Battlestar Galactica

"The Oath"

3.5 stars

Air date: 1/30/2009
Written by Mark Verheiden
Directed by John Dahl

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Oath" is a superb, straightforward action show that's more about the execution of individual beats of action and character than about complex storylines or mythology. Suffice it to say that it's a riveting, pulse-pounding experience that moves its pieces (i.e., characters) around with near-ceaseless momentum, where the stakes couldn't be higher and the drama couldn't be tauter. The overall vibe I get from "The Oath" — from its general action beats and nuts-and-bolts approach to showing who is where and when — is that it's a top-notch episode of 24, right down to the title cards that serve as a ticking clock. It doesn't take place in "real time," but it might as well have. This episode is a dissection of crisis management, punctuated by nice vignettes of character.

It also takes a back-to-basics approach to the series. After all the mythology in season four, "The Oath" is simply about the explosive uprising on board the Galactica and in the fleet after the weight of that mythology has come crashing down. Earth turned out to be an empty promise, and the Cylon alliance is for many the final straw. Something's gotta give, and that something appears to be the Adama/Roslin administration. Gaeta has organized an alarmingly sizable mutiny (perhaps too quickly and quietly to be believed), and has coordinated a power grab with Zarek, who is prepared to take control of the civilian government.

What's perhaps most interesting to consider about this power play is that neither Adama nor Roslin see it coming — or indeed even as a remote possibility. Consider the opening scene, where Roslin, who has practically moved into Adama's quarters and is not bothering to hide that fact, tries to offer up nuggets of advice for how Lee might handle Zarek and the Quorum — but then she backs off and insists she is not getting involved in that morass. If she had an inkling of what was about to go down, you can bet she'd be extremely involved. Assuming the power grab is ultimately put down, both Roslin and Adama are going to have a lot of hand-wringing to do: Roslin for stepping aside and creating the power vacuum that allows this to happen, and Adama for not having a better sense of the discontent festering under his command.

The Galactica mutiny is all the more scary because it seems to be so sweeping. It's not just Gaeta and a bunch of nameless marines. There are notable secondary characters we know — Racetrack, Seelix, Skulls — who are in on this. And that says something about the state of the fleet. If people who are your friends have bought into this uprising, what does that mean for the fleet at large? Perhaps that the whole thing is on the verge of coming apart.

The way the mutiny goes down is simultaneously fascinating and agonizing. We see how Gaeta has gotten all the pieces in place he needs in order to move men and weapons where he needs them, all while keeping Adama and Tigh completely in the dark. He's the one-man line of communications between CIC and the rest of the ship, and that allows him to manipulate the game and stage a series of complex ruses that would otherwise be impossible to sustain (and even here is only sustainable for so long). Galactica becomes an exploitable chessboard, with Gaeta as the gatekeeper. It's frightening how one man, given his unique position, can mastermind taking over the entire ship. The episode, in its writing and direction, is expert at showing how Gaeta's ambitious plan unfolds, and the reasons for why Adama and Tigh are blindsided by it.

Ultimately it becomes a race. How long can Gaeta keep this up? Can he get his men in place before the ruse falls apart? The story generates great suspense in the way it puts us on edge for Gaeta as well as for Adama. We of course instinctively root for Adama, but the action also keeps us invested in the progress of Gaeta's plan.

Meanwhile, the episode is ruthless in its momentum. Violence is uncorked, marines go marching, and prisoners are seized in successive-whammy scenes of high adrenaline. The resident Cylons (Caprica Six, Athena, Hera, Anders) and Helo are rounded up and thrown in a cell. The hatred and angry words are allowed to boil over, after having simmered for so long. One touch I liked: Spc. Gage (Mike Dopud), one of the Pegasus dudes who beat Helo and Tyrol with a bar of soap back in season two, appears here to grab the Agathon family from their quarters — and he makes it clear that bygones are not bygones. Gage's presence as a former Pegasus crewman, as well as Narcho's (Sebastian Spence), is in deference to poor Chief Laird (Vincent Gale), who gets a wrench to the head from Zarek, and is the first victim of the mutiny. (I'd wondered who replaced Tyrol after his demotion.)

The action is also expert at putting in place the various characters who, from the lower decks, will be instrumental in resisting the mutiny. Kara gets a show-stopper of a bitchin' scene where she rescues Lee without the slightest hesitation in using deadly force, but while still doing so discriminately. She's so pumped up by the adrenaline rush (as are we) that she says, "This is the most normal I've felt in weeks." They slide quietly through the ship attempting to make sense of the chaos, Die Hard style.

Then the marines take CIC by force. Adama's surprise to the mutiny is telling, but even more compelling is his promise to the mutineers: "If you do this, there will be no forgiveness, no amnesty." It begs the question of what the aftermath of this mutiny (again, assuming it will fail) will look like when so many people have participated in it.

Adama and Tigh are led out of CIC to the brig. In another of the episode's bitchin' moments of adrenaline, Adama and Tigh overpower the marines. I like seeing these old guys in action. This is Adama's frakking ship, and he's not going to be marched quietly into a cell. Ultimately, Adama/Tigh meet up with Kara/Lee. And Kara won't hear anything about taking prisoners. She bluntly tells Adama that it's shoot to kill here: "They are not your men anymore! They are the enemy!"

The president, meanwhile, is shocked by these developments back into action, which leads her to try to get on the air to make a personal appeal to the entire fleet, and Zarek's coup from displacing the entire establishment. The only available person with a radio capable of broadcasting this address: Baltar. There's a nice little exchange where Baltar and Roslin fence over their roles in creating this mess. Roslin to Baltar: "I never really believed in your conversion, so I was counting on your well-honed sense of self-preservation."

