BSG Recap: Blood on The Scales
Richard Hatch was pissed. He always loved playing Captain Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica, and very much wanted to the sequel that he envisioned back onto TV screens. But instead, Ron Moore's "reimagined" Battlestar came out instead, and Hatch was critical of the entire enterprise. He came around, eventually, and was offered the role of Tom Zarek, Freedom Fighter. But I don't think that he's ever fully let his anger go, and, in fact, that anger has informed how he played Tom Zarek, who -- except for a short bit on New Caprica -- was never not kind of an asshole.
Zarek, along with Felix Gaeta -- is the leader of a mutiny and coup, which last week climaxed with a grenade being tossed into the Secondary Storage Bay, blowing up Adama and Tigh real good.
We open with Adama & Tigh not dead. In case you were curious. But captured by Captain Aaron Kelly, who has been with Galactica since the original nuking. Kelly was last seen trying to kill Gaius Baltar during his trial. Apparently Gaeta figured that anybody who was trying to kill Baltar was on his side, and had Kelly sprung from the brig to take part in his little mutiny.
OK, big mutiny. Gaeta has Tigh locked up with the other Cylons, but wants Adama to join him in CIC.
That's because he failed to have the escape Raptor shot down. Which wasn’t really his fault, but rather, Hot Dog’s fault. You see, Hot Dog has been so preoccupied with the fact that he's now a father, he's pretty much missed out on the rebellion. So he's hesitant to blow the escape raptor out of the sky, especially after he finds out that the President is aboard said raptor.
The escape raptor makes it to the Cylon baseship, where the Cylons are all WTF, now it's your turn to have a civil war? The Cylons want to leave the Fleet but Laura Roslin instantly becomes their leader, as well, and figures that Mr. Gaeta probably won't blow them up if they're hanging out in the middle of the Fleet.
Which is correct, for now, so after Adama is brought up to CIC, Gaeta, still addressing his prisoner as "Admiral," asks Adama to tell Roslin to surrender. Surrender. And not to give herself away. Adama was never a Cheap Trick fan, so he puts the onus back on Gaeta. "You're the admiral now," he contempts, and removes his Admiral's insignias, daring Gaeta to put them on.
Opening credits. We're down to 39,603. There'll be more. Or less, as the case may be.
This episode doesn’t feel as tied to the clock as The Oath, but since it’s the second half of a two-parter, I’ll still mention the clock as it shows up.
It's 1110 on the Battlestar Galactica, and Colonial One CGIs its way aboard. In hiding, Starbuck and Apollo watch as Kelly escorts Zarek off of Colonial One, while Zarek tells an off-color joke to Racetrack.
It's 1118 on the rebel baseship, and Laura Roslin is unsuccessful in contacting, well, anybody. She’s still getting locked out on all frequencies. And in the Cylon holding cell, Hera speaks for all of us by saying looking at her unconscious daddy and saying "ouch."
In the Admiral's office, Gaeta exposits that Zarek didn't need to bring the entire Quorum aboard to rubber-stamp their coup, and that he also wants to give Adama a trial. He just can't kill Adama for no reason at all. I mean, he can, and will, but he’s gotta tell Adama why he's killing him. Maybe even get an apology. Maybe that will stop his damn stump from itching and itching.
So let's bring on Romo Lampkin, Crazy-Ass (But Brilliant) Lawyer for Hire, to "defend" Adama.
Tom Zarek, Freedom Fighter, tells Romo Lampkin, Crazy-Ass (But Brilliant) Lawyer for Hire, the charges against Adama: Treason. Desertion. Aid and Comfort to the Enemy. Not Being a Very Good Daddy. All of which are punishable by death. By firing squad. "I'm not a very good shot," quips Romo Lampkin, Crazy-Ass (But Brilliant) Lawyer for Hire (OK, I’ll stop that now.)
Adama, figuring that he'll be killed either way, doesn't give a rats ass about any of this, and is determined to go out with the maximum amount of sarcasm allowable by Colonial Law. He’s already assuming that the trial will be such a pig circus that Bob Dylan will get an amazing song from it. Especially since the only judge is Tom Zarek, the Lynching Judge. Lampkin (see, told you I’d stop), figuring that he’ll be killed only if he doesn’t participate, begs for a few moments alone with Adama. Gaeta fingers the insignias, and grants it.
