Battlestar Galactica

"Blood on the Scales"

3 stars

Air date: 2/6/2009
Written by Michael Angeli
Directed by Wayne Rose

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Blood on the Scales" is a suspenseful and effective hour, but notably inconclusive. While it wraps up the overall events as put forth in last week's superb and exciting "The Oath," it does not put to rest half of the many issues raised there. This episode is satisfying as a resolution to the action and as the final word on some of its characters, but it does not live up to "The Oath." And it is my sincerest hope that what happens here is not the end of the story concerning this earth-shaking mutiny.

"The Oath" was a great cliffhanger because it was an action-oriented meditation on character (Adama/Tigh and their defiant last stand on the basis of principle; Adama/Roslin and their parting of ways, in their minds possibly forever) and it made you thirst for more. It was not an OMFG cliffhanger in the sense that I wondered whether Adama and Tigh were still alive at the end (because I didn't). Pretty obviously, that had to be a non-lethal stun grenade that the marines threw into the airlock, designed to disable but not kill them.

So if this episode's pickup is the fairly obvious sight of marines taking them into custody, there is the cliffhanger's ace in the hole: the exciting conclusion to Gaeta ordering Roslin's Raptor to be shot down. Hot Dog is one of the pilots ordered to engage the target. Narcho is another. Narcho is one of Gaeta's mutiny soldiers. Hot Dog is not. The way this plays out is logically sound, plenty exciting, and very nicely executed as a piece of directing and the usual CGI brilliance from Gary Hutzel & Co. Roslin escapes to the rebel Cylon baseship, where they must plot their next move. Roslin suggests hiding the ship in the middle of the fleet where Gaeta cannot easily open fire on it.

The meat of the story is in the war of wills that goes down between Adama, Gaeta, and Zarek. They say two's company and three's a crowd, and that certainly proves true here. While Gaeta and Zarek were on the same page in their desire to take power away from Adama and Roslin, they have a very different notion of how the game should be played from there. Zarek would preferably shoot Adama and Tigh and be done with it.

But Gaeta does not simply want to grab power and take over. He needs to make the case as he sees it in his mind, and to show why Adama is in the wrong here and why his own hands were forced in staging the mutiny. He insists on court-martialing Adama for treason. It's telling that the primary audience for Gaeta's case is Adama himself. This is not a show trial. Gaeta mostly wants an admission from Adama that he coddled the Cylons and that he betrayed his promise to protect the fleet. Not that Gaeta for one second intends to make this a fair trial. There's only one judge, self-appointed: Zarek. Nor does Adama intend to lie down and negotiate anything from this mutineer. Watch how he throws his admiral pins down in disgust.

Romo Lampkin is enlisted to defend Adama in this tribunal. For once, Lampkin's shrewd insights into human nature do not in any way grant him an advantage. He knows that this trial is a sham, that his part in it is a farce, and that he must go along with it or probably be shot. But none of that knowledge is useful in any way. He holds no cards. You know it's not a good day when Lampkin's brilliant legal strategy is to beg Adama to cave in to his captors' demands and make some sort of statement, if only to stall desperately for time.

I think the key moment in the episode, for better or worse, is when Zarek explains to the Quorum that he is taking over the government and that Adama has been removed — and the Quorum rejects him. When it's clear they won't support his power play, Zarek has the entire Quorum executed in a hail of machinegun fire. I have mixed feelings about how this goes down. While it makes for a stunner of a scene and I believe Zarek to be capable of this sort of take-no-prisoners approach, I think it's too shortsighted a move on his part. Isn't Zarek smarter than this? Why overreach by such an obscene margin? Why not simply throw them all in a cell, somewhere out of sight and mind? (Nitpick alert: Shouldn't opening machinegun fire inside the close quarters of Colonial One compromise the cabin, or at least leave bullet holes?)

Zarek should know from Gaeta's past behavior that this is not what Gaeta signed up for, and that it's the sort of move likely to give Gaeta pause and jeopardize the entire coup. As Gaeta says, "We had the truth on our side!" And now they don't. Zarek's response: "The truth is told by those left standing." Speaking to Zarek's character, this clearly crosses a line that previously had not been so bluntly violated, and it makes it easy to see Zarek as a murderous thug and a hypocrite rather than a man with a legitimate point of view.

Such a cold-blooded show of force essentially says that, to Zarek, winning over "the people," which is the cause he has always supposedly championed, is no longer important. It's now all about the power play, and finding out who's with us and against us. Those against us will be amputated, because they are contrary to the only possible course of action available to the fleet, which is the expulsion of the Cylons. Really, this wipes away any remaining possibility for the audience to side with Zarek, because the moral gray areas are obliterated. It made me wonder what really makes this guy tick. "The ends justify the means," I suppose. I think that's too bad, because up until this moment, Zarek's argument had merit (even if the mutiny wasn't going to solve anything).

The positive impact this does have on the story, however, is to further up the ante of unease and raise the stakes: This is where the fleet is headed if the mutiny cannot be put down — into an utter chaos of survival of the fittest.

The progression of the plot is solidly engaging. The Cylons are notably alarmed over the fact that the fleet is falling apart over the issue of their presence. Roslin has to convince them not to jump away. And there's a certain irony to be found in the fact that Roslin is able to circumvent Gaeta's jamming frequency and get on the air again by virtue of Cylon technology — the very issue that sparked the mutiny in the first place.

Some other important beats in the story:

  • Kelly's crisis of conscience is interesting. (For that matter, bringing back Kelly as a character is interesting, and I enjoyed Tigh calling him the "brig rat.") Not everybody is fully sure about this mutiny, and their loyalties to the Old Man don't necessarily die easily. At one point Kelly has Tyrol dead to rights, but lets him go. Later, he switches sides and helps Lee and Kara.
  • Tyrol goes crawling through the tunnels of the ship for basically the whole episode, until his last-second pulling of the plug on the FTL drive. Having him scurrying in tunnels the whole hour frankly seemed kind of silly. But it did allow us to ultimately see the inner workings of the FTL engine. One question: What's the significance of the mysterious crack on the wall in the engine room?
  • At two points characters are wrongly informed of the deaths of others. Zarek lies and tells Adama that Tigh was killed trying to escape. Later, Gaeta tells Roslin that Adama has been executed when he actually hasn't been. In the latter case that might've been a really bad idea. There's nothing quite like seeing the full wrath of Roslin unleashed: "I'm coming for all of you!"
  • In a bit of guerilla diversionary strategy, Lee throws a grenade down a hallway toward some marines without pulling the pin — but also without telling Kara he didn't pull the pin. Kara: "Not funny." Lee: "Would've been if you'd thought of it." It's nice to see these two bantering again.
  • There comes a point when Anders is shot and seriously wounded, and Kara stays behind to try to get him to sickbay. Anders' fate is left completely unresolved as the episode ends. (Unless you count Lampkin killing his guard with a pen and agreeing to help Kara as a notice of resolution.) This felt more like a forgotten loose end than a to-be-continued for next week.
  • Baltar. What a funny and sad bastard. He can barely live with himself for running from danger yet again. But it wasn't fear of death that made him run this time; it was the fact that he was so utterly sick of his pathetic cultists, who worship him "like a fan club."
  • Did you notice how Zarek tries to give orders in CIC late in the episode? Gaeta sure did. One gets the feeling that even had this mutiny succeeded, Zarek and Gaeta would not have been compatible for the long run.

Naturally, the mutiny is ultimately thwarted by the crucial actions of a few individuals at key moments, including people like Kelly, who perhaps did not conceive of the full consequences of the mutiny. I thought Adama's storming in to retake CIC was a great pulse-pounding moment, even though the episode itself does not begin to address the crux of the underlying issue, which is that the ship was so divided that this mess happened in the first place.

We don't see it here, but there should be hell to pay for what's happened. Adama promised there would be no forgiveness, and I want to know exactly what that will mean on his pragmatic Galactica. Given how many supporting players participated in the mutiny, there will be hard questions to ask and answer. Lines were drawn, which means relationships and trust among the crew have been destroyed. The Quorum has been killed, meaning the government is in tatters. What comes next? The episode doesn't even begin to go there.

And there needs to be some on-screen hand-wringing over all this. Roslin, for one, needs to face up to what her willing absence permitted. Yes, Earth was a debacle. But shirking her responsibilities has proven that there are even bigger debacles to be had. "Blood on the Scales" doesn't even hint at these issues. Its mission is to deal with the mutiny, and that's all it has time for. It feels, as I said, inconclusive. The episode has a lot going for it, but there are scenes that feel starkly absent, even if those scenes may very well show up next week.

But this episode does a particularly good job dealing with Gaeta as an individual. The final conversation between Baltar and Gaeta is perfect in its tone. After everything that's happened — after this hellish transformational arc that this character has gone through — the guy is able to let the anger go and approach what he did with a clear perspective. And he has no regrets. He seems like the old Gaeta, before he became bitter and took on the weight of his self-righteous cause. "I just hope that people realize eventually," he says, "who I am." Baltar replies, "I know who you are, Felix."

It's such a straightforwardly effective scene, made all the more significant because of all that has transpired between these two men, and because now all that can be put aside for this moment of reflection. Baltar's compassion for Gaeta is intriguing. Is it driven by guilt, loyalty, or the simple need to empathize with this man who used to be his only friend?

When Gaeta and Zarek face the firing squad, sitting side-by-side, there's an almost whimsical note to it. Zarek gives a bemused half-grin, as if to say, "Well, we did what we did, and this is how it worked out. Case closed." They knew what they were doing. They were comfortable with the choices they made. And now they will face the consequences.

Previous episode: The Oath
Next episode: No Exit

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83 comments on this post

Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
I can’t even discuss The Oath without discussing Part 2, which I saw over the weekend.

