Production 8
Direction 8
Characterisation 7
Storyline 7
Acting 8
Fun/Sexy/Cool 8

This plot seemed familiar. It’s loosely based off of Galactica 1980’s “The Return of a Starbuck”

Summary 7.7 great
Production 0
Direction 0
Characterisation 0
Storyline 0
Acting 0
Fun/Sexy/Cool 0
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Summary 0.0 terrible

Battlestar Galactica: S01E05: You Can’t Go Home Again

There has been some mixed opinions floating around about this episode. Some people, such as myself liked it because of how the pace was quicker and more exciting then previous episodes. And it also showed really good but tense character interactions. But on the other hand, the episode was particularly weak in its numerous contrivances. The new Battlestar Galactica has been good up to this episode in maintaining a sense of realism throughout the series. There were way too many coincidences in this episode to just chalk it up to poetic justice.

The episode starts off exactly where last week’s episode concluded. Hot Dog is recovered from his damaged Viper, and nervously tells the Adama that he saw Starbuck clearly in control of her spacecraft after her com signal went out. Apollo takes off his own pilots wings and pins it on Hotdog, telling him that he’s earned his wings today. Adama orders the entire fleet to search for Starbuck’s viper.

Down on the moon below, the wind is dragging Starbuck along the surface by her parachute. Starbuck awakens in just enough time for her knee to SLAM into a rock as she’s being dragged along the ground. She pulls out a knife and tries to cut the parachute strings wrapped around her foot. She finally manages to free herself from the parachute, just before she would have been dragged off a cliff. Of course its a cliff. Because it wouldn’t be very dramatic if she freed herself in the middle of a valley. Starbuck pulls out a radio, and angrily throws it away when she realizes that it’s been fraked beyond repair. Things don’t get much better for her when she finds out that the atmosphere is completely unbreatheable. Starbuck then decides to limp off toward higher ground, in hopes that a rescue team will more easily see her through the dense clouds.

On the Galactica Lt Gaeta is giving Cmdr. Adama a report on the search for Starbuck. He tells him that they haven’t found any evidence of her craft, and it seems likely that she was captured in the gravity wells of either the nearby planet or its moon.

If she was captured by he planet, she’d have been fried by the radiation. But if the moon got her, she still has a chance of survival on its frozen surface. Assuming she is still alive, she has nearly 46.5 hours of air left. Adama orders the Vipers to search the surface of the planet to look for Starbuck. Here’s yet another scientific boo-boo by the writers. The moon is ridiculously cold, and Starbuck is the only heat source on the surface. They should have just used infra-red sensors to search for a heat signature (Starbuck), but instead they send the Vipers on a deadly game of hide-and-seek!
We didn’t get to see much of #6 last week, but the show makes up for it in this next scene. Baltar is handing a report to Roslin, and overhears how the fleet is searching for one downed pilot. And of course #6 shows up to give Baltar, his “alternate reality” check. This time #6 is wearing a very sexy light blue dress (Devil in a Blue Dress?) and matching sandals that leave almost nothing to the imagination. She has a seat on Roslin desk, giving Baltar and us! a very nice view. She seductively lifts her leg and forcefully rests her foot on Baltar’s hand. This shot could have only been made for those with a foot fetish. Baltar makes a noise and raises his hand to ease the pain.

This naturally gets Roslin’s attention, and she asks if everything is alright. He’s plays it off like its a hand cramp of some kind. But #6 showed up for a reason, to warn Baltar that it’ll be 3 days at the most before the Cylon’s realize their patrol is missing and they show up to take out the fleet. All the while she’s lightly kissing and sucking on his fingers. As usual we see terrific body acting by James Callis, when Roslin looks up to hands him back the report (and #6 is missing).
We can always rely on Baltar to do the right thing… to save his own arse. He tells Roslin that it is unwise to risk the entire fleet for just one pilot. She tells him that the pilots risk their lives everyday for the fleet, and that it’s worth the risk. Baltar acknowledges that and points out that he knows the pilot personally. “But not as personally as you’d like. I guess you’ll never get to find out if she’s a real blonde”, #6 chimes in. Baltar ignores her comment and continues to argue that the fleet give up the search and move on. Roslin tells him that she’s sure that Adama has already thought of that, and trusts his judgement that it’s worth the risk.

