Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In The Face Of The Enemy

Battlestar Galactica is back and so is Galactica Log!

I’ll be honest with you. A lot has changed in the six months since the last column. Six months less a day. Not with the show, of course, its been on hiatus, but I now have a two year old running around the house and I really haven’t given Galactica much thought. Right now she’s my ward, but in the spring, once we’ve had her for six months, we’ll be able to adopt her. Besides taking my mind off the show, she has taken a big bite out of my schedule. Nothing like my wife’s, she is on parental leave, but if I hadn’t committed to Issue By Issue, I might not get any writing done at all. And you might have noticed that there wasn’t even one of those this week. But the makers of BSG know its been a long time since the last episode and they’ve done two things with a view to rekindling interest. They released a DVD set of the first half of the series and launched a ten 'webisode’ story, 'In The Face Of The Enemy'.

Coming in at about 37 minutes, 'In The Face Of The Enemy' could easily be reedited into a new episode, and I expect it will be for the last DVD set. In it six characters, four humans and two Cylons, are trapped in a raptor, lost with no realistic hope of survival. Then they start dying. Accidents, suicides, murders, or all three? The show comes with three revelations, none of which answer the big questions viewers have about the series, and two of which are given in part one. The human-Cylon alliance is a pieces. The set up for the story is an emergency jump, launched because of a Cylon attack. We later get a reference to Cavil’s ships. Presumably Cavil, and his faction within the Cylon fleet, have not reacted well to the conclusion of the first half of the season.

Second, Gaeta, the star of this story, is gay. Or, more correctly, bi. To say this has been widely speculated is giving people too much credit. The actually ‘reasoning’ has been: his name is Gay-ta so he must be gay. When my kids were young, one of the girls in the neighbourhood was named Galen. She received so much verbal abuse from other kids, because of her name, that when she became school age, her parents changed her name. I don’t know what happened to her, but, apparently, the kids who used to mock her are now working on this show. His name is Gaeta, and he now has a relationship with Lt. Louis Hoshi, formerly of the Pegasus. The ending of the story implies, however, that this relationship may be limited to this online story.

The initial title credits tell us that this story ends nine days after the discovery of Earth and that is lasts for three days. That’s a round about way of saying six days have passed between the end of the last episode and the start of this story.

Gaeta has been pushing himself too hard, so Tigh insists he take some R & R. Tigh is back at his old job. On his way to the shuttle Gaeta meets Hoshi who gives him some morphine and a kiss. A mechanic and two model 8s join him. At first I thought they were Athena and Boomer, but they’re new characters. Just as they are about to make their destination, the entire fleet is forced to jump in order to avoid an attack by Cavil. The shuttle, a raptor, jumps, but ends up who-knows-where. They are lost. A corrupted data file has skewed their navigation.

Two days pass between the first and second webisodes, and the raptor is running out of air. They have twenty hours left, then ‘memory loss, irrational behaviour, depression, dizziness.’ The mechanic decides to take at look at the scrubbers, in the hope that he can buy them some more time, but he can’t quite reach them. One of the 8s tries and is electrocuted. The insulating grip on the mechanic’s pliers has worn right off. Accusations fly, but there really isn’t any way someone could have set this death up. Is there? Maybe they are starting to become irrational? Meanwhile, Hoshi and Racetrack has approval for a rescue mission.

In the lost raptor we learn that Gaeta and the surviving 8 have a history. While on New Caprica she was helping him save prisoners, suspected members of the resistance. Their relationship was also sexual, if not romantic. And secret. They recognize one another and renew their secretive relationship. She tells him that she thinks she can interface with the ship’s computer and save them, but is afraid to do it while the others are awake, fearing they will suspect her of trying to sabotage the ship. The remaining five spend their last hours resting, trying to conserve air. Gaeta gives himself a shot of morphine. Looking at his arm, it seems he has been using a lot. He does it furtively, hiding the package Hoshi gave him in his suit. No sooner is this established, than we discover that the mechanic is dead. Suicide by morphine overdose. The pilot and co-pilot blame the 8 and would have killed her if it wasn’t for Gaeta. She agrees to be tied up. Gaeta, however, is the only person we know to have the drug.

