"Taking a Break from All Your Worries"
Air date: 1/28/2007
Written by Michael Taylor
Directed by Edward James Olmos
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Many times before, I've talked about the guilt, tragedy, and unintended consequences of Gaius Baltar. It's one of the central character themes of the series. Now we have an episode that's like the ultimate culmination of and reflection upon that theme, presented as a case study that the other characters are forced to examine. The truth is more gray than they perhaps expected.
The title of the episode is "Taking a Break from All Your Worries," which is just an awful title considering the episode's content. The writers should have had the word "guilt" or "guilty" in there somewhere (which would apply to both of the show's storylines) and certainly not the words "taking a break." Perhaps "taking a break" refers to the recently erected makeshift bar called Joe's, which occupies (I hope) the non-operating flight deck, and where off-duty Galactica crew members can go to, you know, take a break from their worries — or in the case of Lee and Tyrol, take a break from their marriages. (Tyrol's toast: "To marriage — why we build bars.")
That the show's title, its trailer (at least as seen after "Rapture") and, indeed, the entire subplot are so far removed from the main thrust of Baltar's drama is something of a mystery. Make no mistake — this is an episode whose success revolves around the analysis of Baltar. As far as I'm concerned, everything else might as well be background noise.
The episode opens with an eerie nursery rhyme that's an effective stage-setter. Baltar, locked in his cell, attempts to hang himself, with the help of Imaginary Six, who kicks his footing out from under him. You could say Baltar is at least partially suicidal, but he's really hoping that he's a Cylon that will wake up downloaded to a new body. As he's hanging, he has a dream/hallucination that he's being resurrected on a Cylon ship. Ironically, even this dream turns against him, making him a victim within his own hallucination. This should come as little surprise to Baltar, who has a similar love/hate relationship with Imaginary Six.
Baltar's failed suicide attempt merely sets the stage for a battle of wills between Baltar and his interrogators, who want to know what the Cylons know about the next step in the race to Earth. Roslin also wants to use this opportunity to probe into the past. She knows Baltar was involved with Caprica Six, and she wants to know the level of his involvement in the attack on the Colonies.
The interrogation tactics are at first conventional, with varying degrees of good cop and bad cop. In one scene, Roslin plays bad cop, and the results are a little startling; you don't usually see Mary McDonnell unload with both barrels on this series, but we get to see it here. It's actually kind of a relief to see the usually soft-spoken Roslin driven into a fury, whether staged or sincere. This is a man that most blame for the horrors on New Caprica, and Roslin's line of attack is like the cathartic expression of those feelings on behalf of everyone.
Still, even under every kind of threat, Baltar does not confess his sins (in part because he doesn't feel that his sins are his own fault). Adama suggests a more radical approach involving some dangerous, experimental, hallucinogenic drugs that will put Baltar in a unique frame of mind. The drugs make the interrogators seem like a life line, where only truthful answers will allow them to throw buoys.
This leads to a haunting series of dramatically intense scenes where Baltar is tied to a gurney and pumped full of drugs and psychologically tortured. James Callis' performance makes these scenes powerful. Adama asks questions, and Baltar is forced to confront the horror of the truth. In some cases, it drives him to madness and screams.
At the center of Baltar's inner torture is Caprica Six, the woman who tricked him into betraying humanity and has haunted him ever since. Baltar's interrogation powerfully demonstrates Six's influence over him and the damage she has done to his psyche. Is she an angel or a devil? Is she leading him into darkness or the light? What is Baltar to do? He's a slave to her influence, and he doesn't even understand what she represents. And none of it is his fault.
He confesses everything: His unintentional role in being used to attack the Colonies ("Conspiracy requires intent!"), his being forced at gunpoint to collaborate with the enemy on New Caprica, and his hope that he might turn out to be one of the Final Five Cylons such that he will no longer have to live with being guilty. Cinematically, these scenes work because of their starkness and simplicity. Baltar's imagined predicament is that he's drowning alone in a dark pool of water. The images are cold and isolated, and they go a long way to making us understand how Baltar feels.
