Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"Crossroads, Part 2"

****

Air date: 3/25/2007
Written by Mark Verheiden
Directed by Michael Rymer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Much like "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2" did, "Crossroads, Part 2" takes the risk/reward approach to storytelling. It does so to a bold extreme. The risks are substantial: It upends characters and relationships with story developments that promise that things will never be the same. It also asks us to believe that what happens makes sense. Are you convinced? I was. This is a series that makes up the rules as it goes, but it earns its right to do it.

The reward is proportional to the risk: This is a brilliant hour of television that moves confidently through its story to reach a conclusion that is as inspired as it is — well, trippy. Reality feels shattered by the end. The audacious final pull-back through the cosmos seems like it was inspired by a drug-altered state. It had an odd effect that left me with a distinct "WTF?!" sense and yet at the same time feeling satisfied and boundlessly enthusiastic. We are in uncharted waters here. This is one of Battlestar Galactica's finest hours.

I managed to mostly avoid spoilers on this episode — for which I was glad — but let it be said that I knew Something Big was going to happen at the end of the episode; I just didn't know what. In a way, that's the best possible spoiler you can get for an episode like this, because it whets your curiosities and expectations. The result is an episode that generates almost unbearable suspense.

In getting to its destination, the episode first moves through the outcome of Baltar's trial, which exists in the BSG universe as we know it, and, let it be said, is no less brilliant than what happens in the final act. The story remains true to its legal-show pedigree in that it catalogs the momentum of the case as witnesses testify and the realities of the situation that faces the defense: Emotions trump testimony. Lampkin notes that the tactical victories the defense has had against the prosecution witnesses have actually succeeded only in pissing off the panel of judges. "So we're losing because we're winning," Baltar notes, frustrated. Yes. Sometimes people can still smell a rat even if the evidence doesn't prove it.

Lee pitches to Lampkin the notion of a mistrial based on his assertion that the judges aren't impartial. Adama earlier, in private to Lee, called Baltar a "human piece of garbage," which, let it be said, is not impartial. The witnesses aren't impartial, either. So hated is Baltar that Gaeta is willing to lie on the stand, claiming that he was present at the meeting where Baltar signed — without hesitation — the execution order on New Caprica. We know this isn't true because we saw a gun being held to Baltar's head in one of the most memorable scenes in "Occupation/Precipice." Baltar's reaction to Gaeta's perjury is equal part shock and performance art: "Everyone in the fleet knows you tried to stab me through the neck, and you missed! Butterfingers!"

But what elevates this trial into one of the series' classic moments is when Lampkin calls Lee to the stand to testify. Lampkin senses an honest and urgent message in Lee that accounts for his taking part in all this. Adama also wants to hear him out, no doubt to understand why Lee has subjected himself to this alienation. This leads to reluctant testimony by Lee about why he thinks Baltar is being railroaded on trumped-up treason charges by an angry system. Lee's testimony builds and builds, into a brilliant five-minute speech that does nothing less than challenge every assumption about the fleet, the legal system, and its motives for putting Baltar on trial. Lee cites a laundry list of things that have happened since the Cylon attack — the dozens of individual actions that have been forgiven. No one has stood trial, because the circumstances have forced rules to be broken and laws to be ignored. The reason: "We're not a civilization anymore. We are a gang."

This speech is so well-written, so well-argued, that I myself was completely convinced. How do you find Baltar guilty purely on the facts? The facts simply don't support the charges. What we have here is society's motives spelled out in explicit dialog and argued with a startling passion: The fleet wants to flush Baltar away because he has become a symbol of everyone's shame over what happened on New Caprica — for those who were forced to stay and commit war atrocities, and also those who were forced to run away. The idea of essentially putting the actions from New Caprica on trial makes for a wonderful bookend for the season.

Baltar's trial is not about justice, it's about emotion. With this speech, Lee's motives become more clear than I had ever expected, and they shine a light onto a number of truths about a society trying to survive after being destroyed. Can the legal system as it was on the Colonies even be workable within a fleet that faces so much desperation?

When the judges come back with the verdict, there's a palpable tension, resulting in a scene that generated more suspense than I'd anticipated. The ruling is 3-2 for acquittal, and the courtroom explodes in anger. I love the fact that there are so many who don't want to accept the verdict, even in light of Lee's testimony. Watch Roslin's reaction; she's furious. Her bitterness over the verdict is almost unsettling. When she prods Adama about his vote — which, as it turns out, was for acquittal — he has a response that will not satisfy any who wanted Baltar to answer for New Caprica, but nonetheless expresses a simple necessity: "We have to look to the future." I agree with him. If humanity is to find Earth and survive the Cylons, they need to focus on the present and the future and not the mistakes of the past. You can't flush humanity's shame away by holding one man accountable.

Still, though, we may want to flush Baltar away for pure personal satisfaction. In private with his legal team, his reaction to victory displays a hubris that is beyond belief. I mean, this guy doesn't know when to shut up. You'd think the trial would've humbled this man, but acquittal apparently had the effect of, in his mind, confirming him as the victim he always saw himself as. Baltar's comeuppance comes in his realization that he has nowhere to go, and that half the fleet wants him dead. He's not safe. Coming to his rescue are his cult of mysterious worshippers, who whisk him away and to a promised new life. What will he do once he goes underground? Will he cause political trouble that will make everyone wish they'd put him out an airlock after all? One wonders.

