Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 4 - Episode 15

BSG - 4x15 - The Oath - Originally Aired: 2009-1-30

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 6.68

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Synopsis
True to the prediction of Felix Gaeta, "one day soon, a reckoning is going to come," mutiny among the fleet begins. Under the direction of Tom Zarek and his conspirator Gaeta, people begin to rebel against the rule of Adama. The two men have gained unlikely followers with pilots such as Diana Seelix who aids in the capture of Sam Anders. He is beaten and led to the brig with the other Cylons and their cohorts, all of who are the pinnacle of Gaeta and Zarek's hatred.

Without so much as a second thought, Felix has Tom released from prison and returned to Colonial One, where he greets a surprised Lee Adama. Confused, Lee attempts to reach his father and question him about Tom's release, yet Gaeta intercedes on all incoming calls to the CIC, causing Lee to take matters into his own hands.

When he arrives on the hangar deck of the Galactica, Lee gets an unlikely greeting from Racetrack, Skulls and Connor who are prepared to kill him in the name of revolution. Yet, the omniscient renegade Starbuck shows up right on time to save his life. Unarming the disloyal pilots, Starbuck and Lee set out to stop Zarek and Gaeta's unconstrained quest for Cylon — and uncooperative human blood.

One by one, each of the Cylons is lead to the brig, unknowing of what their fate will be. Caprica 6 surmises that the humans will need them alive to be used as bargaining chips against the rebel Cylons — yet Athena and the rest aren't comforted by her reasoning.

Meanwhile, a full-on war aboard Galactica has ensued, with marines, civilians and pilots alike all prepared to fight against Adama, in support of Gaeta and Zarek's coup. Stopping at nothing, Gaeta goes full force with his plan and has marine guards arrest Adama and Saul Tigh. He then orders the Admiral to be removed from the ship and charged with treason.

Fearless, even in the face of death, Roslin reassumes her role as President and seeks an unlikely ally in Gauis Balar, who begrudgingly lends his wireless communication to her. She attempts to send a warning message to the fleets about Gaeta's overthrow of the government, yet the ship is beyond the point of reasoning.

Saul Tigh and Adama manage to escape the hold of Gaeta's marines. They then usher the President safely aboard a raptor, headed far away from the calamity aboard the ship.

And rather than fleeing with her, both Saul Tigh and the Admiral hold true to their oaths. As soldiers, they stay behind with their men, prepared to fight, even if it means the loss of their own lives… [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- The whiteboard reads 39644 survivors, however the main title cites the survivor count as 39643.
- When Starbuck shoots one of the men attempting to apprehend Lee, blood splatters all over Lee's face. In the next cut showing Lee's face, none of that blood is there anymore.

Factoids
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39643. Down one. (The rebel Cylon that died in the last episode? Or maybe another suicide?)

Remarkable Scenes
- Tigh's response to Adama's offer of coffee: "Ever since they started grinding it out of algae I've lost the taste."
- Zarek taking out Laird.
- The attack on Anders.
- Starbuck messing with Hot Dog.
- Gaeta blocking Starbuck's and Lee's attempts to communicate with Adama.
- Starbuck after shooting the guys who were trying to capture Lee: "I could do this all day!"
- The assault on Helo's and Sharon's quarters in front of Hera.
- Gage confronting Helo.
- Starbuck impromptu kissing Lee before they go charging together into battle.
- Tigh: "What do they have down there, a forest fire? Where the frak are my damage reports?!"
- Gaeta taking CIC by force.
- Baltar and his groupies consoling each other.
- Adama and Tigh successfully assaulting and neutralizing the marines attempting to escort them to jail.
- Baltar and Roslin taking pot shots at each other's messianism.
- Roslin: "If it makes you happy, maybe we're both frauds and this is our last chance to atone."
- Roslin broadcasting an address to the people.
- Starbuck insisting that they kill everyone who opposes them and take no prisoners.
- Lee lashing out at Tigh, giving them some perspective about Gaeta's and Zarek's position.
- Baltar appealing to Gaeta to stop the mutiny.
- Adama and Tigh standing their ground as they are assaulted by Gaeta's forces.
- The raptor running to the Cylon baseship and Gaeta ordering it shot down.
- Gaeta's forces assaulting Adama and Tigh's position with a grenade.

My Review
The Oath is a fast paced, riveting action show in the tradition of Valley of Darkness but unique in its own right because it's hard to know who the enemy is at any given moment. Long time friends become foes as it is slowly revealed scene by scene who among the cast's long list of characters still with us have been swayed by Gaeta's cause.

