The first time I watched this episode, I was not pleased. I thought it violated some basic aspects of the established continuity, especially in terms of what the Colonies knew about the potential for a Cylon strike. I also found the whole situation with Bulldog to be overly contrived. After all, it makes little sense for the Cylons to send Bulldog back to the Colonials at this point. Why wouldn’t they try to destabilize things prior to this point?
I was also annoyed by the timeline issues. If Adama has been in the fleet for 45 years, then he’s running up on 65 years old at this point, and I never would have expected that. Also, based on the information contained within the episode, he would have been assigned to Galactica about 2.5 years before the Cylon strike. So how could he have been on the Valkyrie a year before the strike? It all felt a little sloppy and ill-conceived, an attempt to blur the lines of responsibility for the genocide.
However, I had an opportunity to watch the episode a second time, and I realized that the writers were focusing on something a lot more interesting. As Roslin points out rather clearly, Adama is shouldering the blame for something that had already been in motion. Recalling the mini-series, the Cylons had been infiltrating the Colonies for years before the strike. More to the point, the Valkyrie incident proves that the Cylons were preparing for the strike. They found the stealth Viper so quickly that they were either patrolling the armistice line to eliminate any “spy planes” or they had a mole within the Admiralty. For that matter, the Admiralty’s plan could have been contrived to supply the Cylons with a handy justification, if things went awry.
So it’s quite possible that the Cylons knew who Bulldog was and that his “rescue” would do an awful lot to shake everyone’s confidence in Adama if the truth came out. It still seems a bit odd that they would use such a plot, especially one that could be so easily debunked, but the Cylons have been seriously affected by recent events and they seem to be reaching for a greater purpose.
D’Anna, after all, seems to be touching on something unusual and unexpected within the Cylon subconscious. It would appear that her discussion with Baltar shook her to her core, and perhaps that opens up the door to revelation. It’s interesting that she encounters something metaphorical in between life and death, especially since she gets a glimpse of five unseen figures. Could these figures be related to the five remaining Cylon models?
The writers reach for a connection between Bulldog’s escape from the Cylons and Tigh’s escape from the cage of his own self-loathing, but it doesn’t quite come together. For all that, the episode does give Adam and Tigh a reason to sit down and work out some of their issues, and that’s a neat bit of progress for the character arcs. Much like Adama in the second season, Tigh is trying to figure out how to deal with the world again, and it’s a long and fascinating process.
Unlike some of the weaker episodes of the second season, this is the kind of episode that challenges assumptions and focuses on character without frustrating the audience or falling apart under inspection. It’s now clear why Adama was so concerned about the prospect of a Cylon return in the mini-series, and it once again echoes the underlying question: are the survivors worthy of that survival? The answer, thankfully, remains unresolved.
(As a sidenote: I also have a podcast associated with my various reviews called “Dispatches from Tuzenor”. Current episodes cover “Battlestar: Galactica”, so it might be something of interest. Go to http://entil2001.libsyn.com if you want to listen!)
Final Rating: 8/10