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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
TV Round-Up: Battlestar Galactica
"The Oath" & "Blood on the Scales"
Like the final season of "The Shield," the final season of "Battlestar Galactica" is going out with a bang. Just as having the end in sight freed "The Shield" to allow them to take the gloves off and really start delivering on several seasons' worth of build-up and tension, so does having the end in sight do that for "Galactica."

This is a story that's been slowly building and bubbling since the first days of the series. And now, with the fleet having lost hope of a home in Earth and without Roslin there to provide some kind of moral compass leadership for the last survivors of humanity, things become so frayed that a full-scale mutiny is not only possible but almost expected. Tom Zarak has waited in the wings long enough and he finally sees his chance to slip in and make a last, desparate grab for power. He finds the ally he's always wanted in Gaeta (he's tried many times with Lee Adama, only to see him go scurrying back to Roslin's camp) and he's got the issue that he thinks he can pound home. The concept of putting Cyclon technology on all the ships of the fleet must be terrifying to him--and it's a completely understandable fear.

And that's the thing about this show. While we may be rooting for Adama, Roslin and company to take the fleet back, we still know deep down that Zarak kind of has a point. In the miniseries, Adama wouldn't network computers together to keep the Cylons from gaining control. Now he wants the ships to trust them enough to install their technology. It's a big leap of trust to go from supporting each other against Cavil and his group of Cylons to letting them put their technology into the very things that sustain our every day lives. And as you watch things unfold in the first half, you can see Zarak has a point.

It's only in the second half that he goes too far in trying to drive home his vision of the fleet. Zarak finds it's easier to be the second-string guy than the guy out there leading. Everyone loves you as the back-up but once you're thrust into the spotlight, the same people who loved you before will now turn on you. (Listen to any sports call-in show in the known world for proof). Zarak figures that once he takes power, everyone will fall in line with him. And then, the Quorum doesn't. So instead of taking the road Roslin would and trying to pursuade them of the strength of his position, he has them all shot and killed.

At that point, any sympathy I had for Zarak evaporated. And yet it was such a jaw-dropping moment that you couldn't look away. And you realized just how duplicitious Zarak is and the only thing he cares about is himself. He may claim a high road and a moral superiority, but he's not. And it's fascinating to see Gaeta's reaction to the news and realize that maybe he's back the wrong horse in this race.

Meanwhile, Adama faces the task of taking back the fleet and trying to rebuild it. It certainly won't be easy to trust anyone who mutineed against him, but he may not have a choice. At this point, his pool of capable officers and military people has dwindled down to next to nothing. And with Tyrol seeing that crack in the FTL drive, I am betting that puts added pressure on Galactica to find a new home and soon...before they're stuck in space forever.

Just like the final episodes of "The Shield," you can feel the tension getting higher every week. The noose is closing and there aren't many options yet. And that's even before Cavil and his group of Cylons have shown up. You can bet they're out there and you can bet they'll be back.

It's episodes like these that are bittersweet for "Galatica." They're so exemplary that you can't help but with the show could go on at this level of brilliance forever. But then you realize that part of what makes it work is having the end in sight and being able to make some of the choices made here. Killing of Zarak and Gaeta, as well as a bunch of others from the mutiny could only work with the series being in its final episodes. And yet, I can't help but love the series that much more and be left wanting more and wanting it now.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 2/11/2009 04:52:00 PM | |
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