TV Article

Heavy Medal

On ''Battlestar Galactica,'' after an escaped prisoner awakens Adama's feelings of guilt about the war, Roslin makes him accept a citation

Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica (TV Show - 1978) | BULLDOGGED The pilot's reappearance threw Adama for a loop
BULLDOGGED The pilot's reappearance threw Adama for a loop

''Battlestar Galactica'': A ghost from the past

Hey, look! It's a black guy! There's not a ton of them, apparently, in this alternative reality. (I'm always hesitant to use the word ''future,'' since we've no real way of knowing when BSG takes place.) There's Duala and the doctor Cylon, and that's about it. It's good to see Carl Lumbly working again, and back in sci-fi, to boot. I was a big fan of M.A.N.T.I.S. — the only fan, from what I remember.

(Is it me or did it look like Adama said ''bulls---'' and it was blanked out? We are, apparently, a mature enough viewership to handle seeing sex, torture, attempted rape, and suicide bombers on a semiregular basis, but we can't handle a little profanity? In the words of Tina Fey on the last 30 Rock, nut up, Sci Fi Channel.)

If there's one thing I never, ever buy in filmed entertainment, it's when a character is so upset that he starts attacking the scenery. I don't buy it when the character is a volatile hothead, and I definitely don't buy it when a character is as tightly controlled as Bill Adama. It felt like a wrong decision by someone, either the writer, the director, or Edward James Olmos himself, who should know that simmering, not exploding rage, fits Adama like a tailored suit.

Oh, Baltar, you naughty, naughty, lucky, naughty boy. I know that in order to survive, you felt you had to get in bed with the Cylons, but not with all of them at the same time. You can't possibly think that this'll end well. Or are you trying to drive D'Anna crazy? If so, it seems to be working. Ordering a centurion to shoot you in the head, as she did, just so you can get a glimpse of what may or may not be heaven isn't the act of a rational mind and definitely isn't the act of a fully operational CPU.

While I love the idea that the Cylons used poor Bulldog as a human guided missile — letting him escape just so he would return to Galactica and open a can of whup-ass on Adama — isn't that plan asking us, the viewer, to give the Cylons a little too much credit? Like, how do they know Bulldog's history with Adama? How did they uncover the truth when it was a highly classified operation? They would've had to know everything about it in order to think that Bulldog would do what he did.

And I'd do it too, I suppose. If I were betrayed so completely, yeah, I'd give in to the bloodlust and point myself at the nearest applicable target.

''Sometimes surviving can be its own death sentence.'' Sure, Tigh was speaking of a very specific set of events, his escape from New Caprica and Bulldog's escape from a basestar prison cell, but it has a larger meaning as well. Adama has been carrying this guilt with him since the destruction of the colonies: that the decimation of humanity was his fault. Whether that's a legitimate statement to make — and the show definitely leaves it open to interpretation — the point is, that's what Adama believes.

Sure, the operation that sent Bulldog to his fate originated with the military brass, and as Roslin reminds Adama later, there were a thousand other ways that humanity paved the way to the Cylon attacks, but he has survived a war that an act of his provoked. How has he been living with that? How has he found it possible to smile at all, looking at people on his ship who've lost their entire families? How can he talk to his son without thinking he doesn't deserve the good luck that kept Lee safe and by his side?

It's amazing just how well Laura knows Adama, by now. She knows exactly how to wound him to the quick. She knows that the farce of wearing a medal he doesn't deserve will be the slowly turning knife that Adama needs to get on with his life. He needs punishment. And she needs him. As it ever was.

What do you think? Is Adama really to blame for the war? Was Bulldog within his rights to seek revenge? Should Adama have given his medal to the hero of the occupation, Colonel Tigh? And are the old friends going to rediscover some common ground?

Originally posted Nov 17, 2006
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