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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

‘Battlestar Galactica’ blogging: “The Road Less Traveled”

(lots of spoilers! assumes you’ve seen the episode!)

(previous: “Escape Velocity”)

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” William Butler Yeats wrote that in 1919, and he could well have been describing the slow-motion collapse that seems to be happening on Battlestar Galactica. The crew on the Demetrius is mutinying against Starbuck’s seemingly deepening insanity. The fleet is being fractured by Gaius’s preaching. And if Leoben isn’t a lone renegade, some of the Cylons are considering allying themselves with the humans in an attempt to find Earth, which may well be the only hope for human and Cylon alike.
Frak me, but it’s starting to look like the only way humanity will survive is with the Cylons at their side, however uneasily. It didn’t have to be that way, and it may not be happening in the way that the Cylons intended (or maybe it is…) but if nothing else, there are already “humans” like Tyrol and Tighe struggling with figuring out who they are, and there are already people who are half Cylon and half human. Honestly, what difference is there, really between the skinjobs and the humans? Matters of philosophy only, it would seem.

Even the humans can see that, even if they don’t realize they can see it. I couldn’t help but snort when the crew of the Demetrius was arguing over what to do with Leoben, whether to believe him or not, whether a Cylon could be trusted… while all the time, right there in the debate with them, is a Cylon — Sharon — whom they already trust with their lives as a member of their team.

There’s more in that Yeats poem: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.” Sounds like Gaius to me, that last bit. While that enraged woman was spilling her grief to Gaius about everything she’s mad at about, you know, the end of civilization, I thought, If only she realized that, when it comes right down to it, it’s all Gaius’s fault. What would she have done? Would the new religion of love and perfection have stopped her from launching herself at Gaius and throttling him? Maybe it would have. Tighe was wrong to see mystery in the popularity of Gaius’s preaching is: it makes perfect sense. People are scared, the foundations of everything they’ve known and believe in have been rocked. Gaius is the only one telling them anything comforting. Hell, I’m almost suckered in by him. Is that what happened to Tory? If she’s still repulsed by him, she’s hiding it real well. And it’s interesting, too, that Tyrol’s half-Cylon son seems to like listening to Gaius’s preaching on the radio.

I’m not sure anyone at all here can be called “the best” — everyone seems passionately crazy.

More Yeats: “Surely some revelation is at hand; / Surely the Second Coming is at hand. / … And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” I’m starting to wonder whether the all that will be revealed is going to be a stranger, rough beast than we can even begin to imagine.

(next: “Faith”)

(Watch full episodes and get recaps at Sci Fi’s official site for the show.)

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