Battlestar Galactica #20: Take the Celestra

"I knew him on Caprica." "And for that we'll all spend thirty yahrens on the prison barge."
SO SAY WE ALL: Starbuck encounters his long-lost love Aurora amidst a mutinous rebellion aboard the Celestra.

REVIEW: I enjoy finding out about life in the fleet, though it often shows terrible inequity that neither Adama nor the Council of Twelve want to address and fix. The Rising Star is of course a cruise liner, but compared to some of these other vessels, the Galactica itself is the lap of luxury. So it's hard not to side with the abused workers on the Celestra (and potentially, other factory ships) who are ready to throw their bodies upon the gears, as it were, for better conditions. This contrasts Adama's opening journal where he states that cultural life is on the rise thanks to the fleet processing more resources from life-bearing worlds now on their path. And still, no talk of just settling down on one of them... I guess the Cylons could still show up and everyone's hoping Earth is this superpower that can defend humanity against them. I thought for sure this was the reason for the mutiny. People wanting to leave and forge their own destiny on one of these worlds. Instead, it's largely about unionizing.

Adama appears weak when at first compared with Kronus, his mentor, retired but now in charge of the Celestra. He doesn't like the way Adama runs the fleet, he's not ruthless or aggressive enough, which makes you think he's a bad dude who might be thinking of pulling a coup. But no, it's actually his first mate Charka who can't wait for Kronus to retire, and adds his mutiny on top of the workers' so he can get command of the Celestra. And turns out, Kronus wasn't aware that Charka was abusing the workers. Result: He's weaker than he lets on, and if you go up the chain, it makes Adama weaker too. The fleet is getting all these goods processed and giving out medals to those apparently responsible, but they don't question how it was achieved, and human rights violations are going on under their noses. At least Kronus gets a bit of redemption, saving the ship from destruction by fiddling with a Viper joystick (one of the cheapest and worst design decisions in the show's history) while he dies. Not that the on screen action is all that clear.

One might also call Charka's plan into question, but I don't think there really is one. He thought he would be handed the Celestra after the ceremony and wasn't. It's just a coincidence that the workers rebel at that point, and he uses it, and the Viper pilots coming on board for maintenance, to get Kronus off the ship. I imagine he COULD have helped the rebels create the situation, but there's no way he could foresee Apollo and Starbuck showing up, so he's improvising, not masterminding.

Beyond the mutiny stuff, there's the fact that Starbuck's old girlfriend Aurora (Falcon Crest's Ana Alicia) is one of the rebellious workers. I'm not sure I buy his story about trying to find her during Caprica's last stand and leaving her for dead - I seem to remember a lot of Athena/Cassie womanizing in the first episode - nor that after all these months, he never heard from her or tried to check ship manifests. And indeed, he later admits he's no longer in love with her and everything's right with him and Cassie after all. His mishandling of the situation is his usual adolescent attitude (perhaps because this is BSG's target audience?), and Cassiopeia as usual seems so much more adult in her reactions. There is probably some truth in the idea that he was running from Cassie as much as he was running toward Aurora. I can at least appreciate that it fits the theme of jealousy (Cassie's and Damon's) that's part of the A-plot.

SPACE DISCO: This episode's haircuts feel more dated than a lot of others', probably due to Damon's fluffy perm.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: The Battlestar Galactica theme is used as a diagetic anthem at the award ceremony; the modern series also uses that theme in this way. There was a Celestra in the reimagined fleet as well, though it was a warship rather than an industrial one.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Commander Kronus is killed on action. Surprisingly, he's the only one.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A perfectly fine action'n'romance episode even if some things in the plot are a little rushed.

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