Given its status as the opening act of a two-parter, this is more than understandable -- it is to be expected. But this is not to say that Mark Verheiden leaves us high and dry; on the contrary, he has conjured a running callback to every single one of the show's previous three seasons, eloquently and poetically weaving previous characters, story beats, and themes throughout his episode's narrative. "The Oath," then, is not just the latest development in the ongoing saga of the Colonial fleet's life on the run; like In the Beginning to Babylon 5 proper, it is an encapsulation and condensation of the show's entire history.
Here, then, is a brief litany of the episode's allusions:
- The second season mid-season finale/premiere, "Pegasus" (210)/"Resurrection Ship, Parts I and II" (211 and 212), sees a great deal of play. A number of familiar faces make repeat appearances, most to great effect: Deck Chief Peter Larid's death is heart-wrenching (no pun intended), especially given his backstory; Gage, one of the so-called "Sunshine Boys," drips menace as he vows to have Athena raped once more; and Narcho, Lt. Gaeta's one-time would-be lover, radiates anger, discomfort, and repulsion in equal measure.
- Likewise, "Crossroads, Parts I and II" (319 and 320), the season three finale, sees extension for a lot of its elements. Charlie Connor, a former member of the Circle in "Collaborators" (305) and last seen attempting to torture and assassinate Gaius Baltar ("He That Believeth in Me," 401), tries his song and dance on (sometime) Delegate Lee Adama, taunting the former major over his part in Baltar's trial before an insurgent marine is to put a bullet in his head. Diana "Hardball" Seelix distracts a forlorn Sam Anders with remembrances of her former affection -- and lust? -- for him while the ubiquitious rebel marines prepare to abduct him, the first time this dropped plotline is trotted out since its introduction two years ago.
- Starbuck is given a rejuvenation, shedding her harried, wayward skin from the past half season and returning to her macho, masochistic ways from seasons past. A hardened, callous, battle-ready Kara Thrace is reunited with a gun-totting, death-defying Lee Adama, last seen when he gave up the uniform in "Crossroads." Their pairing is replete with a passionate, if hurried, kiss, bringing audiences everywhere back to "Unfinished Business" (309) and "The Eye of Jupiter" (311), while their running through a battlestar beseiged recalls "Valley of Darkness" (202).
- Admiral Adama and President Roslin have a similar manifestation of passion, but one much more public: after what is arguably the most contenious and topsy-turvy relationship of the entire series, spanning from an adversarial beginning (miniseries) to concilitary friendship ("Home, Part 2," 207) to the long-awaited doing of the deeed ("A Disquiet Follows My Soul," 412), the two leaders of the fleet are now quite openly involved. Indeed, once the dust has settled and Gaeta and Zarek are disposed of (perhaps quite literally), this one throughline has the biggest potential fallout; if resistance to their rule was strenuous enough to lead to a highly motivated and orchestrated mutiny, what will happen once the fleet learns that all barriers between the government and military have been eroded?
- Finally, there are several other, smaller references, ranging from Caprica Six and Colonel Tigh's baby ("Sine Qua Non," 408) to Roslin's addressing a fracturing fleet ("The Farm," 205). For my money, though, the best of these is the quite surprising and long-awaited (again, for me) return of Captain Aaron Kelly, a character first introduced in the miniseries and who went on a stint as acting XO ("Scattered," 201 to "Resistance," 204) and then would-be terrorist, killing Baltart's defense lawyers ("The Son Also Rises," 318). Of all the various insurgents' fates, I'm most interest in seeing what the writers will make of this rarely used figure.