Review: Battlestar Galactica 4.17 – Someone to Watch Over Me"

At one point in tonight’s episode, the Piano Player almost echoes this exact sentiment back to Kara: “Sometimes lost is where you need to be.”

And we all know Kara “Starbuck” Thrace has been lost this season.

While it’s encouraging to hear Kara admit how completely out of her element she is—how adrift she feels—it’s also somewhat disappointing that even after this hour of great television, we don’t really know anything more about her than we did sixty minutes prior. The mystery of how Kara could find her own charred body and Viper on the surface of Earth while she’s still walking proud and tall, seems one we may well take to the end of the series and beyond. I’ve got a few theories, which I might share a little later, but let’s review the episode itself first.

Thompson and Weddle, two long-time Galactica writers, have outdone themselves once again. Known for some of the show’s best episodes, including “Exodus, Part I” and “Part II,” as well as some of the strongest Starbuck-centric episodes of the series (“Act of Contrition,” “Rapture,” “Maelstrom”), the veteran writers don’t disappoint with an episode that is at once nuanced and shocking. Combine their storytelling with Michael Nankin’s pitch-perfect direction and it’s a pretty great hour of television.

The opening montage of Kara going about her routine—the same routine, day-after-day—conveyed the monotonous repetition and its overwhelming dullness. Watching Kara moments later at Sam’s bedside, doing her best not to break down is just another example of how on edge Starbuck is; something the indomitable Katee Sackhoff is playing to a beautiful tee.

One imagines Kara begins her philosophical debate with the piano player just to break up her day. However, it is quickly revealed that Kara must work out some of the demons of her past—the ones that stayed with her through the mandala—including, coming to grips with her father’s abandonment. Now, whether the piano player, who is revealed as an apparent figment of her imagination, is really a projection of her father, isn’t clear. Is this the only way Kara could get closure, by confronting her “father” or a man just like him? Or is this man another guide, meant to lead Kara through the hurts of her past? Similar to the not-Leoben who guided her through the mandala; is this piano player another sage who appears to be one person, but who is really someone else? And if so, who?

My money’s on Daniel.

Yup, that’s right, Daniel, the elusive model No. 7. I don’t think it’s an accident that the song Kara remembers playing as a child, the one her father taught her, was “All Along the Watchtower,” the same song that Sam apparently composed in another life and the same song that awakened the final four Cylons to their true natures. I also don’t think it’s a mistake that Kara has been inextricably connected with each of the signposts that have pointed to Earth: she recovered the Arrow of Apollo, which transported her, Lee, Adama, Roslin and Billy to Earth once they were inside the Tomb of Athena; she’s the one who had been doodling the Eye of Jupiter since she was a child; and now, she’s apparently the one who knew “All Along the Watchtower”—and married it’s composer.

I’m still not sure if all these pieces really fit. Every week I get the impression that the 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle known as “Battlestar Galactica” just keeps getting bigger. I’m pretty sure we’re around 10,000 pieces by now, just in case you’re playing at home. My wish is that the next three episodes (Gods, can it only be three?) will shed light on all these unanswered questions. I still have faith that Ron D. Moore, David Eick and the rest of the team will deliver a satisfactory finale. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

But again, I digress, because so much more happened in this episode then just Kara and her piano lessons. The return of Boomer and her subsequent trip to the brig wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone, however, the Chief’s admission that he’s still in love with her and has been since she was murdered by Cally—the Chief’s eventual wife—was just a bit of a shock. I think though that the more devastating surprise in this episode is how truly manipulative Boomer is – and how completely unapologetic.

All of her actions, from rescuing Ellen to showing the Chief her projections of their “life” together, were carefully crafted steps in her plan to kidnap Hera and return to Cavil. Perhaps it’s not ironic that the Cylons—the Sixes, Eights and Twos, who wanted Boomer to stand trial for treason—were the only ones acting with level heads. The Chief, despite his status as one of the final five, was all too human, allowing emotions and memory to cloud his judgment.

I’ll be interested to see where the Chief goes from here, because honestly, the news that Boomer kidnapped Hera is a transgression he cannot easily forgive. Especially as he will be forced to watch Helo and Athena grieve.

Now, before anyone jumps on Helo for sleeping with the wrong model, let’s remember, they all do look exactly alike. This again shows Boomer’s level of cunning as she was not only willing to beat Athena close to death, but was willing to sleep with her husband while the other woman watched. And it conveniently allowed her to get her hands on Hera.

The loss of Hera, while devastating to her parents, is devastating to all of us. Not only does it cause Roslin to pass out, but the knowledge that her drawing mapped the notes to “All Along the Watchtower,” indicates how integral she or her memories are to what will come. It also seems to draw an interesting parallel between Kara and Hera. As Ellen and Tigh speculate toward the end of the episode, Hera is apparently tapped into something greater than all of them. Will the struggle to gain control of it, whatever “it” is, be what the final battle is fought over? And what if Kara has had control all along? What if she is the original hybrid?

How this theory fits in with the Basestar hybrid’s predictions that Kara Thrace “is the harbinger of death,” I’m not sure. But it seems the clues are definitely beginning to add up that Kara may just be the answer to quite a few questions for both humans and Cylons.

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of tonight’s episode is the knowledge that Galactica herself is not getting better. Despite the organic Cylon goop, it appears the Battlestar may have gone beyond the point of repair. She’s dying.

Does that make Galactica the dying leader?

I admit, I read this theory earlier this week on a fan board (for the life of me, I cannot remember which one), but it’s a theory that’s stuck with me and considering the previews for next week’s episode, I think it holds some serious merit.

Galactic has been the bastion of the Fleet since the first Cylon attack. Even the Pegasus could not overshadow Galactica in its brief tenure as flagship. The debate to abandon Galactica will polarize the remainder of the fleet just as assuredly as a mutiny. What will they do without Galactica? Where will they go? And who will ever find a home?

Again, it seems we are left wanting more answers. I think that speaks to the brilliance of the storytelling. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t wonder and if we didn’t wonder, we wouldn’t watch.
 

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