6.07.2008

Revelations - Review

[3.0 - revised]
Whoa! Thanks again Sci-Fi Channel for giving away WAY WAY WAAAAAY too much in the trailers. Sadly, very sadly, the trailers were better than the episode itself this time - they packed more drama and suspense and were more satisfying frankly and bespoke of a much more dynamic and action-packed episode. This season-cliffhanger "finale" was a partial washout. A sad sigh rather than a bang. That sinking feeling I was getting prior to air-date (which reminded me of the end of Season 2 with the jump-ahead of over a year) was well-justified.

Muted, pale, restrained, with contrived drama, this episode was bound, tortured, awkward when it should have brought light and bliss. We were sold a bill-of-goods by the trailers. After The Ties That Bind this is the most unsatisfying episode of this uneven season.

[Note to RDM/DE: the Sci-Fi/Space/Hulu trifecta of trailers are giving away the store - they are not teasers but mega-spoilers much more massive than what is speculated about in the blogosphere - the Sci-Fi execs who greenlight those adverts need to develop some restraint]



The rebel Base ship and a Colonial Raptor jump back to the Galactica and D'Anna decides to play hardball and tells Adama to return to the Galactica and give up the Final Five, er, Four Cylons or else. Previously, on the Base ship, Roslin whispered to Adama not to do it since they are the way to Earth and to, "blow this ship to hell," [with her on it] if need be. Tables have now turned and spicey sexy D'Anna is in charge again. Good thing the Cylon wardrobe had her size - and leather.


Good scene with D'Anna returning with Adama to the Galactica and discretely eyeing TTTA [Tigh, Tyrol, Tory and Anders] among the greeting party. D'Anna says, "We're in contact with them now," - the "four Cylons in your fleet" [er, wasn't it FIVE Cylons? ... so D'Anna wasn't pulling Roslin's leg after all?] ... that reveal, and monkeywrench in the plot, must wait and wasn't strongly questioned by Lee or anybody else!? Five is now Four??? And WHY do the Cylons want to go to Earth anyway? That question has never been answered, or even asked by the characters. It's a big galaxy. They are machines. They can wait. They can "live" anywhere. Tory takes the invitation, using the cover of delivering Roslin's medicine [contrived: she could've just declared "I'm out and I'm proud"]. And, back on our rebel Base ship, Tory comes into her own - power to the people! Cylon people, baby.


The music is still playing in TTTAs heads and this time TTA (remember Tory's on the Base ship) are drawn to the freshly minted Viper "dead" Kara returned to the fleet with her reappearance (but Tory, not being nearby, can only listen to the squawking of the signal in her head Kara's reborn Viper is sending out).
D'Anna starts spacing Colonial pilots, and after only one, Tigh's loyalty kicks in and he outs himself to Adama - who at first thinks his friend Saul has just gone batty, "You aged, you used to have hair" "I've known you 30 years," Adama protests to Tigh. But Tigh persists, admitting that he must be a "different kind of Cylon" and that he "switched on" "like Boomer" back at the Nebula - he growls, "I AM A CY-LON!"
Tigh is arrested and taken to an airlock by president Lee while Bill Adama falls apart, waylaid by the information, he suffers an emotional breakdown [admitting his love for Laura cracked him open?].
Lee comforts him and out of necessity, takes charge.
Smarty-pants Lee now plays hardball in kind with D'Anna and a lot of back-and-forth ComLink discussion takes place as they threaten one another - Lee tells D'Anna he'll space Tigh - which gives her pause.
There is an interesting visual moment in the air-lock with Tigh [image not yet available]. We see him framed in the center of the shot standing directly in front of the air-lock door, positioned so that the pattern on the door looks like the figure of a man with outstretched arms, holding two lights in each hand [I'm assuming this was meant to convey he held the fates of the Four in his hands, or it's an homage to the historic Wicker Man and Tigh's fate is to be a sacrifice and/or to herald the boon].