And then there's Lampkin. The guy is a professional manipulator and yet we forgive him far more easily than we forgive Baltar, because we respect his command of human nature while we shake our head at the utter tone-deafness of Baltar's ability to read a room. Lampkin's last conversation with Lee and his exit from the story has just the right note and confirms him as one of this series' best guest stars. Even his cane is a façade, no doubt to engender sympathy. I wondered in my "The Son Also Rises" review whether this guy was a cynic or an optimist. I'm still not sure, but he certainly is capable of seeing through an optimistic prism; he put Lee on the stand because he knew he was an honest man.

While all this with the trial is happening, we also have in the background that mysterious song in the heads of specific characters — as it continues to get louder and clearer. In addition to Tigh, Anders, and Tory, you can also add to that list Tyrol, who goes wandering the corridors at night and hears the song in the patterns of the ship's white noise. The sharing of the ominous mystery music is apparently also connected in some way to a sexual relationship that emerges between Anders and Tory, who realize that they both hear the music only after they've apparently hooked up. At one point, Tyrol and Anders have a conversation about the music. They can hear it, but they can't hear it. It's more like something in their subconscious that has been lying dormant since childhood. This is a bizarre chain of events that hints at the inevitable solution even as it hides it in plain view. Tigh goes to Adama and tells him that he's convinced the music is some sort of Cylon sabotage, which is a wonderful irony given the outcome.

And what about Roslin's mysterious sixth sense throughout all this? She shares a simultaneous vision with Sharon and Caprica Six involving the need to protect Hera at the Opera House. And when the fleet finally makes the jump into the Ionian Nebula (the next landmark on the path to Earth), there's a fleet-wide power outage, which Roslin can feel even before it happens. A Cylon fleet jumps into the nebula at just this time. What does this mean? Is Roslin connected to Hera, the nebula, the power outage, the Cylons, or all of the above? Is it all part of the foretold story involving bizarre twists of fate and special destinies?

The episode has its share of strange, strong images, including Six's visions of the Opera House with Baltar and Hera and the Final Five Cylons as glowing figures of white light with unknown identities. The story marches slowly but implacably to its revelation that Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and Tory are, in fact, four of the Final Five Cylons. The idea is that a switch is flipped, and these four realize that they're Cylons, but they still retain their personalities, beliefs, and motives.

To that end, the visualization of this process is a tour de force. Tyrol watches the action on the deck, and everything snaps from slow-motion to full-speed, as if he has awakened from a sleepwalking dream state. The four characters are drawn into a single room where they hum the same tune and realize, to their horror, what they are. Bear McCreary's music is appropriately revelatory. The music turns out, in fact, to be a revamped cover of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower," which is so odd and threatening of breaking the fourth wall (the lyrics are even incorporated into the dialog) that it's as perplexing as it is effective.

So what does it mean that these four characters are Cylons? There are cosmic questions of purpose as well as plot points to consider. It's already been made clear that the Final Five are somehow different Cylons than the other seven. What are their roles in this story? What are their destinies? Is it a coincidence that the switch went off just as they reached this nebula? And what does it mean that they all have free will and apparently no Cylon agenda that they're aware of? And what about the fact that they've all gone through hell and back as loyal humans ... for this? And that Tigh has been in the service for 40 years, which would clearly predate what we thought was the advent of human-mimicking Cylons? And that Tyrol and Cally have a child that we now realize must be another hybrid? And how about the fact that the most trusted right hands of both the head of the military and the head of the government are both Cylons? What will these characters do? How will they cope? Will they be exposed? Will they band together or turn on one other? Are they Cylons with an opposite agenda to the other seven? Do they have copies, or are they unique? If they're unique, what are the chances they would all have survived to this point? Or was that part of the original Cylon plan? Who's making that plan, anyway? Do we believe that plan? For that matter, do we still assume that the Cylons evolved from the machines created by man? Perhaps they're an alternate human race, or something else. Or were created from scratch by someone else. (I don't believe the Cylons have a plan as much as this series' gods have a plan which manipulates all the pieces, Cylon and otherwise. Perhaps the Final Five are unwitting servants of that God?)

And what about Starbuck? Lee jumps into a Viper to join the fight and finds himself in a secluded cloud chasing a bogey that turns out to be Kara, who claims to have been to Earth and knows how to get there. And you thought four characters turning out to be Cylons was mind-blowing. When you think about where Kara's been and what she found there and how she could've come back from the dead, your head might explode. Okay, maybe not.

I could go on forever, but I already have. This is a season finale with endless questions. I don't see a problem with that, because they're questions that are at the heart of this series' larger, more admittedly metaphysical and fantastical concepts. The end of "Crossroads, Part 2" requires a viewer's faith in the narrative and a willingness to believe in spectacular coincidences that can only be explained in terms of destiny or God, or a willingness to accept that stories are built of constructs that seek to amaze more than they seek to be plausible in the real world. This is a universe where the spectacular is possible and the will of man may be an illusion.

