Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Oath

Following on last week's excellent episode we are given an episode that pushes the story forward without losing any of the tension. Its a moment by moment account of the mutiny. In fact, we are given a time signature throughout the hour, and I have used that in writing up this column. It was four hours and twenty one minutes no one will ever forget.

0620 Hours

Tigh drops in on the Admiral's quarters. Adama is finishing breakfast, complete with faux coffee. Three more captains are refusing to allow Cylons aboard. Adama tells him to tell Lee that any captains who continue to refuse will be arrested. Tigh points out that, given that he is a Cylon, perhaps he isn't the one who should be 'taking point.' Another morning, another crisis. Nothing new, really. Roslin steps out in her bathrobe and everything looks very domestic. No one has any idea what is going to happen.

0632 Hours

While the Admiral is tucking in, Gaeta is busy getting Zarek out of jail. The mutiny has officially begun.

Back in their, now shared, quarters Roslin is telling Adama that she is out of politics, that she doesn't want to get involved, that she won't, if only she could stop herself. She has put all the demands of office and medicine behind her, but she is a politico. Its just her nature.

On the flight deck Racetrack throws down her wrench of tells everyone they'll have to leave. There's a fuel leak. It could quickly turn into a fire or even an explosion. Of course, there isn't one. Even if we hadn't seen her suspicious exchange of glances, or her wooden acting (the character's, not the actress') we'd know this. There simply isn't any fuel leaking. Still, protocol is protocol and everyone runs out. Except the Chief, Peter Laird. Laird was a civilian when the Cylons attacked and was forced into service by Cain. Gaeta tells him that there have been threats on Zarek's life and Adama wants him moved. They are going to use a raptor set aside as a medical transport. When Laird insists on checking with the proper channels, Zarek kills him with a wrench. Gaeta is obviously unhappy with this, but Zarek gives him a speech about revolutions, blah, blah. Given that Zarek's career has been spent behind bars, I really question his know how when it comes to a successful revolution. But the first part of the plan is working somewhat smoothly. What the conspirators don’t realize is that there is a witness. One of the civvies who works on the flight deck, a follower of Baltar, stayed behind and saw it all.

0704 Hours

Gaeta enters the CIC. Rather than being cut off from his grand machinations, he is right where he needs to be. When Hoshi sees Zarek’s unauthorized launch, Gaeta blames the DRADIS system. Adama and Tigh easily buy into the idea of a the technical malfunction. The reason they are forming an alliance with the Cylons is that the ships are in desperate need of an overhaul.

Lee is before the Quorum, pitching the need for the FTL drives, when Zarek walks in, implying that Adama has let him go. Everyone is surprised, yet unsurprised. How many times has Zarek ben arrested and released?

Sam is shooting hoops. Not very well. He was a star, but he's lost his game. Let‘s face it, most of them have. Seelix comes in and starts talking to about the old days, the ‘good times.’ Then she has to bring up his Cylon-hood. Sam isn't given a chance to reply. Guys come up from behind, put a hood over his head and beat him senseless.

Back in the CIC a fire alarm sounds. Gaeta suggests to Adama and Tigh that it might be a stunt by Zarek’s supporters and Marines are deployed.

0812 Hours

The fire is, supposedly, on C deck, home to a major weapons cache and the pilots. When the alarm sounds Kara is eating her breakfast and taunting Hot Dog about his new status a a father, but he doesn’t take it. He tells her off. If you take an honest look at it, Starbuck's life has been a train wreck. She really has nothing going for her but her military skills, and whenever there is a lull she starts to make a mess of things all over again. If she wasn't under the wing of an overly protective father figure, she probably would have washed out long before the Cylons even attacked. Luckily for her they did attack, and luckily for the Colonies she was still in uniform. She just needs something to push her out of her habitual rut. That comes when the fire alarm sounds and she sees Narchos organizing the evacuation. She asks him why a pilot was given the job, and he tells her off. Told off twice in as many minutes. Angered, she decides to stick around. But first she calls the CIC. Gaeta intercepts the call. Sorry, everyone's too busy.