Meanwhile Anders and Tyrol get Kara and tell her to check the Viper, that they "have a feeling" - and she needs to trust them the way she's asked the fleet to trust her. She is skeptical and resistent [wouldn't she jump in there in a heartbeat to vindicate herself?] then Lee busts
up the little Viper party with a contingent of Colonial Marines he's sent
, and Anders and Tyrol are arrested on the spot. Kara is shocked, SHOCKED, but in that subdued spacey way only a clone can react. TA is bound and taken to Tigh's airlock for 3/5s of a Final Five farewell party.
Kara decides, well yeah, maybe I should turn on the gadgets in the cockpit of the magic Viper. Lee ups the ante with D'Anna and now threatents to space Tigh, Tyrol AND Anders when, cue anticlimax, Kara deduces something from the Viper's display panel and rushes in (well, after running an overlong mile and up a Star Trek tube too!) to save them at the ..... LAST SECOND!!!
D'Anna's decision to force the timetable (Lee: "We are cooperating!") and the countdown clock device of the button Lee is about to push to space Tigh were sheer contrivances. I know, there had to be a dramatic propulsion to forward the story, but it could have been solved so easily and not felt fake: suggest that the Cavil faction is hot on their trail and they may all be blasted to oblivion (perhaps a 1-4-5 faction Cylon Heavy Raider jumps to their position and discovers them then jumps away, forcing the timetable).

Kara shouts, "Those three Cylons gave us Earth!" She doesn't even refer to them as people - and Sam is her long-suffering husband ... and this indignity from a clone! [How's that little scar where your ovary once was Kara? Oh that's right, your cloned body doesn't have the scar anymore]

Baltar gets much better very quickly. We never see if the Cylon Base ship has a medical bay or if his gaping wound was ever stitched up [Roslin could have gone to one of the Sixes and said, "Caprica Six, from your model line, loves him. Can you do something for him?" - again, a simple fix to reference Six to Baltar, fix the wound, and show how Baltar's feelings have change all in one brief scene] but however it's happened he's stopped bleeding and can now walk around and thanks Roslin for not "murdering me," and volunteers to try to talk D'Anna down from her brinkmanship with Lee. He walks to the Base ship command center and appeals to D'Anna, "Do you really think god brought you back for this?" "Brute force didn't work on New Caprica, didn't work on the algae planet," he implores.
Baltar has been with all of these Sixes on the Base ship yet there hasn't been a single moment we've seen where any feeling passed between them? Has he lost interest in his obsession with Caprica Six completely? Why? Why? He was sleeping with Tory, sure, but doesn't love her. And where-o-where was Head Six??? Two episodes in a row with Baltar-centric plot developments that demanded her presence and comment. Did her virtual contract expire?

Lee checks the magic Viper himself and sees the signal no other ship in the fleet is receiving. Kara passionately argues that it can only be Earth, that they are all being manipulated by some force that wants them to find it, ALL of them to find it. This is a moment that should have felt revelatory, as did D'Anna's sojourn into the starlight on the algae planet, but it was just commented upon offhand (!?). So, turning on a dime we - CUT TO: D'Anna and the Final Four [TTTA] are now present at the magic Viper (along with several Centurions [How many college kids can you stuff into a Cylong Heavy Raider and how exactly did the Centurions get down that tube Kara had to ascend in the earlier running shots?]) - Lee allows them to check the signal and offers a comprehensive peace, "We go together," and references the 'All of this has happened before and will happen again' refrain the Cylons use and suggests they can break the cycle by cooperating - again, a HUGE aspect of the story dispensed with with a single line (!?!?) - beyond anticlimactic. What the fuck is the repeating cycles of time thing the Cylons referene anyway? When do we get to see it? How do they experience it?
D'Anna reluctantly takes Lee's hand and the deal is sealed. Snap. Just like that, all is forgiven and Tigh is back drinking in his quarters, Tyrol is bouncing baby Nicholas on his knee, now-sensitive Anders is cozying up to a reflective Kara (who tells dead Kat's picture "We found it," or some such). The final jump to Earth is made (cue camera-lens twisting), star patterns are confirmed [once again a transcendent moment from Home Part II - when they saw the star patterns in the Temple of Athena - is reduced to a throwaway line - confounding!]. We get a shot of the bright pale yellow sun and PAN over to a quarter-Earth shot with our Colonial fleet and the rebel Base ship jumping in and pullback to see the ships backlit by the sun and poised like needles facing their new home.
Strange, baffling choices with the visuals this time out - nothing lush, nothing warm, rather staid framing of shots. Color seemed drained, a bleak feel pervaded the episode despite momentous events unfolding. I'm frankly shocked at this episode because my two favorite writers from the series and probably the best director as well did this episode.