Roslin's appeal to the fleet got me thinking about the value of leadership. She makes her case, and it's a compelling one. People may be pissed off with the leadership that led them to the dead end that was Earth, and even more pissed off about having to ally themselves with the very Cylons that destroyed them. But what, really, is the alternative? Watching Gaeta's uneasy place in CIC as he tries to take command of Galactica only drives the point home more. Okay, so you've staged this mutiny. Assume you can take over the fleet and expel the Cylons. Then what? What is your brilliant plan from there? Where do we go?

The episode is occasionally canny in its choices of re-establishing character details: Baltar tries to appeal to Gaeta's better sense. When that fails he mentions their "little secret," the one sealed with the stab to his neck with a pen. Here, the information from the "Face of the Enemy" webisodes comes in handy.

Lee has a moment of playing devil's advocate when he makes a speech about the fleet's very real inability to put the past behind them. He rails at Tigh for being a Cylon. It's a valid point when Lee says that the destruction of humanity has left everyone with very few options. Still, just once, I'd like to get the sense that people like Lee actually understand that Tigh is not simply "a Cylon" but an individual who had absolutely nothing to do with the destruction of humanity and has fought every day for its cause. Tigh has been through every bit as much of an ordeal as any Colonial, and then some.

The overall feelings of "The Oath" are summed up with the (inevitable) ending cliffhanger, as Adama and Tigh get the president off Galactica before making what they know could be their final stand. It's well-staged action, great cinematography and editing, and Bear McCreary's score sells all of it. At its core, it's about these two lifelong military guys defending their turf against those who have abandoned them. If need be, they'll go down fighting. To Adama, Tigh is not a Cylon; Tigh is and always will be Saul Tigh: "It's been an honor serving with you, my friend."

Previous episode: A Disquiet Follows My Soul
Next episode: Blood on the Scales

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71 comments on this post

Jack Bauer
Wed, Feb 4, 2009, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
So do Starbuck and Apollo escape back into the ship before the insurgents get the Admiral and Tigh?
Joe H
Thu, Feb 5, 2009, 12:02am (UTC -5)
^^ Yes, they went with Tyrol up the ladder and closed the screening behind them shut...
Jason K
Thu, Feb 5, 2009, 6:27am (UTC -5)
I want one of those Marine rifles. Adama looked like Rambo firing it, lol.
Thu, Feb 5, 2009, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Adama's my hero...
Jack Bauer
Thu, Feb 5, 2009, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
So why didnt Adama and Tigh go with them? To buy time for Starbuck and Apollo to get into hiding?
Fri, Feb 6, 2009, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
Jack Bauer:

To protect the president's raptor and to give it time to escape. The marines were already cutting through the door before Laura's raptor even departed.

Jammer, good review. ***1/2 stars is about what I'd give it. It was an action episode through and through and it executed marvellously. It reminded me very much of Valley of Darkness from season 2 (another fantastic closed-quarters action episode). The most interesting thread for me, personally, is not Adama, Tigh, Roslin and Gaeta (although it is plenty, plenty interesting) but what will happen to Helo, Sharon, Anders and Six (and Hera!) at the hands of those Pegasus brutes.

Also, good observation on Gaeta selecting Narcho to shoot down the raptor over Hot Dog; I had forgotten that Narcho was an original Pegasusee. I guess they truly are a mutinous bunch.

One point I had a question over is Nicky. I know he's technically Hot Dog's now, but Tyrol didn't seem to have any kind of moment or show any concern for the infant being involved in this bloodbath. A minor nitpick, but we'll see what goes down.
Fri, Feb 6, 2009, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
Jack- when Tigh tells Adama he could have gone as well, Adama tells him "yeah but I couldn't have lived with it." It's like he said earlier- he'll be damned if he'll let a bunch of cowards run him off his own ship.
Fri, Feb 6, 2009, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
To me, this is a 4 starer... is it as good as "Sometimes a Great Notion"? No, but it's stop top notch BSG. "Valley of Darkness" on steroids. I always love when BSG can make an action episode that is compelling drama as well, it's an aspect of the show that has been somewhat lacking this season, as good as it has been.
Fri, Feb 6, 2009, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
By the way, the screencap on the front page should be of Adama shooting the gun at the end IMO.
Jason K
Fri, Feb 6, 2009, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
Starbuck: "Follow me.....please!"

Best line of the series, imo.
Sat, Feb 7, 2009, 12:23am (UTC -5)
I think you're being too short sighted here, Jammer. Are we sure the mutiny must fail? Are we sure neither Tigh nor Adama are dead? There are only 7 episodes left now.

What's more interesting is the way the raptor is fleeing to the basestar, a basestar that Galactica under mutineer control will soon try to attack. Perhaps this is where our main characters part company from the fleet. I wouldn't be surprised if Cavil shows up and destroys the fleet.
Sat, Feb 7, 2009, 7:03am (UTC -5)
If any episode deserves four stars it's this one!
Sat, Feb 7, 2009, 10:43am (UTC -5)

Pretty sure the mutiny must fail. Pretty sure neither Tigh nor Adama are dead. While this show lives on the edge, I don't see them killing Adama because, well, he's Adama, and I don't see them killing Tigh when they've yet to deal with the Ellen situation. Ergo, the mutiny must fail. But assumptions can always be wrong.

I have not seen "Blood on the Scales" yet. Will see that today, probably.
Sat, Feb 7, 2009, 11:15am (UTC -5)
This episode was outstanding - probably in my top 10 and maybe even top 5 favourites (along with Maelstrom, Crossroads and Sometimes A Great Notion). Just one quibble though, which Jammer highlights - that the mutiny is organised "perhaps too quickly and quietly to be believed". I find it hard to believe that Gaeta could win this many people over to his side without word of his plans leaking out to Adama and co.
Jack Bauer
Sat, Feb 7, 2009, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
No im wondering why Adama and/or Tigh didnt go with Starbuck and Apollo. I know why they didnt get on the raptor. But I guess they have to buy time for SB and Lee to get into hiding so they can eventually rescue them.

