NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Home (Part Two)”

The scriptures say that when the 13th tribe landed on Earth, they looked up into the heavens and they saw their 12 brothers.

Air Date: 26/08/2005

Director: Jeff Woolnough

Writer: Ronald D. Moore

Synopsis: On Kobol, the expedition to the surface continues towards the Tomb of Athena, but tensions among the participants threaten to boil over. In the Fleet, Adama decides to go about reuniting humanity personally.

Review

Like “Home (Part One)”, this episode revolves around the duel axis of Adama and Roslin, with a very important pivot point at their reunion. Adama is a new man in some ways in the first half of the episode: taking responsibility for his own actions in the past and for the reunification of the Fleet. The decision to take the reconciliatory course at the end of the last episode has clearly been a purifying experience in some ways, helping to banish the self-doubt, rage and weakness that has clouded him since his recovery. The Commander we see here is infinitely more sure of himself. He makes jokes with Billy, he hugs his son, he smiles. Dee’s words are his new touchstone, as he confidently declares that there will be no more bloodshed and no more losses: something he’ll be seeing to himself. The very mood of the show appears to lift with this new, renewed, guiding force at the helm.

That reconciliation is one of the most powerful in the run of BSG. The way that Adama embraces Apollo harks back to “Part Two” of the Miniseries, but just as cathartic is his unspoken reunion with Starbuck, she tremulous at the idea of again meeting the man with whom her last interaction was resoundingly negative. Adama though is just happy that she’s alive, and this too harks back to a previous moment, in “You Can’t Go Home Again”. For all that happened in “Kobol’s Last Gleaming (Part Two)” there’s a real sense in this instance of heads being unfogged. There’s no recriminations, no (abject) supplication. It’s like everyone, on either side of the divide, suddenly realises how stupid and unnecessary it all was, the crap that led to this schism.

Then Sharon comes into frame and for a few critical moments Adama is once again the person he was in the last few episodes. That rage was tamed but not extinguished: the flood of emotions that occurs when he comes, as he must see it, face-to-face with his attacker is too much for Adama to control. Seeing him literally try and choke the life out of Sharon is still shocking all the same, especially in contrast to the more positive emotions on display moments earlier. She seems to reference Adama’s speech in “Part One” of the Miniseries here when she says “And you ask why?” Why is humanity worth saving when this is their true nature exposed? Adama, compelled by this, his surrogate family and his own physical weakness, relents, but we are left in no doubt as to the power of the man’s anger.

Adama comes to the reconciliation directly with Roslin, and the real reunification of the Fleet occurs in that remarkably quiet moment, as the two just sit on the surface of Kobol and talk. Adama forgives Roslin – or rather, “Laura” rather notable – for her previous actions, and it’s clear enough that it’s less the fermenting of mutiny and more the broken promise to him personally. That indicates a smallness in Adama’s character, but a smallness that he is willing to try and make up for now. He doesn’t argue the point when she doesn’t reciprocate the forgiveness. The two discuss that fateful decision to cut and run from the Colonies, with Roslin second-guessing herself but Adama is more than comforting or magnanimous here: he tells the President that if she hadn’t pushed him to take the Fleet and run, they’d all be dead. In effect he acts as an absolver of sorts for Roslin, by placing her decisions and knowledge above his own on this most critical of topics.

Over on the resistance side, there is a lot happening. There’s one scene where the characters here take a breath, and they are literally sitting in their respective sub-plots: Roslin on her own reading her scriptures like a drowning man grabbing a lifebuoy; Zarek and Meier plotting his ascendancy in the Fleet; Starbuck and Apollo ruminating on Sharon; and Helo and Sharon talking about the immediate future. Despite the fact that it’s only half the episode, it’s a well-written medley of competing motivations and desires, as we wait for the inevitable explosion to come.

Roslin is the main focus of course. For the first part of this episode she’s really bereft, having lost Elosha and consumed by a single-minded obsession of finding the tomb. It’s strange to say but I had almost forgotten her cancer diagnosis until you see the physical toll that the trek through Kobol takes on her. This does make me think that the obsession with finding the tomb has both a religious and a personal significance: Roslin’s desire to live might be tied, in her own mind, with fulfilling her religious mission. It’s all she can focus on, manifesting as she clings to the prophecies and ignores Starbuck’s revelation that there are still people alive on the Colonies.

