The First Evil (asta77) wrote,
The First Evil
asta77

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Battlestar Galactica: 'The Ties That Bind'

It's another long one. I'm sorry. This is what happens when they give Lee something to do and my ship is in the same room! ;p


I fall somewhere in between loving and hating ‘The Ties That Bind.’ There were aspects that gave me continued optimism that this is going to be a terrific season. The scenes between Lee, Laura, and Zarek, in my biased opinion, were awesome. The Cylon storyline, instead of making me want to hit the fast forward button as they did last season, I found intriguing. And many of the characters are taking fascinating turns. If Lee’s storyline is given as much time and care the rest of the season as it has in the first three episodes, I’m going to be quite happy.

Where this episode faltered for me is in the same area episodes have faltered for me in the past - the relationships between the couples and developments that came out of nowhere. But before I delve into that which irked, confused, and annoyed me, I’ll address what did work.

”That’ll teach us not to trust democracy.”

Last week, I felt parallels were being drawn between Laura and Nathalie. danceswithwords felt that the parallel was between Laura and Cavil. I’m leaning towards agreeing with her after events in this episode. We’re starting to see that the Cylons and the humans are more alike than different. Have the Cylons always been as they are now or has their interaction with humanity led them to adapt, perhaps unknowingly, to our way of doing things?

It seems the Cylons have long had a democracy, at least in the sense of debating their opinions and then coming together to vote with the majority winning. But now we are seeing the Cylons self-declared leader, Cavil, and the humans never-actually-elected-to-office leader, Laura Roslin, subverting the rules in order to keep their people on the path they see as the right one. Both see their means justifying the end. We now know Cavil’s model number is one, could we assume that he was constructed to more closely resemble humanity, faults and all? And Laura, how far removed has she become from the oaths she swore to uphold? Cavil lied to the Six’s and Eight’s; Laura is burying information under a classified stamp.

”Of the people, by the people, and answerable to the people.”

Last week, I hypothesized that Zarek’s intent was to manipulate Lee, a plan I didn’t believe Zarek would get very far with. Again, I feel I have to back off on my statement. Zarek did use Lee, but his reasons for doing so (and Lee’s for allowing it to happen) are not as clear as I once would have thought them to be.

I watched the discussion between Zarek and Lee many times and had a hard time grasping Zarek’s objective. Eventually, I looked at his demeanor. This is not the arrogant, power hungry Tom Zarek of Season 1 and 2. He seemed a weary, defeated man to me. I think New Caprica really took something from him, more so than his twenty years in prison. He faced death knowing that his ideals for a new colonial society would never be realized. And he returned to the fleet knowing he would never be accepted as president. He settled for the best position he could possibly obtain and now realizes, in doing so, he sidelined himself. He might be more in the know, but is less able to act on what he knows. He used Lee to do what he could not – challenge the president.

But why call out Laura Roslin and the actions she is taking if not making a power play? When Lee referred to Laura as a “benevolent tyrant” (and more on that in a bit), Zarek was quick to point out that tyrants want power, Laura wants to save them all. And Zarek claims to be on Laura’s side. So why would he act to destabilize her? I believe that as flawed as he may find her presidency, Zarek can think of no one better for the job. I feel is concern lies in Laura allowing her illness and single-minded determination to find earth undermining her leadership. She wants to save them all, but at what cost? She is so focused on the path to earth she has completely lost site of how they are getting their. Tom Zarek may be a fallen, embittered idealist, but he still holds on to those ideals. Maybe I’m completely wrong, but I think Tom Zarek’s concern is what kind of people they will be at the end of this journey, a concern he shares with Lee.

”Sometimes a benevolent tyrant is exactly what you need.”

Those are words Lee Adama would not have spoken a few years ago. His words surprised me, but not as much as I would have thought. It was clear from his determination to represent Baltar and his words on the stand that Lee Adama still has his ideals. But he’s also seen and been through a lot. It’s made him see that, perhaps, sometimes you need to compromise those ideals. And given his new life is a willingness to bend become a necessity?

I wondered how other Lee fans would perceive him in this episode. Personally, I love the turns his character is taking. That he’s opted to enter into the political arena came as a surprise to no one. Yet while his idealism and a sense of duty to make humanity try to live up to what it is capable of brought him to this point, will Lee come out of this the same person?

