I’ve Walked and I’ve Crawled on Six Crooked Highways: Galactica Thread

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Jacob:

If absolution waits quietly at the door until it’s opened, if salvation waits for the least and smallest among us all, then in a very real way we are all waiting for this moment: when Gaius Baltar realizes he was already redeemed.

“He loves you because you are perfect. You are perfect just as you are. We are all perfect just as we are.”

And as Lee leaves, weirded out, and Gaius holds his arms cruciform, and the followers go apeshit, and Six looks over at Tory’s face, and sees the beauty there, and smiles, because she’s won, and Gaius comes back from the edge, from the clarity of pain, he looks down, covered in blood and the fire of a new world, and wonders what just happened, as prophets often do, and the screen goes dark again.

I have problems with this, which we’ll get into, once we get past the spoilers, robots and rules of engagement below.

What is the thing you love most in the world?

Answer me that one, wouldja?

Don’t think I’m looking to make this a conversation about priorities, either; don’t say your family or your friends or your lover or your pets or “helping people” if all you’re trying to do is look good on the “decent human being” application you think I’m filling out. I’m not asking in order to judge. I’m asking to ask. What is the thing you love most in the world? What do you wake and sleep loving, what sings in your blood in those moments you hover on the edge of a dream and you haven’t yet opened your eyes? What lies on your tongue, what is the first thought you think in the morning and the last you think at night? What would you die before failing?

Now explain to mewhy you love it, damn you.

Try to write it out. Try to write it down so that it makes sense. Not just the thing itself, but why it pulls you, why it knits itself into you, muscle and bone. Worse, try to knit it into me, try to make me love it as you do, just by telling me about it. Try to whisper it to me so that I can whisper it back to you as my own, in the dark hours when nobody can sleep. Now imagine there’s a ship full of people, dirty and stinking with fear, who for 58 days have been half-listening to you talk about the thing you love most in the world, andthey don’t believe you. They’re thin with exhaustion, they’ve lost more than they started with, all around them is nothing but darkness, and you have to convince them that all of this is nothing, that all of this is just the limits of their sight, because you have a buzz in your head and a pull in your veins that tells you which way to go, toward the thing you love most in the world.

And you’re the sort of person who, when Laura Roslin tells you about what she loves most, you can see it and think it and breathe it and you believe her. But these people, they don’t know what that feels like, how powerful and terrible and intoxicating it is to be without doubt. They don’t feel it, the way it lifts you up, and their feet are firmly on the dirty, grimy, sticky deck of the Demetrius, and you’re trying to tell them you can flyand so can they. I think, if you put yourself there, it gets a little bit close to what Kara Thrace is starting to become.

So let me ask you another question. What would you do, for the thing you love most in the world?

I know, I know, anything. But really now, it’s easy and glib to say it’s a shorter list to write out what you wouldn’t do, but what would you do? The thing you wake and sleep with, the thing that twists itself into your guts in your moments of doubt and fear, what would you do for that?

Would you take the hand of the man who is your enemy, if he offered you a vision of yourself you could live with, a vision of a world in which you know who you are? Would you let yourself forget what that man is and what he is capable of, and reach out for his grasp?

Would you sit in a stairwell and speak with the man who raped and imprisoned you, who gave you a daughter and made her a lie, who led you down into the eye of a storm until you smashed your ship on the rocks of his promises? Would you listen to that man, and follow him into the black?

Would you turn a gun on the one person who stood by you when you returned from the old, apocalypted world a toasterfrakker and an outsider, who didn’t deny you when you loved a Cylon and had a baby with it, who always understood you on the level at which you’re now challenging her? Would you turn a gun on that person, if what she offered was the opposite of home and the Fleet, and everything you think you know?

Would you do these things? Don’t say you wouldn’t. From episode one if there’s one thing this show has taught us, it’s that we have no idea who we’re waiting to turn into, who we’re one apocalypse away from becoming. We all go into the cocoon thinking we’ll come out beautiful; some of us come out maimed. Don’t say it wouldn’t be you, because you have no idea what you would do, in the end, for whatever it is that you love.

