Penultimate episode! Setting things up for the explosive (literally) finale! Secret underground IKEA compound! Tomatoes! John mutherfuggin’ Locke!
Even though this was a fairly solid set-up for a nice, exciting final episode, there were a few sticking points for me. As hypocritical as it might sound, I actually wish the events of this episode were spread out over two episodes instead of just one. They went into over-drive, from arrival to awkward, to “things here seem a little hinky” to all the 2nd Mass getting arrested to prison break to military coup. That was a lot for one episode. Better pacing would have had them arrive and start integrating into the Charleston group, with the suspicions growing in the final acts, culminating in Pope + Co. getting arrested and Alien Boy showing up. Then the second episode would deal with the prison break, the rounding up of the 2nd Mass and the build-up to the coup. Season pacing! This is why it’s important, y’all!
My other minor problem is how closely The Price of Greatness resembled not one, but 2 Battlestar Galactica plotlines. To which you might say, “sure, it’s a post-apocalyptic sci-fi show, of course there are going to be similarities, Laura, duh”. However, this episode was written by Mark Verheiden (a BSG writer and co-EP), practically half the cast is BSG alums (which is more a Vancouver shooting thing, but still…) and there are some notable similarities.
Without getting too into it, Arthur Manchester = Admiral Cain, Underground IKEA = Pegasus (or New Caprica). Even while watching the episode I was getting really nervous, since there are some truly terrible things that happen in both those BSG plotlines (especially to female characters), but that didn’t really happen here, thankfully.
Anyway, I don’t want to dwell too much on that (or potentially spoil any more BSG), so let us run down the (very tightly packed) episode!
The 2nd Mass is led by Colonel Porter down into an underground mall that was under construction during the attack. It’s got creepy stock photo banners and things; like I said, it’s sort of like an underground IKEA. The 2nd Mass gets a standing ovation as they arrive in the main common area, and there’s a ton of awesome food, and other kids for Matt to play with and running water!
We get two reunions: Jeannie, Weaver’s daughter comes back. She made it to Charleston a while ago, but sans her boyfriend Diego or the rest of the Oliver! cast. Jeannie thinks some of them could still be alive and wants to mobilize some sort of search for them, but she hasn’t had any luck on that front. I’m actually glad to see Jeannie back, alive and well and without her annoying compatriots. She especially won me over with her speech later on in the episode, including this great line: “I don’t think that makes you a bad man, Dr. Manchester, but I do think you’re wrong.”
The other reunion was between said Dr. Arthur Manchester, the “majority leader” of the “new government”, who also happens to have been Tom’s former professor (and boss?) as Chairman of Boston College’s American History department. He also wrote of book on the American Revolution called From Darkness, Democracy. They pow-wow, and Manchester’s like “hey there’s a confidence vote tomorrow on my leadership and even though you’ve only been here 5 minutes and have no idea how I’m running things, could you please support me there? Cool.” Tom’s agrees, but when he tries to tell Arthur about the Skitter Rebellion he gets shut down right quick. No duh, Tom. You barely even believe in the rebellion. Why would he?
At the military arm of the camp, Weaver and Tector report to their new commanding officer Colonel Bressler, and while they’re like “fuck yes, let’s all go fight some aliens!” apparently Manchester wants to lay low and not do any fighting, stay off the radar. They also want to separate the 2nd Mass. in the ‘housing’ and take away their guns, none of which sits well. Even thought they don’t have any plans to make a military attack, they are apparently doing military training in some basement of the underground?
Pope lasts for about 30 seconds before he and 2 of the other Beserkers decide to peace out to go alien hunting, but when they try to take some (their?) weapons from the lock-up, Maggie ambushes them when a gun she smuggled away earlier. But even though she was trying to stop Pope (why though? Why would she care if he left or not?), they get found out by Security officers, including Tector, and they all get arrested, including Maggie. Since we got character background on him last episode, it makes total sense that he would turn evil for a little while, which he shows by shooting the Beserker who isn’t Crazy Lee (the one he usually hung out with). [Here is where more time would have better served the story, since Pope could have played on Maggie's Hal insecurities and her clear lack of comfort with the idea of just sitting around Charleston IKEA and tried to get her to leave with them].
Hal visits Maggie in jail and promises to get her out. Suddenly he’s gotten over last week’s revelation. I wish they wouldn’t write Maggie’s character so randomly. First, she tells Hal that he should hate her for what she did in the past, which makes no sense whatsoever. Then she is logical and says, ”What I expected was the courtesy of an honest emotional reaction. Instead I got ‘I’m gonna think about it’ and teenage silences. I can’t deal with that, I won’t.” Which, congrats, Maggie, you’ve realized that Hal is a teenager and you are not. Now you know why this ain’t gonna work out (which was the whole point Pope was talking about last week).