I was less enthused about the B-story involving Lee and Kara and their ongoing marriage crises. This subplot isn't badly handled per se, but it's already getting stale, and I don't think it's a good fit with the Baltar story, which is incomparably more interesting as a character study. With Lee's marriage falling apart since Dualla no longer trusts him, Lee starts coming home from Joe's drunk at night. Dee has about had it with him. Both Anders and Dee give Kara and Lee options out of their marriages. Kara even comes to Lee and asks him if he'll still leave Dee if she leaves Anders.
The point here, I think, is that Lee actually stops and takes stock of what he has with Dee versus what he might have with Kara. The way I see it, Kara's probably never going to be material for a stable relationship (God knows Anders already knows that), and I think Lee slowly comes to that conclusion here. As much as I was indifferent to this storyline, I should probably point out that all the involved parties react to the situation in a way true to their characters (Kara in an impulsive way, Lee in a rational way, etc.).
But I question the wisdom of cutting back and forth between a scene of Lee and Dualla reconciling and a scene where Gaeta questions Baltar. The Baltar scenes are so compelling as to make the marriage melodrama seem unworthy by contrast; it seems like a lame distraction from otherwise tense material.
I also question the conveniently sudden availability of the mysterious interrogation drug. Why have we never heard of it before? If the Galactica has had these drugs on hand all along, why haven't they been previously used on other prisoners, particularly Cylons?
So, no, "Taking a Break" is not perfect. But it definitely has some shining moments, and it ends by hinting that what's coming next is the trial of Gaius Baltar. He's guilty of something, but what exactly he's guilty of is still in question. As Adama notes, he's a man who could never confess to guilt, because he believes himself to be a victim, not a criminal. Where do you draw the line and where do you assign blame? I think that's what makes Baltar the intriguing conundrum that he is: He's not good for humanity, but is that really his fault?
Footnote: SciFi.com offered an online "bonus scene" in which Roslin questions Caprica Six. This scene was not in the episode but clearly should've been, particularly since any number of scenes involving Kara/Lee/Dualla/Anders could've been excised. As it is, Caprica Six is not in the episode at all, which to me is a notable oversight.
Previous episode: Rapture
Next episode: The Woman King
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32 comments on this post
Fri, Nov 2, 2007, 12:29am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 26, 2007, 6:11am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 13, 2008, 12:20am (UTC -5)
A more conventional style would no doubt have gone down easier and been safer, but I appreciate the vision of EJO here.
Sat, Mar 29, 2008, 7:44pm (UTC -5)
* Baltar's confessions only make sense to the audience, who knows the context. The only intelligible thing he said was, he didn't know what he was doing. Oh, and C-6 saved him from the explosion.
* Baltar says NOTHING about the cylon ship. Nothing about the Hybrid, about projection, about De'anna's "rez addiction," about The Five, or the virus. Not that the virus is important--just a threat to an entire race!
* By now someone should have noted that Baltar often talks to an imaginary friend. He does it during interrogation, and I'm sure he did it in his monitored cell. If nothing else, you'd ask, "is he somehow communicating with the cylons?" I mean, I'm occasionally fooled by someone with a Bluetooth, into returning what I thought was a friendly "hello." We're talking about a guy with a constant half-conversational habit.
* Why would any prisoner feel shocked and betrayed by knowing he was being monitored?
* I'm confused about Imaginary Six. If nothing else, she has functioned as a survival mechanism (construct) for Gaius. Recently, she rarely shows up for "clever advice," and her motives are inconsistent. She told Gaius he was "the chosen one."
Wed, Jul 9, 2008, 10:17am (UTC -5)
Why would he feel shocked and betrayed? He's Baltar. It's what he does.
I loved the Gauis scenes and the B-plot held my interest, but also held the episode back from being a 3.5 episode.
Mon, Jul 28, 2008, 10:34am (UTC -5)
I think a better title for this epi might be "Drowning Your Sorrows" or something. A *Cheers* reference??
