CliqueClack TV

Battlestar Galactica – The clock starts ticking

In the first three episodes of season one, we learn there are no easy roads to Earth.

Welcome to part two of the Battlestar Galactica Rewatch, in which the series starts with a bang and doesn’t let up, one of the great ethical debates of our time enters the picture, and someone gets his ear bitten off! If you need to catch up, my post on the miniseries is here, otherwise, let’s get to it: 33, Water, and Bastille Day.

As a reminder – this is a rewatch, and therefore may be full of SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES.  Proceed at your own risk.


Summary: The Fleet find themselves at the mercy of the Cylons, who attack every thirty-three minutes.

I think it’s pretty widely accepted that “33” is one of the, if not the best episodes of Battlestar Galactica. It is also simply a great hour of television, (re)-introducing the characters with swift economy while dumping the Fleet into an immediately exciting situation. A lot of shows would start with the first cycle of 33 minutes (and some shows would do the in media res beginning but then flashback to the first cycle), but this episode doesn’t care about how it started and smartly proceeds to when the situation is getting far more desperate. The episode as a whole, and especially the destruction of the Olympic Carrier, make a powerful statement up front that the show isn’t going to be a bright shiny place where the good guys only make the easy calls and each episode ends with a victory. So, basically, the first episode is a warning: this ain’t no fairy tale, so put your expectation of happy endings away and be glad anyone gets out alive.

Among the awesome, it’s a small thing, but it bugs me now:  I’m not sure it makes sense that the Galactica is as understaffed as Adama says or as we see. Few pilots, yes, that makes sense because so many were killed in the attacks, but surely Galactica still had two full shifts of staff? It hadn’t been retired yet. Plus they pick up some stragglers from other battlestars and fleet ships, and I’m supposed to believe nobody is capable of offering relief in CIC? It seems doubtful.

It’s not the show or Sam Witwer’s fault at all, but I find it hard to look at Crashdown now and not see him as (a) a dumbass, because of what’s coming on Kobol, and (b) a vampire. I don’t have that problem with any one else, at least so far, and oddly enough I haven’t even watched all of Being Human, but I somehow watched enough.

This episode introduces the Caprica half of the story and Athena’s mission with Helo, which I remember I was so annoyed by originally, believing it was a distraction from ‘the real story.’ But in later rewatches, it’s become one of my favorite story threads. It’s obviously a very manipulative beginning, and I know some people have a hard time getting over that, but watching their relationship develop and grow stronger is one of the truly bright sparks among all the darkness. It’s also one of the clearest expressions of the show’s theme that the two sides will have to learn to work together for survival. So it’s not a distraction from the ‘real story’ — it is the real story.


Summary: The Galactica loses about half of its drinking water in an act of sabotage, committed by a very confused Boomer.

Following “33” is another strong episode where Lee deals with some of the fallout of the Olympic Carrier (answering the question for viewers that yes, previous episodes will have ongoing consequences) but mostly this is about Boomer and of course, the water crisis she causes. First of all, I am SO glad I don’t have to use Caprica!Sharon-Galactica!Sharon anymore, which was original fandom parlance for them. ‘Athena’ and ‘Boomer’ are much less awkward ways to distinguish them.

I imagine how terrible it would be to be Boomer. She knows something’s wrong with her; either she’s being set up or she’s doing these things without her conscious will. She has to suspect she’s a Cylon, though she doesn’t want to believe it. She believes she’s human. She wants to be human, she reacts as a human, but she’s doing all these terrible things against her will. The worst part of seeing Boomer at the beginning is realizing it never gets better for her — she gets manipulated and screwed over her entire short life. All she wants is to be with her shipmates, but everything is taken away. Poor Boomer. (It is, however unintentionally, hilarious when Chief is trying to reassure her about how she’s not a Cylon — Chief must not have seen her at the Cylon parties, right?)

So Tyrol — what is his deal? He loves her, I get that. He wants to believe she’s innocent. But good heavens, man, the water tanks blew up, she was wet, and there was a missing detonator on her Raptor. That is a whole lot of denial. The problem isn’t even necessarily that she might be a Cylon, but that she may be doing all these dangerous things without her awareness. She could be brainwashed or suffering some sort of mental break, but he covers for her. I love her, but at this point, she is very clearly a danger to the ship. I wonder how many later tragedies might have been avoided if they’d thrown themselves on Adama’s mercy with what they knew, even if she ended up in a cell and tortured or airlocked outright, she might have come out of it better. Wow, that’s a sad thought.

