Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: Crossroads Parts 1 and 2

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I’m a sci-fi geek who has never seen Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know, I know. 2013 is the year I change that, and I’m blogging as I go.

My reaction to the season three finale can best be summed up with this gif. Holy God. I couldn’t sleep after watching that!

Crossroads: Part 1

We start the two-part episode that killed my heart and soul with a dream sequence: A snappily dressed Roslin (dang, Laura) in the Lords of Kobols’ opera house looking for Hera. Athena’s there as well, and they both go chasing after the Cybaby, but it’s Caprica who picks her up. Ooooh, the symbolism.

But that dream’s not the only fairly innocuous-seeming but also completely creepy thing that happens this episode. No, that award goes to the Weird Ship Music. It first makes an appearance when Tigh’s hanging out in the bar trying to tune into a radio station. He can hear snippets of a song, and so can Anders, but no one else can. It can’t be as harmless as it looks, since this is the season finale—it’s got to mean something big. It’s a brilliant scene to have early in the episode, as it puts the viewer off-guard without them even knowing what there is to be scared of.

Meanwhile both Romo and prosecuting attorney Cassidy are doing some last-minute prep work for Baltar’s trial. Tory tries to get Cassidy to charge Baltar with genocide, but she refuses because there’s no concrete evidence, and who’s the attorney here, me or you? Step back, Presidential assistant. Between pressuring Cassidy and refusing to give Romo important papers last episode, Tory’s been way out of sorts and confrontational lately. And later in the bar she hears the same Weird Ship Music that Tigh and Anders heard.

Before the trial gets underway Baltar makes a surprising discovery: People think he’s magic. Ohkaaaaaay. He is looking more than a bit Jesusian (blatant Jesus imagery: never forget), but when a lady visits him in the brig and acts him to bless her sick kid, it’s a little weird. And she’s the fifth person to do that, not to mention dozens of people who’ve written letters. In an uncharacteristic move Baltar doesn’t play along with someone thinking he’s all that and a bag of chips. Instead he tells the lady no, I have nothing to do with God, I have no special powers. He only says he’ll “do [his] best” to placate the lady as she’s being dragged away by the guards. Head Six tells Baltar that the woman sees him more clearly than she sees himself (which echoes something the Oracle said to Starbuck about Leoben… hmmmm. What’s the connection between Head Six and Leoben? Tell me!) and that even if he’s killed his name will live on forever. But Baltar doesn’t seem to care. He’s just… resigned. He’s accepted that the show trial is probably going to end in him being executed.

The fleet’s a mere six jumps away from the Ionian Nebula, which should be the next clue to the location of Earth. So far the Cylons haven’t been following them, but Adama, ever-cautious, orders Racetrack to lag behind at the fleet’s previous jump point for a full 12 hours to make sure humanity’s really in the clear. It’s a good call, since later in the episode five baseships show up, and Racetrack only just makes it away to warn the fleet.

Roslin suggests that they ask Caprica about how they’re being tracked, as she has a really strong hunch that the Cylon will do anything to keep Hera from being captured. She convinces Adama that it can’t hurt just to ask, so he sends Tigh off to politely inquire as to whether Caprica might be willing to assist them, please.

Ha, no. Caprica cooperates and tells Tigh that the Cylons noticed that the fleet’s fueling ship has a unique radiation signature, so maybe they’ve figured out how to track that, but it’s not like Tigh’s going to say “Thank you ever so much!” and leave. Instead he confronts her about other intel she might have. Head Baltar shows up and tells a scared Caprica not to be intimidated, that he’s just—oh God, no, Ellen feels—projecting his manpain about how he lost someone on New Caprica and he didn’t even realize how much she meant to him until she was gone. Caprica inserts the knife and twists, asking Tigh whether he made Ellen feel like a burden while she was alive and telling him humans always destroy the ones they love.

Tigh punches her, and she calmly turns around and punches him right back before the guards shut her down. Please, God. I want a Caprica-Tigh fight scene. Verbal or physical, I don’t care. Give me this.