I once commented that I wondered if Lee could be Zarek twenty years from now. I never felt more strongly that he could be after watching this episode. His first day on the job and he’s already faced some harsh reality. At his press conference, he is brushed aside by the press and the president. His crestfallen expression kills me. He’s spent weeks preparing proposals to speak to Laura about and she refuses to see him, still unable to forgive or forget what transpired at Baltar’s trial. (And now I know why the scene between the two was cut from ‘Six of One’ – Laura warmly sending him off to his new post would have made no sense in light of events here.) The former CAG and commander of the Pegasus finds himself a junior delegate, not even worthy of being humored.

Lee’s ego and a critical miscalculation by Laura led to further disintegration in their relationship. Lee’s unwavering faith and admiration in her, in many things, is long gone. But there was a point, I felt, that Lee, recalling what she once meant to him, tried to help her. Lee’s lack of reaction to the various Demetrius discussions showed he had knowledge as to the true intent of the mission and Lee attempted to calm the situation by assuring the Quorum that all possible roots to earth were being explored. It was after Laura announced that she had “no need for a junior delegate appointing himself my spokesman” that Lee made his choice. As much as I believe Zarek’s earlier words spoke to the idealist in Lee, I also believe there was a bruised ego involved. There was a time when Laura was completely dependant on Lee for guidance, support, and protection. He once sacrificed everything that mattered to him to follow her and now she dismisses him. That has to hurt and we know what Lee does when he’s hurt – he lashes out. Granted, there was no shouting or fists flying, but this isn’t the arena for that. He attacks her in a way suited to the arena and, thanks to Zarek, he knows just how to hurt her. And whereas in the past, following such an exchange, Lee’s expression has revealed disappointment in himself for what he has just said or done, the moment ends here with a smirk. If Laura had hoped to trade on their past relationship and gain Lee’s obedience, she had a rude awakening.

You might think I’m angry at Lee or disheartened that my ship has come to this, but I’m not. What I’m seeing from Lee, even Laura, is true to the characters that I know and love. I actually got a little thrill seeing the Lee Adama smirk and the pissiness, come out once more. I worried that the writers, in taking Lee in this new direction, would begin to write him to fit a role, forgetting who he was. They haven’t and I’m happy.

”What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Ok, not a line in the episode, but it sums up the situation well. A lot of people made bad situation worse by choosing to withhold key information. These decisions led to distrust where it needn’t exist. Tyrol can’t tell Cally he is a Cylon so Cally turns his meetings with Tory into an affair. Likely fearing it would weaken her position, Laura won’t reveal it was Adama who made the decision to send Kara off with the Demetrius to find earth. If Laura didn’t let her anger at Lee stop her from talking to him, he likely would be an ally again and would have held back at the Quorum meeting. If Zarek wasn’t being sidelined, he’d be less suspicious of Laura’s classified dealings…which brings me to Executive Order 112. It is possible that as a result of Baltar’s not guilty verdict Laura hopes to put a plan in place to retain more control over judicial proceeding. But with no eminent need for tribunals it hardly seems like a pressing issue. I’m apt to believe her that the document was a preliminary one still in need of work. But because of Laura’s increasing desire for secrecy and control and for seemingly not trusting anyone but the military commander I understand Zarek, Lee, and anyone else’s suspicion that she is attempting to consolidate control of the government.

Another obstacle Laura is creating for herself is her adamancy that the path she has the fleet on is the correct one. When Cavil remarked to Nathalie that D’Anna was boxed because she had led them down a divisive path, my mind immediately went to Kara. Kara is confronting Laura with the same problem. Laura views Kara as potentially destroying everything she has worked and fought so hard for. Last week Laura stated to Adama that on the day humanity was almost wiped out she was told she was dying, yet lived. She then was handed the responsibility of ensuring the continued survival of the remnants of humanity - first through an act of the articles, then through visions and scripture. It might not be a miracle, but she believes her survival is part of some greater plan and that can’t be upended solely by Kara’s feeling. The more she tightens her grip, the greater the potential is for her to lose everything, but I also see why she believes her way is the only way.

”They have their god to watch over their immortal souls.
”What about ours?”
”We’re machines dear. We don’t have souls.”

I don’t see any hope for a Cylon reunification. Perhaps their only hope for the survival of their race was the successful extinction of humanity, but it’s too late for that. Interaction with humanity coupled with the knowledge that five of their kind live among them has torn them apart. But keeping in mind, ‘This has all happened before and will happen again.’ Should humanity be blamed for the Cylon downfall? Cavil wants nothing to do with humanity and yet his atheism and makes him closer to us and quite different from the other models. He’s content to live with the cycle of death and rebirth whereas the others seem to be striving for something more.

