Battlestar Galactica #76: Hero

"Sometimes surviving can be its own death sentence."
SO SAY WE ALL: An MIA pilot from Adama's previous command returns, raising questions about that last mission.

REVIEW: Carl Lumbly is always a good guest-star, and he's Bulldog, a man from Adama's past just escaped from the Cylons after being thought dead for three years. Thing is, his return opens up an old wound, or rather, explains a wound that Adama's been scratching at since we've known him. The big reveal is that 1) when he was commander of the Valkyrie, Adama was sent on a black ops mission to cross the border and find out if the Cylons were building a war machine, in other words, WE were the aggressors, or at least the first to break the treaty; and 2) Adama had to blow up Bulldog's stealth Viper to prevent him from being captured (which failed, evidently), but Bulldog doesn't know that. Within the story, it will provide impetus for Bulldog to try and kill Adama in revenge, which is just what the Cylons want, using the recent plague as a cover story for his escape. But the reason it's actually important is to explain Adama's almost pathological need to protect the people serving under him. He always had that streak, of course, as shown in his often-misplaced loyalty to Tigh, but without Bulldog, I don't think we get the Adama riddled with guilt that can't bear to leave people behind. And of course, the guilt is bigger than that, because he also feels responsible for the Cylons' genocidal attack - unreasonably, since Roslin is right, it was always going to happen, and like Admiral Cain, those admirals may well have been warmongers. And it's the screw-up that got him "demoted" to commanding a museum piece. In other words, it's Adama's "secret origin" (and BSG's too), and it informs every decision we've seen him make. Look again at his odd first speech at the inauguration just before the attack, and the Bulldog incident is all over it.

Tigh is an important character in this drama. He's the one who resents Adama so much that he cruelly tells Bulldog what really happened, feigning ignorance as to whether Adama had confessed. Adama is confessing to Lee at the same time, so the way the story is told is pacey and strongly edited. It's also Tigh who comes in to save the day after realizing the Cylons have manipulated Bulldog into assassinating Adama, thanks to his new confidant Starbuck's analysis of the situation. He may be angry at Adama, but he still knows who the real enemy is. And in the same way he descrobes quitting drinking as simply choosing to walk out of your room one day, he comes to Adama finally ready to unburden himself about the death of his wife. He is NOT ready, however to take on the burden of resuming his post as XO. Bulldog and Adama DO take on burdens, having to live not just with their guilt, but suffering through rewards instead of punishments. Roslin's solution is elegant - pin a medal on him for morale's sake, and the Admiral has to grin and bear it. This is mirrored in his giving Bulldog a pilot's uniform, though the character goes off to join the civilian fleet and does not join the cast. By not paying for their mistakes, they aren't afforded the ability to clear their consciences.

Meanwhile, on the Cylon ship, the interrogation of Baltar has somehow evolved into his being in a sexual threesome with Caprica 6 and what I assume is Hero D'Anna. What's going on there? The focus is on her killing herself over and over in order to get visions, linking the resurrection process with the prophecies Head 6 and Baltar are connected to. Glimpses of the Final Five, the Opera House, etc. It makes for a nice red herring at first, as an extended dream makes you believe there's a D'Anna on Galactica. Otherwise though, it's a rather opaque series of sequences, keeping the actors busy until we can spend more time with this subcast of characters.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: As Ron Moore wrote Star Trek TNG's "The Defector", we should note its similarities with this episode, notably that it starts with a chase for the runaway to "make it look good", as the villains always wanted them to escape.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Current head count after the opening scene is 41,421, which adds Bulldog to the human population.

VERSIONS: Among the deleted scenes, we find Adama and Bulldog discussing how the latter found the fleet, and how he got lucky cycling through the raider's memory banked coordinates, and Adama informing him that what the Cylons were gloating about is true and that this is all that's left of humanity; a scene aboard the Cylon ship where the Cylons are plugged into their computers and ignore a talkative Baltar - they answer a single question about other prisoners on the ship having their "uses". The line about Bulldog's bullshit attitude was cut from the American broadcast, but aired in Canada and the UK.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- Important revelations that don't change anything, just shed light on what we thought we already understood.

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