Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"Rapture"

***

Air date: 1/21/2007
Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Michael Rymer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

As is necessary for most mythology episodes, "Rapture" creates as many new plot questions as it answers. It also seems to confirm the cycle that is the series of BSG: Each half-season starts out with a show that sends everyone off in new directions. If season 3.5 follows in the footsteps of 2.5 and 3.0, we'll have an adjustment period where we can all come to grips with the realignment of the characters (likely to be the most interesting episodes) before we then get a smattering of standalones and a sense of flagging momentum.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. "Rapture" is a satisfying and entertaining effort that proves even better than its setup episode, "Eye of Jupiter." There's a lot going on, and by the end several characters will be on new paths.

As expected, the cliffhanger was much ado about overly amped-up situations that have no choice but to immediately defuse themselves. The Cylons decide not to call Adama's bluff and turn back their Heavy Raiders — except for one, which D'Anna sends through against the wishes of the Cylon majority. The lone ship has Baltar and D'Anna on board to fulfill what they believe to be their destinies as outlined by the Hybrid. Adama stands down the nukes, not wanting to play out Armageddon over one ship. Meanwhile, D'Anna's disobedience forms friction within the Cylon ranks.

Here's an idea: Why not air "Rapture" the week after "The Eye of Jupiter" instead of splitting the storyline in half and airing the resolution so many weeks later? Yeah, yeah — I understand the cliffhanger theory as an attempt to create marketing buzz and return viewers, but does it really work? In this day and age, cliffhangers are cliche. Given how "Rapture" ends, wouldn't there still be enough viewers who would be sufficiently interested to come back and watch what happens next? (But I think I've said all this before.)

Fortunately, the episode does not dwell on its cliffhanger structure (it's merely a means to an end for the previous episode, whereas this episode has its own means and ends). For example, one thing I wasn't expecting was the moment when Helo shoots and kills Sharon as a matter of risky strategy so she can be downloaded onto the Cylon ship where she can see her baby, whom Boomer had told her was seriously ill.

The scene plays out as a tough, agonizing choice born out of desperation. That Helo must shoot his own wife is emotional, but what I also found interesting was the story's acknowledgement that it might not even be his (or Sharon's) right to make this choice. As Roslin points out, the risks involved are huge because Sharon has knowledge that could affect the safety of the entire fleet. Even if we can assume Sharon's loyalty to Galactica, the Cylons will have her in custody and might not give her the choice not to betray Galactica. Still, Helo stands up to Roslin. When he blames her for the situation having gotten to this point, he isn't exactly wrong; Roslin must shoulder her own share of the blame for stealing Hera and hiding her from the parents.

Sharon wakes up on the Cylon ship and is greeted by Caprica Six, where she begins running a game to gain her trust. Who's fooling whom here? That's the question. Can Sharon beat the Cylons at their own game of deception, or will they use her as a tool against Galactica?

Perhaps neither. Among the episode's most interesting character work is a scene where we learn that Caprica Six is still very much interested in a peaceful resolution with humanity. Boomer, meanwhile, most definitely is not. It's actually startling to see how far back into the Cylon nest Boomer has returned. There's a scene where Caprica, Boomer, and Athena are all in the same room discussing Hera's fate, and for a moment it looks like Boomer is prepared to snap Hera's neck. Caprica Six saves Hera by punching Boomer in the face and snapping her neck. Caprica then agrees to help get Athena off the basestar. (I suppose we've come full circle; Caprica snapped a baby's neck in the miniseries, and now she's saving babies from that fate.)

Running concurrent with the Galactica and Cylon basestar plots is the story on the ground of the algae planet, where Lee orders Dee to go after Kara's downed Raptor while he and Anders and their troops attempt to hold off Cylon Centurions long enough for Tyrol to find the Eye of Jupiter — a search that is not going well, by the way. This leads to some well-filmed (if familiar) ground infantry action inspired by many war movies. Like with WWII, the name of the game is valuable real estate and protecting it from falling into enemy hands. There's even a shot lifted directly from Saving Private Ryan, where Dee rolls over a felled man to reveal that there's a hole where his face used to be.