Suffice to say though, a lot of people are going to die in the next few weeks. I think Grace Park said 30,000 but she could have been kidding.

Id like to know who was involved in the firefight in the lower levels and why civilians/randon crew werre being killed. Were Gaeta's marines just going on a kill crazy rampage?
Sun, Feb 8, 2009, 12:12am (UTC -5)
I still think Adama didn't run with Lee and Kara because he wasn't about to be forced to run from his own men on his own ship.
Sun, Feb 8, 2009, 7:11am (UTC -5)
I don't like how this is being summed up as an action episode. It's not like there were any big shoot-outs. The violence was in short bursts, such as Laird getting whacked and Starbuck saving Lee. I'd give the episode a full 4 stars for showing utter pandemonium on a tense and aggonising scale that we've never seen before. The last half of the 4th season has been about the weight of the revelations and decisions bearing down on the characters, and how they react to it. Apathy on the part of Roslin, ignorance on the part of Adama and now mutiny on the part of the crew.

The way characters turned on eachother was truly painful to watch, and I liked the little nods to previous history such as Gage's issue with Helo. It felt big - Adama's warning about no forgiveness, Roslin going to the Baseship, etc. I just can't wait to see how this all turns out. And we still have Cavil's forces to worry about. They're a complete non-factor at the moment, which should make their inevitable return all the more exciting.
David Payne
Sun, Feb 8, 2009, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
I think it was still an action episode, despite most of it being implied. I have to say I'm not a big fan of action on this show - at least not the gunfight variety - so I didn't find it quite as gripping as some people (I feel the same about Valley of Darkness). But I'm really interested in where this is going. I don't think we can rule anything out this late in the game - finding Earth in episode ten has opened everything up.

Jammer, one question: I've noticed you mention 24 a lot in your reviews, and I was wondering, do you still find it compelling? Personally I loved that show when it started but I've become really bored watching the same stuff playing out every single week of every single season. The shows really on autopilot.
Jack Bauer
Sun, Feb 8, 2009, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
24 needs to be put down. Season one was so incredible, it was so personal that you felt for Jack. There is nothing that indicates to me why Jack is doing what he does. The show follows the same formula. You have your base of operations doing whatever they do, you have your antagonists who dont seem to trust Jack, you have your bad acting President who is always keep up to date so it gives the veiwers a recaps, and you always have a trendy device/plot device (nuclear football/virus/CIP device)
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 12:42am (UTC -5)
24 has definitely lost a lot in recent seasons. I think it worked for the first five seasons, and I think the fourth season was the most cohesive and consistent in terms of a structured thriller. But season six was a mess and a rehash, and season seven so far has felt like more of the same. The problem, I think, is that the show has become boxed in by its own structure and conventions and by what its real-time format permits, and it is content to repeat those conventions. I still enjoy watching it, but don't see how it ever becomes fresh again the way BSG always seems to be able to reinvent itself.

I still stand by the assertion that "The Oath" is first and foremost an action show. It has a lot of movement of people around the ship and it is very detailed in how it shows the mutiny being carried out -- the hows and the wheres and the whens. It's action.
Jason K
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 6:32am (UTC -5)
24 has been on for seven seasons? Who knew?
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 3:07pm (UTC -5)

I'm moving your post to the location for the "Blood on the Scales" review. It will not be visible (except in the RSS feed) until I put up the page for that review.

A reminder to all: Please don't post comments that talk significantly about episodes that come AFTER the episode on whose page you're posting. The idea is to keep all pages mostly spoiler-free of anything that comes after the current episode's review. I realize this means you may have to hold your comments for up to a week on the newest episodes. Sorry for that.

Mack the Knife
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Season 4.5 starts off with 3 low budget "bottle shows" that due to the strength in writing/acting have been some of the best TV on air. I can't wait to see the money episodes coming up!

24 should have ended on episode 13 season 1. Fox took over the direction of the show after that.
David Payne
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
I agree that Fox seem to be running 24!

Is "Sometimes a great notion" really a bottle show? It had some great location footage.
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
David- the three bottles are Disquiet, Oath, and Blood.
Mack the Knife
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Good point on sometimes. I forget that location shoots can be pricey.
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Ok Jammer, my mistake and thanks for moving the post.
Tue, Feb 10, 2009, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
I agree with some of the comments here that having Adama and Tigh make a stand in the hanger bay is silly and rings false. Whether or not they are standing there, Roslin and the Raptor get off. It would have made sense for them to booby-trap the door and head out with Lee and Kara. It only allows for the drama of the cliffhanger and for Adama to clearly say he still unconditionally (as much as anything can be) considers Tigh a comrade, Cylon or no. That's not enough to excuse being stupid, I think.
Tue, Feb 10, 2009, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
...Am I really the only one who thinks Adama stayed behind because of his pride? Because he wouldn't let his own cowardly men make him run away on his own ship?
Tue, Feb 10, 2009, 4:54pm (UTC -5)

No, you're not. For practical purposes, Adama (and Tigh) DID stay behind to protect the president's raptor. People say it makes no sense, but the truth is that Kelly's marines were breaking down the bay door before the raptor had even secured for launch. Adama was definitely defending the legal president's (and his woman's) attempt to escape, but, as he said earlier to one of his turn-coat marines, "I'm not gonna let a guy like you run me off my own ship." There was a lot going on in that last scene and Adama's pride was certainly one of them.
Wed, Feb 11, 2009, 5:12am (UTC -5)
I think the biggest problem with the latest plot of 24 is how they let Brannon Braga write it. What were they thinking?