The rescue mission isn’t going well. It seems to consist of one wild jump after the other. Racetrack swears - and it isn’t frak! She tells Hoshi that she is happy for him, that people were taking bets on how long it would be before the two finally hooked up. So it would appear everyone knew about them. On the lost raptor the 8 makes her connection to the computer. We’ve seen this before, but it has never really been explained. If the humanoid Cylons are virtually indistinguishable from us, how can they just plug in? Their past relationship seems to be projecting itself on to their current situation. He tells her he has someone, but they kiss anyway. Then the connection happens and they jump. The jump uses up a lot of power, but doesn’t get them home. It is only now that Gaeta realizes why the pilot and co-pilot have been so quiet. Their throats have been cut. The 8 did it so she and Gaeta would have more time.

This sets up the final revelation. For this story, that is. She tells him ‘there is a fine line between ignorance and hope’. Back on New Caprica she was using him to identify actual resistance members from among the prisoners. He would give her a list of people he was concerned about and she would have most of them killed. Some would be released in order to convince him his plan was working and that their secret alliance was a good thing, but he was been played. Did he know it? Maybe. A flashback takes us to his visit to Baltar, just prior to the former president’s trial. He had whispered something in Gaeta’s ear, but viewers never heard what. Now we do: ‘Don’t’ worry, I know what your 8 did.’ If Baltar did, did Gaeta? Gaius told his aide that, while he had a gun to his head, ‘nobody forced you to play both sides!’

Gaeta is almost out of air. He seems to consider suicide, but doesn’t. He tries singing, but there really isn’t enough air. The rescuers consider giving up, but shortly after find him. They 8 had sent out a pulse and the rescuers, apparently, were able to follow it to the lost shuttle. The next scene has Gaeta on a stretcher being led down a hall of the Galactica. Hoshi is holding his hand, smiling. The fact that they found him with three dead crewmates, covered in blood, and holding the knife used to kill two of them is forgotten, in true BSG style. They don't tell us about the 8. Later Tigh tells him to put it in the past. He shouldn’t even trust his own memory, given the circumstances. Adama doesn’t want an inquiry, fearing it may endanger the alliance with the Cylon faction. Gaeta says there shouldn’t be an alliance and insists on seeing Adama. He won’t tell Tigh his concerns, ‘because you’re a Cylon.’ Tigh lets this pass and tells Gaeta of an upcoming meeting, where he will have his chance to talk to the Admiral personally. En route Hoshi joins him, but Gaeta warns him off. He is going to try something and if it fails, Hoshi will need to keep his ‘head down’. What is he going to do? We aren’t told.

What are we to make from all this? Gaeta has looked into the face of the enemy and seen what, exactly? Why did the 8 save him? Some have speculated that he is the fifth Cylon. He is part machine now, anyway. But if he is, how would she know? And is he gay? The whole crew seems to think so, so I guess we can safely ret-con that information into his backstory, but how does his relationship with the 8 factor into it? Is his sexuality going to be a factor in the second half of the series, or is it going to be limited to this one story? We won't be able to answer the questions about his sexuality until the season ends, but I think we can probably write Gaeta off the list of possible Cylons. Tomorrow's episode was, I understand, shot to act as a final episode, should the writers' strike end the series. The last Cylon is supposed to be revealed. That's right. The last Cylon is supposed to be revealed tomorrow! True? Well, we'll know tomorrow. But if it is true, then it's likely they already know the identity of the last Cylon when this story takes place. Given what we've seen, then, it can't be Gaeta. My guess, Adama, wouldn't work, either. He doesn't appear in this story, but he is refered to as being in command. It is entirely possible that he could be after being revealed as a Cylon, but I think there would be some sort of break. A period for everyone would get there collective heads around the idea. But then Gaeta's complaint about not wanting to talk to a Cylon would make little sense. Unless the viewers know the identity, but the cast doesn't. We will all know tomorrow, when 'Sometimes A Great Notion' airs.

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