Cylon Deathfest on Battlestar Galactica

For those of us who have gotten sick of scientist-cum-messiah Baltar's sermonizing, Friday's episode of Battlestar Galactica, "Faith," was a welcome relief. Instead of watching a sweaty dude in a shiny robe preach to a room full of Lilith Fair lady ninjas, we got to watch an asskicking Starbuck court danger and cylons. Plus there were views of the cylon Base Ships that we've never seen before — and that looked seriously awesome. For BSG fans who like the whole character development thing, there was plenty of that too. A lot of the humans (and cylons) are having to face their mortality for the first time. And it's not always pretty.

Face-slamming excitement initiates the episode: Starbuck has a slitty-eyed glaring contest with Helo as he leads a mutiny on the Demetrius and tries to throw her in the brig. She's totally pissed off and Athena grabs her in a headlock while Helo yells "stand down!" a lot. More stand-downs ensue as Starbuck's cylon honey Anders goes nuts, aiming his gun at random people and demanding that Starbuck be reinstated as captain. Helo is yelling at Gaeta to jump the ship to its rendezvous with the Galactica, and Anders is yelling at him to stop, and Starbuck is freaking out, and in the craziness Anders shoots Gaeta right in the leg.

At that moment, Starbuck seems to snap out of crazy art girl mode, quickly patching Gaeta's wound and telling Helo that he was right. The Demetrius shouldn't go chasing after Leoben's promised Base Ship and cylon allies. Instead, Starbuck should take a Raptor, pack it with Leoben's cylon ass, and check out the Base Ship story for herself. A lot of "no ways" and "stand downs" later, Starbuck has an away team: Athena to be cylon interpreter, Leoben, Anders because he's Starbuck's arm candy, and a hot throwaway cast member who you know is going to be dispensable as soon as she says Starbuck as been "kicking ass all along." The Demetrius is going to wait for them for 15 hours, while Gaeta's leg goes to shit, before jumping to the Galactica rendezvous.

Oh poor throwaway cast member with the cute haircut, we will sorely miss you because as soon as the Raptor lands on board the least-crippled Base Ship, you die. But before we get to the death orgy, though, let's assess the coolness factor of seeing the horrible remains of the cylon civil war. As soon as Starbuck and Co. jump to Leoben's coordinates and tune out Leoben's inane commentary ("Can you feel the excitement? God is making my cylon nutsacs tingle!"), they are in the middle of carnage.

This really is a great scene, as the Raptor moves slowly through the charred remains of the Base Ships, their broken limbs glowing red like ripped muscles or burst blood veins. We know the Raiders are organic, but this is the first time we've seen the biological side of Base Ships. Does that mean the Base Ships are potentially autonomous beings like the Raiders are? Turns out the whole battle scene is what Starbuck has been painting in her cabin all this time, and the giant flaming comet she drew was actually the Base Ship they're about to rendezvous with. Whoa, religious epiphany, destiny, all that crap. Much oohhing from Leoben. Luckily nobody sees a giant electric Buddha like in Matrix Revolutions.

When the Raptor lands in the Base Ship from Starbuck's paintings, we get more of the organic creepy-coolness: the ship bay closes up with a slimy thud, red sinews and muscles blocking vacuum rather than a metal bay door. And more yuck awaits. As the away team steps out of the Raptor, Athena is immediately met with a bunch of Sharons in matching baby-blue sweater sets (scary!) who all want her to help them rebel against the Sixes. They start pushing Athena to teach them free will because Six is making bad decisions and "she must be stopped." Weirdly, Athena rejects their requests, telling them they should pick a side and stay with it, not leave at the first sign of trouble. Huh? Didn't Athena herself chuck her cylon sisters when the going got rough and she got busy with Helo? Whatever. Now she's all about the "stick with your sisters" thing.

After a tense meeting with the Sixes and Leobens, where one Six says something pretty funny about how all the Leoben models are obsessed with Starbuck, the alliance is secured. The cylons will help the humans, and in return the humans will help the Base Ship get its FTL drives back in order. They'll all go to Earth together. But first, Starbuck needs to fulfill that destiny that Leoben keeps whining about by visiting the cylon Hybrid who controls the Base Ship. That's the crazy, babbling lady who lives in goo and basically is a kind of avatar of the Base Ship's consciousness — or maybe the pilot of the Base Ship, or its symbiote.

