Thank god I have today off because I get to talk about my favorite episode of Battlestar Galactica! At length! Yay! I could literally spend hours just talking about how much I love “Exodus, Parts 1 & 2,” complete with visual aids and videos, because it’s televised perfection, and I’ve actually done that before. Instead, I’m going to use paragraphs.
The two-parter was BSG at its peak. Not only does it result in one of the most amazing action sequences ever committed to film, it completely changes the dynamics of the show. Nothing was ever the same after: the cracks within the Cylon community began here, and a certain fatalistic darkness crept into the show, never really leaving, even in its final episodes.
But “Exodus” was An Event. I remember, the first time the two parts aired, I could not get out of my seat, even at commercial breaks, because I didn’t want to miss anything. That’s a rarity for me; only Orphan Black currently has that honor. From the moment the Colonial Raptor made contact with the resistance on New Caprica in “Occupation,” I was so excited to see how the fleet would rescue their comrades, but I wasn’t prepared for how it actually made me feel: exhilarated, triumphant, intrigued, and so ready for more.
Everything about these two episodes works. Three dreams that Hera is still alive; Baltar has sexual issues (can’t get it up, can you, Gaius?); Sharon Agathon helps prevent the deaths of major characters; Saul has to kill his wife for collaborating with the Cylons*; Starbuck connects with a little girl (yet another one of Leoben’s lies) in a way that she doesn’t do with anyone; the Galactica careens to the planet’s surface to let Vipers off and then jumps away; Lee, in a rare moment of awesomeness, comes to his father’s rescue and sacrifices his ship to save everyone; the Cylons discover Hera. I mean, I could go on …
Of course, it isn’t perfect. Adama wears what I call his Unfortunate Mustache, and Lee wears a fat suit, because as we know, weakness and fatness are synonymous (eye roll). Also, while it’s certainly plausible that the Cylons thought the launch codes were safe and didn’t have them as guarded as they should have been, Athena being able to infiltrate the compound and only run into one singular Three seems a little far-fetched. Despite all of that, though, “Exodus” showed what the show’s crew could accomplish, and damn, if they didn’t succeed in blowing our socks off. It’s one of those episodes I can watch over and over again and not get bored with it. It doesn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow – which it shouldn’t, since it’s the fourth and fifth episodes of the third season – but it does resolve several threads**, which only opens up the rest of what the series turned out to be, for better or for worse. I argue that it is definitely the former, since this finally gets the fleet back onto their original goal of finding Earth.
In contrast to the previous season, this victory doesn’t have the same celebratory ring to it. So many have died, some by their own choice and others not, and everyone bears the scars of the New Caprica adventure. Unlike other episodes, which end on a high note and leave the deeper, sadder issues to be addressed later, this one has Tigh uttering that they didn’t save everyone, obviously referring specifically to his deceased wife, indicating the writers were trying to establish a much darker tone for subsequent episodes (where the totally deliver – “Collaborators,” anyone?). It’s a more realistic portrayal of the atrocities of war. This is not some propaganda piece from the 1940s, where the good guys win and go home to white picket fences and happy families. And things are just getting started.
* Despite the darkness of this scene, it’s probably one of my favorites. Michael Hogan’s performance is simply perfection, and Kate Vernon expertly plays Ellen’s resignation to die at the hand’s of her husband.
** The end of Baltar’s shitty presidency, the supposed real death of Ellen, the loss of the Pegasus, and ultimately the rescue of the refugees, just to name a few.
Art Credit: Wikipedia