You may have noticed something. I am no longer keeping up with BSG the way I used to. There's a reason for that. Ever since we came back from the mid-season break, the writing has gone from mediocre ho-hum ("Taking a Break from All Your Worries") to just downright BAD ("The Woman King"). Don't get me wrong; I still enjoy the show and still am loyal to it-- a week with a new Battlestar episode to tivo beats one that doesn't by a country mile. Yet, I find myself increasingly disappointed. In particular, with the recent three episodes, some of which had some high points but they were mostly poorly written.
To catch us back up with this week (Maelstrom, Episode 316, which shows some of the old spark and one that I will deal with separately):
Episode 313: THE WOMAN KING (a mediocre word pun, as it turns out). This is almost a solo HELO episode, highlighting that character's struggle to gain acceptance and feel useful again after being demoted from XO to a "Refugee Officer" position. There's some interesting background material about how the colonies viewed each other, particularly the Saggitareons (SP?), but other than that it falls flat on its face. The Helo-centric episode turns out to be a bad notion, as Tahmoh Pinkett grabs so much screen time they have to lard the episode with many, many cliches about the "maverick, but RIGHT hero struggling against disbelieving authority" plotline. Very predictable, the worst BSG ep ever, and I mean it.
Episode 314: A DAY IN THE LIFE. One good thing about this episode: It isn't The Woman King. I only saw this one when it aired and am a bit fuzzy on it, but basically we have another character builder episode where we are interested in the long departed Mrs. Adama (in both sense of the word) as Admiral Adama reflects back on the disintegration of his marriage and his ex-wife's alcoholism problem. Some nice uncomfortable moments as Lee recounts to his father the way it really was in House Adama when he was off seeking glory in the fleet. There's also some low-level sizzle between Laura and Adama Sr. which I rather liked.. nice to see a flirty side of President Rosslyn. There's an accident with an air lock and the Chief and Cally to remind us we are actually watching a show about being in space. Other than that-- the only Cylon in view was Athena. Not great, only marginally good, perhaps even mediocre. Good character development, and that's all there is.
Episode 315: DIRTY HANDS This is the best of the lot of three we're capsule-reviewing. Again, nary a Cylon in sight (except the domestic breed: Caprica 6, "Head 6" and Athena) here. Most of the action takes place in one of those big, creepy factory ships, making fuel for the fleet. Galen (the chief) who was head of the Labor Union back on New Caprica, is sent to troubleshoot the fuel production slowdown. His loyalties are questioned, and he takes action after a rather grim industrial accident. Adama fixes the problem in rather draconian style by threatening to put Callie up against a bulkhead and shoot her. In the end, a compromise of sorts is reached and Galen walks away with some face. A good episode that was poorly placed in the season lineup. On the heals of two intensely character-centric episodes it falls rather flat. There are many GREAT things about this ep, including: Baltar's origins on a working class planet. The Revelation of social strata within the colonial society (Caprica is high class and technical, Saggitariaon low class and agricultural, who knew). And, of course, any episode that pulls back the curtain and reveals how the fleet manages to feed, fuel and maintain itself while on the run is a good idea.
My big issue with the past three episodes is we have no idea of the strategic situation viz the Cylons any more. Are they gone? We haven't seen on in a while, except for the pet Cylon on board. There's no external threat, so the conflicts they use to drive the plot are somewhat contrived and stale as a result.
Two things to look forward to: The Trial of Baltar and some resolution with Starbuck and her "visions"... we can only hop.e.