Is this the best episode of BSG ever? I don’t know but it’s certainly up there and I’m running out of superlatives to describe it.
It’s a fraking mess in this week’s episode as a full-scale mutiny takes a grip of the Galactica. The uprising is, of course, orchestrated by Gaeta and Zarek, the two partners in this revolution and we see the shocking lengths to which Zarek will go to achieve his political goals as he cold bloodedly murders a deckhand who stands in his way of leaving the ship. This brutal moment sets the tone for the insurrection to follow and will not be the last death before the episode is out.
After Zarek’s arrival on Colonial One, Lee Adama leaves for Galactica, playing right into Zarek’s trap as he is met by a group of the rebels who threaten to kill him because of his Cylon alliances. Luckily, he is saved by Starbuck, who kills one of the marines and wounds another before making off with Lee. It’s a great moment and a welcome return for the two, who have some excellent on-screen chemistry. For the rest of the episode we watch as Galactica tears itself to pieces with humans fighting humans and Adama’s loyal crew turning on him and the President as Cylon sympathisers.
There are some standout moments for characters such as Adama’s continued strength of character as Commander in Chief, showing not only his merciful side but also the snarling and growling aggression which has been missing in his recent spout of depression. President Roslin also steps up to the plate as she broadcasts an impromptu speech to the fleet and Baltar continues to demonstrate his well honed skills of self-preservation and human insight. Gaeta is once again a central part of this week’s episode and continues to look paler by the minute, almost visibly overcome by his battle between a sense of duty and his bitterness towards the Cylons. And it’s a viewpoint we can understand.
What BSG does so expertly is use the big space battles, the Cylons and the futuristic storyline to look at real-life human emotions and dilemma. So, whilst watching the action unfold, I understandably root for the old man as I can understand the warming of relations with the rebel Cylons, but I can also understand the viewpoint of the rebels who cannot forget the atrocities back on Caprica.
It is as much an episode about characters’ internal conflict as well as their external struggles and Galactica is the perfect setting for this. Its labyrinth of corridors, storage hatches and darkened corners emphasise the claustrophobia that has been building in previous episodes. Under John Dahl’s (a director most widely known for neo-noir films including The Last Seduction) expert direction, the ship, which has previously been a sanctuary of hope for both the human fleet and the audience alike, is suddenly transformed into a menacing and imposing threat that must be escaped.
And the escape from Galactica is where the episode leaves us clinging by our fingertips to a weapons-grade cliffhanger that would have made Stallone proud. Chief Tyrell has engineered (no pun intended) an escape from Galactica for President Roslin and Adama but after being tracked down by the rebel marines the old man and Tigh stay behind for their last stand. These final moments show the sense of loyalty between these two great friends despite the revelation that Tigh is one of the final five. It also sets up a series of unbearable loose ends as the rebel marines lob a flashbang into the airlock. Starbuck and Lee leave to continue their battle on Galactica and the President’s Raptor is tracked by Vipers under orders to open fire by the now in command Gaeta.
To be continued…I bloody hope so.
Check out a review of episode 12 here.
5 February 2009