Tom appeals to Manchester with logic, that Maggie, Pope and the Beserkers are exactly the kind of crazy IDGAF fighters they’re going to need. Of course Manchester has already turned the corner onto dictator road.
There are further signs of trouble, like how the doctor in Charleston tries to pull some major attitude and Anne just about punches that douchebag in the face. Matt also punches some kid at school for claiming that the 2nd Mass were mother-lovin’ alien cowards. After all that, it’s no surprise that Tom flips the script at the confidence vote forum, saying that he’s pro-rebellion and thinks Manchester’s sit-and-wait tactic is bull. He even reads a quote from Manchester’s book that supports fighting back, which earns the most amazing “fuck you, Tom” look.
Just as Tom’s got the crowd nearly applauding, that other BSG alum solider comes in to interrupt, saying they found a de-harnessed boy who had been looking for Charleston and has a message for Tom. Is it Ben? Nope, just some other random kid who doesn’t know Ben, but was sent by Skitter Red Eye to get Tom, as there’s been a new development with the overlords and they need to talk. Tom’s ready to go, and both Weaver and Bressler support him, but Manchester flips out and locks up the boy. He’s pissed that Tom didn’t tell him that Ben was with he Skitter resistance, but even more pissed that Tom would dare to speak against him, that bitch. Who does he think he is? He like invented you! (And now I’m imagining Locke as Regina George, so thanks brain!).
Manchester tries to use Pope as leverage against Tom, but even though Pope doesn’t love Tom, he hates Manchester more.
Meanwhile, Hal, Dai, Tom and Weaver decide to stage a prison break for Maggie and the Rebel Skitter Kid and, aided by Porter, are about to leave for the rebellion rendezvous when they get caught by Bressler and his men.
They all get arrested, including Tector when he “respectfully refuses” to arrest his friends. Tom, Weaver and Porter all plead with Bressler to grow a pair and go against Manchester, since it’s obvious that he too wants to join the fight, but is too concerned about his position to make a move. Apparently Manchester has declared a state of emergency and ordered “all suspected dissidents detained”, which means the rest of the 2nd Mass. (including Dr. Glass, Matt and Lourdes) are being rounded up and held in the mess hall.
Anne, excellently, is fucking pissed at Manchester for locking them up “until they prove they can be trusted”. “Is this really the kind of democracy you were hoping to create?” Well, you know what they say about absolute power and corruption. Tom and Weaver yell at Manchester, who throws around danger zone words like “treason” and “sympathizers”. Ruh roh.
At first Bressler obeys Manchester’s order to lock all our team up, and then half a cut-scene later, he’s pulling a coup, instituting martial law, letting Tom, Weaver and the rest of the military prisoners go and locking Manchester up. Tom is… less than thrilled about that, but Bressler tells him to suck it up and move out if he wants to make the Skitter rendezvous. It’s the devil you don’t know versus the devil who used to be your professor and has already played the devil once (and I think is at least playing the devil’s proxy on 666 Park Avenue next season), so…
Bullet points and Quotes!
- Tector’s real name: Aloysius Murphy. (Holy shit. Did you know that that’s Mr. Snuffleupagus’ first name? DID YOU KNOW MR. SNUFFLEUPAGUS HAD A FIRST NAME? MY MIND IS BLOWN).
- “I understand that you think you’re smarter and faster and tougher than just about any man in this outfit.” “You catch on quick.”
- “I’m going to wish you into a corn-field.” I don’t know what that means, but it sounds great.
- Ok, not letting Kat out of her cage was funny, but logically stupid, since she could rat out where they were going, and doesn’t have any reason not to help them meet up with the rebel forces.
- “We were safer on our own, weren’t we?”
- Did the Rebel Skitter Kid look a little bit like Edmund from the Narnia movies to anyone else?
- The text carved on the marble behind the lectern and microphone is the 4th stanza of the Star Spangled Banner. I didn’t even know there was more than one stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner, so that’s kind of a fun fact. Here’s the text:
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I wonder when all those survivors had the time to carve out that background. Do they sell those at all the underground IKEAs? Do you have to do the carving yourself? Dictator Locke probably made them do it just so he could have a cool back-drop for his propaganda speeches, that jerk.
Alrighty! Finale next week! Aliens! Explosions! Return of Fishhead! Hopefully Return of Ben! (Maybe even Return of Karen?) How do you think they’ll write themselves into a corner this year?