2.06.2009

BLOOD ON THE SCALES - REVIEW

Oh dear. First, the good: the episode was well-made. It moved well, the pacing was better than in The Oath. The Base Ship command deck has never been shot more beautifully. Alessandro Juliani was simply superb in this and the last episode.

Now for the not-so-good:

This was a waste of an episode. The direction was uneven, the background players were simply lousy in some scenes, and the writing was stilted, the dialog crude, and the overall tone inartful. It made sense that the fleet would have a civil war among the humans by the end of the journey but this was a very lame way to do it. Once again other than a few scratchy comlink voices we have no idea how the rest of the human population is coping and what their desires are. All the action takes place on Galactica, the Base Ship and in space. The story is about Adama maintaining his command and the larger questions set up in The Oath are simply tossed aside to serve the visceral drama. The nuance and complexity of Gaeta's actions and motivations in The Oath were torn asunder and made pathetic in this ep. They trotted out old faces (Romo and Kelly) and it felt like watching stunt casting on The Love Boat. They weren't necessary to the story.

Richard Hatch was given his swan song and they pulled the rug out from under his character - making him ridiculous when up to now he had been slyly charming and oliagenous. This was the moment when his true colors would come out and Moore and the writers went with gimmicks. At such a momentous time (after the long exodus and the crushing disappointment of cinder "Earth") even a self-serving sleazeball like Zarek would have more on his mind than simply acquiring power for himself for the sake of power. Zarek was a revolutionary - a man-of-the-people in the stripe of a Castro ... so he would always have his eye on how things play to his base among the population. If he were to launch an outright coup, he would have made short work of the executions of the important leadership (Adama, Roslin, etc.) and not let Gaeta take the lead. The whole subplot with Zarek having the Quorum assassinated was just lame. The day-players were in their same suits doing their same fake "deliberating" and the bad acting bug bit all around in this scene and their death poses were frankly laughable - a good director allowed that? The writers thought they were so clever with Zarek trying to blood Gaeta with the Quorum deaths but it was forced and fake, and the Quorum has been basically irrelevent to the story and the leadership so it was a side-journey to nowhere [but I guess the writers consider it a loose end tied up].

[Addendum: The entire subplot with Lee going civilian and transitioning into the new President's role has dragged on endlessly and is unsatisfying. Who cares? There are far bigger issues than who's going to push paper for the "government"]

The "debate" on the Base Ship was fake too - other than their fear of Cavil there is no reason why the rebel Cylons still wish to ally with the humans now that their joint quest for Earth proved a bust (so far as they know at present). It has never been explained why the Cylons decided they wanted to find Earth at all unless they want to finish their genocide of the humans but at New Caprica they said they're done trying to wipe out the humans ... [sigh]

Remember Lance Henrickson's android in Aliens on his belly scurrying through that tunnel? Well, they have Tyrol do it through the half the episode to avoid being seen and we get yet another fake moment where he and Kelly bond and Kelly has a change of heart and switches sides from the coup plotters to Adama's team, including Tyrol. Tyrol eventually gets to the FTL drives and rips out components with his bare hands to stop Galactica from jumping away and effectively ending the coup. And he notices the first visible tears in the ship.

Kambo Kara is a little less testosterony this ep and Lee swings his balls a bit more and together they kill some mutinous Marines and free the Cylons held in the brig - but Ooop! Anders takes one to the head (or neck) and is about to bleed out and die. Here comes Romo, who very reluctantly helps her carry him to sick bay, after having used his pen trick to shiv a Marine to death so he can escape. Romo was so great during the trial they should have never brought him back. His subsequent appearances have been a let-down because they've taken away his mystery and just made him miserly. Earlier this ep Romo had been pressed into service by the writers, er, Zarek and Gaeta, as a representative for Adama in the kangaroo court prodeeding they held to try and convict him for treason and giving "aid and comfort to the enemy." Tedious and uneccesary. What a waste of time. Adama just kept cranking out vulgarities.

