NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Four: “The Face Of The Enemy”

I didn’t seduce you. Hope seduced you. And the more you ate of it, the less you saw.

Air Date: 12/12/08-12/02/09

Director: Wayne Rose

Writer: Jane Espenson & Seamus Kevin Fahey

Synopsis: A botched jump leaves a Raptor containing a combined group of Colonials and Cylons stranded in space. Onboard, Gaeta is forced to confront a shadow from his past: an Eight he grew close to on New Caprica.

Review

“The Face Of The Enemy” is the third, and last, BSG webisode series, after “The Resistance” between Season Two and Three, and the Razor Flashbacks that accompanied the larger Razor project. It was actually released in the lead-up to “Sometimes A Great Notion”, even though the events that it depicts very obviously take place after that episode: hence why I have chosen to cover it here, as otherwise it just doesn’t fit right. Coming out at just over a half-hour of material, it might be an elongated promotional exercise, but it does offer a very interesting look at a character who, while always important in his own way, is about to become one of the stand-out elements of Season Four’s second half.

Felix Gaeta just needs a bit more elaboration, or so the people behind “The Face Of The Enemy” appear to think. Not that he has been ignored this season, far from it, but for the most part Gaeta has been a fairly passive person. Coming off his perjury in “Crossroads (Part Two)” we’ve seen the annoyed officer who wasn’t happy dealing with Starbuck in “He That Believeth In Me”, we’ve seen the increasingly mutinous person on the Demetrius in “The Road Less Traveled”, we’ve seen the victim of a stupid shooter in “Faith” and the person who feels the need to sing to soothe that pain in “Guess What’s Coming To Dinner?”. Our last glimpse, in “Revelations”, was of a very proud but bent over individual, probably coming back to his post too early and struggling to deal with the reality of having just one leg. And in “Sometimes A Great Notion”, Gaeta suffered yet another tragedy with Dee’s death. Onboard the stranded Raptor, Gaeta gets reminded of a different loss, and suffers a revelation of yet more pain. There is only so much one person can take.

Gaeta is a poisoned individual in a lot of ways, but we are yet to see the result of that poisoning becoming truly rancourous. That moment is coming soon, and the more singular course of “The Face Of The Enemy” will add to our understanding of that damaged soul, and how far it is willing to go in pursuit of…well, we shall see. “The Face Of The Enemy” showcases good and bad aspects of Gaeta’s personality in different ways. We see the good in his will to survive, his ability to adapt to difficult circumstances, and in his relationship with Hoshi, the last of which is a very firm indication that Gaeta can be saved from the black pit yet. We see the bad in his barely repressed anger at his circumstances, his addiction to painkillers and the manner in which he is capable of sudden bursts of extreme violence. I think the whole point of “The Face Of The Enemy” is set-up for this particular character, to insure that the audience truly understands how far he has gone down this dark road which, when married to his obvious capability in other respects, will produce something extremely dangerous.

Much of this is traced back to events on New Caprica, the moment when Gaeta went from a dependable CIC officer to an intimate part of major events. On that planet he sought means to aid the Resistance to the Cylon occupation even as he remained a key part of it, as we saw in “Occupation” all the way through to “Exodus (Part Two)”. But there was more to it than the information drops. No, Gaeta tried to do more, perhaps ahead of his more clandestine contacts with Tyrol, by engaging with the Cylons directly.

“The Face Of The Enemy” is concerned with making us understand the depth of Gaeta’s hatred for the Cylons, and there is little better way of doing that than the realisation that what he considered to be a positive moment amid a sea of misery was in fact just a Cylon manipulation. Not for the first time we see Cylons – and specifically female Cylons – use sexuality and romantic emotions as a tool to get what they want from Colonial men who should know better. Gaeta might not have given up the entire defence mainframe like Baltar did, but he still acted foolishly, out of a misplaced affection for an Eight model that perhaps reflects feelings he may have had for the model he was originally familiar with: we might recall he and Boomer dancing together in “Colonial Day”. Gaeta went to this Eight looking to do good, and still with a belief that some manner of cooperation with the Cylons might be beneficial: he got something else out of the deal, though “The Face Of The Enemy” is careful not to use words like “love” or even showcase an obvious sexual relationship (though the latter is implied). Now, years removed, he’s told that the interaction, the affection, was not only based on a lie but helped to condemn a large number of people to death. Gaeta thought himself the hero, a martyr for his actions as we saw in “Collaborators”. Now, he realises he was a Quisling, albeit unknowingly. The end result is painfully clear: in the mind of Felix Gaeta, alliances with the Cylons will only ever end to the benefit of one party, and “skinjobs” cannot be trusted.