When Dee reaches Kara's shuttle, we get one of those Awkward Situations where the spouse confronts the one carrying on the affair. There's really not much to say about these scenes except that they happen, and that they at least put everything out in the open. Kara tries to mitigate the awkwardness by explaining to Dee that Lee won't cheat. ("He's too honorable," she says. Yeah, except for those times in the Raptor and all the ensuing lies.) To summarize this watchable but less-than-compelling love triangle (or Z, or whatever): Kara is completely screwed up when it comes to relationships, Lee is in love with the screw-up, and Dee and Anders are quasi-willing doormats to it all. At least until next week's episode when this all comes to a head...

Meanwhile, there's a star about to go nova. Well, I would certainly hope so. If a storyline sets up in part one the possibility that a star is going nova, then you'd better believe it's going nova in part two. (I suppose that's the rule of Chekhov's Gun as applied to solar systems.)

All the plot pieces collide in a way that only God (or Ronald D. Moore) could engineer so serendipitously. Lee's ground infantry abandons the temple as the Cylon reinforcements arrive, and Tyrol prepares to blow it up. As he's walking down the mountain with the detonator, Baltar and D'Anna (and a Cavil that had me wondering exactly where he came from) go into the temple and deactivate all the charges. Just then, the star goes nova, delivering a shock wave that will destroy the solar system within an hour. The nova creates some sort of magical light ray (the nova is the Eye of Jupiter, Tyrol realizes) that allows D'Anna (but not Baltar) to be pulled into an encounter with the Final Five Cylons, or the Face of God — or something. This encounter is ultimately deadly, because to look into the face of God is to bring about madness and death and so forth.

This might all sound (and indeed be) quite ridiculous, but it's to the credit of "Rapture" that the show has the conviction and showmanship to make all of this interesting, mysterious, and filled with awe. When D'Anna looks into the eyes of one of the Final Five and says, "You. Forgive me, I had no idea," I for one was intrigued by the possibilities. Who are the Final Five? Baltar believes he might still be one of them (I'm laying odds against it), but the answers are not forthcoming. Baltar, stranded in the temple with no solution to his problem, is recaptured and taken back to Galactica. (The story finds a note of satisfying humor in the way Baltar is universally regarded: "Welcome back, Mr. President." Whack.) The destruction of the planet by the shock wave is fairly spectacular, albeit not quite as spectacular as the similar scene in Star Trek: Generations, from which Moore is obviously cribbing (his own material no less).

What makes "Rapture" really come together is an expositional final act that brings insight to all the madness we've witnessed. Baltar is brought back to the fleet, secretly transported to Galactica in a body bag. What happens to Baltar next is a story teeming with possibilities. Meanwhile, Sharon returns with her daughter, bringing back a surrendering Caprica Six (who's promptly thrown into a cell).

Meanwhile, it's speculated that the nova was a hint as to the next pointer on the map to Earth — a reference to the location of another nova witnessed by the 13th tribe 4,000 years ago. And in what might be my favorite touch of continuity, Helo recognizes that the drawings in the temple look like the paintings that Kara used to create as a child (as seen in her apartment on Caprica in "Valley of Darkness"). This creepily raises more questions regarding all that Leoben told Kara about her destiny in "Flesh and Bone." Where is this headed?

As for D'Anna, her disobedience — and the perception by her fellow Cylons that she is playing out a dangerous religious obsession — seals her fate: Cavil tells her that her entire model line will be boxed. Something D'Anna alludes to before Cavil shuts her down, however, struck me as particularly interesting: She mentions the mystery of the evolution of the Cylon race, and it got me thinking that maybe their evolution was external rather than internal, having something to do with God and destiny more than the self-improvement that I had always assumed. Could it be that the Final Five were not evolved from the Cylons at all, that they were perhaps an external force that made the Cylons what they are today?

It's questions like these that make the mystery of the mythology more than simply an execution of plot points. While "Rapture" contains a lot of scurrying around for the sake of plot, it does pose several intriguing questions about the Cylons, about Earth, and about where the characters are headed now that several major chess pieces on the board have been moved into new positions.

