Battlestar Galactica: S01E04: Acts of Contrition
This was a sleeper. Every time I’ve tried to watch this episode, I get dreadfully distracted around the same point, and start doing homework. The only salvation came in the form of a viper-Cylon space battle at the end of the episode.
It started out cool enough. Flat-top (a “redshirt”) has just landed a Raptor solo for the 1000th time. He exits the raptor and starts surveying it for damage. If you remember last week he was reprimanded by Starbuck for blowing his landings. And as per tradition, the flight staff throw a celebration. The other pilots chant a song in his honour while spinning him around in a cart. During the jubilee, the camera zooms in on a weapon cart, and we see a missile/probe teeter and about to fall off. Does anyone not see where this is heading? Soon the missile drops from the cart. The impact causes it to turn on, and it zooms across the landing bay toward the celebrating pilots.
The explosion rocks the ship, and all the title characters come rushing to the scene to see what happened. At the end of the day, a weapons officer, who looks and acts A LOT like Ivanova from Babylon 5, concludes that the buckle securing the probe failed from age fatigue. The accident claimed the lives of 13 pilots, and put another 7 in sick bay.
Opening credits this time are much better! All it took was some high proof rum! Or maybe they’re just starting to grow on me? I’ll know for sure next week.
The accident had the worst impact on moral. The other pilots are very depressed over the incident, but it really hits hard for Starbuck. For some reason (read: a plot device) the accident reminds her of Zak Adama’s death. This episode is interlaced with flashbacks of her and Adama talking about Zak’s death. And even some toned down sex scenes between Starbuck and Zak. The funeral scene, is a mixture of the current funeral for the 13 lost pilots, and the funeral of Zak. one gets the impression that all military funerals are alike.
The Galactica now has only 21 pilots and 40 vipers, so Adama decides that its time to start training more pilots. He asks Starbuck to his quarters and after liquoring her up, asks her to train the new recruits. She refuses at first, but Adama comforts her about Zak’s accident. He tells her that it’s not his fault and that he passed basic flight. But we in the audience know better, we found out in the mini that she passed him because they were lovers, and that he really had no skill for flying. Starbuck still takes the job, despite her worries about the past.
Meanwhile Baltar is hard at work on the Cylon detector. Which is really just a way of saying that he’s playing poker with Starbuck, while Lt Gaeta waits patiently. It’s interesting because this time Gaeta actually is interested in the game. He’s still the most formally dressed person in the room. Gaeta still has a long way to go… During the game (aka: intense staring match between Baltar and a distracted Starbuck) Crashdown asks Gaeta about the Cylon detector. Something which both he and Baltar are quick to dismiss. In the end, Starbuck leaves the game without playing her hand. She’s too distracted to fence with Baltar today.
Back on Caprica, Boomer and Helo find the source of the military transmission. It’s a fallout shelter under a restaurant. They savour their good fortune at finding all the supplies. Meanwhile those of us at home are cursing the writers for not giving us more information about what’s going on with this story arc.
And we quickly switch to another series arc storyline. President Roslin discusses her breast cancer with the doctor. He’s a crass old cigarette smoking man, who has little patience for stupidity. He wonders why Roslin went five years without a mammogram, and mildly insults her by asking. It’s far too late to operate and he suggests radiation therapy, then a lot of chemo to prolong what’s left of her soon-to-be miserable life. She refuses because she knows what chemo does to people. So instead she elects to use a placebo, err I mean natural remedy. The doctor doesn’t like that suggestion, but honours her wish, and puts out a message to the fleet asking for the herbs.
Starbuck starts her first day “teaching” the 8 new recruits how to fly the Viper. The nuggets are poorly disciplined, and she has to instil that discipline in them. Or she would, if she would just give them a chance. After one test flight, she flunks them all out of the program. Apollo tries to get her to reinstate the nuggets, but she refuses.
So Apollo moves up the chain of command, and asks his father to order her to train the pilots. At first he refuses his request. He dismisses his allegations that she’s doing this because she’s guilty about Zak’s death. Adama says that they talked about it already. So Apollo continues arguing with his father, and lets loose a comment implying that she passed Zak despite his inability to fly.
It’s at this point every time that I start thinking about my homework. Even now as I write this, I’m thinking about how to a chip cooling project, but I digress.
Starbuck is called into Adama’s office. He questions her about the recruits. And when she sticks to her decision. Adama’s changes the direction of the conversation, and asks her directly about Zack. She tries to bullshit him, but he demands that she tell him the truth. And she does, very tearfully.
There is a brief flashback in this scene, I think it’s only worthy of mention because it shows us how similar colonial military tech is to our current technology. For instance, there’s a forklift and a humvee there. There was no effort to make the vehicles look futuristic, nor to hide the British Columbia auto tags….
After Starbuck tells him the truth, that she passed him because they were engaged, he orders her to put some real effort into training the pilots. And this time to do it without any personal feelings. He then tells her to “Get out of this cabin, while you still can”.
Starbuck starts training the new recruits, this time with spirit. She takes them out, and has them destroy some drones to teach them combat manoeuvres. At the end of the drill, the Cylons show up. Eight Cylon raiders. Starbuck orders the new pilots back to the Galactica at full speed, while she attacks them all by herself. The nuggets follow her orders, for a little bit. Halfway back to the Galactica, Hot Dog turns around to help Starbuck with the raiders. The two of them manage to take out the remaining craft, but not without damaging their own craft in the process. Hot Dog is dead in space, but Starbuck is crashing into the nearby planet. What’s worse is that her communications went out when she was attacking the last raider. So the Galactica already thinks she’s dead.
The episode ends with her viper burning up as it enters the planet’s atmosphere. She ejects from the craft, and begins her own parachute descent down to the surface. And with that, three words appear on the screen “To Be Continued”
It rate this episode a boring 27,048 out of 10.
Dissecting the Episode:
Are the Cylons tracking the Colonial Fleet?Yes, but not the same way they were in 33. FTL jumps have a limitable jump radius. So the Cylons are just searching all the regions of space where they could have jumped to. If they knew the exact location, they would have jumped in with 2 Basestars, right on top of the fleet. Instead they sent in a patrol of raiders, who were likely just there to do recon.
Did the Raiders contact the Cylon Fleet? I would think so. There was no mention that the colonials tried to jam their transmissions. If they Cylon’s didn’t get a communicate out, they’ll still “get the message” when their patrol doesn’t return from that section of space. The Fleet should prepare to jump soon.
Have Cylons learned to disable the older Vipers too?It looks that way, since Starbuck’s Viper and its systems died when it got too near to a Cylon Raider. But Hot Dog’s ship wasn’t mysteriously disabled, so my guess is the Cylons didn’t develop that technology, Starbuck just got unlucky.
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Review is Copyright Ryan Bechtel 2005
Battlsestar Galactica names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Sci-Fi Channel, NBC Universal and R&D Television.