Battlestar Galactica
Crossroads, Part I

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A | Grade It Now!
That Old Song They Used To Play

"And you blame him for her death... Have you been drinking today, Colonel?" Long shot on Bill, Tigh in the foreground, tricks with focus: "I had a drink. I haven't been drinking." Lampkin surmises that Saul used to drink with Ellen. He can't know the glory of it, though, the way their loved burned so hot. He can't understand what he means, what he's saying, when he says they used to drink. Tigh loses a bit of composure and the camera follows, swanning off sideways. The static and the sound, across the water: "You hear that? They're playing music in here now?" Not looking good for the prosecution, there. "Gaius Baltar didn't order the death of your wife, Colonel. That was somebody else." That was Sam Anders, recent widower, recent cuckold, newborn nugget. That was Colonel Saul Tigh, constant murderer, recent poet, constant cuckold, newborn... what? What music is he hearing? "Who was it, Colonel? Who killed Ellen? Come on, Colonel, we're waiting. Tell us. Who was it? Who killed Ellen?" He breaks, on the rocks. Runs aground. Begins to sing. "I did. I did. I did. She was giving information to the Cylons. A lot of good men died. She was my wife. It was my responsibility. She did it for me. That's what she said, to save me from going back to prison, so they could tear more pieces off me." His eye, traded in for something new. Something we aren't at the correct angle to see yet, another hallucination, another way the world goes south on you. "So I killed her. All because of that thing over there. All because Gaius frakkin' Baltar didn't have the guts to stand up to the Cylons. Because he handed our fates over to the Cylons, I had to kill my Ellen." Because you held the temporary goals of the insurrection, and the Circle you knew you'd create, above the simple fact that you don't put guns in the Temple, and you don't play with scapegoats unless you're prepared to back it up.

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.

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Battlestar Galactica




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