Once they're alone, Lee admits to Zarek that he thinks his father overreached in having him arrested. Zarek tells Lee that his father let him go because he intends to end civilian government. Zarek is only a threat to him in the context of a civilian government. Lee disagrees. In fact, he's going to call his dad, just to prove him wrong. Once again, Gaeta intercepts the call. You see. He is right where he needs to be. He then tells the Admiral that the fire has knocked out communications system wide. It makes you wonder, What Would Uhura Do?

0902 Hours

Lee arrives on the Galactica only to be captured by the mutineers led by Connor. Connor was a former resistance leader, who lost a son on New Caprica. He seems to be one of the mutiny’s ringleaders. Just when it looks like things are going to get rough for Lee, Kara steps out and starts shooting people until they let him go.

Next they come for the Agathons, rounding up all three. The guy in charge, Gage, was one of the rapists from Pegasus and he tells Helo he is going to rape his wife. Narchos was also a Pegasus crew member. I was left wondering how the mutiny broke down, vis-à-vis Pegasus versus Galactica crews. But these are only two men, and we know that Laird and Hoshi, both Pegasus veterans, are not a part of the revolt.

Kara and Lee get away. There's a big kiss. 'All we can count on is you and me,' she tells him. She is in her element. He's still seems a bit confused.

Back in the CIC, Hoshi notices that atmosphere readings don’t make sense. If there were a fire, there would be more and more carbon monoxide building up. There isn't. Levels are normal. A marine, Private Jaffee, is sent to investigate.

The Agathons and Sam, are put into the cell with the pregnant 6. They are being saved to use as bargaining chips with the Cylons, who, as far as we know, have no idea what is happening. Gage threatens Athena that he will be back for her.

There is scattered fighting throughout the decks. Just who is on what side? I mean, some are in uniform, some aren’t. And those who are are wearing the same uniforms!

0922 Hours

When the report comes back to CIC, that there is no fire, Gaeta calls in marines. Remember those marines he called for, just in case Zarek was up to something? The jarheads immediately attempt to kill Adama and Tigh, but Jaffee pushes Adama out of the way and is killed saving him. Gaeta orders them to stop shooting. He then orders Adama to order his supporters to stand down. He does. Enraged, Adama reminds them of their oath. But Gaeta isn't intimidated. He reminds the Admiral of his oath, telling the Admiral that he isn’t the man he was when they started and calling him ‘a sad old man.’ Adama warns them, 'If you do this, there will be no forgiveness. No amnesty. [Jaffee] died honouring his uniform. You, you'll die with nothing."

When I saw Hoshi among those arrested I wondered if Gaeta is trying to protect him or if their relationship was just an afterthought.

0925 Hours

Shell casings are everywhere. Believing the Admiral is safe in the CIC, Lee and Kara go to find Roslin. They find her safe, but unguarded. What happened to her guards? From this point, Laura Roslin is in full presidential mode. She won’t let Zarek become president.

Meanwhile, Gaeta is ordering the marines to take the engine room.

0942 Hours

Galen is with Gaius’ flock. There is no explanation why. He has set up an alternative comm system set up and people are giving him updates from throughout the mêlée. He knows Adama has been captured. He is preparing to evacuate Baltar. We aren’t given an explanation for this either, but we will see that the raptor coming for him is from the Cylon baseship. We don’t see any of the Cylons from the baseship in this episode. Are they responsible for pulling Gaius out?

As for Gaius himself, he could not be happier, but he stifles his excitement for the sake of his followers. Of course he’d rather not go, but they will be safer without him. Before he has a chance to leave, however, Roslin arrives.

0947 Hours

Adama and Tigh are being led to the brig by two marine sergeants, Nowart and Maldonaldo. Adama warns them that there will be a reckoning, but he also tries to sound them out. To get a sense of who these men are. Nowart seems unsure, Maldonaldo aggressive. Adama and Tigh are old enough to be their fathers, but that doesn’t do the young men any good. A moment later, Maldonaldo is dead and Nowart their prisoner.

