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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

‘Battlestar Galactica’ blogging: “The Oath”

(lots of spoilers! assumes you’ve seen the episode!)

(previous: “A Disquiet Follows My Soul”)
Bad things, but hardly surprising things:

• Algae coffee tastes gross.

• Gaius Baltar turning weasel to save his own neck… again.

• “Four years without a pit stop, the equipment is sketchy as hell.” foreshadowing

I kid to cover up how disturbing this episode was. I thought last week was intense, but at every turn here, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Gaeta leading an uprising. Zarek escaping from the brig. Starbuck shooting people in the back. Skinjobs getting beaten up and rounded up. Everyone turning on everyone else.

Crazy.

The thing is, I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong in all this. I’m not sure that anyone is wrong, actually. Gaeta, for one, was right in the thick of it when humans collaborated with Cylons on New Caprica. He saw how badly that went. He’s exactly the person to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It is pretty frakked up to see an alliance between humans and Cylons. I’m not sure I wouldn’t do the same thing in Gaeta’s place. I do think Gaeta’s intentions are honorable. I don’t think he’s looking for power for its own sake.

Zarek’s a piece of work, though. He’s using Gaeta and surely knows that he — Zarek — cannot lose by doing so. If the uprising succeeds, Zarek gets the credit; if it fails, Gaeta takes the fall. Gaeta is frakked no matter what happens.

Little moments were so startling here: Starbuck calls the CIC and Gaeta hangs up on her. Lee calls the CIC and Gaeta puts him off. I mean, of course Gaeta would have to do those things, but there’s something sort of shocking about how in control he can be from his perch at the switchboard. It’s as if Uhuru were leading a mutiny on the Enterprise. It almost sounds silly… until you see it in action, and you can’t believe how smoothly it seems to be working.

Oh, Starbuck would feel alive in the midst of all this, wouldn’t she?

Watching this episode, I thought: This really is the best show on television at the moment, isn’t it? The writing is so tight yet so fluid. We know that Moore and Eick did not have all the details of the series’ big story planned out in advance, maybe didn’t even have the grand overarching story itself entirely figured out, but you’d hardly guess that from what we see in this episode, which feel like it’s all about huge bouquets of diverse tendrils finally coming together in ways no one could have foreseen. And maybe it’s because much of it was not planned that it works so well: because the characters’ actions and motives feel organic, and not forced. It makes the show a real pleasure to watch apart from my own involvement in the story and the characters: to see a supremely well-crafted show, and to hope that it will inspire other television, of any and all genres, to come up to meet the bar that BSG has raised so high.

But this story: Oh, it is all going to hell. I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if Zarek won, if the admiral died, if more terrible things happened to ensure the ultimate death of humanity and Cylon-ity. Because right in the middle of this mess, right where we are right now, I can’t see the end of it.

39,643 survivors at the beginning of this episode. A lot fewer at the end of it.

(next: “Blood on the Scales”)

(Watch full episodes and get recaps at Sci Fi’s official site for the show.)


MPAA: rated TV14-LV

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb
posted in:
tv buzz
  • I liked all of the episode (especially that very lingering kiss between the admiral and the president), but the last minute just bothered me. It was a little too much “all these people are going to die in different ways.” Now, if this was Heroes, the answer would turn out to be “Of course not!”

    But this isn’t Heroes (which is a good thing). So, are we about the see a BSG replay of the last two minutes of Blake 7?

  • Even though I think Gaeta should be punched in the nuts after this ep…

    Something tells me Gaeta’s going to find out Zarek played him for a chump. Then, Zarek will somehow end up at the end of Gaeta’s sidearm, much like Baltar in S2. And this time, Felix is going to pull the trigger.

    The scenes with Sam and Karl/Sharon being taken had me seeing red.

    Apollo and Starbuck against the world. Yippee-ki-yay motherfrakker! :)

  • Still… Gaeta went to Zarek, not the other way around. But the way things are turning out..

    Ok, it is the best show on TV. :)

  • Kathy A

    Lovedlovedloved this ep, although it was all wrong due to all the strife aboard our favorite battlestar.

    I’m a big ole Gaeta fangirl, so even though I know he’s doing Bad Things, he’s just so broken that I can’t help but feel for him on some level. He’s been taken to hell and will never come back, and he’s guaranteed himself an airlocking/bullet in the head.

    The writers have done fascinating things with so many characters on this show, but what they did for Felix and his arc from the miniseries to this point is really remarkable. The only comparison I can come up with is if the ST:TNG writers took Helmsman Miles O’Brien and, by the finale of ST:DS9, turned him into a less-evil Gul Dukat, and did it in only four seasons. (OK, I’ll turn off my geek mode now!)

    Loved the Bill/Laura moments (Saul’s reaction to seeing Laura in the bathrobe was priceless!!), especially that prolonged kiss (that made both Kara and Lee very uncomfortable to watch–who wants to see their (psuedo) parents snog like that?), and then Laura letting Bill go fight for his ship, because she knows him that well.

    Loved seeing our favorite fighting pairs go at it–Lee and Kara back-to-back, making their way through the halls of Galactica, just like old days; Adama and Tigh past their crisis of two eps ago and fighting to the bitter end. Nice to see Tyrol back to his old faithful caretaking self. Hated seeing poor Laird get his skull smashed by Tom frakkin’ Zarek, who’d better get his comeuppance sooner rather than later.

    They did a great job of bringing back so many background characters we’ve only seen occasionally over the years, even slime like that frat guy from Pegasus who cheered on Thorne’s raping of the female Cylons.

    Definitely cannot wait until next Friday!!

  • Ken

    And maybe it’s because much of it was not planned that it works so well: because the characters’ actions and motives feel organic, and not forced.

    When watched in quick succession, the role-changes in the series of Apollo (and in season 4, Baltar) seem a little forced. Granted, the show takes place over the period of years, but the changes are rather abrupt.

    Other than that, there’s very little in the entire series that has been disappointing.

  • We know that Moore and Eick did not have all the details of the series’ big story planned out in advance, maybe didn’t even have the grand overarching story itself entirely figured out, but you’d hardly guess that from what we see in this episode, which feel like it’s all about huge bouquets of diverse tendrils finally coming together in ways no one could have foreseen. And maybe it’s because much of it was not planned that it works so well: because the characters’ actions and motives feel organic, and not forced.

    I agree with you here — a lot of people I talk to seem to think that because they didn’t have a sort of planned-out, here-is-what-must-happen-next-and-etcetera, that the show can’t be any good, or that if it is good it’s just a fluke, or whatever. I call bullshit on that attitude every time I hear it.

    First off, every story gets made up as it goes along; there is a point where story exists, and at a point just before that, it did not. The timing is, for the most part, irrelevant. Especially when you consider what an amazing and brilliant story the BSG writers are telling. Ron Moore’s podcasts offer an unprecedented view into the storytelling process, but I think his insistence on being up front and frank about how the scripts are written is almost an achilles heel — though I wouldn’t change it for anything.

    Second, you can’t argue with brilliance, regardless of its genesis. This episode was easily among the best they’ve written; MaryAnn’s use of organic is so right-on. These are situations that the characters are choosing to be involved in, and their choices inform their actions, and their actions inform choices, and so on. It’s refreshing to see such bold attention paid to character and motivation.

    And how great was it to see Starbuck being a badass again? The answer: so great.

    At this point, there’s no telling how this will all end (though RDM does sprinkle some mild spoilers in this week’s podcast; nothing you can’t figure out on your own though) — and if you’re wondering where the Hoshi / Gaeta romance is (from the webisodes) he explains that as well.

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