Battlestar Galactica: “Islanded in a Stream of Stars”


“Sometimes I wonder what home is. Is it an actual place? Or is it some kind of longing for something, some kind of connection?”
—Laura Roslin

“One of us here is living proof that there is life after death.”
—Gaius Baltar

“This ship has never let us down. So we’re gonna send her off in style.”
—Bill Adama

* * * * * * * * * *

“In the mountains north of here, there’s this little stream that comes down and through this lake. The water’s so clear, it’s like looking through glass. I’m thinking of building a cabin…”

Go back now and watch that scene in “Unfinished Business,” go back and hear the music, and see the sunlight shining on Laura Roslin’s long red hair, the smile on her beautiful face, the way she looks at Adama as she tells him this. The way he watches her tell it. The rest of us knowing already—halfway through Season 3, long before they admit it to themselves—that there’s no way she’s hanging a sign on any cabin that doesn’t also have his name on it.

Now watch her tell it to him again here, as she’s lying in a hospital bed, bald, frail, dying. Having lost everything there is to lose, no cabin, no New Caprica, no Earth—and yet, she says, Here you are. My home, at last. Both of them knowing it’s true, because sine qua non times two and all that. Then watch the way he smiles, ever so slightly, when she tells him that she knows he loves his ship more than he loves her—which she accepts, because she’s not stupid—and that it’s time for him to do the one thing he’s never been able to do—which is to nut up and let go. Because she’s also the only one he’ll listen to.

And then someone please throw a warm blanket over me, and toss me the Kleenex—and maybe some Scotch or whiskey or whatever sad people drink to be sadder—and turn out the light as you go because baby, I am done. Over, out, done. And we haven’t even gotten to the end yet.

Mostly it was the callback that caught me off guard, because after so much time and so many other opportunities passed by—Ronald D. Moore even mentioned that long-lost joint in the podcast for “A Day in the Life”—it never came, and we all moved on. And eventually they let this relationship go where I wanted it to anyway, and made it that much more worthy for the waiting, because we all had to earn it, them and us, or them and me, if you’re one of those watchers who doesn’t give a crap and just wants to get back to Baltar talking about religion or Lee pining for Kara or Cylons blowing shit up, which is fine, too, but I watch the show for this. And I do very much appreciate it when TV finally pays me back for my time and my patience and my faith with such a high frakkin’ emotional ROI. Because that never, ever happens. Ever.

And all of this is about letting go. For Adama, Galactica is Laura, and home, and family, and all the best things he knows about himself, the measure of who he is as a leader and a friend and a man, godsdammit, and talk about an awful lot of pressure for one rickety old bucket to take. Frankly I’m surprised we made it this far. But she’s going, all right, and hopefully with the kind of fireworks that spell out “CAVIL HAS MOMMY ISSUES” while she blasts straight through the heart of that creepy Colony and the music trumpets across the sky. At least that’s what I assume “sending her off in style” means.

But wait! It’s not just the Bill and Laura show, is it? It’s also Baltar coming face to face with Caprica Six again (someone will have to remind me the last time that happened: on the Baseship, back in Season 3?), and realizing he still loves her, then realizing she thinks he’s as much of an asshole as Laura does. And she’s not far wrong, as he’s awfully quick to cough up Kara’s secret and tag her as an angel in front of everybody in order to impress his old gal pal with just how different and deeply committed to God he really is. And I have to say, Baltar is the #1 reason I can think of not to mix science with religion, because he wields all those powers in some mighty scattershot ways. (I also strongly preferred his mad scientist to his mad prophet, because scientists are allowed to be oddball in ways that fundamentally scare me in preachers. But in order to stay on that track, I have to conveniently forget how he helped destroy most of humanity back when he was a scientist, and then handed over that nuke, and also how he sold them up the river as president. So mostly it’s a nuance kind of thing, because obviously he sucks at all of it. But just to be reminded of his Cylon detector? Made me long for the good old days.)

Of course, Kara thinks he’s an asshole, too, but she’s not above seeking him out (or peeing right in front of him) in the hopes that he can give her the answers she’s still not getting from Sam, who’s now lying neck-deep in one of those Cylon hybrid chambers in some locker room, and plugged right into the Cylon-covered bones of Galactica herself. I can’t even guess what that’s going to mean, but currently it’s shorting the circuits and causing him to recite the lyrics to a well-known children’s song about buckets and holes, along with the now-familiar hybrid refrain that Kara Thrace is the harbinger of death and will lead them all to their end. Awkward! Also genuinely sad, as Kara finally realizes he’s the one she really loves (I think). Which still isn’t enough to bring him out of his coma, but does makes her accept that maybe she’ll never know what she is, and maybe it doesn’t matter anyway, which seems to be where the whole point of the show is coming together. And all of this leads into one of the sweetest Lee and Kara scenes I can remember, out in the Memorial Hallway, where he tells her it doesn’t matter either—that he watched her die, that she might be a Cylon, or an angel, or whatever—right before he caresses her face (and sort of propositions her?). And suddenly I am in love with Lee! And Kara gives him that lovely smile, and watches him stroll away, and then turns to hang her own photo back on the wall next to Kat’s and Dee’s. (Oh dear. More whiskey, please. I don’t like being reminded of the dead when there are so many people still left to die.)

Meanwhile, in other parts of the ship, Helo and Athena are going out of their collective gourds over Hera, with Helo begging his wife to hate him and then begging Adama to give him a recon Raptor to go search the stars, and all to no avail. (Here I’ll even forgive Adama for telling Helo he doesn’t condone suicide missions, since he himself is King of the Suicide Mission, but he’s dealing with some pretty tough personal problems as we’ve already discussed.) That bit about Athena hating him might be at least partly true, though, and I would now like to nominate Grace Park as the single best crier I have ever seen on TV. Seriously, she’s amazing. No matter who she’s playing, I’m automatically crying right along with her, and then cursing us both.

Finally, in other parts of the galaxy, Boomer is slowly jumping her way back to Cavil and his evil Colony, and scaring the crap out of Hera as she goes. I mean, it’s gotta be nice getting out of that crate and all, but I don’t suppose being stuck in a Raptor with an angry lady who has your mother’s exact face and none of her people skills is all that comforting to a four-year-old. Especially when she pulls out the needles. Luckily they are able to bond over their shared Cylon projection abilities, and we pop right back into last week’s dream house, where Hera imagines cupcakes and Boomer imagines that maybe she had a daughter after all. Which leads to—I don’t know, will Boomer actually get to be a hero? I don’t care what anybody says, I’m keeping my hopes alive for that one.