Meanwhile Baltar’s trial has started. Cassidy gives a good, if somewhat boring, opening statement about all the people who died on New Caprica because Baltar actively helped the Cylons. Romo’s speech—about revenge, mob rule, Roslin’s personal vendetta, how Baltar had no choice but to surrender—is several hundred times more interesting. Mark Sheppard could yell the phone book (or the Twilight books, hey-o!) and I’d still sit in rapt attention. The man has a good angry voice.

It’s time for Tigh to take the stand, and he is D-R-U-N-K drunk. It’s something Lee noticed earlier in the episode, when he was standing on the sidelines of the conversation about Caprica and being thoroughly ignored by everyone. Jeez Louise, Adama. I know you’re ticked about Lee helping Romo, but generally the child is the one who does the silent treatment, not the parent. Anyway. Tigh. He testifies that Baltar never did anything to try and stop the Cylons, and since he drunkenly mentions Ellen she becomes a fair topic for Romo’s cross-examination.

Oh God. I do not like where this is going.

Romo asks Tigh about his suicide bombing activities and then moves in for the kill, getting him to admit he killed Ellen because she was a Cylon collaborator. The upshot, Romo says, is that Tigh has a personal vendetta against Baltar, since if he’d stood up to the Cylons Ellen wouldn’t have had to die. It makes Tigh look unhinged and vengeful—which, y’know, is true—and he’s not helped by the drunkenness and how he keeps muttering about music no one else can hear. Romo, you wonderful bastard.

After the trial Adama leads a thoroughly sloshed Tigh back to his room. Adama could easily be angry—Tigh was one of the defense’s star witnesses, and he showed up to the trial three sheets to the wind. But when Tigh apologizes for embarrassing Adama he says it’s no big. “You’re my oldest friend,” he says, “You never embarrass me.” Bawwwww!

It looks at first like Roslin’s testimony will do better at condemning Baltar than Tigh’s did. Roslin’s not drunk, for one, and she equivocally tells Cassidy that Baltar ordered the execution of 200 people. During a break Romo tells Lee and Baltar that they need something that can discredit her on the witness stand. Lee says he knows something but proceeds to be all coy about what it is, like he hasn’t thoroughly thrown in his lot with Baltar already. Romo tells Lee, Mr. I Believe In the Legal System And What It Stands For, that  if he truly believed in the law and wasn’t just trying to stick it to his dad then he’d reveal any information that might help the case. Daddy issues: Activated.

Back on the CIC Lee asks Adama how Roslin’s doing, since she looked “rattled” in court. Is this the Battlestar Galactica equivalent of “Don’t you think she looks tired?” from Doctor Who? Adama says they can’t talk about the trial outside of court and then proceeds to wail on him for telling Romo about Ellen (which he didn’t—he just said that she died, which anyone could have known. Unless I’d mistaken Tigh hadn’t told anyone that he killed her, though Adama might have put it together).

Adama calls Lee a liar and a coward who doesn’t even have the guts to go after someone himself, instead letting the sleazy lawyer do it. And all for Baltar, who doesn’t even deserve a trial. Lee takes off his wing pin—quitting, essentially—and says he won’t serve under a man who questions his integrity.

Lee, how can Adama even hear you from all the way up on your high horse? Won’t serve under a man who questions his integrity my shiny metal butt. Newsflash: One is not allowed to question the morals of one’s subordinates, apparently. No one tell early-season three Helo. Or Tyrol. Or Tigh. Or Starbuck. Or anyone Adama’s had a beef with in the past. Adama fires back that he won’t have an officer under his command who doesn’t have any integrity, so nyeh.

I swear to God, you put these two together and they start acting like two-year-olds.

Back at the trial Lee asks whether he can conduct Roslin’s cross-examination himself, because Adama’s very Ned Stark-ian statement about taking responsibility for cutting people down got to him. Baltar, the voice of reason now that his life is on the line, objects with an appalled “You’re not seriously going to let my security guard…?” But sure, Romo. Go ahead and let the assistant who’s never questioned a witness and has only been reading up on the law for a matter of weeks handle this very pivotal moment in what’ll probably be the most important trial of your life.

But Lee pulls through, if by “pulls through” you mean “manages to throw Roslin under the bus.” The dirt he has on her is that while she had cancer she was on chamalla, which is illegal and has been known to induce hallucinations. As far as I can tell the real-world equivalent would be that Roslin used to be a pothead?