Hey look, it's Tyrol! Hey Tyrol! Where are you going? Somewhere, and whereever it is, he's decided to take the long, difficult route, because he's decided to use the Jeffries Tube instead of the corridor.
Back on Colonial One, which is still inside the Galactica (dirty!), Zarek is pontificating to the Quorum, who are adopting their usual tactic of being scared shitless. He wants their support as President. They ask him to leave. So he casually orders the guards to shoot them. Because that's what you do when you want people's support and they won't immediately give it to you: shoot them.
As the Marines walk in to do the shooting, Zarek then asks the waiting Kelly to fetch him Mr. Gaeta, and as Kelly walks away he hears the gunshots and screams of the ex-Quorum, and starts for a moment. Kelly has just realized that with Zarek, it's definately a case of "meet the new boss, far far worse than the old boss."
Gaeta has been fetched, and aboard Colonial One, he looks at the bodies of the Quorum and has a mild freak-out. WTF, Tom?!? But Zarek blowhards some more about coups and revolutions, and Gaeta realizes that what Tom Zarek, Freedom Fighter, wants isn't justice or revenge, but good old-fashioned power. And that, he Mr. Gaeta has pretty much handed him the keys to the kingdom. There's just a few tiny details to take care of, specificially, ex-Admiral William Adama. Who has to go.
Aboard the rebel baseship, the Cylons have decided to amscray. They figure that all hope is lost. Everybody on Galactica -- Anders, Tigh, Athena, Starbuck, Apollo, Tyrol, Caprica, Hera, Adama -- is obviously dead, so it's running time. Jump away! Jump away! But not Roslin: she’s already come back from the other side of giving up, and so it’s speechifying time! In a speech that I kinda found cloying at first, she points out that through the entire run of the series, all hope has been lost again and again and they've come through again and again. Also, since there are seven episodes left, her boyfriend will pull through just like he always has. He’s dreamy that way.
Then she drives her point home: hey Cylons, there's also a little matter of what kind of beings you want to be: the type who run or the type who face your fears and watch ‘em die.
One Cylon who's already made his decision is Galen Tyrol, who pops out of the Jeffries Tube through the floor in the munitions locker and right into the gun barrel of Captain Aaron Kelly, who is in the middle of his own spiritual crisis. They start talking, making fun of each other -- Kelly even gets away with a huge dis on Cally -- and Kelly makes his decision: whatever the fuck it is that Tyrol is doing, crawling around in the bowels of the ship, he can go on and keep doing it.
Bye, Tyrol. Go with God, or Gods, as the case may be.
Adama and Romo are talking. Adama is doing his high and mighty thing about not giving the trial any legitimacy, and Romo says for Adama to be practical, by going along he gives his people a chance to rescue him and re-take the ship. Right, that.
Back on the baseship, Baltar is sitting, thinking, when he gets caressed by a Six. Same as it ever was. But this Six has a different voice, and a different look. Baltar double-takes as he realizes that this new Six will totally count on his list of Sexy Killer Robots that I've Banged.
It's 1337 on the Galactica, and Starbuck and Apollo are outside the holding cell. Apollo rolls and grenade towards the guards, and as they scatter, he and Starbuck take them out: blam! blam! blam! blam! Starbuck then ducks behind a barrel, waiting for the grenade to go off, but Apollo calmly picks it up and points out that he never pulled the pin. He and Starbuck cutely argue as to whether or not that was funny. (For the record, it was.)
Then they liberate Caprica, Athena, Helo, Hera, Anders & Tigh from the holding cell. It’s chaos, since they know that they have only a few seconds. Everybody is shouting at once, but mostly, it's Apollo screaming about his father. Some quick decisions are made: Caprica, Helo and Hera are off to hide out with Baltar's groupies, while Tigh, Apollo, Athena, Anders & Starbuck are going to rescue Adama.
Whoops, strike two from that rescue group: as Anders and Starbuck stop to relieve the fallen guards of their weaponry, Anders is shot in the neck by a random and instantly-dispatched revolutionary. At that moment, Starbuck turns back into Kara Thrace, and all she can think of is getting the already inert Anders to Doc Cottle. She'll drag him through the corridor, a sitting duck, and the rest of them can go rescue Adama. Annnnnnnnnnnnn break!
