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Battlestar Galactica – 2×05 – The Farm
Adama’s long awaited return is almost anticlimactic at first, as he picks up his implacable deadlock with Roslin right where he left off. Tigh may be off the hook, but the situation continues to escalate rather than cool down.
Adama is also more emotional (expressing his bond with the crew in an odd but interesting scene) and this leads to two cracking moments which embody the way this programme pushes its characters in unexpected directions. The first is Adama gently forcing the Chief to acknowledge that he did in fact love Boomer, fascinating not only because it’s the reverse of every other character’s reaction, but because Adama acknowledges head on that Boomer must have been more than a machine. The second is Adama breaking down and sobbing over Boomer’s corpse, a startling and powerful moment that brings home the complete cognitive dissonance the humans are feeling in dealing with the human-form Cylons.
The scenes on Caprica develop this idea, with Boomer and the other Cylons displaying a disconcerting blend of insight and dispassion. This storyline is a great showcase for Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck and features some excellent moments, but aspects of it are quite mundane and clichéd. The resistance camp is straight out of any number of low-budget Sci-Fi potboilers, and even the hospital scenes teeter precariously on the same brink. What salvages things, other than Sackhoff’s performance, is the show’s typical verve and brutality. It doesn’t try to sell us on the obvious Cylon deception for more than a couple of scenes, and there’s a powerful mood of physical and emotional violation. In some ways it’s cheese, but delivered with conviction.
The remainder of the episode showcases Roslin’s realisation that having played the religion card she has to follow through, something she does with increasing pragmatism. The scene in which she blesses the assembled faithful is particularly uncomfortable. Her religious conviction is an interesting contrast to Adama’s secular contemplation of what it means to be human.
Lastly, I must give a nod to Apollo’s complex reaction to betraying his father, which was not unexpected but very well executed.
Not the best episode of the season, but there are some showstopping scenes and the ideas the show is playing with are never less than compelling.
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