CIP device? I assume the name came from Braga fudging the term TCP/IP. A single firewall for a government uber network that cannot be disabled? Pilots that don't do any thinking for themselves? Industrial facilities of private companies controllable on this government uber network? Pressure safety valves that can be locked closed by computer control?
Jason K
Wed, Feb 11, 2009, 6:03am (UTC -5)
I feel bad for Tigh. Especially the way Lee and some of the others have just grouped him up with the other Cylons. He should have repeated to Lee what he told the other three Cylons about being the person you want to be. Meanwhile, Lee doesn't seem to have a problem with Tyrol.
Wed, Feb 11, 2009, 9:33am (UTC -5)
Seriously, I've had enough Brannon Braga hate to last me a lifetime. Now we're going to blame him for the contrivances on 24? As if the CIP device is any different than the override device in season 4, or probably any technology contrivance that's a given on the show? Let it go.
David Payne
Wed, Feb 11, 2009, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
Jammer that's pretty much what I was going to post if I'd had time this morning. The tech aspects of 24 have been handled badly since about season 3. It's been one of my other gripes. Not only do we have the silly contrived plotlines, such as the CIP device, but the general idea that everything in the world of 24 is dominated by technology and you can't do a thing without being a technology expert.
Jack Bauer
Wed, Feb 11, 2009, 4:13pm (UTC -5)
Season 1 of 24 was the best. Hands down, no questions asked. Go back and watch that and then watch season 4. Season 1 had a planned plot, it had feel of continuity, and most of all it was personal to the characters. The show nowadays lack that personal attachment to the characters like it used to. I dont care if 100,000 americans die. Bring it on. nuke a few cities while were at it. That doesnt add to the drama. Its the drama with characters that made it compelling.
David Payne
Wed, Feb 11, 2009, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Absolutely right. Although, when I re-watched season 1 recently, it was still spoiled a little by having seen the same forumla used so often in the later seasons.
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
I always maintained they should have stopped 24 after the first season. I was a huge fan of the first season - it was a televisual masterpiece. Groundbreaking stuff. I went into season 2 with middling expectations and ended up stopping watching it just under halfway through. It had turned into ridiculous pantomime. Absurd contrivances, and characters having stupid arguments for no reason other than to create drama - it was like a daytime soap opera. Plus they turned great characters like Sherry and Nina into shallow pantomime villains. And Kim, having been fairly resourceful, sharp and pragmatic in season 1, turned into a stock "peril" character who caused all her own problems.
Malnurtured Snay
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 8:54pm (UTC -5)
"People say it makes no sense, but the truth is that Kelly's marines were breaking down the bay door before the raptor had even secured for launch."

No -- the Raptor was gone before the Marines arrived to force the door open. It was Adama's pride.
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 10:42pm (UTC -5)
Yes. They were breaking in before the raptor launched.
Joe H
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Ok, lets end this once and for all (unless there's doubt on me). Based on my recording times...

56:47 - Lee, Starbuck, Tyrol, Adama, Ty arrive, kiss, etc
57:44 - Tyrol receives warning on approaching marines
57:52 - Adama makes decision to stay, Ty refuses to leave
58:11 - Lee, Starbuck, Tryol close the screening door
58:15 - launch sequence initiated, blast doors to hallway sealed
58:21 - marines arrive, Ty works on sealing door
58:25 - Baltar requests the President to get on board
58:30 - marines start the blowtorch
58:36 - hatch door to raptor closes
58:42 - hatch door seals
58:52 - raptor away
59:42 - (after Gaeta cut) Adama claims "he couldn't have lived with it" in response to Ty saying he could have left
59:59 - Adama fires shots

Anyway, Adama stayed to give the ship time to get away and because he couldn't have lived with himself - pride. Both correct.
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
Note: The "Blood on the Scales" review will not be posted today. I'm currently in an upstate country resort with no intention to write until probably after the weekend. On the agenda today: Tour a winery. Think Paul Giamatti in "Sideways." Or not.

I'll be back on schedule next week.
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
I hope you took Sideways to be a cautionary tale...!

Enjoy your weekend!
Jason K
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 2:50pm (UTC -5) You need to get that review uo today! How else can I rationalize my thoughts before the next episode? Jeez, Jammer, you're frakking me here. lol
Fri, Feb 13, 2009, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
To quote Mac the Knife, "24 should've been canceled after episode 13."

Sorry to reply to an off-topic subject, but that is EXACTLY HOW I FEEL! The second half of season 1 I found so unbelievable as to the revelation of who some of the characters were. I stuck through season 2, and abandoned ship.

Never understood how the show remained so popular.
Sat, Feb 14, 2009, 3:49am (UTC -5)
I kind of agree. While I think season 1 still stands up as a whole, the second half is definitely weaker than the first. It's 5am to midday that everyone remembers.
David Payne
Sat, Feb 14, 2009, 7:06am (UTC -5)
Well I don't want to comment too much on an off topic subject either, but it's refreshing to find a so many like minded people on here - but this is a BSG comment thread so what do I expect? I've never understood the praise or increasing ratings that 24 continues to get. Sometimes I feel like I'm completely out of tune with everyone else.
Sat, Feb 14, 2009, 7:23am (UTC -5)
David, I feel exactly the same. The people who read and comment on this site generally talk a lot of sense. They're critical viewers, not passive consumers. I've also been pleasantly surprised at the mature and insightful level of discussion - it's a complete breath of fresh air compared with other forums.

The main problem with a show like 24 - as is also the case with The Simpsons and has been for over a decade - is that you can't cancel a hit show. Purely for commercial reasons. As long as it gets the ratings and thus pulls in the advertisers, you have a cash cow on your hands. Inevitably, before long, possible plots are used up, actors move on, writers move on, sharks are jumped, and potential is squandered. And eventually, what used to be an original, compelling series becomes ilttle more than a commercial product churned out week after week, season after season, with little love or artistry - designed purely to fill an hour of premium airtime which advertisers can buy slots in and sell their products to you.

