Battlestar Galactica Review: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

With a reference to Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in the title, how can it go wrong?

No, wait, don’t answer that… fortunately, it didn’t go wrong at all, and that titular reference turns out to be quite appropriate.

Cast

James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar
Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama
Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin
Jamie Bamber as Lee “Apollo” Adama
Michael Hogan as Col. Tigh
Tricia Helfer as Number 6
Grace Park as Sharon “Athena” Agathon/Boomer
Tahmoh Penikett as Helo
Aaron Douglas as Galen Tyrol
Kandyse McClure as Anastasia “Dee” Dualla
Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta
Rekha Sharma as Tory Foster
Michael Trucco as Samuel T. Anders
Callum Keith Rennie as Leoben Conoy

Synopsis

A human-Cylon alliance is formed, but neither side is entirely willing to trust the other.

High Points

  • Lee’s visit to Roslin’s hospital bed
  • Six’s speech to the Quorum

Low Points

  • What’s the point of Gaeta at the moment? It might be leading up to something, but at the moment it doesn’t feel very important and there’s less and less time for unimportant things as the story thickens.

The Scores

Originality: Five out of six.

Effects: I just love watching the whole fleet jump at once, and we get to see it twice! The arrival jump didn’t seem quite right somehow, although it was still very impressive. Five out of six.

Story: We’re seeing very rapid development of the Cylons now, and it’s taking us to interesting places. The addition of the hybrid ensures that we’re never too sure where things are actually going, and that keeps us glued to the screen. Six out of six.

Acting: This week’s acting didn’t have any truly spectacular moments, but didn’t disappoint either. Five out of six.

Production: Better than last week. Perhaps the base ship sets are all finished now. The final non-effects shot was absolutely perfectly framed and timed. Five out of six.

Emotional response: Five out of six.

Overall: Bring on next week, although in a way I’d rather not because I never want the series to end. The consistency of excellence of this series should also be noted: high thirties on a regular basis is no mean feat. Six out of six.

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner receives a grand total of thirty-seven out of forty-two.

20 replies on “Battlestar Galactica Review: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”

  1. joe__gee says:

    "Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?"
    I believe that’s the title of this episode.

    Great episode. The previous ep had me crying as hard as I have ever cried from a sci-fi genre program (personal, my mom died of breast cancer.) This episode ratcheted up the tension.

    Gaeta’s singing was used to increase the tension. His singing reminded me of Pippin singing to Denethor in "Return of the King."

    -Joe

  2. smeep says:

    Gaeda’s singing
    Okay, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the writer’s are trying to make us believe that Gaeda is someone important. So much so, that I’m starting to feel that they may pull some switch on us. But right now, I’m speculating that Gaeda will end up being the final cylon. Moore’s already said that the final cylon isn’t in the "Last Supper" photo, so that fits. Gaeda was an integral part of the resistance last season (along with Chief, Sam, and Tigh – who are, guess what?). That sorta fits. The interesting thing I find is that the four think that the final Cylon has been activated as well, but is just hiding. I’m not so sure he/she has been activated yet. I think the big thing will be what will the four do to avoid their identities being shown.. I think this season has been the best season for the show since it began. There’s so much going on. Certainly makes up for last season (which I found to be fairly underwhelming).

    • valen1260 says:

      Re: Gaeda’s singing

      …I’m speculating that Gaeda will end up being the final cylon.

      I was beginning to suspect the same. Surely they’re not just wasting our time with him. I expected to see a flash of red in his eyes in that final shot. I can also see why he might have provoked the "I didn’t know" reaction from D’Anna, because she would have worked with him in Baltar’s administration.

      • jayhawk88 says:

        Re: Gaeda’s singing

        I was beginning to suspect the same. Surely they’re not just wasting our time with him.

        On the other hand it could just be a red herring, or the writers trying to get some screen time for a character that has been largely forgotten recently, and may be largely invisible going down the stretch.

        • madhack says:

          Re: Gaeda’s singing
          Yeah, and while that’s all an interesting theory, I don’t think it’s necessary to explain the sudden focus on Gaeta. The story focuses so much on the big events around the war, and most of the personal drama isn’t directly related to it. It could be as simple as the writers taking a few minutes to remind us that war is hell.

          Even if this theory doesn’t hold true, Gaeta could prove more integral when he finally learns that he lost his leg to a secret skinjob… and Anders’ guilt provides room for development of the only one of the four who was lacking such direction, until now.

          (I also wonder how advanced prosthetic technology was in the colonies and what’s available to the fleet now… but that’s probably overreaching.)

          • J_W_W says:

            Re: Gaeda’s singing

            Yeah, and while that’s all an interesting theory, I don’t think it’s necessary to explain the sudden focus on Gaeta. The story focuses so much on the big events around the war, and most of the personal drama isn’t directly related to it. It could be as simple as the writers taking a few minutes to remind us that war is hell.

