Rating: *1/2 (out of four)

Written by: Michael Taylor & Mark Verheiden
Directed By: Michael Rymer
“Ominous.” That is the garishly unsubtle undertone of the first act of “Crossroads”. A quartet of understated scenes that foreshadow cataclysmic events soon to erupt within and upon the ragtag, fugitive fleet. Not unlike the opening segments of the last two season finales. After using the same plotting device for the third consecutive season end, I must say the writers have created a “been there, done that” feel to the whole endeavor that definitely acts against the end effect they’re trying to create.

President Roslin is dreaming weird dreams again. She finds herself in the recreated temple on Kobol. She looks down and sees little Hera, the Human/Cylon half-breed, tottling through the lobby a floor below.   Trying to keep her in sight, Roslin sees a Sharon Valleri model across from her on the other side of the mezzanine.   She’s in pilot’s garb, suggesting that it is Athena, and thus Hera’s mother. Both break into a run to get downstairs, only to find Hera scooped up into the arms of a Six – by implication, Caprica Six, the real version of which is in the Galactica’s brig.

Then Roslin abruptly wakes up.

So what’s the deal? Is Roslin back on the chamalla sauce again, meaning her cancer has returned?   Or is she [cue ominous music] a Cylon?

Admiral Adama and Lieutenant Gaeda are looking over astrometric mapping data. The CO asks Gaeda if there’s been any detection of Cylon activity. The ops officer replies in the negative. It’s been months now since the enemy was last sighted. Adama doesn’t trust this good fortune and orders the trailing Raptors to stay back six hours longer each time just to make sure. Meanwhile, the fleet is jumping closer and closer to a nebula that is supposedly a milepost on the way to Earth – information which, if you’ll recall, Baltar also supplied to the Cylons. Can you say, “ambush”? Maybe the “old man” can, but he apparently can’t see one coming.

Colonel Tigh is in Galactica’s equivalent of Ten Forward, only this time he’s not getting hammered but is instead fiddling with what looks for all the worlds like a 1950s-vintage radio. He hears some sort of staticky music coming out of the speaker, but evidently nobody else does. On the other side of the bar, Sam Anders hears it too.

A monotheist poses as a journalist to get in to see Gaius Baltar. She brings a picture of her son, who she tells the “most hated man alive” is very sick, and begs him to bless the boy. From his ensuing banter with Imaginary Six, she’s not the first. Somehow the patsy traitor has inspired a small but evidently growing Human cult centered around the Cylon “god,” with Baltar as its “prophet.”   It gives him the creeps, but as usual, Six turns it into another ego-stroke, and Baltar, as usual, starts “rising to the occasion.”

But all that is background – at least until the end of this two-parter – for the long-awaited, never-duplicated Kobolian Nuremburg: the trial of Gaius Baltar.

I think I would have preferred the ominous crap.

In a prelude scene on Colonial One, Tory Foster, President Roslin’s press secretary, tries to bully the prosecutor into going after Baltar on charges of genocide, not stemming from the New Caprica disaster, but the original annihilation of the Twelve Colonies based upon Roslin having seen Baltar with Caprica Six.   The PA retorts haughtily that she is not going to file charges based upon the President’s chamalla-induced visions and will only try a case she can actually prove.

This makes her opening statement perplexingly ironic in that her primary argument is essentially not that Baltar was personally responsible for the loss of 5,197 of the remaining members of Kobolian humanity – though she does phrase it in that context – but that he was a lousy president.   A president who got elected by getting out in front of where the ragtag, fugitive fleet wanted to go – namely, New Caprica. A course of action that former and current President Laura Roslin warned against as a strategic disaster waiting to happen, but nobody wanted to listen to her voice of reason.

Indeed, the counter-argument writes itself, and Romo Lampkin merely has to….well, get out in front of it: that the people led themselves into bondage on New Caprica, a defeat and subjugation that no president could have prevented, and that by “bowing to the inevitable” Baltar actually saved the 38,838 lives that did manage to escape in the Second Exodus.   He also shrewdly gives voice to the obvious undercurrent of mass vengefulness that permeates the trial – everybody wants to see Baltar pay for what happened, because he was sitting at the desk at which the proverbial buck stopped. Particularly President Roslin, who did, after all, lose the election to Lampkin’s client.

I don’t know why Lampkin didn’t move for a mistrial right then and there. Well, no, I take that back – I do know why. What I really don’t understand is why the prosecution sent up one compromised witness after another.

