TV Recap

Leaky Memories

On ''Battlestar Galactica,'' Adama has flashbacks about his dead wife while Tyrol and Cally nearly suffocate in an airlock

Edward James Olmos, Battlestar Galactica (TV Show - 1978) | UNMEMORABLE Adama's visions of his past didn't quite work
UNMEMORABLE Adama's visions of his past didn't quite work

''Battlestar Galactica'': Inside Adama's head

At least this week they didn't try and pass off brand-new material as if we'd already seen it. I knew I'd never seen the ''Helo gets assigned to Dog City'' stuff they told us was ''previously on Battlestar Galactica.''

And here we are in flashbackville, where Bill Adama was married to a Sharon Stone look-alike. Or is it a flashback? What, does everyone on this show need to have someone talking to them from within their own head? And this is all because it's Adama and his dead wife's anniversary? It actually read as a weak storytelling device to get us into Adama's history; he's having arguments with a figment of his imagination. Yes, marriage is hard, and yes, it doesn't always work between people. And yes, sometimes it's hard to face the truth about the past. But to have one character coming to a realization about his own history via a conversation with his own memory, which couldn't possibly have the information it appears to have...it felt as if the producers had a goal they set for themselves — to illuminate Adama's past and to give Jamie Bamber a chance to get into a capital-A actory moment — and were willing to cheat their way across the finish line.

Though I will say that there was some strange, I don't know, satisfaction to see that Adama was, like Tigh, married to an abusive alcoholic. But unlike Tigh, Adama had the strength to leave her.

There's something to be said for returning to the day-to-day workings of a ship of the line. I've missed the nitty-gritty of watching the crew keep the fleet aloft. We've spent so much time lately either with long-running plot threads or, as we did last week, with a Very Special Episode of Battlestar Galactica in which we learned that bigotry is Bad. For the most part, what happens is just a day in the life. (Hey, that'd make a great title for an episode, wouldn't it?)

As nice as the chemistry is between Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell — and it is nice, both for how they are together and for the show's willingness to show a mature couple courting — I kinda wish that Roslin wouldn't make any more goo-goo eyes at Adama. I sort of miss the begrudging respect they had for each other (when they weren't busy trying to lock each other in the brig). They can't get together. They just can't. I don't want the reason this show fails to get a fifth season (and, yay for the news about the fourth) to be because David and Maddie got together, if you know what I mean.

A man just shouldn't dread going home. Otherwise, it's not home. You saw the Chief's hesitation as he stood at the bottom of the ladder heading to his crib. It's a shame that it takes a near-death experience — and the Leak to End All Leaks — to get some people to cop to their true feelings.

I watched this episode with my mom, who knows nothing about science fiction, who needed grade-school kids to explain to her who Luke Skywalker was. While she was a little unimpressed with the bulk of the hour — I'm pretty sure it was the Adama mind games that threw her — even she thought that the midspace rescue of Cally and Tyrol was cool. And when a Luddite like my mother is impressed with special effects, you know you've done a good job.

Overall, though, I was a little disappointed by this episode. Too much time in the noggin of someone who is best when we don't really know what he's thinking. Adama should be something of a mystery to us. That's his power. The more we learn, the less storytelling power he has.

What do you think? Will Lee evolve into more than an adviser and become — much as both Picard and Riker did so long ago on Star Trek: The Next Generation — a lawyer for the prosecution? (Or for the defense?) Do you think that those added scenes at the end of these recent episodes add anything? And would you like to see an hour that details the battle to defeat the rampant venereal disease that strikes the Galactica pilot corps as much as I would?

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Originally posted Feb 19, 2007