BSG Recap: Deadlock
It's a bad sign when the more you think about an episode, the less you like it. Initially I was won over by the acting, especially Michael Hogan, but when I started to break it down, it turned out that the episode really didn't hang together. So I'm not sure if this recap does either.
Right. The previous episode was all about grand things, and was structured so that we learned all of those grand things in a pair of vacuums, mostly insulated from what was going on in the rest of the show. But “Deadlock” deals with messy, mundane realities. Like, for example, the fact that Ellen has always been nothing but Trouble with a capital “Tigh,” and just because she now knows who she really is, that isn’t going to change.
She is who she is, and just because she didn't have all of her memories after Cavil wiped them, she still had her basic personality. It's like this: you can put whatever programs you want on a Windows Vista machine, but eventually it's going to crash.
So it doesn't matter when she is, doesn't matter where she is, doesn't matter who she is: Ellen Tigh is a mixer. Lik Paul McCartney's grandfather, she loves to stir up shit all the while denying that’s she’s doing anything but making innocent observations. Nevertheless, you might imagine that the three conscious members of the Final Five people of Earth might have a couple of questions for her.
But they don't, and that doesn't make any sense.
Previously, on Battlestar Galactica;
• The Galactica is 87 kinds of frakked, but luckily there is a Cylon super glue that will fix her right up.
• Saul Tigh and Caprica Six are having a baby.
• After giving everybody dozens of literal bullet points (damn!! I can’t believe I missed that joke last week!), Sam Anders has it removed, and his brain is only intermittently beeping.
• Oh, and Ellen Tigh was resurrected and held captive by Brother John Cavil for 18 months until she convinced Boomer to help her escape. Guess where they’re going?
We open with the repairs to Galactica. Chief Galen Tyrol and Admiral William Adama are supervising, and Adama asks about the Cylon Super Glue they’re applying everywhere to the ship. It’s gooey, and eventually dries into, well, what the Baseships are made of. Adama wants to know if it’s alive, but he already knows the answer, doesn’t he?
Thoughout this episode we see Adama, in various states of inebriation, walking through the ship, trying to wrap his head around the fact that his beloved Galactica is going to end up being as much Cylon as she is Human. It’s a metaphor!
Not a metaphor: a place on Galactica called “Dogsville” where people are starving. It’s a messy and mundane place where Marines give the people rations under near riot-like conditions. This is all set-up for the Gaius Gives plotline to follow, but whenever I see scenes like this, I always get lost in what I call my “Boys N The Hood question.” The entire time I watched that movie, the only thing I wondered was whether or not they got their mail. Sure, there were gangs and drugs and stuff, but did they still get their mail? So, seeing a few minutes of Dogsville raises the same kinds of questions, like what do they do with their days when there aren’t food riots?
In any event, for some reason, Caprica Six is walking through Dogsville. She’s accosted by some thugs, and reminds us that -- pregnant or not – she’s always been one of the mor kick-ass characters on this show. She dispenses with the thugs, whap! whap! whap! and heads on her way. Ohhhh kayyyy.
We confusingly cut to Sickbay, where Caprica Six and Saul Tigh are looking at the latest ultrasound of their baby, already named “Liam.” It’s all good. Nothing more to see here. Nothing but puppies and flowers and sunshine for these two, and little baby Liam. In fact, they’ve already got a name picked out for the brother: Noel.
Also: enjoy that happiness while you can, kids, because here comes Trouble with a capital “Tigh.” Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting Ellen Tigh and Boomer, who have the mojo and voodoo to find the Fleet while Brother Cavil and the rest of the Cylons can’t. Maybe he’s not trying?
In any event, a CAP comprised of Humans, Cylons and whatever Starbuck is escort Ellen Tigh and Boomer aboard the Galactica, where their greeting party consists of Lee Adama, Laura Roslin, William Adama, Galen Tyrol and the members of the CAP. We get a nice callback to the first time we ever saw Ellen Tigh – just her legs through the Raptor door.
Boomer jumps down from the Raptor, but Ellen jumps instantly into flirt mode with Bill as Hot Dog says: “How many dead chicks are out there?” HA! Meanwhile, Chief and Boomer circle circle circle each other – their sexual power dynamic reversed forever – until he outs her and Adama has he taken to the Brig. None of that matters, because here comes Saul, who practically floats to the Raptor and immediately starts smooching Ellen right into the opening credits.
39,556 survivors searching for a home. Home.
Time out for a special message to the makers of the iPhone Cylon Detector App: you’re too late! Noone cares! As a matter of fact, one of the things that this episode is about is how very very late you really are. So the only way I would pay $1.99 for this App was if it also transported me back to 2005, when "who was or wasn't a Cylon" actually mattered.