Oh, and yes, I think it should be established for the viewers whether Gaius is communicating with his hallucination by thought or actual vocalization. Because if it's the latter (and it should be, considering in an earlier epi he had actually dropped trou to have sex, caught by Starbuck), then I should think that half the crew would have known about his tendency to talk to himself; making Six's behavior an instant red flag. Come on, if Cylons have these Borg-like abilities to interact with technology on the molecular level, is it such a leap in logic to believe they might actually be able to communicate "telepathically"?
And finally, I wonder what it is everyone expected Gaius to do once the Cylons occupied New Caprica. Get himself executed? What would Roslin have done? Gaius' mistake was in settling on planet - not a crime, but an act he won the election on. While I despise his motives, is it fair to label him a collaborator, when clearly the Cylons were in total control and could easily just wipe out the fleet, (and why didn't they just do that, since that's been their motive before and ever since)??? I know I know, it's only a TV show.
Thu, Feb 26, 2009, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
1. The two people that are pretty much responsible for the situation humanity is in right now are locked up in the brig and no one knows how responsible they are.
2. Considering she played a key part in almost destroying mankind what does caprica six expect to happen to her. Does she really expect by gones to be by gones and to be freed?
3. Considering Boomer and Caprica are worshipped as hero to the Cylons shouldn't Athena know what role Caprica and Baltha played on the attack on caprica? I"m assuming Athena is the same cylon present at the end of the miniseries. To be fair I still have to watch the next few episodes.
Mon, Mar 1, 2010, 11:24am (UTC -5)
I totally agree with the Lee/Kara subplot just getting in the way in this ep. James Callis definitely brought his "A" game to this ep. He did a great job.
Wed, Apr 14, 2010, 4:04am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jun 26, 2010, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
The dumb joke does kind of make sense, because at this point I'm convinced the BSG writers' room was a place with a fully stocked bar and they began every day with tequila shots. Instead of "Battlestar Galactica" they should have called this show "Drunks in Space."
Mon, Jun 27, 2011, 9:24am (UTC -5)
It does bring up a question I keep having, what exactly, did they think Baltar was supposed to do? The Cylons had complete control of the colony, was he supposed to put on supermans cape, and personally kill the baddies. The cylons even said if he didn't sign the death warrants, they would just kill Baltar and do it anyways, does Adam REALLY think Baltar had any way of stopping them?
It brings me to the biggest problem I have with the entire series, which is how Baltar "happened" to get elected literally right before they found New Caprica, and were occupied by the Cylons. Would Roslin really have been any different a president? But it sure makes it convinient for the writers or BSG. I just wish someone would ask Roslin how she would have handled it differently. For god sakes, she falsified and election, and she hates Baltar because he didn't want the 'cylons to blow his head off???
My fave line was "I had a gun to my head, you chose to serve" to Geata.
Oh, and yeah, the love square thing wasn't bad, but it was very out of place in this episode. I feel that this will all be worth it if Kara and Lee never do get together, but if in the last episode they realize they were meant to be or something, than i think this is all cheap drama. I do like the concept of never actually attaining the lvoe you desire, and if BSG stays realistic, they will never let Lee adn Kara actually be together.
Mon, Sep 12, 2011, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
And yes, Baltar should have taken a bullet the lives of 200 humans (or at least make those deaths less 'official'). It's not easy to be selfless in those circumstances, but it IS possible.
Fri, Nov 25, 2011, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
I liked seeing him manhandled and frogmarched around. Personally though, instead of trying the carrot approach through Gaeta, I would have waterboarded the mo-fo.
As far as the love quadrangle, the only person I have sympathy for is Anders. The others all deserve each other, including Dee. I bet she's wishing now she hadn't been such a bitch to Billy who would NEVER have cheated on her or broken her heart.
I concur with Brendan: Cutting to and fro between the two plots worked well.