Witness #1: The Stinking Drunk. Otherwise known as Saul Tigh, who, if he didn’t have reason to be a lush before, now has an eternal one since he was forced to execute his own wife, Ellen, back on New Caprica. Before his scheduled testimony, Admiral Adama sends him down to the brig to interrogate Caprica Six after five base ships are discovered trailing the fleet.   Only CS, urged on by Imaginary Baltar, taunts him about his “loss,” which stuns Tigh since nobody ought to know about that outside of the Admiral, Chief Tyrol, and Sam Anders. Unnerved, Tigh goes on another booze bender, shows up blitzed on the stand, and brings up Ellen’s death himself. All Lampkin has to do is ask Tigh how she died. The rest is wince-inducing, toe-curling excruciation.

Could the prosecution have known about that little detail? Perhaps not. But Tigh’s alcoholism was common knowledge. Seems to me Tyrol would have been a better choice to testify from the insurgency’s leadership. Or anybody who didn’t smell like Ted Kennedy.

Witness #2: The Drug Addict. Otherwise known as President Laura Roslin.

Oh, to be sure, her initial testimony is devastating.   She tells the court what we saw at the start of season #3: that then-President Baltar signed an Executive Order ordering the execution of over two hundred of his own people – a document that the prosecution subsequently introduces into evidence. Frankly, I’m at a loss as to why the prosecution didn’t drop that document right on the judge’s stand and rest her case.

Oh, I know, how can you go wrong by putting the restored and vindicated President of the Colonies herself on the witness stand?   Her credibility was beyond reproach, even for a bottom-feeder like Romo Lampkin. Right?

Actually, that is right. Or would have been had Admiral Adama not gone temporarily insane.

Earlier in the first hour Major Adama makes the pregnant discovery that Roslin is back on the chamalla sauce. While the two are huddling with their “low-life pond scum” of a client trying frantically to figure out a way to discredit her testimony, Lampkin, ever the observer, notices that Lee knows something about Roslin that he isn’t sharing. Lee, ever the seducible idealist, refuses to disclose what he knows – at first.

After his father pours his XO into his quarters to sleep it off, he and #1 son fatefully meet. Adama the elder, after pontificating that they “can’t discuss the case outside of the courtroom,” proceeds to do just that by angrily accusing Adama the younger of blabbing Tigh’s slaying of his own wife to Lampkin.   Which is beyond stupid because when Tigh did this, Lee was parsecs away on the Pegasus, and the Admiral had no reason to suppose or suspect that his son and his Number One had become close confidantes or drinking buddies since then. Moreover, the Admiral refers to Baltar – his son’s client – as a “traitorous piece of garbage,” and snarls that he “doesn’t deserve a trial,” which is an appallingly idiotic thing for a judge to say in front of anybody, much less a member of the defendant’s legal team.

Lee reacts with predictable outrage and indignance. He resigns his commission. And he makes the fateful decision to become a full-fledged shyster by doing to Roslin precisely what his father had accused him of doing to Tigh – personally destroy her reputation by forcing her under oath to spill her renewed chamalla addiction. It’s even more wince-inducing and toe-curling than Tigh’s sodden crash & burn.

But being the old pro that she is, Roslin doesn’t sit their looking like a fool; she ups the ante by demanding that Lee ask her why she’s resumed her chamalla consumption. “Go ahead, Mr. Adama, finish what you started.” Since there could only be one answer to that question, Apollo looks torn between swallowing his face and bursting into tears. In a shaking voice he asks the question, and the President drops the bombshell: her cancer has returned full-force.

These, then, are the wages of unrequited son vs. father rebellion cloaked in the comfortingly deluding folds of high-fallutin’ idealism.   Lee Adama, the young man who had once been Roslin’s biggest admirer, who had sided with her when the fleet split at Kobol, was now serving as her judge, jury, and figurative executioner in the effort to spring free “the most hated man alive.” She recognizes his descent better than he does, and actually expresses pity because he is so blind to it.

If there’s a tragic side to this personal descent, it is that Apollo isn’t blind to it, but has already passed the point of no return.   A reality driven home when his long-suffering wife, Lieutenant Dualla, who put up with his adolescent frakking around with the late Starbuck and the realization that she was his “revenge wife,” finally has her fill and walks out. Maybe Lampkin can show Lee how to jerk off, because he’s going to need it.

