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Battlestar Galactica Rewatch – Starbuck is more awesome than you

In this week's 'Battlestar Galactica' Rewatch, the ghost of Zak Adama makes everybody go nuts, and Doral blows up.

Welcome back to the Battlestar Galactica Re-watch!

As a reminder, because this is a rewatch, I assume you are familiar with the entire series.


Episodes 104 and 105: “Act of Contrition” and “You Can’t Go Home Again”

In hindsight I find it a little surprising that the show has a two-part arc in its first season, and early in the season as well. The first season is short and given how concerned SciFi Channel grew to be about the serialization of the show, it seems ironic that they’d allow an episode so distinctly not stand-alone so early in the show’s run when networks are concerned about building audience. It seems especially curious, when you add in consideration of the ongoing thread of Helo’s Adventures on Caprica, which already makes the first season serial, if in a minor way. (We’l get to the absurdity of wanting stand-alone episodes in the third season of a show known to be a serial anyway around “Dirty Hands.”)

“Act of Contrition” is experimental in more ways than having a ‘to be continued’ at the end. The timeline is fractured, not just with the framing of Kara in the Viper, but the flashbacks-within-the-flashbacks are nested in such a way that the full reveal of both the backstory and the present are peeled back, layer by layer. It’s very skillfully done, and by the end of it, we have a little bit better understanding of Zak Adama and the three people who survived his death but found it hard to let go, and found that moment still impacting them in dangerous ways years later.

I should mention that the teaser with the pilots celebrating the thousandth landing is like something out of Final Destination when you know all this happiness is going to end horribly and yet it keeps going and going, not breaking. It’s a great build of suspense, but wow, does it prove that in BSG we just can’t have nice things. Thirteen pilots are killed instantly on the deck during a celebration — and it wasn’t as if there were that many to start with.  That leads to our introduction of the nuggets, and the realization that Hotdog of all people survives the series. Do we think Bodie Olmos’ name protected Hotdog, or is that too cynical?

Katee’s cry face makes me want to cry, too. She’s so expressive in these two episodes, but especially her quivering lips and sheer pain when she has to confess to Adama what happened, hoping for absolution, but not getting it until later. It’s just fantastic.

“You Can’t Go Home Again” should really be called “Starbuck is more awesome than you, and here’s why.” Because I submit to you that no on else would have gone up to that Raider, torn out its guts, and flown it home successfully. Oh, wait, I shouldn’t forget the part about defeating an entire Raider squadron almost on her own, getting shot down, landing on a nasty airless moon, with her oxygen running out, and then flying a Raider. Because she is that triumphantly badass.

On a puzzling note, Head!Six seems to be pushing to leave Kara behind. But everyone else’s motivations are understandable: Roslin and Tigh, amusingly enough on the same side for a change, see the danger, whereas to Lee and Bill, they have family out there still who may find a way back — and then does. Get used to it, boys, you’ll see that again, even more amazingly.

Don’t miss one of the funniest jokes in the entire series: Helo puts bread in a toaster. It  won’t be long before he’ll be putting a bun in another toaster. Also note the  hilariously plain wrap government-issue cooking oil on the counter. It’s “Grade A” — thanks for going for quality, Cylons!


Episode 106: “Litmus”

This is the one about the witch-hunt on Galactica, and I have to admit I liked this one more on first viewing than I do now. Part of that is because I think “Collaborators” tells the same story but from the more interesting point of view of those in Hadrian’s position of getting caught up in it and going too far, but also because I have less patience for Tyrol and Boomer not telling the truth this time. Tyrol is at least regretful and breaks it off with Boomer when Socinus takes the fall for him, but Boomer’s defensive reaction is selfish, as if she has no understanding of why she or Tyrol should feel badly that their affair has sent a coworker to the brig in her place. It’s as if someone decided that Boomer should react to something like a Cylon for once, and it feels a little heavy-handed when she hasn’t been that lacking in empathy before.