In other words, Battlestar Galactica has confirmed its mission as a type of science fiction that embraces elements of fantasy and religion that play out in ways only possible in a purely fictional, elevated universe. Those who embraced the gritty realism that existed earlier in BSG may henceforth be getting something they may not have originally bargained for. This series is destined to be every bit about its own mysterious and cryptic legends as it is about human characters in a post-apocalyptic world. The last shot is of Earth, and that's where this series is headed. If you step back and look at "Crossroads," it is really a story about hope.

Previous episode: Crossroads, Part 1
Next episode: Razor

Season Index

42 comments on this review

Funkyatom - Fri, Sep 28, 2007 - 6:28pm (USA Central)
One of the trippiest and most extraordinary pieces of television I have ever seen. I thought the review was spot-on. Though this episode doesn't simply break down the fourth wall, it questions whether it was ever really even there in the first place.

This is not a series that allows us to choose our allegiances blindly; and where we previously had certainty we now have a punch in the guts to every presumed notion of good and evil that previous episodes had invited into. It is a testament to the complexity of the writing that a bastard like Baltar can be found innocent and yet it makes complete sense - to the point that we may find ourselves actually agreeing with the verdict. This show (like life itself) really has little time for absolutes or certainty: it celebrates the worth of humanity, for sure. But not as an inevitability, more as a battle worth fighting.

This has always been a gutsy series. But with this episode I found it take the leap to be a quite extraordinary one.
Brendan - Fri, Nov 2, 2007 - 12:34am (USA Central)
Its a cruel world when the most spectacular cliff hanger in TV history is met with a 12 month hiatus.
Brian - Thu, Nov 8, 2007 - 12:31am (USA Central)
And add to that the current plan to air season 4.5 in january 2009. Why must they screw us over?

Crossroads is an exceptional finale to an overall outstanding season.
Jammer - Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - 1:20pm (USA Central)
With the writers strike all bets are off, but before that the notion of holding season 4.5 until 2009 is just plain annoying. I say air the damn show!

Of course, there's plenty of precedent for such a move. FX did a very similar thing with "The Shield." It held "season 5.5" for months and then finally aired it the following year as "season 6."

And, of course, there's "The Sopranos" -- although in that case I'd argue that season 6 (parts 1 and 2) was basically two seasons from the start.
Ryan - Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - 7:48pm (USA Central)
Because the writers' strike will delay production (Razor - Episode 11 have been shot), there would be a gap of some size between that episode and the next anyway. However, because they've scheduled the season's second half to be aired in 2009 as opposed to 'whenever,' they can plan the financial aspects of it out better. Standing sets doing nothing at the studio still cost the studio money. The longer the strike goes, the more of a chance there is SciFi will cut their losses and just cancel BSG.

Yes, people. That is a very real possibility. But if SciFi thinks they can get 2 ten episode seasons out of it, they might be a bit more inclined not to cancel. The decision to push the show's premiere back to April 08 was a forward-thinking decision made in anticipation of the srike. Even if it goes long, they know they can schedule a "fifth" season for 2009 and recuperate some losses.

Jammer - Thu, Nov 29, 2007 - 11:31pm (USA Central)
I fail to see why there needs to be 8-12 months between seasons as it is. Even if they decided to change tacks (writers strike or not) and air a "fifth" season, why couldn't they air it in September or October? Why "2009"? Which for all we know could be April 2009.

Perhaps SciFi simply got burned trying to air season 3 in October against the big-time networks.

I frankly don't even understand the production schedule. If "24" can film 24 episodes in 10 or 12 months, why is BSG so hard-pressed to film 22 episodes in what must be, I dunno, 16 months?

Yes, with the writers strike there's another variable, but it just seems the production schedule is really drawn out.

Not that it matters. I'm just saying. After all, the downtime gives me time to try to fit in another season or four of TNG. ;)

Now I've just opened myself up to questions of why I can't get MY ass in gear...
Ryan - Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - 12:57pm (USA Central)
No one's saying their move made sense. SciFi has repeatedly shown they know shit all about how to handle a successful, running show. They're used to shuffling around Stargate re-runs and shitty TV movies along with wrestling in the desperate hopes of not losing money. The execs in charge now have been petitioning for years just to change it into the "Action" channel; they know shit all.

However, their decision to put off the show a few extra months was a smart move, as it means less time between 4x10 and 4x11, and less of a chance of the show being cancelled. I'd wait two more years before I'd wish this show cut short.
Alan Dionne - Fri, Dec 7, 2007 - 10:24pm (USA Central)
Jammer asks a lot of questions in that last-but-fourth paragraph. My answer: who gives a you-know-what?

Sorry to rain on everyone's parade. I hated this episode. I've been watching this show for three years and this is my reward? Starbuck, Tigh, Tory, Anders, and the Chief -- all toasters with a Bob Dylan virus in their brains? (Farewell, fourth wall. Nice to have known you.) A cosmic zoom-out? Man, I nearly blew chunks. Plus I was going to have to wait nine months (extended to twelve) for the writers to untangle this felgercarb. (Now there's a fine old word you don't hear much anymore.)

Right then I decided to flush BSG down the memory hole. No more repeats, no DVDs, no Season 4. Perhaps I was overreacting. So I caught some repeats (and Razor). Still not buying the whole Lee-as-lawyer thing. Junk his military career over a self-obsessed piece of work like Baltar? Gag me.