But before the Hybrid tells us the future and reveals the plot arc of the rest of the season, Six kills the hot expendable crew member. Turns out hottie is a former member of the resistance on Caprica, and she killed that particular Six model in an incredibly horrible way in a septic tank. When the Six mentions her murder to expendable hottie, unfortunately hottie says something kind of insensitive, like "I'd do it again." So Six beats the shit out of her and kills her. Then Anders goes crazy and wants to kill the Six, and Starbuck is like "stand down!" and it looks like the alliance will be off until another Six comes in and talks to the murdering Six, telling her stuff like, "I thought we'd worked through this." Then she kisses the other Six and pulls the trigger on the gun Anders has aimed at her head. Whoa! So two things: One, holy crap. And two, apparently cylons can be extremely traumatized by being killed. Which makes sense.

The Starbuck-Hybrid meeting scene is nearly as cool as the tour of the cylon combat zone, and for some of the same reasons. Not only does the meeting advance the plot and give us more hints about the human-cylon alliance to come, but it also gives us a sharper understanding of how the cylon technology works. Starbuck is visiting the Hybrid because Leoben has told her it can reveal her true mission or path or whatever. But the complement of cylons are there because they have to take the Hybrid offline so the Raptor can reboot their FTL.

When everybody comes to the Hybrid's chamber, the Hybrid's babble makes more sense than last time we visited her: a lot of what she's saying are clearly commands to the ship, or maybe just logs of processes happening on the ship. She mentions the FTL failure several times, and then says repeatedly that "the children of the one reborn shall find their own country." I'm guessing Starbuck is the "one reborn." Then things get seriously awesome because they unplug the Hybrid and she totally freaks out, screaming in this eerie voice and seemingly inducing a Centurion to shoot one of the Sharons. (Remember, they're out of range of a Resurrection Ship, so death is for keeps.) As the Sharon dies, her blood staining the Hybrid's goo, Starbuck grabs the Hybrid and yells "What the frack?" or something like that.

And suddenly the Hybrid focuses totally on Starbuck, saying, "You are the harbinger of death, Kara Thrace." Then she goes kind of J.J. Abrams on our asses, and adds, "The missing three will give you the five who come from the home of thirteenth." Six and Starbuck quickly figure out that this means they need to reanimate D'Anna, the de-activated cylon model 3, who has seen the faces of the final 5 cylons, who apparently know about the "home of the thirteenth tribe," AKA Earth. So they zoom off to rendezvous with the Demetrius, and then head onward to resurrect D'Anna (damn I missed Xena, so thanks for that).

Meanwhile, as all this coolness has been going on, Roslin is confronting her mortality and starting to see why Baltar's message is so seductive. As she bonds with another cancer patient in the hospital who likes Baltar's message, she begins to realize that Baltar has captured a true desire in the fleet for answers to their spiritual agony in the wake of the cylon attacks. Roslin even has a vision of heaven as Baltar describes it: an otherworldly place full of her dead family, which she can reach on a ship that travels across the water.

Oh, and by the way, Roslin has one scene where she's handing off power to Foster while she undergoes her final treatments which is awesome for two reasons. First, Roslin doesn't have her wig on — she's totally bald. And she looks frakkin gorgeous. Brief moment of wow. And of course she's handing over all her power to Foster, which is a brief moment of the other kind of wow. Not so good.

By the end of the episode, Roslin is so taken with her dream of heaven and her reevaluation of Baltar that she visits Adama in his quarters and tells him she's starting to believe in what Adama calls "Baltar's horse manure." Adama is weirded out, but listens to Roslin then leans into kissing-range of her face and says that she's made him have faith in their trip to Earth. But they don't kiss. Damn.

Previews for next week look seriously exciting, though: Athena and Helo's hybrid baby Hera has started drawing scary kid drawings full of "66666" and pictures of blonde ladies. Has she become Damien? Or is she just yearning for Six the cylon? Tune in next week to find out!