Sunday, February 15

Galactica Station's Review of "Blood on the Scales"

Once again it’s Captain Kickass coming to you from the comfort of her living room to bring you her thoughts about episode 4.16 “Blood on the Scales.” This episode was the primary conclusion to the storylines set in motion in “a Disquiet Follows My Soul” and “The Oath.”

The episode begins with Gaeta’s mutineers taking very-much-alive Adama and Tigh prisoner. Gaeta instructed his men to throw Tigh in the brig with the other cylons and bring Adama to him. Meanwhile, he instructed Hotdog to shoot down the raptor carrying Roslin and Baltar to the basestar, but Hotdog could not bring himself to pull the trigger while Roslin was on board, thus enabling the raptor to reach the Basestar.

Roslin attempted to reassure the worried Cylons that Adama just needed time to regain the upper hand. She instructed them to move the basestar into the fleet to shield it. I thought this was an excellent tactic by Roslin; however I was a bit taken aback by it at first. Why did the Cylons choose to listen to her? We know they were scared, but these cylons were pursuing the humans and making their own decisions not long ago. What changed? My guess is the leadership. Both Cavil and D’anna were very stringent and controlling leaders. As far as we know, D’Anna stayed on Earth and Cavil is still hunting the rebel cylons, so really, the leadership is gone. When you have no leadership, are running scared, and are faced with a livid Roslin, well you’d better shut up and do what she commands.

Gaeta and Adama watched as the basestar took position in the fleet. “Now Mr. Gaeta, are you going to shoot me?” smirked Adama. The Adama-Gaeta interaction in this episode was riveting. Gaeta may have thought he was taking command but he never had the authority and confidence that Adama did – and Adama took care to make that crystal clear at every opportunity. Zarek realized this and advised Gaeta to get on with Adama’s trial which Gaeta reluctantly agreed to. They dragged Romo Lampkin in to “defend” Adama, and Lampkin quickly recognized that it was all for show and that Adama was already judged and hung as far as Zarek was concerned. He requested to speak to Adama, but could not convince Adama to do anything but stand his ground. This is classic Adama. He’s always stood by his decisions.

As Gaeta and Zarek grilled Adama, Roslin finally got through to the fleet and was able to warn them about what was occurring before Gaeta was able to shut her down. I think this was the first indication that Gaeta and Zarek’s plan was starting to crack. Very interesting scene with four reactions. Adama was holding his head high, Roslin was taking charge, Gaeta was starting to sweat, and Zarek was scrambling to keep hold of his power.

Meanwhile, Tyrol was crawling through the ship, frantically trying to reach the engine room. His urgency was palpable and it showed that cylon or not, Tyrol still cared for his friends in the fleet. It was telling. Later, the scene between Tyrol and Kelly underlined the same point. The final four, like Boomer, had extensive and deep relationships with others in the fleet, and when they were revealed to be Cylons, none of these people knew how to react. We saw how Adama reacted to Tigh, but that was all we were able to see. Given that many members of the fleet had longstanding relationships with the four, this season and this episode in particular have done a good job of showing more of the widespread impact of the Final Four reveal.

I want to take just a moment out to talk about Kelly. I think the show runners were absolutely clever in enhancing the continuity of the show by including Kelly, the friend of the rapist on Pegasus, and Lampkin. Reusing these characters just reminded the audience of the history and intricacy of the show. We saw that Kelly broke down after his conversation with Tyrol and in the process of escorting Adama to his execution. Kelly was extremely uncomfortable with his actions and the thought of betraying Adama. Later, when Lee caught up with him, Kelly promptly chose to be back on Adama’s side. That was another clear turning point.

But we missed a key early turning point. One of the most shocking scenes in the episode occurred as Zarek tried to sell Gaeta to the Quorum. I can’t remember two more memorable paired sentences than:

Zarek: “…People who have the courage to voice their dissent, but at the end of the day still stand by their president.”
Quorum leader: “I think you should leave now, Mr. Vice President.”

With that one line, the Quorum showed that they understood the situation and wanted to hear from the person they knew as their President. Zarek simply couldn’t have that. He wanted his power at any cost and was going to have no qualms about the actions he felt he had to take to do so. So, he cold bloodedly had the quorum killed. The scene was brutal and gruesome, as was the scene immediately following, in which all the bodies were shown. In a sense, the one scene almost seemed to bring both Zarek and Gaeta back to what they were like pre New Caprica. Zarek was ruthless, and Gaeta was terribly uncertain about his actions but following what his gut told him no matter what.

On to Kara and Lee. At the beginning of the episode, they continued to move through the ship and were determined to put down the mutiny. They finally freed the cylon prisoners, and Lee quickly realized that his father was not among them. Lee became frantic and ran into Kelly, who was still shaken after his encounter with Tyrol. Kelly stammered Adama’s location and joined Lee, Tigh and the others as they raced to save the Admiral.

As they hurried along, Kara and Sam stopped for weapons, and in a quick encounter Sam was shot in the back of the neck. Kara stayed behind with the intention of getting Sam to Dr. Cottle, while the others went with Lee to save Adama. I found this scene particularly heartbreaking and I saw Kara as a woman who had finally realized that her husband wasn’t guaranteed to be around forever and that scared her. She spent a great amount of time since season 3 pushing him away, but that scene showed me that Kara still had significant feelings for Anders. These feelings were evident when she addressed Lampkin fearfully stating “He’s going to die.” And I watched Lampkin faced with wanting to save his own life but unable to resist Kara’s pleas for help – it truly was an emotional scene. Kara couldn’t leave the man she loved to die alone and Lampkin couldn’t leave them to their own fates even as he wished to. Maybe I’m a sucker for helping others, but I thought it was a great scene.

