Battlestar Galactica: Miniseries: Part 1
Years ago Mankind created Machines to do their work. You may have heard this one before….Like all these tales, they do not end happily. The Machines rose up destroying their organic Masters, but eventually Mankind was able to force a stalemate and an armistice. But this is not the ending, this is only the beginning, as you’ll soon find out.
Our story begins during the said armistice. A station was created to keep the peace, it is here we find our setting. A lonely diplomat waits in a chair, reviewing materials from a war long ago. This diplomat does not expect to be greeted by the shiny machines he studies year after year upon this station of peace. Every year he has waited, and every year has gone by with no contact from the Cylons, the aforementioned Machines. Suddenly the door across from him opens and two Machines enter, very clearly of Cylon origin. The telltale blood red light screams across the facemask where eyes would normally be, their hands now vicious instruments of vivisection. And between them, cloaked in red, of all things, a woman. She embraces our diplomat, and asks breathlessly if he is alive.
As she locks her lips on his we hear the words “It has begun.” and this station, once founded to house the peace between Humans and Cylons is destroyed along with the lovely lady in red. I’m guessing she has a name, a really creative and inspired name with deep roots in the Science Fiction mythos. Yes, they call her “Six” as we will soon find out. Not “Six of Nine” or even “Six of one” just plain ol’Sex. I mean Six, of course I mean Six! No Freudian slips here, nosir!
We are now aboard the Galactica, on its way to be decommissioned. Running down the hall is Starbuck. No, not Dirk Benedict, no not that loveable ol’Scoundrel, this one is a chick, I think. In any event she’s tough! And they convince you by having her run down a hall, sweating. We’ll get back to Starbuck.
The Commander meanwhile is given a gift of a plaque of himself in much younger years, and looking like George W. if you ask me. On each side is a son, one of whom survived to become a great pilot of his own. His other son died at the hands of the Cylon, apparently an inept pilot who should not have been in the cockpit at all. But we’ll get back to the Adama family Christmas in a moment.
Back to ol’Starbuck, we find her in the commons playing cards against the other flyboys and one grumpy guy by the name of Tyge. Tyge is the XO (Executive officer) has a drinking problem as well as marital problems and Starbuck has no problems letting this guy have it with both barrels. She makes a few snide comments, then wins the hands with “Full Colors” which is Battlestar Galactica talk for a Flush. Tyge throws the table aside and Starbuck knocks him flat with a right hook. A severe crime if ever there was one, and she’s removed from duty and thrown in the brig. Meanwhile Commander Adama appeals to his old friend Tyge in the hopes of getting Starbuck put back on duty, but Tyge won’t hear any of it, even if Old Commander Adama thinks she’s the best pilot in the Galaxy.
Next we’re introduced to our token political character by the name of Laura Roslin. As if an answer to my prayers they kill her off in the first scene! No, not really but they do diagnose her with cancer. Ahh the good old device known in showbiz as the “Ticking Clock”! Can’t have drama and conflict without it! And of course if she decides to do the series, maybe they can delay that cancer just a bit!
In any event I miss the lady in red and the writers of this series deliver. Sure enough the very next scene we find Six walking down a street, and she notices a tiny human baby in a cradle. She seems quite confused how her bitter enemies could be so tiny and so vulnerable and inquires into how a baby can support the weight of its own head. The woman’s answer does not satisfy her so she reaches into the cradle to test the theory herself and quite purposefully snaps the childs neck and with a short smile she is off.
WHAT A BADDY! And finally a gal baddy!
But what about Baltar? The famous baddy from the original series is back and he’s been madeover twenty years younger, and fifty IQ points higher. This young man known as Gaius Baltar is arguing against the ban against Artificial Intelligence. Like the “Dune” series mankind answer against AI was to outright ban all of it, and Gaius feels this is too harsh, and handicaps us against a future enemy. Just as he explains this lo and behold Six herself walks in and promptly pulls him into the bedroom and shows him where his loyalties really lie (among other things). This scene is interesting because Six seems conflicted and really into Gaius the little twerp.
