Half the Golden Bough is about scapegoats. More: three-quarters. Baldur, Baltar, and Billy Keikeya. Iphigenia and Gina Six. Christ, Kara, Kore; Azazel, Aslan, Athena. Boomer, before her. Saddam. Three, lying in the waters of the resurrection for the last time, as an infinity of Cavils walked away into the darkness. Everything that breaks the world apart and realigns the universe happens on that altar. On the tenth day of Tishri the high priest presents a ram for a burnt offering, and two young goats for our sins. One's for JHVH, and the other is for Azazel. About God we know everything and nothing, but Azazel's like the Grace Kelly of the unseen, a mysterious celebrity. The devil of what happens after the world ends. So the high priest lays his hands upon its head and confesses the sins of the people, and they hand Azazel's goat over, and he's "led forth to an isolated region," and let go in the wilderness. That's how you do scapegoats. That's how you forgive, and wipe away the lines of salt that divide you, and knit yourselves back together. Grownups can remember it's only symbolic; it's children that don't realize the power of ritual in and of itself, and beg for concrete blood. This trial is evil before it even started. To kill something that's eaten the sins of a nation? A world? Twelve worlds? That's not just bad magic, it's bad faith. It's nuclear. You take what should be a funeral and make it a bloodbath, but funerals aren't for the dead: they're for the living. And the reason it's such a big deal, the reason scapegoat rituals are the scariest, wildest magic of all? Same reason that Tory's love of Laura, that Bill's love of Lee, that Laura's love of her people get so fucking scary all the time. Same reason I'm so insistent that the personal is not political, but that the political is only ever personal. Same reason I call you citizen, same reason I love Sarah Porter, same reason I weep for Lee Adama. See how tired Bill and Laura are getting, carrying that weight. Nobody was built to carry that. Even Three was blinded and burnt out: how much weaker is Gaius? Or Lee? Or Kara? This isn't just his trial; it never was.
"So Gaius Baltar made you kill your wife. That's why you hate him. And that's why you'd say anything to see him die... " And Tigh steps right inside: steps into that scapegoat trap again, thinking that revenge is ever appropriate. "You're Godsdamned right I would. I would do anything, say anything...to see that man die a painful death." No further questions. And across the water comes a song that only Tigh can hear; as usual, he mistakes this for the world, and thinks everyone else can hear it too. Getting closer to the Nebula, all the time. (I have no foreknowledge of whether that matters, but so far that kind of thing tends to be important.)