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Fear and Loathing Stalk the Crew of "Battlestar Galactica"

It's hard to let an episode of Battlestar Galactica go by without saying anything, especially as the series only has a handful of episodes before it sails off among the stars (sadly, with no resurrection ship anywhere in sight).

While I wasn't going to write about this past week's episode of Battlestar Galactica ("A Disquiet Follows My Soul"), which found the ragtag Colonial Fleet dealing with a number of internal fractures, from Laura Roslin deciding to stop treatment for her cancer, Gaeta stirring dissent among the shell-shocked crew of the Galactica, and Tom Zarek making a power grab with Roslin indisposed.

While this episode--written and directed by Ronald D. Moore--lacked, say, the narrative heft of the previous week's installment ("Sometimes a Great Notion"), it perhaps will later be viewed as an installment which figuratively drew a line in the sand for the series's characters.

After learning that Earth was no more than a barren wasteland and the site of its own nuclear holocaust, the crew of the Galactica is quite literally pressurized into making some rather bad decisions. For Laura, it's the feeling that she can no longer be the dying leader that the scriptures prophesied and that she needs to live for a change. The result is that she skips her cancer treatment and goes for a run around the ship, experiencing a chemical euphoria from withdrawal from her cancer drugs. But is she truly living? Or is she in a state of denial about the future of the human race? About her own responsibilities as president of the Colonies?

I'm glad that the series' writers have dealt with the troubling notion of Cally and Chief's offspring, finally revealing that baby Nicholas isn't Tyrol's son after all, but the result of a relationship between Cally and Hot Dog. After all, it did diminish the weight of Hera being the savior of the Cylon race as the first human-Cylon offspring if there was a second one waiting in the wings. No longer. Still, I can't help but feel bad that, even in death, bad things just keep on happening to Cally.

Over the last season, Gaeta has subtly turned into one of the series' most enduring villains, the sort that you never see coming. His latest act, after picking a fight with Starbuck in the cantine, is to have his own desire to stop the humans' collaboration with the Cylons dovetail with Tom Zarek's latest bid for power. Separately, these two didn't have a chance of changing the the status quo. Zarek's attempt to hold the Tillium ship hostage until Adama reversed his position on a permanent human-Cylon alliance (including integrating Cylon jump technology into the civilian fleet) ended, rather predictably, in defeat and he himself wound up in the brig. After being largely ignored by Doc Cottle (who was focusing his energies on Tigh and Caprica's Six's unborn child), Gaeta's efforts to sow seeds of dissent among the crew may have found some converts but there's no way that he could have enabled any sort of power struggle on his own.

Scarily, together, these two could prove to be exceptionally dangerous. Zarek has the ear of the quorum and a long reputation of being a freedom fighter and the enforced use of Cylon technology seems to be a hot-button issue that he can use to his advantage. Gaeta brings with him a crew that has been pushed beyond the brink and that has lost its way after being promised a new home on Earth by Adama and Roslin. Should the use of Cylon technology be a ship-to-ship decision? Or is Adama right that the safety of the fleet is his priority and his decision alone to make? Gaeta certainly believes the former, as evidenced by his menacing look at Adama and blatant sneer as he questions the Old Man.

Among all of this chaos and mutiny, however, was the absolutely gorgeous scene at the end between lovers Adama and a bald-headed Roslin in bed. Lit by candles and wrapped up in Adama's arms, Laura did seem as though she was living again for the first time in a very long time; hell, she practically glowed. But, given the forces mounting against them, one can't help but view that scene with a twinge of fear. It may always be darkest before the dawn and their candles may have kept the darkness at bay for a little while but that dawn only seems more further off than ever now.

On the next episode of Battlestar Galactica ("The Oath"), Zarek and Gaeta's mutiny kicks into high gear, Adama is removed from power, and the lines of battle are drawn within the Colonial Fleet as opposition to the Cylon alliance turns violent.

Comments

Anonymous said…
That scene in the cantine with Starbuck and Gaeta was nasty. Both of them are completely broken people and it's sad to think that, with everything that's passed, they cannot find any common ground.

My favorite scene, though, was the one with Baltar as he encourages passionate anger in his followers when it's very clear that he just doesn't care anymore. His performance in that scene was priceless!
Unknown said…
Gaeta's certainly changed since we met him years ago. It's even believable since losing a leg can make a person bitter.

I'd like to see more of the old Baltar. This pseudo-religious droning is boring me to tears. His machinations with Chip 6 (who's gone) were delicious.

Nitpick: why didn't Adama order the fighters to knock out the tillium ship's FTL? I supposed they might be reluctant to break stuff they'll have to fix later.

Still, the obvious (to me) solution to the "crisis" would've been to say to the captains: "Fine, we won't upgrade your FTL. Good luck keeping up with the rest of us. See ya!" I think most captains would quickly change their minds about accepting the Cylon tech.

I congratulated myself when my prediction (that Cally's baby isn't Tyrol's) turned out to be true. (I commented on "Baby Mamas: Of Infants and Offspring.")

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