Part 1 dripped tension. Jammer says, “We of course instinctively root for Adama….” But I didn’t. I wholly lost my instinctive pro-Adama/Roslin leanings (which had been fading for a while) with Adama’s diktat that installing Cylon FTL drives in the fleet was a military matter (outside the purview of the civil gov’t) – when it clearly was not (anyone want to argue?). Gaeta was correct to question that decision. Adama/Roslin had ceased even maintaining the façade of a democratic government. Zarek, as a populist idealist, opposed this. I regret what was done to Zarek’s character in the last few episodes, transforming him first into a “dirty pol” and then into a spree murderer. I don’t believe there was (hardly – with maybe two tiny exceptions) an inkling of either shown earlier. I preferred him as the idealist, which was a nice contrast to the cloaked authoritarianism that had become the status quo. With Zarek’s clunky transformation and demise, there is no one to fill that role.

As I discuss the treatment of a character by the writers, I am grappling with an internalized … tension? … something: my tendency to view BSG as a “living history” (which BSG invites with its gritty realism – maybe “documentary” is a better descriptor) rather than a “television drama.” Let’s say BSG has succeeded as completely as possible in suspending my disbelief – in part by so successfully abandoning many common conventions of predictable melodrama, and in part by convincing me to accept such unpalatable weirdness as some characters hearing a Jimmy Hendrix song.

The diverging points of view (“living history” vs. “TV drama”) seem to me to result in different reactions to the material. The former places the viewer in the position of a (non-specific) member of the fleet. Suspicion of and dissatisfaction with Adama and Roslin is much more understandable/natural from this point of view. Installing Cylon (Cylon!!!) equipment in our fleet (someone even said “Cylon Networks” in Part 2, I think – and we know how the Cylons can take advantage of “networks”) is madness, considering we’ve done pretty well with our own FTL drives so far. Adama’s autocratic adoption of this measure is rightly objected to, and rightly, perhaps, a last straw. In keeping with my “living history” perspective, I did not “pick a side” during the mutiny. Just show me what happens and I will be fascinated. Unfortunately too much standard melodrama occurred in Part 2 to break me out of living history mode and remind me that this is just TV.

The widespread (but unleaked!?) mutiny organized by Gaeta – I was willing to overlook and (in Part 1) attribute to the breaking-point dissatisfaction with Adama’s decision of in-the-fleet people. Compare the veritable evaporation of the mutiny as Adama marches triumphantly (as the music crescendos) down the hall at the head of his loyal followers (many of whom presumably had been mutineers moments before – what was that about “no amnesty”?). Oh, the melodrama. I threw up a little. What happened to a mutiny so widespread among civis and military that Galactica was essentially taken over? I would’ve settled for some lines about negotiating with holdouts in multiple sections, or Something – next episode could begin with a few lines about the week it took to get the ship under control (that looks unlikely now).

So “Adama is Our Hero” and there’s a neat, happy ending. Adama is our hero, though a person in the fleet might not understand how we could feel that way based on how he's acting lately. Of course, We didn't have our society destroyed by Cylons. We're just watching TV, rooting for the protagonists. It felt, and it was, massively cliché TV, and I’ve come to expect better from BSG. You can’t just waive a wand and dispel the widespread, last straw dissatisfaction that made Part 1 so believable.

In other developments… Tyrol found a significant crack in the FTL area of the Galactica (cool graphics on the FTL by the way, I don’t recall having seen “it” before). I expect the Galactica won’t be jump-capable until/unless that is remedied, and it looks significant enough to perhaps be beyond existing repair capabilities.

Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 12:49am (UTC -5)
I don't agree at all that this feels inconclusive. To me, both this and The Oath are 4 stars. I agreed with your misgivings about "A Disquiet", but I cannot agree here. All the positives you menioned are there, but I didn't sense this lack of conclusion that you did. What was Adama supposed to do? Execute half the ship? This is a common practice in dealing with mutinies in history, execute the ring leaders and let the others serve again, especially in a situation where they don't have any people to spare, from a military standpoint or from the standpoint of the human race itself. The execution scene at the end felt like a bookend, with the understanding that any other issues are insignificant in comparison and can be ironed out off screen.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Oh and I loved Tyrol's magical adventure to the FTL drive, it was cool because you didn't know what he was doing until the end, it was a great way to telegraph that little plot thread, and running into Kelly made for one of the most memorable scenes of the season.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 1:36am (UTC -5)
Actually Adama isn't the real hero in this situation. In a funny sort of way, Gaeta is. When it got down to it, Gaeta would not engage in a civil war to stay in command. That is very much like Renault at the end of Casablanca, where he has a choice of selling out his friend or losing all he worked for and joining the resistance.

In the end, Gaeta made the same kind of choice for what I believe is the same reason. In both cases, it was a matter of maintaining their respective self-images. Gaeta has to believe himself to be an officer in the Colonial Fleet. While he could rationalize a mutiny and coupe on the basis of Adama's supposed betrayal, once Roslin threatens civil war, he can't continue without seeing himself as something other that. Adama and Roslin's actions just force his hands on the issue.
Ian Whitcombe
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Ouch, the three stars for this episode saddens me even more than the three-and-a-half stars you gave for Exodus II.

To the question of weather or not Zarek should of killed or imprisoned the Quorum....I think he should have killed them. Imprisoning them would've been a loose end that I don't think he could afford. And also...on a visceral level the execution scene was simply too powerful a scene not to pass up. Just imprisoning them wouldn't have provided the sheer power of what we saw.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 5:07am (UTC -5)
It isn't easy to write down my thoughts on this episode. This is definitely one I am very conflicted about.
On the one hand, "Scales" is a show with so many fantastic moments that I am almost ready to forget about its flaws. Think about the following:
- the sheer visceral impact of having Zarek gun down the Quorum.
- Laura Roslin - every single scene was a powerhouse. She was driven, scared, passionate and furious all at once.
- Gaeta - fantastic actor (Juliani), fantastic character. I really, really loved him in this two-parter. Phenomenal work.
- Adama's march to the CIC - just an immensely powerful scene.

Unfortunately, there was a number of problems as well, and Jammer did a good job in locating them. The whole episode was too mamipulative for my taste. The way Tigh&co were freed from brig, Baltar's "dream" in which Adama was shot, the extremely anticlimactic off-screen way of saving Adama from the firing squad, and so on.
I think these two episodes should have been a three-parter. There's just too much material that was obviously cut for time, which makes the episode feel rushed and unfinished. Also, had there been more time, they could have probably avoid relying on manipulating the audience so much.
So, where does that leave us? A problematic and "cheaty" episode with several incredibly powerful scenes, and breathtaking performances by the cast.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 8:06am (UTC -5)
Hm. An interesting review. Like your review for 'Disquiet' it seems you and I just had different feelings on the episode's presentation. Where you found it inconclusive, I found it open-ended (or even inconsequential). This episode is the tragedy of Felix Gaeta and in that sense it is a marvelous one. Certain struck me as slightly silly, those being (as you said) Tyrol crawling through tubes for hours and Romo's killing the marine with his pen (so painfully TV).

Other than that, the briskness of the episode was necessary, I thought. Subsequent viewings did a lot for me with this one. The mutiny began and failed within the span of a day at the office and that was pulled off well, I thought. If there is a flaw to be had with pacing, I think it's the way Adama rallies the crew on his side. It's like the second he took control his supporters just started leaping out of closets and cupboards to join in.

On that note, I don't disagree with your 3 star rating although I am slightly surprised by it(I personally would have given it a 3 1/2.) Looking forward to your thoughts on next week's episode - a new personal favourite of mine that I'm sure isn't a sentiment a lot of people have.

(One last thing: How many times is Adama going to be gunned down in a hallucination this season? I realize it was "meant" in context of Baltar's nightmare, but that's a connection I find to be rather dubious. Moore clearly likes to use shock value to his benefit, but here you can almost hear the writers laughing behind the scenes. It's painful in the way that D'Anna's joke to Roslin was painful back in The Hub. "What you don't know, is that you're the fifth.. *dun dun dun* Just kidding."
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 8:46am (UTC -5)
I'd have been a little more generous with this one and said at least 3 and a half stars (has this one been ranked a bit lower because you like 'No Exit' more? Guess we'll find out!)

I enjoyed the two-parter as it painted Roslin and Adama in a more negative light. They'd both made mistakes after the debacle of Earth, and that allowed such a creepy, almost Soviet-style pairing of Felix and Tom Zarek to arise in the first place. In part one I found myself agreeing with what they both had to say, but I never found myself actually on their side after all of the bloodshed.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 9:30am (UTC -5)
^ I didn't watch "No Exit" until this review was written and posted. So the star rating is not affected by that. (I mentioned that specifically at the beginning of the review.)
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 9:57am (UTC -5)
I was rather disappointed in this episode. To paraphrase the Simpsons: Zarek crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy. I wish there had been a more sypmathetic side to the mutineers. I thought the mutiny was put down too easily.

But there were many great character moments in this episode. My favorite being Roslin unleashed.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 11:13am (UTC -5)
I was pondering about how Zarek seemed to change, somewhat suddenly, from a flawed man for the people into a dictator without pity, when I remembered a scene from a past episode. I don't recall which one it was, but he was going to have someone killed (Lee ?) and stopped it when the plan went awry/circumstances changed. It might have been when they found Kobal. (Okay, I just went and looked and it might have been Home, Parts 1 and 2). If things had gone according to plan, Lee would have been killed by order of Zarek. He has had the will to kill before so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that he was capable of murder.

I always liked how Richard Hatch played Zarek. Something about his eyes always said to me "If I could only get you alone in a room for five minutes".

For some reason I think I'll also remember the line at the end when Gaeta's leg stops hurting and he says "It stopped"...