The actual narrative of the episode is essentially Lifeboat in space, a scenario any sci-fi fan will probably have seen elsewhere, crossed with And Then There Were None. In a small cramped space personalities clash and enmities begin to boil over, before people start dying in increasingly suspicious circumstances. BSG leans in hard on the horror angle as the bodies pile up, the lights start to flicker and the blood begins to get smeared on people’s faces, perhaps as much as it has done since “A Measure Of Salvation”. There is a natural tension to be found from such things, and the only negative really is that the scenario probably needs a bit more time than 30 minutes to breathe properly (pun unintended). Once the first Eight dies, it’s hard to envision anyone other than the second Eight being responsible for the deaths, especially when her connection to Gaeta is revealed. Still, I liked the set-up and execution of “The Face Of The Enemy”, which showcased a good use of limited physical space. Yes, it’s a bottle episode, but like the best sci-fi shows BSG demonstrates that this doesn’t have to be a detriment to good story-telling. The purpose is to put Gaeta through the ringer, and this narrative accomplishes that.

This is the most we have seen yet of Lt Hoshi, a bit player who was introduced all the way back in “Pegasus” as I recall. He’s always been just background really, save for his interaction with Kendra Shaw in Razor, but he gets the time to become more of a character in “The Face Of The Enemy”. In some respects he’s just meant to be an avenue for telling us more about Gaeta, but we do learn a bit about Hoshi at the same time: his affection for Gaeta, his loyalty to comrades and his tendency to grasp at straws, at least insofar as the rescue effort goes. In the end, Hoshi doesn’t actually get what he wants in some respects, as Gaeta seems to end their relationship at the conclusion of this series – something confirmed by Jane Espenson – and it’s not clear how someone like Hoshi is going to fit in to whatever Gaeta might be planning. But he’s made an impact, and that’s enough to make him someone worth keeping an eye on as we go forward.

The series ends with violence, as Gaeta eliminates the Eight in a decisive fashion, and portends more violence to come, as Gaeta warns Hoshi that he won’t just stand idly by in the face of a human/Cylon alliance he does not feel is worth pursuing. If “The Face Of The Enemy” can be described as elongated set-up, then its closing moments do certainly make you wonder “Where do we go from here?”. The job of outlining a more one-minded, more ruthless and more dangerous Gaeta has certainly been accomplished: now we get to see just what this character, once so ancillary, is going to do that will up end everything, and make the collapse of Season Four a cold, hard reality.

I didn’t want to do what I did. I did it when the probabilities dictated it.

Notes

-Quite the wordy opening title: “Nine days after the discovery of a devastated Earth”.

-This was actually one of the very last things filmed during the show’s production, done concurrently with The Plan. That’s why there are no scenes in the CIC: the set had already been dismantled.

BSG rarely used the technique really – “You Can’t Go Home Again” and “Black Market” are the other major examples I think – but “The Face Of The Enemy” elects to go with an in medias reis opening which works in the context of the horror theme.

-In lieu of the usual main titles preview, we instead get a mixture of flashes for Gaeta here, of his past and of his future.

-Gaeta is looking a little dishevelled in the CIC. It’s subtle enough, but we can see it in the blotchy skin, the five-o-clock shadow, the bags under the eyes. He’s not in a good place, a week-ish removed from “Sometimes A Great Notion”.

-In the aftermath of Cloud Nine’s destruction in “Lay Down Your Burdens (Part Two)”, the Zephyr appears to have become the Fleet’s go to relaxation destination. This despite the damage it took in “He That Believeth In Me”.

-Tigh’s advice to Gaeta is blunt and to the point: “Go get drunk, sleep for a week”. This appears to be Tigh’s preferred R&R combination.

-First appearance of “morpha” here since it was used to euthanise Socinus in “Valley Of Darkness”. This episode would indicate that, like real world morphine, it has addictive properties.

BSG doesn’t belabour the moment which establishes Gaeta and Hoshi as a couple, which I appreciated. We’ve had female/female intimacy in the show before, in “Faith”, but that was stylised to a degree. This is much more straightforward.

-There was a long-running question in the fandom about the sexuality of various characters, as tends to be the case. On the question of whether Gaeta was gay or straight, the answer seems to be a solid “Yes”.

-The original plan was for Gaeta’s lover to be the pilot Narcho, last seen in “Six Of One”, but this was changed when the actor proved unavailable. Similarly, the Eight was apparently meant to be a Six.

-A Cylon presence on Galactica is now normal, going by the way the Eights are walking around the flight deck unattended.

-It apparently takes 15 minutes for a Raptor to fly to the Zephyr? That seems like a lot, but I guess outside of combat the smaller ships are limited to a slower speed?

-The engineer briefly prays to a Poseidon medallion, which I think is the first time that deity has been mentioned on the show. His remit over sailing vessels seemingly extends to spaceships.

-The rules regarding “the red line” for FTL jumps make little sense to me, but I think the issue here is that having jumped beyond a point that is charted, the Raptor crew can’t jump somewhere else because they don’t know exactly where they are.

-Tigh is remarkably casual about the missing Raptor, just a step away from claiming it will just turn-up. That might reflect Michael Hogan’s limited time on set for this.