            Even if this theory doesn’t hold true, Gaeta could prove more integral when he finally learns that he lost his leg to a secret skinjob… and Anders’ guilt provides room for development of the only one of the four who was lacking such direction, until now.

            (I also wonder how advanced prosthetic technology was in the colonies and what’s available to the fleet now… but that’s probably overreaching.)

            First, I’ve always though Gaeta might be a Cylon. I remember commenting on the first season finale and referencing the gratuitous camera move when Gaeta shakes hands with Boomer right before she shoots Adama. To me it looked like some sort of activation or something like that. It seemed to be significant.

            Second, on the prosthetics, thats another one of their "extremely advanced society, can’t handle simple science" gaffes that exists to create drama. How can a society that can build frakking autonomous ROBOTS not have VERY advanced prosthetics technology. Even given that work on robot technology would be banned after the first cylon war, the technology would have been invaluable to be migrated into the prosthetics arena.

            Oh, and why hasn’t the president gotten another transfusion from Hera? It really seems like a plot contrivance to me. They haven’t even had a throwaway line like "It won’t work again" or anything.

            • joe__gee says:

              Re: Gaeda’s singing

              First, I’ve always though Gaeta might be a Cylon. I remember commenting on the first season finale and referencing the gratuitous camera move when Gaeta shakes hands with Boomer right before she shoots Adama. To me it looked like some sort of activation or something like that. It seemed to be significant.

              In the ballot swapping episode you said he had an odd smirk. Muahahahaha. :)

              Second, on the prosthetics, thats another one of their "extremely advanced society, can’t handle simple science" gaffes that exists to create drama. How can a society that can build frakking autonomous ROBOTS not have VERY advanced prosthetics technology. Even given that work on robot technology would be banned after the first cylon war, the technology would have been invaluable to be migrated into the prosthetics arena.

              I am under the assumption that a computer-controlled prosthetic, even if it’s just a foot, might be a threat somehow on a battlestar.

              (Image: Gaeta’s foot suddenly detaches, hopping over to Adama. As Adama gets ready to order a critical emergency jump, the foot kicks him in the rear end, so instead of him saying "jump now!" he says "jump MY ASS", confusing whoever it is whose job involves turning the ftl key. The nuke hits home. BOOM end of series.)

              Or maybe they’re just low on resources, and since space injuries are probably much less common than explosive decompression deaths, the battlestar just isn’t equipped to deal with more mundane hand-to-hand combat injuries. A vessel of the Colonial Marine service? A ship like that might have a good selection of prosthetics.

              I’m betting the Colonials’ new Cylon buddies have a spare foot, or a spare eye lying around somewhere, especially if they could serve the Five. ;)

              You know on Star Trek Tighe would have a whirligig artificial eye by now, and Gaeta would be dancing a jig in the next episode. They’d be replicating cigarettes (who smokes anymore? Did you notice cigarettes disappearing over the series?) I’d bet ambrosia now costs some kind of difficult or unpleasant service.

              Oh, and why hasn’t the president gotten another transfusion from Hera? It really seems like a plot contrivance to me. They haven’t even had a throwaway line like "It won’t work again" or anything.

              Agreed, although I kind of got the impression that the "cure" was a one time only thing. Also, the transfusion the president got was of Hera’s cord blood. There’s only so much of that around.

              I wonder if someone saved any of Nicholas’ cord blood? If/when Tyrol comes clean, that cord blood might become quite a tempting prize for a driven, dying president struggling to hold on to power.

              -Joe

            • TomSwiss says:

              Re: Gaeda’s singing

              How can a society that can build frakking autonomous ROBOTS not have VERY advanced prosthetics technology.

              They very well might have – back on the colonies. But the fleet is a mobile refugee camp. Gaeta’s lucky they had anesthetic to give him before they hacked off his leg.

  3. apetrovic says:

    Great!
    Best episode of this season, IMHO. And one of the best episodes of entire series. BSG gave up of making light, dumbed-down episodes for catching new audience, and it shows – this episode have almost season cliffhanger tone because of highly serialized storytelling. Wonderful opening space shots, almost no "A" and "B" story, and that great last scene with Gaeta singing… I hope that the rest of the season is good as this.

    I have only one complain: Athena’s shooting of Natalie doesn’t have much sense to me. In the dream it’s obvious that Caprica Six takes the child. And Athena knows what’s at stake with negotiations… I dunno, the shooting looks like one big plot device.

    (It’s a question – is Natalie dead? The show invested some time in making that character, she’s not some two-dimensional side character in red shirt (pun intended ;) ), I’ll be not surprised if we see her again)

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: Great!

