Last night saw not only the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica, but also something that was, arguably, even more exciting: At the packed Bagdad Theater, last night's Battlestar was followed by a personal appearance by Stabruck herself, Katee Sackhoff.
Hit the jump for a spoilery rundown of the episode, a few details on the Sackhoff Q&A that took place afterward, and, as always, a place to weigh in with your own thoughts on "Daybreak, Part I."
UPDATE: After the jump, video of Sackhoff's Q&A.
First up: What was this dude doing in last night's Battlestar?
Okay, well, not exactly. But all the same, the Eerie Ghost of Ronald Reagan made a weird sort of cameo last night: When RoboAnders was sitting in his bubble bath, babbling on about some sort of prophecy gibberish, he quoted in a line from John Gillespie Magee, Jr.'s poem "High Flight"—something about "slipping the surly bonds of Earth."
If that sounded familiar to you—it didn't to me, but my buddy Mike immediately shouted something like, "What the fuck? Reagan?!"—it's 'cause Ronald Reagan quoted it in his 1986 speech about the Challenger disaster. Granted, "High Flight" has been quoted a bunch of other places, too, but still—there's something weird about a science-fiction show borrowing a line that's also been famously quoted in conjunction to the Challenger explosion. I'll leave it to smarter people to figure out what this means, if anything.
But okay, ONWARD. After "Daybreak, Part I," I find myself genuinely bewildered as to how Battlestar is gonna wrap up in any sort of satisfactory way, especially considering there's only two hours left. I would love to be proven wrong about this.
I really liked last night's episode as it was playing out—but afterward, when I remembered that it was supposed to be the first act in a three-act finale, I found myself confused. Not counting the miniseries, Razor, or the webisodes, there have been about 70 episodes of Battlestar so far—and now that they're down to their final three episodes, I think it's fair to point out that, well, a lot more should be happening right now.
I know that's been a constant refrain throughout this season—the general complaint seems to be that Battlestar has spent its final season meandering around and not really accomplishing a whole lot, and that generally, this season isn't shaping up to be as grand or exciting as people were hoping it'd be. And along those lines, "Daybreak, Part I" felt like more of what we've already had plenty of: Set-up. One can make the argument that Ronald D. Moore, et al., are just moving the pieces into place for what will be an astounding finale, but at some fucking point, jesus, stop moving the goddamn pieces around and have them do something. In order to wrap this series up in a way that doesn't feel either underwhelming and/or rushed, "Daybreak, Part II" is gonna have to be pretty fucking amazing.
Still, I can't really put my finger directly on anything I didn't like about this episode, and there were a few things I really, really liked:
THE FLASHBACKS. Seeing what life on Caprica was like for Roslin, Baltar, and Lee was pretty great—especially since, as Mercury Arts Editor Alison Hallett pointed out, it turns out Baltar's dad was someone we've known for a long time.
Other than Baltar Sr. being a cantankerous old leprechaun, we also found out that Caprica Six is still amazing (she takes better care of Baltar's dad than Baltar does!), that Lee likes to drunkenly chase birds around in Kara and Zack's apartment (you get that pigeon, Lee!), and Roslin used to be happy, until her whole family was killed by a drunk driver, and then she was sad, and then she wandered around like a crazy person and took baths in public fountains. (Jesus, did all that really happen last night? This paragraph sounds like its nouns and adjectives were filled in, Mad Libs-style, by a 10-year-old.)
Oh, and Anders' flashback was the weirdest but the best: Being interviewed by a reporter from Space ESPN in the Pyramid players' locker room, Anders talked about being disinterested in the game as a whole, and more concerned with making "perfect" plays—of attaining perfection in movement and action. It seems simple and obvious in retrospect (HE'S A ROBOT!), but I found this admission to be really touching and insightful—it kind of reminded me of the best robot short stories of Asimov.
HERA BEING EXPERIMENTED ON BY CYLONS. I know Adama and everybody are gonna go rescue her or whatever—and if that lingering shot of a wrestling-with-her-conscience Boomer is any indication, she'll likely betray her own kind to help the humans—but I still really like the idea of eeeevil Cylons slicing Hera open to see what makes her unique.
Wait. That came out a bit more mean-spirited than I meant it to. What I mean is: It's still nice to have some eeeevil Cylons out there, and I like that while everybody else doesn't seem to be aware that this series is wrapping up really, really soon, Cavil and his buddies are basically going full steam ahead in their plans. The Cylons seem to be aware that there's no time to waste; I only wish the humans (and Battlestar's writers) were as motivated.
ADAMA: STILL A BADASS. "No one should feel obligated to join this mission in any way," Adama barks out at what appeared to be every single person on Galactica. "This is likely to be a one-way trip." This scene—in which Starbuck laid out a thin red line along the hangar bay, and Adama told everyone who wanted to help rescue Hera to get on one side (GOOD JOB, HEROES), and for everyone else to stay on the other (CRY ME A RIVER, PUSSIES)—came late in the episode, but more than any other scene this season, it seemed to finally kick things into gear for some sort of interesting conclusion. Granted, the rescue of Hera might not be as epic of a climax as Battlestar fans have been hoping for, but it's certainly a lot more interesting than watching a lot of people stand around on a ship and gab back and forth. Plus, the fact that the Cylon "Colony" where they're holding Hera is entirely too close to a black hole for comfort? Yes. That sounds good. Next week hurry up please.