Anyway, thanks again for the reviews and the forum for discussion.

Take care... Todd
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
It's been incredible for me to see that some viewers of BSG have been in, IMO, a weird sort of "denial" about Zarek as a Stalin-like character who uses "populist" idealism to serve petty power-grabbing ends. (Not just here but elsewhere on the Web as well I keep seeing this.)

The way the character has been written and performed all along has left no doubt that this is the case. I can only guess that since I'm disinclined, to put it mildly, to agree with anything resembling "socialist" idealism, I'm not going into the show wanting to make a hero out of such a character, so I feel that the whole Zarek story as it's played out has been perfectly logical and clear and lead inexorably up to his brutal murder of the Quorum as soon as they got in his way.

If those left-leaning viewers of BSG *must* have a "socialist" or "populist" hero on BSG (and that's fine) then making that character Zarek never made sense, but rather you've always had one in the form of Tyrol. Tyrol lead the "labor movements" in several situations, especially on New Caprica, and he's actually *sincere* and practical in those beliefs rather than the purely self-serving and smarmy power-grabbing Zarek.

I mean, right from the beginning it was clear Zarek had been labeled a "terrorist" for using uneccessarily violent means in the name of his alleged cause. Now maybe that label was dubious and often is, but still it was for a reason, not something arbitrary or entirely unfair, from what we learned. Then we've seen him attempt political killings, lie and manipulate in order to perserve personal power--all the while expertly played by Richard Hatch to make the insincerity and hidden agenda clear to the viewer who isn't prejudiced to see him as some hero of any "righteous cause". These have only been punctuated here-and-there with superficially "good" actions, but in all such cases one could clearly see that these contrived to serve some personal agenda or his own survival or popularity.

At least soon it will be the case that such viewers will be going back, no doubt, and re-watching the entire series once it's finished (I know I will) and knowing where Zarek's story is going to wind up will smack their foreheads at the countless scenes and plot developments which clearly indicate to the viewer that this is not a man to consider some sincere idealist or whatever.

Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
Bryan says: "I wholly lost my instinctive pro-Adama/Roslin leanings . . . with Adama’s diktat that installing Cylon FTL drives in the fleet was a military matter (outside the purview of the civil gov’t) – when it clearly was not (anyone want to argue?)."

Sure, I'll argue that. *Of course* it was a military matter within the context of the show. The existential military threat at the moment is Cavil and his Cylons, not the Cylons in the fleet who sincerely wish for peace with the humans. Since one tactical advantage the Cylons have always had is their superior FTL tech, in order to face that threat militarily, the FTL upgrades are necessary. And it must be all of the fleet, so they can jump in a coordinated group, and maintain sufficient numbers to not be easy to wipe out.

I feel there's an out-of-context sentiment against "military" or "authoritarianism" at work here which is dogmatic and misplaced--ignoring as it does the situation and the players involved.

When has it ever been the case that Adama has been one to preserve "authority" or make military decisions for the sake of it, rather than always intending to do what's best to protect the fleet? When has this been the case for Roslin? Never. The characters and those in the fleet know this, and the viewer knows this even more. So if Adama wants this to happen for a strategic military reason, there's no reason to instinctually think . . . what? That he's doing it to grab personal power? That he doesn't clearly see a distinction now between "good" and "bad" Cylons rather than lump them all together simplistically in a bigoted manner, as Gaeta and others had done?

I liken Gaeta and the other mutineers to those who would, say, ignore the fact that not all Muslims are "terrorists" or the "enemy"--some are, and some aren't. So they would reject any alliance or cooperation with those who only want to pursue peaceful lives, and brand them all mindlessly as "the enemy".

While the viewer can, to an extent, sympathize with those mutineers who aren't witness to all the things the viewer is which indicate sincerity on the part of the rebel Cylons, it's still clear to us the viewer that Adama and Roslin are simply treating the Cylons as individuals, and judging whether they're friend or foe by their actions, not by some prejudicial assumption they're all "the enemy". Isn't this show partly about the cycle of generational violence and struggle and how that can only be broken by trying to make peace with those on the "other side" who truly want it? So then if the leadership of the humans decide to do so, and then some people want to get in the way of taking the actions necessary to do so, then those people are clearly part of the *problem* which results in the endless cycle of violence. The mutineers are the human counterparts to Cavil's Cylons, who view all humans as enemies to be distrusted, feared, and wiped out regardless of their intentions and actions.

So, what were we saying about there being any legitimacy to viewing Adama and Roslin's recent actions as some military or political "authoritarianism" to be distrusted and opposed? I don't get it. I can't get my head around some viewers' reactions to this material.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
^ I'm not sure what left-leaning politics has to do with the belief that Zarek might actually have been capable of taking up a cause for the people, or the notion that him wiping out the Quorum was surprising. (As I said, I believed him capable of it, but found it surprising nonetheless.)

I'd also point out that Richard Hatch did not play the character as insincere or taking power for power's sake. In fact, Hatch actually believes he's the hero here (I strongly disagree with him), as you can see in his comments in Maureen Ryan's blog:
Jack Bauer
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
The problem with this episode, is the same problem of this entire series. It resolves major major plotlines way way too quickly. This was a monumental change in the Galactica universe, and it was wrapped up nice and tidy in the final 10 minutes of the episode. Much like the New Caprica storyline, you never get the sense that the main characters were never in danger or that the main characters were never going to resolve the problem.

Im going to assume all the marines involved int he mutiny were the marines they captured when rescuing Adama. If they plan on resolving this issue this quickly, I would liked to have seen all the people involved in the mutiny in the final shot being executed.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 5:24pm (UTC -5)
The problem with Gaeta: he doesn't know who he is. Let alone anyone else.

I entirely agree with Paul's comments. This should have been a multi-episode arc, not a two-parter (three if you count Disquiet, in which very little happened). I sincerely hope the effects of the mutiny continue to play out in a major way in following episodes. Adama may have taken control of Galactica again, but that definitely doesn't mean everyone's on his side. And I want to see what happened to Racetrack, Seelix and co.

So yes, I'm another person disappointed in how pat the resolution to the mutiny was in this episode. The Oath was so awesome, and laid such major cards on the table, that I was disappointed how improbably neatly everything was tied up and how suddenly everything returned to the status quo. It's the same problem Star Trek used to occasionally have - an action-packed Part 1 which raises impossibly high stakes, then a weak Part 2 which unconvincingly wraps everything up within minutes or at worst, forgets it ever happened.

Gaeta and Roslin were the saving graces of this episode. The character work on Gaeta was fantastic, and Roslin was awesome. What I don't need to see in a key episode like this, though, is Baltar making out with another random Six (we've been there, done that), and another token Romo appearance to satisfy all the geeks.

David: I'm very left-leaning and agree with you on Zarek. He's nothing more than a manipulative, brutal opportunist. And I'm inclined to agree with you on the politics of the situation too. Adama and Roslin - particularly Roslin - always cared about the fleet and made it a priority. Zarek just exploited the anger and fear towards the Cylons for his own personal gain. As populists do. Which is why they're so dangerous.

A lot of people are accusing Adama and Roslin of authoritarianism, but they're approaching the situation far too naively and idealistically. What's the alternative? Zarek? There are less than 40,000 people left, still being hunted down - in a survival situation like that, sometimes you have to make the best of what you've got and just be pragmatic. A benign dictatorship is still better than a bunch of clueless murderers.

I've always respected Roslin because although she's very human, deeply emotional and has a strong set of beliefs and principles, she's not afraid to pragmatic in a crunch and say "Throw him out of the airlock". Roslin's brand of realism, pragmatism and practicality will get you much further in a survival situation than Gaeta and Lee's brand of naive idealism. At the end of the day, neither of them ever pick a side and stick to it - they're so blinded by their own personal code of right and wrong that in the end, no-one can rely on them and no-one can trust them.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
I also think that the mutiny running over three episodes would have been better. As I understand it a lot of material was shot but not used, some of it concerning Racetracks motives for participating in the mutiny. I found it shocking to see her joking and laughing with Zarek in the hangar. In "the Oath" one could still cling to the believe that like Kelly she didn't realize what she signed up to, but that scene removed any hope for that.

As for the mutiny being put down to easy in the end, well I don't think so. I don't think it was that strong to begin with. When it started the mutineers had surprise on their side, they could easily take over the ship, because there was no reason for anyone to oppose them in the first place. After all noone ran around shouting "this is a mutiny, we are taking over the ship", they were as far as possible keeping up the facade of the fire-alarm and operating under orders from the CIC. And why should anyone have been suspecting they weren't? The only resistance came from a few like Starbuck who not only noticed that something wasn't right but also acted immediately upon. But most people needed a while to figure out what exactly was going on and what they were going to do about it. And once that happened they rallied behind Adama and the mutiny collapsed.

And this is why I see Zareks behaviour not as that suprising. The only problem I have with him is his "History is written by the winners" remark to Gaeta which merely shows him as ruthless instead of explaining why killing the Quorum is a necessity. Zarek has always been shown to be a realist, not seldom rightly scoffing at Roslins idealism (e.g."Did you really expect some utopian fantasy to rise from the ashes?" in "Black Market"). Zarek knew: The mutiny had only a limited timespan to succeed. If the mutineers hadn't created facts by the time people realized what was going on they had to lose. And creating facts meant: kill Admiral Adama. Why? Because there is no good reason for anyone to follow Gaeta instead of Adama unless Adama is dead. As much as people may be unhappy with Adama and the entire situation of the fleet, Adama has authority and experience and the record of getting the fleet to survive for four year. Gaeta had nothing of that. And he had nothing else to offer, indeed he appeared to have had no other plans than removing Adama from command and the cylons from the fleet. That may be enough for people who hate the cylons more than anything else like Narcho and Connor, but not for the rest. So either you were willing to kill Adama or the show was off. Same applied to the Quorum, if it wasn't willing to follow Zarek, simply locking it up woudn't have helped him. And of course Zarek had to get rid of Lee Adama, there was little hope for Zarek to get the Quorum to support him with someone like Lee on the Quorum arguing against it. And nothing shows Gaetas lack of reality more than his suggestion, that Zarek should try to push Lees buttons the right way. There was absolutely no chance that was going to work. Zarek was the one who knew what had to be done for the mutiny to succeed and who was willing to do it. Gaeta didn't and thats the reason he failed.
Jack Bauer
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
I think another factor that in the plots favor is the timeline. All of this happened in a 7 hour timespan. But I really think this should have been a true 3 parter, with part 1 creating, and ending with Geata taking over CIC, part 2 dealing with Lee, Starbuck and company putting themselves in place to retake the ship, and part 3 dealing with the re-takeover and the character aftermath.

