Battlestar Galactica: “Someone to Watch Over Me”


Adama: “Did you love her, Chief?”
Tyrol: “I thought I did.”
Adama: “Well, when you think you love somebody, you love them. That’s what love is. Thoughts…”
—from “The Farm”

“Sometimes lost is where you need to be. Just because you don’t know your direction doesn’t mean you don’t have one.”

So! We’re back on solid ground this week, and I’m feeling both relieved and guilty for having doubted in the first place. What’s so easy to forget—with the impatience and anticipation of watching it all spool out in such fits and starts over so many years—is how well the makers of this thing are able to raise a storm right up out of the quiet every damn time. And in doing so make you doubt your own doubts, or at least question what you would have sworn five minutes ago was true. And then remember that you should never, ever trust the quiet. And to be very careful what you wish for.

Because I really believed Boomer. Toss in the kitchen sink, a beachfront condo in Miami, and a solid gold Cadillac riding a rhinestone bridge to the stars, I would have bought it all. Because duplicity has this face, and it looks just like Grace Park, who looks just like Athena, and she wears the sweetest smile. So I wanted Boomer to be different this time, and actually still sort of believe that she is. Or not different so much as the same, I guess. The old Boomer. I wanted to believe that the part of her that was once Sharon Valerii is part of her still, and it’s the one part Cavil can’t rewire, even as she ultimately uses it as a means to achieve his own horrifying ends. That she loves Tyrol as much as she hates him, that she used that vision to both soothe and punish him.

Because Boomer doesn’t forget. Not when she’s bashing Athena in the head, not when she’s frakking Helo on the floor in front of his own wife, not when she’s snatching Hera from daycare and stuffing her in a crate. And certainly not when she’s taking Chief by the hand and giving him a 3D tour of a life that will never be his, a gift from the heart that she then uses to curse him. Along with building dream houses, she also remembers him once telling her that what they had was nothing: “You’re a machine, I’m not.” That this turned out later not to be true didn’t make it a lie. The redemption and the love, the jealousy and the hate, Boomer is all of these things, all of these contradictions, everything messy that makes us human and makes her a Cylon, and everything that makes the space between those distinctions so very narrow now that we’re nearing the end. Love is love and hate and is hate, and each is a little bit of the other, and revenge has its way with both. And so does forgiveness. Over and over and over.

So much of the tragedy in this show is wondering what might have been. What if Zak hadn’t died? What if Gaeta hadn’t lost a leg? What if Baltar hadn’t been a tool? What if they hadn’t settled on New Caprica? What if Laura’s cancer hadn’t come back? All these impossible, tantalizing paths, all of them leading to a different kind of lie. So Tyrol’s tragedy was waiting for him in that dream house all along, and you see it there in the small pause he takes in the kitchen as he stands in front of the cupboard, just before he opens the doors. Willing wineglasses to be true. Willing himself to believe that in some other world he has his Sharon, and their daughter, that he gets to see her, and touch her, the beauty and the cruelty of that—of letting him believe, just for a second, that he still has something to hold on to. And then to have it all torn back again in a way that hurts not only him, as deeply as possible, but so many people in so many unfathomable ways. Realizing what he’s helped set in motion, just by wanting, watching him go back alone to search through that dream house and come up in a nightmare. Of all the sad things we’ve seen on this show—by now too many to count—that may even be the saddest. The look on his face, the way he clutches his head in his hands as he falls to his knees. All those tornadoes, all of those hurricanes, swirling right at his feet.

And what a counterpoint it was to Kara, whose own nightmare finally brings her some measure of peace, or at least a guide forward that’s also a critical connection to her past. Wasn’t it lovely just to see her smile again? To sit back in a chair and put her feet up and breathe? Happy and sad all the same time. “It made me think of someone chasing after a car,” she tells Slick at one point, this father who left her behind, this daughter who is always chasing after something. But his music is already pulling her in, helping her remember everything she’s buried. Everything she needs. It feels right like this; her guides (Sam, Leoben) don’t have her answers, and Hera can only offer more clues. She has to find her own way through the dark, and she does it by reaching into a box of things that once belonged to Starbuck—who knew where she was going, who always had a mission—to reclaim the only thing that still matters to Kara Thrace. And in the end she starts putting it together with the help of a hybrid child and a one-eyed Cylon and her own dream father—who may also be a Cylon? TBD!—and the way the pieces of that music joined to fill in the puzzle, weaving together three seemingly disparate threads all at once?  Kudos to Bear McCreary, and Katee Sackhoff and Bradley Thompson and David Weddle and Michael Nankin. Brilliance, in Galactica form. Everything I doubted last week and keep taking for granted, just by forgetting.

And how about that Madame President, huh? That scene where she signs what’s essentially Boomer’s death warrant? I hated her then, for the very first time. Believe him! I told the TV. Give Boomer a chance! Have some faith, for gods sake, be human! Because she was wrong, I knew it, Chief begged her and she refused—a personal favor to me, he begged—and I was actually glad to see her shaking, even though she never flinched. Where she stores this stuff, I don’t know, but it looks like it’s taking an enormous amount of effort just to sit up straight these days. Turning a page, holding a pen, drawing it across a line, every movement taking its toll. Of course Adama would have let Boomer live, but Laura never lets “personal” win, even now. Which is why they are so perfectly each other’s better half, and why I worry about what’s to become of him when she goes. “You need to clear your head” is now her mantra—a plea, an accusation, and a command all in one—and even now she can do it herself better than anybody. See things clearly. Maybe that’s the part of her that’s Cylon. And the part of her that’s now falling into—what? A coma? Heart failure? How many ways is she still connected to this little girl? How many ways are their fates still tied together? When will we finally get to hang at the opera house? It’s all a wonder, to be sure, but I’ll say this: as much as I’m an adult who recognizes the difference between fact and fiction, and understands the gulf between what is real and what is decidedly not, I don’t know how to watch Laura Roslin die. That might be the one thing coming that I personally cannot bear.