Catharsis (Exodus, Parts 1 and 2, Reviewed)

Battlestar Galactica: Exodus

Please note that this review is full of spoilers. If you do not wish to be spoiled, let me just tell you that Exodus Part 2 made me feel the happiest I’d been about this show so far this season

I don’t know if I can give a coherent review of the Exodus two-parter of Battlestar Galactica. I could talk about the stellar acting, the fast-paced direction, or the script that successfully pays off three episodes of buildup. But I’m not sure if I could do it justice.

Exodus feels good. Battlestar Galactica has made me do many things these past three years. I’ve gasped. I’ve appreciated the drama. I’ve been confounded. But, despite the highs and the lows that the series has achieved, I have never cheered.

Until now.

I gasped when Galactica jumped into the atmosphere of New Caprica to launch its (very effective!) surprise attack. I literally pumped my fist in the air and shouted “Yes!” when the first civilian ships lifted off the surface and jumped away to safety. I punched the air again when the Pegasus sacrificed itself to take on four Cylon basestars, and I was right there in the fleet when Adama was lifted onto the cheering crowd’s shoulders.

For the past three episodes, we’ve had the sense of great things building. Exodus Part 2 paid things off in a very big way. The series continues to confound expectations. Early in the series, I figured out that Ellen Tigh wasn’t a Cylon, as she was doing so much damage as a human, that there would have been no dramatic punch to reveal she was a Cylon. I figured the character would either die horribly, to the audience’s delight, or live a long life, to the audience’s frustration. I never expected to feel sorry for her. Or for Tigh as he did what had to be done.

Other storylines were resolved to my satisfaction. Lee Adama’s loss of hope, Dee’s pep-talk, and his final decision to disobey orders and help his father, was nicely played out. The moment when the Galactica is almost destroyed, but is rescued by the Pegasus, while fully expected, was still nicely executed. The Pegasus’ last moments were all well played. There are several moments of catharsis, here, and the end result makes you feel happy, and wiped.

And let me just say that Leoben is a wily, conniving son of a bitch. I think I am justified for using this rare swear word on this blog.

The story ends with the fleet reunited, albeit in a diminished, disorganized state. A lot of people have died, but key relationships have been restored: Adama and his son; Adama and Tigh; Rosalyn and the president’s chair. The final scene has Admiral Adama shaving off his moustache, and stepping back into his ship’s corridors, the image of the man we knew from the mini-series.

Although the series still has many plot developments to mine over the coming episodes (what to do with the collaborators; what Baltar does with the Cylons; what happens with Hera; note also the lingering shots on Starbuck and Tigh, who still contain terrible mental wounds from the occupation), this restoration — while welcome here and now — still poses risks for the series. Remember, just six episodes ago, we felt that the series was falling into a rut, with the rag-tag fleet looking for Earth and dodging Cylon attacks. If the recipe has been restored, would it taste as flat?

But Ron Moore and his writing crew have confounded expectations before. They have delivered four excellent hours of television so far this season, and they have new places they can take this series. My confidence in Battlestar Galactica’s future has been restored, and it should stay in place for many weeks to come.

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