In the Department of Important Themes Introduced Here and We Will See Again:

  • Adama gives Roslin a book! Awwww. A million shipper hearts just exploded with glitter!
  • Roslin wants Adama to send troops to some of ships to keep order. Bill, displaying some restraint he will lose eventually, is reluctant but complies. This deployment doesn’t turn into a huge disaster. It’s early days yet.
  • Athena seems to be still on mission with Helo, but I detect a little uncertainty at the end of the near-kiss in the rain as if maybe the pretense is already turning real.
  • Roslin gets Lee to be her military advisor which, on one hand, she trusts him and she does need someone, I understand that. But on the other, he’s about fourth in command of the remaining military and it’s an obvious attempt to put a wedge between Lee and his father, which I don’t think she should have done nor Lee accepted. As we’ll see in the next episode, Special Advisor to the President also reflects poorly on him since everyone assumes he got the position through nepotism anyway.

“Bastille Day

Summary: Tom Zarek, a famous prisoner on the prison ship Astral Queen, stages a revolt and takes hostages, including Apollo, Dee, Cally, and Billy.

I don’t think you can fully appreciate how excited I was, as a fan of Classic BSG, to see Richard Hatch in the new series. Original Recipe Apollo was my favorite character, and Hatch taking part in the reboot was classy, especially when he’d tried so diligently for so many years to keep it alive. Zarek’s entrance is still mighty impressive if not as thrilling as it was the first time around. I share a bit of Hatch’s later frustration that Zarek turned out to be more of a villain than he might have been, but it was still a fun role to watch him play through the seasons.

It is so chilling how easily Zarek gets every single one of the convicts on the Astral Queen to go along with his revolt. They don’t know his full crazypants plan of getting everyone massacred, but still, that’s both impressive and alarming.

This is the first time we’ll see the ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist’ discussion, and I think the show does a good job of raising the question without making any statements of exactly how far is too far, especially when we take the resistance on Caprica and New Caprica and various mutinies into account. I love that Dee the Sagittaron has the least patience with Zarek’s rhetoric and Billy comes off as a starry-eyed college student.

This episode contains the greatest Cally moment of the entire show: biting off her attempted rapist’s ear! It’s such a tense moment when she’s getting taken away, since we’re all so conditioned to know what a convict might want with a young woman.

Head!Six gets very pushy in this episode, determined to acquire a warhead and basically laying out how to build a Cylon Detector to Baltar. While I doubt that the final use for it was intended at this point at all, it’s fascinating to imagine her actual purpose here: is it so Baltar can give it to Gina and usher in the Occupation and the subsequent result of getting the Fleet on its way again to Earth, or is her purpose actually the Cylon Detector and she intends to reveal all the sleepers including the Five, and Gina’s appearance thwarts that plan? I suppose it depends on how omniscient one believes the Head beings to be. Some fans object vehemently to the ‘angel’ designation, but to me, the idea of an advanced being masquerading as a divine entity is a common one in genre fare, so it was the explanation I had for her from the start. It seemed to make the most sense.

One of the things I wish were different about this episode is Kara the Sniper. Kara has enough talents so it comes off to me as puffing her up (especially when her interrogation skills, super pilot skills, and tactical brilliance are coming up Real Soon Now), when that slot and ability might have been better served to help another character who was not already a badass. Like, what about Tigh? Having the drunkard have to pull it out to be a great shot again could have been a great subplot. Or it could’ve been interesting to put Dualla in that position instead of a hostage. Or even Lee himself, though the Apollo vs Apollo structure of the episode would’ve made that tough to pull off, admittedly. Don’t get me wrong; I love Kara, but it seems to me that she took at least one ability that Lee could have used instead to flesh him out a little better and give the producers a few more options on where to go with his character.

