Friday, March 10, 2006

Advance Review for Lay Down Your Burdens

From Now Playing Mag:

Battlestar Galactica - “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2”

Written by Scott Collura
Friday, 10 March 2006
Starbuck has finally been reunited with her lost love, the resistance fighter Anders, thanks to a high-risk rescue mission back to Caprica. Caught in a protracted firefight with the Cylons and facing overwhelming odds, she and her fellow Colonials hole it up, fully expecting a massacre. But then, out of nowhere, the Cylons disappear, apparently not just from the firefight, but from the planet. And a familiar face appears on behalf of the Cylons to offer the Colonials a truce, of sorts. Meanwhile, back aboard the fleet, Laura Roslin realizes that she is in danger of actually losing the presidential election to Doctor Baltar, despite – or rather, because of – his ill-advised plan to settle on the recently discover planet that’s been dubbed New Caprica. Will Roslin do whatever she can, legal or otherwise, to win the election? Or is settlement a foregone conclusion, and by extension, is finding Earth nothing but a dream?
Battlestar Galactica finishes its second season with an extended 90-minute episode that is as unwieldy as it is impressive. Plot-wise, showrunner Ron Moore and his team continue to chart new territory that other genre shows, or even most A-list dramatic television series for that matter, dare not enter. The willingness to move these characters forward, to not “reset” story and plot to the status quo each week, has never been as clear as it is here, particularly in the final 30 minutes or so of the episode (which we will not spoil for our readers… yet – check back after the episode airs on Friday for a chat with Moore about the finale, and where the show is going in year three).
But the twists and turns of this finale do come across as ungainly at times, an unavoidable hazard perhaps for a show that has first, second, and even third-tier characters who all have very engrossing stories to be told. Take Apollo, now Commander of the Battlestar Pegasus: We’ve barely gotten an idea of what he’s been up to since joining his new ship, and a scene he has with Starbuck – an awkward three-way reunion between her, Anders, and him – is compelling but not given the room to go anywhere beyond that. There are plenty of other examples of this, and what it amounts to is that many of these characters could probably be given their own spin-off shows and we still wouldn’t get enough time with them (as long as the current writing staff remained onboard, anyway). The extra 30 minutes or so added on to this episode only further complicate matters, rather than answer questions, so divergent and radical are they from the prior 60 minutes – from the entire preceding two seasons of episodes, in fact.
So I’m nitpicking because the show is too good, I guess. What’s so good this week? Dean Stockwell, first seen last week as Brother Cavell, the priest who was counseling the Chief, is back, and he brings a new level of humor to Galactica that has been lacking ever since Baltar went dark. The Number Six prisoner of war from the Pegasus reappears this week, along with her nuclear bomb – a gift from Baltar, you’ll recall. Sharon and Helo are falling apart following the apparent death of their daughter, and where Sharon’s loyalties lie is once again a matter of debate. And the election race between Roslin and Baltar, with Baltar a changed man now, almost mercenary, comes to a head. It leads to Roslin once again baring her teeth in an unexpected way, with only Admiral Adama’s moral compass helping to guide her to make the right decision in the end. Or is it the right decision? Judging by the state of affairs for the Colonials at the end of this episode, one can’t help but wonder if perhaps Laura shouldn’t have followed her instincts in the first place.
But that’s a question for next season, and it’s one of many. Until then, remember – a vote for Baltar is a vote for tyranny! A-

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