Battlestar Galactica “Flesh and Bone”/ “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down” Review (1×08/1×09)

31 May



What exactly are the Cylons? “Flesh and Bone” goes in depth with this question, modeling the episode around the excellent Starbuck-Leoben interrogation scenes, all played brilliantly by Katee Sackhoff and Callum Keith Rennie. The interrogation begins due to Roslin’s request and desire to glean more information about the Cylons, but it escalates into a psychological battle that takes religious and philosophical turns; eventually, though, it all boils down to that one premise: who, or what, the Cylons are.

For me, there’s no question that they aren’t machines; they’re intelligent lifeforms–and humans have their fair share of biology fused with technology, as well–with an understanding of death, religion, etc., and attempts to dehumanize them are the result of the antagonistic relationship between the humans and the Cylons. It’s a mindset that’s been used to justify torture in real life, and without getting into a huge discussion about the ethics of it all here, it’s most definitely Starbuck’s mindset at first: he’s one of the things that’s destroyed their homes, that’s killed their people, and he’s nothing more than a machine; so, torture is therefore justified.

What would help her case, though, is the ability of the Cylons to turn pain off, as she’s correct in saying that humans have to suffer through that pain. The problem here is that Leoben either can’t or won’t turn it off, and much like the waterboarding and the beatings take a toll on him physically, they now start to take an emotional toll on Starbuck. She empathizes with him–the storyline has similarities with the Sharon on Caprica storyline here–and eventually prays for him at the end of the episode. It’s a storyline that’s contrasted with Roslin’s, one in which she begins with Leoben in her dreams (not like that) and ends with her sending him out the airlock.


Yeah…I don’t have much to say on this one. I appreciate the attempt at humor for a consistently dark series, but there’s something way off about this episode. I suspect the point is to utilize that dark humor–especially in that big scene in Baltar’s lab–to convey the idea that the Cylons are truly the ones in control, as your human leaders are arguing over something planted in Roslin’s mind–something we all knew wasn’t going to be true–by a Cylon who she even knew would try to plant those seeds.

Yet, that sounds all fine in idea, but the episode is really haphazardly thrown together, in terms of tone, of character moments, of plot. I want to like it because I like the attempt and I understand what they were trying to do, but I just am not interested in the “tension” that springs up in this episode. Also, Ellen Tigh is insufferable.

GRADES: “Flesh and Bone” (A-), “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down” (C+)

-That Baltar-Sharon Cylon detector scene is really well done.

-Again, Rennie is excellent here; it’s obvious that Leoben’s main goal is to get into everyone’s head–to strain those in the fleet until they start to turn on each other–but there’s also a sincerity to everything he’s saying, in that he seems to truly believe it.

-For all its faults, “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down” has some interesting scenes involving the Cylons and the ideas of love and sex.

-Starbuck. Ya gotta love her. She also walks in on Baltar having one of his good ol’ fantasies. Jeez, Callis is amazing at ratcheting up the cringeworthy factor, isn’t he? It’s a character aspect that’s becoming redundant, but there’s no denying the actor’s great at it.

Next up: “The Hand of God” and “Colonial Day”, and then we’re at the two-part finale.

Photo credit: Syfy, Battlestar Galactica


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