As she erm mounts him her backbone glows red and she moans about the heat. Could it be that our Six is really in love with this mere human?? And a twerp of a human at that! No wonder they hate humanity, if I were judging it by Baltar, I’d be just as mad!
Back on the Galactica the Adama reunion is in full swing. Lee “Apollo” Adama arrives and complains about the lack of ALS (Automated Landing System), the crew chief explains that his father does not trust machines and all landings are manual. The crew chief like myself thinks Apollo is a wuss, as any real pilot wouldn’t have a problem about landing, heck most hate the ALS!
Well now since it’s been 45 seconds since a gratuitous sex scene we find a saucy little dish by the name of Sharon “Boomer” Valerii making time with the crew chief as they argue over gimbles and other inconsequential pilot stuff. Boomer indeed!
The next scene finds Baltar walking down the street with a nice new coat by the name of Six draped all over him. The curious aspect to this scene is that Six tells him of her religion and her “God”. Baltar finds it curious that an intelligent person would believe in God. Heck he doesn’t even know this is a machine of all things talking about God!! I think this is the start of a connection to the original series. In the original series Baltar was a member of the Senate who betrayed the Humans and gained his own Basestar as reward. His first officer was a machine by the name of “Lucifer” and this machine always questioned him and had these clever little dialectic scenes with him. I gather that this is the role of Six. Among other things she is always garbed in red and almost always speaks directly into his ear, all the trademarks of the devil himself….erm herself.
But back to the action. On board the Galactica the Commander is in a heated argument with Laura Roslin the Secretary of Education. She wants new programming installed in the ship and the Commander forbids it, citing that the only reason they won the war was due to the sacrifice of complicated machines. He obviously fears the same assault in the future and fears the risk at becoming slaves to the machines again. Meanwhile down below another argument is taking place between Starbuck and Apollo. She basically tells him he’s a whiny git and needs to get over his problems with his father. She even hints that she (Starbuck) was Apollo’s brothers lover. Eww. I miss Dirk Benedict.
Apollo has it out with his dad. He accuses his father for pushing them both into being pilots, and if it wasn’t for his fathers fame he never would’ve made it in anyway. Apollo tells him that the screams of Zach (the other kid) should always echo in his mind, because he killed him. Adama dismisses his son coldly with a “that is all”.
Back in Gaius Baltar central we find him in bed with another lovely, and a VERY jealous (though she won’t admit it) Six sitting in a chair in the corner watching them sleep. In an almost broken voice she says his name, then again more clearly, and more clearly until she sounds only a bit angry. Finally he awakens and like many of us uses the “It’s me, not you.” line. Even machines don’t buy this line and she pretends she doesn’t care anyway. She tells him quite dramatically from behind those luscious red lips that humanity is finished and she is a Cylon.
Baltar laughs and claims Cylons are walking toasters which look nothing like humans. Six laughs and tells him he already knew it, he’s just been lying to himself to flatter his own ego into thinking he’s the genius. Apparently all these years Six has been helping Gaius in his research and while doing it has gained access to all of humanity’s Databases. Now the time is ripe and thanks to Baltar the Human race will fall and be annihilated.
Baltar’s very first concern is “Does anyone know I did it???”, man what a weasel! This guy’s worried about getting caught, while Six explains after today there wont be anyone left anyway, including him. So why is she sticking around? Hmm.
Back on the Galactica the ceremony proceeds and we see the ships fan out while the music from the old series plays in the background. Adama gives a passionate speech but warns his crew and human kind that the Cylons still exist, and are still their enemies. There are some great lines in this speech, almost alone making it worth the price of admission. He cites that humans still commit the same crimes, murder, thievery, et al. And still refuse to accept responsibility for the Cylons. That the war couldn’t be the Cylons fault, because they created the own instruments of humanities destruction. He warns against playing God and washing your hands of your own creations. People are sorta stunned at this speech expecting more of a farewell type speech and good luck. Instead he spoke of impending doom, and the only person to applaud was the Secretary of Education.