Tactically speaking, Lee overplayed the defense’s hand like the courtroom rookie he is. Team Baltar’s scorched earth PR strategy is sent straight back to square one.

Meanwhile, back at the Ominous Crap ranch, the aforementioned Tory Foster is hearing the staticky music too, making her insomniacal and causing her to frak up a press conference on the return of Roslin’s cancer. Tigh – who was the first to hear this siren song – thinks its coming out of “the frakking ship.” When it’s really coming out of his bottle. Right? And guess who else is sucked into this game of impromptu Name That Tune: Chief Tyrol, Tigh, Anders, Tory Foster, and Tyrol. What could these four outwardly disparate people have in common? Do you really want to know how and how teeth-gratingly rhetorical that question is?

Whereas in the first hour the Baltar trial overshadowed the Ominous Crap, the two seamlessly switch places in the conclusion. Which, in all honesty, gave me a renewed appreciation for the courtroom scenes.

As Lee finally gets around to suggesting a mistrial – a simultaneously obvious (given what Admiral Adama said to Lee) and pointless (How could Baltar EVER get a truly fair trial? It’s not as though he can be remanded to a different venue) move with which Lampkin concurs but Gaius “I just can’t TAKE another trial!” Baltar whinily shoots down – Anders overhears Tyrol humming the same tune he’s been hearing everywhere he goes, and after her first chemotherapy session, Roslin dozes off, has the same dream about Hera, Athena, and Caprica Six, only this time Six disappears behind the Kobolian opera house door with Hera and….Gaius Baltar.   She jolts awake with a scream, which just happens to coincide to the instant with a scream from….Athena, who just happens to be holding….Hera. Grabbing Athena and bolting to the brig, the President confirms from Six that all three of them had the same vision at the exact same time. “That shouldn’t be possible,” the blonde Victoria’s Secret model murmurs.

Ah, but it is, if President Laura Roslin is a….no, no, I can’t say it, I just can’t say it.

Meanwhile, the trial continues with Lieutenant Gaeda’s testimony. Finally, a witness that wasn’t a debacle waiting to happen! Or maybe the handwriting was so indelibly on the wall after Roslin’s prior table-turning on Lee that it didn’t matter that Gaeda, as Baltar boorishly bellows to the whole court room, tried to stab him through the neck not too long ago. A betrayal-fueled enmity that manifests itself as acute smugness as Gaeda almost completely perjures himself about the circumstances surrounding Baltar’s signing of the aforementioned execution order, beginning with the fact that he was not, in fact, present when this took place. Yes, Baltar signed it, but with a gun jammed against his temple and a Cylonoid grabbing his hair and screaming into his ear to do so. Lampkin limps over, stares at Gaeda for a few moments, then declines to question him.   Why? Because he knows that Gaeda is constructing a minefield of lies around a single, but crucial, truth, but also that this perjury will never be pursued – and that Gaeda knows it, too.

Knowing a lost cause when he sees one and also knowing when to throw the hail Mary, Lampkin moves for a mistrial despite Baltar’s pathetic protestations based upon the Admiral’s earlier indiscretion, and calls Adama’s living son – that would be the former Major Lee Adama, now co-counsel for the accused – to the stand to testify to same.

Except that Lee refuses. Oh, he takes the stand, but when Lampkin asks him what “opinion” his father expressed about Baltar, the co-counsel for the accused just sits there staring back at him. Evidently the unpleasantness with Roslin re-convinced Adama the younger that there are, after all, lines that should not be crossed.

So, Lampkin switches tactics on the fly. He instead plays to Lee’s idealism reflex and asks HIM if HE thinks Baltar deserves a fair trial. The prosecutor goes ballistic, and the chief judge agrees – until the Admiral pipes up and declares that he wants to hear the witness answer that question. What follows is a classic Lee Adama sermon on truth, justice, and the Kobolian way. He waxes eloquent on forgiveness, citing the blanket pardon that Roslin issued after the Second Exodus. He cites Colonel Tigh using suicide bombings during the New Caprican insurgency. He brings up his father’s military coup at Kobol. He goes down his own laundry list of sins and indiscretions. If everybody else can be forgiven for all these heinous acts, why can’t we forgive poor Gaius Baltar? Aside from his being a “traitorous piece of garbage,” of course.

