Battlestar Galactica #39: You Can't Go Home Again

"Are you... alive?"
SO SAY WE ALL: Galactica searches for Starbuck, trying to survive on a desolate moon.

REVIEW: I like a good survival story, and Starbuck's is as desperate as they come. She's running out of oxygen, she's being dragged by a parachute, she's rummaging through the guts of a Cylon raider - the Centurions seem all mechanical, but the ships are full of guts, one wonders about their feelings - she's sucking air out of a gory nozzle... And all the while, Vipers are searching for her and breaking down because the dust gets in everything. I do find the show takes a couple of shortcuts - do we really believe she could adapt the raider for a human pilot and fly it so well? When did she have time to paint her name on the wings? Your mileage may vary, but it's still a punch-the-air moment when she makes Apollo believe she's not the enemy seconds before the fleet jump out of the sector.

The atmosphere is as toxic aboard the Galactica. From the initial moment when Hot Dog feels emptiness even as he earns his wings to the escalating emotions of the two Adamas as Starbuck's air counter runs out, to their eventual shame when the president makes them see they're endangering what's left of humanity, the episode is more than an adventure story. It's high drama. Adama becomes obsessive, resolved not to lose another child, angry perhaps most at himself for putting her in a position where she would take such risks. Lee and Tigh get physical and almost come to blows. Friendships become tense and professional. And while Roslin initially backs down, she eventually has to give them a harsh talking to because they HAVE lost all perspective. And they know it, too tired to want to deal with the moral dilemma. The proof is in the touching moment when Adama admits that if Lee were the one missing, he would never leave. Bonus: Starbuck brings a raider back for study, and gets her surrogate father's forgiveness. Not a dry eye in the house.

It's tough watching our heroes get told off like that, or being at odds the way Roslin and Adama are, especially when we think they're acting like heroes (no man left behind is a heroic trope), but she's definitely right under the circumstances. She's so right, I doubt Baltar had anything to do with it, his paranoid compulsion (as manifest in Six) to make Rolsin stop the search out of self-preservation not quite villainous enough for the audience to care. Sabotage is not required.

The other survival story is back on Caprica where Helo is the subject of an experiment. From the looks of it, it's like they want to see if a Cylon can mate with a human, but why? Is it offspring? To see if the human will then turn on his own people for love? It remains to be seen, but the shelter is presented as a sort of honeymoon, and Sharon is definitely flirting. When he insists on moving on, the Cylons immediately attack him in the kitchen upstairs (cue the famous chrome toaster scene) and "take" her. More emotional manipulation, but it's hard to entirely care about this subplot given the amount of screen time it gets each week.

CAPRICANADA: The moon was played by a private, active rock quarry in Coquitlam, BC. The Caprican shoot-out happened at a Vancouver restaurant called Alibi.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: Starbuck in survival mode with a Cylon "assistant" was apparently the original's final fate, as chronicles in Galactica 1980's Whatever Happened to Starbuck. Starbuck in the Cylon raider performs an overt nod to the wing-waggling maneuver from The Hand of God, in which Apollo and Starbuck must make the other Viper pilots realize they're in an enemy craft and shouldn't be shot down.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: They rescue Kara, so no new deaths.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes include Six accusing Baltar of considering what it would be like to sleep with Roslin, and a quick chat between Adama and Dr. Cottle about Starbuck's condition.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A couple of moment strain credulity, but its emotional landscape is intense and powerful, so it works more than it doesn't.

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