But then he goes in for the kill…

DON’T DO IT, LEE! DON’T DO IT!

and asks Roslin whether she’s still on chamalla, even though Roslin begs him not to. Sigh. And they used to be such good pals. Roslin admits that she is currently taking chamalla. It looks like Lee’s won this round until Roslin says why she’s back on chamalla: Because her cancer’s come back.

Boom, baby! Who’s the the asshole now, Lee? You screwed up! You screwed up big time!

Also: Roslin’s cancer is back?! Crap.

At a press conference Roslin explains that it’s been back for about a week and that it’s had no effect on her ability to do her job so far. Tory snaps, telling the reporters to “pick over another carcass,” which makes Roslin dismiss her and later dress her down. We also get this beautiful exchange between Roslin and a reporter:

Karen: Madam President, how long do you have to live?
Roslin: How long do you have to live, Karen?

Yeah, Karen. You just got burned. You got burned with the fire of a thousand Eyes of Jupiter. Go sit in a corner and think about your stupid question and your stupid, stupid self, Karen. Karen.

Meanwhile Lee’s in hot water with Dee, who’s leaving him because of his epic douchebaggery. That’s when Lee goes full-on mansplainer and talks to Dee about important “the system” is and how Roslin having hallucinations is relevant to her testimony. And both those things are true! But if he thinks his actions—heck, the system in general—is some noble thing as it exists now he is rocking some serious naïveté. As always, Lee picks and chooses when to be moral and then gets all offended when someone calls his virtue into question. He says that he wishes he could make Dee understand, and she said that she does—that’s why she’s leaving.

The episode ends with Helo saying he senses that “there’s a storm coming” and Tigh freaking out because the Weird Ship Music is “in the frakking ship!”

Oh God. OhGodohGodohGodohGodohGodohGodohGod.

Crossroads: Part 2

This episode pulled my soul out through my nose and then wrung it like wet bit of laundry, so of course it started with an adorable scene between Adama and Roslin, because if there’s anything this show likes it’s maximizing the emotional turmoil. It’s the morning of another trial day, and Roslin doesn’t want to get out of bed—I feel you, girl. So she calls Adama up so he can yell at her to get up and at ’em. Roslin and Adama starting their mornings by calling each other. I can’t. Too cute.

Other characters start out their days differently. Tyrol, lying in bed, hums the Weird Ship Music before getting up to wander aimlessly around the halls. And Anders and Tory have just finished a session of boinking. I can’t even be upset at him for it, even though his wife just died. He’s obviously not in a particularly good place right now emotionally. Tory hears the music and mentions it to Anders, who’s quite surprised because he thought no one else could hear it. Later Anders—who’s now training to be a Viper pilot like Starbuck was, be still my heart—finds out Tyrol can hear it, too.

Lee suggests to Romo that, since they’re losing Baltar’s case, they should go for a mistrial. Looks like now that he’s betrayed Roslin he’s fully embracing his inner evil lawyer. How morally upright is it to request a mulligan just because you’re losing, Lee? Baltar outright refuses, first because he doesn’t get how they’re losing—Romo explains that the way they trumped Tigh and Roslin on the witness stand makes the judges hate them more—and second because he can’t go through another trial. I believe that second one–it looks like he’s about to crack.

Meanwhile Roslin, who’s in sick bay for more cancer treatment, has the same dream about looking for Hera in the opera house as she did last episode. Like before, Athena’s there as well, though it’s Caprica who takes the Cybaby. This time Roslin sees that Caprica is with Baltar, and she screams herself awake just as Athena, also in sickbay, does too. So they were dreamsharing, Inception style. The two of them go see Caprica, who’s very unsettled to find they were all in the same dream together. Caprica says that what happened shouldn’t be possible, and that she didn’t know why she was trying to reach Hera, she just knew she had to protect her with her life.

Mama bears for the win!

Tigh takes his concerns about the Weird Ship Music to Adama, who obviously doesn’t believe that the Cylons are sabotaging humanity with a rockin’ tune. He knows Tigh’s losing it, but he doesn’t want to hurt his best friend, so he humors him by saying he’ll look into it.