No, I'm done here. If you want to tell me a story, I'll snuggle up to the glass teat as fast as the next guy. You want to jerk my chain, sell it to someone else. Too bad; it was a great show.
Robert Murphy - Wed, Feb 6, 2008 - 2:32am (USA Central)
It's too bad you feel that way Alan. The inclusion of the song has very deep meaning. I have no idea how long ago they planned on using the song but Dylan's lyrics are quite obviously taken from this portion of the bible -the Book of Isaiah, Chapter 21, verses 5-9:

"Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise ye princes, and prepare the shield./For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth./And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he hearkened diligently with such heed./...And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground."

The song is taken from the very same passage that the BSG storyline is lifted from. I had chills go down my spine as I watched this last episode evolve and blossom answers of its foundation. The fourth wall isn't really being broken by the song... it is only beautifully hinting a reference to the bible. In a sense, the biblical background is what is breaking the fourth wall -but it provides essential answers at the same time. Very stylish!

Dylan's lyrics:
"There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
"There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the thief, he kindly spoke,
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

-------------------------

The two riders at the end appear to be Starbuck and Apollo. The several different chariots with them (in the bible reference) is the fleet. This song, by the way is written and structured like a Moebius Strip. The song starts out in the middle of a story. The end of the song should be at the beginning. "All along the watchtower, princes kept their view" would be the normal way to begin a lyric. Anyway, my point is a Moebius Strip is never ending, it is a cycle that continues repeating itself. This of course is a central theme in Galactica. The characters say "all of this has happened and will happen again." Now you see why I had chills go down my spine? With the inclusion of this song and its Mobius nature, this episode provided a tremendously relevant ending for the season that just totally blew me away.




Manu - Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - 12:57am (USA Central)
I just had an... interesting thought.

We know four of the Final Five. Who is the fifth one? Now this is merely a passing thought, but what if it was Roslin?

It was her and two other Cylons that shared the vision. Not her and another human. Also, Cylons have been known to have hallucination's/prophetic vision's before. Not to mention the entire process of the Cylon brain, which is electronic, and could potentially connect to another brain such as connecting one computer to another.

I just had this passing thought, and thought I'd post it.
sumedh - Tue, Feb 12, 2008 - 1:25am (USA Central)
Better yet, what if the 5th Cylon was a random, unimportant person in the story? Say, one of the guards who was guarding the Six on Galactica?

Now THAT would be an unexpected plot twist.
Jim - Mon, Mar 31, 2008 - 1:48am (USA Central)
Didn't Cavil help Tyrol conclude that he wasn't a Cylon.
James - Wed, Apr 2, 2008 - 9:47am (USA Central)
Cavil of course had no reason to suspect Tyrol was a cylon
Chris - Thu, Apr 3, 2008 - 9:47pm (USA Central)
Or he may have lied. It's the concept of the "Unreliable Narrator".
Alex - Fri, Apr 4, 2008 - 4:16pm (USA Central)
Have to say, I'm more anxious about this coming season (starting in 5 hours)and its direction than in previous seasons.

I hope they don't use the Tigh,Chief,Anders were all sleeper agents approach for explaining them being Cylons. I mean, these three WERE the resistance leaders at the beginning of season 3.

But so far BSG has failed to disappoint. So I'm hoping this season will continue to be great and all the chaos at the end of the third season will make some sense.

As said by Jammer before, "Nothing ruins a good story like a lousy ending." I've got faith the BSG staff will produce for this season, because if it turned out to be a flop, that would be a great travesty for one of the greatest sci-fi series ever.
Jammer - Fri, Apr 4, 2008 - 5:39pm (USA Central)
I predict that Tigh et al, as part of the Final Five, are fundamentally different than the other Cylons, and not sleeper agents like, say, Boomer.

I suspect, and this is pure conjecture, that there's going to be some sort of major struggle within the Cylons and the Final Five will play heavily into that, either directly or by being revealed. But who knows; we'll see.
Jim - Fri, Apr 4, 2008 - 6:10pm (USA Central)
I assume that the Final Five are superior to the the first cylons. Those seven were nearly immortal by way of Resurrection. What advantage do the Final Five have?

I was surprised by Moore's commentary that they picked the Five almost randomly. He said that the writers have developed backstories, but how can such a storyline be so arbitrary?
Brian - Fri, Apr 11, 2008 - 11:17pm (USA Central)
I'm really anxious to see who the final cylon is.

There are only a few people that I think could be satisfying now that Tigh isn't an option, and they'd all need to be built up more over the next season.

Tom Zarek
Laura Roslin (I'm ok with this as long as it doesn't conflict with any of her Prophet stuff, and it needs to built up a little more)

People who CAN NOT be the final cylon in my book
Admiral Adama
Baltar

I would add Dualla to the ok list, because I like the tie in to "Adama is a Cylon" because she's an Adama, but I really don't think that A. she'd have enough of an impact and B. that she'd make a good final cylon.

GO ZAREK!
Occuprice - Thu, Jul 10, 2008 - 10:37am (USA Central)
I've just been watching the final minutes of the episode on loop, and I've got to say that there is no finer ending to an season, or any episode, of any show (that I've seen, and I've seen plenty).

