Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Maelstrom’ And ‘The Son Also Rises’

Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Maelstrom’ And ‘The Son Also Rises’

As the series approaches the Season Three finale, Starbuck and Apollo take dramatic turns.
Warren Henry
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This is the 27th in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘A Day In The Life’ And ‘Dirty Hands’” here.

Spoilers ahead.

“Maelstrom” is the story of Starbuck’s apparent death. Katee Sackhoff impresses as a troubled pilot dealing with the possibility her early death is part of some larger destiny. Credit is also due to the writers, who crafted Starbuck’s story over almost three seasons to provide the gravity this episode requires.

In “The Son Also Rises,” Apollo takes a dramatic turn after losing Starbuck. However, the episode does not focus on Apollo like “Maelstrom” dwells on Starbuck. Instead, Mark Sheppard chews scenery as new character Romo Lampkin, whose interrogation of Caprica Six gives Tricia Helfer a spotlight scene. The episode’s title echoes the Hemingway novel, but the generational theme seems to be the only serious connection.

‘Maelstrom’

Starbuck dreams she is whitewashing the Eye of Jupiter she painted on her apartment wall back on Caprica. Leoben approaches her; the two make love.

Starbuck tells Helo about her dream. He suggests she visit an oracle, which she does.

The oracle gifts Starbuck a figurine of Aurora, who symbolizes change. The oracle already knows of Starbuck’s dream and suggests it is a message from Starbuck’s mother Socrata (Dorothy Lyman), causing Starbuck to leave in anger. Starbuck later tells Anders how her mother abused her, including slamming her fingers in a door (as suggested in “The Farm“).

Galactica is refueling near a gas giant planet, the radiation from which blocks Cylon detection. Conversely, Viper patrols must watch for Cylons.

During a patrol, Starbuck sees a Heavy Raider in the planet’s clouds. Starbuck tracks the Cylon ship to a vortex resembling the Eye of Jupiter.

Starbuck continues her pursuit beneath the cloud deck, ignoring warnings that the atmospheric pressure could crush her Viper. However, after seeing visions of her apartment and Socrata, Starbuck returns to Galactica. Her Viper’s camera shows no Heavy Raider.

Adama asks whether Starbuck is losing her mind, but leaves to Apollo the question of her flight status.

Apollo finds Starbuck in the corridor with the photo shrine to the dead and missing. Apollo decides she will keep flying. Starbuck says that if she dies first, she would like her photo pinned next to the picture of Kat. Apollo replies that his photo should be posted next to two Viper pilots who died on New Caprica. Starbuck later gifts the Aurora figurine to Adama for the model ship he is building.

Before her next patrol, Starbuck sees her younger self in the cockpit. Apollo calms her and offers to be her wingman.

On patrol, Starbuck again sees a Heavy Raider and breaks away from Apollo. During the chase, the Cylon ship damages Starbuck’s canopy, sending the Viper into a tailspin and Starbuck into unconsciousness.

Starbuck “awakens” in her apartment beside Leoben, who assures her this is no Cylon trick, but a chance to face her past. In her kitchen, Starbuck relives the day she became an officer, only to be criticized by Socrata for not graduating at the top of her class. The younger Starbuck argues the point, but then sees an oncologist’s letter informing Socrata she has late-stage cancer. Young Starbuck offers sympathy, but storms out when Socrata rejects it.

Current Starbuck then enters the bedroom, where Socrata is on her deathbed, surrounded by Starbuck’s childhood drawings. The two reconcile as Socrata dies. Leoben tells Starbuck that Socrata’s message is that death is not terrible. Starbuck replies that he is not Leoben; he responds that he never said he was.

Starbuck re-awakens in her cockpit, with Apollo shouting on the wireless. She considers using her ejection seat, but then tells Apollo she will see him “on the other side,” whispering “they’re waiting for me.” Apollo watches Starbuck’s ship explode; he tells Adama – and a silent CIC – to call off rescue efforts.

In his quarters, Adama fits the Aurora figure to the front of his model ship, then destroys it.

‘The Son Also Rises’

Pres. Roslin randomly draws the names of the judges for Baltar’s trial – including Adama’s name. Meanwhile, Adama, Anders and Apollo all grieve over Starbuck in their own ways.

A Raptor carrying Baltar’s attorney explodes on the hangar deck. Roslin declares terrorism will not derail Baltar’s trial.

Roslin and the judges interview Romo Lampkin as Baltar’s new counsel. The flamboyant attorney claims he is taking the job for fame, while his late wife’s cat jumps from his tote bag onto the desk, startling Roslin.

Adama assigns Apollo to protect Lampkin. Apollo surmises that Adama thinks he is unfit to fly. Lampkin tells Apollo he studied law under Apollo’s grandfather, whom Lampkin hated.

Lampkin meets Baltar in Apollo’s quarters, avoiding surveillance and sabotage. Baltar jots down more of his manifesto and warns that Caprica Six may testify against him.

Lampkin and Apollo plan a flight to Colonial One to retrieve Baltar’s case file. Lampkin’s cat escapes and runs under the Raptor, luckily revealing another bomb. Adama upbraids Apollo for sloppy security work.

Lampkin questions Caprica Six under surveillance from Roslin and Adama. Six suggests she will testify against Baltar. Lampkin uses the pen he stole from Baltar to convince her Baltar gave up his voice to show his love for her. Six refuses the gift because her guards won’t permit it – yet she becomes sympathetic to the defense, to Roslin’s dismay.

When security guards deliver Baltar’s file to Lampkin, a guard notices a screw on the floor and pushes Lampkin aside as the door panel to his quarters explodes.

Apollo visits Lampkin in the sickbay. Lampkin reveals he has kleptomania. He asks Apollo to return stolen items in his bag, but one item reveals a deck crew member was setting the explosives.

Adama reinstates Apollo as CAG. Apollo wants to continue assisting Lampkin. The two argue. Apollo asks whether Adama is ordering him back to flight duty; Adama snarls that he is done giving Apollo orders.

Apollo and Anders come to terms with losing Starbuck in the corridor as Apollo pins Starbuck’s photo next to Kat’s.

Baltar receives his pen back from Lampkin, along with a note: “There is no greater ally, no force more powerful, no enemy more resolved than a son who chooses to step from his father’s shadow.”

Warren Henry is the nom de plume of an attorney practicing in the State of Illinois.

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