The last several episodes of Battlestar Galactica have been occasionally slug-like, but Friday's installment, "Guess What's Coming to Dinner," delivered some serious asskickery. As the rebel cylons and the human fleet work their way toward an uneasy alliance, there are juicy, twisty plans-within-plans on both sides. Plus there are some seriously intense scenes with the cylon sleeper agents, torn between human loyalty and curiosity about their newly-discovered robo-identities. Unfortunately, there is also singing. A lot of singing. Spoilers ahoy!
As the episode begins, our favorite Hugh Hefner-cum-Billy Graham figure Baltar is talking about President Roslin's visions on his pirate radio station. He tells the good people of Galactica that she's "shared a vision" with the Sharon cylon and the imprisoned Six cylon. It's not entirely clear why he's making a point of this, other than to remind viewers that Roslin did indeed share a vision with Sharon and Six a couple of years ago — she saw herself in this opera house, chasing after Hera, Sharon's hybrid baby. Now all three ladies are having the same dream again.
Apparently the radio broadcast is having a giant effect on the fleet, however, because frosh politico Lee Adama marches into Roslin's office and demands an explanation. She totally blows him off, saying she doesn't need to explain herself, even though she admits it's true. Still not sure why this is a big deal. It's not like she's tossing people out of airlocks again. And the dream itself is pretty innocuous: she's running around the opera house, and then Hera jumps into Six's arms and leaves the opera house with Six and Baltar. Portentious, yeah — but treasonous? Scary? No.
Of course she's about to do something potentially treasonous when she strikes up a deal with the rebel cylons. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Possibly the most exciting part of the episode comes right after Baltar's accusations, when the crippled cylon Base Ship and the Demetrius jump back to the fleet. Of course some kind of wacky-technical-explanation thing happens that causes the Base Ship to jump without the Demetrius — and the Demetrius needs at least 5 minutes before it can jump to join. And OF COURSE the Base Ship's comms are broken, so they can't hail Galactica. Seriously tense minutes as the crew of the Base Ship sits there realizing that they are about to be creamed by the fleet. But then Tigh figures out something is wrong — even he doesn't quite know how (maybe some kind of psychic cylon moment?) — and calls off the weapons at the last nanosecond. Then the Demetrius appears and Helo explains everything. Now the fleet knows that the Demetrius teamed up with the cylons and took control of the Base Ship.
And then the really cool stuff starts. The cylons come aboard the Galactica to explain what the hell is going on to Roslin and Adama and everybody. There's this great scene when they're all mingling around and you can just glimpse Tigh's face. He looks positively anguished. I continue to be impressed with his acting in this episode — even with a patch over his eye, his face truly conveys the emotions of somebody who fears what he might do, and yet is too afraid to tell anyone about it.
The Six cylon has become the rebel spokesmodel and meets with Galactica's top brass to offer them a bargain. She tells them about how the rebel cylons only want to "join with the final five" cylons, and explains that the final five are in the human fleet. And she has a way to unveil the final five to everybody: they can "unbox" the decommissioned D'Anna cylon model (AKA Xena, AKA the hot lady cylon who had a threesome with Six and Baltar in season 2). So if the humans will help the cylons get to the facility where D'Anna's consciousness resides and resurrect her, they'll reveal the final five to the humans.
But that's not good enough. Roslin wants to know what's in it for the humans. "Vengeance," says Six. Then she plays her hand. The D'Anna cylon is kept in a facility with the "resurrection hub," a ship that is the main database controller thinger for all the resurrection ships. The rebel cylons will hand over the coordinates of the resurrection hub and give the humans the chance to destroy it, thus robbing all the cylons of the ability to "download" and be reborn in new bodies. "Imagine," the president muses later, "A mortal enemy."
A deal is struck. The humans will help the rebel cylons unbox D'Anna, then they'll destroy the resurrection hub and hand over the final five to the cylons. Nobody really talks about what they'll all do about the whole "finding Earth" thing, but it's on everybody's minds. In secret meetings afterwards, the humans decide that their covert plan will be to refuse to hand over the final five to the cylons until they find Earth. And the cylons secretly scheme to take some human prisoners whom they won't hand over until they have the final five.
I love all the weird backstabbing and plotting as the humans and cylons try to work together. What makes these sequences better than mere spy vs. spy stuff is that everybody genuinely seems to have a guilty conscience about it. At a certain point, Six starts second-guessing the cylon plan, freaking out about how they are resorting to violence and coercion. She worries that the final five are watching and judging them (which is, in fact, true). Meanwhile, Tigh finds himself in on several conversations where Roslin is speculating about whether the final five are just ruthless killers and he has to take a position on this question. I love when Tigh says not to unbox the D'Annas and basically to "bomb them all." Of course, this hard-line stance benefits him, since that way D'Anna will never unmask his true identity as one of the final five.
Once the quorum gets wind of Roslin's plan to work with the cylons, they freak out and start considering a vote of no confidence. Lee delivers this news to Roslin, and she's totally a snot about her own government, calling the quorum "perpetually needy representatives." What the hell? Are we supposed to think it's cool that Roslin is basically a dictator who refuses to listen to her people's representatives?
