Battlestar Galactica: Blood on the Scales

This week, action-packed “Battlestar Galactica” continues as Gaeta and Zarek take their mutiny to the next level in “Blood on the Scales.”

If you haven’t seen the show, or the most recent episode, and you care about that sort of thing, don’t click to the next page. There be spoilers, and lots of them; you’ve been warned.

It’s hard to begin this review (there’s a lot to talk about here), but I’m going to start by going back to second season BSG with “Pegasus,” which has been running through my head for the last week and I think lays some groundwork for where the show is now.

At the end of “Pegasus,” Galactica pilots and Pegasus pilots face off after Commander Adama and Admiral Cain disagree over the decision to execute Tyrol and Helo. From an entirely technical, legal, merciless standpoint, Cain’s decision to execute them was correct; they murdered one of her officers, and they admitted it. But that’s not the whole story; that officer was raping a prisoner who was carrying Helo’s child, a prisoner who, although an ‘enemy,’ has been and would become a valuable asset for the fleet.

On the podcast for the next episode, Ron D. Moore talked about a decision the writers made to not have the pilots fire at each other, because if they did, the crews would never be able to work together again. And damn, if that’s not where we are now. Galactica’s crew has split, not evenly I imagine, but this is a split that will not heal easily, if at all.

Marines and civilians murdered their fellow soldiers and passengers. Adama killed his own people who stood against him. Where can we go from here? The best thing that could happen is for the Cavil faction to show up; they’d have no choice but to work together because Cavil wants them all dead.

But for right now, the Admiral and Madame President are back in charge and back together, hopely learning something along the way, which I have to admit I found vaguely unsatisfying. I knew that this was the only way for it to end, with Gaeta and Zarek dead. Lee, I’m going to bet, will be the Vice President (as the last Quorum member standing, I think he gets the job) so that when Laura Roslin dies, he can take over. It’s one of the only times in this show where I have seen the gears turning, and I’m willing to give it a pass, but I expect more. And based on the preview for next week, I will be getting more that I expect in future episodes, so I’m not worried.

Anyway, let’s get down to the characters.

Oh Gaeta, you really were an idealist all along. You really felt that Tom Zarek was the right choice and you stuck with him despite all the evidence and your personal misgivings because you believed in a better future. You never learned from your mistakes, which is one trait that cannot be allowed in the BSG universe. At the end, your leg stopped itching and you found some peace, with the aid of Gaius Baltar, another man who earned your (misguided) faith. Sorry you had to go down that road; sorry to see you go.

But I cannot say the same about Tom Zarek; he was a realist, he knew the cost of rebellion and he paid it, with the blood of others and with his own (let me just say, that the Quorum finally getting collective backbones, only to be followed by a “Dogma” -style execution has become my top ‘What the frak’ moment). I think he always wanted to make a difference in the world, to change things for the better no matter where he was. And like Gaeta, he never learned from his mistakes, that violence and bloodshed aren’t the only way, or even the best way, to make things change.

And for this episode at least, I’m thinking well of Gaius Baltar, a man who has finally seen the courage lacking in his inner self and has finally decided that it’s a bad thing.  Like that other episode where he showed compassion to a prisoner, I feel there’s more to him than his sexual needs and his self-preservation instincts. Let’s hope it lasts this time.

And could Galen Tyrol, the man-of-the-people Zarek always claimed to be but never was, be any more of a standup guy? Could Roslin be any scarier than when her love is threatened and/or presumed dead? Could Romo Lampkin be any cooler? I could ask a ton more questions and write forever in response to this episode, but I’ll leave it at that. For this week anyway.

My “No Exit” wishlist (next week’s title); I hope there is change in our leaders; I want them to be in charge because I’m a fan, but I also want them to be better leaders. I hope that there are ramifications from the mutiny, on both sides. I hope the good ship Galactica lasts until the end (although wouldn’t it be kind of awesome if a Cylon basestar become the fleet’s prime defender?). And I hope the fleet can stay together through it all. They’re all they’ve got.