On ''Battlestar Galactica,'' the Adamas clash during the trial of Gaius Baltar

By Marc Bernardin
Updated March 19, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Battlestar Galactica

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”Battlestar Galactica”: The trial begins

It’s funny, in the back of my head I’ve always known the Galactica crew was supposed to be like a family, one forged not through love but through necessity. But it never really came to the fore, for me, until this episode. It only happened because now this family is on the verge of disintegration. For this show, for these characters, that’s as apocalyptic as a Cylon occupation. And that’s truly Baltar’s most heinous crime. Because the only thing that’s keeping this ragtag fleet together is their allegiance to each other. In the first part of the season finale, Gaius Baltar is the wedge that’s driving the family apart. And if the leaders can’t keep it together, what hope do the rest of them have?

Because of Baltar, and his right to a fair trial, Lee and Bill Adama are at each other’s throats. Duala has left her husband, because she can’t abide what he’s doing in the name of justice. Laura is snapping at everyone and has been ”outed” by the closest thing she has to a son. And Saul Tigh, poor Saul, has been reduced to the crazy uncle, drunkenly babbling in the corner. It was sad to see Tigh, such a stalwart warrior, reduced to a quivering mass on the stand. (Michael Hogan, gods damn it, may actually be the best actor on a show full of great actors. Because he never shows off. You never see him doing it. He just shows up and…hurts. Right there in plain sight.)

One of the most delicious parts of the trial — really of the whole Baltar-in-a-colonial-cell story line — is just how weak and ineffectual Baltar himself appears. I loved the astonished, who-me? look on his face when the de-sunglassed Romo Lampkin launched into that opening statement/tirade about how vile a person the accused really is. I think at this point Baltar has realized that it’s his lot in life to be carried along by events, that his survival demands he relinquish control to others, that the only thing he can do for himself is try and prepare for the inevitable rocky landing. (But I must say that I don’t get the transformation of Baltar from war criminal to popular author to, now, prophet. Is it the messiah hair that makes people think that he’s some kind of holy man, fit to bless babies?)

I’m so happy that the Cylons are back. Especially in the manner in which I want to see them. And by that, I mean not at all. They’re once again the mysterious, implacable threat that constantly dogs our heroes. That said, I did like to see Caprica Six finding her edge again, no longer sitting around like a kid who lost her puppy. There were, like, six kinds of crazy going on in that prison cell, from the reappearance of Head Baltar — always fun — to Tigh, giving too much away, letting Six get inside his skull before he slugged her in hers.

Speaking of things rattling around in people’s skulls, what was the deal with the weirdo synth Muzak that Tigh, Anders, and Tory seemed to hear and no one else did? It’s gotta mean something — nothing happens on Galactica by accident — but what?

Every now and again, the faithful devotees of a TV show find themselves rewarded for their constant vigilance. And this episode had a moment that actually took my breath away. It was when Lee, all duded up in his incongruous suit and tie, started questioning President Roslin. He started down the kamala-extract line of questioning, his father’s attempt to shut down the whole trial squashed (the admiral…denied!). And just as Lee was about to move in for the kill, Laura, in a voice meant only for Lee, begged him, pleaded with him: ”Please don’t do this…please.” That nearly broke my heart. Because we know what they’ve been through together. We remember that Lee was the first member of the military with whom she formed any sort of bond. He was her Captain Apollo. He sided with her when his father staged his military coup. And here he was, throwing all of that away, in the pursuit of ”justice.” That moment is powerful only if you know the show. If you’ve been with it since the miniseries, it has exponentially more weight than if you tuned in for the first time this week, or even this season.

Moments like that make the whole thing worthwhile.

What did you think? Is Anders moving on from Kara too fast? Is his enrolling in the pilot corps, and his new attachment to Seelix, just a way to fill the Starbuck void with everything Starbuck-related? Was it a mistake to put Helo back in the XO role? And is Baltar gonna get the chair?

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