Battlestar Galactica #4: The Lost Warrior

"Humans deceive, not sound waves."
SO SAY WE ALL: Apollo is stranded on a western-like planet with a Cylon is a gunslinger.

REVIEW: We now enter, as I understand it, the short phase where episodes were fast-tracked into production when BSG suddenly went to series. Consequently, they aren't very good. The Last Warrior nevertheless sets a possible template for future episodes by establishing that the Twelve Colonies had colonies of their own, outlying worlds with small human populations that, taking a page from Star Trek, could parallel our development and make use of stock costumes, props and sets. In this case, Apollo lands himself in a western, albeit one with fiberglass hats, glittery vests, striped horses, and... a Cylon gunslinger?

Red-Eye is a brain-damaged Cylon at the command of a Boss Hog-lookin' land baron extorting a share of everyone's crops, and anyone who won't pay up gets to have a showdown with the invulnerable enforcer. And most of the episode is a waiting game with Apollo refusing to shoot Red-Eye with his blaster lest it alert a nearby Cylon outpost. Of course as soon as he hears the full story, he realizes this guy is a trigger-happy one-off, and he guns him down. It almost seems like this Colonial warrior is espousing anti-gun sentiment (just as Vella, the widow to his Shane, does), even as Vella's son Puppis (terrible name, annoying kid performance like you'd expect) jumps around making gun sounds and forcing Apollo into an uncomfortable idol position. At least a thought is spared for Serina, even if at this point, Boxey seems pretty happy and considers Apollo his dad and Adama his grandfather. We can compare Puppis and Boxey in this, the former the son of a Colonial warrior (which he's been kept in the dark about) who nevertheless wants that kind of life, and the latter who, in Apollo's absence, gets a cute sleepover in the pilot barracks where he takes all of Starbuck's jellybeans at Pyramid. They are similar boys, but the episode has no point to make. If it's wrong for Puppis to take up arms on the frontier on account of his mom's beliefs, why is it okay to encourage Boxey to become a Viper pilot? Both live on the frontier, both will doubtless have to defend themselves, and conversely, both have had a parent slain (two in Boxey's case). They are simply treated the way the story needs them to be and that's all.

In the end, this is just about showing a Cylon on a horse. It's a fun bit. When it's over, Vella finally reveals she knows where Apollo could get more fuel for his empty Viper, and he's off. Similarly, a search party isn't sent after Apollo because Adama fears showing preferential treatment by doing so. A lot of these plot delays feel forced. Come to think of it, there's no reason Apollo was out there without his wingman. For that matter, not much thought is put into warning the people of Equellus the Cylons are on a genocidal rampage.

SPACE DISCO: It may be a western, but Apollo's plunging neckline is fit for a dance club.

ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE AND IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN: All the names heard on Equellus are those of constellations here on Earth. It seems parallel development is responsible for it looking like a frontier town in the Old West.

HUMAN DEATH TOLL: Red-Eye killed 10 men in the last decade, including Puppis' father, and in this episode, his uncle.

VERSIONS: Deleted scenes show Apollo setting himself to shoot Puppis' lupis himself, and getting the low-down on the town and saloon from Vella's brother Bootes.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Fine for what it is, but like Apollo, it runs out of gas a bit too quickly. It coasts on fumes until the final moment where the Cylon actually says "uh-oh", kid you not.


Brendoon said...

This episode is a major memory for me, I loved it HUGELY at the time. I can't even remember why, it was something about the Cylon... Perhaps it was the gunslinger face-off or something.
I'll have to watch it to see if it jogs the memory. Bought the set a few years back but still haven't watched it- though my kids did.

I've got the BSG annual which was a treasure at the time 'cos it had photos of the cyclon ships and the vipers, unavailable anywhere else in those days.
In the background articles I remember it saying clearly the Cylons were lizard-like creatures who had fused themselves into metal bodies, fixing the emotions and obedience etc, just like Cybermen. It was a weird thing to see that in later episodes they, or at least some of them appeared to be just machines.
Just as well, the thought of finding a dead 'un and having to carve out rotten meat to disguise oneself as a cylon had no appeal.
Luckily I was never called to do such a thing.

Brendoon said...

Yay for Wikipedia! It tells me they became robots because the censors were concerned about violence. Here's the passage about the novel:
"In the novelization of the series pilot, the Cylons are described as a militaristic, reptilian race which has been conquering its way across the galaxy. The novelization is written by Glen Larson, the series creator, who originally intended the Cylons to be an alien species; and, in fact, dialog which was later edited out of "Saga of a Star World" illustrated this point. However, network censors were concerned about violence, so the Cylons became robots. By this time, two novels had been written describing the Cylons as multibrained aliens, so the Cylon Drone was invented to justify all the robots dying on-screen. As living, organic beings, the original Cylon troops could be promoted through the surgical implantation of a second brain. When a Cylon was elevated to Imperious Leader, he received a third brain."

Brendoon said...

Aww, NICE! The story of how the Cylons were designed:

The "Actor in a suit" was the limitation. I was wondering why such an iconic cool look was abandoned in the re-imagining. The old look wasn't necessary anymore.
Eat your heart out, Vader! These guys are the coolest looking sci-fi characters of all time.
Chrome is just sweet to the eyes...

Siskoid said...

The show's canon (as per the pilot episode) is that the Cylons were lizard-like and built the robots as servitors/soldiers. The Cylons died out, but their machines lived on and adopted the name.

Brendoon said...

Sweeet... it's over thirty years since I watched the pilot, I guess.

Timothy S. Brannan said...

I remember this one well. And yes I did get a sense of Trek deja-vu from it.

Sadly the "lone viper pilot lost" will continue to Galactica 80.


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