Most people aren't discerning. They'll watch pretty much anything, as long as it has enough explosions/guns/plot twists/hot chicks/hot guys/murders/special effects/bright flashy colours in. And if they're watching, advertisers are paying.
Mon, Feb 16, 2009, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
I don't think 24 should've been canceled after the first half of season 1. I tend to agree with Jammer that the first five seasons over all were quite good, although some were significantly better than others (the stuff from about 1 pm to 6 pm in season 1 seemed like filler). Season 6 kind of sucked. Season 7 so far has been an enjoyable ride, but I don't think the show will ever recapture the awesomeness of the first few seasons.
Tue, Feb 17, 2009, 11:40am (UTC -5)
The problem is that it's getting a little repetitive. I mean so far in season 7, I watched with incredulity during the CIP stuff, but when we got back to serious stuff with the First Gentlemen, I couldn't help but feel I've seen it all before.
Nick M
Tue, Dec 1, 2009, 9:17am (UTC -5)
I just finished watching the series, from start to finish (started when I got the complete DVD set on my birthday at the end of Oct.) and "The Oath" hit me hard.

I could accept that Geata was part of it, and the refugees from Pegasus, but seeing Racetrack (ok, I admit I have always liked her - it started because I think she is pretty damn hot, after Grace Park she is my favorite female from a libido point of view) and Skulls involved.

That hurt because while minor characters they were still pretty fleshed out and part of the team. My being hurt by their betrayal just shows why BSG may be not only the best sci-fi show I have ever seen, but in the top of ANY type of show. BSG is what Voyager could have been - about characters and survival (really, aside from Paris and Torres, how many people got married or anything when they thought they'd be in the Delta Quadrant for the rest of their lives?).

Sorry...this episode was to me **** because it just rang true after the pain of Earth and everything they went through people got PISSED.

Great stuff. (I just said a lot of nothing didn't I?)
Wed, Jul 13, 2011, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Let me guess, Gaeta will get off scot free.
To say that this show doesn't punish villains would be an understatement. No individual antagonist has been punished on-screen unless he had repented just before.
The disgusting scum that was Admiral Cain (even with her own movie I will not see her as anything else) was killed only after she refused to kill Adama. Leoben got his faith crushing revelation only after he became buddy-buddy with Starbuck.
Caprica 6 is considered a protagonist now, and is expecting a Cylon Savior.
Even with the Resurrection Hub destroyed, we don't see a reaction from the non-rebel Cylons.
So, no. Whatever Adama says about "reckoning", Gaeta will not be killed as a villain, regardless of how many people dies in his coup. I'm thinking, he'll trade the ship for his life.
And no one is touching Zarek.
Nick P.
Fri, Sep 16, 2011, 8:47am (UTC -5)
I think there are elements to disagree with Gaeta taking the ship so fast, I just "assume" that there was a significant time gap between this and the last episode. Dramatically, I am with Adama and crew, but frankly, that is only because of directoral manipulation, if you look at the situation from the standpoint of anybody but Adama and his cronies, I can't blame Gaeta one damn bit. I don't know how anyone can listen to Leoben and Caprica on the base-star and trust the cylons for one second.

If I had been on the BSG for real, I would definatlely have taken up arms with Gaeta. I can't wait to see how this turns out because I don't think Adama is in the right. He lied about Earth, found out it was real, and than it was a nuclear wasteland, and that doesn't count the 1000 other shady things he has done.
Fri, Nov 25, 2011, 9:10am (UTC -5)
Don't they have a stun setting on this show? Or Tasers?
Fri, Dec 2, 2011, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
Adama is outrageous: The highest military commander schtupping the highest civilian commander without a hint of shame. And that after he upbraided Tigh for porking Six when she was in jail, and holding forth about the necessity of sound judgment. It's official: I detest Adama now more than ANY other character, human or cylon.

Speaking of Adamas, who put Junior in charge of the Quorum in the absence of Zarek?

I didn't appreciate the writers making Zarek kill the deck Chief, and then have a confrontation with Gaeta. That made him look like the bad guy ab initio and undermined his cause (not in my view, but that's how it was supposed to come across).

I also hated how Kara--in good old Hollywood fashion--comes out at the last possible second and saves Lee from what seemed like certain death. And all because whoever was going to waste him thought it would be a good idea to give a little speech beforehand. Seen it a million times before; boring. I wish B.S.G. had had enough courage to have Lee popped. It IS, after all, almost the end of the series. I guess Helo wasn't important enough to avoid being captured.

The entire "drama" following Kara/Lee as well as Baltar was tired and hackneyed. We all knew how it was going to end: They'll be more or less successful in their mission and waste a couple of "bad guys" in the process. It was so old and predictable that I was fervently willing for them to not make it, and to hell with the wider repercussions. Basically, the entire mutiny was portrayed extremely tendentiously and was full of pathetic cliches. If this wasn't B.S.G., I'd have fast-forwarded to the end of the show.

Roslin's little broadcast to the Fleet made me want to retch; it was the phoniest, most saccharine self-serving pile of garbage I heard in a long time. And whatever barf I had left from that I projected when Adama frenched Roslin before she embarked the escape shuttle. Was that supposed to be moving, romantic, triumphant? It was none of it: They were just two errant old losers, despots... - reminded me of the Ceausescu couple more than anything else.

Baltar is the most positive thing that came out of the mess: His outing Roslin as a fraud, and that amusing clip of him and the woman with the statue :)))))))

* * *

Usually, even if I dislike the direction an episode takes, I admire it for inciting strong sentiments in me. With this one I feel what I felt after watching movies such as "Speed": Utter contempt and disappointment. Maybe I'm too blinded by my distaste for the "action" sequences to appreciate the other points adverted to by Jammer and others, but I'd go so far as to classify this as the WORST episode of the series.
Sun, Jan 12, 2014, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
I usually don't presume to challenge your ratings, Mr Jammer. But, wow, this one really deserved four stars. I was completely absorbed by this episode. (I meant to do some work on my computer while watching this, needless to say I got very little done).