Back in the Love Shack, Baltar watches as his homeworld is nuked to oblivion, and Six tells him one is heading to destroy this area. She seems very conflicted in a subtle machine sort of way as if she’s trying to decide something. Baltar demands to know how Six is leaving, and she tells him she was built to be destroyed, she can easily “wake up” in a new body. She also explains there are 12 models of Cylon, and she is Number Six. Oh so that’s her name! Just then out of the blue it seems she has obviously made up her mind to do something she was not meant to do. She tells Gaius “DOWN!” and throws herself across him saving his life. The life of a human.
The Galactica gets the news and moves into action. The new Cylon War has begun. Adama explains that the How and the Why no longer matter, the only thing that matters now is War. I’d like to say that there’s very few people who could fill the shoes of the old Adama but James Olmos does a damn fine job. Adama recalls the fighters to tactical positioning and orders that Starbuck be released from the brig. Meanwhile in space an assault is about to take place, Boomer is also in formation, but seems strangely rattled. I started getting a sneaking suspicion about her character at this point….did you? Either way those looks of her are just a little too perfect, just like Six…
Starbuck pulls a Kai and heads down to the museum and pulls the old Raptors out, ships that haven’t been used since the Cylon war. Most importantly about these ships is that they’re not part of the new ordinance that Six and her ilk have sabotaged. Speaking of which all over the galaxy the human based ships are breaking down, their software is shutting them off making them easy targets for the Cylons weapons which unerringly hit their targets every time. One neat thing about the space encounters is they take their own unique look and sounds and create a new medium for the genre. A hammering drum beat followed by almost sonar sounding weapons reminiscent of submarine combat.
With the human ships disabled the Cylons make quick work of them wiping them out to the last man while they can do nothing in defense or offense. For some strange reason our good looking friend “Boomer” has no trouble controlling her ship, and she bails out of the fighting at the command of her wingman.
The movie takes an interesting switch at this point. Many viewers noted a homage to the attacks on September 11th which left New Yorkers and many others scrambling around confused and disoriented, trying to accomplish many goals at once. In the same manner humanity responds to the sneak attack of the Cylons, asking each other: what, where, when, and how. But no one knows the answers, and only Baltar can provide it, and never does. Adama takes control and tells them to mourn later, the only thing they can do is fight now.
The Government is in disarray and a letter is sent to Laura Roslin, you remember her right? The Secretary of Education? Well she’s now in charge, which indicates that things are a lot worse than they seem. She is 43rd in line to be leader, and never under any circumstance did she ever want to ascend to this post. A week ago she was diagnosed with Cancer and resigned to death, now death is immanent either way, and she’s in charge. Imagine that type of conflict!! And she hasn’t even gotten the worst news yet. Apollo saves her and her ship from being destroyed by a Cylon missile, but during the action his computer is knocked out.
After Apollo is aboard Laura Roslin explains that hundreds of civilian ships are stranded and their role will to be to round them all up and escort them to the Galactica which will provide them escort. I’m sure that Commander Adama will be thrilled to hear this news.
Speaking of Adama, he has his hands full with an immanent Cylon attack. Using the old outdated Raptors he sends Starbuck and company into space to repel this incoming attack. Unfortunately the launch desk is fracked and the crew chief orders some valve removed from the Raptor. That’d be real reassuring to me if I was a pilot and someone screamed “Just rip it out and launch her”. Finally they space Starbuck but unfortunately she’s still in her ship at the time.