The trial is back on, and this time it’s Gaeta on the witness stand. Cassidy asks him about Baltar signing the death warrant and Gaeta straight out lies, saying Baltar signed it with no objections when in reality the Cylons literally had to put a gun to his head. Gaeta, what are you doing? Are you so willing to see Baltar found guilty that you’ll commit a felony, even though it looks like Baltar’s going to lose anyway? Caprica, who was there and saw Baltar object, is on the Galactica! Normally I’d say that wouldn’t be a problem, since she’s not actually testifying and there’s no way the judges would take her word over his anyway. However. Gaeta’s bad decisions have a way of coming back to bite him in the ass.

Baltar loses it, yelling that it’s no secret how Gaeta tried to stab him through the jugular with a pen, “and you missed! Butterfingers!” That pen scene is a gift that keeps on giving.

Romo gets up to cross-examine Gaeta, and at this point I’m screaming “Run, Gaeta, run! This man obliterated Tigh!” But Romo declines to ask him any questions, since, as he tells Baltar, there’s not much they can do about Gaeta deciding to perjure himself. So he’s off the hook… for now. But I’m thinking this particular plotline isn’t gone. Oh, Gaeta, you sweet summer child.

With Gaeta’s testimony Baltar is well and truly screwed, so Romo decides to go for a mistrial on the grounds that one of the judges—that would be Adama—has already decided that Baltar’s guilty. To prove this Romo makes the unorthodox move of calling Lee to the stand to testify against his father. Lee objects, but if the judges allow it—which they do—he can’t really refuse.

Romo starts off by asking Lee whether Adama told him that he doesn’t think Baltar deserves a trial—and he did say that, so the mistrial is completely legit—but he veers off into different territory when he asks whether Lee himself thinks Baltar deserves a trial. The defense attorney tries to cut him off, seeing as it’s not Lee’s place to offer an opinion, but Adama wants to hear exactly what his treacherous son has to say on the subject of Baltar’s innocence, so he’s allowed to go on.

And, look, I know I’ve been very critical of Lee this season, but this is one barn burner of a speech he gives. Baltar made serious mistakes, he says, but there was no treason. Who, in his position, could have done any differently? He collaborated, sure, but so did hundreds of other people. Roslin issued them a pardon, so why not Baltar? Hell, since the Cylons attacked who hasn’t been let off the hook for doing bad things? Helo and Tyrol killed the Pegasus officer who attacked Athena. Adama put New Caprica in his rearview mirror when the Cylons showed up. Lee himself shot down a civilian vessel all the way back in the very first episode. That sort of leniency is necessary given how few people there are and how few options humanity has. It’s completely bogus to hold Baltar to a standard of justice that no one else has to live up to. The system is broken. This case is built on anger, vengeance, and bitterness, but most of all on shame. By airlocking Baltar everyone hopes to forget all the bad things they did. It might work, but it’s not justice.

Damn, son.

And an additional congratulatory gif to Romo, Lawyer Superstar, who’s known all through the trial that Lee would deliver the goods and manipulated the situation to get him in prime speechifying position.

The possibility of a mistrial abandoned, the judges go off to determine Baltar’s guilt. Roslin goes up to thank the attorney for her hard work, and I think she knows she lost. And lose they did: Three of the five judges found Baltar not guilty. The courtroom erupts into chaos, with several people trying to attack Baltar, who right away insinuates himself into a gaggle of reporters and starts talking about how he knew he would be acquitted, but the trial was still a complete farce. After being escorted away from the growing mob he tells Romo that he thinks he’ll go on a book tour, and maybe Romo would like to be on his team?

The charm. The confidence. The blatant narcissism. Baltar’s back, baby.

Romo politely declines, and as he and Lee leave Baltar has a minor crisis. What will he do now that the trial is over? Where will he go? He’s been found innocent, sure, but everyone still hates him. Romo tells him that, as much as he hates to use a cat metaphor—oh, who are you kidding, Romo, you brought your cat to a meeting with the President, you love cat metaphors—he thinks he’ll land on his feet. He then abandons the cane that he was using in the courtroom—you didn’t need it at all, you magnificent bastard—puts on his Matrix sunglasses and (forgive the atrocious slang, but it really is fitting here) swags off into the sunset.

