BSG S4.5E012: The Oath

Date: Sat Jan 31 2009 Battlestar Galactica
Okay, the kicks in the gut are back. The Oath takes up with the alliance between Mr. Gaeta and Vice President Zarek and continues this line of division among the fleet over the alliance of Humans with Renegade Cylons. Clearly people who have been told that a certain class of people, Islamics say, are the enemy will have a hard time accepting a change of plan to have close cooperation with those enemies. No matter how peaceful and cooperative the Islamics are shown to be they have been the enemy and it's not easy to switch from killing thine enemy to embracing them in brotherhood. Oh, wait, did I say Islamics? I clearly meant to say Cylons.

It's been obvious all throughout the reimagined BSG that strong analogies have been drawn between real life events with the epic battle between Christianity and Islam, and the epic battle between Human and Cylon.

In any case back to The Oath. What we have is various people beginning a normal day. Col Tigh and Adm Adama discussing how to quell the latest problem, all the way down to cooks peeling algae to make mashed fauxtatoe soup. But what's this, Laura Roslyn wearing Adm Adama's bathrobe? Anyway, back to the matters at hand it's a normal day in the ragtag fleet.. but.. There is this scene we've seen before, conspirators freeing a political leader who's being held in the Galactia Brig, escorting them through the ship, to a waiting Raptor which is to fly under questionable orders. My where have we seen this scene before? His escape allows Zarek to barge in on Lee Adama's moment of redirecting the Quorum into agreement with Adm Adama's directives. And then there's a curious fire, where there's fire there's supposed to be smoke, but the sensors aren't reading any smoke. Are the sensors telling truth or lie? Turns out the sensors were lying, there was no fire, the communications had been cut out across the ship, and Lt. Gaeta has become a turncoat traitor. Except Gaeta is doing this because he thinks it's Adama who is the turncoat traitor and they have an interesting scene speechifying each other about who is the traitor. Elsewhere Starbuck rescues Apollo who was about to be arrested by crazy Connor, then Starbuck and Apollo hook up, probably permanently, running through the ship to rescue the Admiral and attempt to save the ship etc. Even more elsewhere all the known Cylons are arrested and put into the Cylon brig, where Caprica 6 states the obvious that the humans want to kill them. Duh. Starbuck and Apollo find Pres. Roslin in the Admiral's quarters and they head off towards Baltars hiding place so she can use his Wireless to talk to the fleet and possibly avert catastrophe. That leads to Baltar and Roslin accusing each other of being frauds, after which they join in a truce. Also Mr. Tirrol (who still seems to be out of Uniform, and is hence probably not part of the military any longer) has sneakily arranged for a disused cargo airlock to be usable for their escape. Laura Roslin and Dr. Baltar escape in a Raptor, Starbuck, Apollo and Tirrol head off into the ship, and Tigh and Adama make some kind of sacrificial rear guard to cover everybody's escape.

Wow, that's a lot of stuff to jam into an hour.

Anyway, there's a little continuity problem or three. The glaring one is why was Gaeta taking everybody's phone calls. In all previous episodes it was Lt. Duala who was the switchboard operator taking phone calls and other comm traffic. After Duala's death Mr. Hoshi was given her job, and hence it was he who should have been handling comm traffic and phone calls. However in this episode Gaeta was handling all the calls a fact which conveniently allowed him to subvert the flow of information which should have warned the Admiral something was amiss. He was shown diverting warning calls from both Starbuck and Apollo and perhaps there were others.

The main thread of this episode appears to be Oaths, and Loyalty, and Betrayal, and Duty. The obvious example is the exchange between Gaeta and Adama in the CIC each accusing the other of Treason and Betraying their Oath of duty. But there is more such as all the crew members enrolled by Gaeta into Rebellion, they all had to violate their own oaths of duty. And all the ships captains who were disobeying or ignoring orders from Galactica. There are plenty of questions on all sides of this story about who's viewpoint is more correct than any others.

Really... who is right here? The Renegade Cylons desire life just as do everybody else. The Humans rightfully have little reason to trust the Renegade Cylons. And the bulk of the humans probably have very little of the knowledge Adm Adama has gained over his interactions with Cylons because, well, do you honestly think Adm Adama would be open with the fleet members? No, he has shown himself over and over to keep much from the rest of the fleet so the rest of the fleet no doubt is very much in the dark over what's truly happening. Even within the crew there is obviously a lot of doubt over an alliance, and rightfully so. Adm Adama clearly believes there is a possibility to make alliance with the Renegade Cylons, is he right? Who knows.

As I wrote in earlier postings there is a cycle of violence occurring here. This kind of reaction with humans lashing out at their enemies is a part of that cycle of violence. Perhaps Lee Adama is truly intent on leading everybody out of that cycle of violence but it's just as clear it's going to be a tough road to slog down.

Starbuck's presence in this episode was most interesting. She'd been down in the dumps for weeks, nobody to fight, no risk of death, she lives for risking her life in fights. It feels so good to be alive, she says. But the scene most in my mind is when she lectures Adm Adama that those are not his men any longer, they are the enemy. This is the military mind at work apparently, trained to look for and destroy enemies. That is her role, as Lee said some time back, her self image as a steely eyed fighter jock is all that's holding her together. Is it better to leave someone to live when it's not necessary to kill them? Or is it better to kill an enemy e.g. because of expediency that you can't afford time to caretake a prisoner?

Towards the end of the episode Baltar makes an enigmatic phone call to Gaeta. He attempts to defuse the situation calling upon Gaeta's moral fortitude but Gaeta is having none of it. Obviously his moral fortitude is in alliance with Zarek at the moment. Anyway there is a continuing enigma of this secret being shared between Baltar and Gaeta, and just what was it that Baltar whispered in Gaeta's ear during his questioning in season 3? You know, the statement that turned Gaeta into a madman and stabbing Baltar in the neck with his pen. Again their little secret is referred to, again Gaeta becomes angry, and Gaeta hangs up the phone in disgust.

In The Face of the Enemy (the recent webisodes) we did hear the whispers more clearly in the flashback than in their original airing. 'In a flashback, we then see that it was Baltar's threat to reveal Gaeta's role in the executions that caused him to try to kill Baltar in his cell in the episode "Taking a Break from All Your Worries".'

Oh, Mr. Gaeta, what have you done?

The last thing to discuss is -- just why did Adm Adama and Col Tigh put themselves into the sacrificial rear guard role? They're in the secondary storage bay, and there are three clumpings of people. One group is to escape in a Raptor to go to the Cylon ship. Another group is to run off into the ship and attempt to undo the rebellion. And the third group is to.. do .. what? Supposedly their role is to ensure the Raptor gets away cleanly. But as it played out that wasn't necessary, as the airlock leading to the Raptor closed pretty quickly and there was no need to bar the entry door to the storage bay. But that's exactly what Adama and Tigh were tasking themselves to do, to bar the entry door. Uh.. why?

Clearly Adm Adama was in a moment of choosing between the loves of his life. Does he run away with one love of his life, Laura Roslin? Or does he stay with the other love of his life, The Battlestar Galactica, and save the ship? It's been shown time and time again before that Adama's first and primary love of his life was his role as Battlestar Commander. Of course his primary choice is going to be to save the ship. If so then why does he place himself in a sacrificial role? Why doesn't he run off with Tirrol and Starbuck and Apollo?

That is a very curious choice.

If this were a game of Chess, playing the King as if it were a sacrificial Pawn to save the Queen is a game-over kind of move. But then Chess is rather sexist.