Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gaius Baltar: Not That Evil, Part 1,000,000

James is featured as number 40 in EW's "Biggest Emmy Nomimation Snubs". I love that he's there, although he could be higher (like say number 1). I know James has said he doesn't care about the Emmys, and maybe he has a point, but still. He did a great job as Gaius and deserves some award love. 

Once again, I have to take objection to how Baltar is presented though. 

Callis' Baltar has worn so many masks, it's still hard to pin down who he is: weasel-like traitor, Iago-esque manipulator, power-hungry despot, broken political prisoner, crazed cultist?

I wouldn't describe him as any of those things. Well, maybe broken political prisoner. Weasel-like? Yes. Traitor? Yes, but he didn't know the stakes, so it's a bit debatable. Lago-esque manipulator? Absolutely not. Who did he manipulate and how? If anything, HeadSix manipulated him throughout the show. "Power-hungry despot"? That one made me laugh a little. I don't think he even cared about being president, in between the hookers and the drinking. He was just really miserable. "Crazed cultist"? That role was thrust upon him. He never really believed in the cult thing anyway, and secretly despised the women but was kind to them, because he had no choice.

But see - he was KIND to those women. He was kind to Gina, kind to Caprica (also bitchy at times, but that's part of a relationship), kind to Gaeta in the end, etc. He really did very little evil, and he wasn't consciously manipulative or scheming, ever. 

Did James Callis "redefine onscreen evil"? That's an interesting claim. I'm really not sure. On the one hand, he did give "evil" a kinder face, much kinder than the writers and producers would have. But was Baltar evil enough to redefine evil? Can you really put him on par with all the real baddies who have no conscience or heart to speak of? I don't think you can.

Callis drenches Baltar in such palpable fear and insecurity that his evil acts can actually make sense... making them all the more horrifying.

I agree with the first part, that's good writing and a good analysis of the role. But the second part? I just feel like they had to make it seem like Baltar is evil in the end. Maybe he did a few things that I thought were horrifying - almost killing the Chief to torture Sharon, for instance, and giving Gina the nuclear war head - but those acts didn't really make sense to me, and I don't think he was horrifying. He always seemed conflicted and guilty afterwards. 

What's horrifying about Baltar is how human he is. It horrifies me when I can relate to him, because it says something scary about my own personality: we're all weak and we could all end up in his position. That's the horror, not his evilness. 

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