And also the part of this that bothers me, is that now it seems apparant the mutiny is completely in the background and were full steam ahead towards the finale.

Another wasted opportunity.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jack that the timeline was a big factor in making this episode believable. I know when I first watched it, not paying attention to the time, I figured this was a day or two later. That they had secured the ship. So when the tides suddenly turned and Adama went marching into CIC with a bunch of people, I didn't believe it. But knowing the ENTIRE thing happened in 7 hours, Gaeta and Zarek may have acted like they were in control, but they never did have complete control.

That said, the problem I had was that "no forgiveness" didn't happen. At all. Gaeta and Zarek died, but so should have a few more. Narcho should have died. In the podcast, RDM says that they took out a shot of a pissed off Adama walking into CIC at the end with his men and shooting someone right off the bat. I think that really should have been included and that it would have made all the difference. It would have shown that although Adama can't put them all down because he has to keep his ship running, it doesn't mean he doesn't want to.

I agree with a 3 star rating, but one of the highest level, just shy of 3.5.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
I seem to remember that Zarek was introduced way back in season 1 as a convicted terrorist. And people find it surprising that he was able to have the Quorum gunned down when it served his purpose? I certainly believe he was capable of doing that at the drop of a hat. Still, all of this seems quite rushed. A three-parter might have served better, but considering the MASSIVE tangle of loose ends that need resolving, that kind of rush is to be expected.
Wed, Feb 18, 2009, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
I think the episode also answer's Bryan's (and others, I'm sure) complaints about the mutiny ending too easily by showing us that there is still a lot of fighting and resistance taking place on the Galactica. Off the top of my head, I recall the officer Lee and Starbuck run into, Baltar's group--which included soldiers of Galactica--barricading themselves, Tyrol mentions the groups communicating via handsets, Romo says that he was shot at twice while being escorted by marines, and so on and so forth. The mutiny succeeded in taking the principle areas of Galactica--the flight deck, CIC, and the Engine Room--but there were a lot of clues that there was still fighting taking place throughout the ship.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 12:06am (UTC -5)

Hatch has to see Zarek as the hero. He is Zarek, and Zarek sees himself as the hero. To do otherwise would be to betray the character.

But Zarek was a man of ambition, albiet ambition cloaked in good intentions. Hell, I'm even willing to grant the character some surface sincerity - he probably believed in the causes he fought for, but down deep, it was always about him, his ego. He was always the only one who knew right from wrong, the only one able to lead the movement. Wrapping himself in The Cause only furthered his self aggrandizement.

As for the politics, well, I wouldn't peg Zarek as left or right, especially not in contemporary terms, but I find those on the left have a greater (though not definitive nor exclusive) tendency to miss how the very best of intentions can lead to heinous acts.

Now, as for Zarek's killing of the council, I'm a bit on the border. It was a more nakedly villainous act than Zarek would normally attempt. However, we know he was at least accused of violent acts in the past (and never denied them) and in season 2 plotted to assassinate Apollo. In the end, I feel that if ever Zarek were to do this deed, it would be now. He has removed Adama and Roslin from power. The fleet is emotionally, spirtitually adrift, and more than any other time likely open to new leadership. But that leadership has to be uncontested. Zarek clearly had the support of many fleet captains, but if he were opposed by the council, the coup could fall apart completely. He had already committed treason. If he failed, he would be executed. Therefore he had to commit fully to the success of the revolution, and once the quorum made it clear their loyalties lay with Roslin, I don't see how Zarek had any choice.

That said, I don't believe it was an act he did from malice, or one he took pleasure in. It was a purely practical matter, one borne of the necessity of his mission - and Zarek was always a "goals justify means" kind of guy.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 12:10am (UTC -5)

Check the survivor count over these episodes. Roughly 100 people had died in this coup already, and it is safe to assume most of them were Galactica crew. This on top of the dozens lost over the past three years. I'm not sure Adama could afford to start offing every one involved in the mutiny, especially not veterans and figures with important positions, and still keep a workable crew.
Jack Bauer
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 12:20am (UTC -5)
I was 100% hoping that Adama would walk into CIC and just pop someone in the head. But if you think about it, that doesnt go with his character throughout the mutiny. He had a resemblence of mercy. But I think all the characters involved in the mutiny should have been in the airlock with Gaeta and Zarek.

My only hope is that they address this in the final episodes.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 4:25am (UTC -5)
I see that many people agree that more episodes were needed for this story arc. I only hope that RDM and his crew won't rush other storylines as well, but having seen the next episode, I fear they may do just that. The network should've probably given Galactica one more half-season. Ten more episodes would have been ideal to wrap up everything in a timely manner.
Intersting thing is that although there is a lot of criticism here (and elsewhere) regarding these (and the next) episodes, people (myself included) still enjoy the series tremendously. I don't know what it is. Even when Moore&Co. mess things up, I still LOVE BSG. It's probably the thing I also loved in DS9 - fantastic characters. No matter what they did there, I was always fascinated by Sisko and his crew. Good, solid characters - when you have that in a TV show, a lot of other things come so much easier.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 7:03am (UTC -5)
Yes, but did you see the scene when Roslin goes, "No! Not now! Not ever! Do you hear me? I will use every canon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eye teeth to end you! I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!"

And some other stuff happened as well. I think some people got shot.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 10:57am (UTC -5)
I tend to ignore interviews with the actors. I have nothing against them, but they aren't the writers, and very often sticking a camera in their faces results in a stilted or sentimental view of the characters they play.

I am curious about what people think about Zarek's imprisonment on New Caprica in light of this episode's events. The man was jailed by the Cylons... but why? I can imagine the Cylons seeing him as too clever and calculating to be kept around (which is true), but there had to be more selfless reasons for his imprisonment. I believe he said himself that he was jailed for not wanting to be a part of Baltar's administration under the Cylons, but is there any truth to that? Zarek is a scary, ruthless man, but I cannot see him condoning what went down on NC.

Then again, NC was a hellhole even BEFORE the Cylons arrived... so how effective was he? Despite his ruthless tactics, I still can't see him letting his own people degenerate. He certainly wants power, but I don't think it's ONLY for power's sake. He has ideas and he seems to have SOME concern for the fleet and its people (as seen in Collaborators) even though he often engages in highly questionable tactics.
Jack Bauer
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 12:50pm (UTC -5)
I really think its a mistake for us to try and connect the dots with Zarek in this series. Its pretty obvious the writers disregarded his past history.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 1:54pm (UTC -5)

What makes you say that? Why is it obvious?
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 2:36pm (UTC -5)

Just to clarify, it was not an interview with Hatch. It was Hatch's written comments on a blog, very much like the comments here. He had control over what he said and when he said it, and clearly gave it some thought.

Not that it matters. As you say, the show is ultimately more about the writers' intent than the actors'. My bringing it up at all was in response to what someone else said was intended by the actor.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
If we ignore season 3, I think Zarek's behaviour is consistent. He's a douche. A smart douche who can tap into legitimate feelings to further his doucheplan, but still a douche.

However, in season 3, he did seem to have mellowed a bit following the period on New Caprica. That could have made sense except he was back to previous form by the time of his season 4 appearances.

Greg, I don't think New Caprica was a hellhole before the occupation. 'Unfinished Business' showed it as quite promising, though requiring some assembly.
Samuel Walters
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 7:25pm (UTC -5)
I think that those who would have liked this story arc to contain more episodes might be losing the forest in the trees -- so-to-speak. I agree that a longer arc would have allowed for the Mutiny to unfold at a more plausible pace, but I'm not convinced that doing so would have had any tangible benefit for the series (I'm still not certain that the mutiny plot really advanced the series, not without us seeing explicit consequences for everyone involved, not just Zarek and Gaeta).

To put it another way, the series needed to move on from the Mutiny Plot -- even if it was at the expense of that plot to begin with. In that sense, there needed to be a "neat and tidy" resolution to the Mutiny itself and it had to happen quickly so that the series could get on to the more important matters: What happens now that characters have made their choices and definitively picked a side in a life-or-death crisis? If we don't get that, then it won't matter how many episodes it took to resolve the mutiny -- it'd still be just as pointless.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 7:50pm (UTC -5)
I don't understand the idea that Zarek's behavior on New Caprica isn't consistent with his character or that if it were disregarded, his character here would seem more consistent. He didn't go along with Baltar because he refused to work with the Cylons. Here he's also refusing to work with the Cylons.

If I'm missing the argument, could someone explain it a little better to me?
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
I like all of the widely differing opinions of this episode and how the characters are portrayed in it. Zarek most notably, but the others as well.

