In last week’s taut coup, we came as close as we ever have to watching the fleet fall apart and the “good guys” – who, as the show’s creators happily argue, could well be on the wrong side of history – see themselves tossed out by b-players and thugs. By the end of “The Oath,” you could easily choose to believe that Zarek and Gaeta might win. We’re at the end of the line, after all. Anything could happen.
This week, I never got the same sense of urgency. It was clear early on that the coup was crumbling, partly thanks to Gaeta’s lurching command of the Galactica mutiny. I’ll hand it to Alessandro Juliani that he played the character pretty well. Every time he pushed the mutiny forward, it looked like he was forcing himself to commit; his ambivalence, his growing awareness of what a treacherous partner he’d found in Zarek, and his constant scratching of his stump, all showed that he had doubts. But the doubts didn’t slow down his damnation. And his last words – “It stopped [itching]” – were a fitting send-off.
Three major characters had bold character moments: Gaeta gave the order to execute Adama by firing squad, after a clumsy attempt to give him something you could almost call a trial. Roslin, believing that Adama was dead and everything was basically lost, still screamed at Zarek that she’d keep fighting down to her “eyeteeth.” And Baltar, who fled the ship basically out of habit last week, has decided to stop being a coward. He swears he’ll go back and stand with his wacky moonie flock, instead of hiding on the Base Ship and having sex with Tricia Helfer. Each of these moments felt pretty staged – the characters were reacting to false information and a great big spotlight before making their stands and revealing who they really are – but that’s okay. We’ve got a lot to do here.
Watching tonight’s episode made me really miss Baltar, who hasn’t had much screentime this half of the season. But I also wish Zarek had gotten a few sympathetic beats. He never became a three-dimensional character on the show. He’s a revolutionary but also a crook, he only ever popped up to be a thorn in somebody’s side, and tonight, he sticks to doing all the dirty work so that Gaeta can show a little moral ambiguity. And now he’s gone: in the final scene, with the coup foiled and Adama triumphantly in charge of the ship, we see Gaeta and Zarek tied to their chairs and ready for the firing squad. These guys don’t even get to die standing up? What a lousy way to go.
Of course, Zarek’s decision to shoot the Quorum the minute they gave him lip was totally hilarious, and a nice retirement gift to the character. Someone please make sure President Obama sees that clip, it’ll cheer him up.
Other than that, it was all tactics, and great shoot-outs. Starbuck and Apollo rescued the Cylon prisoners, before Gaeta had a chance to shoot off Anders’ leg - but Anders was still badly wounded in a shoot-out. Rolo Lamkin came back, to chew scenery and remind us he has a dog. Adama was a bad ass, but we rediscovered that last week. And Tyrol spends the whole ep in a tube – and ends it staring at a suspicious, deep gash in the engine room walls.
And by the show’s clock, apparently the whole thing took five hours. These coups sure do move fast.
– In his podcast for “The Oath,” Ron Moore pointed out that the Galactica has never had a full crew, and it’s only dwindled in the years since the attack. Now they have a bunch of mutineers to purge, including senior guys like Noel Allison. Hopefully that will come into play in the weeks to come.
– We could use more scenes on the base ship. It’s not clear what role Tori, as a member of the Final Five, plays in their society: Do they give her special voting powers? Or do they just worship her?
– Speaking of governments, do the humans elect a new Quorum?
– Loved Gaeta’s final scene with Baltar. And Gaeta’s admission that at age eight, he wanted to become an architect and build “restaurants shaped like food,” really gives the whole “Hitler was an art student” thing a run for its money.
– So, housekeeping: We never did a post about the webisodes, "The Face of the Enemy." With apologies to Richelieu Jr., I don't think we'll do a recap or a separate thread at this point: they've already taken place in the story, between episodes 413 and 414, and the outcome (Gaeta survives! And hates Cylons) should be no surprise. So I move that we openly discuss the webisodes here, and how they tie into the story. And if you haven't seen them yet, you can still catch them at http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/webisodes/.
– That said: if you stayed to watch next week’s teaser and you know where the season’s going next – please, no spoilers.