Battlestar Galactica #44: The Hand of God

"Sometimes, you have to roll the hard six."
SO SAY WE ALL: With the Fleet short of fuel, Galactica launches a daring attack on a Cylon base.

REVIEW: An action episode! Star Wars riffs! A secret plan that surprises everyone! Lee's insecurity! Okay, that may not be why I would recommend this episode (come on, CAG, get it together), but the celebratory feeling at the end when the heroes come home (even though many do not), is infectious... and warranted. If on Day 36, you only had enough tylium to make one more jump, and you suddenly got a 2-year supply (from the Cylons, no less), I think that would be cause. We haven't seen spirits this high since the show began. So while I don't think Lee's anxiety is all that believable - so you're only the SECOND-best pilot, boo-hoo - it does lead to some fine moments with his father, including that final silent look at the end there. Man, that whole bit, lending him Joseph Adama's lucky lighter that he always brought to court, makes me almost wish I'd done these reviews chronologically, starting with the Caprica series. Would that have deepened my appreciation for these scenes?

Adama really is the secret MVP of the episode. Not only does he deal with Apollo, but with Starbuck as well. She's out of commission still, thanks to a bad knee (talk about never pushing the reset button at the end of an episode!), so he grooms her as a tactician. She thinks outside the box and that's useful, but her place is in the cockpit. Great scene where Adama shows her she can't take the G-forces in there with simple gym equipment. As it turns out, she doesn't want the responsibility, and finds it extremely hard to stay in the situation room while all hell breaks loose out there, powerless to act directly. She hears her students die. She stresses over whether Lee can execute the plan. It takes the story from action into engaging drama. And in the end, her plan surprises everybody but the top brass (they even kept it from Roslin - I can't help but think it's a small revenge for the mistrust she showed recently) and it's a winner after all, though we get the sense it's a Plan B or C at best. Plan A blew up pretty early.

What really puts the episode over the top, however, is the Pythian prophecy surrounding it. Roslin hallucinates 12 snakes while she's on kamala extract, which prompts the priest to remind her of the ancient scrolls that predicted humanity's exodus. It tells of 12 serpents guiding a leader with a wasting disease to the promised land, though that leader would not live to set foot there. All indicators point to Roslin not surviving her fight with cancer, and her vision stemming from the prophecy. But look at Baltar who guesses at the mining facility's weak spot, a guess Six insists is inspired by God, the raid conducted by 12 Vipers (serpents). Is HE the leader of the prophecy? No wasting disease as of yet, but if he is, then HE doesn't make it to Earth alive (which you'll admit might be a fitting end for a villain). The episode ends on Baltar now convinced he is an instrument of God, resting in a Messianic pose. So who is the prophecy about? Is it all coincidence, a lucky guess fueling Baltar's narcissism? But if it's true, what about the next verse, about a confrontation at the home of the gods? Kobol? Though ambiguity persists, you don't introduce prophecies in a work of fiction if they're not going to come true. The writers have to commit to some sort of end game, though they may interpret it as they see fit. It has to be part of the Plan. Speaking of which, looks like Sharon is having morning sickness back on Caprica. So is her having a child with a human PART of the Plan or an accident? And is she running because this changes everything for her and she can't let her people take her baby? Of course, by the rules of the show, even if it's not part of the Cylon plan, it's still part of God's. Things are getting more and more complicated, aren't they?

CAPRICANADA: On Caprica, the stables Sharon and Helo run through are at North Shore Equestrian Centre, in North Vancouver, close to Capilano University.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN:
The original series had an episode entitled The Hand of God, but aside from Adama ordering an attack on the Cylons, there are no similarities (the production team didn't do it on purpose, apparently). I should also mention that ripping off Star Wars is a very Original Series thing to do.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Several Viper pilots are lost in the battle. How many is not here revealed, but the death count includes Chuckles, Fireball, and Stepchild.


VERSIONS: There is one deleted scene from this episode, Billy talking to Roslin about her kamala intake and seeing it as a positive.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High -
A tense actioner, but more interesting is the introduction of prophecies that keep us guessing.

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