TV REVIEWS (Sort of): Battlestar Galactica: “The Face of the Enemy” (Episode 11-A)

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Part of the publicity ramp-up for the final 10 episodes of Galactica was a web series called “The Face of the Enemy.” It was a 36-minute bottle story about Gaeta, casting some more light on his fall from grace which culminated last week. Curiously, though it was set after Episode 11 (“Sometimes a Great Notion”), it aired before it. The episode was divided in to ten chapters more or less randomly, some of the chapters were as barely over two minutes, some were pushing six.

This webisode is actually pretty important to the whole ongoing story, so I think it cries out for a review since many fans haven’t seen it or are even aware of it’s existence. Even so, I’ve decided to ignore this internal division in my review.

The episode starts off with a pointless montage of things to come and a subtitle saying “Nine days after the Discovery of Earth, Mister Gaeta will find himself here” and then flashes back to three days earlier. Gaeta and Tigh are talking in the seldom-used CIC set. Gaeta is ordered to take leave on the Zephyr (The big wagon-wheely-looking ship in the fleet). He doesn’t want to take it, but a surprisingly compassionate Tigh orders him to do so. “It’s not a punishment, son.” Leaving CIC, Lt. Louis Hoshi (Who is not even remotely Asian looking) gives him a small bag and says he did the favor Gaeta asked for: A bag full of drugs (“Morpha”) for dealing with the phantom pain from his stump. Gaeta and Hoshi kiss. They’re gay. That’s shocker number one.

Gaeta boards a raptor with six other people - two Sharon-model cylons (One wearing those skin-tight black space suit’s the Cylons favor….Grrrrrrowl!), two red shirts, and a pilot and co-pilot. En rout to the Zephyr, the fleet signals that Hostile Cylons have been sighted. The fleet - and the raptor - jump away.

Something went wrong with the Raptor, and it’s in the middle of nowhere. They have no idea what happened, but as they’ve jumped beyond “The Red Line,” they can’t just jump back to their old location for technical reasons that I’ll get to below. Gaeta tries to sort it out, but they realize they have very limited air supplies. One of the red shirts attempts to fix the air scrubbers to buy them time, but the cat suited Sharon takes over and is electrocuted. She dies. There’s a lot of screaming about whether it was an accident or murder, but Gaeta takes charge and declares it was simply a mishap. The surviving Sharon identifies herself as one Gaeta knew back on New Caprica, and says she has a plan. “I’ll tell you when the others are asleep.” This ushers in a whole set of New Caprica flashbacks set fifteen months prior in which Gaeta and this particular Sharon are conspiring to get really important humans released from detention. He makes her lists of important people, she gets them freed. They’re also having an affair. Wait? But I thought he was gay? Evidently not. Evidently he’s one a’ them thar’ bicycles.

Back on the Galactica, Hoshi and Tigh are talking: It’s been two days since the jump, and Gaeta hasn’t turned up yet. He wants a raptor to go look for the missing one. Tigh eventually agrees. The Fleet has evidently jumped back to earth by this point, and the hostile Cylons were simply a false alarm.

Gaeta shoots up to get to sleep, and Sharon sees it. When he wakes up, he finds that the other red shirt evidently stole the drugs and overdosed/suicided. Neither the pilot nor copilot think Sharon can be trusted, so they tie her up.

Hoshi and Racetrack are still looking for Gaeta. After a long time, they decide to give up.

Gaeta wakes up and finds Sharon has untied herself and is screwing around with the computers. She slits her hand open, and Gaeta shoves in the optical cable. Sharon says she found the fleet, and they jump to a new, but still empty, sector of space. Gaeta thinks they might be near the Galactica, but out of Dradis range, so Sharon sends off a homing beacon. Gaeta tries to wake up the pilot and copilot, and finds their throats slit. He then realizes that Sharon was behind all the deaths on the raptor.

“I chose you, Felix, I chose you above one of my own kind, above my own model; I protected you from something you knew had to be done, but which you didn’t want to think about.”