First of all, David's point that the mutineers are like Cavil's Cylons is spot on. "All this has happened before and will happen again." The ongoing theme of this series is explicitly revealed in comparing "Six of One" and "The Oath" and "Blood on the Scales." In the Cylons' case the civil war kept upping the stakes until they paid a dear price: the loss of resurrection. Perhaps in the humans' case it was stopped, but not before many lives were lost. Although I understand the objections that the ending was too pat or resolved too quickly, I don't know that seeing the personal conflicts of every crew member was necessary. Kelly's the archetype of the vacillator, Narsho the unrepentant bigot. That viewers feel that they wanted more is one of the tenets of successful show business: "Always leave the audience wanting more."

@Josh: Zarek "mellowed" after New Caprica? Ordering summary executions in "Collaborators" is mellow? He also didn't want Baltar to have a trial. Again, mellow? I completely agree with you about Roslin's vow of vengeance though. Absolutely incredible, powerful acting. How this series has never won (or much less even been nominated for) an acting Emmy is criminal.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 10:15pm (UTC -5)
Ok, I agree about this being 3-parter, but only in the sense that I was MUCH LESS a fan of the first half of season 4.

So if it cuts into, or takes away one of those episodes, I see the extra dialog working into an episode, and scenes with non-essential characters given more story time.

But given this is the final 10 episodes, I'm very content with this wrapup of story arc, and think there is too much content left to cover in the remaining episodes.

This was a 4* episode for me, just the way it is, personally.
Thu, Feb 19, 2009, 10:38pm (UTC -5)
Dan- Occupation/Precipice got an Emmy nomination for writing and Exodus II also got an Emmy nom (and I think it won?)for either direction or viz fx or something.

And didn't 33 get an Emmy Nom? I don't know. But it's gotten a couple noms.
Fri, Feb 20, 2009, 12:48am (UTC -5)
I. David's "Cylon FTLs are a military (not civil) decision" argument

II. Naivete about "friendly" Cylons

III. Naivete about Zarek and the pragmatism of cloaked authoritarianism


I. David's "Cylon FTLs are a military (not civil) decision" argument

David wrote:

Bryan says: "I wholly lost my instinctive pro-Adama/Roslin leanings . . . with Adama's diktat that installing Cylon FTL drives in the fleet was a military matter (outside the purview of the civil gov't) -- when it clearly was not (anyone want to argue?)."

Sure, I'll argue that. *Of course* it was a military matter within the context of the show. The existential military threat at the moment is Cavil and his Cylons, not the Cylons in the fleet who sincerely wish for peace with the humans. Since one tactical advantage the Cylons have always had is their superior FTL tech, in order to face that threat militarily, the FTL upgrades are necessary. And it must be all of the fleet, so they can jump in a coordinated group, and maintain sufficient numbers to not be easy to wipe out.

David, your argument is created out of thin air and is objectively, verifiably wrong. Let's examine the baseless sentences:

The existential military threat at the moment is Cavil and his Cylons, not the Cylons in the fleet who sincerely wish for peace with the humans.

This is more of an aside to the actual FTL argument, but is related. The threat has ALWAYS been the Cylons -- there is nothing special about this particular "moment." The humans have evaded the Cylons -- and even found earth -- with human-made FTL drives. And you in your armchair watching a TV drama think "the Cylons in the fleet ... sincerely wish for peace with the humans" (and they probably do), but many in the fleet -- who are living this -- obviously are uncomfortable with the idea of installing the technology of the folks who recently wiped out (!!!) their entire civilization. Can you even begin to conceive of what it's like, psychologically, to be one of forty-something thousand survivors of an annihilated society of billions, and then to have some of your destroyers move in next door claiming to have had a change of heart?

Since one tactical advantage the Cylons have always had is their superior FTL tech, in order to face that threat militarily, the FTL upgrades are necessary. And it must be all of the fleet (etc.)

You're making this up out of whole cloth. There's never been one iota of evidence for this claim in the script. We've never been shown, and it's never been implied, that the Cylons have a tactical (think, in a given battle) or strategic (think, in the war as a whole) advantage over the humans due to superior Cylon FTL drives. No. The humans have always -- throughout the war -- evaded successfully with their existing FTL drives. Never, not once, have the lesser range of the human's FTL drives been the cause of a military "problem."

The whole point of upgrading to longer range Cylon FTLs would be to "speed up" the search for a new homeworld (after the failure of Earth). There is no military dimension here. Whether the humans find an inhabitable planet more or less quickly, the enemy Cylons could still eventually find them there. This is a societal decision, a choice between a longer stay in space (using slower human FTLs), versus the unknown risk to the society of installing Cylon technology. Yes, the downside is a possible military defeat (societal annihilation if installing the Cylon drives ends up being some sort of Cylon Trojan Horse), but you see there is no military upside: evasion has never been an issue, and finding a new homeworld faster doesn't mean it won't eventually be attacked.

So this is completely a civil decision, to be made by the elected government. There is no military dimension. Any argument to the contrary (such as David's) is wholly unsupported by the script. Adama's claim that installing Cylon FTLs was a military decision is completely baseless, and autocratic. He PERSONALLY may've been comfortable with the decision, but he knew the council wouldn't be and he was attempting, unlawfully, to bypass them.

II. Naivete about "friendly" Cylons

I see a lot in the comments about the friendly cylons, etc. I think there is some underestimation going on. A failure to empathize with the fear, revulsion and natural suspicion of a remnant of people whose billions-strong civilization was WIPED OUT a few short years ago (and who were in turn enslaved on New Caprica even more recently!) by some of the very cylons who are now alongside claiming a change of heart. The Cylons are known to be deceptive, and to play a "long game." Drag yourself off the couch and into the shoes of a member of the fleet, and ask if you'd want Cylon FTLs installed.

III. Naivete about Zarek and the pragmatism of cloaked authoritarianism

In my first post in this thread, I stated that a couple of tiny hints had indeed been dropped that Z was capable of violence. But, seems to me, these were mostly snowed under by his other actions, wherein he was portrayed as an idealist with the people's best interest at heart. I will have to watch more carefully when I re-watch the series. I can be persuaded by the evidence. But for now I'll trust the opinion of (the actor) Richard Hatch (thanks for that link) over anything but a essay with citations and quotes from each of his appearances.

I've also seen it said, "Don't we really want and need an authoritarian decisionmaker in dire times like these?" Yes, and no. Yes, it can be effective, but not without the continuous and continuously renewed support of the people. The quorum could legislate "emergency" powers for Adama (and/or Roslin), reviewable on a scheduled, regular basis and subject to change. But that wasn't done. Without the people's support -- and when there is no political outlet for change -- continuous autocratic action eventually might result in, oh, things like fleet-wide mutiny. And that is exactly what happened, isn't it.
Fri, Feb 20, 2009, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
Wow, there's a lot of really great conversation going on here. I'll start simply by saying that by the end of this episode I was near tears. I really felt this was Gaeta's story and I found it to be incredibly moving from that point of view. So yeah, I give this one four stars. I haven't been that moved by an episode of TV in a while now.

Also I'd just like to make a point when it comes to Zarek. In real life coups people in the former government die. There's nothing cartoon about it. You can argue about whether it was the most logical thing to do till you're blue in the face, but the fact is it is very real.

Zarek was a terrorist. We've known that from day one--this is a man who killed innocent people in an attempt to bend the world towards what he saw as being right. Is that necessarily the most logical way to get things done?

At the end of the day the quorum was in his way, and yes--he IS a 'the ends justify the means' sort (did I mention the terrorist thing). Imprisoning them means that they are still out there, killing them off is an opportunity to throw more mud on Adama's image.

I can hear what his story would have been now, "I took Colonial One to BSG in the hopes of coming to a peaceful solution, but when the Qorum wouldn't bend to Adama's will he had them executed..." How would he be able to as smoothly explain imprisoning the ENTIRE civilian government? He certainly wouldn't be able to blame Adama and I think he'd have a much tougher time convincing the people that every single member of the Qurom was conspiring with the Cylons and therefore he took it upon himself to imprison them...

One final (unrelated) thought in response to Bryan's arguments involving the FTL drive. It seems silly to me to argue that having superior maneuverability is not a tactical point of order. Just because the fleet has so far survived hardly proves that the Cylons had NO advantage. Who knows, maybe if the Fleet had FTL equal to the Cylons they would have run into them less often...maybe they would have found earth sooner...maybe this...maybe that. All speculation, but my point is that you are also speculating when you say it granted the Cylons no advantage.
Sat, Feb 21, 2009, 12:26am (UTC -5)
Anybody else catch the irony in Lampkin's demonstration that the pen is mightier than the sword?
Sat, Feb 21, 2009, 5:33am (UTC -5)
'Maelstrom' should have earned Katee Sackhoff an Emmy. The Emmy people are tards who should be horsewhipped into submission.
Sun, Feb 22, 2009, 5:13pm (UTC -5)
@Occuprice: Just to reiterate (not to be pedantic or anything) I did say that BSG has never been "nominated for an *acting* Emmy" (emphasis added). The Emmys they have won were well-earned, but the acting on this series is among the best in TV history and they get no love.
Samuel Walters
Sun, Feb 22, 2009, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, and the idea of "great acting" is in large part subjective, but I would argue that a broad-brush statement like "the acting on this series is among the best in TV history" is just a wee bit of hyperbole. There are some really solid moments, no argument there, but, objectively, I think you're over reaching with the whole "best in TV history" perspective -- particularly if you take into account how poor some of the performances have been.
Sun, Feb 22, 2009, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
Dan- sorry, totally missed the word "acting" there.

