BSG – Daybreak, Part 1

      5 Comments on BSG – Daybreak, Part 1

This week, on Battlestar Galactica

RECAP DETAILS AHEAD (don’t read if you haven’t watched it yet) …

Ron Moore himself wrote this penultimate chapter of the Battlestar saga, and perhaps appropriately, decided that before we can look ahead to how the series ends, it is important to look back first.  In the case of this episode, that means looking WAY back, to pieces of the lives of the key players on Caprica City even before the events we saw chronicled in the miniseries.  Before the Cylon Holocaust … “Before the Fall”.

We see Bill Adama grudgingly accept the task of decommissioning the Galactica.

We see a giddy Laura Roslin of a kind we’ve never known before, just after her sister’s baby shower.  Then watch her break down completely when she learns that both of her sisters and her father have died in a random(?) car crash after being sideswiped by another car.  Then see her again months later, her psyche already scarred over as a result of the tragedy, more closely resembling the cool and calm and battle worn President Roslin we know now … long before she ever became president.

We see Old School Gaius Baltar and Caprica Six (whose name he can’t remember) on their first date.  Then watch Gaius deal clumsily with a personal crisis involving his father, who he obviously despises — perhaps for no other reason than that he’s a farmer — and who is incapable of caring for himself.  Then see Six provide the solution to Gaius’ problem (as she always does), some days later, taking the initiative to put Papa Baltar into a nursing home.

We see the first meeting of an uber-smiley Kara Thrace and Lee Adama, in happier times, back when Zak Adama was still alive, and he and Kara lived together.  And we already know this will end badly.  The next scene for Lee is him stumbling home drunk, presumably after Zak has died in a flight accident, which was indirectly the result of Starbuck not failing him when she should have.  There’s no need to show us how Zak’s fiancee and father reacted to this same news — we’ve already seen the aftermath in episodes dealing with Starbuck and Adama’s complex relationship in Season 1.

What these flashbacks seem to do is tell us that these characters, these survivors of the Attack on the Twelve Colonies, were all pretty much frakked in the head before the bombs ever dropped.  And who knows, maybe that’s what made them well-suited to being key figures in the survival of the human race as a species.  A Roslin with a happy family, an Apollo with a living brother, a Baltar with a satisfying childhood … would any of these people have had the strength required to play the key roles they have played in the post-Apocalypse?  Or is a certain amount of emotional desperation and/or detachment what’s required to be a leader under extreme circumstances?

Meanwhile, in the present day, the Galactica is in the process of being stripped for parts when Adama decides to take a break from boxing up his possessions to pay a visit to Anders in the Tub — who, in a cute poetic turn, also got a flashback, in which he was in a tub, in a locker room, giving an interview after a Pyramid game, back in the day when he was a professional athlete.  From Anders, Adama learns the location of The Colony, where Cavil is holding Hera (and is preparing to dissect her), and resolves to make one final stand for a Human/Cylon Future.  He and Starbuck draw a red line down the middle of the flight deck, and he announces that if enough people volunteer — by stepping to one side of the line — then he will lead the Galactica on a mission to rescue Hera.  If not, then he’ll lead a raptor assault instead.

In the end, about one-third of the crew signs on for what’s been sold to them as a suicide mission, including most of the key players … but not Baltar, who stands sheepishly on the other side of the “thin red line” (a term generally used to describe a defensive, not offensive stance).  Even Roslin hobbles down from her death bed to stand by her man, bolstered by Starbuck.  While the intent is noble, the outlook is bleak.  After a recon mission conducted by pilots who had recently been brigged as a result of Gaeta’s Mutiny, it’s discovered that Cavil has located The Colony at the edge of a black hole.  There’s only one way to FTL into the area that won’t result in the Galactica being ripped apart by floating debris, and Cavil will undoubtedly be defending that way in with everything he’s got.  As James T. Kirk once said to Jean Luc Picard:  “I take it the odds are against us, and the situation is grim.  Sounds like fun!”

So there you have that.  The final setup to the final two hours.  I’ll be curious to see if any of the details we gleaned about these characters’ pasts will end up being relevant to the finale itself, or if they were just meant to enrich the context tapestry a bit as the present day story heads into its final chapter.  For instance, there’s a sniggling suspicion in the back of my mind that the death of Roslin’s family and Zak Adama may not have been random.  That they might have been acts — like Six’s solution to Baltar’s family problem — deliberately designed to position key people prior to the attack.

Regardless, from an aesthetic point of view, the visual parallels tying the past and present together in this episode were poetic at times.  I already mentioned Anders in the tub.  But did you also notice how Roslin’s scene in the fountain, torrents of water washing over her, was immediately followed by the slow drip of her feeding tube in the present?  And I’m sure the pigeon that Apollo was trying to chase out of his apartment meant something symbolically, although it’s eluding me at the moment.  Anybody want to take a stab at it?

5 thoughts on “BSG – Daybreak, Part 1

  1. bad dog

    My opinion is Lee stumbling into his apartment drunk and finding the pigeon is after the dinner with Zak and Kara. The pigeon (evocative of a free spirit) symbolizes love at first sight for Kara that he is helpless to get rid of.

    The flashback for Anders is probably the last time we’ll see Sam that way again. He wasn’t talking about athletics, he was talking about connecting to something pure–pure math, pure physics, pure geometry. By becoming Galactica, he’ll have his chance. It shows how even then he was destined for this role.

