I have to join the huge pool of critics and viewers alike who have done nothing but sung praises over the last two episodes of “Battlestar Galactica.”
“The Oath” and “Blood on the Scales” were written by Mark Verheiden and Michael Angeli, two powerful writers on just about any series they’ve ever worked on, but two men who really showed what their skills were made of. They took characters we knew and love, and turned it all upside down, creating the ultimate battle where there really was no going back, no reset buttons, no amnesty.
It’s the kind of television I have waited so long for — where people make bold decisions and have to face the ramifications, whether good or bad, of those actions.
In these two episodes, Felix Gaeta (Alessandro Juliani) is tired of the alliance with the Cylons, and convinces much of the Galactica’s crew to revolt with a little help from Vice President Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch). Fans knew from the first moment that Apollo let Zarek live in the first season that this man would be back, and he would be seeking a way to gain power.
What’s funny is that he did have it at one point following the exodus from New Caprica, but quickly handed it back over to Roslin. He knew then that it just wasn’t the time to take control, and he would patiently wait for his revolution and his power-grabbing dreams.
Gaeta ended up being a puppet in all of this. He obviously was unhappy with the blanket amnesty, and with the loss of Earth, life suddenly became directionless and out of focus. It needed a new path, it needed a solid line, and Gaeta was willing to risk it all to make it happen.
These are by far the two most powerful episodes I’ve seen of “Battlestar Galactica,” maybe ever. I’ve watched these episodes several times now, and there is nothing about it I don’t like, and every minute seems to be riveting. While you can empathize with Gaeta, you’re still rooting for Adama … but at the same time, the troops supporting Gaeta and Zarek aren’t out to be evil. They feel that this is the real way to go, and are willing to burn the village to save it.
In the end they were still people. Many of these two warring sides were friends just days, even hours before. It kind of provides a sense of what a true civil war must be like.
I wish the television business model allowed for shows to do the things that both “Battlestar Galactica” on SciFi Channel and “Lost” on ABC have: definitive end points. For serialized programs like this, it’s so important to know how big the canvas is the writers have to paint the stories on, otherwise, audiences are left to wander aimlessly, wondering if the Cylons really have a plan, and if the island is real.
Once you provide that definitive end point, however, it’s like everything comes together. The story finds its focus and its way.
That means if these past two episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” were amazing, then we haven’t seen anything yet.