Battlestar Galactica #103: A Disquiet Follows My Soul

"You know there are days that I really hate this job."
SO SAY WE ALL: Discipline problems and even mutiny plague the fleet.

REVIEW: At the end of the previous full episode, Adama addressed the despair that gripped the fleet in the wake of finding Earth a nuked wasteland and caused the disintegration of discipline even aboard Galactica. He gave the fleet a new mission, he gave humanity hope again. And if this weren't Battlestar Galactica, a status quo would have been established and things would proceed from there. But it IS BSG, so a good speech isn't a magic wand. There are still discipline problems, dissent, and look, a lot of people aren't going to be on board with a Cylon alliance just because Adama says it's fine. This is the episode that deals with all that, and it's really not a one-off thing. Adama's decision is going to have continuing ramifications.

The Admiral, at least, is putting his cubits where his mouth is. That's the point of showing his morning routine, messy, improvised, human, with all the morning coughs kept in, picking up refuse in the corridors, and addressing problems like the high umber of personnel reporting in sick (really: hopeless and depressed). Another routine: Roslin giving up on taking her meds, finding new energy and running up and down the ship (or later using it to have sex with Bill), and most certainly letting Adama act as conduit between her and the Quorum so she doesn't have to face her duties and her failure as leader. That's HER way of dealing with it, but of course it opens the door to VP Tom Zarek to make some moves. The other leader under the microscope is Baltar, thematically merging his God and Adama, two "fathers" who have forsaken him and humanity, who feels punished and puts out that angry, bitter message, making his flock rebel against their own faith, inflamed into contradictory nonsense that may yet fuel a rebellion by teaching them anti-authority. When someone like Baltar finds things too easy, they get bored and start dicking around. His faithful are so easy to manipulate, they will "follow him into blasphemy", and he sees himself as their God, just as cold and cruel and unfeeling. They are nothing to him. And so Baltar must once again find a way to reinvent himself, I think. Pushing through it, hiding from it, rebelling against it (Zarek/Gaeta), adapting to it. Essentially the four responses to trauma.

I mention Gaeta there... He's going to become a major player in the last act of this story. His increasing bitterness, between the loss of his leg, the disappointment of Earth, and his disillusionment in The Face of the Enemy, has made him insolent, insubordinate, and ultimately, mutinous. After a number of incidents where he must be reminded to call his superiors "sir", we get a great scene in the mess hall that mirrors one from early in the post-New Caprica era. Then, Kara had sat across from him and called him a collaborator. Now, he does the same to her, implying that she is a Cylon plant. When she leaves, he closes the door, and starts recruiting others to his cause. Kara was just speaking her mind and being shitty, as she is wont to be. But in this case, Gaeta is just being political and fostering mutiny with this "calculated" confrontation. As below, so above. Zarek is also fomenting dissent, both with the Quorum, and more secretly, with the ships of the fleet. He paints Adama's new quest as another "mirage" to hold on to power, and rejects the plan to outfit the fleet with better Cylon jump drives (and certainly to allow a Cylon representative into the Quorum in exchange), but is also behind the fuel ship's jump away. It will land Zarek in jail, with Adama bluffing the ship's coordinates out of him (nice ploy), but then Gaeta meets up with him... Uh-oh.

A secondary thread is more hopeful - children. Tigh and Caprica are going to have a baby, and having the echogram now (a boy, proving Cylons can have a biological future), and the ironic universe simultaneously puts Tyrol's child in medical danger, a failing kidney and the need for a proper blood donor forcing Coddle to reveal Nicki isn't Tyrol's. If we look at the puppet strings dangling, we'll recognize that the writing team improvised Tyrol's Cylon origins AFTER the whole New Caprica storyline and now regret this half-Cylon child that perhaps takes something away from Hera, or whatever else they mean to do in the finale. Hotdog turns out to have been Cally's lover before she and Tyrol gor together, and after the expected fist fight, Tyrol declares they'll both be father to the kid. A mature reaction, but not one without its petty revenges. Well, it's better that declaring a hybrid baby non-viable and killing it off. See? Hope!

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: Zarek running a revolution from jail is much like Baltar doing the same not so long ago. Adama reads from "There is a Languor of the Life" by Emily Dickinson, a text somehow reproduced in the Colonial time frame.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Headcount starts at 39,644, six down from the previous full episode, but we have to remember The Face of the Enemy minisodes fit between the two. Three humans were killed in those events. The other three are presumably part of the climbing suicide rate.

VERSIONS: This was the extended version. The broadcast version was more than 9 minutes shorter and excluded Cottle's accidental reveal of the sex of Six's baby, Zarek's gun, most of the Baltar/Head Six material, Tigh dressing down Gaeta for his insolence, Lee's attempt to convince the Quorum before Zarek speaks, Adama dressing down Figurski about the state of affairs on the flight deck, Adama authorizing lethal force, and Tyrol and Hotdog's scene in the hospital.

- No cheap solutions. A well-observed drama that delves into consequences and sets us up for more darkness before we ever see the dawn.


Ryan Blake said...

I'd forgotten how good this show is, you've inspired me to rewatch it and feel impressed and depressed

Siskoid said...

That is my goal generally, and it took only 103 reviews.


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