BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - 'Blood On The Scales'



SCI-FI HD - 6th February 2009 - 10.00pm

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR UK VIEWERS

My word. If you thought last week's episode was tense and had left you all but despairing for our heroes then be prepared. You'll go through the emotional wringer on this one, sort of.

...his constant scratching of his amputated limb, a proxy for his own guilt
Last week, the fleet was falling apart with civil unrest and a military coup led by one-leg Gaeta and the opportunistic, power hungry Zarek. Yet, the story did give us pause for thought about the reasons for this insurrection. The coup did have a point to make and it looked like it was a victory for the underdogs. But in the back of our minds, didn't we really see what was coming? We knew that once Zarek tasted power then the idea of fair trials, diplomacy and power politics would simply go out the nearest airlock. If the writers wanted to make Zarek the defacto 'evil' man then this episode effectively did that, with knobs on. Which, though exciting and dramatic, just pops a big black hat on his head after all and doesn't actually help to give the man any more dimensions. Gaeta, naively complicit with him, suddenly realises he's in over his head when the body count spirals upwards. Writer Michael Angeli shows Gaeta's descent into what eventually might pass as a form of martrydom and Alessandro Juliani was fantastic in the way he portrayed the man's crumbling sense of self-worth and his utter inability to realise the extent to which Zarek intended to take his ambitions. His profound disability was visually echoed by his constant scratching of his amputated limb, a proxy for his own guilt, which ceased its nagging in the chilling conclusion and final words, 'It's stopped'.


...the 'imagined' firing squad death of Adama was such a dumb thing to do
As a viewer I think the game was up the minute Zarek ordered the execution of the quorum. At that point the entire argument lurched back towards Adama and Roslin. It also gave us some revealing moments and punch the air scenes with our major characters. Gaeta giving the order to execute Adama under pressure from Zarek, showing his vacillating moral compass; Roslin screeching back 'I'm coming for all of you' at Zarek after believing Adama was dead (reminded me of the Chris Eccleston speech in Bad Wolf), almost phoenix like in her determination to get him; and Baltar realising he can no longer keep running away from events that don't suit him. Mary McDonnell and James Callis firing on all cylinders again and I hope we see more development for Baltar in the remaining episodes after such a long absence. And, briefly, Baltar's 'dream' of the firing squad death of Adama was such a dumb thing to do. It's treating the audience as media illiterates and it was beneath the writing team to even play that trick, especially after manipulating that moment in all the pre-broadcast trailers. Did you really think we'd fall for that crap, Mr. Moore?
Thus ends the coup in a rather predictable way...


In the meantime, Tyrol does seem to spend the entire episode crawling inside the Galactica's innards only to reach the big lever called 'Plot Resolution'. Then again, he is literally quoting Mario Savio's "you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop". However, he does spot a rather nasty looking section of damage which would suggest that even the ship itself has come to the end of its journey. Galactica trashed in the finale, then? All in gritty contrast to the interior of the Cylon base star which is more and more resembling a very bad nightclub interior. I'm beginning to suspect that the Cylons have recruited Tory as their mouthpiece because she can lead them all in a Saturday Night Fever inspired dance routine when we're not looking. I digress, as thus ends the coup in a rather predictable way. This of course underlines Roslin's pep talk to the Cylons about how bloody marvellous they've all been to get this far. Last week it seriously looked as if their luck has run out but by the end of this we are more or less back to square one despite Anders bleeding to death in a corridor somewhere, a fleet minus a quorum who just sat there and squabbled to themselves, and Zarek and Gaeta executed for their deeds whilst smirking at each other in a previously undisclosed moment of mutual gay attraction.

There is that interesting coda where Baltar chats to Gaeta in the cell. I get the impression that Angeli was trying to articulate what he believed was the moral trajectory that Gaeta took. It sounds like he's comparing him to Hitler, what with the allusions to architecture and science, as well as painting Zarek and Baltar as the yin and yang of Manson-like pretensions to power, each with their 'flocks' in the fleet. I suspect that Baltar, newly enlightened, is going to play a major role in what is to come. That's certainly the question that is posed at the end of this: where does the fleet go from here? I'll say one word. Cavil.

Previous reviews:

The Oath
A Disquiet Follows My Soul
Sometimes A Great Notion
Revelations
The Hub
Sine Qua Non
Guess What's Coming To Dinner?
Faith
The Road Less Traveled
Escape Velocity
The Ties That Bind
He That Believeth In Me & Six Of One

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