I really REALLY hope that Roslin and Adama do not let this one slide as they have in the past (specifically New Caprica). Gaeta and his followers need to, at the very least, be transferred over to that prison spaceship. Although I'd be perfectly happy with them going out the airlock.

Adama rocking the machine gun, kissing his lady before she takes off. This is the stuff of the big screen.

Got to watch the next one immediately.
D. Albert
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
"It's been an honor serving with you, my friend."

And that says it all. Homo Sapien. Cylon. All too human.
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 1:24am (UTC -5)
As I pointed out in my comments on ADFMS, we don't really know the relationship between the military and civilian govt. Adama may be perfectly within his rights to challenge a civilian who questions a military order. Civilians may appoint admirals, but have little authority over the military (kinda like the Supreme Court). And the fleet is hardly at peace. Adama has authority over military matters -- and may get to decide what is a "military matter".

And you really dislike Roslin. But she (somehow) is the legal President after Zarek stepped down after New Caprica. So, do you think there's a more popular candidate? I can't imagine Baltar would get much popular vote. Though he has his fringe devotees (I'll refrain from drawing any comparisons to current Presidential politics). Zarek -- maybe, but I think Roslin would still beat him in a head-to-head race.

But we could talk "who should be President" (since democracies are notorious for not getting the officials they need). Yep, Laura's dirty. But cleaner than Zarek and definitely cleaner than Baltar. I'd vote for Helo as the "cleanest" character on the show. I disagreed with him on the genocide virus (I probably would have used it), but still had to respect his motives.

So... who gets your vote?
Tue, Sep 15, 2015, 3:52am (UTC -5)
I'm currently rewatching the show, and am still in Season 3 (near the end though). At this stage, I'd gone from equanimity toward Roslin to intense hatred to a more moderate dislike and even neutrality. I can't recall now what she or Adam (Sr. or Jr.) go on to do to make me despise them as I do in my comment above, so I might revisit this when I get to this episode.

To answer your question though: I don't know! That's the thing with humans: Not one of us is perfect. We all did something that ticked off someone at some point. We all have skeletons in our closets. There's not a single character on the show I'd extol as being consistently virtuous and who never put a foot wrong. As you say, Helo is the most simpatico, but he has that HUGE blot on his character from when he forwent the chance to annihilate the cylons. Real life is the same: I'd love to have a first female President, but Hillary rubs me all the wrong way. She just feels smarmy. I could warm up to old Bern if only he wasn't a damn Commie. And the G.O.P.? Oy vey! I like Christie (who doesn't stand a chance) and Bush (but do I really want a third Bush in the White House in my own damn lifetime!?!). Trump's trump card is his relentless persecution by the media, which endears him to me. Too bad he's a dumbass in many other ways though. The less said about the likes of Huckabee, Jindal, and Cruz (barf, barf, BARF!), the better.

Maybe that's our problem and that is why America is so polarized. We seek perfection, and all those who do not espouse the exact same values and policies as we become our foes, ranging from iffy (Cruz vs. Bush difference) to implacable, mortal, traitorous enemies (Cruz vs. Clinton difference). Life is mostly about compromises; it's time people reconnected with that reality.

Having said all that, why not look further afield at candidates not tainted by past political or military indiscretions? How about a Quorum member? Not that we know jack about any of them :)
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
Just gone thru this episode again, and I've a few observations:

#1: The religious mumbo-jumbo in Seasons 3 and 1/2 of 4 did not grate on me nearly as much as they did on the first watching of the show. I wonder why...

#2: I am, however, even more nauseated by this particular episode this time around than I was when I made my comment the first time. What's even more astonishing is how, other than Nick P., everybody here seems to have fallen for the Adama-good/mutineers-bad dichotomy served up by the show's producers. We can daily see the unthinking masses falling wholesale for spoon-fed propaganda from select media outlets, but I expected better from us gang of critically-thinking misfits on here. Can it be possible that NOBODY sees anything wrong with the sleazy, smarmy faux-dynastic Adama-Roslin totalitarianism?!? And you guys are among the first to protest most vocally when there is even an appearance of undemocratic practices in real life. Tsk-tsk.

Roslin was never, EVER elected into office! Ponder than for a second. Neither was Adama Jr. Yet, they've both been installed, by Adama Sr. (who is porking the former and is the father of the latter) to head the civilian government a number of times. Cheese and rice, I mean, honestly! Oh, and that civilian government is deferred to when headed by a protege of Senior but roundly ignored, disbanded or arrested when not. Roslin and Adama are the ones calling the shots, usually after a roll on the hay. Why, then, pretend there IS a civilian government at all?!?

I would not have mutinied; rather, I'd have agitated for a mass resignation of the Quorum. That way it would have become obvious to the Fleet that it was run by a military dictatorship, which, indeed, is how it SHOULD be run in time of war.

#3: The shot extolled by many here of Adama badassing the assault rifle at the end? Guys, that's not how you shoot a godsdamn rifle. Holding it at the hip you'll barely be able to hit the bulkhead, let alone the little slit the marines were beginning to pry open on the other side. You hold the rifle at your shoulder. Adama, of all people, would and should have known that. Amateurs...

So yeah... Adama Jr.: BARF. Roslin: BARF BARF. Adama Sr.: BAERF BARF BARF BARF BARF.
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
The first time around, if watched live, has such long gaps between season 1 and 4, that people seem to have forgotten how baked in religion was to the plot, from the very beginning. Rewatching lets you watch it straight through, which means that you see this more clearly and so it doesn't seem like it is coming out of left field.
Tue, Nov 8, 2016, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
What I find most fascinating about this show is that over the many years since it came out, I have watched and re-watched the entire show several times. However, as I grow older and my opinions about the world and about how things are run become more solidified, my reaction to the show changes.

Six years ago I thought that Adama and Roslin were the go-to good guys. Always doing whats right, and that Kara Thrace was the coolest hot-shot pilot since Maverick. When he takes back the CiC from that traitor rat Gaeta I cheered.