The return of Billy into her life brings us full circle from their separation in “Resistance”. I’m not a huge fan of that whole plot wrinkle, but it does give us two great scenes in this episode, the one in the Raptor where Billy’s worth to the President is made clear, and their reunion, which allows Roslin to have that reconciliatory moment that Adama has with his son. Afterwards she’s more like herself, like finding the non-literal rock that is Billy has helped to anchor her somewhat. This helps her to come to a manner of understanding with Adama, though she is strong enough to not make apologies for her own behavior, in response to Adama’s offer of forgiveness.

The end result is the reunification of the Fleet, the happy marriage again of the civil and the military and Roslin being acclaimed by the crew of the Galactica, with Adama’s encouragement. I understand the writing team has described “Home (Part Two)” as the true ending of the overall Season One arc, like that season was really meant to be 20 episodes with an end point here. That does sort of fit looking back, as the rest of Season Two, bar some of the events of the next episode, are going to move on rather decisively from the schism.

The other major thing to discuss on Kobol is Sharon. There are nice moments – her and Helo get to actually be a couple, to the extent that it actually feels a bit weird – and some not so nice moments – like, well, everything else in the episode – as she begins a long and winding road to gaining the trust of the Colonials. She’s the cipher for a number of interesting plot points and twists here: being a religious expert and symbolising the Cylon takeover of the Colonial faith; a reunion with Tyrol that brings up all kinds of uncomfortable feelings; plotting murder with Zarek’s mini-faction; and coming face-to-face with Adama, a few weeks after a copy tried to kill him.

In all of this Sharon, and to an extent Helo, have to confront the reality of what life back in the Fleet is going to be. Another Sharon was shot there and the perpetrator barely punished for it; it isn’t going to be a glorious homecoming, and in a way Sharon ending up inside a cell is about as good as things could turn out. The road there is full of literal whispers and manipulation, as she decides the only way to get through to Adama is a dramatic gesture, albeit a very manufactured one. She has the chance to kill Adama and doesn’t take it, and actually saves his sons life in the process of demonstrating this: about as much as she can possibly do, though given her propensity for whispers and backroom dealing in this episode it doesn’t conclusively prove that she’s on the side of the angels just yet.

From there we come to the Tomb of Athena. As mentioned last time it’s a case of BSG dipping its toes in Indiana Jones-esque narratives, and the episode has that sort of mysterious feeling. The answer – discussed a little bit below – defies rational explanation to a large degree, indicating again the clear influence of unknowable powers in the lives of the characters, but does achieve the end result: the road to Earth laid out. The Colonials have a general direction to go, which suddenly gives their plight and the entire show a clear purpose, now that we are no longer tied to Adama’s lie. It’s remarkable in a way how little talk of Earth and its location has been a part of BSG up to now, but that’s changed. We won’t get to another marker on the journey for a while yet, but there is a final point to aim at.

We can’t move on without touching on the Baltar/Six stuff, which is amazing. Only a show this well-written could introduce what we have to view as basically a screwball comedy sub-plot to an otherwise remarkably serious episode, and have it work because there’s just enough drama in it to take the edge off the yucks. Baltar, a real glutton for punishment, commits some light heresy in again questioning Head Six and once again he gets punished for it in the form of another head wrecking test. Baltar’s serial refusal to respect Six’s faith is starting to become less of a persistent character trait and more of a plot convenience, but who am I to criticise when it means we get a great Tricia Helfer performance as “Normal Six”, taunting Baltar with the possibility that he really is just crazy. Interestingly, and perhaps we should call this a criticism, this is a test that Baltar doesn’t seem to pass, it just ends. He doesn’t supplicate himself, he doesn’t beg God’s forgiveness, Six just turns back to her red dress self when Sharon is brought onboard.

Separate to the events of the episode, this is the first time I feel comfortable commenting on the show’s long-term continuity. “Home (Part Two)” gives us the first serious way-marker on the road to Earth, the journey to which is meant to be the entire point of the exercise. But in so doing it creates a plot hole that becomes clear when the Colonials reach “Earth” and the planet later known as Earth. What the Kobol expedition sees is the Zodiac as it appears in the night sky of our Earth, but that’s not BSG’s Earth: that’s the irradiated planet discovered halfway through Season Four. Unless it’s cosmically very close to the real Earth, this makes no sense. Moreover, the constellations as seen in the Tomb of Athena are as they are now, in the early 21st century, and not as they would have looked 100’000 years ago, when BSG is meant to take place.