Nuthin like a battlestar finale.

I know some people think the end of Revelations was mind blowing, and it was.

But it simply can't beat: "I've been to Earth. I know where it is. And I'm gonna take us" *zoom out to Earth w/ All Along the Watchtower*

The ending is, in fact, too good. I oftentimes skip the rest of this amazing episode just to watch the ending.

This is to me what "Mr Worf, Fire" must have been for you, Jammer.
Bill T - Fri, Aug 29, 2008 - 12:47am (USA Central)
I'm with Alan. The whole show is turning into garbage, or at least a shell of its former self. I'd like to know what writers left between seasons 2 and 3 (probably before the giant stinkbomb webisodes) because they must have been the ones truly making this show great. I've just watched seasons 1, 2 & 3 all for the first time, in only a period of weeks, so they are all fresh in my mind, and the distinctions are glaringly obvious. Seasons 1 and 2 were almost homogenously amazing. Since season 2 it's been aimless, and now finally, ridiculous. Season 3 was like someone taking the beautiful tapestry of BSG and throwing paint all over it like Kara and her mural. Now there's some sad poetry.

Anyway, since this meltdown of a great show is what we are forced to analyze...

- Roslin isn't the final cylon. Cylon hybrid blood cured her cancer.
- The Adamas are father and son. If one is a cylon, it would stand that the other is as well (unless switched at birth), and there's only one final cylon. And if one of them is somehow a cylon, it destroys the father/son dynamic.
- There's no way that Priest Cylon could have known that Tyrol was a cylon. None of the seven knew who the final five were. So he didn't even have to be lying, it is ironic though.
- Don't forget that Starbuck is the "Herald of the Apocalypse." How'd she survive a massive explosion? And get to Earth and back in a lone viper without any support? She's my #1 choice for final cylon, although it's still a stab in the dark.

Oh, and thanks Season 3 Writers, for making me come to hate almost everyone on this entire "frakking" show now, other than possibly Lee. Like Alan said, who gives a you-know-what? Except I'd apply that sentiment to the survival of these characters we see on the screen every episode. How can I invest emotionally in the survival of people who trample all over their own humanity, throw each other out of airlocks, ignore the law, justice and anything else it means to be an evolved human being? Oh, and Admiral Adama calling his son a liar with no integrity, now I hate him too.

You know... I think I'll start rooting for the cylons.
Occuprice - Thu, Jan 1, 2009 - 6:43pm (USA Central)
There weren't any writers that left BSG for season three who were actually part of the writing team (and not, say, a one-episode guest writer). The only writing change was the introduction of Jane Espensen.
Alexey Bogatiryov - Sun, Mar 1, 2009 - 11:26pm (USA Central)
Been watching Season 3 again and comparing it to Season 4 and I hearing "All Along the Watchtower" still gets my spine tingling. I must say that BSG is what Voyager should have been. The premise for a dark, gritty survival show was there - they (Voyager writers) just decided to ignore it in favor of single episodes. The situation of no escape and no solutions is so powerful here - and the song conveys it perfectly.

However, after having seen the 4th season - I must say that this episode - as cool and exciting as it was, ultimately jumped the shark. All major plotlines after this became wrapped in mythology and honestly, I stopped caring about individual characters as much simply because the world they inhabit stopped being plausible.
NoPoet - Fri, Apr 2, 2010 - 8:42am (USA Central)
Glad I'm not the only one who thought this episode revealed Starbuck to be the fifth Cylon.

What does it say about the show if five of the primary cast are Cylons? Is this show actually about humanity at all? Have we been watching the trials and tribulations of a group of toasters with a few humans thrown in?

I found this episode to be confusing. Much of the time I had to use subtitles to understand what Balthar's lawyer was saying. I was very confused as to Lampkin's role in all this; is he a Cylon? Where did such a forceful, intelligent man come from? Did he tell the truth to anyone at any point? Why does Lee find it funny that this man is a kleptomaniac who walks around with a fake cane, and how come nobody seems to know Lampkin to ask why he suddenly developed a limp?

While I'm bitching, why do people worship Balthar? There are a few things about the civilians in BSG that bug me, but that seems to be crossing the line into insanity. How many people worship the Krays or Hitler or Saddam Hussein? I'm not comparing Balthar to any of those, I'm just making a point about how weird this show is getting.

On the other hand Lee's testimony was an absolute triumph, brilliantly written and perfectly delivered. As Jammer says, how could Balthar have been found guilty after that? The fact that he nearly WAS is consistent with the bitterness, anger and shame experienced by the fleet and I found it realistic that the final verdict came so close. It was much more plausible that people would try to attack Balthar than smuggle him away in a robe; methinks the whiny, self-obssessed civilians are breathing in too many fumes.