      Athena’s shooting of Natalie

      It looked like Athena was pretty caught up in the opera house vision at the time. If the feelings from the vision are as powerful as the vision itself …

      (It’s a question – is Natalie dead? The show invested some time in making that character, she’s not some two-dimensional side character in red shirt (pun intended ;) ), I’ll be not surprised if we see her again)


      From the preview for the episode two weeks from Friday it would appear Natalie hangs on for at least a few minutes. Additionally, I think I saw Romo Lampkin in there.

      Did anyone recognize any of the music Felix was singing? Is there any chance he was singing a Bob Dylan song?

      -Joe

      • apetrovic says:

        Re: Great!

        Athena’s shooting of Natalie

        It looked like Athena was pretty caught up in the opera house vision at the time. If the feelings from the vision are as powerful as the vision itself …

        That’s exactly my problem with the shooting – I just watched the scene again. Athena is very sober during the entire scene, and there’s a moment of thinking before the shooting. I consider Grace Park as a very good actress, I’d expect from her to express that mixed emotions, if there’s any.

        Did anyone recognize any of the music Felix was singing? Is there any chance he was singing a Bob Dylan song?

        Unfortunately, no ;). It’s Bear McCreary’s song – look at http://www.bearmccreary.com/blog/?p=349.

  4. BaseNeptune says:

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
    The Star Trek VI reference? Star Trek VI stole that from Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

    Don’t get me wrong, The Undiscovered Country is my favorite, even edging out Wrath of Kahn. They were originally going to give the line to Uhura, but she declined, so they had Chekov say it. Anyways…

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is about a family facing their misconceptions and fears when their white daughter brings a black man home to have dinner with them. Which is why they reference it when they have the Klingons coming over for the first time to a state dinner.

    Now on to BSG, I’m not with the reviewer in the opinion that the episode could’ve done without Gaeta. The little touches are sometimes exactly the glue you need to hold and transition the episode between beats.

    Smeep’s idea that Gaeta is a Cylon isn’t the first time that the fan community has pointed fingers at him. He seemed to get a clean pass after we found out he was feeding the Resistance information from Baltar’s desk. But, that was before we knew who the Final Four were.

    apetrovic – I believe Athena shot Natalie because her child was drawing the Sixes in general. And Natalie leads them, or did. I think she’s gone. This is the end game, and people start dropping like flies in the end game.

    Another thought: I’ve heard it said that if the Writer’s Strike hadn’t ended, the mid-season break episode, 4×10 could’ve served as the final episode. In a way, we’re down to the last 3 episodes of Season 4, with the last 10 episodes basically Season 5. I’m not going to be surprised if the last Cylon is revealed in 4×10, then leads the way to earth while all kinds of hell is breaking loose, and everyone starts battling everyone. Once the Final Four are unveiled, which is very possible in 4×10, it starts to become likely that some of them will die too.

    And I’ve very interested in the Opera House, that’ve been building on that since Season One. And because it’s BSG, I expect one hell of a payoff.

  5. Damien says:

    Still waiting..
    It hasn’t shown up on scifi.com yet: http://www.scifi.com/rewind/?sid=32850

  6. jesusX says:

    It’s not a Star Trek reference…
    At least, not first and foremost. ST6 was referencing the 1967 Sidney Poitier movie "Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner" dealing with a ritzy white family’s daughter bringing her new Doctor boyfriend to dinner, who happens to be black. ST6, and this episode, are referencing the same root issue, sitting down with someone you NEVER thought you would. :)

  7. joe__gee says:

    Guess WHAT != Guess WHO
    The title of the episode is "Guess WHAT’S Coming to Dinner".

    http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/episodes/index.php

    -Joe

  8. valen1260 says:

    Leoben’s plan
    Leoben encouraged Natalie to go to BSG. Given that Hera was somehow drawn to Natalie once she arrived, I wonder if the shooting was part of Leoben’s plan, or at least made known to him by his visits with the Hybrid. He was beginning to question her leadership, but I’m not sure that means he would want her dead.

    Along those same lines of thinking, perhaps Leoben wanted Natalie off the ship, knowing that Roslin, Baltar, and–oddly enough–Helo would arrive soon. The "JUMP!" surely was a trap, to provide Leoben with the hostages he wanted.

    I’m left wondering if Helo’s involvement is related to Hera? Also, it’s a nice tease that Tyrol was the one to whom Athena entrusted Hera. I expected some programming to kick in.

    • apetrovic says:

      Re: Leoben’s plan

      Also, it’s a nice tease that Tyrol was the one to whom Athena entrusted Hera. I expected some programming to kick in.

      The whole shooting scene is very interesting – only Cylons are involved (Tigh, Athena, Natalie, Tyrol) and only they speak or act. I don’t think that’s coincidence, either writers/producers made one great inside joke, or they are very proud by himself for such a huge irony. Now, if I want to be *REALY* paranoid ;), the only human in the whole cut that speaks (at very beginning) is Dualla… and Diana knows Dualla… is she the last one?

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