I agree with Hadrian that not giving Leoben and Doral’s pictures to the security forces earlier was irresponsible. Roslin and Adama didn’t have to reveal the pair were Cylons necessarily (though how they thought that would stay secret if there were other infiltrators out there is surprisingly naive of them), but that they were escaped criminals, just to have their faces out there, especially on Galactica and Colonial One. Come to think of it, it is especially ridiculous when they know the water tanks were blown by sabotage, and they don’t have security looking for copies of the models they already know about? Leoben told Bill on Ragnar that he would download into another body, so Bill should at least guess there could be copies even if they have no proof of it until another Doral shows up again.

It never occurred to me before this watch that Doral’s bomb could’ve been an attempt on Bill Adama. He certainly activated it when he saw Adama and he was obviously on his way to that part of the ship since he ran across both Tigh and Adama. And that its failure to kill Adama was what prompted Boomer’s later activation and attempt on him. Kara and then Baltar assume he was after the Cylon detector, which I’ve assumed in the past myself, but it could be Adama. We know how Adama’s near-assassination will impact the Fleet, and from a potential ‘screwing with my parents’ angle, Cavil also must know how close Tigh and Adama are.

Meanwhile on Caprica, the Cylons watch Helo. It’s very much set-up like Helo is a rat in a maze, with them looking down and judging him, with mild curiosity about whether he’ll take the cheese or not. It’s still pretty brutal to watch Six beat up Sharon to make her cover story more authentic. It occurs to me that they may understand what’s happening though — they turn out to be right, that he loves her, but I suspect that if it had been, say, Crashdown instead, that Helo would probably still go after him. The appeal of a familiar friendly face instead of being alone, and the camaraderie of the Fleet might be enough to send him on a rescue attempt, without romantic love necessarily being what he’s feeling.

Favorite Quotes:

  • “Pilots refer to me as Starbuck, you may refer to me as God.”
  • “I guess you’ll never get to find out if she’s a real blonde.” — Six to Gaius
  • “If it were you, we’d never leave.” — OMG, Bill Adama just whack both me and Lee right in the heart, why don’t you?

So that’s a wrap on this week. Share your thoughts below if you like, and come on back next week as the Fleet deals with Shelly, Leoben, and Ellen, and attacks the Cylons for a change.

Photo Credit: NBCU

2 Responses to “Battlestar Galactica Rewatch – Starbuck is more awesome than you”

July 2, 2012 at 12:19 AM

KARA’S FACE. Even now, I have no defense against the look on her face. It makes me want to give her a great big hug.

As for the serial nature of the first season, I think one impact on it was that the show was initially shown in the UK (iirc, it’s been a long time, but I seem to recall my friend in Belgium seeing the show before it aired in the US), and was shot all at once/really quickly. And coming right off the mini (which did really well), I think Ron and the others were probably pretty safe from interference at that point.

Boomer is so incredibly selfish in Litmus–it’s not just a Cylon quality, it’s a terribly human quality–and it’s a thread we see from her over and over (as much as I hate her storyline, there are parts that are really consistent). I do think it’s partially a lack of understanding just what’s been sacrificed for her.

But it’s also that she just doesn’t CARE. She’s safe, it doesn’t matter what else happens.

And, oh, Hadrian. Stuck between such a rock and a hard place, going with her gut instinct and in the end being shut down. I think that’s her last appearance on the show, though she’s mentioned in one of the early season two episodes. SIGH.

July 2, 2012 at 10:58 PM

Since everyone knows what happened, any discussion on figuring out the why of certain events ocurred may just as well be summed up with a big ole shoulder shrug. BSG is one the most enigmatic shows in history to be so excellent and yet have so many failures of cohesive plotlines. Instead of the sub-phrase “They have a plan”….a more accurate “They have red herrings” would have fit things. Oh well, I love it all the same.

I have always believed the severity in which Athena was beaten was because the cylons knew she was falling in love with Helo and were jealous. Not an overt thing but giving and receiving love was a thing cylons coveted, and to see Athena close to it must have addled them.

Imo Boomer was not selfish. There were many reasons for her behavior but her inate sense of compassion would have won her out if that situation would have become critical. In fact, this was one thing the show was very consistant about….the underlying goodness of the number eights.

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