As befits the twins, this Starbuck episode mirrors last week's Apollo focus in a lot of ways, except for how it is good. Starbuck, between losing Cain and the presumed death of Anders, gets dangerously self-destructive in the usual ways: binge drinking, random violence, third-grade emotional politics. Her adversaries, beyond her usual personal fracked-uppery: Kat, and the Red Baron of the Cylon fleet, a Raider, name of Scar. Kat is the normal amount of annoying, plus a little extra due to her use as a bigger plot tool than Tigh could ever hope to be, like a Dial-H-For-Hater machine set to push Kara's fifty thousand buttons one at a time. During a heartbreaking scene with Boomer, Kara learns that the Raiders resurrect just like the humlons, meaning that she and Scar hate each other the same amount. As Kat calls Starbuck again and again on her continued downward spiral, she responds by distancing herself ever more horribly from the human cost of the war, eventually pretending that she can't even name the pilots who've died under her leadership. In the fourth episode running, a painful series of flashbacks and forwards forces her to grow up slightly and give Kat the Scar kill rather than dying stupidly. Kat becomes the new Viper hotshot in a fairly emotional scene in which Lee, Helo, Tigh and Adama watch Starbuck cycle through the names of the dead. To the theme from The Deer Hunter, Kara opens up to Helo about her struggles, due to the big wall with spikes on it between herself and usual confidant Apollo. Whence? Kara's blowing up all crazy after a failed (but awesome) assignation with Lee, in which she is so hateful and aggressive that he pees himself a little. There are hands in pants, is what I'm saying, and the hands, they are angry. And yeah, it's unhealthy, but it's hot. Next week: another episode, another round of Smack Boomer, as Dana Delany (WOO!) holds Apollo, Dualla, and others hostage after learning about Adama's pet toaster. High hopes.
You know, I liked this one okay, when I saw it. I loved that it was not the previous episode a lot. It's still got that "divorced from all ongoing storylines" issue, which I think bugs me most because the whole reason I can handle "Epiphanies" is that it front-loaded what I assume are all the plot threads for the second half of the season...and the show promptly ignored all of them for two weeks. However, I forgot to point out last week that this episode, until recently, has been listed later in the episode order, like 18 or 19, and got bumped forward. I have a Sincere Hope and a Hopeful Theory about this. The Hopeful Theory is that "Black Market" also got bumped forward, which is why it did the same thing -- and sucked hard -- and that in both cases, the plot itself was too big to really go in and remodel and add the necessary texture to make it fit the ongoing story without cutting the A-story too short (although at least this week, the story doesn't rely on its own made-up backstory to make its point). The Sincere Hope is that the reason this was done, in one or both cases, is to give the production team the necessary time to make next week's episode entirely kick-ass, because from the non-spoiler stuff that I do know, it's going to be a freakout hellride starting with Episode 18, and that's exciting, and how nice would it be if next week got that party started early?
But so in the few days since this episode aired, I have been reading this week's very insightful TWoP forums and listening to the irritating podcast (and cursing Entertainment Weekly, by the way -- don't read the blue info box in the front pages, if you can help it, because it includes two things everybody knows and an effing huge thing I didn't, and I've already had to wank about sixteen different ways that the particular plot point described therein might still be "vague," and fuck them anyway because it's about Season 3, for Pete's sake). And I have grown to realize that I kind of love this episode. So when I did the massive final viewing, where I actually type my notes, I found myself really touched by it in ways that I was not expecting. I assume part of this was "Black Market" hangover, and part of this was the fact that, as Strega pointed out to me, nothing could have been particularly satisfying after the Pegasus extravaganza, but now that I've watched it a hundred times, I think I definitely like it. At least as much as "Final Cut," or "The Farm" or "Litmus" or any of the other usual suspects. And I'm back to liking Lee as much as I ever did, Starbuck more so, and feeling mostly sorry for Kat at this point. Which is a bunch of surprising things to admit.