Meanwhile on the Base Ship a Natalie Six takes a liking to Baltar and beds him but he suddenly has pangs of consciense and declares he must go back to the Galactica and nurture his flock - he has a dream of a firing squad shooting Adama - why would he care? ... he's never really been allied with Adama. The same guy who rolled his eyes with contempt at his groupies now is a true believer? Oh please, the writers are just insulting our intelligence at this point. He gave a nuclear weapon to the tortured Six on Pegasus and she blew up two or three vessels and took all those lives and now he's redeemed? Yet again, more fakeness. A leopard doesn't change its spots and Baltar was safe on the Base Ship and had an interested beautiful Natalie wanting to please him. Bah.

Roslin is able to broadcast with the help of Leoben's old high-school band amp, and tells the fleet what is going on, but other than appreciating the information about the coup and why the Base Ship has moved among the fleet for protection from Gaeta's Galactica guns, why would they side with her - a leader who renounced her role and was wrong in her visions? I would think a lot of fleet listeners would say "frak you Roslin." And why are the Cylons on the Base Ship so passive? Tory is always trying to be a bossy-pants and she's much more annoying now than when she was Roslin's aide, but the rest of them seem to stand around a lot. And I thought the Base Ship could heal itself, why does it still have nubby glowing stubs yet Zephyr is good as new?

Kambo, Lee and now Tigh and the others freed from the brig run into Kelly who joins up and they rescue Adama from a firing squad. Adama turns some of the mutineers to his side and they storm C&C and take back the ship.

In a very rare occurance Mary McDonnell has a not-so-great acting moment in the scene where she sees Bill Adama again back on Galactica ... I guess even the most talented of us have off moments. We get the needless and tedious scene of Gaeta blathering about his boyhood dreams of becoming a cheeseburger-shaped-building architect to Baltar - who I guess has come to lend his spiritual support the newly condemned.

In the last really fake moment, Zarek and Gaeta are seated in an air-lock and Adama leads the firing squad because we were told "there will be a reckoning." Zarek and Gaeta look to each other - which they most certainly would not do - Gaeta had contempt for Zarek - and with sheepish schoolboy grin/grimaces to boot. What then was the point of that song?

What is Cavil doing? Where is Head-Six?

Again, entertaining and well-made but bogus choices and if they were going to do a civil war among the humans it should have erupted among the fleet and a whole lot of them should have died.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sums up my thoughts on the episode as well. I was especially surprised by some of the bad acting and directing!

Anonymous said...

Nice review. Another episode with much to complain about...I don't know how many times I laughed at the pure inanities...

deltavoyage said...

No mention of "I am coming for all of you"? Come on! That was practically the best line of the whole series! You definitely bring up some good points in your review, but I thought that the episode was overall very good.

radii said...

@deltavoyage

my take on that line was that it was overdramatic (both in the writing and the performance of it)... i get it that the writers wanted to convey her love for Adama was driving her intensity and this was now exposed to all but it was an emotional boast - she really had no way of backing it up if the Cylons weren't willing to go all the way with the game of brinkmanship ... it came across more as an emotional plea - that she will exact revenge if they've harmed or killed her man. Touching, I guess, but in the ebb-and-flow of quickly unfolding events she did not hold the upper hand. Mary McDonnell is one of my favorite actresses, but I don't think the director this ep did her any favors (and usually his work is very good) ... the better part of that bit of text, I felt, was "not now, not ever" it showed her toughness and resolute nature

Anonymous said...

you always go on about bad acting ect, and things are fake. why not make your own tv show? if you want fake and bad acting, heroes is the show, and even now Lost is getting that way, why can't you just accept it was an awesome episode? :S

radii said...

@anon:

opinions are like ....

You loved the ep, I thought it was woefully lacking and detailed why. When the show is great (Faith, Home Part II, mini, Sometimes A Great Notion, etc.) I say so.

I have written my own version, which is better - you can link it upper right Battlestar: Variant 1