Why Tom Zarek Was Right

Tom Zarek: Underserved by the otherwise excellent writers.

Most of the anti-Gaeta sentiment I've heard is empty chatter, calling Gaeta "a coward" or "power mad" or "a weasel." Gaeta knew less than viewers know about Cylons, and from his perspective, indeed, from any logical human perspective of a character in the story, the mutiny and coup were logical responses to:

a) a tyrannical presidential-military clique that based its pursuit of Earth on what was originally a flat-out lie

b) the centralisation of power in an unelected president ruling by cynical religious manipulation which drifted into self-deluded fundamentalist zealotry and a messiah-complex

c) an Executive who nearly succeeded in stealing an election

d) a miltary strong-man who himself overthrew civilian rule, ruled by nepotism, undermined criminal inquiries he himself launched, and made clear he would overthrow any government he opposed

e) a civilian-military clique of master-race Capricans that once threatened to execute striking workers and the wife of the union leader, and

f) a proposed alliance with a hostile, artificially-intelligent model of humanoid robot which had successfully exterminated 99.999% of humanity.

Gaeta was a hero, and all the moreso because his actions were unselfish in intent and result. He won't be remembered by former comrades--or by viewers--as a hero.

He'll be, like
Dune's Dr. Yueh, condemned for all time as a traitor even after attempting to serve his people and defeat the enemy, while narcissistic genocide-enablers such as Gaius Baltar will be literally worshipped by a gun-toting harem of hallellujah-chorusing cultists.

Felix Gaeta: A hero who will be cursed forever.

I'd say the series, in one of its very few blunders (the other being the chummy post-murder threat relationship between Tyrol and Roslin/Adama), failed the character of Tom Zarek, who in the end rose to nothing more than the image he presented to most viewers: that of a ruthless, vicious, power-seeking, raving terrorist.

Even the genocidal Cylons have been given more nuance that Zarek was given, which is in part why so many viewers (from what I can tell, the majority) support freaking Cylons (who liquidated humanity and oppressed the survivors in a concentration camp, further reducing the surviving population by a quarter) more than they give Zarek credit for anything.

Ron Moore's excellent podcasts suggest he had more sympathy for Gaeta and Zarek than ever made it to the screen (especially in Zarek's case).

Robert Farley wrote the following excellent post on the blog Lawyers, Gun$ and Money. It's an excellent argument, and one that neatly sums up most of my pro-Gaeta argument, while adding elements I hadn't thought to include. Impressive.

Talk about the civilian authority being in bed with the military....

"The following is a Letter to the Editor from 'Concerned Colonial Citizen', regarding the prospects of a permanent alliance between the Colonial government and the rebel Cylon. It is titled 'Why Tom Zarek Was Right'. The letter is spoileriffic.

"'I oppose permanent alliance with the Cylon, and believe that Vice President Zarek and Lieutenant Gaeta were correct to resist the Adama-Roslin military-political clique. Here is why.'"

Does this look like a face that respects civilian authority?


Lady J said…
I came across your blog today and found your post about Tom Zarek and Gaeta extremely provocative and interesting.

If I have any regrets about BSG, it was that they never delved into the real differences between the colonies. I wanted to know about just exactly why Zarek was a terrorist, why Dualla (who was also Sagittaron) didn't agree with his tactics. By the time we met more Sagittarons (in The Woman King) you got the most cursory explanation as to why people didn't like them. Same goes for the Geminese (although they were set up as the fundamentalists of the piece). And I've listened to the podcasts and heard Ron Moore talk about bits and pieces of story that didn't make it to the screen.

On the flip side, I will always be grateful for a sci fi show that made me have such a passionate response to it, whether I agreed with it or not.

As for Gaeta, I did have my moments of screaming at the screen but I never though he was a coward. If anything, he revealed how bad and how wrong things had gotten - that there had to be some sort of response to messed up journey to Earth.
sondjata said…
A very interesting post indeed. i still call gaeta "scarleg."

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