Saturday, January 31, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: "The Oath"

The new episode, "The Oath," confirms the suspicion I had in my last review. This mutiny storyline will eat up a lot of time I would have rather seen spent on solving the mystery of how Cylons can be an older "race" than we were told.

You can watch the episode here, without commercial interruption, if you missed it. And if you missed the other two episodes this season, you can go here for the links.

There is something regressive about this storyline. It would have been a great episode back when they were having stories like the one about Adm. Cain, the Pegasus and how Adm. Adama almost mutinied on her for reasons just the opposite of Zerak's and Gaeta's. Cain was too ruthlessness, she shot her own executive officer (XO) and she let her crew torture and rape Cylon prisoners. She had let them sink so far into savagery that it was doubtful they could ever again become civilized. In fact, two characters from Cain's ship have joined with the mutineers and they seem intent on picking up where they left off, raping the Cylon women.

When Tyrol and Helo killed one of the Pegasus's officers for trying to rape Helo's wife, Adama was ready to launch Vipers and a Raptor full of Marines in order to take them back from the Pegasus brig. Cain was ready to counterattack. Starbuck was ready to shoot Cain.

And there was another mutiny, on the poo-barge. The one that cost Gaeta his leg. As they keep saying, "all this has happened before..." This is the third mutiny. Come on, if even your robots can't follow orders like robots should and they rebel on you, why would you treat people like robots? A soldier's faith in your command decisions still has to be earned and you have to keep your ears open for doubts about your decisions so that you know when you need to explain or compromise.

This story worked in the same way as the other mutiny stories, it was visceral, angry, tense, raw and action packed. Everyone's old resentments and fears were on display. And I think it will be the best of the three mutinies we've seen. Gaeta and Zarek pulled off their mutiny in a much smarter and more devious way than Adm. Adama or the poo-barge mutineers. Gaeta and Zarek were meticulous in their set up. In fact, Gaeta and Zarek are so devious that it may undermine the trust of their fellow mutineers. Everyone on the bridge saw how callously Gaeta lied to everyone who trusted him to set up the mutiny. He's undermining their faith by doing that.

The problem is that we've already been there and done that even if this one is the best mutiny on the show. Another aspect of the show's regression was the way Baltar and Roslin snipe at each other. I thought they had gotten past that after what had happened in "Hub" episode. The writers seem to be slipping back into the old conflicts they know how to write instead of developing the new ones, like the conflict the characters should be concerned about but cannot be now. The conflict between what 2,000 year old Cylon memories and the fact that we've all been told that Cylons were of more recent manufacture. That's a mystery story instead of an action story, at least it could be if someone cared enough to investigate. They need to be thinking "is our whole history a lie?" By my calculations there are only 7 episodes to go and we are no closer to answering that question.

Now the characters don't even have time to think about that and previews for next week’s episode look like the show will still be dealing with the mutiny and leaving them only six episodes left for answering the questions they raised.

I hope they had an end game in mind. These last half dozen episodes shouldn't be retreading old territory like this unless they've got something I'm not seeing in mind. How does all this get us closer to understanding the shared visions of the opera house? How can they answer why Earth was like it was when they haven't left a scientific team there to tackle the questions and report back?

And remember, TV Tyrant has the BG blog carnival:


maya said...

I see your point, but I disagree. This may be similar on the surface to things that have happened earlier, but it's very different in the depth and meaning of it. This represents nothing short of the unraveling of the military structure, along with the fleet. The one stable point in their existance just fell apart. And the characters are finding new ways to exist in their new non-Earth-seeking lives. This is extremely important. The cylon question has to be explained, but it's clear that the mantra "this has happened before" comes into play. For this reason, it's not as big a shock as we would think. They've been told this has happened before throughout their entire lives.

spurge said...

Like I posted before. They can't answer all the questions about the Cylons because they have a prequel show that needs them.

I liked the episode but it is hard not to think that the final ending of the show will disappoint.

I hope I am wrong.

normdoering said...


I stole your concept about linking the repeated mutinies to the phrase "all this has happened before."

Thanks for helping me improve this post.

I used it here:
"As they keep saying, 'all this has happened before...' This is the third mutiny. Come on, if even your robots can't follow orders like robots should and they rebel on you, why would you treat people like robots? ...."

normdoering said...

spurge wrote:
"I hope I am wrong."

So do I hope you're wrong.

This mutiny stuff may make for exciting TV, but it's not giving me the kind of stuff I can sink my analytical teeth into. I want the bigger, philosophical stories back.

And I want more Baltar.

spurge said...

I concur. More Baltar and more Cylons.

Not one scene on the rebel Cylon ship yet.

I would also like more Cavill.

Ms. SP said...

In the "you can't please all of the people all of the time" column--I liked this episode specifically because it did feel regressive. I didn't realize how much I missed their old selves until they started acting like them.

I have confidence in the remaining episodes because BSG has always moved at a blinding pace. Issues and situations that would have taken up entire seasons of other shows were over and done with in a flash on this one. I remember not being able to believe that Pegasus was over in three.

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