So...can you say "huge creative risk"? The Battlestar Galactica writers certainly can, not to mention love to take them. Season One ended with Adama bleeding out in the command center; Season Two took the year-ahead leap to New Caprica.
But by outing Cylons, resurrecting characters, and jamming to 1960s rock and roll anthems in this week's epic season finale, the BSG brain trust went above and beyond previous cliffhangers...especially when you consider that the show won't return until January 2008. Frak me! Who can wait that long for answers?
Just a quick recap on where "Crossroads, Part 1" left off. Tigh, Anders, and Tori were hearing some unidentifiable song that kept them up at night; President Roslin was dealing with her breast cancer's return; everyone hated Baltar, who was on trial for his life; and everyone hated Lee for joining Baltar's defense team.
On to "Crossroads, Part 2."
If Lee's suit don't fit, we must acquit
Over on "Law and Order: BSG," things don't look good for Baltar and his defense team. Sure, they've weakened the credibility of two key prosecution witnesses, but lead lawyer Romo Lampkin and Lee know that the balance of opinion is still against them. Lee argues the defense should go for a mistrial, on the grounds that the Admiral has already pre-judged Baltar's guilt; quoting his grandfather, he also believes that a re-trial would give the defense a strategic advantage. But Baltar refuses to go along with this idea--he wants a verdict, and Romo assents to try for his client.
However, a shocking turn of events (is there any other kind?) awaits in the courtroom. Testifying for the prosecution, Gaeta lies that he saw Baltar sign the execution order for 200 humans--and willingly, at that. It's flat-out perjury, as viewers and an irate Baltar know it went down a little differently, what with a gun to the puppet president's head, but Romo dimisses Gaeta without a cross-examination. Romo seems to think they can't challenge the perjury, but personally, I'd hoped that this would be Caprica-Six's entree to the trial; she could destroy Gaeta's claims even while provoking questions about whether a Cylon's testimony could be trusted.
Instead, Romo decides to use Lee's idea and go for a mistrial, on the grounds that one judge has pre-decided Baltar's guilt. And to out that judge, he puts associate defense counsel Lee on the stand. I'm no lawyer, but having the defense counsel testify on behalf of the defense...well, that's a little bit of a stretch. We'll let it go, though, since the ineffectual prosecutor basically does.
Anyway, Romo pushes Lee to rat out Adama's lack of fitness for trial, but son isn't so much feeling the dad-bashing for once. Instead, we get a soliloquy--more like a sermon--where Lee recounts every mutinous act, every rebellious action, every crime that the crew has committed over the past three seasons. Tigh--using suicide bombers on New Caprica. Lee--drawing a weapon to the XO's head. Roslin--encouraging secession. And so on. As we know, each character has erred at some point; that's where all the good drama comes from. But Lee notes that every other act was forgiven; the president even issued a blanket pardon back in "Collaborators."
But for some reason, Baltar's exempt. Baltar must be made to suffer for his sins; Lee argues that he's suffering for everyone's sins. Baltar represents the shame over the New Caprica disaster; the hurried escape of Adama and the fleet, the willingness by Lee to leave the humans on New Caprica to die.
Now, viewers know that Baltar's a weak, self-absorbed character, whose crimes go much deeper than what he's on trial for. But Lee's got a good point; when humanity's down to 41,000 individuals, you can't go around killing the leftovers. Maybe this lawyering thing will work out for him.
(It also helps that the foot-dragging prosecutor doesn't interrupt him on this.)
The speech is enough to sway the judges and, notably, Adama's the swing vote in favor of acquittal. This doesn't play well with a furious Roslin. Nor with the masses, some of whom rush to throw Baltar out the airlock themselves. However, there are a few Baltar fans--the weird cult-like followers who think he's got healing powers--and they eventually spirit him away to parts unknown.
Having played role, Romo also takes his leave of BSG; the most interesting guest star since Admiral Cain pulls a mini-Keyser Soze, ditching his cane and re-donning his vanity sunglasses.
Phantoms at the opera
While being treated for her cancer, Roslin has more visions of the Kobol Opera House--again seeing Hera running along the stairs, chased by Sharon, and being swept up by Six. Yet we discover that these are group hallucinations, as the imprisoned Six, Sharon, and Hera are actively sharing in them. Six is surprised that Roslin is apparently "projecting" as Cylons do, for lack of my better understanding; that shouldn't be possible, she notes. Does this mean that Roslin also is rocking some Cylon parts? But then how'd she get cancer in the first place?
Who watches a one-eyed watchman?
Meanwhile, the mystery song haunting Tigh, Anders, Tori [who is having an illicit relationship with Anders, much to Seelix's chagrin], and now Tyrol too is revealed. And it's no typical, soaring Bear McCreary anthem that has come to mark BSG; if you can believe it, the song is...Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower". As the four start singing the lyrics, almost instinctively, it's perhaps the most jarring moment of BSG to date. And I don't know if that's a good thing.
Regardless, the four are drawn by the tune to a secluded room on board Galactica. They confront the situation: Each was a resistance leader on New Caprica; now, it appears, each is a Cylon. How this is possible--given that Tigh's relationship with Adama seemingly pre-dates the creation of the human Cylon models, plus Tyrol has a child--remains to be seen.
And how a rock and roll song plays into this also awaits explanation, although I'm willing to wait. I couldn't help but groan when watching the scene as the four first hum and then belt out the lyrics; Tigh had the right idea. Enough with the frakkin' song, he yells; regardless of what this means, I know that I'm a colonial officer and that's all that matters for me. As an alarm blares the arrival of the Cylons (see below), each retakes his or her position, with the spectre of a Sharon-like activation now hanging over the characters.
Ionian neighborhood #3 (power's out)
Seeking the next clue on the way to Earth, the fleet finally jumps to the Ionian Nebula...only to simultaneously lose power. Lot of panicked shots of trying to restore the engines. When systems come back online, they detect a Cylon fleet massing for attack--but the ships' FTL drives have been down too long to immediately jump. They'll need the Galactica and its fighters to buy them at least 20 minutes.
As alert fighters scramble, civilian Lee can't help but run to his Viper; before long, he's flying patrol, per usual. In a redux of "Maelstrom," (as well as "Flight of the Phoenix"), Lee chases a mystery bogey that's hopping all over his ship. He can't seem to get a good look at it.
But then the suspicious fighter pulls up next to him...it's a Viper. Being flown by none other than Starbuck! [who, in a tremendous snow job by Ron Moore, is contracted for Season Four, despite appearances to the contrary]
Starbuck's been to Earth, she placidly tells Lee; she knows how to get back. And she's going to take the fleet there. Cue the dramatic zoom-out of the Galactica-Cylon dust-up...through planets and galaxies...and re-orient on Earth from space, a very clear image of North America.
So...wow. There are tons of theories floating around on the whole Interweb about the song, Starbuck's return, and the reasoning behind the Cylon reveal. But if you pushed me, here's my take: The bad guys were originally supposed to be called the Dylons anyway (it's just one key away on the old QWERTY keyboard); Bob is clearly the Cylon God. If only the show had better copy-editors, it would all make sense!