This first episode has a lot of themes running through it which will probably last the entire season. First off, the notion of certain characters being Cylons from the beginning keeps coming up, both from the new Cylons as well as the humans. This helps return the characters to the feelings of paranoia from the beginning of the series, as their ideas of exactly who the Cylons are, are now being questioned and tested.
The big theme, at least to me, was the question of identity. The new Cylons question who and what they are versus who and what they want to be. For the four new Cylons, this seems to be at the forefront of their worries about themselves, never knowing when the switch will change them from who they want to be to what they are and have been since the beginning. Baltar is questioning his identity, both as a person and as a religious figure. Kara is questioning her identity as…well, Kara (as are the rest of the characters, save Lee and Sam, really). Heck, even Six is questioning her own identity due to her not being able to NOT think about the final five, as she’s supposedly programmed to do.
The final overall theme I noticed was one of faith. First, many of the characters weren’t sure about their faith in themselves. Adama, for example, wanted to follow the President but I think still wanted to believe Kara. Baltar is dealing with not only faith in himself, but faith in the one god, which goes against the popular religion of multiple gods. Finally, their faith in each other is being sorely tested as questions about loyalties and identities are being laid down for many of the main characters.
In looking at the characters specifically (since this show revolves around its characters), we’ll start with Baltar. I personally found it fascinating that he’s still reluctant to be this religious figure he’s becoming despite his increasing belief in the religion itself. Also, his conflict between being selfish and being selfless is becoming more and more apparent, which I find to be an interesting grey area for the character. Part of him still wants to survive, thrive, be loved and adored, etc, but part of him now wants to atone for what he feels are his sins and failures (as evidenced by not only praying to the one god to exchange his life for Derrick’s (a young boy who was near death), but also in asking his assailant to take his life, something which even gave his assailant pause). His prayer for Derrick was quite touching, and shows the heart deep down that we know he has, despite repeated efforts to hide it. The attack on him in the bathroom was very tense too, and I really enjoyed how it played out.
Next, we’ll look at Kara, who’s had a hell of a time of late. Upon returning to Galactica, she learns that not only was she believed to be dead, but that she’s been gone for over two months while her Viper’s clock says only six hours (I personally can’t WAIT to see how they explain THAT one). It’s not only her that’s come back unscathed, but her Viper (veteran of many, many battles in its own right) has also come back brand new, as if it had just been produced. This leads to further doubts of Kara’s identity, doubts she herself has, but her overlying belief in herself is stronger, thankfully. A lot about her character centers around confusion, from her and from the other characters. Even with all the confusion surrounding her, I’m personally more inclined to believe her than President Roslin, for some reason. I also find it fascinating that she can FEEL when the ship jumps, and can’t wait to see what they do with this.
Speaking of Roslin, I actually enjoyed her *censormode*iness/snarkiness in this episode. She seemed much more cold, calculating and analytical than I’m used to, and it’s her clear-cut belief in her directions that makes me doubt them. I also thought that her visiting Six in the brig in order to find out about the final five Cylons was a nice touch. My real question is…what is she REALLY doing in Adama’s quarters? Medical treatments? Yeah…sure…
Speaking of Adama, his faiths and beliefs were severely tested this episode, but he’ll be damned if he’s gonna show that kind of internal conflict. 😉 While he doesn’t believe in miracles, I get the feeling that he really wants to believe Starbuck and her feelings about their direction towards (or in Kara’s belief, away) from Earth. I think deep down he’s not entirely sure who to believe, and his loyalties are being questioned. He still loves Kara like a daughter despite his doubts in her identity, but he can’t risk that love on the lives of his crew and the fleet, and that must put him in a VERY awkward position, one that I hope they flesh out.
Moving to the younger Adama, Lee believes Kara. I find it interesting that he won’t return to the *censormode*pit, despite admitting he removed his wings for "the wrong reasons", as he says. I find it interesting that he’s deciding to move into politics, and am interested to see how that plays out.
Finally, let’s look at the Cylons, both old and new. I found it fascinating that, in talking with Roslin, Six declared that she’s programmed not to think about the final five despite thinking about not thinking about them. This calls her own identity into question, something she fully realizes and is confused as heck about. As to the four new Cylons revealed at the end of the last season, my heart truly goes out to them. Throughout this episode you could see them grasping with this new information while trying to do their jobs and remain human. Their confusion, fear, and defiance makes them, to me, all the more human. Also, this idea of being "Cylons from the beginning" kept ringing out through the episode, so I’m interested to see who the final Cylon really is…my bet is on Billy, but I think I’m in the minority on that one. 😉
This episode, in closing, laid the foundation for several interesting themes to be played out throughout the season. It also raised several questions. For example, how will several of the characters come to grips with their identities, old and new? Where is the idea of faith going, and will this be like the Christians spreading their faith amongst the Romans? Will there be a Cylon civil war (if the trailer for next week’s episode is any indication, looks like there will be)? Why does Derrick look so intently at Baltar once he’s healed? Is HE the final cylon, or is he just grateful to be alive in the presence of their new Jesus? Where the heck did Kara go, if it is Kara at all?
Overall, it was a VERY good episode that left us all wanting more, a far cry from much of the last season wherein we just wanted it to be OVER with (especially that whole silly love quadrangle thing…ugh…). While my love for Battlestar Galactica waivered a bit in the last season, now I’m fully back on board…pun intended. I can’t wait to see where they take us from here on the long road to Earth.