Wed, Jan 25, 2012, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
Kara went from being my favourite character on the show to the one I now can't stand whenever she's on the screen. It was bad enough that she slept with the brother of her dead fiancee (vice versa for Apollo) the fact that she doesn't care about screwing over 3 different people with her flip flopping feelings makes her detestable. Maybe the audience is supposed to dislike her, but the bit about being chosen and now Sackhoff's flaws as an actress stand out for me. The less screen time she gets, the better.
Wed, May 2, 2012, 4:28am (UTC -5)
So Baltar just did what was necessary to stay alive, which makes him a bad person, but not a traitor. The Cyclons would have just dragged someone else in and threatened them to sign.
Sat, May 5, 2012, 5:08am (UTC -5)
Legally, killing another to save oneself is a crime. Baltar, therefore, is not merely a "bad person" but a criminal (accessory to Murder Two at best). Yeah, not a traitor, but someone who would -- on Earth -- have gotten the chair... - and rightly, too.
Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jan 30, 2013, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
I agree with many who do not like Kara. I do not like her (but I do like Dee). On the other hand, I do think Kara is realistic as a character, and I think the acting is just fine. An episode or two before, when she was playing injured in the raptor, was absolutely perfect. The trembling with pain - that can't be easy to pull off and she nails it.
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 2:37am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jan 7, 2014, 2:51am (UTC -5)
What did Baltar whisper to Gaeta?? Please tell me we are going to find out.
For the record, Doc Cottle is one of my favorite people on this show. Shades of Leonard McCoy
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
On the other hand, I thought the Baltar plot was incredibly riveting, and James Callis again gave a great performance and showed why he's my favorite character in BSG.
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
Re: Balter taking a bullet: Ain't gonna happen. Balter is about Balter and only Balter. He's an entirely self-centered SOB. And yet, (And I'm guessing here) he will be redeemed somehow. By saving humanity...?
RE: the Love Z. BORING
I don't care about any of them, except Dualla, who is a decent person. I like SciFi, and every moment spent on soap is one less spent on Scifi. But, I guess, enough Fan Boys and Fan Girls need the soap, so there you go.
Fri, Mar 6, 2015, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
In Helo's case: Hey, enough with this academic bull about moral aspects of a genocide! We're talking about survival here!
In Baltar's case: Hey, enough with this 'He needed to do it to survive.' We're talking about the holy necessity and nobility of standing on higher moral ground here!
Just something to ponder about.
Wed, Apr 29, 2015, 12:33am (UTC -5)
-- Allowing Caprica 6 access to Colonial defenses
-- Giving Boomer a pass on the Cylon detector
-- Giving a nuke to a Six
-- Giving Cylons navigational assistance
-- collaborating with the Cylons on New Caprica (he should have resigned well before the death warrant thing...)
And I'm not even charging him with being a lying, self-serving, slimy SOB.....
Thu, Sep 17, 2015, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 23, 2016, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
Before Gaius knew he was being monitored, he said he knew Gaeta was passing information along to the resistance. Heh, then Gaeta says "No you Didn't!" and Gaius says "Yes I Did!", perhaps even implying he had a hand in making certain some important documents were left were Gaeta could get them. At least, that's how I took it. And those listening heard him say that as well.
Also, I tried to listen very carefully when Baltar whispers to him, and I thought he said "I will keep your secret". I think the occupation damaged Gaeta far more than we get to see. Of all the people who could, should or would want to kill Baltar, only Gaeta has tried (albeit in the spur of the moment), and Roslin mentioned she knew he wasn't going there late at night to ask him any questions, but to kill him. Maybe when he isn't in the CIC, he has too much time to think...
I watched the prior episode, where Baltar signed his name on the death list, very closely on my recent re-watch. It seemed to me that Baltar was saying "I cannot go on like this", and was sort of all right with being shot. But Imaginary 6 was telling him something along the lines of "They are going to Shoot you", then yelled "Sign the Paper!", or something close. That startled Gaius out of his reverie and he quickly signed, almost before he knew what he was doing. Upon that view, I felt he was going to let himself get killed, and Imaginary 6 tries to keep that from happening, no matter the cost.