Previous episode: The Eye of Jupiter
Next episode: Taking a Break from All Your Worries

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15 comments on this review

Niall - Tue, Nov 20, 2007 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
This is the second episode in which a Cavil confusingly appears from nowhere, after "Lay Down Your Burdens II". What is the deal with this? Granted, he could have been in the resistance group in that episode and on the raptor in this one, but it's not clear at all in either case, and takes the viewer by surprise. Continuity oversight or deliberate?
Odon - Tue, Jan 1, 2008 - 5:06am (USA Central)
If you look at the first scene where Baltar and Three are down on the planet it's a location shot, so clearly for some reason (probably expense) Dean Stockwell couldn't go on location, which is why he suddenly appears in the studio (temple) shot. Cavil's sudden appearance in Lay Down Your Burdens was deliberate however - you were supposed to go "Huh, wasn't he the priest on Galactica?"
Jason K - Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - 11:04am (USA Central)
Possible spoilers in the next two posts that may reveal future Cylons:

Without naming names, for those still watching...I think it's safe to say now that D'Anna's cryptic "You. Forgive me, I had no idea..." was directed at the same person she kicked in the face and held hostage late in Season 2.
Jammer - Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - 11:51am (USA Central)
Response to previous post:

Although your post doesn't name names, isn't that something a viewer could figure out and thus a spoiler?

Although, I myself don't remember who got kicked in the face, so maybe you're messing with us. Either way, I'm putting a spoiler warning on it.
MP - Sat, Aug 15, 2009 - 2:02am (USA Central)
This is definitely a spoiler, what I'm about to say:

Jason K:
Moore explicitly said that she is apologizing to Ellen, for her "dying". While that would probably make more sense with Anders, that's just not what it is.
Nick M - Fri, Nov 19, 2010 - 10:15am (USA Central)
One of the little things I love in this series is the back and forth Helo and Starbuck have. When it's not a guy she's sleeping with there are some great Starbuck scenes. The banter about her apartment being a pigsty made me laugh.
Nic - Mon, Sep 12, 2011 - 9:29pm (USA Central)
Obviously, this wasn't as good as the DS9 episode of the same name, but I agree that it was better than its setup and would thus have made a better "Season 3.0" finale. As usual, there are too many coincidences, I hope they will eventually be explained by something other than 'God' or 'Destiny'.

Irrelevant footnote: I couldn't help but think that the 'boxing' of all Threes (as opposed to just the one who saw the Five) has more to do with Lucy Lawless being unavailable (or her asking price being too high) than as a necessary story point. But I guess we won't really know for sure any time soon...

Weiss - Fri, Sep 16, 2011 - 10:26am (USA Central)
I think it was related to Lawless request to be off the show, but as with most good shows/writers, they figured that into the plot. and at least we got to see Biers again later on and get resolution (although they kinda left it hanging again for her! wtf).

happy for that, considering I am still pissed with all the setup in B5 for Talia's character, then she also get "boxed" and dismantled and her plot points never get seen again. lawless might not have pissed the writers off with her request as much as talia's actress did.
Michael - Fri, Nov 25, 2011 - 11:53am (USA Central)
Can't believe neither Anders nor Lee got court martialed for insisting on a foolhardy rescue attempt, which cost a needless life, almost two.

Baltar and D'Anna's religiously-laden repartees and that entire angle of the show are getting increasingly tiresome and annoying. Now they've caught Baltar though, it's probably going to stop.

I was keenly intrigued by the internecine cylon conflict. Wonder where they're going with that... Also, re the "final five": So, the cylons themselves don't know what the other five models look like? How can that be? I don't recall it having been explained anywhere?

This is the first time I'm watching B.S.G., so I may be wrong, but I predict that once Earth is found, the five will reveal themselves to be some of the pivotal members of the Galactica's crew, and will somehow majorly (try to) sabotage a happy ending on Earth.

I wonder if and how far off the mark I am with that...
Kyle4 - Tue, Jan 24, 2012 - 11:20pm (USA Central)
After taking a break from watching BSG on Blu-ray I finally got around to watching this two parter and am not entirely liking the direction the show is taking. I really wasn't a fan of how Lost turned out and all of this religious mumbo jumbo is a constant reminder of what that series turned into. Too many new unexplained mysteries, too many serendipitous moments and too many "This is God's plan" remarks from characters.