So. There’s this show. One quick question: Who the frak is in charge of day care on Galactica and how does this work? Who’s watching Hera? Who’s watching Nicky while the Chief considers offing himself? What’s going on with these babies we’re told are so important? This pulls me out of anything to do with the Agathons and the Tyrols, every damn time.

On to Baltar and religion. This is where my membership in the Roman chapter of the longest-running cannibalistic crucifixtion cult in the history of the world interferes with my ability to read about sci-fi and keep my temper. I like arriving at my redemption via blind, painful, torturous routes and even then to be told I barely deserve it. I do not like Gaius Baltar showing up in a balloon and telling me he’s okay, I’m okay, God’s cool with whatever it is about us that’s fucked up, so just chill, mama.

I am not in the mood to have God go easy on me, and whenever someone comes along peddling this shit, I just think to myself, oh, how convenient, a gospel that says I’m great. Isn’t it something special that I am a special snowflake and God cherishes me. As much of an attention whore as I am, you’d think I’d love that, but I really, really despise it. It feels like a cheap appeal to neediness. It feels like I’m being played and underestimated. I can get approval from other places. I want challenges from God. And maybe this is the problem, is my and most people’s interpretation of “love” and “perfect,” which is to say that just because God loves me as I am doesn’t mean he doesn’t want me to stop being on balance such a catastrophic shithead all the time, and that just because he thinks I’m “perfect” doesn’t mean he thinks I’m done. But I can’t help but hear affirmation as excuse, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. It trips my wires the same way this bullshit “God wants you to be rich” pseudogospel does, which is that we’re putting on Jesus the unpardonable burden of making us feel better.

My version of God is kind of a demanding prick, come to think of it. In any case, I am not becoming any more un-skeeved by Baltar week after week, and it’s starting to bother me that I can’t see the beauty in this storyline, because the show’s very invested in it and I worry that I’m losing the thread.

A.

19 thoughts on “I’ve Walked and I’ve Crawled on Six Crooked Highways: Galactica Thread

  1. flory says:

    Why is it that the whole fleet has been willingly following Laura Roslin’s scriptural vision of what she loves most (or at least wants most), with nary a whimper, for days and months and maybe years, but this one small crew on this one small ship can’t follow Kara Thrace’s — a woman they’ve fought with and drank with and probably slept with — for two lousy months without dissolving into mutiny?
    Sure, she’s looking a little whackadoodle with the drawings and the visons, but who isn’t a bit space crazy at this point?
    I get Helo refusing her order to jump when he believes it means the ship and her entire crew will be left by the fleet, abandoned to their death. But why was the crew on the edge of mutiny leading up to that? So they haven’t had any luck finding earth — the whole fracking fleet hasn’t had any luck finding earth since the war began. Why does two more months send them right over the cliff?
    This may’ve been the most engrossing episode of the whole damn series, but I just can’t buy the premise of the whole Demetrius arc.
    Other things:
    What isn’t breaking apart — the Cylon fleet, the Demetrius crew — is bonding together — Kara and Leoben, Galen and Baltar. Weird and weirder.
    I had exactly the same thought about the kids. Who the hell is watching Nicky? And why the hell are they available for the Chief but weren’t anywhere to be found when Calley needed a break?
    I think your reaction to Baltar is exactly the one the writers are aiming for. And should be worth a damn Emmy at the very least. You’re not supposed to buy into his redemption. There is no beauty in the storyline because we can’t know if its real or not. And if the writers have the courage of their convictions, they won’t ever answer the question.
    What’s up with Galen’s hair — the skin job as skinhead? He had a Britney moment?

