April 7, 2008

TV Review: Battlestar Galactica - "He That Believeth in Me"

It is official; Battlestar Galactica will go down in history as one of the greatest science fiction series in television history. I am willing to take that another step further and say that it is quite possibly the best series currently in production of any genre, and will likely be among the greatest television series of all time. Do you doubt me? Just watch the show and see for yourself. This is a show that is firing on all cylinders, from the writing to the directing, from the acting to the effects, there is just no getting around what they are able to accomplish. Now that it is entering its fourth and final season, you know that their A game will be pushed to the limits as we steam towards the series conclusion. First stop: "He That Believeth in Me."

When we last left the BSG crew, four of the final five Cylons had been revealed, Lee Adama had just played an instrumental role in getting Baltar freed in the trial of the millennium, the Cylon fleet had caught up to the colonials, and, in the heat of battle, Starbuck returned, seemingly from the dead, following a two month absence with the news that she had been to Earth. Whew! With all of that, this season premiere had a lot of ground to cover.

Season four kicks off right where season three ended. Lee is in disbelief as Kara flies alongside him, while Adama attempts to get an identification of the Viper. At the same time, Anders deals with his first combat experience following his training as a Viper pilot. On the Galactica bridge Tigh has a fantasy/nightmare of assassinating his best friend. Then there is Gaius Baltar, spirited away to a remote section of the ship where he is believed to be a religious leader.

There is one thing that is important to realize when entering into a viewing arrangement with Battlestar Galactica, is that you will not be able to look away. Each episode is packed with so much that if you blink, or step out for a snack, you are sure to miss something. Beyond that, it is not only packed with plot, but with character development. It is the rare series that can deliver on so many fronts without skimping on others.

"He That Believeth in Me" gets season four of to a roaring start. When the show opened, and we watched Saul Tigh pull his sidearm and shoot Adama in the eye, my jaw dropped. It was a powerful moment that signaled I was back in BSG-land where no one is safe. Of course, it was revealed to all be in Tigh's head, but this goes a long way to what may be going on inside his mind following the revelation at the end of season three.

I don't want to go through the episode scene by scene, do yourself a favor and go watch it, it is currently up in its entirety on Sci Fi Rewind. What I would like to do are spotlight a couple of scenes that really hit home, in addition to that opening one with Tigh.

When Baltar, in full-on Jesus mode, was walked through the area with his new "followers" was quite interesting. It, and the scenes that follow, complete his transformation from a political figure into a religious one. His followers seem to be a bit of the overzealous type, as demonstrated late in the episode when someone who had been directly affected by Baltar’s presidency accosts Baltar. Watch as the woman accompanying him gets her hands on a metal rod. I must admit to being amused.

Much of the time spent with Kara is exquisite. We already know that she is a messed up person, and this only furthers her down the rabbit hole. Katee Sackhoff is so good in this role, capturing the balance of conflict, confidence, strength, and vulnerability. Here she is electrifying as Roslin and Adama question her, in full-on defensive mode, while she reveals her vulnerability with Anders.

Lee and his father have a heart to heart over his recent leaving of his post, only to help Baltar, and then return to help battle the Cylons. It is one of the few quiet moments of the episode.

Not to be forgotten is Roslin's visit to the captured Six to question her about the Final Five. This is where she learns that they are "close," according to the six. Now, we know about four of them, but who is the fifth? The implication is strong that the final unrevealed (to the audience) Cylon is on Galactica. Hmmmm....

There is so much more to dig into, especially the closing shots of Kara holding a gun on Roslin. Kara insists that they get back on course as she knows how to get to Earth, while Roslin is leading them further off course. The big question is whether or not she can be trusted. There are many unanswered questions regarding her two month absence, which Kara believes to only be six hours.

This is going to be a busy season and I cannot wait to take the ride.


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