This past Friday marked the return of Battlestar Galactica, now in its third season. OK, so technically, it’s really the third season, but since it’s been three months since the last new episode, and nobody really cares all that much anyway, we’ll call it season three from now on. The strength of the show has always been its ability to insert plenty of drama and suspense without completely taking you out of the story with implausible twists. For a show that takes place in space and features faster than light travel, not to mention humanoid robots that are pregnant with human babies, this is no small feat. Still it manages to pull things off with less of a snicker factor than your average episode of 24 (only one week left to wait!). With that said, let’s start with the recap.Now, it’s not necessary to have watched the previous incarnations of BSG in order to enjoy the current season, and I will try to explain some of the more confusing parts along the way, but if you are getting lost, rent the DVDs, or refer to the Battlestar Wiki (warning: contains spoilers). Anyway, at the end of last season, we learned that another Battlestar had survived the original attack on the 12 colonies. That Battlestar was named Pegasus, and it was captained by Admiral Cain. Now, although these two Battlestars survived, they took different paths after the original Cylon attack. The Galactica has become protector to a civilian fleet, has come under control of a civilian government, and is concerned with evading the Cylons and finding “Earth,” which in their legends is the home of a thirteenth tribe of humans, mystical and presumably full of all of that good salvation. On the other hand we have the Pegasus, who is ruling under military control, has little concern for civilian affairs, and wants to beat the Cylons into submission and return back to their home worlds.
Since Admiral Cain is senior in rank, she will command the colonial military, and she’s not so keen on still being beholden to a bunch of (sort of) elected pussies. Can wants to go after the Cylons, and it looks like civilian rule has made people a little soft. For instance, there is Sharon “Boomer” Valeri, a Cylon. One of her copies attempted to kill Commander Adama, and another one of her copies fell in love with Carl “Helo” Agathorn and is now pregnant. She is prisoner, but she is treated well. This is in contrast to Gina, the Cylon who was captured on the Pegasus. Gina was tortured and raped until she was left barely functioning. The man responsible for Gina’s treatment was about to interrogate Boomer, and his first technique to get her to talk was raping this pregnant woman while two of his brave soldiers held her down. Helo and David Tyrol, the chief engineering officer who was in love with the Galactica Valeri, go to her aid, and while we all cheered when the would-be rapist died in the scuffle, it meant bad news since he was from the Pegasus and Cain is in control. Cain sees no reason why anybody should care what happens to a Cylon prisoner, even if that prisoner is carrying the child of one of the people who “attacked” the rapist.
In no time at all, she has a tribunal and Tyrol and Helo are sentenced to death, without a chance to defend themselves. Commander Adama, leader of the Galactica, and still possessing some sort of moral fiber, will not have Cain pulling that sort of shit while he is around, and is determined to stop Cain, his only method of getting her attention being to send his space fighters to attack her ship, even though it would be about as effective as betting on Duke to win an ACC football championship. Last season ended with us wondering what the hell it was going to take to stop an all-out civil war from taking place. What it took was yet another gutsy mission by Kara “Starbuck” Thrace.
Starbuck is arguably the fleet’s best pilot. She managed to survive a crash landing on a strange planet by taking over a Cylon Raider (another fighter), and using it to fly back to safety. She then used that Cylon Raider to go back to Caprica for Apollo’s Arrow, which would lead her people to Earth. When the Pegasus came, she was originally slated to become part of the Pegasus flight group, which was preparing for a recon mission on a nearby Cylon fleet. She had the audacity to suggest on using a stealth ship for a recon mission. Sure the stealth ship was built by hand using spare parts, but it was effective and would be perfect for the mission. Kara was dismissed from the mission, but Lee “Apollo” Adama, her almost brother-in-law, sort-of love interest, and probably best friend from Galactica, told her to take the stealth ship (Blackbird), and to make the recon trip without anybody else’s knowledge, and that is exactly what she did.
With the help of stealth, Starbuck is able to fly right through the Cylon fleet undetected, take pictures of a mystery ship that the other Cylons were protecting, and fly back without the enemy noticing. Starbuck comes back in just enough time to see the Viper fighters from both the Pegasus and Galactica playing chicken, wanting the blow each other out of the sky. This little Cain vs. Adama pissing match is put to an end by the appearance of an unknown ship on the radar, and both fighter groups decide to attack it. That unknown ship was the Blackbird, and when Kara sees that everybody is coming for her she shouts that she is a friendly (they should see her after a few drinks), and in fact, they are all friendlies, and why the hell are they fighting? I couldn’t answer, but maybe if she had thrown in a reading, roger, vector or victor, she might have a better idea.