Gaeta freaks out, and Sharon explains that this isn’t the first time he’s been responsible for the deaths of innocents. She then explains that the whole collaboration on New Caprica was a ruse - she was getting lists of important people from him, then having most of them killed and saving just a few so as to keep the ruse functioning. “I’m not a monster, Felix, it’s just war: You take out important people, structures, you know this. I don’t want to kill anyone, but I do so when the probabilities dictate my own survival.” She then says that he really knew this all along, and Gaeta denies it. “Didn’t Baltar tell you? Or have you blocked that out, too?” We then flash back to the scene from Season 3 when Gaeta stabs the ex-president with a pen. Now we know what it was that Baltar mumbled in Gaeta’s ear: “I know what your number eight did!” Gaeta stabs the Sharon to death, then attempts to kill himself.

He shoots up once, but can’t bring himself to do it a second time. He starts singing and crying, when Hoshi and Racetracks’ Raptor shines it’s lights in the front window. Gaeta, literally red-handed, is simultaneously relieved and horrified to be rescued.

Back on Galactica, Tigh tells Gaeta that he doesn’t know what happened out there, but that the mind will do crazy things in situations like those. Since only a human survived the incident, Adama has decided to sweep the whole thing under the rug out of fear that it will endanger the new alliance w/ the Cylons. Gaeta says there shouldn’t be such an alliance in the first place, and asks to talk to Adama directly because “You’re a Cylon, Colonel.” Tigh agrees, and tells Gaeta there’s a discussion going on later that day in the Commander’s Quarters about “Tyrol’s new idea,” thus setting up “A Disquiet Follows My Soul” (Season 4, Episode 12). Gaeta leaves.

En rout, Hoshi asks him why he’s so distant suddenly. Gaeta tells Hoshi that he’ll try to protect him from what’s coming, but “Keep your head down!”

The End.

OBSERVATIONS:

This episode is essentially a “Bottle Show” - that is what they used to call on Trek a show featuring a “Ship in a Bottle” - an episode that features only standing sets and stock special effects to make it come in under budget. It’s also much shorter than a normal episode - 36 minutes, as opposed to the normal 42 or so. Cast is minimal: Tigh, various Sharons, Gaeta, Hoshi, 4 red shirts and assorted extras. All the CIC scenes were clearly shot on the same day. It’s not a bad episode, but it lacks flash, and it feels a bit padded out - there are two gratuitous montages, for instance. Still, it probably would have made a really good subplot for an episode of the series itself.

The Plot is basically “Ten Little Indians” in space, and it follows a progression that’s overtly similar to Hitchock’s “Lifeboat,” right down to a kindly enemy who’s rowing the boat (So to speak), and manipulating the others to his/her own advantage. In fact, we’ve seen this plot used a lot on various genre shows over the years, but the twist at the end - that this particular Sharon was using Gaeta to identify targets of value to the resistance - is pretty good, and it’s nice to get closure on that whole stabbing-Baltar-in-the-neck thing.

About that: Sharon’s revelation here, and the re-dubbed Baltar flashback are retroactive continuity. According to the writers, they’d intended to set up the fact that Gaeta had allowed some New Capricans from a colony he personally didn’t like (I forget which one, but let’s just assume it was the Religious Fundamentalist one) to get slaughtered when he had it in his power to save them. Thus it seems Gaeta’s protracted fall from grace was being set up quite a while ago. Alas, as the 3rd season progressed, the producers realized it wasn’t wise to have a major plot twist hang on an incident that no one had ever seen nor alluded to before, so they ditched it. Alas, it left a major dangling plot thread, so they retconned it here. I suspect this probably worked out better than what they had in mind for Season 3.

Sharon’s behavior in this episode once again suggests that whatever other fine qualites her model (#8) may have, her area of Military Specialty was as a Mata Hari, or love-bot if you will. This has never been overtly stated, but it fits most everything we’ve seen about the 8s, both their strengths and their weaknesses.