    Other than that, once again I enjoyed the episode but loathed the plot arc. More evidence of the last season being phoned in by people who apparently are sick of their own creation. Again, we’re given a crew on the verge of a nervous breakdown and a commander making basically crazy decisions because of prophecy and destiny (that was all supposedly proven wrong when they showed up at Earth and found it to be a bombed out wasteland). Instead of giving a logical, truly Romantic finish with a good fight and a truly soul-striking finish for Galactica, we get some weird mission near a black hole with a big Cylon ship that just showed up in the last few episodes to rescue Hera who drew some dots that play a song that Kara’s dad wrote and that when she played them made the Cylons remember their trigger song and she’s really important otherwise also because she’s in a dream several important characters share about an opera house, and …


    In a way, the show, like the old girl herself, is falling apart at the seams and ready to implode. I agree it’s time to let her go and move on.

  2. GeekBoy

    Yeah, in hindsight, I’ve actually made quite a few assumptions about those flashbacks that maybe I shouldn’t have. Lee’s drunkenness just being one of then. For instance, we’re never told that Adama’s meeting is about decommissioning the Galactica. Or that Six really put Gaius’ father into a nursing home … she may have just killed him. Or that Anders ever really lived the flashback we saw — maybe it was just a dream that Tub Anders was having. In fact, there are so many details left unexplored — like why Roslin recognized the name of the person she was being set up with — that I have to assume some dots will be connected for us in the last two hours, and that this truly was just the first part of a larger episode.

    As for what the series should or shouldn’t have done this season, I’m just exhausted and bored with that discussion at this point. I get and respect what you’re saying, Bad Dog. But the fact is, I’ve watched the show every week it’s been on, and with very few exceptions, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of the hour every single week. And that immediate experience is far more important to me than the big picture stuff you’re talking about, on an order of 10 to 1. Not saying that’s the right or wrong way to approach TV — it’s just the way I’ve always chosen to approach it. Life’s too short for me to be mad at writers because they didn’t do something the way I think they should have.

    Anyway, later this week, the final two hours will air, and we can all do a post-mortem about how the show succeeded or failed as a whole. And what a spectacular frakkin shit-storm I’m sure that will be. 🙂

  3. Jill a.k.a. The Nerdy Bird

    The impression I got from the pigeon (never thought I’d say that) was that it was a symbol for Zack himself. I know there have been cases where people see animals after their loved ones have died and it’s supposed to be them. Like on Lost with Sawyer and the boar, although that wasn’t a loved one. But you get my drift. Seeing as how Zack was a pilot I assumed that’s where the bird imagery came from.

    Two hours does not feel like enough time to wrap everything. I don’t want it to end!! 🙁

  4. bad dog

    Final thoughts …

    … on Lee’s flashback: Lee is laughing when he comes in the door, and he’s wearing the same shirt as he wore to the dinner with Kara and Zack, so 😛

    … on Adama’s flashback: I never got the idea of what unpleasant task Adama was being given in his flashback, but I like your explanation, it makes sense, and it lines up with what they’re doing now–decommissioning Galactica. So at least that one thing comes full circle.

    … on Six: She put Baltar’s dad in the nursing home, you can bank on that. She needed to ingratiate herself to Baltar to access the defense grid. That was her way of differentiating herself from all the other women in his life. Why kill dad, when in just a few weeks/months everybody would be dead after getting nuked?

    … on Anders: It appears to be a genuine flashback. He says, “What matters to me is the perfect throw, okay? The perfect catch, the perfect stopping block. It’s perfect. It’s what it’s about. It’s about those moments when you can feel the perfection of creation. The beauty of physics. The wonder of mathematics. The elation of action and reaction …” My interpretation is we’re not supposed to feel bad for him, he’s not being “used” by hooking him up to Galactica, it’s actually something he really wants and aspires to, and in doing it he will be satisfying his destiny and lifelong desire.

    …I didn’t get anything about Roslin recognizing the name, other than just further confirmation of what you were saying, which is she’s a cold tough politician now, running in insular circles of the powerful.

    … regarding the writers, you are absolutely right. But the writers themselves built up my expectations, so it’s not all my doing. Every episode they planted big questions, ever year they hyped “the plan” and blah blah etc., they helped promote a myth to build their fan base and make money. So now they have fans and the tradeoff is fans are demanding.

  5. bad dog

    Two further observations. Isn’t that crew pretty darn white? I’m not a stickler for enforced diversity in TV, but I’m just sayin’.

    One thing I am curious about, though. Apparently, Adama already offered a general pardon to the mutineers, and those in the brig are hardcore against him, but he just let them out so they could make a choice, too. So he says we’re going on a suicide mission to save a spooky half-Cylon kid and fulfill our destiny by taking on a ship the size of a planet floating at the edge of a black hole–NOW WHO’S WITH ME, PEOPLE?!? About a third say yes even though Adama’s speech was hardly compelling; I guess they’re just sick of running. I’m just wondering what happens after his suicide mission ends with suicide. The whole government’s gone (Lee, Adama, Roslin). All of the Adama loyalists will be dead, and the F5 too. The fleet’s sole protection is gone. So all that will be left will be a bunch of Cylon haters on board the CYLON BASESHIP, with no government, nobody in unified command of the military, and all the rational people in favor of alliance dead. And the Cylons have the big guns right in the middle of the human fleet.

    THAT will be fun…

    I’m just sayin’.

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