Indeed, especially satisfying among this episode's many merits is the plethora of continuity and loose character threads which come together here in a somewhat twisted way. Among those in Gaeta's formidable army are characters we already love to hate, such as Charlie Connor and I-like-to-rape-Cylons Specialist Gage, as well as long time friends now turned foe like Seelix and Racetrack. And seeing Laird meet such an unceremonious end was both unfortunate but also strangely appropriate for his endlessly tragic character.

A notable exception was Hoshi, who seemed to have a notable presence in this episode, but his close relationship with Gaeta wasn't touched on even in the slightest. Official statements by Ronald D. Moore indicate that this is a dramatic oversight caused by retroactively pairing them in the webisodes, which were shot after the series wrapped. Like the previous episode's gaffe with Cally and Nicky, this is an unfortunate (though less severe) consequence of BSG's over reliance on make-it-up-as-you-go-along storytelling.

Roslin and Adama go through perhaps the most interesting journeys in this episode. Roslin's leadership qualities seem to get a jolt of energy; it seems appropriate that it would take a crisis of this magnitude to jump start herself back into leadership. Juxtaposing this transition with some of her most cavalier and uncaring regard for her position so far along with a nascent desire to start offering Adama backseat driver political advice while still maintaining a desire not to get involved was a fantastic aesthetic.

Roslin also had some rather powerful lines in her speech to the fleet about the conflict between Colonials and the Cylons' generational nature. (Lines which should perhaps give us pause regarding the current situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.) The ancientness of this conflict is perhaps even more striking given the discovery of ancient Cylons. As for Adama, nearly every line that comes out of his mouth after Gaeta stages his coup is both chilling and profound. It will be quite a thing of darkness to see if Adama actually acts on his threat of no amnesty and no forgiveness for the traitors. His line declaring that there will be a "reckoning" is also a nice touch, paralleling Gaeta's nearly identical line in the previous episode.

To my pleasant surprise, Gaeta and Zarek work very well in this episode as complex antagonists. Gaeta's scheming in this episode is absolutely an incredible amount of fun to watch and Alessandro Juliani delivers an outstanding performance leading the coup. The texture about Gaeta's underlying motive for staging the coup being about personal redemption rings true to me. It seems plausible that after all he had been through but more importantly all the mistakes (or at least perceived mistakes) he had made, he would feel compelled to use his unique position of power and influence to take extraordinary action to right what he considered to be the extraordinary wrongs of his past actions and the present actions taken by those above him.

Likewise, the lengths Zarek will go to secure a power grab have some interesting new darkness to it with his personally murdering Laird. We know Zarek is no stranger to personal acts of criminal violence, but we've not actually seen anything this explicit out of him on camera ever. He tends to prefer others doing the dirty work for him. But perhaps the most interesting item of depth in Zarek's actions in this episode is his lecturing Gaeta, from experience, about how revolutions can be lost with the slightest hesitation. Zarek's wisdom is lost on Gaeta though because in the end, Gaeta hesitates on numerous occasions, such as hesitating to kill Adama and hesitating to shoot down the raptor bound for the Cylon baseship. This will surely be his undoing.

Regardless though of this added depth, Zarek and Gaeta both still come off as somewhat two dimensional. Lee Adama, in a single scene, managed to demonstrate a more thoughtfully reasoned out argument sympathetic to Gaeta's and Zarek's position when he lashed out at Tigh. However, unlike the last episode where Gaeta and Zarek came off as vaguely annoying, and despite the continued two dimensional nature of their motives, their missteps in this episode are merely fascinating in a pitiful kind of way.

It is realistic that complex people might paradoxically take oversimplified political positions. I dare say it happens far too frequently in the real world. In that sense, and in the sense that Gaeta's and Zarek's oversimplified political positions seem somewhat at odds, I am enjoying watching the slightly conflicted dynamic between them. Again, it'll be their undoing. Another particular annoyance is the scene where a viper pilot lashed out at Starbuck with the line "nobody even knows what you are anymore," as if to tauntingly remind the audience that the ongoing unanswered questions about the overarching plot are being deliberately ignored.

However, the vast majority of this episode is exciting enough and the drama powerful enough to largely forgive that yet repeated sin. At the beginning of this review I compared The Oath favorably to Valley of Darkness. I should emphasize that this is no small complement, as few episodes are as marvelously memorable.

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