-Hoshi doesn’t come outright and say that he and Gaeta are involved but his manner of saying “me and Felix” leaves little doubt. Tigh’s reaction is interesting in a way, in that he largely has no reaction, or objection. We’ve come a long way since he ordered Boomer to stop fraternising with Tyrol in “Water”.

-“The Face Of The Enemy” is laid back about its music, relaying on old themes and wispy notes to maximise the disconcerting feeling in the Raptor. It works.

-I do like, similar to real-life examples of such electrocution, it takes a few seconds to realise what’s wrong when this Eight buys it.

-To add to the horror, the series takes the time to outline the less pleasant aspects of decomposition and how it’s inadvisable for the group to let the dead Eight’s model remain onboard, even if it costs them air.

-Gaeta’s list of people doesn’t have any familiar names on it, and it’s never explained what made them important. You’d have to presume they are members of the military, or maybe were involved in New Caprica’s government?

-I think this is the first time that we actually see’s Gaeta’s stump, which as a visual image is going to be important for coming episodes.

-Not sure we really needed the gasps as Gaeta starts discovering the bodies.

-In response to the Eight declaring she can connect to the Raptor systems, Gaeta says “I remember you did that once” in reference to “Flight Of The Phoenix”. It’s a measure of how much he is slipping that he equates the two Eight’s.

-Gaeta suggests that the dead pilot may have killed himself which, given it comes so soon after Dee’s death, is something that is foremost in his mind recently.

-Gaeta explains “Oh God” as he helps the Eight connect with the ship, which presumably should be “Oh Gods”.

-The Eight turns the screws on Gaeta by saying “You know where I am” regards her projection. Even here she can’t leave it alone.

-Hoshi outlines why he likes Gaeta: “He has a fire about doing the right thing”. It’s framed as a positive, but that fire is going to be issue.

-Does the air timer in the Raptor ever get altered on account of the people removed from breathing? It doesn’t seem to. You’d assume the Eight and Gaeta should have much more air than indicated.

-It’s grim, seeing the pilots’ throats slit. No sign of resistance either, so the Eight was able to do this quietly.

-“Another empty well” allows Racetrack to imply that the search for Gaeta is pointless, and she isn’t wrong. This isn’t a needle in a haystack, it’s a needle in an ocean.

-At this point, perhaps owing to decreasing power, the Raptor lights start to flicker, which adds to the horror feeling. It’s not subtle, but it works.

-As the Eight outlines, there is a fine line between hope and ignorance. Gaeta appears to indulge himself with both, to his detriment.

-The Eight isn’t subtle in the flashback: “Kill everyone on this list”. It does make you wonder why they later needed Baltar’s signature to do the same thing.

-The idea that Gaeta wasn’t seduced by the Eight but “by hope” is a bit airy, but I suppose is a good descriptor for what his mindset at that stage of the occupation.

-The Eight is brutally straightforward about the Cylon approach to whatever her interaction with Gaeta was: “Kill the ones your enemy values”. It’s a blunt outlook that seems more like a pre-“Downloaded” Cylon would think.

-Baltar’s whisper to Gaeta from “Taking A Break From All Your Worries” is revealed to be “I know what your Eight did”. As I recall the original idea was that Gaeta would have been involved in some kind of atrocity with the Sagitaron contingent.

-Gaeta’s killing of the Eight is a mirror image of his attack on Baltar, only this time it sticks. Is he picturing Baltar in this moment?

-While not made very clear, you have to presume that Gaeta’s move to inject himself with more morpha is a bid to end his life.

-As Gaeta prepares for death, he once again launches into “Gaeta’s Lament”, which in this case would appear to be a comfort rather than a healing exercise.

-How does Hoshi find the Raptor? The episode seems to indicate he’s just jumping around randomly. This is never brought up again, but the chances seen infinitesimally small.

-Nice image of Hoshi holding Gaeta’s hand on the gurney. It’s intimate, but not overly so.

-Gaeta doesn’t mess around when Tigh asks why he can’t just talk to him about his objections to the alliance: “Because you’re a Cylon”. The disdain is painfully evident.

-Interesting camera angle for this moment regards Gaeta, from below and tilted. The Dutch feeling is presumably intentional, to give Gaeta a more strange menacing appearance.

-Gaeta promises Hoshi that “I’ll protect you” during whatever is coming. Just why will Hoshi require protection? The question is rightfully left dangling.

Overall Verdict: Better than the Razor Flashbacks but perhaps not quite on the level of “The Resistance”, “The Face Of The Enemy” is a really strong effort, one that gives us a lot of really important characterisation for Gaeta, a proper introduction to Hoshi, some good set-up for episodes to come and tells a pretty decent story of its own accord. Season Four continues to impress, and long may that continue.

To read more entries in this series, click here to go the index.

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4 Responses to NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Four: “The Face Of The Enemy”

  1. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica: Index | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Four: “A Disquiet Follows My Soul” | Never Felt Better

  3. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Four: “The Oath” | Never Felt Better

  4. Pingback: NFB Re-Watches Battlestar Galactica Season Four: “Blood On The Scales” | Never Felt Better

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