There will be spoilers. Also, be sure to check out the hilarious recap After Elton wrote for this episode.
This episode was even better on the rewatch, when I knew to turn out all our lights and go for the mood of the stormcloud that hangs over this episode. It’s dark and, as UGO put it, it’s the second stage of grief—anger. We had more guns and more violence than in any previous episode. Clarice becomes a merciless assassin, Barnabas completely snaps, Amanda nearly shoots Clarice but then takes a more controlled and frightening approach (since you’re not sure what she’ll do), and Daniel manages to drive someone to suicide.
Before I start with my take on the plotlines/character development that gripped me in this episode, I wanted to note a parallel between the openings of “Retribution” and “Unvanquished.” Both essentially start with teen terrorists trying to blow up high-profile targets. Even the neat, bomb-carrying backpacks made me think of the memorable shots of unidentified terrorist girl’s pink backpack in “Unvanquished.”
Sister Clarice Shows What She’s Capable Of Doing
Sister Clarice has always been a scary character. She’s devout and intense, though we’re not sure whether she’s more devoted to God or to power. Whichever it is, she’s as controlled as ever in this episode…which is terrifying as she’s killing people right and left. Watching the sincerity with which she can forgive Pann and then tell him that “It’s God [he] should be worried about” wile pushing the television into his tub, or the calm in her voice as she told Barnabas “History will absolve me,” it’s much scarier than if she were raving.
I’m hoping that her crazy power-grab doesn’t end with this episode. I’m wondering what it’ll do to her family and their desire to be, well, a family. The man helping her carry out her executions (the second two anyway) was her husband Olaf Willow. According to Syfy’s Caprican, Nestor survived as well but we haven’t seen him again.
Also, now that she has Lacey, I am looking forward to what happens between the two of them. Before, Lacey had the option of joining Barnabas. And she also had contact with Zoe. Will she abandon her project entirely? Will she convert? She has no friends, not even Keon, she might be wanted by the GDD…I’m wondering what options she even has.
And as a bonus, the way Clarice’s killing-spree made Barnabas unravel gave us some of the best James Marsters since his best Spike stuff. I loved watching him lose control. Sad he’s gone but hoping perhaps he survived in an Amanda-esque way.
We Solve Some of the Mysteries of Amanda’s Recovery
Amanda’s still not one of my favorite characters, but I’m really glad to get some answers/plotline for Amanda. As of the last episode, we had no idea what had happened between the bridge and the cabin and my brain rests easier having it sorted. Also, she didn’t appear to be injured in the brief scene in “Unvanquished,” which seemed unrealistic. But three weeks later, it’s entirely possible that she’d mostly be suffering from broken legs which their medical advances have already got healing up.
I’d like to see what happens if she and Clarice come to a head. Perhaps she’ll be a CI for a while, or perhaps Clarice will convert her. But if she turns on Clarice…we’ve all seen what Clarice is capable of, but we don’t know how much Amanda would be capable of doing to avenge her daughter. And now she has a gun.
(ok, this image wasn’t in the final cut, but I liked it)
The Adama Brothers and Daniel Graystone Form a Blackmail Roundtable
This felt incomplete to me. I’m assuming that we’ll see the conclusion and board meeting in the next episode. The scenes themselves were wonderfully dramatic. Both Esai Morales and Sasha Roiz were great, and I’ve really liked Eric Stoltz in the last couple episodes. I liked the contrast between Adamas’ business-like approach to the blackmail (in actually blackmailing and in planning) and Daniel’s controlled but deeply-emotional one. There was a point where it looked like they might be a little bit uncomfortable with the situation, but they were doing something they were good at and doing it well. They might’ve also been concerned he’d back down on the blackmail.
We couldn’t see them going through each person, so I wasn’t disappointed by that. In fact, I thought the blackmail roundtable was great. But this episode felt like a part 1 of 2. We had so much on the STO/Amanda front that this whole plot nearly dropped off the radar.
After I watched this part of the episode the second time, I found myself thinking of a different but equally secretive and stressful roundtable in Battlestar Galactica:
Perhaps I’m stretching the parallel here, but both groups were concerned with gathering the worst information about people. And neither was really concerned with justice, though the tribunal may have tried to convince themselves that they were. Instead, they were on vendettas against these people and while they may have felt a twinge or two of guilt at the pain they were causing, they considered their ends entirely justified.
Anyone else think that Daniel was growing a #TeamCoco beard? Judging by last night’s responses on Twitter, I’m not the only one who saw it.
Agent Duram Becomes a Real Character
One thing I liked in the deleted scenes from Season 1.0 were the additional GDD scenes. Agent Duram’s character had a lot more material. Even though he was working against the people we may care about, we could respect what he was after. He wants to keep the people on Caprica safe and prevent something like the stadium bombing plan Clarice come up with at the beginning of the last episode.
I think this episode was possibly the first time we’ve gotten those kinds of scenes in an episode. I actually think he might be getting somewhere…and I wonder what will happen when he puts it together. Will he survive? I certainly hope so. We need a sympathetic nemesis when all our characters are sympathetic but deeply-flawed.
Looking forward even more to next week. So much of this episode has yet to play out—board meetings, Lacey, Amanda/Clarice, Ha’la’tha involvement…it’s going to be good.