I'm keen to start watching season 4, I love BSG and find it mesmerising, but there are flaws. The battle between the democratically minded civilians and those who are trying to keep humanity alive gets annoying, it is a bit American-centric for my taste (although that's obviously a given since the show is intended for an American audience and I am English), but love it or hate it, I cannot deny that BSG is light years ahead of any sci-fi show I've ever seen. Star Trek and Stargate SG-1 simply pale beside Galactica.
Max Udargo - Sun, Jun 27, 2010 - 10:09pm (USA Central)
Although my mind was indeed blown more than once by this hippie episode, I'm having a hard time seeing the inclusion of a Bob Dylan song as anything but a desperate attempt to inject weirdness into the episode by any means possible. When I heard Tigh mumbling "said the joker to the thief..." I can't tell you how weird the slow dawning realization felt, but are they going to make any effort to explain the inclusion of 60s lyrics in Cylon sleeper activation signals?

In other words -- yes, I'll ask the question everyone else was afraid to ask -- is Bob Dylan the final Cylon?

I think it's an obvious conclusion to draw, but I suck at the future.
Brendan - Sat, Jul 31, 2010 - 1:55pm (USA Central)
It's funny even though I've seen the episode... repeatedly in fact, I just re-watched for the first time in a couple years, and man... I still get chills. It's still mind blowing. It still makes my head spin and my heart race... I keep changing my mind on the best episode of BSG, but right now I think I'd put this one on top again. Because regardless of how all of these was resolved (some good, some not as good), on it's own merits there was never any TV viewing experience like it for me, and I doubt there ever will be.
AeC - Sat, May 21, 2011 - 1:00pm (USA Central)
Ahh, so after hearing various rumblings when the show's final season originally aired about, "Is X the final Cylon?" I finally see the context. I have no specific predictions; I will say that while Starbuck was the name I heard the most, she seems way too obvious. I was wondering about Lampkin, given that he's a prominent and memorable new character whose interest in Baltar felt deeper than his stated goal of renown. Plus, given on his Firefly role (not as prominent as Lawless Stockwell, but with sufficient geek cred, plus I've gathered that Moore and Whedon have some mutual respect), he might have been candidate for a bit of stunt casting (of course, I was having these thoughts before the four principles were revealed; I might have expected the last one to have a bit more ooomph then someone who's just been on for three episodes and, apparently, is now walking off into the mist). With one season left to go, I suppose I shall see.
Ilya - Sat, Jun 25, 2011 - 2:09am (USA Central)
Now here’s an idea:
What if Hallucination is the final Cylon?
Baltar is hallucinating Caprica, Caprica is hallucinating Baltar. The effect is the same, but Baltar is, probably, not a Cylon. The Hallucination is caused by an external force affecting both of them.
The hallucinations have the same personality – insightful, enigmatic, seductive, arrogant. H. Caprica is not really pro-Cylon, as H. Baltar is not pro-human. Instead, they kept both sides on the road to Earth. Baltar’s little nuclear beacon on New Caprica, for example, took a season and a half to set up; and, on a smaller scale, a successful attack on a Cylon refinery prevented humans from getting a “game over” early on.
What is both Hallucinations is the same person/force? And what does H. Caprica has to hay for her-self? That she is an Angel, and agent of God.
The last Cylon has been right in front of us from the very beginning, screaming his nature at the viewers! And we just ignored her. Not a single comment on this page mentioned her.

Well, we’ll just have to see. I was wrong before – I was sure Cane was a Cylon, and she turned out to be just a lucky crazy bitch.
Nick P. - Mon, Jul 18, 2011 - 12:34pm (USA Central)
GOD I love BSG. 4 stars!

I read the complaints, and I think there is elements of sympathy with them, but for some reason I never liked season 2. I feel BSG is going a tad overboard with the mythologyzing, but on the other hand, if BSG had maintained the super-realism of the 1st year, Adama should have died by Sharon gunshot, and the fleet would have been destroyed in their 1st altercation with the Cylons on a large scale. Since they were not destroyed, I assumed there was more going on with the crew, thus I am OK with what is happening.

Plus, I think the cylons have as much as stated they are no longer openly for the destruction of humanity. I think season 2 has some boring realism episodes, season 3 had a quite a few that seemed pretty aimless, but man the last 4-5 have been awesome. And although this one didn't hit me as hard as "Mr. Worf, fire" (I did see that 1st run btw), I put it as equal to Sharons shot from season 1. That being said, I am watching all these episodes here in 2011, had I watched that originally, and faced a year of waiting for the next season, that would be different.

No, I do not dislike what is going on here, and "so far" this show is lightyears ahead of other science fiction, and I hope the final season does not disappoint.
Weiss - Mon, Sep 19, 2011 - 10:45am (USA Central)
alexei, I don't think BSG comes fron the vein of Voyager. yes, Voyager was crap, but I think that was more in line with the Lost in Space/Farscape line of being thrown to another galaxy and having adventrues (Farscape excellently became what Voyager should have been). maybe even Lost falls into this thread. I would call it Alice in Wonderland scifi.

I think BSG is more in line with the Babylon 5, maybe even Deep Space Nine type scifi. A constant analysis of the human condition as it relates to a military life, an endless war, and the eventual reevalution (or reaffirming) of princples to change the society/galaxy around them. (if Earth 2 had got past season 1, it would have fallen into this category).
pegboy - Tue, Sep 27, 2011 - 1:14am (USA Central)
Another ridiculously bold move reveling the final 5 Cylons, particularly Tigh. Sure, it makes no sense and opens up numerous plotholes but you can't say this show never took any risks. It's straddling a fine line between being genius and jumping the shark. The cosmic zoomout is one of the best scenes in the entire series.
Nic - Mon, Oct 3, 2011 - 9:38pm (USA Central)
I'm REALLY glad I didn't discover this series until after it aired. I can't imagine waiting 12 months (or even 3 months) before seeing the resolution to this mind-blowing mess.