Sam- "among the best" is not "the best" and, honestly, considering how terrible a lot of acting on TV is, it isn't that hard to be among the best, to be in the top X percent.
Mon, Feb 23, 2009, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Where new review?
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 12:53am (UTC -5)
RDM comments about the consequences (imprisonment) for the mutineers in his podcast for "Deadlock". It apparently was just off screen between this episode and "No Exit". So Racetrack, Seelix and co are in Jail on another ship, now.
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 1:42am (UTC -5)
Brendan, that's what I was afraid of. There are so many plot points to cover in the remaining episodes that the writers started stripping the episodes of all "non-esential" content. That content being character touches and dialogue.
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 5:03am (UTC -5)
At least they are thinking about things that are more than skin deep. So they know how it is, even they don't tell us.
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 10:36am (UTC -5)
Brendan - thanks for the info. Unbelievable. The fact that the show hasn't even acknowledged this is a major oversight. What is this, Voyager? These are characters we've invested in, and this is a situation we've invested in. When something as major as a mutiny happens after three and a half years, and characters we've been watching that whole time suddenly turn on one another, it cannot go without consequence and never be acknowledged again. You can't just wrap everything neatly up in one episode. "Blood On The Scales" was full of good character work, but the way in which the coup was instantaneously foiled was absurdly and disappointingly pat. It quickly became all too clear that Adama retaking the ship by the end of the episode was a foregone conclusion.
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 11:44am (UTC -5)
Niall, I am slightly with you there on the point that I think wrapping it up too quickly was a bit of a downer. After 'The Oath', I was thinking that this was the endgame and that the ruction was going to last out the series. After all, Kara Thrace was supposed to lead the human race to their end and she led them to Earth. The more events move on, the harder it is to argue Kara's culpability. After all, where has she led them lately?
Jack Bauer
Tue, Feb 24, 2009, 2:47pm (UTC -5)
After watching the last two episodes it really pisses me off they didnt follow up with the mutiny. So we get scene after scene of Adama crying and drinking over his ship being broken but nothing about the characters.

And last weeks episode was the worst since the Black Market episode.
Sun, Aug 23, 2009, 11:17am (UTC -5)
My first thought about Zarek shooting the Quorum was that it wasn't like him, but consider the fact that every other time he's been forced to play the long game, either not having the military or a popular majority behind him. Before Zarek's best tools were patience and politics. Now, as he pointed out to Gaeta, they're launching a violent grab for power, and the important thing is to secure that power as quickly as possible and sort out the propaganda aspects afterwards. Zarek is proved to be right when Gaeta's insistence on a kangaroo court martial for Adama delays matters long enough for his supporters to tip the balance.
Tue, Sep 8, 2009, 5:37am (UTC -5)
Just a note for zarek: he was never a socialist and i can't see any indication to the contrary. Perhaps he started his political life fighting for a just couse (but that doesn't make him a socialist in fact we have no idea which was his political ideology) but from what we saw in the series he was now just a bittered and angry man, angry becouse he was so marginalised for so long in his life and obsessed that he and only he knew what is good for the people. That can make him something similar to stalin (and many other dictators) but it doesn't make him a socialist (and stalin was not a socialist he was a man who used the socialist vocabulary of the october revolution to betray the revolution and establish his own power and he was certainly obsessed with the idea that only he knew what was good for the people).
Fri, Sep 11, 2009, 11:29am (UTC -5)

Zarek never came across as socialist to me either. Though he eventually seemed to want power at nearly any cost (a failure of many), he was also portrayed as someone who wanted transparency in government, not quite believing what the hierarchy said. While he was somewhat of a villian eventually (trying to assassinate Lee earlier in the run, and then the rebellion), I liked how he tried to force "the state" to tell the people what "the state" was doing "for their own good". There always needs to be someone with another viewpoint, even if he is playing "devils advocate".

But of course, if he had gotten power, the way he was written, he would have been a man of great words, but sour deeds.

Just my humble opinion, as always... Todd
Wed, Jul 7, 2010, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Something I don't think has been brought up here is what a HUGE missed opportunity this was for Baltar to redeem himself. What they set up in the previous couple of episodes was enormous dissatisfaction among the populace at Adama-Roslin for seemingly losing any sight of the need to explain their quite radical decisions to the people affected by them. They had lost empathy and they had lost the trust of the population. What Baltar could have represented was a voice who was unquestionably not a Roslin flunky who, it just so happened, had won quite a decent amount of popular support leading a compassion/forgiveness religious movement that was unquestionably compatible with closer engagement with the Cylons. THIS could have been Baltar's moment and, as an added bonus, it would have been a way to actually DO something with that whole silly cultist side story. What it could have been characterised as was the populations yearning to find common groun with the cylons (those that weren't actively trying to kill them of course) and move on from the holocaust. But he was relegated to a bit player, did nothing other than supply a radio and comfort Gaeta at the end. What a waste.
Thu, Oct 28, 2010, 9:36am (UTC -5)
Pretty sure the best moment of the entire series for me is in this episode:

"No! Not now! Not ever! Do you hear me? I will use every cannon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eye teeth to end you! I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!"
Sat, Jan 1, 2011, 2:37pm (UTC -5)
I just love your review jammer. Though I have to say that episode deserved three and a half stars.

I truly and utterly respect Roslin. When her dreams of Earth were ruined, she hid and let the problems be held by Adama and the others. But at the moment the mutiny began she was ready. You could clearly see that this woman has no intentions to give up.

I too liked the conversation between Baltar and Gaeta at the end. It represented the friendship these two men once had.
I find the closing scene very well carried out.
"It stopped," were Gaeta's last words before he was executed. you could clearly see astonishment on his face when he realized that his leg stopped itching.
Despite the big mutiny, I feel sorry for Gaeta. but all and all there was no one and nothing left for him anymore and I think that he wasn't afraid of death.
Wed, Jan 19, 2011, 7:42pm (UTC -5)
Jammer writes:
> Later, Gaeta tells Roslin that Adama has been executed when he actually hasn't been. In the latter case that might've been a really bad idea. There's nothing quite like seeing the full wrath of Roslin unleashed: "I'm coming for all of you!"

You are actually pointing your finger the wrong way here. Adama made Gaeta believe that he was dead. Gaeta would probably have been better off not telling the information to Roslin, but he is not lying, he is telling the truth to the best of his knowledge.
Mon, Nov 28, 2011, 8:09am (UTC -5)
I have read Richard Hatch’s comments about how his character thinks he is doing the right thing – they kind of make sense, in light of the fact that Zarek does not know everything the audience knows about the Cylons. But any sympathy we may have had for him is evaporated when he has the Quorum killed, turning the whole coup into a Good vs. Evil situation.

And, as Jammer noted, there are too many scenes where characters are told other characters are dead, when the audience knows it is not the case. You can’t feel their pain because you know it won’t last. So what’s the point?
Fri, Dec 2, 2011, 2:33pm (UTC -5)
Adama: "I care too much about this ship [to escape]."
Gaeta: "If only you cared as much about the people on it."

Gaeta was 100% correct there, and that really sums up Adama.

The show depicts the mutineers as a vicious rabble, and Adama and his claque as virtuous warriors for the force of good. One side is whiter than white; the other is pure dark evil beyond redemption or comprehension, solidified once Zarek dispatches the Quorum. The outcome of the mutiny was a foregone conclusion and the only purpose of the show was to showcase the actual route to reaching that conclusion. Put simply, the episode was on auto-pilot.

I confess to having fast-forwarded through much of the show. Idi Amin Adama emerged victorious, free to pursue his vision of justice and leadership unchecked in collaboration with his squeeze, the unelected "president" Roslin.

If the previous show was bad, this one was far worse. I wouldn't award it even a half star. What a massive let-down.

I don't quite know what the purpose of this two-parter was. The Oath and this are the very definition of a filler, and a really cliched one at that.
Sat, May 5, 2012, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
I really loved Jammer's mention of "the usual CGI brilliance from Gary Hutzel & Co," because when I read it I had a quick moment of "wait, that's all CGI?" Of course it is, but call it a compliment to the oft-cited "gritty realism" of BSG that I sometimes forget those scenes aren't "shot on location" out there, somewhere in space with real ships etc.

@Todd - "I was pondering about how Zarek seemed to change, somewhat suddenly, from a flawed man for the people into a dictator without pity." I agree w/ David that it was a latent side of the character that doesn't mature until this season. But I think the trigger that "turned him on" (like a cylon? : ) was Adama's constant refusal to acknowledge him as an equal no matter positions bestowed Zarek by "the people." In fact, in the history of the show, Adama never gives Zarek even a modicum of respect. Wouldn't that grind Zarek's liver? However, I think a few episodes back, was the last straw for Zarek: when Roslin rolled over to play dead, Zarek, as VP, should have been President, but Adama refused to work with him, basically forcing Zarek to step down in order for Lee ("Adama Jr.") to assume the presidency. David is right: "so many people seem bent by Zarek's so-called crossover to another level of villany, when it fits in with who he was presented to be from the start: a terrorist who had used unnecessarily violent means."
Sun, Jan 12, 2014, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Ok. These two have got to be WAY up there in my favorite episodes. Right up there with the New Caprica shows and the Pegasus shows.

Thank you, plot gods, for not letting Zarek and Gaeta get away with it. Sounds like the rest ended up in prison? I'm ok with that.

Zarek executing the Cabinet gave me absolute chills. But nothing beats Roslin's reaction to Zarek claiming Adama was killed. "I'm coming for all of you!!" Holy Cow, that moment is tied for my single favorite moment in the series (right up there with Galactica plunging into New Caprica's atmosphere and jumping away).

