BSG: Blood on the Scales

“The truth is told by whoever’s left standing.” —Tom Zarek

“I know who you are, Felix. I know who you are.” —Gaius Baltar

At last a day of reckoning has come, and tyranny brings even more blood than we might have imagined, and not in the ways we might have guessed: the Quorum executed at Zarek’s command, that noble lunkhead Anders shot and possibly dying, renegade lawyer Romo Lampkin taking revenge with his omnipresent pen, and rather nastily at that. (Am I wrong or did he actually gut that marine wide open? I hate to go back and watch it again.) In the end all is resolved and yet nothing is at peace, as we see the cracks have taken hold, that the ship itself is beginning to split apart even as its people are coming back together, however tentatively. Every second of this show carries a weight these days, every lurch forward leading us toward something inevitable, and inevitably more tragic.

That I could weep for Felix Gaeta; who would’ve thought? Then again, who would’ve imagined that Gaeta, of all people, an architect at heart, this civilized man who placed such faith in knowledge and deliberation and measured so carefully each step along the way, who would’ve guessed that his instincts would always be for shit? That in trying to do right, he would manage to choose the wrong side over and over again? Of course he would’ve spent his childhood dreaming up impossible things and then grow up to set them all aside in favor of easy logic: Baltar, the duplicitous Eight, Zarek… wake up, Gaeta, wake up!

Ah, well. In the end, perhaps his greatest failing was having no eye for nuance, no ability to see beyond the facts as presented, and imagining the scales of justice tilted only one way. Thinking that because Roslin was guilty of cheating, Baltar was somehow worthy of winning; that being in love—or lust, or sex, or whatever—meant you could trust anybody on New Caprica who looked like a Boomer. Or, finally, because he believed that Adama was fundamentally wrong to form an alliance with the Cylons, he was justified in helping someone like Tom Zarek blow it all to hell. Or that he might be able to absolve his own sins by punishing the same sins in others. Oh, Gaeta, wake up! There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your high-minded half-assed frakkin’ philosophy!

But then, too, how fitting was it that Gaeta’s own sad end should be the one thing that finally makes Baltar get up out of bed and face his own responsibilities and failings? Gaeta’s last miracle, I suppose: neutering Baltar and splitting open his conscience. But to die alongside Tom Zarek? Yuck. At peace or not, that seems like the cruelest fate of all.

And then there was the simple, single-minded lunacy of Tyrol, crawling through the belly of the bucket alone, on his own belly, inch by hideous, stinking inch. What a lovely thing. After all, hasn’t Tyrol always loved machines best? And I’m not talking as a Cylon; I’m talking about who he is, at his core. They are his first language, the fleeting Blackbird, the Vipers and Raptors, the Galactica itself, the gears and levers and the great, churning engines, everything that makes them go. They are the only thing he relates to anymore. And so he and Kelly lament the battered ship’s old glory together, and so he brings Zarek’s escape to a halt with his own hands and blood, and so he is the first to see that they’re tearing apart from within, in ways they haven’t even conceived of yet. In so many ways, time is running out.

Of course time is running out for Laura Roslin, too. How can it be otherwise? Now that she’s bossing not only her own people around, but also her sworn enemies, while summoning every ounce of life left in her failing body to rain down vengeance on Tom Zarek’s poor, blow-dried head. Does the fact that she’s fighting now mostly to save the man she loves make her any less of a leader? Or make her actions, and the force of her intent, any less fearsome? I do have to admit, though, that I found much of her dialogue and delivery glaringly clunky in this episode; god knows my deep and abiding admiration for Mary McDonnell is front and center in my love for this show, but something felt way off here, right up until her final scene. But that in no way diminished the beauty of watching her turn from such righteous fury into something so small and fragile and human at the end, her relief at seeing Adama again so great that she had no words for it, and no way to touch him without falling apart. And it’s hard not to imagine, as he takes her in his arms and leads her away, that he’s finally bringing her home to die. But I will gladly be wrong about that.

Anyway; my heart was rended, and stepped on, and crumpled up into a tiny little ball of wailing tears by the time the credits finally rolled, and I’m finding that the closer we get to the end, the longer I pray a week will last.