We Love the City

The monologue is my preferred method of discourse.

Battlestar Galactica 1-2: Water


Grace Park as BoomerThe Cylon Sleeper Agent didn’t get a whole lot of use on Battlestar Galactica. Most of the Cylons, when caught, confessed to being Cylons, and then went about being evil, fleshy toasters.

But then there’s Boomer, who doesn’t know she’s a Cylon, even while she’s carrying out evil Cylon plots. She wakes up alone, soaking wet, with a bag full of explosives next to her. When Galactica’s water tank blows up, she doesn’t know what to think – she wouldn’t do it, obviously, but it certainly looks like she did.

This progresses nicely over the course of the season: As the evidence piles up, what can you do? How do you go about accepting that you’re actually a robot who’s been programmed to kill the people you think are your friends and family? But alas, after the killer season finale, the idea is largely dropped.

Boomer comes back in Downloaded, one of Season 2’s finest episodes, and is obviously suffering from some post-treason mental trauma, but she mostly disappears after that. While Caprica Six got a deeper story – she fell in love with a human, even though she knew who she was and what her mission was – you might think Boomer’s experience, once she rejoined her Cylon brethren, would have been even more interesting.

The Boomer role suited Grace Park’s slightly wooden, often naive performance early in the series. At least Boomer was a fundamentally good person who was unwittingly involved in a sinister plot. Sharon – the version on Caprica with Helo – obviously knows what’s going on, so we have to wonder why she’s such a lousy liar.

Chief Tyrol is a lot like Gaius Baltar: He’s covering up an act of sabotage by an enemy agent, but not because he’s a bad guy. He doesn’t want to believe the woman he loves could be a Cylon, and he’s afraid that if she is a Cylon, he’ll look like a sympathizer, or a traitor. He differs from Baltar in two key ways: He actually cares about other people, and he’s not nearly as good a liar.

Then again, sometimes Baltar just looks like a blustering idiot, like when he tries to explain to Adama and Roslin why he doesn’t have a Cylon detector working. But when everyone thinks you’re a genius – as Adama clearly does, even though he still doesn’t have much respect for Baltar – people take you seriously. Kind of.

Baltar facing off with Starbuck at the card table is a light, fun scene that sheds a bit of light on why everyone loves Baltar to begin with: He’s very smart, and, most of the time, totally charming. He can’t be like that all the time, or else he’d slide too deeply into villain territory, but this is a nice counterpoint to Baltar the Bumbler.

Water is a much quieter episode than 33, but it does some nice character work while still moving the plot forward. It’s not an episode that stands out in my memory, but it stands up to repeated viewing and still looks quite good.

 

Random Thoughts:

  • Galactica’s water recycling system is almost 100% efficient. For the rest of the series, remember this: Everyone is drinking pee.
  • Billy and Dualla are adorable. Their relationship was a lovely subplot – never front and centre, but it was always going on, in the margins of the bigger story.  Until it wasn’t, but we’ll come to that later.