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Oh, frak

Oh, how I wish I could say that last Friday’s final season premiere of Battlestar Galactica—with that remarkable God-talking title of “He That Believeth In Me” (which references John 11:25)—was worth the wait, but frankly I found it less than stellar. At first, I thought it was because I’d been feeling rather under the weather, but after reading posts by Ken Brown and Barbara Nicolosi, I’m a bit relieved to realize that I haven’t lost my marbles.

I think Nicolosi hits the nail on the head—"too much, too fast." There were simply way too many storylines going on. First there’s the major plotlines: Colonel Tigh, Sam Anders, Tory Foster and Chief Tyrol trying to carry out the nitty gritty of their lives as they deal with the horror of who they are; Starbuck’s return from the dead and her confusion about what she believes versus what she fears (both about herself and the way the fleet is headed); Admiral Adama and Lee Adama’s reactions and turmoil regarding Starbuck’s return; Gaius Baltar’s descent about as far down to rock bottom as he can get and his subsequent call out to “God.” Then there were the minor threads of the relationships between Adama and President Laura Roslin, Adama and Lee, Adama and Starbuck as well as the Starbuck/Apollo/Anders thing.

Personally, there was so much going on that I just couldn’t care about or invest in most of the characters, and that was particularly disappointing because these characters are worth caring about. Any one of their stories—even two of them—could have made for an outstanding episode if they’d just stuck with it.

However, the episode did have its moments. Anders' second-guessing, confusion and self-doubt was very well done—and that red-glowing eye actually got a gasp out of me. I liked the almost passed-me-by-moment of Cally barking out orders as Tyrol and Anders walk into the hanger bay; it gave me a sudden inclination of the gulf that exists between Tyrol and his wife, even if she doesn’t yet know it. And Adama’s words to Lee as they review the footage of Starbuck’s viper blowing up—“Which should I believe? Should I believe my heart? Or should I believe my eyes?”—are ones I’d have considered following up on in a post if the rest of the episode had been able to play that out in more depth.

Overall, I thought Gaius Baltar’s storyline was strongest aspect of the episode. The way he hit bottom was creative and interesting; and I appreciated seeing the compassionate part of Gaius as he prayed over the sick boy—a part we all know is there but gets trampled over by his greed, thirst for power, shame and fears. These kinds of complex characters that you can’t lump off into a stereotype or category is one of the things that makes BSG a cut above the rest.

In addition, Gaius’ prayer to “God” to heal the child and take his own life instead—and his later surrender to potential death as an possible answer to that prayer—grabbed my attention in more ways than one. It made me wonder if Baltar’s in-his-head Six was setting him up for a kind of test, to see how far his “faith” really goes. It also made me think a bit on the false boxes we put God into—in this case, that he works by striking one person dead for another. We forget that this world is broken and far from the one God intended (death included), that God wills and works for life for all his creation—and eventually that life will overwhelm all death. The scene also brought to mind our short-sighted attempts to too eagerly read into our circumstances God’s answer to our situation. Not that God isn’t acting in our circumstances—he is. But far too often we take the routes of Job’s well-intentioned but severely misled friends instead of the truth of how he works and the discernment and wisdom that comes from his Spirit in us and others who walk with Jesus.

As to Gaius’ possible change of heart, I’m not ready to buy into the idea that this is a turning point, that he’s changed direction from his own selfishness to the welfare of others. (By the way, didn’t he do something similar in a previous episode?) As in real life, actions like this can mask a desire to escape the shame and darkness of one’s actions rather than an admission and willingness to change one’s life. Judas’ chose death in the face of his actions; Peter, on the other hand, chose the harder route. But again, it is moments and quandaries like this that keeps BSG on my radar.

In the end, I think I agree with Ken’s comment: “even if this wasn't one of their best, it was better than a lot of other shows are all the time!” Here's hoping the next episode lives up to BSG's well-deserved reputation.

(If you missed the episode, you can catch it online here. As always, please be aware that episodes in this series can contain scenes of violence and sexual content.)

(Images: SciFi Channel) bsgctgy

Comments

Thanks for sharing this! I watched the season premiere at the same time I finished reading Bart Ehrman's latest book,and so ended up blogging the two in dialogue with one another.
Carmen Andres said…
james, i saw your post after i posted last night and wanted to update my post with a link to yours but i was too dang tired! i too am intrigued by how the folks at BSG are fleshing out their theology. your posts are always thought-provoking and i look forward to reading more! blessings.