Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blood On The Scales

Last week I used the episode’s time stamps to structure the Log and as a result I think it was a little long. Maybe a lot long. So this week I am returning to my usual format.

We pick up where we left off. Comparing the survivor count at the beginning of this episode to the one at the beginning of last week's, we learn that forty people have died. So far. Roslin and Gaius are on their way to the baseship and Adama and Tigh are holding off the marines. Their resistance is short lived, however. The marines throw in a stun grenade, storm the cargo hold and take both of them. Gaeta has given the orders to the destroy the raptor and Hot Dog is on it, but once he learns the President is aboard he refuses to shoot. Narchos has no such hesitation, but the delay Hot Dog has created means the raptor makes it safely across. It is the first sign that there are degrees of commitment among the mutineers, assuming Hot Dog is a mutineer.

Once Roslin is aboard the baseship the Cylons demand to know why they are being fired on. They have no idea what is happening. In that case, why did the raptor, piloted by an 8, leave the baseship and come to the abandoned cargo bay in the first place? Roslin and Gaius explain the situation and the Cylon are scared. They want to save themselves, but stay for the sake of the Cylons aboard Galactica: Tigh, Sam, Galen, Athena, Hera, and the pregnant 6. Basically, for the sake of the future of the Cylon race. Roslin convinces them to move the baseship to the center of the fleet. Gaeta won’t risk a confrontation with them if the civilians are likely to be hit in the crossfire. Still, their commitment is far from solid and as they watch Roslin desperately try to make radio contact with the fleet, you can see their resolve drain out of them.

Tigh is thrown in the brig, but Adama is brought to Gaeta. Felix wants a trial. He wants everyone to see that he is right and that the Admiral has betrayed humanity. Rollo Lampkin is arrested to serve as Adama lawyer. Gaeta will prosecute. Zarek will sit as judge. Rollo manages to get a few minutes alone with his client, but he makes no attempt to get Adama to participate. It’s obviously a kangaroo court, whatever Gaeta thinks he is doing. The only action Rollo does take is to steal Zarek’s pen. We see Galen watching Rollo’s arrest, and then we get to see him make a long crawl through some part of the ship. Its impossible not to think of Jeffries tubes, but we have no idea where he is going.

Meanwhile, the Cylons announce to Roslin that they are going. Its too dangerous. But she shames them into staying. How will their behaviour be remembered? And Zarek addresses the Quorum. He lets them know who is in charge now, and they uncategorically reject him. The Sagittaron delegate, Jacob Cantrell, gets up and dismisses him, pointedly referring to him as the vice-president. It’s a display of courage from a body the show likes to portray as sheep and not the community’s actual law makers. When Zarek leaves there are three marines waiting. Two go in and murder the members of the Quorum, the third, Aaron Kelly, follows Zarek.

Kelly’s role on Galactica began, in the mini-series, as the third in command, after Adama and Tigh, but after the first season the character was largely usurped by Lee and Karl Agathon. Why the writers chose this route has never been explained. He all but disappeared from the show until the trial of Baltar, when he was revealed to be responsible for the bomb that killed Gaius’ first lawyer and a second bomb intended to kill Rollo (the one improbably discovered by the cat). Presumably he was freed from jail as a participant in the mutiny.

That Gaeta was upset at murder of the Quorum would be an understatement. He is losing control of events. Or, rather, Zarek is actively wresting control from him. As in many actual revolutions, the lengths extremists are willing to go allows them to set the agenda. Gaeta needs the Vice-President to legitimize his actions. He needs the trial, too. The loss of the Quorum will cost them support. Zarek doesn’t care. His ambitions are so naked you really have to question Gaeta’s judgement in giving him so great a role in things. Why didn’t he seize control and then release the Vice-President?

Events quickly move forward. Galen’s long crawl ends with him being captured by Kelly. Kelly is alone. He orders Galen up, but Galen refuses. Why get up, if he’s only going to be shot? For a moment they forget themselves and begin to reminisce. Kelly tells Galen to keep going, though he’s angry at himself for his own compassion. Baltar gets a visit from his imaginary 6, though she‘s now dressed in white and looks somewhat angelic. Lee and Kara storm the brig and free the prisoners. Lee asks for his dad, but they can’t help him. They don’t know anything. As they leave Sam takes a bullet to the head. He is bleeding out and Kara decides to stay with him. It’s a moment of truth for their relationship, which has been all but non-existent since her first return from Earth and the revelation that he is a Cylon.

The trial resumes, though trial doesn't seem to quite capture the situation. Gaeta, Rollo, and Adama are sitting around a table. The 'judge' is standing in the background, hanging out with the marines. Gaeta wants the Admiral to admit he has done wrong, and the Admiral won't. A call comes through, telling them of the escape. Zarek takes it and announces that Tigh was killed trying to escape - never trust a preview! - but if he thinks that will break Adama's resolve he could not have been more mistaken. Adama refuses to cooperate any further. As Rollo is being led away, he and his marine guard come upon Kara and Sam. Kara would have shot the marine, but she's out of bullets. The marine might have shot her, but Rollo stabs him in the neck with Zarek's pen! Sam is still bleeding out and Kara tells Rollo she can't carry him to Cottle by herself. The lawyer tells her she's own her own, that he is escaping while he has the chance, but he barely turns around to run before he changes his mind and helps her.