So. Baltar’s been found innocent. I agree with the verdict. Baltar did commit treason, but not on New Caprica. The evidence just isn’t there. Later we find out that Adama was sufficiently swayed by Lee’s speech to find Baltar not guilty, and though that looks like that’ll put a strain on his and Roslin’s relationship—she looks like she’s about to spit fire–I also have my fingers crossed that it’ll cut down on Adama Drama for season four. Please, Lords of Kobol, let it be over.

And then. And then. As if enough hasn’t already happened this episode. The fleet jumps to the Ionian Nebula, and Roslin gets hit by a spell of dizziness right before the power goes out. Baltar’s wandering around the halls and is pulled aside by the religious lady from Part 1, who says she’s taking him to his new life. Caprica, sleeping in her cell, dreams about seeing the Final Five and wakes up crying.

Annnnd speaking of the Final Five. Four of them are the ones who’ve been hearing the Weird Space Music: Anders, Tory, Tigh, and Tyrol. I saw it coming last episode—five secret Cylons, four people going nuts—but still, when Tyrol says “we’re Cylons,” it shook me.

Tigh’s a Cylon.

Tigh the One-Eyed Cylon.

Tighlon.

I can’t.

The “All Along the Watchtower” scene is amazing—just after this episode finished I uploaded the song to my iPhone, and I may have already listened to it a few (dozen) times. How is a Bob Dylan song the Cylon sleeper agent trigger when Bob Dylan, I can only assume, has never been to Caprica? We just don’t know. But whatever. The four of them are drawn into a room together where they all admit that, yes, they’re Cylons. Tyrol’s the only one who doesn’t seen in some way upset by it. Tigh and Anders are both horrified that all the fighting they’ve done, all the friends and loved ones they’ve lost, have apparently been for nothing. Tigh killed Ellen for working with a Cylon, and then it turns out he is a Cylon. Tory’s just freaked out and doesn’t know what to do.

The power comes back on, but at the same time a massive Cylon fleet shows up. The good guys can’t run away, since doing a hard reset on the FTL drives will take at least twenty minutes. Tigh says that, sure, they may be Cylons, but they’re still going to do their frakking jobs, same as normal. They might all be about to die, but he wants to die as an officer in the colonial fleet.

You go, Tigh! You go!

So Tigh and Tory go to the CIC to be with Adama and Roslin, and Tyrol and Anders head to the flight deck. Lee, hearing that the Cylons have attacked, decides to fight even though he’s technically not in the military anymore. Flying through the nebula, he sees a strange ship pull up next to him…

… and it’s piloted by Starbuck. She tells Lee that everything’s going to be OK. She’s been to Earth, and she’s going to take the fleet there. As “All Along the Watchtower” reaches its crescendo we zoom out and see that the fleet is in the Milky Way, a stone’s throw (in space terms) away from Earth.

And: Scene.

Oh my God. How did people cope back in the day when they had to wait months for season four to premiere? Starbuck’s back and knows the way to Earth (that didn’t get to me all that much, to be honest, since I was still shellshocked because Tigh’s a Cylon), and that’s wonderful, but the Cylon fleet is still about to kill them. And when D’anna saw the Final Five she told one of them, presumably the leader, something like “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was you.” But that wouldn’t be Tigh, Anders, Tory, or Tyrol, right? Because D’anna would have no reason to know any of them. So who’s the Cylon big boss? Who took Starbuck to Earth? What’re Tigh and Anders (and the other two, I guess) going to do now that they know they’re Cylons? For what purpose did the Cylons choose to activate them? Is it to get Hera? Will they be able to keep their newfound identity away from Athena and Caprica? What’s going on?

Check back next week for my newbie recap of the Razor webseries and movie, after which I’ll start season four. I really hope it doesn’t pull a Heroes and fail to live up to its potential, because this is some darn good build-up BSG‘s got going.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, comments on this post have been locked. However, Jill and Susana will be reading comments over at our Facebook page, so if there’s anything you’d like to say in response to this post head on over that way. Former Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recaps can be found here, and next week’s recap is here. Have a (non-spoilery, for the love of God) comment? Hit me up on Twitter.
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