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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Flesh and Bone’ and ‘Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down’


This is the sixth in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Litmus’ And ‘Six Degrees of Separation’” here

Spoilers ahead.

The series returns to America’s post-9/11 political controversies in “Flesh and Bone,” an episode which features Starbuck engaging in the enhanced interrogation of a Cylon, alluding to the moral and practical issues raised by waterboarding top al-Qaeda operatives. Moreover, a show that addresses issues of faith now starts to incorporate visions and prophecies.

The series also likes to allude to movies. “Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down” bears little resemblance to the similarly-titled Pedro Almodóvar film. But the episode explores the relationship between Cdr. Adama and Col. Tigh, who loosely parallel the Navy officers played by John Wayne and Kirk Douglas in Otto Preminger’s In Harms Way — a film about the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack with ready similarities to Battlestar Galactica.

‘Flesh and Bone’

As result of taking chamalla for her cancer, Pres. Roslin dreams she encounters a copy of Leoben in a forest. The dream ends with him being sucked away from her through the air.

She is awakened by Billy, who reports a copy of Leoben has been captured aboard the Gemenon Traveler. Adama (who experienced Leoben’s deceit in the mini-series) advises killing the hybrid Cylon, but Roslin orders an interrogation. Adama assigns Starbuck to question Leoben after warning her of his nature.

During the interrogation, Leoben recognizes Starbuck by her callsign, and cryptically remarks that he “sees the foreshadowing” due to his faith. Leoben is a monotheist, but quotes colonial scripture to Starbuck: “all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”

When Leoben claims he has a nuclear warhead set to detonate in the hours ahead, Starbuck has the guards begin beating him. She pressures Leoben by noting he could deactivate his pain circuits, but that would prove him inhuman. She also suggests he is afraid he is too far from the Cylon fleet to ensure his consciousness would not be destroyed by death.

At one point, Leoben snaps his restraints and attempts to strangle Starbuck. She escalates by having the guards repeatedly stick his head into a bucket of water in an attempt to break him. Leoben says this is not Starbuck’s destiny, which is to find Kobol and lead the rag-tag fleet to Earth.

Meanwhile, Roslin has a vision in which Leoben says he has a message for her. She flies to the Gemenon Traveler, where she berates Starbuck for her tactics — but mostly because they have failed to produce information about the warhead.

Roslin offers a truce to Leoben, who admits the warhead was a hoax intended to buy time because he feared death. He also whispers to Roslin that Adama is a Cylon. Roslin responds by ordering him blown out of an airlock, in a manner resembling the end of her dream.

Back on Galactica, Starbuck prays to her gods for Leoben’s soul, if he has one.

Also, Boomer’s attraction to the Cylon Raider begins to make even deck chief Tyrol suspicious. She asks Baltar to be the test subject for his Cylon detector. The test indicates Boomer is a Cylon, but Baltar lies about the result after his mental Six suggests Boomer’s Cylon programming to keep the secret would probably cause her to kill him.

Lastly, on Caprica, the Boomer copy becomes suspicious of the Cylon plans for Helo. She disobeys orders to take him to a cabin, choosing to lead him elsewhere in the forest.

‘Tigh Me Up Tigh Me Down’

In the CIC, Adama informs Roslin that Baltar now has a Cylon detector, though the process takes time. Roslin, influenced by Leoben’s claim, suggests Adama be the first subject — to establish trust in both the system and top leadership.

Roslin also has Billy obtain gossip about Adama from CPO2 Dualla during a date on Galactica’s observation deck. Dualla reveals Adama had her place unlogged, encrypted calls to another ship in the fleet. Billy reports to Roslin, but notes there could be legitimate security reasons for the calls.

Starbuck catches Baltar having sex with his mental Six in his lab.

Tigh cleans house in his quarters, emptying a bottle of liquor and disposing of a photo of his wife, Ellen. Called to the CIC when a Cylon scout ship appears, Tigh learns Adama is missing and orders a Raptor to keep tabs on the seemingly wounded Cylon ship.

Adama returns on a Raptor with Ellen. The Tighs reunite in quarters. Ellen convinces Sol to drink and explains she was in a narcotic coma since being placed on the last flight from an airport during the Cylon attack on the colonies.

Meanwhile, Adama orders Baltar to stop testing him and to test a sample from Ellen instead. Roslin learns that Adama countermanded her directive and — not knowing who Ellen is — becomes more suspicious, ordering Baltar to switch back to testing Adama. She also questions Tigh about Adama, at which point she learns about Ellen and orders Baltar to again switch from testing Adama to testing Ellen.

The already drunken Tighs have a celebratory dinner with Adama, Roslin and Apollo — which the latter do not enjoy. Ellen insults Roslin, raises the late Zak Adama in conversation, and gropes Apollo.

Afterward, in a corridor, Ellen angers Tigh by flirting with Baltar. When Ellen suggests Adama wanted her to himself, the Tighs wind up barging into Baltar’s lab at the moment Baltar is explaining to Adama and Roslin that he had no test results due to the conflicting orders (of which Adama was kept in the dark).

As the room explodes into several parallel arguments, the CIC reports that the Cylon ship was playing wounded and has begun a kamikaze attack on the Galactica. The Cylon is destroyed by Vipers that Tigh had launch on an earlier hunch, proving why Adama cannot afford to have Ellen’s bad influence destroy his relationship with Tigh.

Baltar announces Ellen is not a Cylon. Baltar’s Six later asks whether he lied about the test result; he refuses to answer.

And on Caprica, Boomer and Helo avoid Cylon Centurions by running through the sewer system. Boomer proposes they proceed to a Cylon transport hub at Delphi in hopes of stealing a ship to escape.