I simply don't understand why D'Anna kept going on about God when the humans were the ones who created the cylons. There's still eight episodes to go but with the way the mythology is heading I'm feeling the urge to watch it less.
Zane314 - Fri, Jun 22, 2012 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
Well, we finally came to it: Athena and Helo find Hera is alive and have to deal with it. The scene with them obliquely discussing Athena’s plan really threw me, I had no idea what was coming! Downloading coupled with the Cylon’s strict belief against suicide makes it all seem plain now but seeing Helo fire made me jump. And then we get Helo being grilled, albeit lightly, by Adama and Roslin of all people. It all began when our never-elected-to-anything President decided unilaterally and without explanation that Athena must have a forced abortion. This from a women who’s dying from cancer, has taken a lot of hallucination inducing medicine, who thinks she’s a religious messiah of sorts but who apparently has fought for a women’s right to choose her whole life. Maybe that didn’t cover Cylon females! :) Then, she hatches and executes a criminal conspiracy with both government officials and military officers to fake Hera’s death and kidnap her because Athena or Cylons raising Hera would be a “disaster.” Well, well, well, guess what, in the end, the baby is on a Cylon Baseship anyway, the total opposite of what she said should never happen! And to get Hera back, Helo had to shoot his wife to death.

Now Roslin has the temerity to stand there (with Adama restraining him) while Roslin self-righteously says: "... there is plenty of blame to throw around and I accept it. And now all of our lives are in the hands of Sharon Agathon. All we can do is hope that your wife is worthy of the unconditional trust you place in her, Captain." Great apology Madam President! I do like how Adama said nothing after Helo and Roslin started talking *and* he kept his back to Roslin the whole time – that's pretty harsh criticism of Roslin from Adama. (though I wanted Helo to take her head off) I agree Athena does have the fleet’s safety at least partially in her hands but I feel this was 100% Roslin’s responsibility. The President again demonstrates what a terrible leader she is; I’m not surprised at all that Baltar got elected and I always wonder if Zarek would have been better if he had Adama’s support.

On to the other great part of Rapture: the deleted scene with Starbuck yammering about why do I this, why do I do that while Dee is fixing the Raptor. This is my second favorite deleted scene in the whole series after the absolute gem of Athena confronting Cally in 3.18 The Son Also Rises. Here we have Dee putting the smack down on a self-absorbed Starbuck: Great, great line from Dee:

"Yeah, I know what you're trying to do, you're trying to make it all about you and how frakked up you are. How you can't help yourself. Well I'm not buying it. Know why? Because of the Admiral, he loves you, he respects you. And that tells me you're not some pathetic loser who can't keep her pants on. You're not a victim of circumstances. He loves you and that means you're in charge of your own life, you make your own decisions. So if you are frakking around with my husband it's not because of your frakked up childhood or society or the gods-d@mn weather. Its cause you decided to do it."

Yes! That’s it in a nutshell: Starbuck, you’re a frak up because of your *choices* that Adama let's you make not your childhood, Zak dying, you’re love Z with Lee/Ander/Dee, or the “gods-d@mn weather.” *You* make bad, self-destructive, very hurtful choices. And you are responsible.
chris - Fri, Oct 19, 2012 - 12:26pm (USA Central)
So, that was the last time we ever see D'Anna?

Not good :(
Niall - Fri, Jan 18, 2013 - 12:11pm (USA Central)
No, she returns in S4. But her write-out in S4 is equally unsatisfactory (and in fact even more lazy and makes less sense in terms of the character and overall narrative).
Paula - Tue, May 14, 2013 - 11:30pm (USA Central)
Sisko
Cureboy - Mon, Jan 6, 2014 - 12:49pm (USA Central)
Thank you for blacking out the spoilers. I was afraid of coming in here and reading the comments after D'Anna apologized to one of the final five. I been wracking my brain trying to figure out who she wronged. Helo? He had to be human or there wouldn't be all the Hera hoopla. Maybe it's somebody the Cylons really screwed with? Like poor one eyed Colonel Tigh? Or Starbuck??

I got my eye on the chief too. All that talk about the chosen one and he was called to the temple? But he had all those childhood memories. Plus the fact that I would think there would be hoopla about his baby with Cally. Unless Cally is one too?? But I think I'm reaching

But I am definitely intrigued.

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