Friday, March 30

Galactica Station's Crossroads Part 2 Review

Goobyrastor has taken time out to review the season 3 finale crossroads part II.

At long last, here we are, with season 3 behind us. And I’m stunned. I am a little nauseous, and a bit worried. The last time I felt this way was when Baltar put his head in his hands and sent us a year into the future. It’s worth remembering, in the wake of the sucker-punch that is “Crossroads pt. 2” (or more precisely, the last fifteen minutes of it), that Ron Moore and company have taken great risks in the past. When New Caprica sank in, unquestionably, as reality, I felt sick to my stomach, wondering whether Battlestar would survive the paradigm shift. Once I got over the shock, though, I relaxed and became excited about the possibilities. Such is also the case with “Crossroads,” to an extent. A few days of perspective reduce its “freak-out” value, though not completely.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with the big story of the week, of the half-season, really. The wrapping-up of The Colonies v. Gaius Baltar. I hoped, a couple of weeks ago, that Adama’s own words would come back to haunt him, when he showed, to Lee, his bias in the case. It was a small vindication that the show chose to go this route. Lee’s absolutely right to bring up Adama’s partiality to Baltar and Lampkin, and to suggest a mistrial. Course, Baltar’s reaction is understandable, not wanting to sit around waiting for a whole second trial. It also doesn’t hurt his case that mistrials don’t make for good TV drama. So “no mistrials,” as Baltar says, “there will be a verdict.”

All of this culminates, of course, by way of a somewhat convoluted path, with Mr. Lee Adama taking the stand. Lee’ s diatribe on the stand, while perhaps not quite having a direct bearing on the case, was a wonderful calling-out of all the times that our heroes have gotten away with murder, including his own albatross of the Olympic Carrier and his decision to take Pegasus away from New Caprica. Lee’s indictment of the fleet’s hypocrisy in trying Baltar, works so very well, because it also includes the understanding that all of the pardons have been necessary, if the fragile society they have is to even stand a chance of making it. It’s one of Lee Adama’s best moments on the show so far, the payoff for all that angst he exudes each episode. I’d call it one of the finest moments of the third season.

The trial ends as it has to, with a “not guilty” verdict handed down, with Baltar bouncing back to cockiness and then to panic again, and with Lee wondering if he’d done the right thing after all. If there’s a good to come out of the trial for him, I think it’s that for maybe the first time, Bill Adama really listened to his son, and did the right thing, voting to acquit.
There’re a lot of other things going on in this episode, too; that’s one of the problems. “Crossroads” opened with Roslin’s dream of the Opera House, and we revisit the dream this week, also learning that Sharon and—get this—Caprica Six have also had the same dream. And that’s it. We get absolutely no closer to learning a blessed thing about Hera. Don’t worry, she’ll have company as far as “unexplained stuff,” soon enough.

I have two great problems with where “Crossroads” leaves us. The first is perhaps the result of being jaded. I’m expecting a cliffhanger by now. Something along the lines of Boomer shooting Adama (!), or Pegasus and Galactica squaring off (!!). As it stands, the cliffhanger we get (cylons jump in, the fleet can’t jump) lacks by comparison to what has come before. And that might be an unfair comparison, but the show raised the bar itself. The cliffhanger also feels a bit less organic than those of previous seasons. The entire first season, after all, was building up to Boomer’s outing as a cylon. Season 2.5 built up pretty regularly towards the confrontation between Roslin and Baltar, from which New Caprica was a direct effect. This time, we get the unmasking of (most of) the Final Five. And personally, I was a bit confused at the choice to have that be the big payoff. After all, we hadn’t really had Final Five on the mind since Number Three got boxed. Personally, I felt like the show owed a bit more to Hera’s development or, perhaps, to those women obsessing about Baltar.

The second issue which I have with this season finale is just how difficult a task RDM and crew have set themselves, to avoid jettisoning suspension of disbelief entirely. Last year, with New Caprica, it was a paradigm shift and no mistake, but all it did was require interesting stories to tell with the occupation (which they did). This time around, the writers have work to explain not only the future, but the past as well, and they’ll have to be pretty deft to make it work. The cylon reveal is not the catastrophe that many are making of it; nor is the return of Starbuck, because really, all those were, were setups. This season finale’s payoffs were sort of odd that way: You can’t really judge how well they worked because it’s not yet clear how they did. The problem lies in that, for many people, myself included, the “cliché alarms” are ready to go off. Tigh and Tyrol as cylons could either be the first time the show has succumbed to typical sci-fi plot twisting, or could work quite well, depending on what we discover the Final Five to be all about. Chalk them up with Hera, though, in the list of things which we are no frakking closer to understanding than we were half a season ago.

And Kara. It’s a real shame that the show ended on her, because she’s, dramatically, the weakest link in this finale. Once again, a lot depends on how they explain Kara’s return next January. But in the meantime, Starbuck’s a liability, because her appearance from a dramatic standpoint, essentially negates the impact of “Maelstrom.” After that episode, I mourned the loss of Kara Thrace. I felt sure she’d be back in some form, but it’s only been three weeks, and such a short length of time before her reappearance makes Starbuck’s death feel suspiciously like emotional manipulation.

Lastly, as a side note, “All Along the Watchtower.” We find out that this is the song that Tori, Tigh, and Anders were hearing last week. I try not to bring stuff from “official statements” into the reviews, but I have to here: Bear McCreary has stated that this was not a case of some transmission from Earth, but rather that some Colonial songwriter came up with it, perhaps from the same source as Dylan. And I hope I’m not alone in going “what?” I suppose it’s possible that the “Watchtower” connection will be explained next season, but I somehow doubt it, and in the absence of an explanation, it just comes off as needlessly bizarre. Still, good song, if you’re gonna choose one.

Overall rating? It’s hard to call, and I reserve the right to disavow this rating once the full stories of Starbuck and the Final Five are revealed (if they are separate, that is). For now, 8.5/10. A straight “B.”

Episode reviewed by Gooby Rastor.

1 comment:

Rob Robinson said...

This is a pretty fair take, I'd say. I have concerns about how all this holds up as the backstories are developed and presented.

I have been trying to justify the use of Watchtower by thinking of its lyrics as elements of the colonies' sacred scrolls. Maybe those words and the essence they represent emerged from both the Earthling and colonies' collective subconscious into similar songs in both cultures. It feels a little like a stretch to me still, but not as much as it did Sunday night.