Friday, March 30, 2007

Battlestar Galactica—Crossroads Part 2, Season 3 Finale

The Upshot from the Sci-Fi Channel: Baltar’s trial leads to vicious betrayals and new alliances but who are the final five Cylons?

As we noted from our last post, FanBoyWonder spent the first half of this week on day-job related business in Tampa, Florida. It was indeed very hard on Sunday night during a business dinner knowing that the season finale of BSG was playing but we were unable to view it.

Thank the Gods however for our fine hotel—The Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina and its On Demand guest feature—we had to wait until Tuesday night to watch it but it was the best $4.99 we ever spent.

When we viewed Crossroads Part 2, we were blown away by the steady series of bombshell reveals during the last Battlestar Galactica episode of Season 3.

Following the “Previously on Battlestar Galactica” recap, the episode opened directly with the cast credits rolling at the bottom of the screen. This is a much preferred time saver that permits precious time to tell the story—much better than Sci-Fi rolling out a deleted scene at the end that may or may not count as part of the show’s official continuity.

There is a cute scene at the start of the episode as Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) starts his day at the shaving mirror when President Roslin (Mary McDonnell) calls from her bed aboard Colonial One. She asks him to “yell” at her in his best command authority voice to get her out of bed and he obliges her.

This little seemingly throwaway scene demonstrates the intimacy between Adama and Roslin that comes only from a deep and tested friendship, as well as a potential and perhaps budding more-than-platonic relationship.

Meanwhile, the sound—the hint of a song—barely audible that was driving Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan) to distraction last episode we find is also perplexing an ever-widening circle of characters—Chief Tyrol (Aaron Douglas), as well as Samuel T. Anders (Michael Trucco) and President Roslin’s aide Tory Foster (Rekah Sharma)

As it turns out, Anders and Tory are secret lovers. We presume that Anders hooked up with Tory AFTER his wife—Captain Kara Thrace/Starbuck’s (Katie Sackhoff)—recent presumed “death” a couple episodes back in Maelstrom. But since Starbuck herself was less-than-devoted to her marital vows of fidelity, it’s NOT out of the question to believe that Anders and Tory had been carrying on for sometime.

Furthermore, Anders’ affair with Tory doesn’t go over real well with his fellow pilots in training who idolized Starbuck.

Over in Galactica’s Sickbay, Roslin is recovering from a round of cancer treatment when she again dreams of being inside the Kobol opera house and again chasing baby Hera, Hera’s mother Athena (Grace Park)—Galactica’s Cylon defector—and the Cylon Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer) are also seeking the child.

With Roslin, Athena and Hera all in Sickbay together, they all react at the same time and Roslin quickly realizes that it is more than just a dream. Roslin and Athena promptly visit Caprica Six in the brig and confirm that Six was also just in the opera house with them in their shared dream/hallucination/vision.

Neither they nor do we know what this shared experience means but it has mean something and it’s likely not something good.

All this occurs before we’ve even gotten to the trial of former President Gaius Baltar (James Callis) for Treason, Crimes Against Humanity, collaborating with the Cylons on New Caprica and just being a creepy dude.

The trial continues with Lt. Felix Gaeta (Alessandro Julani)—former Chief of Staff during Baltar Administration—as he seriously perjures himself by offering false eyewitness testimony that then President Baltar cheerfully and more than willingly complied with the Cylon “request” on New Caprica to sign the death warrant of some 200 confirmed or suspected insurgents—including Laura Roslin.

In fact, as viewers know, Gaeta wasn’t even there at the time—just Baltar, the Cylons and the gun to Baltar’s head—ready to be discharged if Baltar didn’t sign the order.

Shocked at first by Gaeta’s “betrayal,” Baltar proceeds to taunt Gaeta for stabbing him in the neck but failing to kill him. We still don’t know what Baltar whispered into Gaeta’s ear that set him off a few episodes back but something tells us that Gaeta has something to hide.

Baltar’s defense attorney Romo Lampkin (guest-star Mark Sheppard) attempts to seek a mistrial by impeaching the impartiality of Admiral Adama—one of the five trial judges. To that end, Lampkin calls his legal “associate” Mr. Lee Adama—the former Major Adama/Apollo (Jamie Bamber)—to the stand to testify that his father declared Baltar guilty and not worthy of a trial.

Despite their rift, Lee doesn’t wish to testify against his father and Baltar doesn’t want a mistrial—he wants it over one way or another.

Lee reluctantly takes the stand and still won’t turn on his father but Lampkin switches gears and asks if Baltar deserves a fair trial. Lee answers that he does but Lee says he also believes that Baltar is not guilty of these charges.

Baltar, Lee argues, is little different than everyone else who went along with the Cylons rather than face summary execution by their occupiers on New Caprica.

Lee further notes that following the second exodus from New Caprica, President Roslin issued blanket amnesty/forgiveness to all suspected Cylon collaborators.

Furthermore, then Commander Adama had once initiated a military coup against President Roslin and he was “forgiven.” Chief Tyrol and Helo (Tahmoh Penikett) murdered an officer on the Battlestar Pegasus (who was attempting to rape Sharon/Athena)—forgiven. Col. Tigh expended dozens of lives using suicide bombers on against the Cylons on New Caprica—forgiven.