You can come up with explanations for this but the simple truth, as confirmed by members of the writers team and scientific advisors, is that the show wasn’t plotted out far enough in advance for this to be caught. It will not be the last time that this is going to come up as a talking point, but is the first major example. The manner in which BSG got more convoluted and twisted in knots as it went on is something I will have to reckon with in time. For now, we always have Season Two.

Our strength and our only hope as a people, is to remain undivided.

Notes

-Interesting to see the director and writers changing from “Part One” to “Part Two”. I would guess “Home” wasn’t originally designed as such.

-Bit of an unnecessary addition to the “Previously on…” footage. As Boomer gets shot, we hear someone shout “Cally shot Sharon!”. Yeah, I think we got it.

-An excellent contrast throughout the prologue section, as we go between Kobol and Adama’s quarters, the latters’ comments on the maps corresponding to whats happening on the planet.

-Roslin is literally holding her copy of the scriptures to her heart, with the look of someone who doesn’t have much left to cling to.

-Great visual of that book by the way, covered partly in what I have to assume is Elosha’s blood. What was that about the cost of visiting Kobol again?

-Also of note in the prologue, members of the Galactica crew slipping back into using Roslin’s political title.

-Where the members of the Fleet were at odds with each other in so many ways, this opening scenes makes clear the change: we have Adama, Tigh, Gaeta and Tyrol calmly going over what happened on Kobol and the plan now, with no sense of tension or differences.

-The count is down three, reflecting the deaths of Elosha, at least one of Zarek’s men in the gunfight of “Home (Part One)” and one other elsewhere? Or did he lose two men?

-At first I thought the sight of a naked Six, straddling a chair ala Christine Keeler, was a bit much, but it turns into a wonderful juxtaposition when she changes to Normal Six: tracksuit, ponytail, a little less make-up. A jarring and engaging contrast from the overly sexualised being she usually is.

-I love Baltar’s sarcastic guessing at what the next calamity is going to be: “The ships gonna blow up! No, damn, damn, done that one, done that one!”

-Nice change of perspective in the cell where we see Baltar conversing with an empty chair, to maximise the idea that he might just be crazy.

-Adama cuts Billy’s self-doubt off with a fairly major statement on Roslin’s opinion: “She thinks you’ll be President one day”.

-I do love Adama’s addition at the end of the conversation, regards Billy being compared to the former President: “Don’t let it go to your head. Adar was a moron”. I suppose Adama, a military man who has seen the Cylons wipe out said military, might have a negative opinion of the guy in charge.

-Sharon outlines that she has Boomer’s memories of being onboard Galactica. How does this work? Does Cylon resurrection technology also allow for the transmission of memories and experiences? If that’s the case, could another Boomer somewhere get access to Sharon’s memories, or does it have to by consent?

-I am strangely tickled by Sharon’s pedantic explanation of the correct use of “farther” and “further”. Maybe because it’s a rare moment of levity from that character and Helo. They seem more like a couple in such moments.

-Sharon also knows the sex of her baby, another little Cylon trick. It’s a very nice moment where she reveals this to Helo, with him temporarily stunned and her good-naturedly wallowing in her knowledge.

-James Callis is back to his comedy best in parts of this episode. His Baltar reacts to Doc Cottle’s “Will you stop going crazy?” with a deranged sounding “I’m not crazy!” and pitch perfect crazy eyes.

-When we first see Adama on Kobol, he’s standing there like a God almost: on a height from the others, steely gaze, weapon in hand. He barks an order at Apollo, and Lee obeys. It’s a very powerful image.

-It’s undercut pretty beautifully as he draws in Lee for a hug, and that sets off a cavalcade of such embraces. An equally powerful image.

-“I want you to die”. Now that’s a brutally blunt delivery of a major motivating factor for Adama.

-One thing I did note this time: Helo doesn’t point a gun at Adama when he has Sharon by the throat, when he had no hesitation doing so with Apollo. A sign of the respect Helo has for the Old Man perhaps?

