In the nineteenth episode of the third season of Battlestar Galactica, Baltar’s trial gets under way, everything is awkward, and the fleet rapidly approaches their next destination on the journey to earth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Battlestar Galactica.
The first half of “Crossroads” is all about deconstruction.
What I’ve just witnessed is the start of some sort of decomposition of these people, their beliefs, the system of justice, and the possible union of the fleet. As I have said before, I am generally uncomfortable predicting things as I am in the moment, but I think we are going to see a finale even more fractured than season two. Baltar’s trial cannot end well. It just can’t. I think the weird radio signal thing is tied to the Ionian nebula, but I haven’t quite figured that out. I think Roslin’s visions of that Opera House are going to be explained in a much more coherent way, and that can’t possibly be good either.
There’s a lot going on in the first half of the season three finale, and I know that it’s a set up for what will be delivered in the last forty-five minutes of this season. Roslin’s visions of the Opera House fascinate me because we’ve been seeing incarnations of this place since season one. I’m curious as to why these visions seen by different characters always end up in this place. What is so significant of the place on Kobol? We know that’s where it originally was, but it’s now in ruins. Is this all meant to be metaphorical for what is to come, or will it hold a real-world significance in the finale or in season four? How does all of this tie-in to what the future plan is for the Cylons?
And that’s an interesting thing to think about and I can’t say I’ve figured it out yet. “The plan” that the Cylons used to have seemed rather clear: exterminate the human race. But having since adapted that in season two in favor of forced occupation in order to shove them all through some bizarre theocratic conversion, I don’t know what the Cylons are doing aside from trying to find Earth first. And why are they even doing that? OH GOD, I KNOW NOTHING.
Still, the main focus of the first half of the finale has very little to do with this! Gaius Baltar’s trial is shown to take over nearly aspect of the story and the attention of the fleet. (So far, Zarek was right about all of that.) Once again, by taking the story in this direction, the writers are able to move the show to experiment with other genres; in a way, “Crossroads, Part I” is very much a court procedural, though the dynamic for a lot of it is so different from what you would expect. This trial comes with a whole lot of emotional baggage, both because the Adamas are on opposite sides of the courtroom and because it relies so heavily on the past three seasons. It is about what happened on New Caprica and the fact that these people think this trial will allow them to “let go” of what happened to them. It’s clear that someone must deal with the loss that the human race experienced there, and the prosecutor’s opening statement confirms this. To be fair, I’d forgotten how many lives were lost because of the Cylon occupation on New Caprica. It’s hard to even wrap my mind around the concept. It’s hard to think about people who where left behind. That means there are probably people STILL LIVING THERE. Right now. Why is that so disturbing to me? So even though I felt that this trial was more of a spectacle for the sake of guilt than something that needed to happen, I understood in the opening why this trial was occurring. That is a lot of loss that’s been largely unaccounted for, so why not hold the man who sold them all over to the Cylons as responsible?
That is what Lampkin picks up on, and that is what he uses to give one scathing opening statement. Look, Mark Sheppard is perfect for this role, and it was a real treat to see him become Romo Lampkin. The man is quiet when he needs to be, when he’s taking in information, but his opening statement shows what a brilliant public speaker he is. He is a performer, one able to manipulate those around him, but to also (quite accurately) gleam the motivations of the entire trial in a matter of minutes. What most of his defense hinges on is personal vendetta and a lack of any sort of empathy. The latter is what’s important here: everyone seems to think they would have done something different when faced with Cylon occupation, but no one can empathize with what Gaius Baltar had to do. Which is not to ignore the massive problems of his presidency; even Lampkin acknowledges the massive mistakes made by Baltar. But should these mistakes amount to high treason, and do they deserve the death penalty?
Tigh believes he does, unequivocally so, and I think it’s the reason he lashes out so brutally to Caprica Six. Obviously, he’s creeped out that she knows about Ellen Tigh, but I think that his internal conflict over the death of his wife only gets worse when he has to face it both privately and publicly. (Also, christ, could Head Baltar just narrate the show? I would be 100% in support of this happening.) Perhaps whatever is happening inside Tigh’s head concerning the radio wave is affecting that, too, but the moment he takes the stand for the prosecution, I got a strong sense that this could only end in disaster.