We’re not a civilization anymore, we’re a gang,” Lee says, as much to himself to the court. The 40-something thousand survivors of the human race are making up the rules as they go along all the while running for their lives everyday.

“This case is built on shame,” Lee continues. “About the shame of what we did to ourselves on that planet and the guilt of all us who ran away.”

Lee is hardest on himself as he notes all the things he did and was “forgiven”—from shooting down the passenger liner the Olympic Carrier when it was suspected of being infiltrated by the Cylons, to putting a gun to Tigh’s head during Adama’s coup to jumping away and leaving the colonists on New Caprica to the mercy of the Cylons.

As commander of the Pegasus, Lee admits he forcefully and frequently argued against any rescue attempt and advocated abandoning the New Capricans to the Cylons—because he was afraid. (Remember, he also bravely came to the rescue of an outnumbered Galactica and made the rescue mission a success at the cost of his own battlestar.)

Baltar is arrogant and weak and a coward but he shouldn’t die to assuage the collective shame and anger of the “gang,” Lee argues. Lampkin sees that Lee’s words have a powerful impact and he rests the defense. “What a glorious moment for jurisprudence,” Baltar quips.

We thought this was a powerful witness stand scene—not quite Bogart in the Caine Mutiny but not too far outside the area code either.

There were lots of ways how Lee’s “testimony” could have fallen flat as the Law & Order in space theme had already called on viewers to suspend a healthy portion our disbelief. Yet it works. In equal measure it was solid scripting, expert direction and a dead-bang performance by Jamie Bamber that carried the scene.

The verdict was rendered in short order—3 to 2 Not Guilty.

As the courtroom erupts into pandemonium, Roslin and Lee share a look and it’s clear she’ll neither forgive nor forget what he did to her on the witness stand or that he sided with Baltar over her.

For his part, the acquitted Baltar can’t help but gloat in private until he realizes that he is still the most hated man alive. What will he do? Where will he live and how will he survive? As he discharges his client, Lampkin notes that Baltar will land on his feet as he always seems to do.

We like Lampkin—a serious yet colorful character. As the writers have left the door wide open to have him back next season, we hope to see him again.

As admiral and president confer in Galactica’s C.I.C., Roslin is still fuming over Baltar’s acquittal even as she realizes that Adama was one of the three who voted to acquit.

Lee’s words apparently had an effect. “Not Guilty” is not the same as “Innocent” and now one is going to forget what Baltar did, Adama says.

Believe it or not, Baltar’s trial was only the appetizer. The main course comes as Galactica and the fleet jump to the Ionian Nebula—believed to be a key marker to the road to Earth—then the fleet abruptly experiences a catastrophic and simultaneous power failure.

In the darkness and confusion that follow, Tigh, Tyrol, Tory and Anders are nearly overcome by the insistent song, and they each follow it to an obscure workout room on the Galactica. When they lock eyes with each other, they guess the obvious but horrifying explanation for the mental summons that they've obeyed: they must all be Cylons.

After all this time, the switch goes off just like that,” notes Tyrol.

This is indeed a shocker and it raises more questions than answers. The irony of this scene is that at the end of Season 2, Tyrol nearly had an emotional breakdown fearing that he might be a Cylon and not know it—he was counseled by Brother Cavil (Dean Stockwell) who himself turned out to be a Cylon.

So this foursome is part of the final five Cylons—which means there is still one more “skinjob” unaccounted for.

More irony: Tigh has been the most rabid of Cylon-haters. And now he’s a self-hating Cylon. Yet his reaction when the ship comes under attack is to get everyone to their stations and do their duty.

Another thing to note: The song that the foursome had been hearing and humming and singing lyrics to “All Along The Watchtower” by Bob Dylan (although FBW has always known it by the Jimi Hendrix cover)—it’s a song from Earth that’s been introduced into the Galactica universe.

This is NOT an idle action by the writers. Whether or not these four are actually Cylons, we’ve just witnessed a distinct connection to the fleet carrying the remains of the 12 Colonies of Kobol and the lost colony of Earth.

Meanwhile, when the claxon sounded, Lee raced to join his old viper crew where he belongs. As an aside, we liked the lawyer thing for a while but we wondered when push came to shove during an attack whether it would be Attorney Adama or Major Apollo who would answer the call.

In the light of the mysterious nebula, to his shock, Kara Thrace/Starbuck appears in a Viper next to Apollo. Seemingly back from the dead [We FRAKING KNEW that she wasn’t really dead!!!!!] a more contented Starbuck tells Apollo that “It’s going to be Okay.” Why? She’s been to Earth. She knows where it is and she will take the fleet there. Holy Frak!!

The episode ends with the view of God point of view that starts with the two vipers and pulls back beyond the fleet to a quick zoom across the universe to the planet Earth. Season 4 should be interesting indeed.

We’ll be posting a post-mortem of BSG Season 3 in a few days but we remain blown away by this quite clever plot twist. As it stands, we may need the 10 months until the start of Season 4 to process all of these developments as we still are reeling from the shock.
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