Friday, July 11, 2014

Battlestar Galactica 1.18: “Murder on the Rising Star”

Airdate: 2/18/79

Starbuck gets into a squabble with a Triad opponent named Ortega, but when the latter is found dead the chief suspect is, of course, Starbuck. The “opposer” (prosecutor) urges the accused to plead self-defense to get a lighter sentence, but Starbuck refuses to accept any guilt for something he didn’t do. Apollo, acting as his defense, must do some quick research to get his friend off the hook, and that involves getting the skinny on potential Ortega-hating murderers. One of them is a dude named Karibdis, and vis a vis a casino dealer he learns that the man had bribed officers to get off the ill-fated planet of Caprica (which the Cylons destroyed), and has reason to be the murderer of Ortega, who’s blackmailing Karibdis with the knowledge of his true identity. Apollo lures him into a trap, involving the nefarious but integral Baltar, and gets him to confess everything over a radio transmission that Starbuck’s tribunal can hear – and use to exonerate the damned-lucky lieutenant.

The Wrong Man gets updated, and Galactica continues its winning streak with another suspenseful variation on a classic plotline (even though you'll easily realize who the real killer is as soon as you see him). Script is artfully designed to build everything up last minute to its relief-inducing climax, and even former baddie Baltar gets something else to do besides sit in the brig twiddling his thumbs. We’re finally free (it seems) of those endless, and boring, dogfights with the Cylons, and for that matter, the Cylons themselves, who I always thought were pretty weak villains.

Triad has definitely got to be the gayest game invented – say I’m wrong after you see that dance the men do before the ball gets lobbed into play. For that matter, does anyone else notice how strikingly similar this is to Rollerball? Somebody copied.

Rating:  ***

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