Episode Name: The Woman King Episode Number: 313 Written by: Michael Angeli Directed by: Michael Rymer Original Air Date: 2/11/07 on SciFi Channel Review Posted: 2/17/07
Helo is stuck dealing with those troublesome refugees down on the hangar deck. With the arrival of a number of Sagittarons, racist attitudes come out from Tigh, Tyrol and others. It doesn't take long for the Sagittarons to start dying, presumably from the illness that they brought with them and refuse to treat with medicine. Helo begins to suspect the hard-working civilian doctor has it in for the Sagittarons. In spite of everyone (including his own wife Athena) telling him to let it go and even being ordered to do so by his superiors, Helo carries on his investigation which finally confirms his suspicions about Dr. Robert. This enables Helo to regain some respect from his shipmates.
Summing It All Up:
Unlike the previous episode, which was supposed to be a standalone episode, but ended up mostly being about Baltar's ongoing arc, this episode really was a standalone episode. Following in the footsteps of "The Passage," a supporting character takes center stage, but unlike Kat, Helo doesn't have to die to get his due. The episode isn't groundbreaking. It revisits prejudice and mixes in a Christian Science-like abhorrence of medicine for the storyline. Even so, this episode was about whether Helo could move beyond just "being the guy married to a Cylon."
Having listened to Ronald Moore's podcast prior to screening the episode, we weren't sure what to expect since he spent more time talking about what the episode might have been than what it turned out to be. What the episode turned out to be was good enough. As said before, it was nothing groundbreaking, but with good direction and several well-acted character moments it was an entertaining episode. The audience really couldn't know for sure whether Helo was just crying wolf or the "good" doctor really was killing Sagittarons until the very end.
On most other television shows, the reveal would have been a foregone conclusion, but not so on Battlestar Galactica. Director Michael Rymer didn't completely tip his hand even while dropping bread crumbs. Helo was the best choice for the episode since he's already an outsider and the one whose instincts would be most questioned. In that way, this almost had to be a Helo episode.
There were nice character moments between Caprica and Athena with Inner Baltar, Roslin and Zarek Helo and Tigh and Helo and Athena. Guest star Bruce Davison portrayed Dr. Robert with subtly and the ambiguity needed. But the nicest surprise was Tahmoh Penikett's performance. He finally was given a chance to step up for an entire episode rather than as a strong support in a scene or two and he did so emphatically in our opinion. It's nice to see that along with Tyrol, there's another supporting human character that can carry a central role in an episode if needed.
It's likely that those who wished Helo never returned to the fleet from Caprica, won't like the episode because he's in roughly ninety percent of it. Those who wanted to see what else Helo could do should be pleasantly satisfied. And those who like Lee and/or Kara will be disappointed in the episode because they aren't in much of it. We instead prefer to take the approach that it's not the characters, but the storylines they are involved with. It's understandable that some might be tired of the Helo and Athena storyline just as we are sick and tired of the Lee/Dee/Anders/Kara "square," but we still want are willing to watch those characters in other storylines and it was nice to see Helo in a different storyline.
In our opinion, "The Woman King" fares far better than "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down," "Colonial Day" and "Black Market," all of which featured main characters and we have not been in any hurry to watch again. This episode isn't as good as last week's episode, but is still an enjoyable episode. It was well-directed so that the final outcome wasn't a given.