It's hard to rationalize. I usually hate any kind of "magical" or semi-religious occurrence in science fiction (and the entire fantasy genre for the same reason). I need things to make sense, otherwise I can't get involved in the story. But for some reason, this episode made no sense and I still love it.

Maybe I will be disappointed with some of the answers to my questions. But for now I'm completely enthralled and satisfied. After an uneven third season, I have VERY high hopes for What Is To Come!
Matrix - Wed, Oct 26, 2011 - 6:52am (USA Central)
so,
what caused the fleet to lose power in the nebula?
Michael - Sat, Nov 26, 2011 - 4:18pm (USA Central)
Lee's testimony was full of holes, both legal and logical. Yes, there are many cowards, bigger than Baltar. Yes, many people were let off the hook time and again, many for serious offenses. THey are not on trial though, and none of it mitigates the fact that what Baltar did WAS indeed treason, even bit as much as what Petain did in Vichy France.

He says the trial is based on emotion, on the guilt felt by those who ran away. But very few "ran away." The bulk of the population was down on New Caprica, so that's another bunk argument.

One thing that resonated with me (I'm a lawyer, BTW) was his statement that "we make our own laws now." They, per him, are no longer a civilization a gang on the run, almost lawless. That is interesting from a "ius post bello" perspective, but such an attitude opens up a massive can of worms, because, if old laws are abrogated, then EVERY aspect of the fleet society taht is based on "previous" laws is null and void. Roslin has no legal mandate, nor does the court or legal procedure.

At any rate, Adama is right: "Defense made its case; prosecution didn't," and the charge was genocide. So, on those terms, Baltar deserved to be acquitted.

* * *

Now, as far as the conclusion. An incredible twist and one for which B.S.G. is nonpareil. But the manner of revelation, the song, and then especially Starbuck's "resurrection" and closing shots give me--like several others here--a very uneasy feeling, one of almost resignation. I wholly concur with Nic: I need things that make sense. The mythology (thanks, Alexey, THAT's the word that's been eluding me all this time) really spoils it for me, all the more so because each and every other facet of the show is so remarkable.

For that reason Season 4 is going to be a make-or-break for me. Are they going to explore humanity and our conflict with the cylons, or is it going to descend into mythological hokery-pokery?

Either way, I am dying to see where all this goes and hope it doesn't let me down!
Kyle4 - Mon, Jan 30, 2012 - 2:46am (USA Central)
I thoroughly enjoyed the Law & Order parts of this episode, especially Lee's speech which managed to convince me that Gaius deserved to be found not-guilty. However, I absolutely hated the ending and it culminated in me saying "jumped the shark" aloud. I bought the Blu-ray set for season four before finishing three so I'll be sticking with it, but it was bad for several reasons.

The characters singing "Along the Watchtower" and the actual song playing over the zoom out of the cosmos was cringeworthy and didn't fit in within the context of the show.

Similarly to Lost, it seems the writers wrote themselves into a hole (or got crushed by their own mythology) and just started throwing anything at the wall and making it up as they went along. Hence, Tyrol and Chief being one the final five cylons which doesn't make sense. I expected Kara to come back somehow but the reveal of who all of them are, people we are familiar with instead of new entities reeks of throwing in shock value.

I absolutely despised what Lost became and am getting the same vibe from the final season of this series. Hopefully it turns out better but that finale didn't provide much hope.

Ryan - Sun, Mar 11, 2012 - 4:59am (USA Central)
Where do I even start with this episode? I guess I'll start by saying that it was terrible. The courtroom bits were nice, everything else was just plain awful. None of it made any sense at all, but that's par for the course by this point.

Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, and whatever-her-name-is all spontaneously decide that, because they heard some strange music, they must be Cylons? Makes no sense.

The mysterious music turns out to be All Along the Watchtower? Stupid and makes no sense.

The fleet arrives at the nebula and, yet again, A HUGE CYLON FLEET APPROACHES! Seriously, why. Just, why. If you have all these god damn ships and are all immortal, why are you so supremely impotent?! Stop dicking around and do something, for chrissake instead of just jumping in and demonstrating your pointlessness every three-four episodes. Makes no sense.

@Robert Murphy: Yeah, okay, the song is based on some passage from the bible, sure. That doesn't make it SO DEEP. The truth is that Bob Dylan, probably much like the dude who wrote that passage in the bible as well as the dummies who wrote this episode, was most likely high off his ass on LCD when he wrote that song.

As Jim said, the writers "picked the five almost at random." And as Jammer said in his review, "This is a series that makes up the rules as it goes." Those two sentences pretty sum up this entire show, in my opinion. That is to say, nothing makes any sense, but, no, wait, it's okay because WE DID IT THAT WAY ON PURPOSE!

Frankly, this started to become evident in late season one/early season 2. But at that point it was forgivable because all the characters were so great. At this point, however, nearly every character seems to be on a mission to completely destroy any likeable aspect of themselves and to generally become terrible people. The honorable become dishonorable, the fair become vindictive, the reasonable become obtuse.