  2. cgeye says:

    One of the few takeaways from my burst of church involvement was the phrase “God isn’t done with me yet”. It not only meant I wasn’t perfect; it was that I didn’t even know how I would grow, but God would.
    But I was waiting for that mutiny of the young and handsome Viper piloten, just because if they didn’t fight, they would have started fucking.
    C’mon. You know they would. Then there’d be more neglected half-breed Cylon children, and then where would we be?
    But the preview, with the hybrid: Freaked. Me. Out.
    And is it wrong to now consider Tyrol to be dead sexy, in a rough Brian Dennehy sorta way? If it’s wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

  3. cgeye says:

    And I sorta understand Baltar.
    really. The episode had him learn the one thing he really never did, until his imprisonment: How to listen. At least not since his (true? faux?) Aileron ghetto fabulous days.
    Since when did he do that without being rewarded with one of Six’s sleeve jobs?

  4. virgotex says:

    Dammit flory, usually we disagree but tonight you damn near stole my damn post!
    Here’s the short explanation of Baltar. He met the Buddha on the road but he didn’t kill him. He’s in that zealot phase, he has not examined his faith, and being Baltar, he does think it’s HIS faith. He hasn’t replaced enough of his overpreening ego with faith, it’s not integrated into him. He’s entranced by it, he genuinely feels he’s been redeemed and enraptured by it, but he thinks he owns this now, and is in love with it. He has not yet had that really true “God, why has thou forsaken me?” moment, and doubtless, it will come.
    To quote Joni Mitchell:
    Oh the power and the glory
    Just when you’re getting a taste for worship
    They start bringing out the hammers
    And the boards
    And the nails

    At least that’s what I think, and hope they’re going to try and pull off. It’s something these writers could manage.
    I also think this was a stunningly written episode, and very efficiently done, because everybody has to TRANSFORM, and the writers didn’t have the luxury of showing how that really works, so it is distilled in one episode. And Starbuck is already leading them where they need, they just don’t get it. But she is, especially with her explanation of loss and death: “They are just GONE.” Move on,because as unjust as it is, we just don’t have time for you to sit and hold their photos and rock and mourn them. We have to sail off into the freezing dark to find the new world.
    So we have Baltar,who by rights, should have been hung up by his heels and bled out like a pig, now the charismatic leader capable of turning a man who wants to be a stone back into his bighearted self (if only for a few seconds).
    And then we have Starbuck, who’s always been dripping with charisma,who has been well-loved and adored even when she has totally fracked up, she’s always been granted another chance. But now, not so much. She’s the forsaken one.
    The deck’s been shuffled.

  5. Tim says:

    Why is it that the whole fleet has been willingly following Laura Roslin’s scriptural vision of what she loves most (or at least wants most), with nary a whimper, for days and months and maybe years, but this one small crew on this one small ship can’t follow Kara Thrace’s — a woman they’ve fought with and drank with and probably slept with — for two lousy months without dissolving into mutiny?
    I’d just like to say, Roslin wasn’t proposing a jump right into the middle of a Cylon war. Seems to me to be a dumbass thing to do, unless everyone on that ship volunteered for a suicide mission.

  6. mdhatter says:

    Who the hell is watching Nicky? And why the hell are they available for the Chief but weren’t anywhere to be found when Calley needed a break?
    I don’t have children, but even I was wondering this.

  7. flory says:

    Dammit flory, usually we disagree but tonight you damn near stole my damn post!
    Hee. Gotta move fast on these here internets.
    He’s entranced by it, he genuinely feels he’s been redeemed and enraptured by it, but he thinks he owns this now, and is in love with it.
    That’s where I think the writing is fracking brilliant. You think its a genuine feeling on Baltar’s part, and I’m not so sure it isn’t just another Gaius-special con job. And I think they’ve done that intentionally.
    Although the fact that he’s cut his hair, and looks considerably less greasy than usual, makes me wonder if you aren’t right.
    Which I’d think is also intentional on the director’s part.
    So we have Baltar,who by rights, should have been hung up by his heels and bled out like a pig, now the charismatic leader capable of turning a man who wants to be a stone back into his bighearted self (if only for a few seconds).
    And then we have Starbuck, who’s always been dripping with charisma,who has been well-loved and adored even when she has totally fracked up, she’s always been granted another chance. But now, not so much. She’s the forsaken one.
    The deck’s been shuffled.

