June 6th, 2008
[I’m filling in for fellow blogger Todd VanDerWerff over at The House Next Door this week (Thanks to Todd, and Keith, for making that happen!), so here’s an excerpt of this week’s episode review and a link to the site. Enjoy!]
Say what you will about “Sine Qua Non,” nearly unanimously considered the fourth season’s worst episode yet, but the dramatic undercurrent that has propelled the rest of this season was present in certain aspects of the episode. The episode was too blatant with its plot movements, no question, but there was also tantalizing hints of the story we weren’t seeing.
While there was dramatic purpose in keeping us in the dark to reflect the fleet’s confusion in the wake of the “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?” cliffhanger, we were really waiting for “The Hub.” Written by Jane Espenson and directed by Paul Edwards, this story of the basestar’s quest to destroy the Cylon Resurrection hub and unbox D’Anna (Lucy Lawless) is the one that we wanted to see last week, which made those brief hints more frustrating than intriguing.
This is not the first time the season has done this – Espenson’s last episode, “Escape Velocity,” was coincidentally itself a divergence from the Cylon Civil War and the Demetrius’ search for Earth in favour of building Tyrol and Baltar’s interesting, but less pressing, storylines. Here, however, Espenson trades off, drawing the gig of writing the payoff for a change.
For the most part, she succeeds – it’s hard to screw up what the show does best, an intersection of human and Cylon combined with meaningful action sequences and a spiritual journey for humanity’s dying leader. There’s a certain diversity in the episode’s tone that could turn some off, with some strangely humorous or laid back sequences, but when much of it was given to Mary McDonnell and James Callis it was at least in good hands. By grounding itself in both the ongoing plot and the series’ central characters and themes, the episode can’t help but provide momentum into the final episode of the year.