In the webisode series “The Face of the Enemy,” everything is Felix Gaeta and nothing hurts, and then everything hurts forever. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Battlestar Galactica.
This is a web series. THESE ARE WEBISODES. If this is what this show is offering me as A WEBISODE, then sweet summer child, the episodes that come after this are going to destroy me.
I can’t get over how fantastically written these are, that they feature Gaeta heavily, and that they give us an actual answer to something hinted at the end of season three that had gone unexplained until now. Of course, I’m sure you’re all waiting for it, so let me get it out of the way:
OH MY GOD GAETA KISSED A BOY EVERYTHING IS PERFECT AND I AM SO HAPPY THIS IS WONDERFUL OH MY GOD.
Oh my god, you know…I hadn’t even noticed that tiny look that Hoshi gave Gaeta at the end of “Sometimes A Great Notion,” but now it’s clearly a “GIRL U IN DANGER” look, or maybe a “HOLD ON TO YOUR BUTTS” look or maybe a “OH SHIT THE OLD MAN’S AT IT AGAIN” look or something. Either way….oh boy, I am so stoked. QUEER UP ALL MY TELEVISION SHOWS, PLEASE.
oh god “The Face of the Enemy.” That title is a goddamn trick, isn’t it? Holy shit, this was…intense. It’s almost like a murder mystery in a strange way, even if that story trope doesn’t totally fit the whole thing. What impressed me most, though, was that this wasn’t a disposable story in the slightest. It felt like a slightly truncated episode, almost as if it was just Gaeta’s plot plucked out. In a way, too, it wouldn’t feel entirely out of place in “Sometimes A Great Notion,” since it deals with how Gaeta copes with the recent discovery of Earth and the continued Cylon alliance. He’s always been the sort of person to surround himself with work, so I wasn’t surprised to see him back in the CIC. The impetus for this all is Tigh’s demand that Gaeta take a week off aboard the Zephyr, which he reluctantly agrees to. He shuffles off to catch a shuttle, has a little mouth hug session with Hoshi (HHHNNNGGGGGG), and then SHIT GETS REAL. Well, it’s actually a fairly slow build to that point, but when hostile Cylon contacts appear in range, the entire fleet makes an emergency jump.
AND GAETA’S RAPTOR IS STRANDED IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. jfc this show please let like one good thing happen. Ha, what am I saying? This is Battlestar Galactica. This isn’t going to be easy! It’s the first time the concept of the “red line” is introduced, a limit to how far a ship can go before it’s unable to jump back to its previous point. In this case, a lot of the physical factors and logistics of six people being stranded in space play towards the suspense of the entire thing, with the main limiting factor being oxygen.
I’m familiar with the trope in science fiction with characters being stranded and then watching how those people cope with the situation, so for the first few webisodes, this seemed to be following a predictable path. And that’s not to say that this made this terrible or anything. It’s one of my favorite storytelling tropes! I don’t know, there’s something appealing to me about watching society crumble at a micro level when people are faced with their very basic needs of survival, so we see that play out with increasingly more shocking results. But thankfully, that’s not the only thing that the writers give us over the course of these ten webisodes. First of all, I was very pleased to see this same story from the point of view of Hoshi. It’s not often that we get stories told from the point of view of men in a couple in science fiction, and for all the heterosexual stories and viewpoints we’ve seen over the course of three and a half seasons, Hoshi’s is a welcome addition.
On top of that, it’s the flashbacks to New Caprica that most caught me off guard. We have a bisexual character on a major television show, and it’s not played as creepy or deviant and JFC IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL. So much had happened since “Taking A Break From All Your Worries” that I’d forgotten entirely about Gaeta’s side of the story on New Caprica. I was confused at first: why was Gaeta giving an Eight a list of names? I thought he had helped the resistance on New Caprica. As the story unfolds, though, I had to remind myself that virtually nothing on this goddamn show is black and white. Even someone as moral and straightforward as Gaeta had his own demons.
AND THEN ON TOP OF THIS (christ the plots on BSG can be so layered, I swear), there is DEATH. And A WHOLE LOT OF IT. The first to kick the bucket is one of the Eights, who is electrocuted by a set of pliers that had the insulating grip stripped off of it. If you’ll allow me to be completely honest, I genuinely thought that one of the humans on the ship had killed the Eight. The alliance between human and Cylon might be more solid in the administrative sense, but there were bound to be other humans who weren’t entirely into the idea.
