Battlestar Galactica may be the best SF series, start to finish, ever produced for television. Even so, after sleeping on it, I have to say that the final season opener left me cold. [SPOILERS beyond this point!]
He That Believeth in Me opens minutes after the season three finale, Crossroads, Part 2, left off – with Kara “Starbuck” Thrace [Katee Sackhoff] joining Lee “Apollo” Adama [Jamie Bamber] in the battle against the Cylon raiders. The battle turns when a Cylon raider has Sam Anders [Michael Trucco] in its sights, pauses for a closer examination of the newly revealed Cylon/Viper pilot, and turns tail and retreats.
In between bursts of the battle, we see members of Galactica command and President Roslin [Mary McDonnell] listening in disbelief as Starbuck joins the battle following her epochal announcement regarding Earth. Even the usually well-controlled Admiral Adama [Edward James Olmos] is visibly shaken by her return.
Meanwhile, Gaius Baltar [James Callis], newly cleared of charges of treason, has been whisked away to the one ship that will have him and begins his new life by praying for the life of a sick child. Following his prayers, he is accosted by a man whose son had been killed by a “police officer” on New Caprica, and only quick action by the woman who had cut his hair, saves him from certain death – but only after his plea to The One True God to take his life and spare the child so startles his would-be assassin that she has time to overpower the man holding her. Lo! The child is healthy on his return, with no trace of the virus that was killing him.
Starbuck is taken, under guard, to Doc Cottle [whom we don’t actually see], and declared to be 100% Kara Thrace. Even so, Roslin refuses to believe her story of finding Earth and returning. Even Adama isn’t convinced – though he clearly wants to be. Further clouding the issue is Starbuck’s Viper which has returned in fresh off the factory floor, brand spankin’ new condition. No dings, no enemy hits, nothing in its logs.
At about the same time, the four newly revealed Cylon models, Tory [Rekha Sharma], XO Tigh [Michael Hogan], Anders and Chief Tyrol [Aaron Douglas] have met to see what they can figure out about their new awareness. The best they come with is that [a] that bloody song isn’t playing in their heads anymore, and [b] until something changes, it’s going to have to be business as usual for all of them.
Finally, at episode’s end, Starbuck breaks free of her escort [she’d been looking at her memorial on the wall of memories] and confronts President Roslin at gunpoint. To be continued…
Although my esteemed colleague deemed He That Believeth in Me to be a good, if not great season opener, I have to say that it very nearly put me to sleep. Outside of the show’s usual brilliant effects, I felt that nearly every aspect of the ep left me cold.
In terms of the actual battle between the Cylons and the Galactica, there wasn’t any one thing that stood out until the Anders incident. In fact, it seemed like the most lifeless battle of the series to date. The unexpected retreat – unfairly attributed to the possibility that Starbuck might be a Cylon [and which only we, the audience, knew was because of something that one Raider saw in Anders] wasn’t particularly wondrous either, though the reaction aboard the Galactica was one of the few bright spots in the ep.
The Lee/Kara reunion in the bay was affecting, but the Sam/Kara reunion was curiously lifeless – even their later conversation about he’d still love her even if she was a Cylon seemed oddly out of place [and this with his knowledge that he was a Cylon!].
The Adama/Kara scenes were almost painful, and not because they were heart-rending. The contrast in the two’s demeanor was such that it really felt like I was watching two different people. Overall, the only scenes that struck me as completely honest were the scenes between Lee and Kara, and Kara and Roslin.
There weren’t even any truly memorable lines – and days after almost every preceding ep, there’d be at least one line that would still be making me chuckle. Here, there was nothing of the sort. Even Starbuck’s anguished, “We’re going the wrong way,” struck me as lame [though that might be because a much more impassioned version of it has been featured in almost every 30-second spot in advance of the show’s return, and now I’m tired of it already.
The whole Baltar, The Holy Man arc that’s being set up strikes me as kind of sad. This suddenly selfless, repentant Baltar is no fun at all. If he does wind up being selfless and giving for real, he will cease to be interesting. It’s combination of Baltar’s baser qualities and his [very] occasional doubts and attempts at redemption that make him such an intriguing character. Take away that intrigue and you might as well kill him off.
Even the direction of He That Believeth in Me seemed perfunctory. People hit their marks, said their lines and didn’t bump into the furniture, but that’s about it.
In the end, He That Believeth in Me was an unsuccessful attempt to expand on arcs that were set up in Crossroads, Part 2. Maybe now the show can pick up steam and kick some ass – ‘cause it certainly did neither here.
Final Grade: D+