Now cue: MONTAGE (you can almost hear the South Park parody song) of the fleet celebrating (day-work for some Canadian extras at least) - including a Baltar and his harem [doesn't it hurt like hell to lift that left arm Gaius?] and then we see a screaming assemblage of ships zipping through the white cloudy atmosphere from the fleet toward the surface.
Lest I forget, early in the episode poor Gaeta is shown with his stumpy leg [they have endless booze but not one amputee's prosthetic?] and in a totally contrived moment Tigh asks if he wants to be relieved from duty - I get it, we're giving Gaeta and Dualla screen time to remind the audience they're there and will factor in later in the season. This is the perfect moment to sum up where Battlestar Galactica is at its weakest. They do a big Gaeta-dangle, offering him up as a potential Final Cylon in Guess What's Coming to Dinner - even going so far as to have him sing - seemingly giving voice to "the unstruck music vibrates within us all, few can hear it" Leoben line only to reduce him to a pathetic state this episode without any transition inbetween.



Cue dubious creative choice:
Adama picks up a handful of radioactive soil and we see reaction shots, dismay on the faces of Roslin, Adama, Lee, D'Anna, Leoben, Six, Tigh, Anders, et al as they walk upon the surface of Earth for the first time. This Earth is a grey, cold and unhappy place (post-apocalyptic Earth - no Minoans 1500 B.C. - boo-hoo!). The warped steel of the ruins denotes a modern society after a nuclear wipeout. The sets in this scene looked cheap and fake (piling up the sand a bit higher would have done wonders) and an old matte painting from Beneath the Planet of the Apes would have looked better than the city-in-ruins image in the background we were given. Usually superior visual effects were sorely lacking in this set of shots. Again, baffling.


With Faith and Guess What's Coming to Dinner Battlestar had really hit its stride - two of the best episodes of the entire series, yet with Sine Qua Non and The Hub, it entered a scattershot period ... too many plot twists and turns coming too fast without coherence nor a satisfying sense of the tapestry of the story skillfully and beautifully weaving together. With Revelations, story threads were inartfully clumped and twisted and left a frayed, a knotted cloth hanging there. I didn't hate the episode, but almost. So now there are 10-12 hours [10 official episodes] left and where is the conflict to the story? Our great journey - the quest - the raison d'ĂȘtre is over. Did they forget that cliche the journey's the thing? The rest of the show is learning to live together on Earth? Fighting the Cavil-allied Cylons? Dragging out the Final Cylon reveal - and to what end? Piano players? I'm left depressed and confused about what's coming, not elated.

4 comments:

btk said...

"After The Ties That Bind this is the most unsatisfying episode of this uneven season. "

Agreed.

Also, do you make anything out of the various reactions on Earth? Helo giving someone the hairy eyeball, Anders walking away from Tory when she tries to get near him, #6 putting a hand on Tigh, Dee standing there...etc.

radii said...

Yes, they are foreshadowing future relationships for part II of Season 4. I'm baffled that they've let drop the Caprica Six/Baltar relationship.

Riverwolf said...

I didn't hate the episode but it's the little details that us fans expect and notice when they're ommitted that disappoint.

One thing I've always respected about the writing/acting/directing was its ability to convince us of the show's "reality." Some sci-fi shows are so embarrassingly clunky that even the actors look like they don't believe what they're saying. Was it just me or did anyone else feel that way in the first 20 minutes or so of Revelations??

Anonymous said...

Also agreed.

The worst episode so far.

@riverwolf, also agree with your feeling...

so sad mates, to frak it up at this very crucial moment of the series :(