Nathalie argues that they need to unbox the D’Anna model in an effort to unite the twelve models once and for all, yet her arguments are only succeeding in dividing them further. The models have now segregated themselves on separate basestars. Is this how humanities populating of the twelve colonies began? And once they settled on separate planets their own cultures, religions, and classes developed along with discrimination. Are the Cylons beginning to encounter the same divisions that existed within the colonies? I felt Lee’s joke at the press conference about having friends who weren’t from Caprica telling.

In another first, Cavil orders the destruction of the basestars without a resurrection ship present. He’s condemned Six for the first act of Cylon on Cylon violence and voiced his opinion to another One that Nathalie’s goal was ethnic cleansing, now he’s initiating a genocide.

"I married you because it was safe and easy, Sam."

I’m just going to say it, when it comes to couples, the show doesn’t know what it’s doing. I know, I know, you Lee/Kara and Adama/Roslin shippers will bring them up, but, come on, I know you’ve been pissed off too! ;) I’m all for the show cleaning up it’s mistakes, but I fear it’s going beyond that to placating the audience. We got a quick end to the Lee/Dee marriage last week. This week we had Kara voice to Sam something we’ve read countless times in blogs. And how many people have wished Cally dead? It’s not that I have a problem with any of this, it’s the way it’s handled. Don’t have Kara make an honest admission to Sam then have her fall into the same old patterns. And don’t have Sam fall back into the role of convenient frak. The writers finally gave Sam his own purpose by making him one of the final five, yet they turn around and make the choice to take him away from the other three in order to service Kara’s storyline (much as Lee did for seasons) and, frankly, to service Kara.

I can also go on a tangent, especially given Jane Espenson is on staff, about Kara channeling her inner Buffy with her pleas to Sam to “make me feel something” and lamenting feeling disconnected from life. I watched a season of this already, not again, thanks.

While I do understand that Kara is consumed by her mission, does that negate her remembering how to be a leader? With the exception of Helo, she’s treating them all like crap. Yes, she is the commander and they must follow her orders. But, here’s a tip, changing course ten times, without explanation, and locking yourself in your room tends to lead to a revolt by the troops. The artsy shot the director chose of Kara obscured in light and shadow, standing above them all, only helped to reinforce the image of a crazed, menacing leader.

I’m not broken up about Cally’s death, but I wish I had an inkling of why she was acting as she was and why she had to die. Her sudden soft focus crazy came out of nowhere. And if not for the fact I don’t believe her to be the final Cylon, I’d be suspicious of her not sleeping well since their visit to the nebula and her increasing paranoia. Maybe she died in order to develop Tory, but her actions here only further serve to confuse me. Yes, killing Cally was self-preservation, but there was something so cold about how she did it. Anders and Tyrol could never have killed Cally. Tigh perhaps could have but we know he’d struggle with his choice. There was a total lack of emotion from Tory. My instinct is to blame the actress, but perhaps it’s a deliberate decision on the part of the writers. We just no so little about her and I have no clue how to read her. Does she have feelings for Tyrol? Is she the new slut of the fleet? I can at least rationalize her protecting Nicky. She still has loyalty to Laura and she knows first hand how important Hera’s safety was to her. Nicky, another hybrid child, could be equally important to their futures.

Random Notes:

Did anyone else notice the white board count didn’t match the survivor count in the opning credits?

Please, never show us Boomer and Cavil making out again.

I liked that when they cut to Demetrius they showed it was Day 22 of the mission. I miss how they established the timeline in Season 1.

The scene of Adama reading to Laura seemed out of place given in the very next scene we see she is none too happy with him. And the text of the book was anvilicious, “never be free of her nor do I want to be…” ::gags::

Gaeta has long been involved in Baltar’s research on the path to earth, so I understand why he was chosen for the mission. But with Helo, Sharon, Seelix, and Anders along for the ride, Lee a civilian, and Tigh off holding secret meetings, who the hell is helping Adama run the Galactica? And who is babysitting Hera???

Joe’s Bar has napkins printed up? Really??? Is this a necessity on a ship with one bar? And shouldn’t they be saving their tissue supply for, I don’t know, toilet paper?
Tags: battlestar galactica s4
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