Battlestar Galactica #104: The Oath

"I want you all to understand this! If you do this, there will be no forgiveness. No amnesty. This boy died honoring his uniform. You, you'll die with nothing."
SO SAY WE ALL: Gaeta and Zarek stage their coup.

REVIEW: The structural conceit of the episode is that the action is supported by time stamps that though not minute by minute, shows how quickly things escalate as Gaeta's plan to take over Galactica is enacted with calculated precision. The furious pace this ticking clock creates means it's not even 11 AM by the time we hit the cliffhanger and all seems lost. This one made me quite nervous and anxious, thank you very much, even if I know the characters under threat are meant to survive past this point. Very suspenseful.

We have to hand it to Gaeta more than Zarek here. As communications officer, he's perfectly positioned to enact his plan. He files false reports, shuts down coms with the rest of the fleet, and blocks any of the good guys from raising the alert by calling on C.I.C. Masterfully done. He and his loyal recruits break Zarek out of jail and start shoving Cylons and their sympathizers in there instead. What Zarek does in comparison is less effective. He kills Deck Chief Laird and effectivement makes this a proper civil war, lies to the Quorum, but his own aspirations are stymied by Gaeta's still active conscience. Both thing they are right in their action, but while Tom Z is a ruthless terrorist, Gaeta still needs to abide by some code, which means not letting his marines gun down Adama and Tigh in cold blood. When Zarek murders a man in front of him, you almost expect that to be the end of their alliance. As for the other conspirators, most of them seem to come from the Pegasus, which would speak to some long held grudges, like rapey Gage and his malice towards Sharon and Helo. Seelix, like Connor, were part of Zarek's "Circle" who judged and executed Cylon collaborators (which almost included Gaeta, but I guess he doesn't know that), so they are proven extremists, angry about the Cylon alliance (she also seems to have had a thing for Anders, which is part of her bitterness). Racetrack is the only odd choice. Hotdog is probably safe seeing as he's on patrol at episode's end, but is not named as someone they have in their pocket when Gaeta gives the order to have Roslin's escaping Raptor shot down.

Adama is great in this. When C.I.C. is attacked and young Jaffee is killed (he was the kid who brought him coffee in the morning and whose name he made a point of learning in A Day in the Life), he is angry and most of all DEFIANT in the face of this mutiny. You absolutely believe the conspirators will not get out of this alive with one of the many pardons that have been handed before. In fact, he proves it later when he executes his escort after creating a diversion that allows him and Tigh to get the jump on them. The other escort is used to help bring them to the brig to rescue the rest of the prisoners, but after meeting up with Kara and Lee, rogue agents aboard ship, he almost gets killed by Starbuck. She's energized and herself, but that also means she's more bloodthirsty than Adama is. So yes, Adama is totally gonna get the mutineers executed, but he's going to follow procedure, or at least not shoot unarmed men in the back.

Before then, however, Kara and Lee find the President in Adama's quarters, as the two are now living together. This may be what saved Roslin from capture, as it's not part of scuttlebutt quite yet (Tigh is quite surprised to see her there that morning). Resolved not to get pulled back into governance between 6 and 7, she turns a corner between 9 and 10. Great idea to use Baltar's pirate radio to send a message to the fleet, and well executed as an interruption to communications just before Gaeta arranges to have Zarek address humanity. But it gets interrupted too... will it have done its job? Lee makes a good point, telling Tigh what's what, that even if you're for the Cylon alliance like he is, there are so many against it, you can become embittered just from hitting that wall. Of course, Baltar isn't keen on letting her have it, but it's more out of spite and pride than anything else, and she sagely eats crow in order to pacify his selfish nature. Of course, at this point it's clear that Baltar wants out of his church. He finds his faithful trite and irritating, and wants to escape Galactica as much to get away from them as for his own safety.

The episode ends with Adama and Tigh somewhat pointlessly staying behind (but we'll see what they have in mind), while the President and Baltar make a dash for the Cylon ship as mutineer Vipers head for them. I'm writing this up real fast so I can watch the next episode.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: Colonial Marines seem to have adopted the same motto as U.S. Marines, Semper Fi(delis), which means they speak Latin as well as English.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Headcount shows 39,643, one down from the previous episode, and that would be deck chief Laird, killed before the credits. It's impossible to tell how many died in the coup - we see bodies that might be dead or only wounded, though conspirators who do get fatally shot include an unnamed marine killed by Kara, and Maldonaldo by Adama. On the loyal side, Jaffee is killed in addition to Laird.

VERSIONS:
Deleted scenes include the marine Adama lets go, Nowart, returning to CIC with the news; a slightly longer scene between Kara and Lee meeting up, and again of them speaking with Roslin; and Adama telling Lee he's staying behind.

REWATCHABILITY: High - Edge of your seat stuff!

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