This thing’s been streaming on SciFi.com all day, and I could only watch it about ten to fifteen minutes at a time. But I got the gist of it pretty well.
Even for a nihilistic series like this one, “The Ties that Bind” was markedly, unrelentingly grim. I think that was its goal, and it succeeded. It felt like a dull, plodding headache mixed with intestinal bloating and stiff joints, with just a hint of claustrophobia. It made me wonder why someone would strive so hard to create such a forbidding, unpleasant world, and, even more, why anyone could find anything in this world particularly entertaining.
So, fully for purposes of masochism, let’s take a look at this sucker.
Moore began this season by saying it would require people to question what it means to be a Cylon. He was right, although not the way he intended. Why is Cylon Al making out with Boomer? Isn’t that kind of gross? Is it just me, or do the centurions have blood now? Is Tori instantly superhuman now? Why don’t all the Sixes bleach their hair? Tori’s clearly evil all of a sudden, so what about Tigh and Tyrol? If they’re not, why don’t they off themselves? And what’s Anders doing breaking up the Final Four party? Whatever happened to the first Cylon/Human hybrid? And does anyone care, since the second one is now suddenly being elevated above his initial status as an inconvenient afterthought?
It’s a waste of time to question what it means to be a Cylon, because the Cylon designation is essentially meaningless. As soon as Moore decides what it means, then it might be worth discussing. Probably not, though.
Then there’s the politics. Sweet fancy Moses, but the politics are stupid. I think we’re gearing up for another anti-Bush metaphor, what with Roslin supposedly wielding too much executive power and all. Is this really necessary? Is there any doubt about how these folks feel about George Bush? Is there any reason to waste your last season wading through some dopey, made-up metaphor that serves no real dramatic purpose other than to look politically fashionable? If everyone watches the show concedes that Bush is a jerk, will the writers focus on something else, please?
The Lee-as-a-Delegate subplot bores me beyond measure. Fun to see Richard Hatch chew the scenery a little bit, but the political intrigue angle is just a dead end, dramatically speaking. Look, these are pretty good actors, guys. How about giving them something to do? Rummaging through files and whispering about conspiracies may make for passable agitprop, but it’s got no juice to it.
We move on to Kara, who has presumably taken the entire command crew of the Galactica on her garbage scow. You’d think that Helo, Athena, Gaeta, and Anders might have better things to do, but, no, they have to join Sackhoff as she wallow in her obligatory Moment in the Sulk. Nothing to see here, folks.
And then there’s Callie.
Callie has always been a whiny naïf of a character, and I can’t say I’ll miss her. But I have to confess that her death was startling and terrifying in a way that this series often wants to be but seldom is. I don’t know why I found it so affecting, but I did. Maybe it’s because I’m a dad and it’s heart-wrenching to see a mother torn away from her child and tossed out of an airlock. But I think there was more to it than that. Her scene with Tyrol, where Tyrol is blurred out in the background and his audio is muted, was a stroke of genius. You could feel Callie’s isolation and mounting terror, and you knew her life was about to end. And the fact that the stinkin’ kid won’t stop screaming just adds to the anxiety. Well done, whoever did that one.
So, to sum up, I was impressed by the last five minutes of this thing, but that’s not the same thing as saying I liked them. It was a technically perfect depiction of absolute misery, and absolute misery isn’t something I enjoy watching. The one brief, shining moment in this ep was Adama reading to Roslin in her sickbed. See, these guys can do sweet if they really want to. They’re just happiest when nobody in their universe is happy.
But 70-plus year-old Dean Stockwell’s gotta be enjoying the Boomer smooches.