Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 3 - Episode 18

BSG - 3x18 - The Son Also Rises - Originally Aired: 2007-3-11

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 5.32

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The aftermath of Kara Thrace's Viper crash is a time of mourning for her husband and friends, but the business of the fleet grinds on despite their grief. Most significantly, Gaius Baltar's trial is approaching. Admiral Adama is chosen by lottery to serve as one of five officers on the judges' tribunal, and, as Racetrack prepares to ferry Baltar's lawyer home from a meeting on the Galactica, a bomb explodes aboard her Raptor. She survives, but the lawyer doesn't.

The aftermath of Kara Thrace's Viper crash is a time of mourning for her husband and friends, but the business of the fleet grinds on despite their grief. Most significantly, Gaius Baltar's trial is approaching. Admiral Adama is chosen by lottery to serve as one of five officers on the judges' tribunal, and, as Racetrack prepares to ferry Baltar's lawyer home from a meeting on the Galactica, a bomb explodes aboard her Raptor. She survives, but the lawyer doesn't.

Lee is irritated by his new job until Lampkin mentions that Lee's grandfather Joseph, a prominent defense attorney, was his mentor. Intrigued, Lee supervises Lampkin's first meeting with Baltar, then agrees to accompany the lawyer to Colonial One to collect case files. When the landing signal officer, Aaron Kelly, reminds Lee that his father has forbidden him to fly, Lee rebelliously boards the Raptor anyway.

It's only because Lampkin's cat escapes that Tyrol, pursuing the animal beneath the Raptor, spots another bomb attached to the craft's underside. Lee and Lampkin have barely escaped another attack. Furious, Admiral Adama berates his son for taking irresponsible risks.

Clues indicate that the bomber is a member of the crew, which provokes tension and suspicion among the pilots and deckhands. The only person seemingly unconcerned about the attempt on Lampkin's life is Lampkin himself. He's absorbed in a devious plan to win supporters for Baltar.

First, he meets with Caprica Six and manipulates the Cylon prisoner into confessing her love for Baltar. Next, he confides in Lee, saying that his entire plan is rooted in lessons he learned from Joseph Adama. This conversation cements Lee's increasing desire to walk in his idolized grandfather's footsteps.

The bomber strikes again, and this time, Lampkin doesn't escape the blast. He survives, but he's temporarily confined to a hospital bed. Officially, Lee's job is to find the bomber hidden in his crew. Unofficially, and in defiance of his father, he now believes that he has another calling: to help the injured Lampkin defend the most hated man in the fleet. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

- The survivor count only went down by one, but Baltar's lawyer died before the credits rolled. It should have gone down by two, counting him and Starbuck.
- The cat running around is sped up film. However, it's done very well. I didn't notice until Ronald Moore said so on the podcast!

- Survivors, according to the main title: 41399. (Down by one since last episode for Starbuck's death.)
- Mark Sheppard, who plays Romo Lampkin in this episode, also played Badger in Firefly.

Remarkable Scenes
- Adama mourning Starbuck.
- Drunken Anders hanging out on a viper.
- Apollo going to put Starbuck's photo next to Kat's.
- Tigh informing Adama that he was selected to serve as a judge on Baltar's tribunal.
- Baltar's lawyer's entrance and quick death.
- Romo Lampkin's cat suddenly appearing out of (seemingly) nowhere during his chat with Adama and Roslin.
- Romo Lampkin letting Apollo know that he was a student of Joseph Adama, and that he hated him but taught him everything he knows now.
- Adama and Apollo feuding over Romo Lampkin's assassination attempt and then over Starbuck's loss.
- Romo Lampkin's response to Apollo's pep talk about staying alive: "If they want to kill me, they'll find a way. Now, who do I have to bribe to see the Cylon woman?"
- Romo Lampkin's conversation with Caprica Six.
- Apollo: "Why encourage a man to write and then take his pen?" Lampkin: "It'll curry more sympathy when we get the word out that he's been silenced. Tyranny, gag orders, very sexy."
- Apollo and Lampkin discussing Joseph Adama candidly. Complete with Lampkin concluding the discussion with "I've gotta take a crap."
- Apollo discovering Lampkin's a kleptomaniac.
- Apollo confronting Kelly about his crimes.
- Adama reinstating Apollo as CAG only to strike his name once more minutes later after their argument concerning Apollo's decision to join Romo Lampkin's legal team.
- Anders coming to visit Apollo as he admires Starbuck's photograph on the memorial wall next to Kat.
- Romo Lampkin's letter to Baltar: "There's no greater ally, no force more powerful, no enemy more resolved than a son who chooses to step from his father's shadow."

