I'm finding BSG is more and more crazycakes every week at the moment. This episode was pretty much what I expected it to be--a focus on Laura and Gaius on the basestar that jumped away. I expected it to contain lots of religious nonsense and it did. I expected it to end with Adama and Laura reunited, and it did. I was pleasantly suprised by the Helo and Eights plot--Helo was a grounding force for me in the episode and I was immensely grateful for the space battles. Oh how I have missed them! So I didn't hate it, but I did find it had large dollops of WTF, which seems par for the course in season 4.
Mary McDonnell can sell me on a awful lot and without her I'd have found this episode a lot harder to swallow. As it was, I tried to go with her spiritual journey but it still didn't completely work for me. At first I found the message interesting: the idea that Laura doesn't love people. I particularly liked the creepiness of the line 'don't you just hate these people?' because sometimes I think she does. Laura insulates herself from those she 'rules' as President. This was evident in her exchange earlier this season with Lee about the Quorum and their frustrations. While Roslin carries the weight of their lives in her hands, while she feels the responsibility, she doesn't connect with them emotionally or compassionately. I thought that was particularly interesting following on from Sine Qua Non, in which Lee demonstrated his capacity for empathy with those who have lost all faith and meaning in their lives.
I also liked the fact that Laura spotted how 'full of myself' her conscience was. I could really have lived without seeing Adama read from that craptastic book again, and I thought it was hilarious how out of character Kara was in Laura's vision. I'm going to write that off as Laura being full of herself again, because Kara rarely wants comforted by anybody when someone dies, and I really don't think Laura dying would be that big a deal to her. I could maybe, maybe buy her wanting a hug from Lee if Adama died. Maybe. Though I'd still find it more in character for her to just drink herself senseless. In any case, I got a giggle out of how emo Laura's Head!Kara was.
Gaius also made for many giggles--he was in high comedic form. Watching him interact with the Hybrid and try to convert the Centurion to his religion was hilarious. I especially enjoyed watching him and Laura piss each other off--since they have both annoyed me in different ways this season, I took some sadistic delight in their mutual frustration with each other. *g*
Having D'Anna back was surprisingly refreshing. I'd forgotten what good value she could be. She became very boring to me when she was sleeping with Gaius, and that kind of eclipsed the memory of her better aspects. It was fabulous to see her return, kill the annoying lead Cavill (who doubly deserved to die after calling Boomer is 'pet Eight': bleugh!), and then refuse to cooperate with Laura. I think she gained Laura's grudging respect that way, and it was certainly smart politics.
Helo was solidly in character and well used in the episode, I thought. (Did the network prompt Ron again? *snerk*) It was creepy to discover that the lead Eight has Athena's memories, and at first I was surprised by how understated Helo's reaction was, but on reflection I do think that was in character. For starters he was on a mission and it was imperative that he work cooperatively with her. Then I think she earned his respect by showing her professionalism as a leader. And she also, of course, demonstrated very Athena-like aspects and personality, which no matter how much he reminded himself of their differences, would have to play on him. I loved Laura calling him on 'you're not married to the whole production line' but you could see him thinking 'yeah... but I kind of am'. Sigh. Oh, Helo! I wasn't surprised to see him feeling weird about all the dying Eights, either
Probably my favourite dramatic point in the whole episode was Helo's 'betrayal' of the Eight. We'd heard her embrace mortality as a 'good thing' because it levelled things between them and the humans. She also suggested that it opened the way towards trust--and I agree. That was a big moment for me, and an important turning point in the relationship between Cylons and humans. To then have Helo betray their trust immediately was really damning. And I kind of hated Laura for that, even though I know why she did it. I definitely felt for Helo, because the Eight took the betrayal so very personally. I liked that it didn't get Laura anywhere in the end.
As for Gaius and Laura... well that's where the episode kind of ran away from me. It was a huge thing to have Gaius reveal that he'd given the secrets to the Cylons, and after he did so I could understand Laura toying with the idea of letting him bleed to death. Where it fell down for me was in the spiritual visions she was having. I found them, by this stage of the episode, laboured and heavy-handed. I don't buy that Laura would need a vision to tell her that a 'bad man feels his death just as keenly as a good man' and the message about Gaius felt like a clunky rerun of Lee's speech from Crossroads. I would have found it easier to understand if Laura had just found killing Gaius in this grotesque way too difficult to face. That could have led her to connect with the part of herself that was human and compassionate--in a far less clunky way than having her spirit guide tell her to 'just love someone'.
One of the problems with that message, for me, was the way that it paralleled Gaius's own deathbed ramblings about all his guilt 'flying away' because he is loved by God. That seriously irritated me enough that I wanted him to die for a while there. It felt very anti-climactic when neither Gaius or Laura died. And Laura dying is starting to have a 'boy that cried wolf aspect to it. It's been soooo drawn out! And after seeing her deathbed scenes in vision form, I'm really hoping we don't have to live through them again in real time.
The other annoying aspect of the 'just love someone' message was that it meant Adama. Blah. The ep had lost me completely by that point. I had originally found the insight about Laura's lack of love interesting when I thought about how it pertained to the way she governed and related to others. I do think that her illness has driven her to have a lot less patience and compassion for others, so I liked the idea that she might find that aspect of herself again. But I don't buy that this connects in any way with her being 'IN love' with Adama. Those are two very different forms of love, and I hate them being conflated. Laura telling Adama she loves him doesn't change a damn thing, and I hate that the show played it like somehow that was a great moment of growth for Laura. Not killing Gaius was growth of a sort that might have significant consequences. Telling Adama she's in love with him is just a private thing that seemed to bring her some release. And oh my, could he be any less gracious or more conceited?! 'ABOUT TIME?!?!?!' *deathglare* Rude much.
All this redemption through love stuff is starting to irritate the hell out of me. Especially when so much of it seems shallow or crazy love. Gaius whores around with Tory and his harem and considers himself 'loved' and saved; Tigh is 'saved' by crazy vision sex with Caprica; Adama proves his love for Laura by hanging around in space hopelessly (suicidally, as Lee calls it); Laura loves Adama, despite what a crazy action this is. I'd be a lot more convinced by it if the characters didn't all seem to be displaying severe mental illness.
PS. As predicted, no Lee-as-President scenes. What's the bets the next ep leaps forward to Laura being back as Pres again? It's such a tragic waste.