What a hard-hitting episode this was. It wasn't easy to watch, not should it have been, given the subject it tackled. At the overall episode level, I thought it showed brilliantly the problem with closed tribunals, ones where there is no advocate for the defence. How incredible what damage three(?) days did.
The opening sequence was incredibly uncomfortable. I found Jammer a sympathetic, if weak, character. I knew he would face retribution on Galactica, but I hadn't expected it to happen so soon. From the start of the interrogation I was pretty sure it would end in his death, but that didn't make it any easier to watch as he begged for help and forgiveness. I am absolutely opposed to capital punishment under any circumstances, so watching characters I love (like Kara) push for the collaborators' deaths was incredibly confronting.
The dynamic on the tribunal was interesting--most of the tribunal members were motivated by personal loss and anger, but they varied in the degree to which they rationalised or whitewashed what they were doing. Tigh had convinced himself that he was working within the law, for justice, clinging to the presidential decree as proof. The Chief, having lost less, wavered more than others, as did Anders.
I must thank supacat. When I first watched this ep, I found Anders's character almost impossible to understand and he annoyed the hell out of me. Part of this was a legacy from the episode before when he encouraged Tigh to kill his own wife. That he was now squeamish about watching the executions seemed like double-standards to me. Then, when he decided he couldn't stomach it any further, he left the tribunal, rather than using his vote to avoid killing. It really annoyed me. But supacat persuaded me that Anders was a more coherent character than I saw on the surface. She argued that to him the difference was that they were no longer at war. When at war, he advocated killing when it was tactically important enough. But as the war faded and it became clearer and clearer that they were killing for revenge not necessity, he found it hard to take. This makes sense to me. I still wonder how Anders will adjust to peace. He doesn't seem to have a very well-thought-out belief system/moral code--he has qualms, but he's been the man of action for so long--only with time did he really come to a firm position on the tribunal's actions.
It was Kara who offered me the best way to understand those on the tribunal. Her speech to Anders about her emotions after her escape was powerful and visceral. It conveyed to me the depth of raw emotion running through the resistance members, especially those who had lost loved ones or parts of themselves. It helped me understand them as human beings, even if I still found their acts repulsive.
Even though he was annoying me, I really liked that Anders returned Kara's dog tags to her, symbolising that she was no longer a hero in his eyes. And she wasn't in this episode--her actions were monstrous, not heroic, and for a show to portray their lead hero character in this way was very brave, I thought.
Oh, poor Gaeta!! I was screaming at the screen at times during this episode, in frustration, since we know Gaeta was a key part of getting them off the planet. Even the most basic 'normal' judicial process would have ascertained this, but instead emotion and prejudice were allowed to dominate proceedings to such a degree that the tribunal very nearly didn't uncover this until it was too late. After Jammer's death I did fear there was a real possiblity he might also be killed, especially after we saw Tigh lash out at him publicly.
For much of the episode I was puzzling at how the tribunal could have been permitted. That Zarak approved it was the perfect, if chilling, reveal, especially after Roslin offered him the vice-presidency. I was relieved that Roslin had not in fact usurped the presidency, as was implied by her taking the chair in the previous episode. She went through the proper channels, but not without great sacrifice/compromise. I adored her acceptance speech and I love that she's ruled that there will be no more trials of any sort. That was brilliant, especially after Zarak's taunting about public trials.
Kara's where I expected her to be--repressing what's happened to her, denying it, and lashing out in impulsive action. I'm not surprised she got her pilot gear back out of storage. I do wonder how she's going to fit in now though. And she's lost Anders, at least for now.
I loved the flashes to Gaius on the Cylon ship. The parallel was brilliant and it was interesting to see how foreign and strange the Cylon ship was for a human. I'm fascinated by the Cylons changing emotions about him too, especially the Sixes. Gaius, of course, retains his egotistical belief in his own importance. But on reflection I'm not that surprised that they are shutting him out now. Their experiment with living with humans was a disaster--no wonder this is prompting a re-think on human-Cylon interaction.
The lightest moment of the ep was Lee being told to 'keep jumping'. Oh, Lee! *sigh* When will they give you a decent plot again? I suspect he'll be on the backburner for some time.
But what a brilliant hour of television. So well crafted and tackling such a profoundly confronting issue, and one so relevant to our own world. BSG at its finest.