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I Believe: An Advance Look at "Battlestar Galactica" Fourth Season Opener

I've been breathlessly waiting for the start of Battlestar Galactica's fourth (and sadly final) season for quite some time now. The two-hour telepic Razor last fall helped ease the withdrawal pains a little, but I am glad that Sci Fi will finally give the fans the BSG fix they so desperately need.

I was fortunately to be among the lucky few who were sent an advance copy of the Battlestar Galactica season premiere ("He That Believeth In Me"), airing tonight on Sci Fi, though I did have to sign a non-disclosure agreement that put the episode's spoiler-ific plot under embargo. (So no worries, there are no spoilers here, just vague allusions.)

That said, the fourth season opener, written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson and directed by Michael Rymer, is a simply breathtaking and brilliant installment of a series that has redefined not only science fiction but the television drama, effortlessly weaving together a collection of three-dimensional characters, metaphors for the gripping issues we all face today (everything from abortion, genetic cleansing, and religious persecution to xenophobia, terrorism, and the rights of workers), and breakneck plot twists... all set against the backdrop of space.

"He That Believeth In Me" doesn't disappoint an iota. It deals head on with the implications of both Starbuck's return (and seeming resurrection) along with the revelation in last season's finale that she has been to Earth. Her reappearance, several months after her presumed death, opens up a Pandora's box of questions for the crew of Galactica: Is this really Starbuck? Did she die? Was she brainwashed? Is she a Cylon? A clone? Or something entirely different?

After watching the episode, I'm not sure what to think but there are clues aplenty that point toward some a larger question mark about her miraculous return, especially the condition of her Viper... Not only does her return to the ship--and the land of the living--present some plot implications, but it also signals internal conflict among the crew, each of whom grapples with Kara's reappearance in different ways and her sudden presence opens all matter of old wounds.

The episode also deftly incorporates the stunning season ender reveal that four trusted members of the Colonial fleet were in fact Cylon sleeper agents and had been from the start. Awakened by the strange musical stylings of Bob Dylan, four of the final five Cylons have now been revealed and they are forced to deal with the fallout from this personal revelation. Just how will Colonel Tigh--who killed his own wife for collaborating with the Cylons while waging a war against them on New Caprica--deal with the sudden realization that he is himself one of the enemy? How will Presidential aide Tory, a heartbeat away from Laura Roslin, deal with the emotional and psychological fallout? Or Chief Galen Tyrol? Or Starbuck's estranged husband Anders? The reveal forces us to question the selection of these individuals as well; it's apparent that they were selected a long time ago and seeded into positions of power or prominence among the fleet... and activated now. But for what purpose? And can they be sensed or detected by other Cylon models? (You'll have to wait and see on that front.)

Look for Tigh to have a massive internal conflict in the first half of this episode, during a scene that deftly echoes an earlier episode and is, well, pretty frakking awesome. Baltar's new role is equally tantalizing, with allusions to certain, er, religious cult behavior that would echo our own culture. And look for Starbuck to directly face the consequences of her death... and her return. Just what does it mean when she says that she's been to Earth? And why is she such a pivotal instrument on the path to the blue planet?

Ultimately, "He That Believeth In Me" is the perfect beginning to what promises to be one of the very best seasons of Battlestar Galactica yet: taut, haunting, and filled with emotional resonance. There are Big Ideas at work here and I wouldn't have it any other way. While this space opera might be coming to a close soon, it's obvious that BSG plans to go out with a big bang rather than a whimper.

Battlestar Galactica's fourth season kicks off at 10 pm tonight on Sci Fi. Catch an encore of this week's episode next Friday at 9 pm.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Ghost Whisperer
(CBS); Amnesia (NBC); Friday Night SmackDown! (CW; 8-10 pm); Grey's Anatomy (ABC); Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular (CBS); Dateline (NBC; 9-11 pm); Duel (ABC); Canterbury's Law

10 pm:
NUMB3RS (CBS); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8-11 pm: BBC America.

If you happen to be staying in after a long work week, why not do it in true Anglophile style with back-to-back episodes of Coupling and new sketch comedy series That Mitchell and Webb Look, from the stars of Peep Show?

10 pm: Battlestar Galactica on Sci Fi.

It's here! The beginning of the end has arrived with the premiere of BSG's fourth (and final) season. On tonight's episode ("He That Believeth In Me"), Starbuck's inexplicable return to Galactica (and the land of the living) throws the crew into confusion in the middle of a Cylon attack. And what's up with those four sleeper Cylons? Find out tonight.


Anonymous said…
You are one lucky sombitch! The only consolation we poor mortals have is that we've still got it to look forward to!

I can't imagine anyone who watches BG isn't already really stoked about seeing tonight's episode, but thanks for ramping up the expectations even higher.

You talk of the foresight of the Cylons in seeding the four sleepers long ago, but it was pretty damn omniscient of them to seed Anders who was part of a rogue bunch of survivors on Caprica all those episodes ago. That will be interesting to explain.

Good that you'll have a meaty drama to get your teeth into covering so well again...
This series may be set in space and feature robots but it's one of the most grounded, truthful, important dramas ever to be on TV. I know this final season is going to be incredible and I can't wait!!!
The CineManiac said…
I can't wait to see this tonight I'm going to rewatch the season finale and then head into the opener.
You're a lucky bastard.
The CineManiac said…
LOVED IT!!!! But Why do they have to leave me hanging like that, I mean Come on!!!! Can't the just release all 20 episodes tomorrow so I don't have to wait?

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