This episode hasn’t aired on UK television yet, but earlier this week our living room was invaded by Mole Men in their infernal drilling machine, and I found this episode lying in the rubble when they departed.
(I did ask if they could get me into the Serenity preview screening, but apparently their navigation computer had a worm in it.)
Battlestar Galactica – 2×06 – Home (Part 1)
There’s a certain kind of TV storytelling (beloved of recent Trek) in which the writers seem so impatient to get the characters from position A to position B that they forget that good drama involves genuine reversals, surprises and conflict. This approach tends to deliver a purely linear story in which any obstacles are superficial detours, easily overcome and without emotional impact, and the destination is never in doubt. Battlestar Galactica’s first season episode “Litmus” is a particularly glaring example.
The first part of this two-parter is all about set-up, and there are so many pieces to move into position that unfortunately we’re never left in any doubt about where things are headed. We know that Boomer isn’t going to be shoved out of an airlock. We know that she’ll get the chance to prove her worth to Apollo. We know that the journey to the tomb is going to be one of those predictable quest-style journeys (“There should be graves” and lo, there are graves.) We know that Adama is wrong to trust the green CAG, and yet again events conveniently conspire to prove it. All this might be bearable if the character drama were good enough, or edgy enough, but there’s very little grit or subtext here. As a result this episode is the show’s first real stumble this season.
There are a couple of exceptions. The scene between Adama and Dee is interesting because it presents the two characters in a new context. Unfortunately it’s basically a transparent way of shifting Adama’s position: she tells him he’s wrong, and he immediately decides that he’s wrong. What works is the language used: the fleet as children, the military as parents. The other good scene is Baltar’s detached commentary as he watches the humans scurry around; this is genuinely interesting material so it’s a shame it gets lost in an otherwise pedestrian tale.
Overall, a disappointing episode in which the grinding of gears is practically audible over the dialogue. Only the fact that the plodding set-up may deliver a better conclusion makes it worthwhile.