A few episodes left. I'm going to miss this show.
Mon, Jan 13, 2014, 3:52am (UTC -5)

My absolute favourite part of the second half of Season 4 is the Zarek/Gaeta mutiny plotline, and it really cemented Gaeta as my favourite character at the time. His arc from enthusiastic Baltar fan to angry, one-legged pessimist is sort of awe-inspiring. And it explores an interesting side-element of optimism...the crash down can be twice as hard if your hopes are dashed and the people you believed in let you down, leading you to become as bitter and angry as Gaeta did. And I like that he was never caricatured as a villain, he really wanted a positive change to occur, he just blindly believed it could happen bloodlessly.
Sun, Feb 16, 2014, 1:18am (UTC -5)
Having watched the entire series in the span of a month, I think Zarek's actions were completely unsurprising. I think people had forgotten who Zarek really was, an opportunistic terrorist. Right when the man stood up and defied him, I knew exactly what was going to happen. I guess you make the characters what you want them to be to an extent and when your assumptions don't line up it can be jarring. I assumed Zarek was a scumbag from the moment I first saw him, and it turned out to be true.
Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
I have to say as a newcomer who watched BSG all the way through in a short period, I found this arc extremely disappointing.

They basically created a really cool mutiny plot and handwaved it away. That's my main problem with BSG as a whole, it deus ex machina's away every single problem that should have a big impact. The way the situation was resolved was not believable in the slightest.

It does feel like something from Voyager, but I give Star Trek the benefit of not having much of a pretense of a continuous storyline. BSG had some cool moments and memorable characters, but the actual events in the plot were completely hollow to me.
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 12:46am (UTC -5)
Zarek: I don't see Zarek's ending arc as particularly out of character. He was always an opportunist. I think the term I'm looking for is demagogue, a self-serving person who talked populists positions because they sold well. He's certainly never shied away from assassination in the past. Once the Quorum turned their back on him, their usefulness to him was ended.

You're right, Zarek needed Adama and the quorum dead. Even more than the Cylons on New Caprica, Zarek needed to eliminate opposition.

Regarding the military value of a better FTL. When the whole series is about retreat and pursuit, how could superior mobility not translate to a military advantage? The thing that made Blitzkrieg so effective was that German armor could get in the defenders rear positions faster than the defender could. "Evasion has never been an issue". Seriously? How many episodes have had Cylons show up halfway through some crucial refueling, or planet survey or.....

Military decisions: Again, unless someone has read the Articles of Colonization, we can't have a legal opinion on the subject. Maybe Section 31 states that "....the senior military leader has absolute authority to determine what is and is not a military decision." Something that affects fleet mobility and Adama's ability to defend the fleet, sure, that could be a military decision.

Regarding the quickness of Gaeta's mutiny -- and Adama's counter.
In a mutiny (or any chaotic situation), I think there's some "perception is reality" at work. By controlling communications, Gaeta was able to take the ship with what may have been a very small force. And, announcements like "Admiral Adama has been placed under arrest" will certainly discourage all but the most hard-core Adama supporters. On the other hand, the voice of Laura Roslin probably put a lot of nominally Gaeta supporter back in the wait-and-see camp, and encouraged Adama/Roslin supporters to fight back.

But, yeah, I think it should have been a 3-parter. Too quick to wrap up, way too many loose ends.

Over-the-top Laura. "I'M COMING FOR YOU!" (now, if the villian had just been named Khan....) Best scene of the episode, maybe of the season. Great to watch, but I wonder what the Cylons think of her? If I were, say, a Leoben, I'd be terrified of what she might be capable of. Do they still want citizenship? Do they want anything to do with those crazy, vengeful humans, or are they going to quietly leave and hope the humans don't pursue ;-)

Spot-on on Roslin / Admiral Adama's "benevolent dictatorship" vs Gaeta / Lee Adama's naive idealism. Lee, in particular, often seems to get his buttons pushed and get sidetracked, even to the wrong side (ie. his betrayal of Roslin's trust in Baltar's trial).

Baltar: Maybe this is Baltar's redemption. He passes up Six/Sex to try and do something... though we never see what....

I still sympathize with Gaeta. He was an honorable person.

Granted that Adama and Roslin have their flaws. Who do you nominate for Admiral and President?
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 10:16am (UTC -5)
Zzy, what makes you think Lee was on the wrong side in the Baltar trial? I think he was absolutely in the right.
Wed, Sep 16, 2015, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
There was a point in the trial where he had mentally started working with the defense team, but was acting (to Roslin etal) as if he was a neutral facilitator -- a baliff, if you will.
He finds out that Roslin was taking kemala again -- which he later used against her in the trial.

If the rules of the game are that he's an biased advocate for Baltar, fine, but he needed to be open about it. As it is, he was manipulated by Lampkin into betraying her friendship and trust.

Maybe he wasn't on the wrong side (well, I think he was because I don't like Baltar, but that's a harder case), but IMHO, he crossed a line he shouldn't have crossed.
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Oh, goody. Now, unimpeded by the demised Quorum, Adama and Roslin can romp their way through years of despotism, whereupon the reins will inevitably be passed to Junior and whoever he shacks up with in the meantime (Kara, I imagine). So, after Adm. Adama and Pres. Roslin what's left of humanity will have Capt. (or whatever he'll have been promoted into by then; Field Marshal, probably) Adama and Pres. Thrace to "lead" them.

Frak me sideways, I'd rather have perished in the original Cylon attack than suffer a destiny like that.
Jack D
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 9:46pm (UTC -5)
@Michael: Your concerns are based in real issues (Adams and Rolling are willing to ignore rules when it suits them), carried to hysterical extremes (do you really think Adams or Roslin have any interest in power for power's sake?).

Also: LEE, of all people, as a future dictator?
STARBUCK, of all people, as a future president?

I can only assume that you have spent less time watching the show than you've spent typing comments about it.
Jack D
Mon, Aug 29, 2016, 9:48pm (UTC -5)
Dyac ... Adama, not Adams. Roslin, not Rolling.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 10:35pm (UTC -5)
I never could stand Gaeta, and seeing how bitter and disillusioned he became over the past few episodes just confirmed how much I have always loathed that character. That he couldn't see Zarek for the tyrant-in-waiting that he was is also a testament to how pathetic Felix was... My only criticism is not actually seeing these two pieces of crap actually getting executed. I very much looked forward to that scene, but the director thought otherwise. Good riddance anyway.
Mon, Feb 27, 2017, 12:59am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone

Winding down my re-watch, and seeing them for the first time since they aired, has given me a slightly different perspective than I had the first time though, especially since I'm now seeing them a few a week, instead of having to wait.

When they posited the idea of upgrading the entire fleet with Cylon FTL technology, I don't know, it seemed sort of sudden to me. And a Very Big Deal. They had not been allies with the rebel Cylons for very long, but suddenly wanted to start a procedure that might take a bit of time, with Cylons visiting all the ships. And what if Cavil and Co. suddenly jumped in while they were working on some of them (I'd figure the FTL's would have to be offline)? Then I realized they wanted to do a mutiny on Galactica, but needed a reason to get folks all worked up (higher than just working with the rebels). Cylons on their ships working on the only thing that's really kept them alive, the FTL's, would do the trick.

Now they could have their mutiny. But it just didn't work for me. Oh, the execution of the shows was great, some of it was pulse-pounding, and I really enjoyed the episodes. But at the end of it, I'm wondering why they wanted to do a couple mutiny shows? It didn't seem to add anything in general, and did indeed feel a bit like filler (as was mentioned above). I thought perhaps they wanted to show that after finding Earth, things were on such a knife's edge anything could happen. But with so few shows left, it shouldn't have been this. With all the plots that needed to be wrapped up before the end, they then came up with a new plot that had to be resolved before they could move forward.

As an aside, I was watching Richard Hatch (RIP) very closely, and it seemed as if during some of his scenes, his face got really long, looking like he'd just bitten into a lemon. Then it occurred to me he possibly wasn't really liking his lines. He felt his character, if not a good guy, was at least somewhat good and/or positive sometimes. And when he was telling Gaeta how the winners write the history, it almost looked to me as if he was about to retch. Instead of playing him as at least a shade of grey, he now had to be a bad guy. I think that went against his grain a little, after reading what he thought of Zarek when all was said and done. This is just my perspective, and we can no longer ask him. Your mileage may vary. The only time I thought he looked "normal", was when he gave the half-smile to Gaeta at the very end...

I do rather miss this show, and I am so very glad the comments are still up for everything. I do hope they will be until the end of the web.

Enjoy the Day Everyone... RT
Sat, Jun 22, 2019, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
a closing episode that sets up the rest of the way
Thu, Oct 31, 2019, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
"As an aside, I was watching Richard Hatch (RIP) very closely, and it seemed as if during some of his scenes, his face got really long, looking like he'd just bitten into a lemon. Then it occurred to me he possibly wasn't really liking his lines. He felt his character, if not a good guy, was at least somewhat good and/or positive sometimes. And when he was telling Gaeta how the winners write the history, it almost looked to me as if he was about to retch. Instead of playing him as at least a shade of grey, he now had to be a bad guy. I think that went against his grain a little, after reading what he thought of Zarek when all was said and done. This is just my perspective, and we can no longer ask him. Your mileage may vary. The only time I thought he looked "normal", was when he gave the half-smile to Gaeta at the very end..."

I actually did kinda get this impression of him lol. The first time I just assumed he wasn't a great actor, but it started dawning on me that the actor may have found his character a ball of wasted potential much like I did. It's cool to see someone else shared this suspicion. I feel a little bad for him, Hatch made a breakthrough going from hating the show for abandoning its roots to embracing its new direction. But now it seems like he's mired in a weird middle ground of wistfulness.

Daily reminder: GAETA LITERALLY DID NOTHING WRONG AND STARBUCK STARSUCKS. I adore Sackhoff but she's just too naturally girly to play the character convincingly. As cute as her little slip-ups are they keep reminding me she's an actor and it somehow makes Starbuck's abrasiveness more annoying. I think Boomer/Athena's actor was much better with the boyishness and she never gets any love, man :(

Best line (besides Roslin's glorious promise to show the mutineers severest lesson in who towers above them): "This was a hell of a ship once." I completely bought Kelly's indecisiveness and felt his anguish, underrated side-character.