It's 1342 in the Admiral's Quarters, and ex-Admiral Adama is already tired of being tried. Well, actually, he's sooooo over being accused every which way of every which thing by Gaeta, and so he’s increasingly smart-assing his answers, which were on the red side of the sarcastic scale to begin with. The phone rings; it’s Kelly calling to inform Zarek of the escape from the holding cell, and promising him that he’s on it. Tom Zarek hangs up the phone, and does what he does second-best: lies, lies, lies. “Hey Adama, remember your Cylon BFF, Tigh? Killed trying to escape the cell we put him in. Sucks to be you.” Or something to that extent.
Sucks to be Gaeta, too, because this isn’t what he envisioned. And man does his stump itch. So he is almost human for a second, as he addresses: "I'm sorry . . .” The second’s over. “But you didn’t give aid and comfort to the enemy. Saul Tigh was a Cylon. And even when you discovered that he was, you let him remain the XO, didn't you?"
But it has been torn for Adama. He's done. No more answers; sarcastic or otherwise. Which is fine with Zarek. He deliberates for .000067 of a second, and pronounces sentence. Guilty. Shocker of the century! No, wait. Predetermined. Who do they think that they’ll be fooling with this? Which is exactly what Romo is trying to ask, but instead of giving him a measured, law-based response, Zarek slams him against a wall. Just as it’s all about to get even uglier, they're all interrupted by the voice Laura Roslin, who has broken over the wireless and addresses the entire Fleet from the bowels of the rebel baseship.
She says: “This is Radio Clash, on pirate satellite. Yo, it’s Laura Roslin, and I’m back, bitches, and I’m here to tell you that Gaeta and Zarek have mutined! And couped! Wait, is ‘couped’ even a word? Doesn’t matter. In any event, they’re full of shit, and the Cylons are your friends. These Cylons, that is. Not the other ones we haven’t seen for a few episodes. Those ones you can fully kill. But these ones are your friends. Oh, and power down your FTLs.” OK, maybe those weren’t her exact words. Then she's cut off, having been given magical broadcasting powers by some kind of mysterious Leoben-run Cylon device, which will no doubt be important later. If we ever get to “later,” that is.
Kara is dragging Sam slowly through the corridor, when a Marine escorting Romo walks the other way. She does the instant Starbuck quick draw thing, but since her superpowers have left her again, the gun is out of ammo. But that's OK, because Romo Lampkin? Crazy-Ass (But Brilliant) Lawyer for Hire? Kills the Marine by slamming his pin directly into the jugular. As the Marine bleeds out, he rips the pen out of the Marine's neck, and even more awesomely, recovers his sunglasses. He is just about to leave when Kara convinces him to help her take Anders to Cottle.
It's 1447 on the Galactica, and Noel "Narco" Allison is leading Adama's execution detail, having been instructed by Gaeta to take Adama down to the hangar bay and wait for Gaeta to come on down and give the order. Heading up the rear is Kelly, who peels off, and starts breaking down and crying in that corridor with all of the pictures.
Which is where Apollo finds him, and not only does he tell Apollo the whats and the wherefores of Adama's impending execution, he changes sides right then and there.
But it's too late! We see Mr. Gaeta commanding a firing squad, which executes William Adama in a hail of bullets.
Psych! It's only a dream. Baltar's dream. From which he's almost instantly distracted by the new Six, who is ready for another round of humping. But Baltar's not. Instead of growing an erection, he seems to be growing a conscience. He tells the new Six that he didn't leave Galactica to escape the Revolution, but rather to escape his Groupies.
Apparently, Gaius Baltar doesn't want the leader of any cult who would have someone like Gaius Baltar as their leader. And who can blame him, really? After coming to this realization, he decides that he needs to go back. He feels responsible for these people. Hey, who is this guy? What the hell happened to Gaius Baltar?
Also: this is going to set up Baltar, Caprica and Hera together again for the first time, with Hera fully in Caprica’s hands. It’s a great little detail that just whizzes by in this masterfully-paced episode.
It's 1502 on the hangar deck, and Adama is sitting in a chair, facing a firing squad. Waiting for Gaeta to come and give the order. Adama looks at the firing squad facing him, guns at the ready, and spits on the ground in front of him. Seriously, there isn’t a single moment in this episode where Edward James Olmos doesn’t totally and utterly fucking own.
