Maybe the thought of Jane Espenson, a writer from one of my all-time favorite shows (Buffy) writing for one of my current favorite shows set the expectations bar too high for this episode.
I went into this week’s Battlestar Galactica, desparately wanting to love this episode. I’ve been looking forward to this one since I found out Jane Esponson was writing for Battlestar Galactica earlier this summer.
So, imagine how bummed out I feel when I have to say–I really didn’t like it.
Don’t get me wrong–it’s no where in the same neighborhood of bad that “Black Market” was last year.
But in some ways, it committed a bigger sin–“The Passage” was just sort of there. It didn’t elicit much more response of me than some of the later season seven episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation did. It wasn’t necessarily a horrible way to spend an hour, but it wasn’t necessarily a great way to spend an hour. Instead, the episode was just sort of there, full of good ideas, most of which should have grabbed my attention and held it for the duration of the episode, but none of them really ever came together.
I’ve enjoyed the various plot threads the new Battlestar is willing to explore. I liked that we’re exploring the issue of what would happen if the food supply was to dwindle and how Galactica would re-supply itself and the fleet. And, yes, there was an obstacle between the fleet and the raw supplies for food here. But then again, this same plot thread existed back in season one’s “Water.”
Then you’ve got the whole subplot on the Cylon ship with D’Anna continuing to commit suicide in order to download. At least we got a nugget of information that she’s trying to see the five faces of the other skin-job models. But it seemed like the whole plotline was brought up including Baltar’s finding out about it and then summarily dropped. As I think back on the episode, did we even cut to the Cylon fleet in the final act? It does bring up an interesting dynamic that D’Anna trusts Baltar more than the other Cylon models, but is that trust well founded? The guy did betray his entire race to the Cylons, so what exactly makes you think he’s not going to betray you to get ahead? I mean, based on his pattern of behavoir, there is only one person Baltar cares about and that is Gaius Baltar. He can change sides in a conflict quickly and will do so if he thinks it will lead to his continued self-preservation. So, why does D’Anna trust him? And what will Baltar do with this information? And is D’Anna headed toward being the sixth Cylon skin-job to be boxed? And if close to half the skin-jobs have to be boxed, what does this say about being a skin-job?
And then we have the Kat plotline. I get that Battlestar is trying to do what Deep Space Nine did and have a rich tapestry of supporting characters. And, for the most part, it does. But I don’t think Kat was necessarily going to be one of them. For one thing, she was brought in as a mirror to Starbuck, which worked well in the episodes we saw with Kat last year. And while Ron Moore and company had an opportunity to make her more than just the “anti-Starbuck” earlier this year when Starbuck was down on New Caprica, I think they dropped the ball big time on it. So, here we get to a storyline where we find out that Kat isn’t show she says she is and she’s got a terrible secret from the past. And before you can say “redemption” Kat is driven by guilt to redeem herself, even at the cost of her own life. Which this all could have been good if it hadn’t all come up five minutes before. Yes, we had hints on how driven Kat was, as we saw with her issue with stims (thanks to the “Previously on…” we are reminded of this), but other than that, none of this was all that well set up or excecuted. It almost felt like they wanted to find a way to kill off a character and went, “Well, why not do Kat?”
At least last year when Billy was killed off, he’d had a character arc and his motivation was a complex one. Here with Kat, it just seemed a bit too one-note. Which, considering how rich the tapestry that is Battlestar Galactica ususally is, that’s a big shame. Also, considering how rich the character backstory could have been for Kat had they dropped these hints all along or even developed her a bit this season, it seems even more of a shame.
It still was not a horrible episode though. It was a bit misguided and bit too much of the “been there, done that” syndrome, but it wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t a complete and utter waste of an episode nor was it exactly breaking any new ground. It was just content to tread water, holding time and having plotlines revolve without any movement forward. Maybe it’s designed to make us catch our breath for big things to come next week. I hope so. I can forgive one down week in a season and certainly Ron Moore and company have shown the ability to bounce back. Let’s just hope they bounce back this week.