Now, however, I've really grown to dislike Adama, hate Roslin and despise Kara. The thing is that Gaeta and the rest of the fleet are absolutely right in this situation. It should be the fleets decision whether or not they want Cylon technology implemented on their ships and honestly it should be the civilian governments decision whether to allow the Cylons asylum in the fleet.

Whenever the civilian government doesn't suit them, they abandon it, and whenever it does suit them, they allow them to continue. Adama is a tyrant, plain and simple. He's no different than Castro or Chavez or Stalin. You don't obey his orders? Even if you're a duly elected representative of your people who is supposed to have a say? Well frack you, here come the marines to ensure your cooperation.

Roslin is no better. She uses the military to prop up her rule, never planned to hold elections until forced to, is filled with hate and rage, orders people killed without a second thought. She's a cold, calculating bitch with no love for anyone. Even her love for Adama is, in my opinion, just a way to fully cement her civilian power.

The older I grow, the more I agree with Baltar's message in "My Triumphs, My Mistakes". The elites rule the fleet with an iron fist and they'll never relinquish that control.

Shooting Gaeta at the end of the episode was the final straw for me. Adama forgives and forgive and forgives, including forgiving the cylons for murdering 50 billion humans, but when it comes to Gaeta? Nope. Put him down like a dog because he actually cares about law, order and the right of the civilian fleet to tell the Cylons to take a hike.

Nah, I'm not an Adama fan anymore. The rose tinted glasses are off now.
Tue, Nov 8, 2016, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
A superlative analysis. Couldn't agree more, especially because I underwent a "journey" similar to yours.
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 7:56pm (UTC -5)
Did I mention how much I fucking hate Starbuck? They should have kept that bitch dead...she is annoying as hell, unpleasant, unlikable and a real jerk.
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
@Hourglass: I competently agree. If there is one thing I got out of watching Battlestar Galactica then it is that humanity is not worth saving. Episode after episode you see these people do horrible things to each other. In fact, they spend more time murdering each other than going after the actual enemy, the cylons, that by the end of the show you just find yourself rooting for the cylons. Just a few examples:

- The apparently super duper popular captain Adama once threatens to execute his officer's wife because he is leading a strike for improved working conditions of a peoples who have been working the refinery since day one and are not allowed respite unless they want a bullet in their heads.

- A group of vigilantes get together every day and votes on who they think committed treason and then they pick that person up and throw him out of an airlock. They do that with over a dozen people and when Adama and the president find out, they do absolutely nothing about it. I mean here you got about half a dozen officers and crew members, one of whom is the CO and second command, execute people based on their own private tribunal and the so called honorable leaders dont to anything about it? It was mind boggling.

- They torture, abuse and then wanna execute Baltar alleging that he collaborated with the enemy. In reality, the man was nothing more than the leader of a puppet government controlled by the cylons. He had no say over what they did to Caprica Two. The cylons, literally, put a gun to his head and said they would pull the trigger if he didnt follow orders. But Adama and the president refuse to see that. They spend episode after episode joking about how much more they would love to see Baltar suffer and how they can come up with a quick (kangaroo) trial and verdict to send him out of the airlock asap.

- The rule of law is only selectively applied, if it is applied at all. See Baltar's sham of a trial. Lee made the best speech when he pointed out it was a trial based on emotion and conjecture. As Adama himself said, he didnt even think Baltar deserved a trial. Adama is actually the quintessential authoritarian shitlord. At best a "benevolent" tyrant but a tyrant no less. If you recall at one point he just wanted to put an end to the trial altogether cause he didnt like the way Lee was questioning his girlfriend.

It is like for these people the rule of law and such are just inconveniences they are willing to tolerate as long as it produces the results they want. But it is at their discretion and they reserve the right to bypass it , and the democratic process altogether, if it suits them. Roslin often doesnt even want to address the other civilian leaders and rolls her eyes, like they were this nuisance. She is annoyed that she has to keep justifying her actions to the people under her.

- When Roslin was on the cylon ship held hostage, Adama just refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of Zarek as the VP. He just refused and then put his fucking son in charge and appointed him president. Again, straight from the authoritarian's rule book. Nepotism. Put your family members in charge of top government positions. And everyone was supposed to find THAT acceptable?

It goes on and on. You got one irredeemable worthless, morally bankrupt character after another; you see what they do to the few loyal cylons who, for all intent and purposes, are sentient beings (rape for fun, torture, murder, give them forced abortions...) and you are appalled.

On the one hand they outlaw abortion cause there are so few humans left, on the other hand their punishment for nearly every crime is execution. Seriously, almost every transgression is punished by death.

Halfway through you realize that as much as these people have made the cylons into this big bad thing that is ruining their humanity, in reality they are doing it to themselves, which, ultimately, begs the question as to why humanity is worth saving in the first place. If anything someone should warn Earth they're coming.

The only two decent characters on the show are Sharon and Carl. But by and large you kinda lose all sympathy for the rest of these garbage nightmares of people and their "cause" and actually end up rooting for the cylons,..
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
...oh and Zarek. I actually always liked him. Never believed him to be out of line or unreasonable. Or power hungry and all the things that bitch Roslin accuses him of. In fact, they would insult him to his face many times and he'd take it. Always polite, classy. But no, na ah. He was considered a terrorist to never be trusted. Adama couldnt even stomach the idea of him in charge. for a few weeks. But he had no problem making a tight alliance with a bunch of genocidal murdering cylons. Zarek maybe got a few people killed - UNFORGIVABLE. Cylons commit genocide and nearly annihilate the human race: they become allies.