Ellen is being debriefed by Lee (who is in a few scenes, but I don’t think actually says anything), Adama, Roslin & Tigh. She’s trying to explain about Cavil and his stone cold craziness, but she realizes that they still think of her as Ellen Frakkin Tigh, and not really somebody who is at the center of, well, pretty much everything. So she decides to prove that she is who she says she is by asking if anybody has a flask.
Adama, still suffering under the mind-meld he got from Tigh around the time of Earth-fall, has one, to Laura Roslin’s eternal disgust. Ellen takes a tug, and then asks to see the others. Everybody makes the joke about this not being Lost, and they say, well, maybe. We’ll get back to you on that. Then, they all leave except for Tigh, who is soon being debriefed by Ellen.
And by “debriefed,” I mean that they have sex. Remember when Tigh first started having sex with Caprica, and through his one good eye, he would see Ellen instead? Well now, having sex with Ellen, he’s seeing Caprica. He really oughta get that eye checked. Oh, and the very second Saul Tigh comes with Ellen, the pregnant Caprica Six starts having problems with the baby.
Life of Baltar! Gaius has made it back to Galactica, and saunters back into his cult’s hideaway, expecting a hero’s welcome. Instead, has to clear his throat to get noticed. Apparently, while he was gone, his cultie cuties figured out how to make do by themselves, lead by Jeane, the one with the bob, and especially Paulla, the one with the long hair. Jeane, who just wants to follow someone, is fine with Baltar returning; but Paulla, who really believed in the crap that Gaius was spouting, is kind of over him.
She accuses Baltar of abandoning them, and Baltar is shocked, shocked! at the accusation. He only left so that they could learn to take care of themselves, but now he’s back! Also back: Head Six, who will be advising Baltar on how to regain control of his cult by pretending to be better than he really is. Again.
Look, I love Gaius Baltar. And I love when he’s being led around by Head Six, but man, I feel like this plotline is around primarily to give James Callis something to do. Oh, and to remind (or misdirect) us that Baltar could be Daniel, the seventh Cylon, since we know that the Final Five had their own visions like Baltar has had of Six.
We’re back to a post-coital Ellen and Saul, and she asks who he frakked when she was gone, hilariously claiming that he’s a dog. It's an ironic turnaround on the truth! Tigh, of course, instantly confesses: well, Caprica Six, yeah, but my bad eye was seeing you when I was doing her. Naturally, Ellen’s instantly pissed, and gets mad at Tigh for doing things that he had no idea that he was actually doing.
Sam Anders is still only beeping intermittently, and Tory, Tigh, Tyrol, a Six and and Eight are gathered around him – but not Kara -- when Ellen sweeps into the room. She makes her big hellos to everyone, but there are pressing matters to be discussed: like, for example, going back to the Baseship and leaving the humans to flounder by themselves.
At first, Ellen is surprised: why would they abandon their best hope, the Cylon-Human child, Hera? Forget all that, Tory says: didn’t Saul tell you? That he impregnated Caprica Six? No? Well he did, and the purebread Cylon baby is the best hope, blah, blah, blah. Which is all that Ellen heard after she found out that Saul impregnated Caprica. But we’ve now connected with a deep bit of show mythology that’s often ignored, because it seems excessively weird and out of character for such a dark show.
Which is this: for reasons that still haven’t been made explicit, Cylons need to be in love to conceive. It seemed so stupid when Athena got pregnant – c’mon show, really?!? – that most of us have ignored it as a plot point. However, since this episode revolves around that exact fact, we should get into it.
I’ve got a theory about Cylons needing “love” as a factor in making babies: if you could program yourself to procreate by making offspring, human-style, isn’t it possible that you want to make sure that love was involved? Because wouldn’t that provide the best, and safest environment for the baby to grow up to be a happy, healthy, productive member of society?
As cold, hard, logical machines, it might actually make sense to have love be involved with making babies. From their standpoint, you’d have the best chance at a happy, healthy society if every single child came from a loving, stable household.
Needless to say, things get a bit intense. Ellen is all: “You got her pregnant. You love her?” to Saul. The Six is still babbling about their bright future with the pure Cylon society, and then Tyrol raises a practical point: “are we playing ‘Stonehenge’ tonight?” Oh wait, his practical point is asking whether or not they are going to leave the Fleet. Tigh says that Anders said they shouldn’t, so he’s not going to. Of course, even if Anders had said that they should, he still wouldn’t go.
The Six and Eight are adamant: either all of the Five go, or none of them go, so let’s put it to a vote! Majority rules, and everybody is bound to that. “It’s what Cylons do.”