-“Laura, I forgive you”. “Thank you Bill, didn’t ask for it”. A brilliant exchange that so quickly establishes a new dynamic for the two of them.

-Tyrol doesn’t have much to do here, but he does take a very awkward hug from Sharon. Now this kind of “reunion” must be a headwrecker.

-In a repeat of words he said to Apollo in “Water”, Adama states bluntly that he’s in no mood to second guess the decision to flee the Colonies: “It was the right call then, and it’s the right call now…I would be dead. My son would be dead.” His support for Roslin in a moment of her doubt is important.

-“Trust me. Trust us.” Sharon asks Helo to put their relationship in a position of primacy, and it works out.

-The shooting is the one brief moment of action in the episode, and I do find it confusingly framed every time I see it. Something about the order of events seems off to me, like it was re-edited out of the original intention.

-Zarek is genuinely heartbroken with the death of Meier, and there’s probably a good bit unsaid there in terms of how long they were together. Good performance from Hatch, and Remar: “I just wanted to see you get your due”.

-The tomb itself is perhaps a little barren in terms of what you might expect, just a few smashed statue props, which might be considered a little odd as its supposedly been sealed for a long time.

-The music gets a bit strange in the tomb, McCreary giving us something akin to a atmospheric horror beat, before the door closes and the lights go out.

-We never get an explanation for what happens in the tomb. Is it an extremely advanced hologram, or have the people inside been literally transported to Earth? Given the possibility of an actual deity being involved, the latter isn’t as far fetched as it seems I suppose, but given some of the unlikely aspects of what they see there, I’m thinking hologram.

-Moore has indicated the Cylons were meant to attack at the tomb, and in the process it would have been destroyed, thus stopping the Cylons from following. Like a lot else, cut for time.

-I have to compliment Sackoff’s performance when Starbuck twigs where they are, with a joyous look of realisation: “We’re standing on it”.

-It’s neat for a real astronomical waypoint in the form of the Lagoon nebulae to be something for the Colonials to head toward. Makes up for the fact that it is misidentified as being “in” the wrong constellation, and the fact that you can’t see all of the Zodiac from one spot on Earth.

-Adama gives the Lagoon nebulae the scientific designation “M8”, which is the same as it has here in the real world: also a bit of a strange plot hole.

-We move swiftly back to Galactica, where we have a ceremony that seems like a declaration of peace. The crew assembled like this in front of a stage promotes thoughts of the USS Missouri in 1945.

-“The gods will lift those that lift each other” seems to be a variation of “God helps those who help themselves”, a phrase commonly mis-attributed to the Bible but which was existent over 400 years before the birth of Christ. Indeed, some of the oldest versions are Ancient Greek, appropriately enough for BSG: Euripedes’ work includes the line “Try first thyself, and after call in God; For to the worker God himself lends aid.”

-Very good moment where Adama refuses to let Roslin take the stage without a mass acclamation, in the form of a building slow clap. We might think that more than a few of the Galactica crew may not have a huge fondness for Roslin after what happened over the past few weeks, but they’ll follow Adama’s lead.

-Another nice moment for Helo and Sharon at the close of the episode, where they get to reaffirm their commitment to each other, despite their new, somewhat separated, circumstances.

-Seems like Head Six is as affronted by the Sharon’s as the one on Caprica was. Is this just a continuing trend in the relationship between the models? Or is it just this Sharon in particular that gets Six’ goat?

-“The end of the human race” Knowing that Head Six speaks in riddles, this presumably does not mean a literal end, but what does it mean then?

Overall Verdict: “Home (Part Two)” gives us a suitably impressive conclusion to this two-parter, and to the larger plot of the Fleet schism. The wider narrative is given a big push forward, the episode abounds with great performance and great character-driven conflict, it even has room for some humour in it. I would class this as being in the very top tier of BSG episodes, and it certainly whets the appetite for the continuation of the journey to Earth.

To read more entries in this series, click here to go the index.

This entry was posted in Battlestar Galactica, Reviews, TV/Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Home (Part Two)”

  1. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Index | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Final Cut” | Never Felt Better

  3. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Pegasus (Extended)” | Never Felt Better

  4. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Resurrection Ship (Part One)” | Never Felt Better

  5. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Epiphanies” | Never Felt Better

  6. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Two: “Sacrifice” | Never Felt Better

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s