After everything was sorted out, the pictures Starbuck took were coming in. Cain took a look at the pictures and really seemed impressed by what was going on. Maybe the Galactica wasn’t a disgrace to the fleet. If nothing else, it produced Starbuck. With this sort of mini-detente going on, the President took the time to call both Cain and Adama in, and while I am sure that she was looking to lay the smack down a little bit, I don’t think she really got to either of them. What they decided was that there would be no executions until the larger matter of the nearby Cylon fleet was taken care of. After that, there would be plenty of time to decide what to do with Helo and Tyrol, and in the meantime, they would stay on Pegasus.
Getting back to work, Cain immediately appoints Starbuck as the Air Group Commander (CAG) for the Pegasus. The previous CAG didn’t have the guts, and he allowed Apollo to undermine his authority right under his nose. Although Kara has not always been seen as a leader, she is a good pilot and welcomes the appointment. She is still wary of Cain, but sort of likes how the Admiral is on her side for a number of issues. When Kara returned to Caprica, she found that there were human survivors, and she wanted to go back and rescue them. Adama was reluctant, but Cain thought it was a great idea. In fact, she thinks the goal should not be running away from the Cylons, but to find a way to take back their home worlds.
President Roslin has some business of her own. Recently, her health has been deteriorating rapidly, but she her main goal is still the survival of the Colonial Fleet, and with Cain around, she is unsure of the outcome. She would have to die and have Cain running things. Roslin pleads with Commander Adama, and tells him that they must kill Cain, because Cain is surely going to try and kill him. He has taken an oath to protect the fleet, and frankly that goal is harder to accomplish with Cain around.
So, what about out prisoners Helo and Tyrol? They thought that they were supposed to be executed, but hours had passed since the deadline. That’s good because they weren’t dead, but that’s bad because, well, it’s not like anybody was letting them out. Anticipation can be a great thing in certain circumstances whether it be that first sip of Starbucks that is going to get you through the morning, or that first kiss with a new flame, but can also be killer, like waiting for the Cubs to win the World Series (or get to the World Series for that matter) or you know, your own execution. They were wondering what was happening, and luckily Apollo came in to give them the good news (you aren’t going to be killed for a few days at least) and the bad news (in a couple more days, you’ll be dead).
Tyrol and Helo have an obvious shared experience with Valeri, but Tyrol is starting to think that it is going to be over for him. He would have risked his life to save Sharon if he had to do it again, but he thinks he may finally be able to let go of her, to finally stop loving her. That’s easy for him, but Helo has a little more investment. He admits that he sometimes thinks he is crazy for loving, for falling for her, but she is carrying his baby and can’t let go. He loves Sharon, but everything that comes with it has proved to be a little bit of a challenge, sort of like when Nick married Jessica, and then first met her dad.
Through a lot of this, much fleet was thinking the same thing. Aren’t the Cylons supposed to be the enemy here? It’s one of the great parts of the show. We learned to hate Boomer when she was committing acts of sabotage that killed members of the Galactica, and tricking Tyrol into defending her with that “luv me long time” sort of attitude even after she nearly killed Adama, but then saw the other side of what she was when she saved Helo on Caprica, fell in love, got pregnant, and now helps them out as much as she can. But I think that whatever we come to think of Boomer, and I still think she can’t be trusted; raping her was not the way to get back at the Cylons for what they did. It might not help her pain, but Adama apologizes for letting it happen, and the fleet’s doctor calls it unforgivable.
As tough as Boomer has had it, her Cylon counterpart on Pegasus has had it worse. Her name is Gina and she has the physical form of Six, the hottie blonde Cylon that often appears as the leader for so much of the series, and arrives in Dr. Baltar’s dreams. She had nobody to defend her and had been tortured and raped. Dr. Baltar has been trying to help her, but there is only so much that he can do, especially when his mind was clouded with his overwhelming feelings of love for her that he established with her copy while things were nice on Caprica.
Baltar isn’t a saint, and his actions are often centered around promoting his personal agenda at the same time he tries to downplay any involvement he might have had creating the Cylons or helping in the attack, but he has generally been a good person. In the miniseries, he was among dozens of people who were vying for a spot on the final ship that was going back to Galactica. Although his number wasn’t called, he had the opportunity to take the place of an older woman who wasn’t able to read her number when it was called. He did end up getting a spot on the flight when Helo recognized him, but still, you can see he does care about others.