I have to admit, Lee had a point. And Lampkin knew that sermon was sloshing around inside his young apprentice, just waiting for the right stimulus to come gushing forth.   It was his ace in the hole, his secret weapon, his tactic of last resort. Did he read the Admiral as well and deduce that he would be Lee’s most important listener? That calling Adama out in open court would intimidate him into retreating from his earlier hostile “opinion” – or at least shame him back to objectivity? Only Lampkin and his hairdresser know for sure.

What I do know is that every single solitary word of Apollo’s testimony was utterly and completely irrelevant to the case at hand.   He spoke to whether or not Baltar should have been prosecuted in the first place. But that decision was already made. The only issue now was his guilt or innocence. And the damning evidence was that death order with Baltar’s signature on it. Everything else was nuance and window dressing.

Gaius Baltar was guilty. As sin. In spades.   To the airlock with his skinny, worthless, hairy ass. And make sure he loses the Jesus look before you space him.

But the tribunal didn’t see it that way. They voted to acquit by a 3-2 margin. And you get no good noodle gold star for figuring out which judge cast the deciding ballot.

Just as when he abruptly heaved his perfectly valid principles overboard and buried the hatchet with Roslin at Kobol despite her naked betrayal of him and subversion of his military command, the Admiral abruptly, arbitrarily, and totally unconvincingly pulls an about-face and springs the traitorous piece of garbage to betray the Human diaspora to the Cylons again someday, or by the end of season #4, whichever comes first.

I don’t buy this any more than I did his cave at Kobol. But then the longer this trial plotline went on, the less I believed that Baltar would ever have been given a trial in the first place. He WOULD have been dealt vigilante justice precisely because of the risk that he might escape the noose via the courtroom back door.   And perhaps he WOULD have served a far more useful and beneficial purpose as a mass catharsis for the fleet’s lingering post-Caprica guilt and humiliation.

Hey, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. That’s the only kind of “justice” that a harried civilizational remnant can truly afford.

The verdict’s announcement has the expected effect: total bedlam. Which greatly amuses a once-again smug, conceited Baltar until Lampkin and Lee take their leave of him, leaving him on his own….all alone….in a fleet full of people who hate his guts.

Oh, don’t worry about ol’ Gaius; you know he’ll land on his feet. Or on his belly with a bevy of bimbos beneath him. Doesn’t even take five minutes, as it turns out. Now THAT’s the true injustice.

Come to think of it, so does Lampkin, who re-dons his trademark shades and walks – limp-free – into the proverbial sunset. Nope, Steve Dallas he most definitely is not.

It doesn’t take an outraged Roslin long to figure out Adama’s complicity in Baltar’s acquittal, but before she can so much as fix him with a death glare, the fleet makes its final jump into the Ionian nebula, and no sooner do they arrive than every last ship loses power – but the moment before they do, Roslin has a dizzy spell.   Almost as if she sensed it coming.   Just like the staticky music tormenting Tigh, Anders, Tory Foster, and Chief Tyrol, which immediately intensifies in volume, brings lyrics to their conscious minds, and lures them to the same room at the same time. Almost as if they were….programmed to do so.

***Groan***

Do I want to come out and say it? That Tigh, Anders, Tory Foster, Chief Tyrol, and President Roslin are the eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Cy….NO, NO, NO, NO, MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE, GODS, MAKE IT STOP!!!

It sure looks like I’m going to get my wish, because the next event hot on the heels of the mass power outage is the mass power restoration. Just as Roslin almost seemed to unwittingly trigger the outage, the group realization amongst the other four that they’re Cy….oh, what the frak, that they’re CYLONS instantly restores power, to show a huge Cylon task force bearing down on the fleet.

Endgame? Don’t be silly. There’s at least another season to go. And if that weren’t season-ending-cliff-hanger-undermining proof, there’s Lee stealing his old Viper, flying out to join his former squadrons’ suicidal last stand, only to run into his old friend, old lover, former subordinate, and all-around EVERYTHING, Captain Kara “She frakking died three weeks ago!!!” Thrace, who greets him and matter-of-factly mentions in passing that she’s found the way to Earth like she was dealing him into a card game in the pilots’ wardroom.

Gentlebeings, I know a shark-jumping moment when I see one. Ron Moore and co. have one season (at least) to either prove me wrong, or admit they were following the lyrics in their heads.

“There’s too much confusion, there’s no relief….” Yep, I’d say that sums it up.

 

Next: Season #4, whenever SciFi can cram it into their schedule.

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