We get our first real bit of technobabble in the run of the show about Jump Drives, and they finally explain what the oft-mentioned “Red Line” is: It’s the point beyond which jump calculations become so complex that they’re nonlinear and non-Euclidean. Ships tend to jump within the red line because you can’t accurately predict where you’ll end up beyond it, and doing so is a good way to get lost and/or dead and/or both double-plus quick. Evidently, charged particles striking the ship at the moment of jump can adversely affect the coordinates settings, too. It appears Sharon’s plan failed: she did not find the fleet.

Curiously, Hoshi and Racetrack appear to have been jumping around at complete random looking for Gaeta. Tigh asks him if that’s what they’re going to do, and Hoshi doesn’t deny it. Later dialog implies that’s exactly what’s going on. So what’s the justification for this? Pretty thin: “Some force brought us to earth, dead as it is. I know I can find Felix,” says Hoshi. And it worked. Odd, huh?

This episode is, of course, the point at which Felix snaps. He’s been on the edge, increasingly so, and of course he’s a drug addict, but at this point he goes completely over the bend, and the final scenes set up the mutiny to come. Much is made of his “Strong moral core” in this episode, and how such things tend to make you “Good and dead.”

So is Gaeta straight or Gay? Propagandists from both on and off the set have proudly stated that he is, and that Colonial Society accepts homosexuality and is more enlightened than we are on that front, despite being every bit as screwed up as real-life humanity is on every other front. This odd decision to put aside the mandate of gritty reality in the show in favor of a clearly utopian statement is odd, but I won’t go in to it since we’ve detailed that kind of thing in more detail in the essay “A Spoonful of Sugar Makes the International Homosexual Agenda go Down” elsewhere on the site
http://www.republibot.com/content/spoonful-sugar-makes-international-hom...
That said, making Gaeta gay really just muddles their attempt at an enlightened stance on the subject. Gaeta is clearly shown to sleep with a woman repeatedly for weeks or months. Ergo, either he’s bisexual (Technically, I guess he’d have to be), or else he prefers dudes, but doesn’t feel beggars can be choosers, or else maybe he prefers women, but has resigned himself to homosexuality because of the lack of chicks in the fleet. (Kind of a jailhouse thing. It happens.) Hell, for all we know he could be sleeping with Hoshi simply to get drugs. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened. For what it’s worth, the producers and writers seem to be trying to imply that he’s mostly gay, and Sharon took advantage of him to seal the deal and make him question himself, but that’s supported by only one line in favor of it, with plenty of evidence to several different contraries offered up.

It’s a muddle, and frankly it messes up the naively Star Trekian message they intended to send, because the only character on the show that we know has had sex with dudes has this relationship in a webisode that most fans will never see/be aware of, and he immediately goes nuts and turns in to a mutineer who’s only relationship that counts is the one with sweet lady H.

It's interesting that Gaeta clearly couldn't live with himself and wanted to die, but for whatever reason he couldn't actually do it. Given the way he ended up in "Blood on the Scales" (Season 4, episode 4), and given how manic and even happy he seemed as he met his own demise, I can't help but wonder if his mutiny was more than just an attempt to atone for what he'd done in the past by punishing the people around him that he felt were disappointing him in the present: I find myself wondering if the mutiny was really another attempt at suicide. You know, the whole "Find something to die for because living for something is too painful." Gaeta is a smart guy. He must have known the odds of pulling off a successful mutiny and holding power was a long shot at best, particularly when teaming up with Zarek, a 15-time-looser. I wonder if his happiness - and the end of his phantom pain - might stem from him finally getting other people to do for him what he couldn't do for himself: Pull the trigger.

So there you have it: aside from the toe-curling qualities of watching dudes kiss, this episode is worth watching, but only once really. You can find it on Youtube and Hulu, and there’s an official site for it somewhere online, but I’m too lazy to look for it right now.

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