Battlestar Galactica 3.01: Occupation

AIR-DATE: 6/10/06

Written by: Ronald D Moore

Directed by: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan

Starring: Lucy Lawless, Michael Trucco, Richard Hatch, Rick Worthy, Callum Keith Rennie, Kate Vernon, Donnelly Rhodes, Matthew Bennett, Rekha Sharma, Dean Stockwell

Rating:

The One Where: It’s all gone Iraq-shaped.

Synopsis

It’s 134 days into
the Cylon occupation of New
Caprica. And it ain’t a picnic. Tyrol
has become an insurgent. Colonel
Tigh is being tortured and
interrogated, and has lost an eye.
His wife Ellen is screwing a
Brother Cavil Cylon in return for
getting Saul freed (he keeps his
side of the bargain). Starbuck is
living with a Leoben Conoy Cylon
– as a prisoner. She keeps
murdering her loving “partner”…
but he just downloads into a new
body and comes home.

The Cylons have recruited
humans into the New Caprica
Police – their identities are secret.
Gaeta is passing on information
to the insurgents. He tells them
Baltar will be at a police
graduation. Roslin says it’s time to
attack a high-profile target…

On Galactica, Apollo has
grown fat and soft. Training
exercises are going badly. Adama
is plagued with guilt at leaving
people behind: nowadays his
closest friend is Sharon.

The insurgents get round the
Cylons’ jamming frequencies and
establish contact with the fleet.
Tigh sends a volunteer to the
police graduation ceremony on a
suicide bombing operation.
Baltar decides not to attend. But
Gaeta can’t get the news to the
insurgents in time… The episode
ends with a room full of corpses
and twisted metal…

Review
An episode further
removed from Daggits and Dirk
Benedict than ever. Bleak and
intense, it’s also powerful and
gripping. How many of the
audience will be able to stomach
material this tough?

The real-life parallels are
obvious. What we have here is a
fictional restaging of the
occupation of Iraq. Every detail is
familiar, from the vocabulary
(“insurgents”) to the suicide
attacks on police graduations.
This is the episode’s greatest
strength and arguably its
weakness. By tapping into that
ongoing nightmare Galactica
cloaks itself in gravitas. But is
xeroxing reality symptomatic of a
lack of imagination? Is an SF
show doing its job when you feel
like you’re watching the news?

But this is a stunning season-opener.
It’s disconcerting to find
that the time frame has jumped
forward again but catching up is
fascinating. Tigh’s transformation
into ruthless terrorist is surprising,
but makes sense – remember
martial law? And Starbuck’s story
is played out with a deliciously
perverse streak of black humour:
love the way she stabs “hubby”,
then casually wipes her bloody
hands on the carpet and sits
down to eat dinner…

Dialogue
Brother Cavil:
“You’re all living in a fantasy
world! Consider the irony in that
– delusional machines! What’s
the universe gonna come up
with next?”

Ian Berriman