Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Battlestar Galactica—The Son Also Rises

The Upshot from the Sci-Fi Channel: Sabotage, dissent, and unlikely alliances entangle the Galactica crew as the fleet awaits the trial of Gaius Baltar (James Callis).

The build up to the climatic trial of Gaius Baltar starts here even as the crew of Galactica deals with the emotional fallout following the apparent death of Capt. Kara Thrace/Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) last episode.

The three men in Starbuck’s life—her husband Sam Anders (Michael Trucco), Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) her surrogate father and Maj. Lee Adama/Apollo her one-time future brother-in-law, former secret lover and long-time pal—all deeply feel the loss of Kara.

When Anders gets blind stinking drunk on top of a Viper in the hanger deck, it’s Apollo who is called upon to talk him down.

Cut to a touching scene as a teary-eyed Adama reviews Starbuck’s photo and service file, filled in equal measure with commendations and disciplinary reports. It’s heartbreaking when he comes across an old gag birthday card she gave to him—it really does feel like a death in the family and Adama’s grief comes across through the fourth wall to touch the viewer.

Apollo is in little better shape—struggling to get through a pilot’s briefing, especially when he calls Racetrack (Leah Cairns) “Starbuck.”

Meanwhile, as Baltar’s trial approaches, Adama is tapped by lottery to serve as one of the fleet ship captains to serve on Baltar’s tribunal/jury. But not everyone in the fleet wants to go to the trouble of a trial and a bomb in the back of Racetrack’s raptor takes out Baltar’s lawyer.

President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) assigns a new defense attorney in the form of eccentric/odd Romo Lampkin (Mark Sheppard) to take the case. Adama, still hurting from the loss of his surrogate daughter and of a son years before, is fearful of his last remaining son flying a Viper, so he reassigns Apollo to Lampkin’s security detail with Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) filling in as C.A.G. (Good for Helo, at least he’s not Mayor of Dogville anymore.)

Lee is irritated by his new job until Lampkin mentions that Lee's grandfather Joseph, a prominent defense attorney, was his mentor. Intrigued, Lee supervises Lampkin's first meeting with Baltar, then agrees to accompany the lawyer to Colonial One to collect case files.

When the landing signal officer, Capt. Kelly (Ty Olsson), reminds Lee that his father has forbidden him to fly, Lee rebelliously boards the Raptor anyway where both Lampkin and Apollo barely avoid another bombing.All signs point toward the bomber being a member of the crew, which provokes tension and suspicion among the pilots and deckhands.

In a small but subtly played note, Cally Tyrol (Nicki Clyne) warns the other crew members to avoid turning on each other because that’s just what the Cylons want—for the humans to tear each other apart through suspicion and mistrust—even as she barely disguises her suspicion and mistrust of Athena (Grace Park), Galactica's Cylon defector.

While Apollo searches for the bomber, Lampkin himself is unconcerned, focusing on his plan to win supporters for Baltar and win his case. As he meets with the imprisoned Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer), he manipulates her into confessing her love for Baltar. With Apollo, Lampkin notes that his legal mentor was Joseph Adama, Lee’s grandfather and uses Lee’s curiosity and admiration for his grandfather to play Lee.

Another bombing succeeds in injuring Lampkin. Apollo finds that the bomber is Capt. Kelly. As landing signal officer, Kelly has launched so many pilots only to have them die and he blames Baltar for those deaths. After three years on the run with little hope and lots of fear, even good men can be pushed to do the wrong thing—how many more Kellys are there in the fleet waiting to go off?

With the bomber found, Adama wants to get Apollo away from Lampkin and back as C.A.G. but Apollo thinks it’s his place to help Lampkin—to follow more of his grandfather’s calling and step out of his father’s shadow.

There is genuine unrealized yet unresolved tension between father and son—not quite like what existed between them following the death of Adama’s youngest son Zak but not so different either. This in part may be fueling Apollo’s desire to step away from his father by helping Lampkin defend Baltar.

The episode ends with Apollo at the hallway memorial shrine—the closest thing the Galactica has to a graveyard. As promised, Apollo places Kara’s picture next to Kat. Anders arrives at the same time and they share an unspoken moment of mutual mourning for the woman they both loved.

Yet there is no jealously and tension here. Anders tells Lee he’ll see him around and Lee acknowledges it. Good for them both. We don’t know what the writer’s have in store for Anders but this is a hopeful sign—we hope we’ll be seeing him too.


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