Now for the part everybody's scrolled down to anyway: KATEE SACKHOFF.
Man, fan-driven Q&As are always such a weird combination of enthusiasm, desperation, awkwardness, insight, and humor, both intentional and accidental. Last night's open-mic Q&A with Starbuck actress Katee Sackhofff featured at least one fangirl who had dressed up as Starbuck (yes, including the tattoo), and who told Sackhoff, "You turned me from bisexual to lesbian!" Meanwhile, another fan congratulated Sackhoff on "being one of the most coolest characters on one of the most coolest shows," while another urged the audience to join in on a call of, "You are so frakking hot, so say we all!" before she tested Sackhoff with an iPhone Cylon Detector app. Also, there was a weird part at the start where everyone sang happy birthday to Sackhoff's mom, who was in attendance, and this somehow had something to do with a Twitter from KGW's Stephanie Stricklen, who is friends with Sackhoff's mom, I think? I don't know. Anyway, I have two points: First, when you turn a microphone over to a line of hardcore fans who get to ask semi-stalkery questions of their favorite actress, shit gets real cringe-inducing, real fast. Second, happy birthday, Mrs. Sackhoff!
Thankfully, Katee Sackhoff—who was born in St. Helens, and attended Beaverton's Sunset High School, the "Home of the Apollos"—handled all the questioning like a pro, and seemed genuinely happy to be at the Bagdad. She bantered with KUFO's Cort and Fatboy (and called Fatboy not only a "skinny bitch," but also a "pussy" for admitting to flinching when Caprica Six snapped a baby's neck in the Battlestar miniseries), and dealt with most of the fans' questions with candor and wit. Like Starbuck, Sackhoff also seems like if she wanted, she could probably kick your ass. Also, as my aforementioned pal Mike eloquently pointed out when she walked in:
Whoa! Holy shit! Whoa! She's like a billion times hotter than she is on TV! I mean... fuck! Fuck! Whoa! Like... holy shit! Look at her! Whoa! Holy shit!
Some of Sackhoff's best answers were responses to some of the worst questions. One fangirl asked who she preferred: Jamie Bamber in uniform, or Jamie Bamber in a suit? "Michael Trucco," Sackhoff replied. (This answer is CORRECT.) After another question, Sackhoff talked about how "Ron Moore really allowed the cast to make the characters their own," and noted that her desire to explore Starbuck's relationship with her mother led to the episode "Maelstrom." There were also anecdotes about the final days of Battlestar's production. ("I stole my flight suit and threw it in a cooler on the way out the door.")
Sackhoff also talked about her struggle with thyroid cancer (she's better now, though she tells people the scar on her neck is from a knife fight, which is awesome), and how her friendship with Trucco ended up changing the course of Battlestar's final season. (SPOILER FOR "DAYBREAK, PART II" TO FOLLOW. DON'T SAY I DIDN'T WARN YOU.) It sounds like Sackhoff, like more or less everybody, expected Starbuck to end up with Lee at the end of Battlestar's final season, but following Trucco's 2007 car accident, that changed. Sackhoff said after his accident, she found her friendship with Trucco to be affecting how the two of them were appearing onscreen—thus making it far more feasible for Starbuck to end up with Anders at the end of the show than with Lee. (Sorry to break it to you, dude who spent weeks drawing this.) (SETTLE DOWN, SPOILER OVER, YOU CAN START READING AGAIN.)
Re: the above: I know that rundown of the Q&A was brief and vague. I blame the beer, and also the fact that Sackhoff is roughly as pretty as Mike said, so I wasn't in any sort of mood to spend a lot of time looking at my notebook to take notes. Anyway, regardless: Cort and Fatboy will have a video of the whole Q&A online by early next week, and I'll update this post with video then.
ONE LAST THING. Thanks to some ill-considered travel plans, I'm not gonna be around next week for the big series finale. In other words, this is the last Battlestar episode write-up I'll be doing for Blogtown. It's been a blast writing these after every episode this season, and it's been great to see what comments Blogtown readers have chipped in with, but next week, I'm just gonna turn it over to you guys: I'll set up a talkback that all of you can use to post your thoughts. I have a hunch that the usual commenters will be around, and I suspect I'll jump in at some point, too, so be sure to check back next week as soon as "Daybreak, Part II" starts for an open thread, of sorts, where everyone can discuss this season, the series finale, and Battlestar as a whole.
And before I (FINALLY) end this post, I want to thank everybody who's been going out to the Bagdad week after week to watch Battlestar on the big screen, and everybody who's been reading and commenting on these blog posts. Cort and Fatboy have been kind enough to make sure Battlestar has aired every week at the Bagdad, and for the past nine weeks, Battlestar at the Bagdad has been one of the highlights of my week. There's something pretty great about being in a packed theater full of people who take this shit seriously; about hearing Fatboy shout out, "So say we all!" to the crowd before each episode and have the crowd shout, "So say we all!" right back; about hearing people debate Cylon mythologies in the beer line; about seeing people with T-shirts branded with the logo for the Picon Panthers. For all its flaws, Battlestar is still one of the best science-fiction shows that's ever aired on TV—if not the best science-fiction show that's ever aired on TV—and to watch it week after week with hundreds of people who care about it as much as I do, and then to discuss it the next day on Blgotown... well, that shit doesn't happen very often. Say what you will about how the final season of Battlestar Galactica is shaping up, but one can't argue with how much fun it's been to watch and talk about these episodes.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!