Monday, March 12, 2007

BSG Mondays, season 3, episode 55: "The Son Also Rises"

Pervasive grief permeates every frame of Battlestar Galactica’s latest, “The Son Also Rises.” In the wake of the death of Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff, glimpsed only in the previously ons and still photographs), characters’ relationships frayed, the major members of the cast all mourned in their own ways, and preparations continued apace for the trial of Baltar (James Callis). “Son” was a good example of Battlestar blending what it does well (examining the human costs of prolonged war) while advancing the plot forward by tiny increments (in preparation for a season finale reported to change everything -- as these things tend to do -- by those who’ve seen it). It also introduced a mesmerizing new character, attorney Romo Lampkin, played by Mark A. Sheppard. Lampkin was something of a sleazy lawyer stereotype (down to the dark glasses obscuring his eyes), but Sheppard made his ability to play everyone in the fleet and turn Apollo (Jamie Bamber) against his father, Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) -- thanks to the two grieving in different manners -- fascinating to watch (right down to the petty thievery).

The episode proper, written by Michael Angeli and directed by Robert Young, mostly dealt with the build-up to Baltar’s trial, a storyline introduced early in the second half of Galactica’s third season and then mostly played in the background. It would turn up in a few scenes in each episode, and nothing would really happen to advance the storyline, leaving fans frustrated. Baltar also found the time to write a book and become a folk hero (the former was inspired; the latter dubious) while the preparations continued. Finally, though, the trial seems imminent, as a five-member tribunal is being chosen to judge the ultimate fate of Baltar -- and it appears Adama will sit on it. The opening sequence gracefully cut between Adama weeping for Starbuck (and going through his files on her) and the selection of the judges for the tribunal. Adama was involved in both, and the editing (and the score, which quoted several of the themes linked with Starbuck) linked the life-and-death situations in both storylines -- Starbuck’s untimely end tied to what seems to be (right now) a likely death sentence for Baltar, fate taking its course.
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