My Review
One of my criticisms of Maelstrom was that Kara's death was underplayed at the end of the episode, but this episode makes up for that completely and takes it to a new level using it to forge an interesting new direction for the two Adama characters. It makes sense that the often diametrically opposed political viewpoints of the father and son would be exasperated by a personal conflict brought on by mutual and irrational guilt. To have that play out in something as important to their civilization as the trial of Gaius Baltar is not only a good choice, it's downright captivating. And that's a word I've sadly not used to describe BSG for some time.

It's actually quite remarkable to compare just those two episodes, largely because of their similar construction. Both episodes did not have a subplot, both episodes were tightly character driven rather than plot driven despite straddling pivotal events, and both episodes utilized liberal amounts of subtext. So that's why they're so much the same. What makes them different? Maelstrom was pivotal to the overarching story of Battlestar Galactica because it featured the loss of a central character. The Son Also Rises was merely setup for a similar pivotal event. Maelstrom featured numerous fantastic visual effects shots. The Son Also Rises featured none remarkable and all were recycled.

Yet despite what seems like an obvious comparison in favor of Maelstrom, The Son Also Rises is a superior episode strictly because the drama is executed in a superior fashion. I've always purported that well executed drama in a bottle show beats out a special effects heavy episode with inferior drama any day of the week. DS9: In The Pale Moonlight is a prime example.

Right from the get go this episode is packed with drama and emotion. I like how the very first scene of the episode is Adama still mourning Starbuck. Also intercutting it with his selection as one of the judges is a nice way to counterpoint the idea of getting on with business as usual with Adama's inability to do just that. Adama's intense emotions throughout the episode are in fact one of its best selling points. We rarely get to see Adama so emotionally unstable.

Among other little details, I was glad Captain Kelly got some character development time. One of the best assets of this show is the slow buildup of minor characters into tangible, sympathetic, dramatically useful characters. Among the most successful of such characters is Kat. Among my favorite such characters so far is Hoshi originally from the Pegasus. He's just become a familiar face in CIC, and Captain Kelly is just like him.

However, it is not the little details which sustain this episode. The meat is in Romo Lampkin's character. Romo both figuratively and literally keeps the cat in the bag with regards to his manipulations. He knows exactly how to pull everyone's strings. He walks onto the ship with a swagger and a pair of shades using his immense charm and skillful articulation to get things done.

Specifically, it's his gradual manipulation of Apollo that has me so fascinated by him. Romo realized quickly that by getting Apollo on his side, he could gain an advantage during the trial once it began. When Romo was manipulating Six, there was a subtextual manipulation of Apollo going on simultaneously as he described to Six how he in retrospect realized his adoration for his lost love was not something he could simply get over and that by realizing it he was able to "be a man." This is also supported by Lampkin's very deliberate assertion that the story was true when Apollo so curiously inquired. Knowing of Apollo's recent loss of Starbuck, Lampkin on some level convinced Apollo to "be a man" too and accept the loss so he can move on with his life by helping Lampkin instead of resuming life as it was when Starbuck was still alive.

You might expect me to write more about an episode such as this, but there's not too much else to say. The episode has very little plot and nearly dragged. But the degree to which the drama was well executed sustained it excellently. Everything from drunken Anders, to Adama looking for his missing button, to Baltar looking for his missing pen, to Roslin looking for her missing glasses, to Lampkin's cat, to Lampkin's stylish manipulations of people was utterly captivating to watch. In fact, this is the first episode in a long time to make me say "Wow, it's over already?" when it finished. Well done.

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