Meanwhile, on Caprica, Athena has a curiously strong reaction to the rats eating the corpse in the city, and I’ve never been quite certain of why. Is it because it’s the first dead body she’s seen? It seems akin to Caprica Six’s reaction to the baby in the miniseries, so perhaps it’s more that she’s growing in comprehension for what that death actually means. Perhaps it’s easy to think nothing was wrong when the ruins are clean and empty, but it loses its purity when there are rats eating corpses. (Oh, dear lords of Kobol, more rats. I’ve now seen two shows with rats in them this week. I must be paying off some kind of rat karma.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane, and if it’s sparked any of your thoughts on these episodes, sound off below!  Next week: “Act of Contrition,” “You Can’t Go Home Again,” and “Litmus.”  And hopefully fewer rats.

Photo Credit: NBCU

12 Responses to “Battlestar Galactica – The clock starts ticking”

June 22, 2012 at 10:07 AM

I guess we’ll talk about it when you get to Season Two, but I wouldn’t classify Crashdown’s actions as “dumbass.” He was a guy out of his depth in an impossible situation, which just spiraled down worse and worse.

And that’s coming from the biggest Cally fan at CC :)

June 22, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Thanks for doing this, Liz! Perfect timing, as I’m rewatching BSG (just finished season 1). Love your commentary.

Ugh, I don’t like Cally and Zarek. If there were a poll for most hated BSG characters, Zarek and Cally would be among my nominees, along with Helen and Tory.

June 22, 2012 at 3:29 PM

This is why we can’t be friends. There is no reason to hate Cally.

Well, at least not yet.

Maybe later.

A little.

June 22, 2012 at 4:58 PM

Well, if it makes you feel better, I hate Tory for killing Cally.

June 22, 2012 at 5:45 PM

No, your complete and utter lack of logic does not make me feel better :P

June 22, 2012 at 9:32 PM

*shrugs* I tried.

Tory was so unlikable that she made me feel sorry for Cally when she died. That doesn’t make Cally less annoying in life though.

June 23, 2012 at 9:38 PM

You got that right.

June 23, 2012 at 9:47 PM

Now, Liz, you should know … there are perfectly good reasons to hate OTHER characters, right?

June 24, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Oops. Just realized I wrote Helen instead of Ellen! Ha.

We can continue this discussion as Liz gets to the other episodes, but since you mentioned “reasons” a couple times, I thought I’d briefly share my reasons for not liking Cally. Her devotion to Tyrol seems to be her defining characteristic, which is not a bad thing necessarily – loyalty is an admirable quality. But Cally’s love for the Chief does not improve her character; it makes her do things that are low and vindictive, lacking in self-respect and common sense. To be specific, the first time I really began to dislike her was when she killed Boomer. This act was not inspired by noble motives – it was a low, petty, cowardly move by a woman still jealous that Boomer was the Chief’s lover. Later, after Tyrol beat her to a bloody pulp, she decided to start a family with him… that shows her lack of self-respect and common sense. I wanted to shake her and say, “Woman! The man who smashed your face is not husband material and not worthy of blind devotion!” Yes, Cally is tough enough to bite off a rapist’s ear, and she showed other moments of strength. That’s why it’s so disappointing to me that she did not snap out of that Tyrol-love after that horrible beating. All in all, she made me really angry.

Hope that helps explain my feelings about Cally. I’m sure you have equally good reasons for admiring her, Ivey, and I don’t have any problem with you disagreeing with me. I’m not going to berate you for having a different opinion. It’s all good :-)

June 22, 2012 at 8:51 PM

It occurs to me that, at this point, a long time ago, I was shipping Cally/Lee and Cally/Crashdown. If only for the novelty of it.

(I know, this isn’t very thought-provoking =D)

June 24, 2012 at 2:30 PM

You know Liz….

Since this is a bit of a memory lane here, there is no need to write a book about my thoughts on your post. But after all these years, do I finally see a post-author that is actually sympathetic to Boomer?!

I have always known that Boomer was the most tragic and mis-treated soul of the entire run. Even before I knew the cruel, lamentable path of sorrows Boomer would eventually suffer…. I knew. Maybe spoilers shan’t be written here so I will just say her end was a heartbreaker to the extreme. Boomer was the classic noble, tragic character. She was a soul trying to fit into a world that she wanted it to be but sadly no white knight was there for her. So sad.

June 25, 2012 at 9:05 PM

The funny thing is that before Crashdown was a vampire on Being Human, he was a vampire-esque genetic experiment on Dark Angel.

Powered By OneLink