Friday night's episode of Battlestar Galatica, "Someone to Watch Over Me," was so disturbing and yet (weirdly) schmaltzy that it divided the fans over the question of brilliant or not. Spoilers ahead!
I think possibly one of the problems with this episode was that it explored incredible betrayals enacted by a character - Boomer - whose entire life has been all about betraying everyone who has loved her. So there was a bit of a "no duh" feeling about the scenario, as well as a lot of skepticism about why Tyrol wound up trusting Boomer again.
Intercut between Boomer's many perfidious (and lascivious) scenes was a Starbuck subplot that reminded me of the worst moments on the poop ship when Starbuck totally lost it and started painting her cabin and dancing with Leoben. Didn't Star Trek: TNG teach us never again to do the wise piano player routine, even if it isn't on the holodeck and doesn't include Brent Spiner singing?
The point is, the episode was really uneven. Amazing and disturbing things happened, and there was a cool plot twist, but unfortunately there was a lot of randomness too. Let us now delve into the full WTF that steered the lives of Boomer and Starbuck in "Someone to Watch Over Me."
If you recall, Boomer was the first sleeper cylon that we learned about way back in season one. She was an officer working with Tyrol, having an affair with him that nobody was allowed to know about because he was technically reporting to her. They were hot and tragic, but there was never a sense that they were planning a future together - it seemed mostly like they were having a torrid sex thing. Then Boomer got all freaked out, and they broke up, and then her cylon circuits turned on and she shot Adama. Though Adama recovered eventually, Boomer didn't. Cally, Tyrol's soon-to-be cheating and snot-faced wife, assassinated Boomer before there was even a trial.
On Friday we learned that as Boomer died, she whispered, "I love you Chief," to Tyrol. We also learned that Tyrol has been pining for Boomer all these years (which we sort of already guessed), and now that she's arrived on Galactica with Ellen all he wants to do is get busy with her. So he starts visiting her in prison, sharing freaky "cylon projections" with her - basically they go to a virtual world together, which is apparently the dream house they designed back in the hot affair days. Boomer claims she's missed Tyrol every day and goes to this dream house of theirs, where she's also whipped up a fake child whose main characteristic appears to be collecting stuffed animals and making Tyrol cry as he bares his teeth.
After all this domestic brain bonding, Tyrol of course wants to protect Boomer from extradition to the cylon ship where the rebel cylons want to try her for treason. Remember, Boomer is the sole Number 8 who sided with the Cavil cylons - and she's also having sex with Cavil, who seems to have sex with everybody, including Ellen, his daughter/mother. All I can say is: Gross. And it only got grosser.
In fact, the more disgustingly manipulative Boomer got, the better this episode was. The scenes where she shows Tyrol their dream house and fake kid felt incredibly over-the-top, and despite all her protestations to the contrary, I think Boomer was doing it purely to frak with Tyrol. Her scheme works, too. Rather than letting the humans extradite Boomer, he basically goes nuts. He engineers a power outage on Galactica, knocks out a handy 8, and switches her with the imprisoned Boomer.
Yay, Boomer is free! That means she can go beat the shit out of Athena, tie her up in a locker, and pretend to be her when Helo comes home looking for a little mid-day hump. (See clip.) This scene is so twisted and awesome that it almost tipped the episode over into the mega-zone. After gratuitously doing Helo, Boomer wanders over to the daycare center, grabs Hera, drugs her, then packs her in a food supply box which she loads onto her sneaking-away ship as Tyrol glows with "you made me a fake daughter" pride. When a bleeding, scantily-clad Athena stumbles into the Bay to tell the truth, it's too late: Boomer's got the kid, and she basically blasts a hole in the ship as she jumps away to good old Cavil.
So basically Cavil totally played everybody. He let the Fleet think that Boomer fled his ships with Ellen, but in fact he'd let Ellen go just to get Boomer into the Fleet again. Tricky! Even Ellen was fooled.
Now the ship is injured even worse than it already was, the president has passed out (or died?), and everything is going to hell. So of course Starbuck is spending all her time getting drunk in the bar, listening to this piano player who may or may not exist. Let's call him Piano Man, in honor of Billy Joel.
Piano Man basically has a long therapy session with Starbuck, in which she tells him all about her dad (boo hoo - he was a Piano Man too and he left her family one day and never came back) and her whole I-burned-my-own-dead-body problem. In response, he pats her on the head, teaches her to play piano again just the way daddy did, and says things about how not knowing what the hell is going on is actually a great thing (and it had better be, if you want to enjoy these parts of the episode).
Either Piano Man is actually Starbuck's dad, or is a dad-related figment of her imagination, or something even weirder. The point is, after a bunch of really long scenes that don't involve beatings or sex, Piano Man finally gets Starbuck to play this tune that's been in her head. And it's part of the freaky-haunting music by Bear McCreary you've been hearing throughout the whole show. It's also obviously some kind of Final Five alarm noise, because as soon as Starbuck plays it Tigh does his whole dramatic chipmunk face with the buggy eye.
All the Finals run over to Starbuck at the piano and start asking, "Where did you hear that music?" And mysteriously, Piano Man is gone. It's just Starbuck there, with some notes on a sheet of paper - notes whose pattern match a pattern that Hera was drawing right before she got Boomer snatched! Whoa!
Meanwhile, Anders is still in a coma but his brain is creating really awesome screen saver patterns on the flat screen monitor that's showing us his "brain waves." Maybe those brain waves will turn out to be in the same pattern as Starbuck's song? Tune in next week, to find out whether Hotdog will get another line.