Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Battlestar Galactica: Baltar’s Escape – Review

Do you remember the Cylon Empire and the holocaust that wiped out the Twelve Colonies? Well with the Galactica having successfully escaped the clutches of the Cylons, and as our heroes get closer and closer to Earth, the showrunners thought we could use some new villains. Genocidal robots is so old hat.


 Enter the Eastern Alliance, your typical Space Nazis with about the same combat abilities as your standard Stormtroopers or Cylon Centurion. So it's not so much a trade up in villains as it is a lateral move, and sure the Cylons were about as an effective as toddlers with depth perception issues, but at least they looked cool. This cannot be said of the Eastern Alliance whose look was later used in the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs.


Seriously, who could look at these guys and not laugh?

This episode is all about how the Quorum of Twelve are a bunch of complete idiots whose sole purpose is to be sanctimonious and wrong. Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) wants to interrogate Commandant Leiter (Lloyd Bochner), who was the commander of an Eastern Alliance destroyer that they encountered in the previous episode Greetings from Earth, and who along with his crew were arrested and placed aboard the prison barge. Adama’s major concern is that if the planet Terra, which is where the Eastern Alliance hail from, is in fact the Earth they have been searching for, then they may have escaped the Cylons only to find themselves facing an equally oppressive human enemy. The Council on the other hand want to make peace with the Eastern Alliance believing that Adama’s warriors have caused this political mess. With this in mind the new leader of the Quorum, Sire Domra (John Hoyt) offers Adama the Star of Kobol award for all his service, but with clearly ulterior motives. Note: In the last episode Sire Geller (Murray Matheson) was the leader of the Quorum, and he is nowhere to be seen here. Is it possible that Adama is murdering off his enemies on the Council?


The leader of the Quorum has the life expectancy of a drummer for Spinal Tap.

Adama refuses the award as it’s clear that this is all a set up to force retirement on him. The Council ignore his statements that the fleet is still endangered and they put forth an edict stating that Martial Law, which has been apparently in effect since the destruction of the colonies, will be lifted and the fleet will return to civilian control. The first order of business is to have the Eastern Alliance prisoners transferred from the prison barge to the Galactica so diplomatic negotiations can begin. Also a member of the Quorum will remain on the Galactica in advisory capacity, so Siress Tinia (Ina Balin) is assigned to basically make Adama’s and Colonel Tigh’s (Terry Carter) lives a living hell.


“I told you we should have posted that NO GIRLS ALLOWED sign.”

When Adama orders that four Vipers escort the shuttle that will be ferrying the Eastern Alliance she vetoes that order saying that she wants the Eastern Alliance prisoners to see the effect of the new civilian government, and so wants no warriors involved, just the civilian security forces. As this group of idiots are even less competent than Cylons you can guess where this is going. Now somehow Baltar (John Colicos) got wind of this prisoner transfer and so he makes contact with the Borellian Nomen (The Klingon like hunters from the episode The Man with Nine Lives) and concocts a plan to escape the prison barge.


You wouldn’t think you’d have the man responsible for a holocaust working in the prison mess hall.

The Nomen use their ability to slow their metabolism down to fake their deaths which allows them to overcome the prison guards, and then with the now freed Eastern Alliance crewmembers they take control of the prison barge. Sheba (Anne Lockhart) and Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) got the terrible job of piloting the shuttle and due to the incompetent command decision of Siress Tinia, and the ineptitude of the civilian security forces, the shuttle is captured and headed for Galactica under the control of Baltar and friends.


“We need a name for ourselves, how does The Legion of Doom sound to you guys?”

When the Galactica loses contact with the prison barge Colonel Tigh wants to send a squadron of warriors to greet the shuttle, but Trinia overrules him because she has to make every wrong decision imaginable. Tigh doesn’t take this kind of crap lying down so he heads to the Officer’s Club to “get drunk” and “accidentally” tips Apollo (Richard Hatch) and Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) to what’s going on. The shuttle lands and The Legion of Doom easily take out the civilian security forces and captures the moronic council members, but their plan to capture the bridge is thwarted by the just in time arrival of Apollo and Starbuck.


Bridge blocked by Starbuck.

Baltar moves onto Plan B which involves having planted solonite charges with the following demands that his Cylon Raider, and the two pilots he came with to be released, as well as the Eastern Alliance destroyer. Those ships, and the shuttle, will then fly to Lunar Seven, which is a known base of the Eastern Alliance. If Adama tries anything funny they will detonate solonite charges and blow all the hostages to smithereens. The biggest stumbling block here is that Doctor Wilker (John Dullaghan) had completely taken apart the Cylon Centurions, and there is no way he can put them back together in the time allowed by Baltar. Note: I guess we are supposed to look past the point that the Cylons are a sentient race, and yet the people of the Galactica have no problem with robotic vivisection.


Apparently the Space Geneva Convention doesn’t cover sentient robots.

Adama and Siress Tinia give themselves up as extra hostages to buy Wilker time to reassemble the Cylons, but even put back together and walking around they are still too messed up to be capable of flying a ship, so Apollo comes up with the brilliant plan of waiting for the Cylon to malfunction just prior to launch, and then jump out, capture Baltar and snag his triggering device. It’s clear when one looks out all the Cylon parts and armor lying around Wilker’s lab that in some early draft Apollo and Starbuck were to have donned the armor and posed a Cylons. This would have made a great deal more sense and I have no idea why it was abandoned. As it is Baltar is re-captured but the Eastern Alliance crew escape in their destroyer, along with the Nomen.


“I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.”

We never find out what happens to those escaped Eastern Alliance villains and the nefarious Nomen, maybe if the show had got a second season they may have reappeared, but I guess we can assume they are just living it up on Lunar Seven. The episode has a terrifying epilogue where Colonel Tigh is back in the Officer’s Club, relieved that the Quorum has re-instated martial law and Siress Tinia is out of his life, when low and behold she walks in on Adama’s arm.


Adama, you old dog you.

1 comment:

  1. One of my FAVORITE episodes!

    Annoyingly, the best scene in the story, where Tigh goes to the oOfficers' Club and SITS DOWN with the pilots was cut by my local station in reruns. I MUST get the DVD set some day soon.

    I always felt the following story should have been a 2-parter, as it rushed through too much to get the whole "Terra" story out of the way in only 4 episodes.