Your reviews are my perfect friend-simulator for poring through the show again, thank you so much for your insights and readings.
Fri, Nov 1, 2019, 1:26am (UTC -5)
@ Onirgirli
I agree with you on the Zarek character. The funny thing is when he first appeared I think they mentioned that he is a hardcore leftist. At that point I thought: So he actually fights for the poor and powerless... He will certainly become revealed evil and/or a fraud at some point. I have a hard time naming more shows right now but this "leftist leader of the people" who then turns out to be just about power or something that is almost a staple of US TV shows. The only thing that surprised me about that character was how long they waited to turn him evil.

Sackhoff for me was always a worse Avery Brooks. While many criticize his acting it worked for me most of the time. I thought it surpassed Shatner's acting who was producing like 50 hams during many episodes. With Sackhoff I often have the feeling that she has a hard time acting when she is sitting in a cockpit. There are many scenes where her delivery seems completely off. She generally performs better outside of the cockpit. I found her descent into alcoholism (don't know what episode. I think the scar episode) very moving and believable.

The problem with Boomer/Athena is that at some point most people will have a hard time keeping track of which cylon the actor is supposed to be when she is on screen. And while Sackhoff's performance is sometimes over the top they are also memorable. I have a hard time remembering any scene where Park's performance was memorable. Maybe the scene where she talks to Adama about whether or not Humanity deserves to survive.
Matthew Martin
Tue, Jun 9, 2020, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
I don't often disagree with Jammer. Usually it's over the DS9 Ferengi episodes that he hates but which are my guilty pleasures.

In terms of BSG, we usually always agree.

Giving these two 3.5 and 3 stars is a big disagreement with me. They're both 4 stars solely on the basis of their tension, action, great character moments, and really tight scripting and editing. I see them, together, as a flawless two-parter.
Matthew Martin
Tue, Jun 9, 2020, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Also, Gaeta's character arc over the four seasons, from doe-eyed kid, to naïve Presidential chief of staff, to frustrated officer, to, finally, a bitter mutineer is one of the finest arcs for a "secondary" character I've ever seen on a TV show.

As for Zarek, I think he stayed consistent from Bastille Day to the end. Shooting the Quorum might seem out of step with him as an idealistic revolutionary, but in his mind, revolutions are bloody. He even says that to Felix when he sees the bloody aftermath. This is what a coup looks like. It's messy but justifiable as long as you're the ones left to write the history.

There's a reason he was in jail at the start of the show. He was always violent and willing to use violence to accomplish what he sincerely believed to be right. He's not like Baltar, whose primary character trait is an ability to say or do anything to survive. Zarek was an idealist, albeit one more than willing to get blood on his hands to see his ideals win the day.
Sat, Jun 13, 2020, 12:30am (UTC -5)
3.5 from me. Yeah, it doesn't have the space to address all the fallout and remaining mess. Yes, that is a bit of a mark against the season. But the episode itself is really strong. I can buy that this all exploded suddenly and, to an extend, ends as quickly as it came (all in a matter of hours) and that a lot of traitors were swept up before realizing the real consequences and mess of it all (like Kelly).

I am behind Zarek shooting the Quorom. It's in him and he's been constantly frustrated with Gaeta not just killing Adama immediately (even in part 1) and the dangers in letting those of the former authority remain. Also, I think there is a distinction between the Quorom and the People-- I don't see an issue with Tom killing them and still fighting to persuade the people. Indeed, they are part of the old regime and seem to remain loyal there. Let the people have new representatives who stand for them rather than Roslin. Not a smart move, but one that I think makes sense for Zarek as he digs himself deeper to dig himself out.

And Roslin yelling. Amazing.
Luke Fernandes
Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
The character assassination continues. On all sides. Before they made Roslin and Adama assholes, now they make Zarek kill the quorum like a school spree shooter. The writers have their fingers on the scales and they want us to believe that Gaeta and Zarek are bad here.

It’s painful watching this show rooting for Gaeta because the writers want us to be somewhat sympathetic to Adama and co., or rather the nepotistic love boat co-presidency which ignores the law when the Roslin/Adama duo think they know best. Gross.

Baltar, who killed billions of people and collaborated with the Cylons on New Caprica, is alive while Gaeta is dead? This season is full of suckage.
Tue, Dec 29, 2020, 8:45am (UTC -5)
Laura "I'M COMING FOR ALL OF YOU!!!" Roslin was terrifying towards the end of this. I was frightened and I haven't even done anything!
Sat, Apr 17, 2021, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
Just rewatched this, and I agree with Jammer re: the episode leaving a lot unaddressed, as well as one of the commenters upthread who noted that BSG continually rushes through plot points and squanders a lot of tension and characterization in the process. In this case, one of the most interesting parts of The Oath was its subtle nods to the rot affecting Galactica's leadership (eg, how Adama increasingly regards accountability to the rest of the fleet as an annoyance). But then BoTS brushes a lot of that aside in order to re-establish the status quo with a big triumphant "Adama & co. retake the ship" scene.

WRT to Zarek, I'm of two minds. In addition to all of Zarek's characterization up to now, I'd argue that his particular actions in this episode were already foreshadowed at the beginning of The Oath, when he makes the split-second decision to kill Laird. That scene pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how the mutiny unfolds: Zarek is staging a coup, and Gaeta is playing a war game. Zarek, unlike Gaeta, instinctively gets that staging a coup means neutralizing any threats to said coup, however crude and murderous the means. The entirety of BoTS is taking that initial scene and pushing its implications as far as they go. So very believable.

But with Laird, Zarek could at least argue that his actions were necessary: he had about 10 seconds and a wrench before Laird alerted the CIC and scuttled the plan. By contrast, the Quorum are never presented as a real threat to anything. There's no time pressure, no apparent reason to shoot them. They could be just as easily arrested. Ordering their deaths is just overkill, and it erases the nuance set up in The Oath, since in light of Zarek's actions, of course Adama's leadership, rotted and blinkered as it may be, looks better than this lot. I wonder if this, too, is a casualty of BSG's tendency to rush through plot points. A little bit more set-up of *why* having an alive Quorum around would be a problem or *why* Zarek couldn't simply arrest them might have gone a long way towards this part of the plot.
The Chronek
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 9:14pm (UTC -5)
Great observations on this episode, whether you thought this was a classic or not.

I know Jammer mentioned it already, but I'll reiterate: if you can, look up Maureen Ryan's BSG writeups in the Chicago Tribune from early 2009. She had a very dedicated, smart following of commenters, and Richard Hatch himself made comments on her entries during the mutiny episodes. Those comments certainly showed that Hatch disagreed with the direction they took Zarek in the mutiny episodes. I didn't, and still don't, agree with Hatch, but I was interested to see his point of view and what he brought to the discussion.

I think the mutiny episodes were perfect. Humanity thought they would get to Earth, only for it to be a nuclear wasteland. The leaders had failed, and they knew it. And those who followed those leaders? Well, why continue to follow them if their efforts were for nothing?

Gaeta's transformation from loyal, idealistic officer who believes in the system to mutineer was perfect, as was Alessandro Juliani's performance. What has his loyalty got him? What has his belief got him? A burned-out planet, a lost leg, a near-execution by several folks who turned out to be Cylons. And yet, for all that, just enough belief, just enough goodness remains in him to order the weapons hold just as Adama and company retake CIC. It's a perfect response to Zarek's split-second decision to murder Laird in part one, showing how quick, incremental decisions can affect the outcome.

I don't mind Zarek being shown to be a ruthless jerk. He'd been previously portrayed as someone who would use violence to advance his own ends. Sure, he talked the talk of being a "man of the people," but he would often use violent means and excuse himself.

I don't think the episodes are necessarily character assassination on anyone. I think, especially the episodes from Sometimes a Great Notion through Blood on the Scales, are a fantastic exploration of what happens when leadership fails so completely. Roslin checked out, and why not? She thought her efforts were for nothing. Adama checked out partially, and largely for the same reasons as Roslin.

Four stars from me.
Tue, May 23, 2023, 8:38pm (UTC -5)
This is more exciting, meaningful action with massive stakes but some of the contrivances are bothersome. We know Gaeta/Zarek aren't going to win but it's all about how it goes down, which mostly works. But is there ever a ton of bloodshed. Certainly no Trekkian values to be found here (not that I'd expect any) but I guess it has to be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth with what humanity has become here. I don't think McDonnell does angry very well, but she's an excellent actress otherwise.

Some of the things I found hard to believe or didn't like: Adama/Tigh are pretty much fine after the grenade blast; how Kara and Lee remain free on Galactica (weren't they on the fighter with Roslin et al?); that Zarek would order the execution of the entire quorum -- so now he's just a cardboard baddie. Of course in these types of episodes, timing is everything -- like Tyrol shutting down the FTL drives, Roslin getting the comms to work. Really found it weird that Baltar dreamt of Adama set for the firing squad while with another #6. That was an odd directorial cut for me. Not sure I understand the point of it.

Gaeta having his last moments with Baltar -- kind of fitting. This might be my favorite part of this episode. Gaeta's story is a tragic one, he hopes people realize who he is. He got undone by aligning himself with Zarek, whose true colors turn up. Their alliance had to prove ineffective. It came about too quickly.

It's a bit of a fairy tale ending with Roslin and Adama together again. She did say that Adama will be in charge once again...

2.5 stars for "Blood on the Scales" -- very nearly 3* for me but there were one too many head-scratchers though this was more typically engaging BSG. Gaeta and Zarek were 2 good characters, well-acted and they were largely right re. the charges against Adama and wanting him to answer for what he's done. But it's interesting how their 2 opposing philosophies essentially clash, which was probably predictable, but nevertheless intriguing to see play out.

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