Eventually Roslin relents a little, and finally goes to meet with the quorum and explain her decision to them. She brings spokesmodel Six with her, who delivers this weird speech about how she and the rebels want to destroy the resurrection hub because they need mortality. She says death is what makes humans whole, and without it cylons can't be really awesome or something. It doesn't make much sense, and besides we know she's lying about a bunch of stuff anyway so it's hard to take her too seriously. Still, the quorum seems appeased despite the fact that Roslin has just allied herself with their human-genocide-loving enemies without consulting them.
What I haven't been telling you about this episode is that Gaeta keeps singing. I don't want to think about it, because Gaeta was totally my boyfriend until Friday — he was the cutest person on Galactica by far, and he's always doing geeky things like looking at maps and computers and making comments like, "We can't use our FTL because the wazzleblorp needs the most recent software patches from the zompleflip." So hot. But in this episode, Doc Coddle has to chop his leg off. Remember how Anders shot Gaeta during the mutiny? Yeah, Gaeta is now a one-leg, and apparently there is no prosthetic technology to fix him up.
According to a shell-shocked looking Anders, who spends the whole episode working the bug-eyed stare, Gaeta sings every time he feels his phantom limb. Apparently he feels it a LOT. And his songs sound like something the dude from The Decemberists would sing if he had been hit on the head with a two-by-four and a dog had chewed on his vocal chords. I say this with great sadness, since I love The Decemberists and Gaeta was my boyfriend and all. But seriously, every time he started singing, I wanted to bitchslap my TV set and every writer ever involved with BSG. And maybe every TV that has ever tuned BSG too.
Speaking of bitchslapping, there's a great scene with Roslin and her hidden-cylon aide Foster. When Foster comes in to meet with Roslin one morning, the president orders her to find out who is telling Baltar about the president's visions. When Foster stares dumbly at her, the president says, "Well you are sleeping with him, aren't you? I've just been informed that you're down there enough to be a charter member of his nymph squad." Oooohhh, FACE! Foster is totally humiliated, and tries to apologize, mumbling that she's come to believe in Baltar's teachings. "My trust means frak to you," says Roslin. "You have a job to do." Then she turns her back.
Foster is totally bummed out, so she immediately fraks Baltar in his silky tent. Then she accuses him of lying about the president and acts all upset about it. He protests that it's true, that Six told him about the visions. I just love how psycho Foster is, taking sides randomly and acting all weepy one minute and all let's-kill-Cally the next.
Of course the episode climaxes with Roslin, Six, and Sharon all having the dream again. Same thing, with Hera being carried off by Six and Baltar. And then things get really weird in non-dream life because Hera starts drawing pictures of Six with the number "666" next to it. OK, so is she turning into Damien or are show creators Ron Moore and David Eick trying to show us the origin of Christians' belief that the number "666" is evil? Is Six the Original Superdevil Lady? Omigod, what the hell does it mean?
Right after Sharon finds Hera's 666 drawings, the little girl disappears. Long scene of Sharon chasing after her, flashing back to her dream where she's chasing her through the opera house. She's freaking out.
Meanwhile, Roslin has had a secret meeting with Baltar, after Starbuck reveals to her that the Hybrid who controls the wounded Base Ship said a bunch of incoherent stuff about dying leaders and visions of opera houses. Roslin confesses to Baltar that he was right, she is sharing these opera house visions with Six and Sharon — and he's in the visions too. Now she's ordering him to go with her to meet the Hybrid and get to the bottom of the whole freaky mystery. Honestly, the best part about this situation is that at last Baltar looks less sweaty and is wearing a sharp black trenchcoat instead of his Hugh Hefner pajamas.
Just as Roslin and Baltar are watching the cylons on the Base Ship plug the Hybrid back in, Sharon finds Hera on Galactica. The little girl has literally bumped into the spokesmodel Six — the one who gave the speech about how great death is. And she's doing the creepy-little-kid smile at Six, and Six is doing the creepy-anorexic-Playboy-model smile at Hera. They are touching, and Having A Moment. So Sharon totally freaks out, with visions of Six and Baltar stealing Hera dancing in her cylon brain. Of course, Sharon whips out her gun.
"You will not take my daughter away," she yells. Six protests that she would never do that, blah blah blah. Her human guards have their guns on Sharon, but Tigh tells them to stand down. Sharon sends Hera off with Tyrol (who just happens to be nearby fixing the Jeffries tube or something). And then Sharon frakking shoots the shit out of Six at point-blank range — bringing up images of that other Sharon model who didn't know she was a cylon until she got activated and shot Adama. It's a seriously intense scene, very well done.
Then suddenly, back on the Base Ship, the cylons have the Hybrid plugged in. She wakes up, bugs out, and screams, "JUMP!" That means the Base Ship, carrying Roslin and Baltar, jumps to somewhere. We have no idea where. And Sharon has just shot the humans' one connection to the rebel cylons.
And guess what happens next. Gaeta starts SINGING. That's how the episode ends, with whiskery Gaeta singing a really awful folk song. ARGH! Bad ending, bad! But good until that last second!
In two weeks, you can look forward to some kind of investigation that reveals Tigh has been doing the nasty with the cylon in the brig. What nasty he's been doing is unclear. All I can say is that I can't wait to see more of the rebel cylons. Plus, Xena — erm, I mean D'Anna — is coming back. And that can only be good. As long as she doesn't sing. Which she really might, knowing Lucy Lawless. Moore and Eick, for the love of the gods, NO MORE SINGING.