Battlestar Grammatica: Episode SVC

Scott Gardner


The robotized Pluperfects are attacking again, and the beleaguered Battlestar Grammatica is running desperately short of labialized velar approximants with which to wage war. Commander Clitic risks the life of his only living son, A-bar, by sending him and three volunteers, chained at the ankles, on a long-shot mission to the planet Theta Criterion, to enlist the help of the Expletives, a race of druids and winemakers who centuries ago renounced war and declared that the taking up of arms was punishable by a yellow card and a free kick. After a treacherous journey that lasts nearly as long as that last sentence did, A-bar and his bound and governed associates reach the planet and request an audience with the Expletives’ mysterious leader, Anaphora. They are invited to wait in the lounge and take advantage of the coffee bar while there is a short commercial break.

Meanwhile, back on the BS Grammatica, Commander Clitic is facing mutiny, fomented by the unruliest of his soldiers (which confuses him greatly, seeing as he thought he had just packed off his unruliest soldiers on a fool’s errand with his son). The mutineers have only one demand: change course and pilot the ship toward the mythical planet called Earth, where it is believed the race of humans began eons ago. In a passionate, patriotic speech—broadcast by Trimline telephone to all the ships in the fleet—Commander Clitic informs his renegade crew that Earth has been the ship’s destination ever since the first series two seasons ago. As proof he also transmits an annoying low-resolution internet teaser video from the first season and an interview he once did for Japanese television. The rebellious crew members immediately stand down, give a cheer, and promise to send the Commander a batch of decorative, eight-cornered thank-you cards containing trite poetry written by anonymous strangers. The mutiny is ended. [Cut to Hallmark Octagreetings commercial.]

A-bar finally meets with the Expletive leader Anaphora, who demonstrates her unique powers of insight by telling him that she and he have two things in common: specifically that both their names start with A, and that their roles in the current episode are not central to the plot but meant simply to pad the story out and prop up the feeble attention spans of the average 21st century TV audience. She determines to make the Expletives’ role more significant—and to increase her share of speaking parts—by agreeing to renounce the Expletives’ renunciation of war and fight alongside Grammatica against the evil Pluperfects. A-bar is elated, and steps up to show his gratitude to Anaphora, but he oversteps the bounds of Expletive decorum by exposing his teeth in her presence. This results in a severe punishment of two minutes on the bench and two foul shots. Precious time is being lost. [More commercials here.]

In her stateroom aboard Grammatica, A-bar’s fiancée, Hortense, is crying at her desk as she reads again the acid words of a letter she has just received from the Natural Order Adherence Ministry (NOAM), informing her that she is to be banished from the fleet because her existence has been found not to allude in any way to the religiously revered syntacto-grammar symbology which by law pervades every facet of life for the Grammaticans. After giving her fate a few commercials’ thought, she decides she has only two options: kill herself, or seek help from Doctor Dissociative, the eccentric scientist who is often seen walking around the ship muttering to himself “You look much better in the red dress, darling,” and who always seems to know in advance what maneuvers the Pluperfects are planning. In a final appeal to humanity Hortense chooses the latter option, but unfortunately when she confides in the Doctor he counsels her to do the former. Cut to her lover A-bar, who is finally on his way back with a massive Expletive fleet of spaceships, but will they be able to reach Grammatica in time? Hortense is just about to commit suicide by affix detachment when the episode ends.