Battlestar Galactica #31: The Return of Starbuck

"She's going to bear another human life." "I am rapidly being surrounded."
SO SAY WE ALL: Dr. Zee dreams of his birth and his connection to Starbuck.

REVIEW: One of the things that makes Galactica distinct is its roots in Chariot of the Gods. There's something mythical/biblical about this space opera that you don't readily find in other franchises. So the story of whatever happened to Starbuck is totally in line with that. Even if the heroes of the original show were contemporaries of late 20th-Century Earth, they still seem to be precursors to our own great stories, just as if they'd inspired them (instead, it's a case of patterns reoccurring across humanity's history). Starbuck finds himself lost, makes friends with the enemy (a tale going back to the very first written work, that of Gilgamesh, though modern viewers will be thinking of Enemy Mine - not yet out as a movie - or Robinson Crusoe with his Man Friday), meets an angel (literally called Angela), and secure the birth and escape of a Messianic child. And that child will turn out to be Dr. Zee, who just now is remembering these events as dreams. Apparently, Starbuck's good works would, in a future episode, earn him a place among the Beings of Light. Only in Battlestar Galactica, right?

After 9 episodes of mostly dreck, it's hard not to feel a certain elation in seeing Starbuck again. Boomer and Adama are on hand. Athena and Cassie are mentioned. Apollo is conspicuously absent, suggesting he's already dead. Starbuck smart-talking a Cylon, making a great sacrifice, naming a planet after himself... And we probably learn more about the Cylons than we ever have. They're trapped in their programming, but also have certain emotions (jealousy, disappointment, pride). They consider the humans "evil" and have an egalitarian society based on direct voting, though the position of "Imperious Leader" would seem to put the lie to that. Perhaps the lower orders are meant to believe in this ideal, but the truth is they've been lied to and "programmed" (not to use the word "brainwashed"). And perhaps so have we. Are the Cylons necessarily evil? Indeed "Cy" (Cyrus to his colleagues) protests a lot, but he is Starbuck's friend and gives his life for him at the end. And you know what? Just having a main character who can speak NORMALLY, who knows what rain is, etc. is a nice change of pace. The Cylon can play at not knowing what a child is, etc., that's fine. I'd even call it amusing that it kind of talks like Troy and Dillon would.

So there's no doubt this is the most watchable episode of Galactica 1980 by far, but folks, it's still a Galactica 1980 episode. In other words, it's got problems. Chief among these is the narration. Zee is recounting his dream and SOMEtimes, he's narrator, but MOST times, we get this florid personal journal - play by play, in fact - from Starbuck. Who is he telling this to? Is it even in character? For that matter, when did he become so technically-proficient? It's nonsense, just like Adama's contention that Zee remembers these events because he was there. Highly evolved brain or not, the baby shows up at the end and is sent off planet. I don't think he can remember all of that. It would also make more sense for Adama to know or suspect all this from the beginning; it would help explain why he put the fleet in the hands of a 13-year-old (or however old Zee was when they put him in charge). He's evidently been sent to save humanity, though his connection to his spiritual father is tenuous at best. Starbuck saves the Saviour, but he's not really related to him. I don't even believe in the love affair as presented on screen, Angela just too ethereal to make any real connection with us or Starbuck.

SPACE DISCO: Angela is a real disco queen.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: In the reimagined series, Starbuck will also be believed dead and return.

It's almost like getting an episode of the original series to close off this era of the show, but I'd be lying if I thought it was actually that great a piece of television.


LiamKav said...

Does this mean you're heading straight on to the reboot miniseries next week, or are there some ancillary tales you'll cover first? I'm only half way through season 3 of the reboot so I need to know if I should change speed. 😀

Siskoid said...

Today's post (Tuesday Feb 12th) answers your question.


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