooms. At the same time, it’s a lovely moment; like watching the cavalry pause on the crest of the hill and survey the situation before riding in to the rescue. It’s also rather low key and unexpected, with Tigh the first to say how badly he’s gone wrong, and Adama the first to defend him. And of course it’s far from certain that the situation can be easily retrieved.
More mundanely, Starbuck and Boomer run across a literal resistance on Caprica. Unfortunately there’s little that’s fresh or interesting here, even if we do get to see a strangely believable sport that looks like a cross between Basketball and American Football. What I do like is that no-one can tell who’s human and who’s Cylon, a thread that dovetails with the Boomer storyline back on Galactica. Boomer has gunned down Adama and yet remains sympathetic – to the point where she’s undone by her love for the Chief, cruelly manipulated by Baltar, and finally murdered in a Jack Ruby-esque shooting. This theme is showcased very nicely by the splash of blood that bookends the episode, once Human, once Cylon.
I love this show. 🙂