Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 4 - Episode 16

BSG - 4x16 - Blood on the Scales - Originally Aired: 2009-2-6

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 5.18

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Synopsis
Stunned by the near fatal explosion, Saul Tigh and the Admiral are captured once again. Adama is lead before Tom and Felix to be persecuted for his alleged treason. Both mutineers feign justice by announcing that Adama will be given a trial and that Romo Lampkin will represent him. Unshaken by his impending fate, Adama declines the right to an attorney and affirms that he'd rather die than grovel at the feet of either man.

Meanwhile, aboard the fleeing raptor, Roslin and the Number 8 Cylon evade the attack of one of Gaeta's pilots, by landing on the deck of the Cylon baseship. Once aboard, the President's mission is to use the baseship's defenses against the Galactica. Yet the Cylons want nothing to do with the war and plan to instead jump away from the line of fire. Almost impossible to convince, Roslin realizes that although she was able to flee the battle aboard Galactica, she may have stepped into the realm of another.

Also facing opposition — Tom Zarek lashes out at the resistance of the Quorum of 12. When they don't immediately support his order to have Adama killed, Zarek commands their deaths, deeming it as his only choice. Daring anyone to stand in his way, Zarek proceeds with his plans to have Adama killed.

Once Gaeta sees Zarek's plight is nothing more than a corrupt self-vested quest, he is unable to turn back — realizing that the reckoning is imminently near. Acting against any sense of loyalties that he may still have, Gaeta proceeds to have the order for Adama's death carried out.

Falsely alerted that the Admiral had been killed, Roslin acts on blind-faith, using vengeance as her leader. Convincing the Cylons to fire against the Galactica she's fearless and prepared for battle. Though her devices would never have to be used.

The Admiral, a renegade aboard his own ship, flees his pending death, with help from Lee, Kara, Galen and others fighting against the mutiny that has taken over the fleet. And while Adama is able to regain control and the President safely returns to Galactica, no celebration is in order. Bloodshed to even the scales was imminent as the reckoning saw its arrival, leading Zarek and Gaeta to be sentenced to death. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- It seems like something of a continuity fudge that Athena would allow Caprica Six to take Hera when they escaped imprisonment, given Athena's vision-induced paranoia that the Sixes will take Hera away from her. Perhaps that possibility is the lesser evil, given what horrors Hera would have faced if Gaeta's cronies had gotten their way.

Factoids
- This episode placed #48 in TV Guide's Top 100 Episodes of All-Time (2009).
- Survivors, according to the main title: 39603. Down forty. Yikes!
- Gaeta states that there are 35 civilian ships in the fleet.

Remarkable Scenes
- Hot Dog hesitating to destroy Roslin's raptor.
- Narcho firing at the raptor but hitting the base ship instead.
- Roslin boarding the base ship and shouting orders at the Cylons.
- Adama giving Gaeta his rank insignia and telling Gaeta "you're the admiral now."
- Romo, while being arrested by marines: "I don't suppose anyone's gonna feed my dog?"
- Adama refusing to take Gaeta's and Zarek's insistence for justice and trial seriously.
- Zarek having the quorum executed.
- Tyrol's frustrated trip through Galactica's cramped innards.
- Roslin's desperate attempt to convince the rebel Cylons to stay.
- Tyrol encountering Kelly.
- Romo instilling in Adama the value of stalling.
- Starbuck and Apollo sneaking around the ship taking people out.
- Anders taking a bullet in the neck.
- Adama about the Cylons: "I didn't give them aid and comfort. They gave it to me."
- Romo killing his "pen pal" and reluctantly assisting Starbuck.
- Roslin threatening to attack the Galactica with the base ship.
- Roslin: "I will use every canon, every bomb, every bullet, every weapon I have down to my own eye teeth to end you! I swear it! I'm coming for all of you!"
- Tyrol sabotaging the engines.
- Gaeta and Zarek being executed.

My Review
Nothing too terribly unexpected happens in this conclusion to Gaeta's rebellion. As expected, ideological divisions between Zarek and Gaeta are their undoing; Gaeta's too idealistic and merciful to do what needs to be done to accomplish his goals. Throughout the episode he struggles with the morality of his actions until he finds a line he simply will not cross.

Along the way, the ride is nearly as good as the previous episode, with some minor blemishes on top of those prior. Some nice textures are the focus on Kelly's divided loyalties, Adama's refusal to take his mock trial seriously, Roslin ordering the Cylon rebels around, Romo Lampkin getting caught up in the rebellion, Baltar starting to feel guilty about his perpetual flight rather than fight response to crisis, and seeing the engine room.

Some curious dramatic focus was spent near the end with Tyrol examining the crack in the wall in the engine room without the implications beyond a look of worry in Tyrol's face made all that obvious to the audience. Did Tyrol cause that crack by throwing a wrench into the engine or was it there all along? Is the old piece of crap, not to mention war torn Galactica well on its way to falling into irreparable disrepair?

The most significant blemishes on this episode which detract from the level of excitement the previous one enjoyed are the rather abrupt ending and Adama's distinct lack of ruthlessness. Overall, this episode could have been a much more incredible payoff if Adama had gone on a Starbuck style murderous rampage, killing more people than just Gaeta and Zarek. Strictly speaking, his actions in this episode seem to conflict with his stated intent of offering no forgiveness and no amnesty to the traitors. Though, again, the ending was abrupt. For all we know this is just the first round of executions.

Regarding how Gaeta and Zarek met their end, I feel in death the two characters finally earn some of that depth I felt they both needed and deserved in order to become sympathetic characters. Gaeta's motivational breakdown, minor obsession with his itching nub, and his glee when it stopped itching just prior to his death were nice touches, but perhaps even more interesting was Zarek's little smile just before he met his end. It's as if he's glad he's finally getting his wish to be martyred for (what he considers to be) a righteous cause.

Overall, there is little to say about this episode. It rides the wave of the previous one quite well. The distinct missed opportunity of a space battle between the Galactica and the Cylon base ship is unfortunate; how much more badass would Adama retaking the CIC have been if Roslin was firing on the Galactica from the Cylon ship when he did it? But what's missing in this episode and what aesthetically didn't work isn't enough to drag this well above average episode down too far.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Engal on 2009-02-07 at 6:12pm:
    I agree with most of the review, however some part of the episode where lacking something. I may blame this on the deleted scene that did'nt make the cut.

    Romo mentionned the resistance during a short moment. We never saw them until the end...
    They apparead by magic all packed and gathered at a corner and suddenly all came behind Adama... And there was nobody anymore to oppose resistance in the ship during their travel to the C.I.C.
    This last part is understandable, seeing a mass of people with an angry adama at their head could be the occasion to " pretend being on the good side since the beginning" but it was sort of convenient, however, it was good, I gave it an 8 too.
  • From Dan on 2009-02-09 at 9:54am:
    I completely agree with you that Roslin's oath of vengeance was a remarkable scene. I think it's the most powerful piece of acting on this series yet (it was stirring and gripping even on my laptop), and it's been full of powerfully acted moments, many from Mary McDonnell herself. I wonder if part of the reason for that scene was a final push for Emmy recognition. It would be incredible if anyone didn't see that scene and think award-worthy performance.

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