Disaster is an understatement. It’s at this point in “Crossroads, Part I” that I began to formulate the idea that all of this was going to fall apart: the prosecution’s case; Tigh’s grip on his wife’s death; Roslin’s future as the President; the relationship between Lee Adama and his father. As the story cycles rapidly through each of these stories, I simply felt empty. It’s easy for me to say that I enjoy these characters so much that I want them all to just get along. That would make boring television, though, because without all this conflict, Battlestar Galactica could never address the ambiguous and absurd elements that make up popular and personal morality. After being split up, tortured, murdered, and oppressed by the Cylons on New Caprica, though, I just wanted these people to have a break. Watching Tigh breakdown on the stand, admitting that he killed his own wife because she was a traitor is gutting and heartbreaking. I was glad that this was at least contrasted with the image of Admiral Adama laying the man into his bunk and telling him that his oldest friend could never embarrass him. Adama I love and hate you in this episode.
Actually, that goes for both of the Adama men in this episode. While I think Admiral Adama is being far more irrational throughout it all, ESPECIALLY when he basically inspires his son to QUIT, Lee isn’t far from my center of hatred either. Right after the two of them verbally fight one another and Lee quits, I found it easy for me to be Team Lee. I mean, right??? He’s being all noble, fighting for the right of Baltar to have a free trial, showing how hypocritical everyone is being, and generally just acting like a goddamn badass.
And then he decides to interrogate Laura Roslin.
What. A. Fucking. Disaster. Lee, YOU WERE INVOLVED WITH HALF OF THE SHIT YOU ARE TRYING TO DISCREDIT HER WITH. What the fuck are you doing??? As soon as Roslin leaned forward and begged him, “Don’t do this,” I wanted to reach through the screen to slap the shit out of Lee. You are hurting one of your only friends since this all started. This woman has cared about you and helped you out almost since the very first day she met you. And suddenly, this means nothing. Even worse, you are trying to discredit her by implying that drug use invalidates her entire experience with the execution squad on New Caprica. Yeah, Lee, it’s not lost on me that this is last thing she truly spoke about in her testimony, and someone using chamalla makes those facts non-credible?
And that’s when Roslin, admitting that she is using chamalla again, demands that Lee finish what he started. He needs to ask her why. I didn’t want to hear the bad new. I almost would have preferred if she had been taking chamalla to inspire more visions. Instead, the other shoe drops: she has cancer again.
Oh, fuck you, Lee Adama. I mean, you are wonderful and actually quite a talented lawyer-person, and you’ve been on my good side up until now, but still. FUCK YOU. Just for this moment, though. I’ll probably go back to loving your flawless hair in the next episode.
Oh god, the next episode….how??? HOW AM I GOING TO DEAL WITH WHAT’S SET UP HERE?? Dualla leaves Lee in a fury, angry at him for what he did to Roslin. Roslin herself, while cheerful and open about her cancer to reporters, is impatient and frustrated by Tory, who can also hear the strange radio frequency that Tyrol, Anders, and Tigh can also hear. I am not ignoring the signs that the fleet is rapidly approaching the Ionian nebula, and I’m convinced the two are connected. Perhaps the nebula is near to earth, and they’re catching a wavelength because they have…fillings? Metal plates? I know this is a bogus theory, but these four have to have something in common to be able to sense this music, and it also seems to get stronger as the fleet gets closer to the nebula. LOOK I AM TRYING TO AT LEAST BE 1% PREPARED THIS TIME.
But I know that deep down, I’m not. Is it foreshadowing that Gaeta and Helo have control of the deck in the CIC? What storm is coming? Is it the nebula? HOW IS THE MUSIC COMING FROM THE WALLS OF THE SHIP ITSELF? Why did I suddenly find it really hot that Gaeta and Helo were in control? Could Gaeta just be super queer because that would be awesome and then I could ship myself with him
sweet summer child, my body is not ready.