With Leoben's help Roslin manages to get through to the fleet and tells the captains to power down their FTL drives. Only ten of the thirty-five ships comply. Gaeta gives new co-ordinates, but only to the twenty five ships that refused to listen to her, he tells them to jump, and gives Narchos the order to prepare a firing squad for Adama. The firing squad is marching Adama to a launch tube, with Kelly taking up the rear. As they pass a room, Kelly stops, enters it, and prays and cries. That's where Lee, Tigh, and the rest find him. He tells them where Adama is being taken and joins their rescue. Adama is standing in the tube. A white square as a target over his chest. The squad fires, he falls, and Baltar wakes from his nightmare. Everything from Kelly joining the rescue until Giaus awaking has been a dream, but the dream was the firing squad we saw in the preview. The lying preview. In the actual hanger Adama is seated, the squad is lined up, and everyone is waiting for a call to shoot. Adama spits and I flash back to the Hemingway I read twenty years ago. When a man is afraid his mouth becomes dry and he can't spit. Adama is fearless. Of course.

When Gaius awakes from the dream he has a crisis of conscience. He has abandoned his followers in their time of need. This is a new Baltar, putting others above his own self-preservation, but there is no time for it this week.

Roslin addresses the fleet a second time. She calls on them to release the captives, turn control back over to Adama and surrender. She gives them five minutes. Gaeta calls Narchos and gives him the orders to shoot, but when the camera cuts back to Narchos we see that he has a gun to his head. Lee and company have already saved the day. Adama starts his counter-offensive by trying to recruit his own firing squad. What happened to no amnesties? Narchos tells him that as much as he respects him, he hates the Cylons and won’t take orders from a man who won’t fight them. Tigh is about to shoot him, but Adama tells him to just tie him up.

Zarek calls Roslin. He repeats his lie about Tigh having been killed trying to escape and then tells her that Adama is dead. 'Its over Laura,’ the admiral was ‘executed this morning.’ Of course he wasn't, the order to kill him wasn't even given until 3:24 in the afternoon. Even when he doesn't have to, Zarek cannot stop lying. He tells her she needs to think about the people in the fleet and surrender. She, of course, refuses, but before the two leaders can bring their forces into conflict Gaeta orders a jump (there has ‘been enough killing’). But the consequences of today's actions are a little too close. Adama and his marines are on their way and we finally see where Galen has been heading all this time. He has reached the FLT drives. By the time the jump countdown gets to 'two' he takes the drives offline. The metaphorical drive goes out of Gaeta too. He mutters something about Adama's threatened reckoning and orders a weapons hold. Adama takes the CIC and contacts Roslin. Its 1532 and the mutiny has been put down. It was at 0632 that Gaeta sprang Zarek and the mutiny began, just nine hours ago.

Gaeta and Gaius are talking in Gaeta’s cell. The prisoner recalls his childhood and his aspirations and wonders how he’ll be remembered. Gaius wants to say something, but Felix cuts him off. He doesn’t want to hear about religion, , ‘I’m fine with how things worked out.’ Its funny to think that Baltar is the only friend he has left. Gaeta and Zarek are executed together. I wonder if it’s the same firing squad. They are the only two. Gaeta’s last words, talking about the phantom pains from his knee, are ‘its stopped.’ He seems at peace. Like Dee, whatever the future they have now, he doesn’t want to be a part.

When Galen saved the day, by cutting off the FTL drives and forcing the mutineers to stay and face the music, he looks up and sees a huge gash in the wall of the engine room. The structural integrity of the ship is a thing of the past. Not really a surprise. When this adventure first began the Galactica was about to be turned into a museum, an educational center. That’s why Roslin, the Secretary of Education, was there. But I have to wonder if this is a short cut designed to move the story forward. Now we have to use the Cylon tech, there simply isn’t any choice. It was also a little disappointing to see Adama immediately recruit his own firing squad and then see only two lined up for their reckoning. There has always been a sad disconnect between actions and consequences under Adama’s command. I’ve said before that this plot should drive much of the rest of the season, but I wont be surprised if it is only given lip service. The previews for tomorrow boast that all will be revealed - though we should remember how reliable this episode’s preview was - but the first thing I want to know is the weekly population stat. If forty died in the first half of this story, how many died by its end?

One last point before wrapping up the week. I didn’t bring this up earlier, maybe because I didn’t want to do the work to prove my point, but the series resumed with one huge scientific blooper: Earth is uninhabitable because of a nuclear war fought two thousand years ago. Even if the world had been destroyed by a nuclear Armageddon, after two millennia it would be perfectly safe to return to. I may have been too lazy, but the people at Next Big Future weren’t. Check it out.

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