Hope you enjoyed yet another "everybody is more psycho" episode of Battlestar Galactica on Friday, complete with ten percent more nervous breakdowns and a bit of sartorial madness. "The Road Less Traveled" also brings us the return of a certain creepy Cylon, who makes all the weirdness even weirder. And then there's the ongoing mystery of why everybody is so sweaty on the poop ship Demetrius. Wouldn't it be cheaper to keep them cold in space rather than cranking up the heat? Spoilers ahead.
I can't decide which is more ookie: watching Starbuck paint, or watching yet another prisoner get the freaky-ass beatdown. Regardless, this episode certainly delivered both manifestations of creepiness in every possible way. We begin with Starbuck strung out on her visions, glassy-eyed, painting more planets on the ceiling of her cabin and searching through grubby piles of coordinates to figure out where her second-in-command Helo should hop them to next. They've been out in space for two months, and she wants to keep returning to the same coordinates, and when Helo questions her judgment she goes Crazy Vision Chick on his ass and does a recon mission herself.
While zooming around in a Viper, Starbuck stars muttering to herself batshittily, "Where are you? Where are you?" Just as the guy out doing recon with her starts to ask what's going on, they stumble upon a wounded Heavy Raider — the exact same kind of ship Starbuck followed down to her doom last season. Turns out there's a Leoben on board the ship, and he's all dumb-grin happy to see Starbuck because apparently (according to him) she's shed her doubts and is a new person with a desire to follow the path or the quest or some other Caprica-version-of-Joseph-Campbell thing.
Starbuck not only decides to bring Leoben on board, but invites him to stay in her quarters and starts doing the ceiling-painting dance with him. Literally. When the rest of the crew finally burst in on the two of them, Leoben has his arm around Starbuck's waist and his hand on her painting hand and they're practically doing the let's-make-a-hybrid twostep.
So the Demetrius crew throws Leoben in the brig, beats him up for a while, and starts to talk seriously about mutiny.
Back on Galactica, Baltar's wearing pajamas and this shiny-collared robe as he does culty pirate radio broadcasts via what looks to me like a gold-painted CB radio. He's still doing the "you are perfect" thing only now he's added into it a lot of hugging and talk about how "there are no gods" (except his one god). More and more folk rock ladies are flocking to him, and a couple unfortunate looking hippie guys.
But Tyrol is listening to Baltar on the radio while he skips rope maniacally in his cabin with the ever-whining hybrid baby. We discover that Tyrol has gotten himself a nice shaved head and is doing the Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver thing: getting psycho, getting hairless. You practically expect him to start looking into the mirror and yelling, "Hey Cylon, you talking to me?"
He's also obsessively visiting the airlock where Foster sucked Cally out of the ship, and Foster keeps stalking him and telling him about Baltar's idea of god. Eventually Tyrol wanders in a hate-filled daze to one of Baltar's revivals, and Baltar tries to get him to hug and touch and accept Baltar as his personal savior. Hello — don't try to pet the bug-eyed, shavey-headed guy! And indeed, Baltar is rewarded with a punch in the face, which is something he seems to like anyway.
Meanwhile, on the Demetrius, Leoben is having a little religious mania heart-to-heart with Anders. In between beatings, he spits blood and talks about how there's a war between the Cylons "who embrace their nature" and "those who do not." He wants Anders and Co. to join forces with him and his pals (we can only assume the Sixes and Sharons and Xenas) against what he calls his "savage brothers." He also thinks that if Starbuck would only follow her shining path, she could go visit one of the Cylon hybrids, those ladies on LSD in goo baths who seem to guide the Base Stations by talking like language poets.
Anders actually decides to consider Leoben's request, and goes back to the rest of the crew with the idea. Gaeta practically smacks him upside the head, and everybody else is just worried that the Demetrius won't make its rendezvous point with the Fleet in time. If they don't meet up at the designated coordinates, the Fleet may assume they're lost and leave them behind on their next jump.
Starbuck doesn't seem to give a crap about this, and just as the crew is getting really pissy about the rendezvous, Starbuck walks onto the bridge and says they're definitely joining up with the Cylons to go to Earth. This whole issue is probably the most interesting and rewarding part of the episode, since some kind of alliance between the Cylons and the humans is both narratively intriguing and inevitable. I also like bringing Leoben back to lead the call for alliance, since he's always wanted to mingle with humans but in an incredibly wrong way (witness his captivity of Starbuck, whom he claimed to love, on New Caprica).
That's why it's disappointing when we have to go back to Galactica and visit with Baltar and his sermonizing yet again. I'm all for the idea of making Baltar an ambiguous cult leader, but do we really have to hear all his sermons? Really? I think we'd get the idea that he's mouthing a bunch of platitudes if we heard just ONE sermon instead of twenty-million like in this episode. Probably the best Baltar moment is when Foster tells him — after a roll in the sack — that President Roslin knows about his pirate radio broadcasts but doesn't care because "nobody of consequence" is attracted to his ideas.
Is she saying the folk rock ninja ladies are of no consequence? How can that be? They're so good with lead pipes!
After an explosion on Leoben's Heavy Raider kills one of Starbuck's crew, she pretends to be a folk rock ninja lady for a while and kicks Leoben's jaw with her boot a few times. That's when he calls her an angel blazing with the light of god, and we're obliged to remember how the goo hybrid in Razor said something about angels leading somebody somewhere. At that moment, you'll be so blanged out on the whole flaming angel on a path thing that you'll yearn for a Baltar sermon.
Unfortunately, show creators Ron Moore and David Eick are not afraid to give that to you, and the episode ends with a spectacularly yuck moment where Baltar goes to Tyrol's cabin to beg his forgiveness. Tyrol is in full Taxi Driver mode, a gun on his chest and pate clean-shaven. Surprisingly, he lets Baltar prattle on about being sorry and finding god and how Cally would have wanted Tyrol to be his friend. Then he says, "I wish I could have known [Cally] better," and Tyrol takes Baltar's hand. WTF? It would have been way more realistic to have Tyrol blast one of Baltar's knees off.
So just as Tyrol is being saved (or is he?), the Demetrius crew decides to mutiny. led by XO Helo. And Starbuck is seriously pissed. Just as her angry squinty eyes fill the screen, we get the dreaded "to be continued" message and are forced to spend the rest of the evening debating whether an episode without Adama is an episode not worth watching.