Again, this episode was about the mutiny but also about transcending relationships and bonds and I felt that the scenes between Tyrol and Kelly as well as Kara and Anders conveyed the impact of those lasting bonds very well. On the flip side, they also showed the strained Adama/Gaeta relationship, and oddly, gave a nod to the Gaeta/Baltar relationship of old as Gaeta requested a talk with Baltar before his execution. In a show as complex as Battlestar Galactica, it is easy to forget early relationships and dynamics, so I thought this episode did an excellent job of stringing things back together in that regard.

Back to Gaeta and Adama. Gaeta ordered one of his men to prepare Adama for his execution and by this time, Roslin had issued a threat to turn her weapons on Galactica if Gaeta and Zarek did not release their prisoners and surrender in five minutes. Zarek was ready to engage, but I think this is where Gaeta saw some of his errors in arranging the mutiny. The death toll was climbing, and Gaeta was simply unprepared psychologically for the ramifications of the mutiny. Watching these scenes, it appeared to me that Gaeta really thought that the bulk of the harm in the mutiny would come to a few men, the cylons, and supporters of Adama. He didn’t realize how much it might divide the fleet and how many innocent people might die, and that was never Gaeta’s plan. As he became more aware of the reality of the situation and Zarek’s lunacy, Gaeta became more disconcerted, and in an interesting twist, his stress was manifested in an ever increasing itch on his leg stump. Once he realized that too many people were dying, he elected to jump instead of fight with the basestar, a decision that obviously displeased Zarek.

Gaeta called his soldier and gave him the go ahead to execute Adama. Unbeknownst to him, Lee and Tigh reached the deck and freed Adama from the firing squad. Zarek taunted Roslin with the information that Adama was dead. In another emotion-laden response, Roslin loudly and angrily assured Gaeta and Zarek that she was coming for them and would hunt then down. She ordered the basestar to prepare to fire. Gaeta ordered for the FTL drives to be spooled for a jump, however, Tyrol reached the engine room just in time and manually disables the FTL. Adama charged into the CIC practically simultaneously, took back command of Galactica, and informed Roslin of the change right away.

As Adama ordered Gaeta and Zarek’s arrests, he looked at each in turn. There was really no need for words here. Zarek and Adama brilliantly conveyed their loathing for one another in a short glance, and Zarek quietly went with the guards knowing he was beaten and tried to salvage his pride as he had always done. The look exchanged between Adama and Gaeta was longer and it conveyed Adama’s disappointment in Gaeta and his intention to show no mercy while Gaeta returned a gaze that was mixed with regret, guilt, fear, and also acceptance. He had done what he felt what was right, and it had turned out horribly wrong for everyone.

Before his execution, Gaeta spoke with Baltar one last time about his unfulfilled dreams (why Baltar?), and Baltar told Gaeta that he knew who Gaeta was (what did that mean?). Gaeta seemed at peace as he sat down next to Zarek in front of the firing squad, they shared a brief smile (huh?), and Adama gave the order to fire just as Gaeta realized his leg had finally stopped itching. The itchy leg was an apt symbol for Gaeta’s discomfort and restlessness regarding his actions, and thus it stopped when Gaeta finally found peace. It was a heartbreaking end to a character we watched develop over the years, but Gaeta’s descent was a most consistent one. We watched Gaeta idolize Baltar, report the election rigging, come to hate Baltar on New Caprica, covertly work for the resistance and almost die because of it, discover that he was used by the Cylons in New Caprica, lose a limb on a mission he didn’t fully believe in, and watch his friends die one by one. His decent was not surprising given his history and his story was tragic. He was just a man trying to do the right thing who was led astray by his own perceptions and the decisions of others.

Final Thoughts:

The timing of actions throughout this episode were right on target, from the way Lee and Kara freed the prisoners, to Anders’ shooting, to Roslin and Tyrol’s actions, and Adama’s rescue. If each of these facets had not gone as well, the fate of the fleet would have been uncertain. Perhaps it was quite a bit of material for one episode, but being down to six episodes, the story needed to be moved along, and I felt like the action was handled well for the time frame.

Finally, this episode showed that Baltar really has gone through some fundamental changes in his thinking as far as claiming responsibility for people and his own actions. Although I was skeptical (and still am) about overall changes in Baltar, I think he has transformed for the better in some way. I remember watching the miniseries and seeing Baltar for the first time thinking “For some reason, this guy will be important.” And really, he has been important – just not in a way I could ever fathom. I guess Baltar’s change remains to be understood.

Overall, I felt that this episode did an excellent job of weaving character actions, thoughts, histories, and relationships together. It showed us several points of view (Zarek vs. Adama vs. Gaeta) and at least in my case, forced me to consider how these views were valid in their own way. Character actions and reactions were consistent with character histories and the variety and depth of emotions depicted in the episode was absolutely amazing. I was left with a few questions such as why Gaeta wanted to speak with Baltar at the end, but some things are better left a mystery.

I rate ‘Blood on the Scales’ 9.5/10 - Pretty darn fantastic but there’s always room for improvement.

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