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Battlestar Galactica – Blood on the Scales
…episodes left. I think everyone watching Battlestar right now can agree that the show has what feels like an awful lot of ground to cover in order to resolve everything. What really happened to Earth? Remember the other half of the Cylons who are out there somewhere and might be coming after them? Where did the Final Five come from? What really happened to Starbuck, and what is her special destiny? What is Baltar’s purpose? Is the prophecy of a dying leader real or just empty words—and is the dying leader Roslin, or Adama (a thought inspired by his coughing fits throughout “A Disquiet Follows My Soul”)?
Presumably those issues will wrap up in the last couple episodes; in the meantime, the focus is on who will survive until the last episode. Last week we saw Gaeta effect a mutiny on Galactica and place Adama and Tigh under arrest, while Zarek seized control of the presidency in Roslin’s absence/the fact that she’s in bed with Adama (actually and figuratively). This week we saw the mutineers’ steps to consolidate their power, and the individuals fighting against them continue to undermine the new regime’s control, and the ultimate failure of their coupe. Throughout the play of events, the old question brought up between Athena and Adama is stirring: a race has to be worthy of survival—is humanity?
Things were back to the good old days of Season 1, where the problems were internal to Galactica/the fleet and had little to do with the larger picture (i.e., the war with the Cylons/the search for a safe harbor). Starbuck was on the warpath, special destiny be damned—there were heads to smash into mirrors and double-fisted gunfights to win. Lee Adama was back in the skin of Apollo, even if he’s still wearing civvies, fighting at her side and holding his own in their verbal sparring. Roslin snapped out of her I’m-about-to-die abdication of responsibility and was once more struggling to maintain her power over a splintering fleet and government. Baltar was seeing visions again. Adama and Tigh were soldiering on in the face of despair.
Ah, wow, it was good to have the show back to its roots. In my opinion, the best episode so far this season.
As to how it plays out. Gaeta is faced with the naked truth of Zarek’s ambition and ruthlessness when Zarek executes the entire Quorum (minus Lee) for rejecting his ascendance to the presidency—brutal, calculated, and utterly in character with this man; remember him in Season 1 on the prison ship, as Damon pointed out last week. Gaeta maintains his own sense of justice in their course, despite this horror, and subjects Adama to a farce of a court-marshal with a jury consisting only of himself and Zarek. Adama does not betray his own ideals; he refuses to acknowledge that either of these men have any power over him, and walks with his head high and his eyes burning to the airlock where a firing squad awaits him.
But other characters find themselves faced with a similar challenge to their beliefs, and their ideology falls away. Hot Dog is unable to shoot down the Raptor carrying the President and Baltar to safety on the Cylon base ship, despite his complacency with the mutiny and his hatred of the Cylons. An enlisted man (Aaron, I think was the name) is unable to shoot or arrest Tyrrol when he finds him crawling through the airducts; this is his epiphany that, Cylon or not, he cannot kill a man he has known so long and so well. He is no longer the mutineers’ man; later, unable to be part of Adama’s firing squad, he helps the Lee/Starbuck brigade rescue him….and reclaim the ship.
I have to call out Mary McDonnell for putting chills up my back with the power and visceral threat of her “I’m coming for all of you!” speech. Amazing delivery.
The touch of redemption between Baltar and Gaeta was also moving; it seemed to me Baltar was drawing a parallel between himself and Gaeta in being willing to own up to their responsibilities. The difference is, Baltar was exonerated for his part in what happened to the fleet and humanity at his hands—Gaeta cannot be. He meets the fate he had reserved for Adama at peace with his actions. He had followed his conscience, and he accepted his defeat with a modicum of grace.
As for the future…with Gaeta and Zarek executed, the threats to the Adama/Roslin regime are eliminated. Including, thanks to Zarek, the argumentative Quorum. I wonder if they will bother replacing it or just assume a military state as they probably should have from the beginning?
Frak to the nth power why is next Friday so far away?!
Thanks again to Damon for offering me this week’s BSG round-up.