I was a little disappointed by this fight. We don’t hear radio chatter like “Moving in on his six, firing.” and other random radio chatter, instead it’s all Starbuck, and all she’s saying is things like “Woo.” and “Watch out for that nuke!” Okay we’ll do that Starbuck, thanks for the detailed advice oh mighty wing commander. None the less the tactics are sound, and for once someone besides Babylon 5 and Wing Commander understand that in space Newton rules. A body in motion stays in motion, and as such you can just rotate the ol’cockpit around to blast your enemies while they’re on your tail. Though were still treated to a few technical mistakes like, Contrails in space and the infamous explosions without oxygen in the Cylon ships. Come’on folks can we have some space combat where ships get ripped apart by fire in their full glory?
A few implosions too much to ask? Bah. Nothing like seeing an intact yet pierced hull to make you go geek and ask why lord why? But the tactics aren’t sound enough, the Cylons launch three baby nukes at the Galactica, Starbuck manages to take out of two of them, but misses the third. The final nuke slams into the Galactica and explodes. The Galactica is still in one piece, gotta love future metallurgy, but only barely. Fire and damage control teams are sent to their death, I mean to fix the damage.
Back on Caprica, Baltar is desperately trying to escape the eventual radiation wash that will take over the planet and destroy all life in hours. Fortunately for him Boomer has crashed nearby, but unfortunately for Baltar lots of woman and children have shown up looking for a ride as well. And well, Baltar thinks the old “Woman and children first” is a bit antiquated, and should be changed to “Brilliant Scientists who cause apocalypses first.” For some reason Boomer agrees and her co-pilot stays behind in the hopes that Baltar could somehow find a way to destroy the machines in the future. Good thing for Baltar too as he was about to knock down an old lady and take her ticket. As Baltar is about to leave he looks back into the crowd and sees Six, but she died to save him and couldn’t possibly be there, could she? When he looks again, she’s gone. And a tearful Boomer lifts off into the stars.
Back aboard the civilian ships, Laura Roslin is informed she is now the President of the Colonies and in charge of all humankind. The swearing in ceremony occurs immediately aboard Colonial one. Many older viewers will notice the correlation between this swearing in, and that of President Johnson after Kennedy’s assassination.
And back on the wounded Battlestar Galactica the XO was forced to close off a few airlocks which cost the lives of 85 of the crew chiefs men. This is obviously meant to setup some conflict down the road if a series ever takes place. Because honestly this decision is not because he’s a drunk, it was the right move. If the fire lasted a little longer, it would have spread to the fuel lines and the entire ship would have blown. But the Chief doesn’t believe so and calls the guy a son of a bitch, which should’ve gotten him removed from duty, but hey, humanity just died off, gotta have some leeway.
The Galactica is out of ammo, and needs to re-supply in a hurry. So Adama is forced to order a very dangerous FTL (Faster than Light) move, which could cause them to end up in a Sun. Adama also receives news that the military has been wiped out, and Adama appears to now be the senior officer in the Galaxy and in charge of all fleets.
The message is received by Colonial one, the flagship of the President, formerly a simple civilian carrier. The message is not well received and the President orders Adama to call off the move and come escort her and the Civilian Fleet. Smartly she orders Apollo to send the order personally, and Commander Adama calls in to confirm the order himself. So now Father and Son again speak, this time on different footing however. The Commander orders him to abort and return home. Apollo refuses under orders of the President, however the Commander refuses her authority and calls her a Schoolteacher. This mutinous action is overlooked when Cylons attack and the President instead of ordering retreat orders them to fight. It’s Captain Apollo’s direct obedience that solidifies the Presidents position in front of the other officers. As he heads to his ship however, the Galactica monitors incoming nuclear weapons, and just as we think our heroes are going to unite up and fight some glorious war, our hopes are crushed in a fifty kiloton nuclear blast which appears to encompass Colonial one.
This ends Night one of Two, of Battlestar Galactica the Miniseries. And what a whopper! Is Apollo and the President dead? Will humanity survive? Will we get to see more of Six’s lovely backside? All this and more answered in Night Two of Battlestar Galactica!
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Review is copyright 2004-2019 Ryan Bechtel
Battlestar Galactica names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Sci-Fi Channel, NBC Universal and R&D Television