Oh, how utterly wrong I was. The flashbacks to New Caprica paint a much different picture: Eight and Gaeta became closer as the two did their best to try and save people who were being harmed by the Cylons under the occupation. So when Eight (in the present) whispers to Gaeta that she knows how to save them, all I could think was GAETA THIS IS A BAD IDEA. What was telling to me was the fact that she seemed to be referring to herself and Gaeta. Only. She wasn’t talking about the whole ship and the other surviving crew members. It didn’t strike me as a request out of trust, as if whatever idea she had she could only initially trust Gaeta with. Still, I initially thought that it wasn’t fair to frame the situation like that. Yes, she still might like Gaeta a whole lot, maybe even love. Perhaps she wanted to rekindle that, and there certainly is a whole lot of repressed sexual tension in these webisodes.
Hell, that sexual tension has a history. We learn the two of them did much more than try to save some of colonists. So was that what she was going after? Was she thinking of that, perhaps thinking that if she could get Gaeta off the ship, she might have a chance with him again? Oh god, the worst part is that I was actually TOTALLY FUCKING RIGHT, but I had the motivation entirely wrong. I thought this was just an issue of Eight making weird choices over her confusing “human” emotions, something she was probably still getting used to. But after Gaeta wakes up from a nap and finds out that the deckhand, Brooks, died of a morpha overdose, that’s when I had to look at the episode differently. How would have Brooks even known about Gaeta’s stash? Eight was the only one who saw him inject himself.
Yeah, it’s right around here that things started to come together and I had to begin to accept an uncomfortable reality: Eight had done this on purpose. But why? Why go to such great lengths to kill people, and why kill one of your own Cylon models??? It’s obvious that she is genuinely trying to get them back to the fleet, too, so this wasn’t a clear-cut case of her simply betraying the humans in order to ambush them or turn them over to the Cylons. Gaeta even tells Eight that he’s seeing someone when she goes in to kiss him, and she still doesn’t back away from using the Raptor’s systems to jump back to the fleet. Soooooo WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
Again, I love that this is intercut with Hoshi being all worried and adorable. Well….I do realize that might seem a bit ironic or unfortunate to not acknowledge that Hoshi is set up for heartbreak and disappointment by the end of this webisode series. It’s subtle, but his conversation with Racetrack (LOVE THAT GIRL, BY THE WAY) about Gaeta’s moral core is contrasted with what happens to the man aboard the Raptor shuttle. The jump is a success, and as Gaeta goes to wake up the pilots, he finds out their their throats are slashed. WHAT THE FUCK. what the fuck have you done Eight. I mean, there was no fucking hiding it anymore, was there? It was her. It couldn’t be anyone else. I’m glad that the writers didn’t have this plot try to be any more mysterious at this point; instead, we turn to asking these characters why this had happened.
And good god. This series delivers. It delivers an answer, and it is so fucking awful and horrifying: “I know what your Eight did.” Calling all the way back to “Taking a Break from All Your Worries,”we discover what it was that Gaius Baltar whispered into Gaeta’s ear that caused him to stab Balter in the next with a pen. “I know what your Eight did.”
She preyed on Gaeta’s naive sense of right and wrong. It paints Hoshi’s words about Gaeta’s moral center in a new light. Maybe at one time Felix Gaeta was that man, but the occupation on New Caprica uprooted that. The people on those lists were killed. He sent them to their deaths and his own unwillingness to see that reality caused it. And in a horrifying parallel to that very same episode, Gaeta angrily lashes out and stabs the Eight in front of him with a scalpel, killing her.
Is it really in his nature to kill? Was he unconsciously carrying out that desire when he handed over those names to Eight? Even if she was wrong about her perception of him, it sort of doesn’t matter anymore. He does kill her anyway, and in the final webisode, we see how this causes him to break. He tries to kill himself by overloading on morpha, but even when he’s rescued by Racetrack and Hoshi, the incident has irrevocably changed him. I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s broken things off with Hoshi in order to protect him, but I think something else has happened. His harsh conversation with Tigh triggered this anger I’d never really seen him, this disgust with a Cylon he had never demonstrated. Is this Gaeta’s desire to get revenge for what the Cylons did to him, for Eight preying on his moral immaturity? It seems that whatever he has planned is not going to be very positive for the Cylons, especially since it was mention of the meeting regarding the alliance that set him off.
Sweet summer child, Gaeta, what are you going to do? JFC WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO. Oh god, I really do love this show, but ONE THING HAS TO GO RIGHT FOR THESE PEOPLE PLEASE.
Why am I even asking for this? So unprepared, y’all. I am so unprepared.