Gaius has been able to get Gina back functioning, but the only reason she is alive is because Cain needs her for information. When the admiral walks into the holding cell, you can see that she was well aware of Gina’s treatment, and likely authorized it. To her, the Cylon is nothing more than a dog, but still, she needs information. Cain gives Baltar some of the pictures Starbuck took and tells him to find out what they are. As Cain and the guards leave, Gina jumps on Gaius and tries to choke him. Although it appeared Gaius and Six were a fairly kinky pair, erotic asphyxiation was not part of the show. Gina doesn’t kill him, and instead, she suddenly backs off and asks the doctor to kill her.
While all of this was going on, we are beginning to learn more things about Cain. The executive officer (XO) on the Pegasus likes to drink moonshine with Colonel Tigh, the Galactica XO, and when drunk, he likes to talk. We learn that Pegasus also came upon several civilian ships, but instead of carrying around that dead weight, stripped them of anything that might be useful to Pegasus, including any crew that might be of use, such as civil pilots and engineers. It was bad enough to spilt up families, especially since any ship they took parts from was left not only defenseless but unable to evade the Cylons, but Cain went farther than that. She forced people to joint he military, and if they refused, she had their families shot. One ship, the Scylla (no word if her sister shop Charbydis was around – that’s my Odyssey of the day) they killed two families in this way in order to get their loved ones to comply. OH. SHIT. I mean, the Galactica has had it’s share of incidence, and some Marines killed civilians when they were hampering a supply transfer, but they didn’t shoot on purpose, and they surely weren’t ordered to do so. If Adama finds out about this, maybe he’ll have to think about that whole assassination plan again.
Once he got over the idea of his prisoner, who happens to be the same woman he thinks he loves, trying to kill him, Baltar got back to work. He brings a new change of clothes, and although he turns around to give her some privacy, he can’t help but look back and take note of all the scars from her torture. He asks her if she knew that she was a Cylon, because Sharon had always said she didn’t know and couldn’t remember when she did bad shit. Gina said she knew her mission, and she took it because she knew that when they found her, they would kill her, and then they can be reborn. Part of the Cylon mythology is that their consciousness leaves their body and inhabits another one after their death. She was prepared for death, but she wasn’t prepared to live. Baltar told her things would get better, but she says that after what she’s been through, she wants to die. When Gaius reminds Gina that she will just be reborn, she tells him the secret of that mysterious ship Starbuck took pictures of.
The ship is called a resurrection ship. The fleet is so far removed from the Cylon home world that if one of them were to die, they wouldn’t be able to return home and be downloaded into another body. They would just cease to exist, like all of us normal people. The resurrection ship had everything necessary for the rebirth process, which is why so many other ships were guarding it. It was like a safety net, and without it, maybe the Cylons would think twice about their missions. If you knew that when you died you wouldn’t come back again somewhere else, just how excited would you be to go into battle?
Where do they get those wonderful toys?
Lee Adama and Kara lay out their final plan for destroying the resurrection ship. They are going to use a few civilian ships as a decoy for the Cylon fleet, and then attack when they have pulled away from the resurrection ship. Since a nuclear weapon would be detectable, they can’t just use the Blackbird and fly in undetected. It is going to be a risky plan, but Cain loves it. She only needs to make some final preparations. After the briefing she discusses with her second in command her intention to kill Adama. Cain is known to punish insubordination, like with a bullet to the brain, so he won’t think twice about the mission. He is to take a group of Pegasus marines on the Galactica under the guise of needing to observe the fleet, and on her signal, they would kill Commander Adama.
As we all know, Adama has his own plan. After he heard about what happened on Scylla, he told the President, and through her joking about getting a hot new blonde Cylon body, she understood what had to be done. His plan involves something else, or somebody else that is – Starbuck. Cain trusts Starbuck, but Adama has done a lot for her and they share an understanding. The Commander tells her that she is to shoot Admiral Cain on his signal once the mission is complete. Normally Kara wouldn’t question the Commander, but she happens to like a lot of what Cain represents, so you wonder if she could actually pull the trigger.
And there ends this week’s episode. We all know that in all likelihood Cain is going to die, but something tells me that somebody other than Starbuck will pull the trigger. Something tells me it might not even happen next week. The show is all about throwing us surprises, and I am sure that whatever happens will be another one. Hell, maybe the mission will fail, who knows, but I’ll definitely be tuning in next week.
What did you think of the episode? Will Starbuck kill Cain? Can Gina be trusted? How many more episodes do you think Roslin will survive?