Roslin comes straight to the point. She wants Gaius’ wireless. Or the use of it anyway. Communication is on everyone’s mind, as Gaeta can no longer keep the system down and ship captains want to know why the Galactica isn’t responding to their hails. Gaeta himself is in touch with Zarek, who is disappointed to learn Adama isn’t dead. Neither know he’s escaped. Roslin gets on the wireless and addresses the fleet:

Women and men of the fleet. This is your president. We have come to a crossroads in our long and painful journey. Of all the decisions that I have had to make since assuming the presidency, none was more frightening or more difficult than agreeing to this alliance with the Cylons. But we have come to a crossroads in our long and painful journey. Cylons and humans have been at war for generations; we know nothing else. And we have been locked in a struggle that has seen both sides suffer unspeakable loss. But with our supplies running low and our options limited, our former enemies may represent our last, perhaps our only hope. To those in the fleet and in Galactica who would reject this alliance, I am asking you - no, I am begging you - to reconsider and place your trust back in those who have brought you this far, and to reject those traitors who would use your fear of the Cylons to destroy Colonial civilization a...
At that point Gaeta cuts her off.

1017 Hours

Lee can’t reach the brig, but he and Kara meet up with Adama and Tigh, who still have their prisoner, Nowart. Kara has switched from full self-destruct mode to full warrior mode. We can’t afford prisoners! Adama lets him go, only to have her jump out and try to shoot him. If the Admiral hadn’t shoved Kara, the Nowart would be dead. Kara warns Adama, he isn’t your man any more, he’s the enemy. As soon as I saw Nowart runs off, I knew he’d be back with some important role to play. Turns out Olmos has said as much in his discussions of the last episodes.

1021 Hours

Roslin and Gaius talk of Gaeta. She tells him that he must of known him best and he tells her that neither made very good choices when it comes to picking their aides. Gaius also makes mention of Gaeta’s secret.

1023 Hours

As the four make their way through the ship Lee tells Tigh that he does agree with the mutineers about one thing, the Cylons are responsible for this mess. Both an interesting and an obvious point. The Cylons are ultimately responsible for all their problems. They reduced a population that numbered in the tens of billions, across twelve worlds, to one that barely numbers thirty thousand and is lost in space. And it raises an obvious question, why would they think the civilians would ever agree to an alliance with the genocidal force that destroyed everything they knew? If your family had been destroyed and the man you followed to a dead end wanted you to join with members of the very group that killed them all, how would you see him? As your commander or as a Quisling?

Gaius calls Gaeta and tries to use whatever influence he may have. He reminds him of their secret. It isn’t working. Gaeta hangs up on him.

1032 Hours

Roslin and Adama reunite, with a big, passionate kiss that seems to embarrass the young’ins. A raptor leaves the Cylon ship for their location. Galen is very much in control of the situation. Of course, the raptor‘s flight pass tells the mutineers where they can be found. Roslin and Gaius get on it, Galen, Kara and Lee return to the fight, and Tigh and Adama provide cover. They close the hanger, but the marines are prepared to burn their way through.

1041 Hours

Gaeta asks who has the CAP. Its Hot Dog and Narcho. He orders Narcho to destroy the raptor. At the same moment the marines throw a grenade in at Adama and Tigh. To Be Continued.

So there you have it. ‘The Oath.’ Everyone in uniform has sworn an oath to serve, but who are they serving? When the leaders have no legitimacy or goals, who do you follow? The episode saw the completion of Felix Gaeta’s transformation. The man who saw Laird murdered was not the man who ordered the destruction of the President’s raptor. And it saw everyone shaken out of their collective lethargy. I was surprised that it ended with a cliff hanger. I knew that the consequences of the mutiny would reverberate through to the show’s conclusions, but now it seems that the mutiny itself will be the story’s primary engine.

Tomorrow: ‘Blood On The Scales.’

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