And, worst of all, it's all up in the air from one episode to the next. Will Adama be even-handed today or will he be a total douchebag and threaten to kill some random crew member? Will Roslin stand up for truth and justice today or did she wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide to tell those whiny refinery workers to just get back to work and lose the OTHER arm?

How in the hell anyone could see this episode as four stars is beyond me. Maybe it's because I've been watching these episodes back to back within only a few weeks; when there's a mandatory week in between each episode, maybe the bullshit and the plot holes have a chance to be left behind and, thus, you only remember the good bits.

Oh, and in what is, even for this show, a spectacularly ballsy asspull, Starbuck is back and is going to lead us to Earth! Oh, joy! This makes so much sense! Undoubtedly there will be some cockamamie explanation offered up as to where she's been and how she's alive and how she found Earth but it, along with so many other aspects of this show, begs the question; why? Why is it necessary to chain so many asspulls together one after the other? You couldn't come up with something that made just a little bit of sense instead of "Earth is far away and hard to find, so Starbuck will magically find it and show them the way?"

On its own merits, this episode is mediocre but has its moments. But as a season finale? Just awful. Sure, it asks a lot of questions. Problem is, I find myself not really giving a rat's ass about most of the answers.
Ryan - Sun, Mar 11, 2012 - 5:07am (USA Central)
"@Robert Murphy: Yeah, okay, the song is based on some passage from the bible, sure. That doesn't make it SO DEEP. The truth is that Bob Dylan, probably much like the dude who wrote that passage in the bible as well as the dummies who wrote this episode, was most likely high off his ass on LCD when he wrote that song."

LCD, ha. I meant LSD, of course. Also, LSD was obviously not around when the bible was written, but you know what I mean.
Keiren - Mon, May 7, 2012 - 3:10pm (USA Central)
Just guessing here...but isnt Starbuck the final cyclon because she is resurrected at the end of this episode??
Elliott - Fri, Jul 6, 2012 - 5:10pm (USA Central)
Much like in reading the posts to "Darmok," I am astounded by the lack of imagination, the lack of courage and the smallness of vision perpetrated by many of the commentators on here. No aspect of this episode or this or next season is "new." Mythology, angels, resurrection and prophecy have been there from the miniseries along with the big human questions, the gritty war setting and the personal conflicts. Of all those things, mythology is the largest, most encompassing element--it dwarfs even genocide and war in its scope. The end of the series had no viable dramatic choice but to subsume the other elements into the the mythical, because that is how the world works. I suppose you all had similar reactions to "Return of the Jedi"--look what happens there; the big space battles and war effort are pushed rightfully into the background--out Palpatine's window--for the more encompassing mythological element of the Force and the redemption of Vader. It is a classical move in epic storytelling harkening all the way back to "Gilgamesh."

4 stars absolutely.
JR - Thu, Jul 12, 2012 - 8:36pm (USA Central)
@Elliot - Well said! I completely agree. ("Darmok" is one of my favorite TNG episodes by the way - go figure.)

I find sci-fi that is devoid of mythology to be unrealistic and shallow. I enjoyed TNG for the characters and the stories, but even so I dislike its two-dimensional portrayal of humanity. It works very well as simple entertainment, but it is not satisfying on a deeper level because it oversimplifies reality. The mysterious cannot always be easily explained away by technology or alien entities. BSG leaves room for the mysterious, which jives well with the reality I know - one that is fraught with unanswerable questions.

I appreciate BSG's attempt to develop a mythology, but since it is a TV show that is, much like LOST, driven by questions (e.g., what is the Island? who are the Final Five?), we as an audience expect some answers that make sense. This is much like reading a mystery novel - by the end, you want some satisfying answers or the story fails. So while I don't have any problem with BSG developing its mythology and leaving some questions unanswered, the real debate is whether the answers we do receive are satisfying.
Caleb - Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - 12:46am (USA Central)
"was most likely high off his ass on LCD when he wrote that song"

Maybe, but that really has nothing to do with whether it's meaningful or not.
Cureboy - Tue, Jan 7, 2014 - 11:49pm (USA Central)
Ok my mind is officially blown. Just finished this one and...wow.

I had theories for just about everybody. Tory I didn't see coming. I am still not sure how the original colonists, thousands of years ago, would know there would be five artificial life forms that would be separated from the rest. I don't expect an answer to that, but still.

Lee made a pretty good point in his testimony. I still don't care for him. But the Butterfingers line was just classic.

I'm glad I don't have to wait a year to find out what happens next. Get to start the final season tomorrow
SPR - Mon, Jan 27, 2014 - 12:48pm (USA Central)
I've now rewatched this episode 3 times, and I think it's my second favorite in the series behind only "Pegasus."

The cliffhanger is just out of this world. It's the ultimate WTF and I think it works great. I never thought I'd say this, but I think it puts TNG's "Best of Both Worlds" to shame.

My only worry is that the 4th season can't live up to the impossibly raised standards that "Crossroads" has set for it, and it's going to be difficult for the writers to logically explain anything that happened in the last 10 minutes.

But overall, just completely mind blowing.

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