Man, I’ve just got to find a way to write these reviews shorter. I did a Retrospeculative review for Galactica today that ended up running seven pages. On top of that, I wrote four other articles today. I’m a bit knocked as a result, and the annoying thing is that there’s always more to say. I never feel like I’ve quite nailed it, but as you all know, I generally go on waaaaaaay too long with everything.
Anyway, before we begin, there’s some good news: Eureka has been renewed for a fifth season.
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Baltar, as you’ll recall, was hanging out with a recurring character from Season 1, who wants to send him back in time. Baltar agrees.
Meanwhile, Jack and Allison finally knock boots. The tooth brushing thing was a bit TMI in my opinion, but anyway: They get called in to check on the theft of the DED from last week, and Baltar’s disappeared and isn’t answering his calls. They start pouring over his effects from ‘47, and Jack comes across some old wire reel recordings in which Baltar calls him “Thick headed.”
Allison and Henry think they’ve figured out where the DED is hidden - behind a holographic projection of a gorge - and are investigating when the Time Machine warms up, causing a massive energy explosion that kills Allison just as Jack makes it to the scene. Devastated, Jack storms into the ineffectively cloaked facility and starts wailing on Baltar. Just then the time machine kicks in, and both of them are back in 1947, at the same time Jack et al appeared there in the season opener.
Jack explains that Allison is dead, and Baltar is shocked. He decides to try and save her life by preventing a friend of his from stealing the Bridge Device plans, which he did after Baltar disappeared. If he prevents this, the second Bridge Device in 2010 will never be built, which will prevent Alison from dying. The guy who stole the plans - Baltar’s greatest disciple - was the guy Alison saved via CPR in the season opener.
What follows is basically an interesting but surprisingly passionless knockoff of Back To The Future Part II, with Jack and Baltar running around like Marty and Doc, trying not to interact with their earlier selves. There are complications, but none of them come to much other than padding out the plot. Baltar trying to kill his buddy by hiding the jumper cables Alison uses to save him was clever, as was the fact that the guy survived anyway, but really the only thing remarkable is that they completely and totally fail to stop anything.
Jack records a message for himself on Baltar’s wire reels and back in the present, Jack’s own past version becomes Jack-sub-1 and rushes to the cloaked warehouse to stop Alison. He crashes straight into the building (Good scene) and stops everything from happening. Then Jack-sub-1 and Baltar goofily morph into themselves - the version trapped in ‘47, and everything is fine.
Excepting that the recurring character from season 1 got away, and now has evil designs on Jack; General Mansfield is investigating the whole situation and *will* discover they traveled through time; and Zane is wise to Jo’s alternate past. But Baltar turns out to be filthy stinking rich because he invested in Johnson and Johnson in the ‘40s, so everything’s ok, I guess.
Baltar leaves town for a new life.
First and foremost: Baltar doesn’t know how to wear a hat. Watch any ‘40s film, see how the men wear ‘em, and then watch this, and you’ll see the guy looks like a dork play-acting at some rakish noir sensibility without understanding how it worked. Using the hat as a way of telling the past and present versions of Baltar apart is clever enough, but *No one* wore hats in doors in those days. That much is the writer’s fault. The inability to make it look like he’s ever been in the same room with a fedora before, and has only seen them in Gene Kelly musicals, however, that’s entirely James Callis’ fault.
The fact is that I like James Callis a lot, though, and as I’ve said all along, I feel like this show is kinda’ beneath him. As of now, I guess it’s behind him, too, as his 10-episode guest star arc is finished. I didn’t see that coming, despite the fact this show likes to do that sort of thing (Tess, for instance), but I already miss him. I don’t think the character ever really grounded or connected, but I liked having him around.
Specifically, I don’t think they really telegraphed Baltar’s feelings of displacement anywhere near well enough. They’ve mentioned it in passing once or twice, but it seemed extraneous. We don’t know how deeply Baltar - Dr. Grant - feels displaced until he actually tells us in this ep, and that feels a bit forced. Likewise, the lets get him offstage, oh-hey-you’re-rich-and-we-just-never-thought-to-look consolation prize ending seemed forced.
I did like how Jack and him didn’t really like each other at all, but were forced to continually hold each other’s coats (Metaphorically and literally) through the whole arc, and I liked the grudging respect they developed.
It turns out that Baltar's original purpose in convening his cabal was to use the bridge device to travel back in time, have someone infiltrate the Manhattan Project, and prevent the invention of the Atomic Bomb from every being developed. This is a very bad plan for several reasons:
1) There were *three* countries developing the Bomb: Us, Germany, and Japan. Furthermore, there were several other countries that were fully aware of the work being done by the Bomb, and were already laying plans for developing their own: most notably the UK and the USSR. My point being that even if *we* didn't develop the bomb, it had been a heavily researched prospect for a long time prior to its actual invention, and it *would* have been invented eventually by someone, just not us. So far from preventing nuclear war, it all-but-ensures our enemies will get it first, and they were always much more likely to use it than we were.
2) Far from ensuring peace and ending war, the *absence* of the bomb would have caused the death of millions. Look up information on the invasion plans for Japan. *CONSERVATIVE* estimates predicted the war would go on for another eighteen months (meaning the war would have lasted until about February of '47). *CONSERVATIVE* estimates of the casualties? A Million Americans and THIRTY FIVE MILLION JAPANESE! That's half the population of the country! By comparison the mere 106,000 deaths from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem like a bargain. It's an unpleasant but true fact: The atomic bomb was more humane.
And here's the sticking point: Any educated man from 1947 *would have known this.* The peacenik anti-nuclear stuff we take for granted today is a much later phenomenon. That's the kind of mistake people could - and did - easily make a generation later. Back in the late '40s such opinions would be regarded as dangerously irresponsible.
I’m quite relieved that my greatest fear - the undoing of this alternate timeline and everything going back to the status quo of the first three seasons - hasn’t happened, and evidently won’t happen. I’m also glad that the Jack/Alison thing didn’t get reset like this season’s new timeline did with Zane and Jo. Having finally gotten them together, it would be unpardonably tedious to pull that kind of crap.
I like how Collin Ferguson played Jack’s sense of loss when Alison died. Understated but shocked and very believable. Most actors/directors would have been tempted to milk it, but this was the best way. There wasn’t time for pathos, and even if there was it would have detracted from the overall story.
All in all, a pretty good episode, despite the knockoff A-plot. Apart from a Christmas episode, the show is done until 2011 when they run the second half of the season.
Say, that’s only two pages! Whadya’ know! I can write short!