It's 1524, and Roslin is back on Radio Clash, doing the early evenin drive shift, and ordering Galactica to surrender. In the Admiral's quarters, Gaeta fingers the insignias some more, itches his scratchy stump, and -- oh yeah -- calls Narcho to order Adama's execution. Neither Gaeta nor Zarek could be bothered to actually be there? That's how you know that they knew the whole thing was bullshit. "Yes sir," says Narcho, who is – look at that! -- being held at gunpoint by Tigh while Apollo is untying his Adama.
Apparently, it's time for Adama to get his frakking ship back. Hell to the yeah!
Adama, flanked by Tigh, Apollo, Kelly, and even the Marines starst storming through the corridors of the Galactica, picking up more and more loyalists at every juncture.
Zarek, who doesn't know any of this, and who just wants to be President already, decides to call himself President of the Twelve Colonies and addresses the baseship. He tells Roslin that Tigh's dead, and Adama is dead, so why doesn't she just surrender already. Geeze, Laura, give it up already. The gamble here is that the news of Adama’s death will freak out the poor cancer-ridden female enough that she’ll just give up.
Remember that scene in Lord of the Rings when Galadriel is tempted by the Ring? And describes herself as becoming a terrible queen and ends it with "all shall love me and despair!" Well, after catching herself in order not to react fully to news of Adama's death, President Laura Roslin then delivers a speech that would have made Dark Queen Galadriel cower like a cockroach:
"No. Not now. Not ever. Do you hear me? I will use every cannon. Every bomb. Every bullet. Ever weapon I have, down to my own eye teeth to end you. I swear it. I'M COMING FOR ALL OF YOU."
It's 1528, and on the Battlestar Galactica, it's time to jump! Run away! Run away! Mommy’s coming home, and she’s pissed! Gaeta orders the jump drives powered up -- they'll deal with Laura Roslin later. For now, it's time to split the Fleet once and for all. Let's get the frak out of here, NOW! And so the countdown begins: 10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . .
Except Tyrol, who – except for that bit where his humanity convinced Kelly that it was all just trickier than Human vs. Cylon, full stop -- has spent the entire episode crawling through the Jeffries Tube, has finally reached his destination. The engine room. Where he's going to enter his access code and disable the FTL drive. 7 . . . 6 . . . 5 . . . Except for this: he doesn't have access anymore. Oops. 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . .OK, how about this? He'll just start ripping shit out of the engines until the FTL drive is offline. So he does, and the jump is aborted.
Well, that's it for Gaeta. Thanks for playing, Felix! You can pick your consolation prize in hell. Zarek screams and scream sat him to do something! Wake up! But Gaeta is totally awake, and totally realizes that they’re totally screwed. Not Zarek, who implores him to send out the vipers, fire on the baseship, War! War! War! Power! Power! Power! But the only thing that Gaeta says is, "weapons hold!"
Just then, Adama and gang retake CIC. No bullets, no bloodshed. Just inevitability. Adama calls the baseship, and asks his girlfriend not to fire on them. It’s over. It's 1532.
In the engine room of the Battlestar Galactica, not eve knowing that he saved everything, Galen Tyrol looks at what for all the world is a big bloody scar on the wall. Is the Galactica alive? Like, you know, a Cylon ship?
Felix Gaeta and Gaius Baltar are shooting the shit over cigars and drinks. Gaeta is telling Baltar that, when he was younger, he wanted to be an architect. But, from his ideas, it's obvious that he would have sucked at that, too. They chat and chat, and Gaeta finally says, "I just want people to know wh I am." Baltar replies, "I know who you are."
But its all in Gaeta's head: in reality, he and Zarek are sitting, facing their firing squad. Adama is there, giving the orders. Hey! Did they have a trial? What about due process?! As Baltar and Lee look on, Adama gives the order.
Gaeta and Zarek look and each other and smile.
Gaeta suddenly realizes something about his eternally itchy nub. "It's stopped!"
Whew. So now what? Also: How many people were really with Gaeta and Zarek? How are Adama/Roslin going to deal with those people? What was that device that powered Radio Clash? Is Anders dead? What was that scar in the Galactica? Who is Kara Thrace? Where is Ellen Tigh? What about Cavil and the other Cylons? Baltar and Caprica and Hera, oh my? Ack!
Too many questions, and only seven episodes left of this utterly amazing show.
Jim Connelly also writes about pop culture and technology at Medialoper.