Tyrol? "Yes." Dude needs to pick a side, and not just go with whomever will have him whenever they ask him. That said, he probably wants to go wherever Boomer is. Seriously: if you had a choice between smearing gross Cylon Super Glue all over an obviously doomed ship or rekindling a relationship with a Sexy Killer Robot, which would you choose?
Tory? "Yes." Her entire life snapped into place the second she knew she was a Cylon.
Anders? Anders? Anders? In this case, the brain-dead Anders is the smartest one in the room. Tory says, well, we’d never know what coma boy would do, so I guess he doesn't have a vote, when are we leaving? But Tyrol is honest and says that Sam would absolutely say no, gaining him quite a look from Tory. So Anders is a “No.”
Tigh? “No.” They don’t even have to ask him.
Ellen? She’s still on about the pregnancy. She and Saul tried, and they couldn’t, so he must not love her like he loved Caprica; so Tory, sensing the kill, pushes the question. Should we stay or should we go? But Ellen wants to make everybody wait, so she’s not answering yet.
She knows that sure, if she goes, there will be trouble, but if she stays, it will be double. Easy choice for Ellen Tigh. Especially she knows that Saul Tigh is never, ever going to abandon his ever-loving Fleet, no matter what "the Cylons do."
Which is part of the problem I’ve got with this particular plotline: no way Saul Tigh goes along, period. But the bigger problem is in the mechanics of it. Even if Tigh bows to the will of the majority, how in the world are they ever going to get Sam to the Baseship? It’s not like they can just beam him over; they’d have to wheel him down the corridors to Galactica, steal a Raptor, and go to the Baseship. Imagine them getting past Starbuck. You can't, right?
And would they then leave poor Boomer in the Brig? (I'm assuming that Tyrol's vote has to have something do with springing her -- at least in his mind -- or it makes no sense whatsoever.) And what about the Cylon workers who are already aboard Galactica pouring the Cylon Super Glue into every nook and cranny? Do they just get abandoned?
So, in the end, the whole "we gotta get back to the garden" plot is a meaningless misdirection; useful only for how it sharpens the edges of the Tigh, Ellen, Caprica isosceles triangle. Which I don't hate because they set it up so well, and also, as I've pointed out before, sometimes the biggest events happen just because somebody got their feelings hurt.
Life of Baltar. Paula and Jeane are taking him to Dogsville, where he spots a smoking hot welfare mother and – remembering Neil Young’s advice -- instantly starts making googly eyes at her. But apparently, they’d met before, because she she's got a kid named Gaius. Oops.
Luckily, there isn't an awkward situation that Gaius Baltar can't turn to his temporary advantage, especially when being helped by Head Six. So he offers his poor bastard son the food that Paula and Jeannie have been hoarding. But not just for lil Gaius and his hot welfare mother mom. Nope, the food is for everyone in Dogsville, especially the children. What about the children? This gets him a hug from the smoking hot welfare mother, and dirty looks (and not the good kind) from Paulla and Jeane.
This is how low Gaius Baltar has sunk: He's now doing things forrrrr the chilldreennnn. Many of which are probably Baltar’s.
Roslin catches up with Caprica Six in the corridors of Galactica. For a pregnant Cylon who is under constant danger of being attacked, Caprica sure does like to walk around by herself, doesn’t she? In any event Roslin is full of questions for Caprica: about Ellen; about the baby’s health; about the visions that they used to share. Caprica answers: Ellen sucks; the baby rocks; and the visions have all gone away.
Then, Roslin steps in it, and asks “is the baby important?” Which was her entire intent in talking to Caprica in the first place, and a stupid, stupid question to ask a pregnant mother. Because even if the baby wasn’t IMPORTANT, it would still be important to its mother, no? Caprica – who more than anybody else in the entire series knows why Roslin asked that question – gets to play the offended expectant Mother card and storms off to Tigh’s quarters.
While she’s storming, we pop in on Kara Thrace, sitting in a bar, drinking. Hi Kara! Because, as she tells Tyrol, who pops in to grab a bottle, she’s tired of waiting for Sam to stop beeping intermittently. There’s a lot of drinking going on in this episode, which is fine, because there was a lot of drinking going on while I was watching it.
Speaking of drinking, Ellen Tigh comes a calling on Caprica Six, who’s made it back to Tigh’s quarters. There are a lot of layers to this scene, because, the Sixes, they believe in all of it, and so Tricia Helfer has to play disappointment and love and fear and anger all at the same time.
