We enter murky waters now, review-wise. After I finished my "Maelstrom" review, I sat down and watched my screener of the season's final three episodes, and it becomes very difficult for me to comment on things in "The Son Also Rises" without letting those comments be colored by both halves of "Crossroads." This is why I specifically wrote my "Maelstrom" review before I had seen anything else, because I worried that if later episodes feature any hints of Kara's survival -- or lack thereof -- I wouldn't be able to give an honest analysis of that episode that wouldn't in some way reveal what was to come.
Now, I reviewed every episode of "The Wire" season four after I had watched that season in its entirety, but those reviews were less about likes and dislikes (since virtually all of it was brilliant) than they were analysis of themes, of character development, of all the detail work that makes "The Wire" "The Wire." "Galactica," especially in an up-and-down season like this one, requires more straight discussion of my likes and dislikes, so I'm going to do the best I can to try to discuss the episode as the episode and not as the first third of something I've watched and you haven't.
That long preamble is my way of delicately approaching the character of Romo Lampkin, who all but takes over the show for the next three episodes. My feelings on him evolved over time, but in this first episode I think he strayed just over the wrong side of the line between intriguing, colorful new character and self-consciously kewl and irritating new character.
In particular, I could really do without his wardrobe choices. On the podcast, Moore says everyone wrestled with the question of Lampkin's omnipresent sunglasses and whether they were too much of a parody. Eventually, he gave into writer Michael Angeli's conception for the character because he loved the moment where Lampkin finally takes the stupid things off to make a deeper connection with Caprica Six. Now, anyone who's ever seen "The Blues Brothers" (original version, not the abomination that is the Landis director's cut DVD) knows how effective that particular sunglasses gag can be. I just don't think that one moment was worth Lampkin coming across like the "Galactica" version of Gambit from X-Men: the suave, too cool for school guy in the fancy trenchcoat and the obnoxiously charming exotic accent who's somehow right about everything and everyone he encounters. (I figure if you're reading a blog entry about "Battlestar Galactica," you're enough of a geek to remember how annoying Gambit was when Claremont introduced him -- unless you were young enough at the time to think he was wicked awesome.)
I think if you ditched the coat and the shades and maybe had Mark Sheppard dial down his brogue to its natural level, Lampkin would have made a much better first impression on me. As it is, I grew to like the guy -- and I liked certain other affectations from the start, like his kleptomania -- but it was an uphill climb that didn't need to be so steep.
Outside the mad bomber mystery (more on that below), most of the episode was set-up for Baltar's trial (Moore admits that he basically did a three-part finale without admitting as much to Sci Fi brass). So much of it hangs on the performances, and Jamie Bamber is getting maybe his best opportunity to date to show that he's more than just the token beefcake. Lee is often a self-contradictory character, and where some actors might make you view that as inconsistent writing, Bamber makes it seem like an inherent part of Lee's being. He's the guy who's always at war with himself, never sure when he's supposed to be the hard-ass, or the golden boy, or the moral compass, or the isolated thinker. A lot's expected of him because he's Bill Adama's son -- and, as we're finding out lately, Joe Adama's grandson -- and he responds to all the stress (plus his grief over Starbuck's death) by trying on different personas. At the moment, that's as rebellious son and advocate for the most hated man in the universe; I'm sure he'll become something else by early next season, and Bamber will make me believe that one, too.
Other random thoughts:
- Maybe it's just because I recognize him more now that he's also Plow Guy on "Men in Trees," but it felt like we hadn't seen Capt. Kelly in forever, even though IMDb lists him as being in both halves of "Exodus." I mention that because as soon as I saw him, I wondered, "Why did they bring that guy back?" and once we got into the mystery of the bomber, I realized it had to be him. Law of Economy of Characters and all that. Would've liked it to be Cally, and for her to be airlocked immediately. And speaking of which...
- The Athena/Cally scene felt like it was airlifted in from another episode, one that focused more on Sharon, who hasn't had much to do since she rescued Hera.
- Moore tries not to let the show be a polemic for his own views, but occasionally he can't resist making Laura into his mouthpiece. Here, it was her declaration that "This administration will never allow terrorism to alter the framework of our legal system." Patriot Act and/or Gitmo, anyone?
- I know Caprica Six sniffing the pen was supposed to be a deep moment about her feelings for Baltar, but all I could think was, "Where did Baltar have to hide that thing?"
- Romo's quarters were awfully big for a ship that's carrying a double personnel load. Ah, maybe at this point I need to let go of the whole "What about the Pegasus crew?" issue.
- Anders is now wearing military fatigues because he's training to become a Viper pilot. I don't think that's been mentioned in previous episodes, and it's not really explained down the road, but we'll see him with the other nuggets (including Seelix) in the next two episodes. Time to go looking through the deleted scenes again.