And by the way, how do these fools make an alliance with the cylons and take them all the way to Earth? Hadnt they done that after the first war where they left for 40 years and then came back? What makes these idiots think they wont do it again? And why bring them with you to the safe haven you were seeking after they destroyed your world? And then murdering your own few remaining human beings for this ill conceived alliance? Good grief...
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 2:41pm (UTC -5)
Another interesting comment but I cannot agree with you. Two main points come to mind:

(1) The fact that you feel so strongly is a testament to B.S.G.'s genius, I think. Many, even long-running, T.V. shows tend to leave me blase. I spend the forty-odd minutes following the story, pausing every once in a while as I do something else, and once the closing credits come on I forget all about it. B.S.G. consistently managed to provoke powerful feelings in me, that lasted well beyond the end of an episode. Its characters were also depicted very, very well in that each and every one of them is flawed. There is none of the one-dimensional cookie-cutter nondescript personages we see so often on all kinds of shows. Here, we tend to fall in, then out of love with pretty much every major character at different times before--as you did--seemingly giving up on the whole damn bunch of them, having realized that none is the hero paragon we came to expect. I reckon that is one of the the show's greatest assets.

(2) You are projecting our modern, peacetime values on the situation that befell the humankind in B.S.G.-verse. Yes, in the 21st-century America we expect a consistent application of the rule of law, equality before the law, separation of powers, checks-and-balances, accountability, transparency, etc. However, even in a state of war, let alone an existential conflict, such niceties (rightly) go out the window. You do (and by "you" I mean whoever garners the strength and/or confidence to emerge as the holder of power) whatever seems expedient at the time in order to prevail. Today, for instance, we may deplore the Allies' leveling of Dresden or obliteration of Hiroshima, but back then they were necessary and probably for the best. Again though, not many shows lend themselves to this kind of a pretty profound discussion, so I would extol B.S.G. on that count also.
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
@Michael: I agree with your first point. I never said this was a bad show. I love this show. And the fact that it can polarize people and create strong emotions and make you think about the harder questions is fantastic. But that still doesnt change the things I described above.

About your second point: the key is consistency. I understand that matters of national security are always used by the state to justify curtailing freedoms and bypassing the democratic process. It is the age old cry of the oppressor. I get it.

But if that is the case, then all Adama and Rolsin had to do was make that very clear, declare martial law from the beginning and not bother with the Quorum of 12 and pretense at democracy altogether. But they didnt. They gave people the impression that they had a say, that their concerns mattered but then went behind their backs and repeatedly applied laws and rules selectively and when it personally suited them and their agenda. Cylons are forgiven for annihilating tens of billions of people but Gaeta and Zarek are put in front of a firing squad without hesitation for essentially not being ok with this arrangement.

Roslin and Adama are the reason the situation escalated as it did. They refused to hear peoples' concerns, they refused to listen and so people got desperate. When you deal with insurgents and unrest, the goal should always be containment, not radicalization.

Even in war time and under such extraordinary circumstances as the BSG finds itself, the reality is that you still have a populace to deal with - be it 10,000 people, 50,000 or 5 million. And if you are just brutal with them and rule with a strong hand of a tyrant, they burn out. But you need them - you need their support, you need their man power, their efforts, their good faith and so they dont start mutinies. All those things, in turn, help create a strong, united front against the enemy. As they say, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

I think Adam and Roslin have done a lousy job. The only person who even remotely made an attempt at genuine containment and inclusion and brought some integrity to the system was Lee.
Sat, Jun 22, 2019, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
love how 24 discussion overtook this with some hatorade for Brannon Braga
Fri, Jun 12, 2020, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
On rewatch, I'd give this 4 stars. Watching seasons 3 and 4 knowing where Gaeta winds up here has made it seem
incredibly inevitable-- some serious steady character work and fulfillment here. I also loved the touch of Gaeta sitting down and frakkin with starbuck in the mess hall like she did in Collaborators. Both stained and untrusted outsiders at the time.

I always smile and chuckle when Roslin says "Frakking Zarek- he always had dangerous ideas!" I mean, yes...
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
A throughly gripping episode. I wonder what might have happened had the Pegasus survived. It would have been interesting to then have a counter coup on the Pegasus, and that ship held by Adama loyalists and a standoff between the two vessels (as seen before, but which was aborted).

I am glad to have seen several Marines stay loyal to Adama. Though wasn't sure about Galactica's security protocols given the ease with which Gaeta managed to cripple communication. I would have thought an immediate Red Alert when communications went down, rather than sending a shipman to go and check out the supposed fire.
Sun, May 21, 2023, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
Said it before -- if the Cylons just leave the humans alone, they'll destroy themselves. This is pretty good mutiny stuff, how it all goes down, with Gaeta's status in the series taking a huge step up. Best part is when he arrests Adama for treason and Adama and Tigh are led out of CIC. But otherwise, it's pretty mechanical and the mechanics are well-paced and riveting. I wonder if we see Gaeta uncertain under the strain of command -- like the pause he makes before ordering the fighter with Roslin, Lee, Kara, Baltar, etc. destroyed. Actually thought of Harry Kim in "Nightingale".

What is good is that given all that BSG has built up over 3.5 seasons, there's logic to each side's arguments about not willing to align with the rebel Cylons, but also Roslin's speech about being at a crossroads in the journey and the Cylons represent the last hope for humans.

It's a bit much to think Adama and Tigh can simply overpower their guards on the way to the brig -- but something like that is part and parcel of these kinds of episodes. It's interesting how basically all the main characters are on 1 team and just Gaeta and Zarek for the basis for the other team -- pretty clear who has to "win", though the ending seems hopeless for Adama and Tigh in yet another good cliffhanger.

3 stars for "The Oath" -- such an episode can only come late in a series to make the stakes worthy and this much action hold my interest consistently. It does seem a bit sudden for Gaeta/Zarek to raise the amount of support needed to mount a mutiny but that could be why it may fall apart quickly, especially if people buy into Roslin's message. An implosion within humanity has always been in the cards for BSG, and this is good stuff here.

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