Ellen instantly starts snooping around, asking for booze, with Vernon deftly playing mixture of superiority and sadness, she wounds Caprica with a series of revelations, lies and threats. Revelation: she debriefed Saul almost the second she landed aboard Galactica. Lie: she’s going to give up Tigh. Revelation: Tigh always wanted to call the baby he and Ellen couldn’t make, “Liam." Threat: that Simon (Doctor Skinjob) would love to get his hands on a purebread Cylon baby.
Of course she claims that last little bit is not a threat. Except for the fact that it is, and Caprica calls her on it. And you know what, Ellen? Just because you couldn’t conceive, doesn’t mean that Saul didn’t used to love you. “Used” being the operative, word. Bitch.
Ellen lies again: she's giving up. Caprica wins. Her prize: Saul Tigh. Well, when you put it that way . . .
Life of Baltar. Back in Dogsville, Gaius and his cult are redistributing food, and there aren’t any riots. And Gaius seems to be getting into it for the actual sake of giving. However, there are scary men with big guns, who decided that they’re going to redistribute the food to themselves. Baltar is an idiot, but I’m a bigger idiot for even paying attention to this.
Adama’s quarters, where he and Tigh are drinking. When did this show turn into Deadwood? They joke about the fact that Saul is a machine, but that he was also born, and the fact that the Galactica is going to be Cylon on the inside, but human on the outside. Just like Saul! Also: they’re totally frakked without the Cylons helping them out.
Life of Baltar. Back in cult central, he’s prodded by Chip Six to wrest power back from Paulla by saying that he’ll somehow get bigger guns than the men who took the food from them.
Ellen and Saul are talking, and he’s asking her to vote for staying, but Ellen is still on about the fact that Caprica is living with him and sleeping on her mattress. Before Saul can say, “Ellen, I though you were dead, I should know since I killed you,” they’re interrupted by Tyrol, Tory, Caprica and an Eight. It’s voting time! Ellen spills the beans: “We’re joining the Baseship. It’s the right decision.”
Tigh is horrified. He doesn’t believe in purity. He’s not going, and not going to be held to rules that he doesn’t even remember agreeing to. Welcome to being alive, Saul. Ellen pounces: she set this all up to show Caprica that Tigh’s true love isn’t Ellen, or Caprica, but rather William Adama. Well DUH!
Everybody else comes second place to Adama, even Tigh’s baby.
Speaking of the baby, it’s miscarriage time! We’re in sickbay, where Caprica isn’t as loved as she thought, and so the baby. Ellen backpedals, saying that she set this all up in order to hurt Tigh, not to kill the baby. Weirdly enough, I actually believe her: Ellen Tigh doesn’t ever think about the full consequences of her actions; she’s always focused on the smaller, more immediate reaction. She encourages Tigh to say the words – express his love -- but he can’t. He says that his love is too big for even the words. Ohhh kayyyy? How about just saying the words that Caprica needs to hear, just to be practical? Forget the grand theme, but deal with the messy, mundane reality right in front of him. But he can't. He won't.
So Ellen tells Caprica for him. Promises to leave the Fleet; leave Caprica and Tigh and Liam all alone forever and ever. Tigh looks at her, horrified. He just got Ellen back, and now she’s going to leave again? And that’s the moment where his love is split so much that the baby dies.
Cottle tosses them all out of Sickbay. Time to deal with the messy, mundane reality of scraping a dead baby from Caprica's womb. Think she'll be pissed?
Life of Baltar. In Adama’s quarters, Baltar makes his case to Adama, the silent Lee and Roslin: people know what’s going on about the blending of Cylon and Human culture, and they’re starting to freak out. But somehow, if Baltar’s people get big guns, it will all work out. Because Gaius Baltar might be able to keep order? Nobody really cares about Baltar’s plotline, so they give him the guns. Back at his compound, Paulla, for one, seems pretty happy with all of the extra firepower. Yay?
Boomer is sleeping in the Brig. Tyrol watches her.
Now that nobody is watching Sam Anders, his brain pot is finally boiling. The beeping becomes regular, and when he wakes up, he's going to be pissed that the other Cylons wasted an entire episode with petty squabbling and voting on whether or not to run away. Also, does the timing of Sam's brain working again mean that Liam downloaded into Sam, as some have speculated? Good gods, I hope not.
Saul Tigh gets comfort in the arms of this true love, William Adama. But not in that way. Not yet, anyways.
Roslin and Adama are in the Hall of Rememberance, and they’ve found out that the Cylons are putting up pictures of people that they’ve lost since the Alliance started, which is a very, you know, human thing to do.
Adama says: “It’s already happened, hasn’t it?”
Roslin says: “Mmmmmm.” But what she means is "this is why the iPhone Cylon Detector App makes no sense now."
Annnnnnnd . . . episode.
Jim Connelly writes about Popular Culture and Technology for Medialoper