    Yes!! And the cylon borg is fracturing. Kara is listening to the one man she should hate most in the universe. Galen is actually listening to Baltar.
    The XXst century is when everythng changes.
    I’d just like to say, Roslin wasn’t proposing a jump right into the middle of a Cylon war. Seems to me to be a dumbass thing to do, unless everyone on that ship volunteered for a suicide mission.
    And if you read the rest of my comment, you’ll see that I agree with the crews refusal to follow that order.
    But what had Kara doneup to that point that had them muttering mutiny? Nothing but follow the orders Adama gave her.
    That’s the part I don’t get.

  8. Rmj, Vox Threaduli says:

    But what had Kara done up to that point that had them muttering mutiny? Nothing but follow the orders Adama gave her.
    Besides paint her room obsessively, and otherwise isolate herself from the crew, giving no hint that she knew what she was doing (because she doesn’t)?
    I’m with you, A. The real encounter with Godcosts. In the Jewish tradition, it means annihilation of the creature (i.e., you and me) if God so much as looks directly at you. And sorry, but the price the prophet pays to know the truth is so much hokum: the most interesting prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures are always asking God: “Why did you do this to me? How can I know this is true? Nobody believes me, and why should they?!” They may tell the people it’s “the word of the Lord,” but then they turn to God and say: “Are you crazy?! I can’t tell ’em that!”
    It’s the prophets who are sure they know God’s will, and assure you the price is nothing at all but acceptance, you got to watch out for. Gaius strikes me as just another huckster evangelist, rather than any kind of true prophet. Kara’s too fracked up to be a prophet.
    Which is pretty much where it should be, lest we think the narrator is the god of this particular narrative universe.

  9. Dee Loralei says:

    I don’t watch BSG so these threads go way over my head, but I do love the way you write about it A. Anyway, you guys may enjoy this take on it. Craig at Puntabulous is hillarious, and this is his most recent BSG entry.
    http://puntabulous.com/2008/05/02/who-is-the-most-irritating-character-on-battlestar-galactica/#comments

  10. flory says:

    But what had Kara done up to that point that had them muttering mutiny? Nothing but follow the orders Adama gave her.
    Besides paint her room obsessively, and otherwise isolate herself from the crew, giving no hint that she knew what she was doing (because she doesn’t)?

    Well, yeah.
    But it wastwo lousy months. They’ve been living this nightmare life for who knows how long now.
    Why would two lousy months send them over the edge?
    It’s the prophets who are sure they know God’s will, and assure you the price is nothing at all but acceptance, you got to watch out for. Gaius strikes me as just another huckster evangelist, rather than any kind of true prophet. Kara’s too fracked up to be a prophet.
    Yeah. Gaius strikes me as more self-help guru than prophet. But, as I said above, the genius of the writing is that I’m not really sure about that.
    I don’t know what Kara is at this point. Madwoman? Prophet? Cylon? All of the above?

  11. kdaug says:

    Well, she did “die” and re-appear two months later. If I were on her crew, the suspicion that she’s a cylon replica doesn’t seem extraordinary.

  12. And locked in small ship goin’ nowhere fast…tends to melt down military discipline, I’d think…

  13. BlakNo1 says:

    Why is it that the whole fleet has been willingly following Laura Roslin’s scriptural vision of what she loves most (or at least wants most), with nary a whimper, for days and months and maybe years, but this one small crew on this one small ship can’t follow Kara Thrace’s — a woman they’ve fought with and drank with and probably slept with — for two lousy months without dissolving into mutiny?
    Because they’re all still 1/2 convinced that she’s a Cylon, even Athena(the Cylon, not teh blogger). Being all nicey-nice with Leoben isn’t helping.
    I’m fairly convinced Baltar’s days are numbered and that will cause the fleet to degenerate into religious civil war.

