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Light and love in the disquiet that follows our souls

There is a Languor of the Life
More imminent than Pain —
'Tis Pain's Successor — When the Soul
Has suffered all it can —

A Drowsiness — diffuses —
A Dimness like a Fog
Envelops Consciousness —
As Mists — obliterate a Crag.

The Surgeon — does not blanch — at pain
His Habit — is severe —
But tell him that it ceased to feel —
The Creature lying there —

And he will tell you — skill is late —
A Mightier than He —
Has ministered before Him —
There's no Vitality.

--Emily Dickinson
We hear the voice of Admiral Bill Adama recite the first stanza of Emily Dickinson's poem over the opening scenes of “A Disquiet Follows My Soul,” the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica. It is a coda of sorts to the intense suffering of “Sometimes a Great Notion,” where the humans and Cylons discovered that Earth—their “promised land”—is actually a toxic nuclear wasteland. “Disquiet” explores what we do after that relentless tsunami wave has washed back to sea, leaving us to walk day after day in the ruins of its wake.

What do we do when our souls are exhausted and numb from suffering? Some retreat and choose to give up care about all, except perhaps those nearest to them. Others rail out at God. Some rail at those around them.

But some find their way—and as they do, they become a light in all that dim fog and darkness. In this episode, that person is Galen Tyrol.

Things aren’t so good for the former Chief, who is still dealing with finding out he’s one of the Final Five Cylons. And in addition to the wreckage that is BSG’s present world, he also finds out that his son was actually fathered by another man (a viper pilot named Hot Dog). Initially, Tyrol is furious and literally pummels him. But then Tyrol takes him to the bedside of the toddler, who is in Galactica’s infirmary recovering from renal failure.

Hot Dog stares down at the boy and confesses that he doesn’t know anything about being a father.

“It sucks,” Tyrol says—but then he pauses. He grimaces as he looks at the boy in the bed, whom he loves deeply. “Except the parts that don’t.” Then he tells Hot Dog that one of the first rules about being a father is that when your kid is in the hospital you never, ever leave him alone. As he leaves the room, he sits Hot Dog down in a chair next to the bed—and when Hot Dog asks him long he’s supposed to stay, Tyrol tells him something amazing: “Until I get back.”

Tyrol could have just as easily have been talking about life and loving others in general. We live in a broken world, and there are parts of it all that that are excruciatingly painful—but there are parts that are just as excruciatingly beautiful. Especially love. So, in the parts where we suffer, one of the rules is that we don’t leave each other alone. We sit beside each other. We do what’s best for the other. We love.

And that in itself is a light in the dimness, fog and mists of the darkness.

(Images: Sci-Fi Channel) bsgctgy


Holly Swift said…
Loved that review. I just got through watching that episode. I'm glad to see you able to pull something positive and life affirming out of it. It does feel less dark and depressing than last week's BSG.
Ken Brown said…
Heh. I just got done posting a much more pessimistic review of the episode, but I actually think your point fits well with mine. Surely it is no accident that the very episode in which Baltar rails against what "a father" would and wouldn't do, we are shown Tyrol's compassion towards his "son," even after he finds out it isn't his. Interesting....
Carmen Andres said…
"Surely it is no accident that the very episode in which Baltar rails against what "a father" would and wouldn't do, we are shown Tyrol's compassion towards his "son," even after he finds out it isn't his. Interesting...."

dang, ken. that's good.
Benjamin Ady said…
Thank you for highlighting Tyrol's words for us. I enjoy your takes on Lost and BSG. Thank you for writing.
Carmen Andres said…
thanks, benjamin! and thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. blessings.