Finding out the episode changed after the title was written, perhaps it was supposed to be more bar-centric originally, or more throughly show how everyone has the same or similar problems. I still have the theme from Cheers running through my brain...
Peace to Everyone... RT
...You want to be where you can see, your troubles are all the saaame... you want to go where everybody knooooows your naaaaame...
Mon, Jan 7, 2019, 11:55am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 3, 2019, 4:42am (UTC -5)
Anyway, it became clear that these people are looking for a scapegoat and they found it conveniently in Baltar instead of taking some goddamn responsibility for their own doings here.
As to Lee: I really found his behavior toward Dualla appalling and unbecoming of his established character traits. Cheating on your wife cause you love someone else is one thing. But cheating on them, getting caught and then gaslighting and lying to them that they are imagining all this and that you love them actually, which we know is not true, is a whole different level of assholishness. That's where the betrayal comes in. I found Dualla's first dialogue with Lee very powerful and effective: she told him she was aware of his feelings for Kara since before she married him and called it quits. I loved how she maintained her dignity and gracefully bowed out from this dysfunctional marriage. It really elevated her character for me since there was something very unbecoming about someone who looks the other way when her husband is cheating on them.
But all that was nullfied in the later scene where Lee is buttering her up with his insincere apology and Dualla just gobbles up the bullshit Lee feeds her about loving her etc. It was just pathetic and undid everything she had achieved in the previous scene, rendering her yet another naive, love sick sap who makes bad decisions and humiliates herself for a man who doesnt give a shit about her. And Lee just sank to new depth by lying to her that he was in love with her and married her cause of that. None of which is true as evidenced by the fact that he was still fawning over Kara at the very moment he was assuring Dualla that he loved her. Wow. And both she and Anders buy it. What a bunch of idiots.
Well you know Dee, "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
Well I guess girlfriend is about to find out just how far her shame will go...
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 10:05am (UTC -5)
I'm intrigued by the scene of Balthus whispering into Gaeta's ear. This could've been about Balthus trying to sow seeds of doubt in those watching about Gaeta's role down on New Caprica. Or does he suspect Gaeta - as I now do - of being one of the Five and let him know?
I'm pretty sure Balthus has a Narcissistic Personalty Disorder and there is no dealing with such people - as his interrogators discovered.
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 10:07am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 23, 2021, 2:22am (UTC -5)
I seriously don't give a toss about Lee/Kara/Anders/Dualla's love relationship woes. I just don't particularly like or care enough about any of these characters. I cared about Odo and Kira, but I just don't find anything appealing or interesting about these characters. Lee and Anders just seem like interchangeable photogenic jocks to me. Get them in a scene where there isn't some context to clue me in, and I literally mistake one for the other. Kara has just become an unbearable bitch, and whereas I have nothing against Dualla, I don't particularly care about her either.
Roslin, after proving that she could literally go half a season without raising her voice above a whisper, has recently gone to the other extreme of deafening shouting.
This is my third time through BSG, and I seem to recall that it picks up toward the end of this season - perhaps it was getting Baltar off the Basestar - but whatever did it, I'm getting a bit impatient for it to arrive.
Fri, Mar 31, 2023, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
What did Baltar tell Gaeda to nearly get himself killed? I would think Baltar would realize upfront that a camera is on him all the time -- so I found it bizarre that things between him and Gaeda changed once he saw the camera.
This is pretty dark stuff overall. There's no semblance of the law as it applies to Baltar -- but under these circumstances ethics/morality have long been abandoned by Roslin etc. It is interesting to see how things operate in a complete moral and ethical void.
2.5 stars for "Taking a Break from All Your Worries" -- strange title for this episode. I do think Baltar gets a few things clear in his mind -- he's not a Cylon and he wants a new beginning and he doesn't give Roslin or Adama much more than a tease of more Cylon intel and certainly doesn't admit guilt. A trial is the next logical step.
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