  14. Tim says:

    My question would be what took them so long to mutiny? Let’s follow a woman who essentially suicided once already, cam back with an impossible story, got a ship by claiming she was positive she could find Earth, but then has to stop and ask Cylons for directions. Who could be bothered about that?

  15. BuggyQ says:

    Okay, still hopelessly behind (real life frakking sucks when it keeps me from BSG), but caught last week’s ep finally. Just one thought: my sense of the scene between the Chief and the Old Man wasn’t that the Chief was messed up, that he’s confused, any of that. I think it’s that he knows what Tory did, and he’s terrified that he could do it, too. So he’s trying to get himself away from all the things he loves most, so he can’t destroy them. And I think that somehow, under all of it, Adama recognized that.

  16. virgotex says:

    But what had Kara done up to that point that had them muttering mutiny?
    I watched the ep again last night. While Kara’s behavior (isolating, the painting on the walls, etc) certainly didn’t help and made everyone batshit nervous, I think what pushed them over was the arrival of Leoben, Kara’s refusal to completely denounce him, holing up with him in her quarters, and most of all the explosion and the death of Matthias, which everyone assumes was the other shoe falling, that yes, it was an ambush by Leoben and it could have killed them all.
    And now Kara wants to follow this guy’s directions, use his coordinates.
    That’s a pretty big leap of faith for the crew to make.

  17. Maitri says:

    “But what had Kara done up to that point that had them muttering mutiny? Nothing but follow the orders Adama gave her.”
    1. She was gone (like “dead,” gone) for a while and everyone’s a mite Cylon-conscious these days.
    2. Everyone knows Adama has a soft spot for her.
    3. Matthias died
    4. They’re on a poop ship a day away from possibly not acquiring the fuel required to get anywhere, much less back to the fleet.
    We have the luxury of knowing that there are skinjobs aboard Galactica that possibly pose a much greater threat to humanity than Kara and, previously, visiting the temple with her. No one else has that insight on Kara’s behalf. Not that I would’ve acted like screamy boy whose lights Helo had to punch out, but I think the Demetrius crew deserves a break when it comes to the mutiny.
    BUT: What they forget is that, quite frankly, what the hell else do they have to / can they do besides look for Earth, be it aboard the Demetrius or Galactica? What higher purpose could they serve at this point? It’s sheer survival instinct on the part of the Demetrius crew, whether they find Earth or not.

  18. flory says:

    I think what pushed them over was the arrival of Leoben, Kara’s refusal to completely denounce him, holing up with him in her quarters, and most of all the explosion and the death of Matthias, which everyone assumes was the other shoe falling, that yes, it was an ambush by Leoben and it could have killed them all.
    And now Kara wants to follow this guy’s directions, use his coordinates.
    That’s a pretty big leap of faith for the crew to make.

    I must’ve been pretty unclear in my original comment. Everybody that’s responded to it seems to be of the opinion that I was wondering why the Demetrius crew was ready to mutinyafter Starbuck decided to miss the rendevous deadline, when I thought I was pretty clear that I didn’t find that questionable at all. It is a pretty big leap of faith and one that I’d be disinclined to take.
    I was — and still am — wondering why they were on the edge of mutiny well before that. At the very beginning of the episode Sharon is bitching about pushing the go-back deadline to the very end. They’re on a two month mission and the commander decides not to cut it two lousy days short and this is reason to bitch and moan? Starbuck decides to fly CAP and the crew is appalled thatthe best fracking pilot in the fleet is going to fly CAP.
    The crew were extremely unhappy campers well before Leoben showed up and waaaay before Starbuck decided to miss the rendevous with the fleet in order to follow Leoben’s instructions.
    And I don’t see that there’s any real reason why they should have been. No matter how fruitless the mission was, or how bizarre Starbuck was acting, it was two lousy months and they were going home in two lousy days.

  19. BlakNo1 says:

    I was — and still am — wondering why they were on the edge of mutiny well before that.
    I still say it was because they were wary that she might be a Cylon. Even Sharon/Athena(a Cylon) has doubts.

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