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Next we find the last human left alive on Caprica, and his Biocylon pseudo-girlfriend waking up in their fallout shelter. Helo decides that there isn’t much left to do in the shelter, so he plans to gather up all the supplies he and Boomer can carry, and take off to look for a shuttle or ship off of the planet. Boomer agrees. So Helo then does, what any man would do in his situation, he went upstairs to cook breakfast. I can’t understand why he’d leave the security of the shelter, but I guess Helo is either: a) a little stupid to begin with, or b) accelerating the Caprica story arc by getting himself caught. Helo puts some Pop-Tarts into a toaster and waits patiently for them to finish cooking. Sadly for him though, the wait is interrupted by two Cylons entering the restaurant searching for survivors. He ducks behind some tinted glass, and evades the Cylons for a little while. This brings up another contrivance; the Cylons don’t have heat sensors (I guess heat sensors don’t exist in the BSG universe!) or even motion sensors?! The camera zooms in on the toaster, a chrome toaster with a red light none-the-less, and both Helo and the audience get the same epiphany. The Cylons will know of his presence as soon has the toaster goes off. And when it does, all hell breaks loose.

The Cylons zero in on Helo’s position and start attacking. This is momentarily interrupted when Boomer emerges from the basement and finds herself in a world of trouble. Helo shouts at her to get out, then pulls out a gun, and shoots a Cylon twice in the head, destroying it. But the other Cylon comes forward and blasts the hell outta’ the kitchen, pinning Helo under some debris. Later that night, Helo emerges from the destroyed kitchen to find himself alone, once again.

That scene bothered me for two reasons. one, Helo’s gun barely punctured the Cylons’ armour back in 33, but in this scene, it blasted huge holes out of it. Secondly the Cylon animation was inconstant. At times the Cylons moved with human like precision, kudos to that animator(s). Then moments later, a different Cylon (different animator?) was moving like a stiff machine. I’m not a director of any kind, but I’d expect something in between those motions, or at least some consistency throughout not only a single scene, but the series has a whole.

The following scene features Starbuck on that frozen hell moon. She’s turned to prayer, and is asking the Lords of Kobol for a little help. Which they deliver to her in the form of the Cylon raider she shot down in the last episode. Starbuck cautiously approaches the ship and we see a large bullet hole, and what appears to be blood, or strawberry jelly, stains around it. Starbuck realizes the she got a very lucky shot, and formulates a plan. She wants to get inside the Raider, and fly it back up to the Galactica. So she opens it up, and finds living tissue. Or rather dead living tissue. After a brief eww factor from her, and a coolness factor from me, she cuts open the “skin” and climbs inside the craft. She knows that every plane has for components: thrust, roll, yaw and lift. All she has to do is figure out how to control them in the (dead) living ship.

Meanwhile the search for Starbuck is not going so well. The crap in the atmosphere is clogging up all the machinery in the Vipers, and because of the limited visibility they’ve only scoured a small portion of the planet. To make matters worse, the airborne ops are taking their toll on the fuel reserves. Since there’s all that air resistance, the engines have to run continuously, as opposed to space ops which have limited fuel burning. Lt Gaeta subtly expresses his concerns to Adama. He tells the Commander about all the resources being expended on this operation, but disguises his opposition as a status report.

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When Apollo comes back from a search mission, with a clogged up ship he asks Chief Tyrol to get another Viper ready for him. But Tyrol tells him that all the Vipers are either being repaired from the moon ops, or are on patrol in space defending the fleet. Apollo doesn’t like his answer, and tells him to get it done. Tyrol replies with a quote worthy repeating, “You can push people a hell of a lot furthur than you can push machines, sir”.
Now that Apollo has some free time, he can formulate a plan to help find Starbuck, and endanger all of humanity at the same time! He proposes to the senior staff that they pull the remaining Vipers off of fleet patrol and instead use them to search for Starbuck on the planet.The plan is met with much resistance from Lt Gaeta and Col Tigh. Gaeta tactfully points out the logistical flaws. But Col Tigh’s seniority allows him to be more blunt. He argues rightfully, that it’s a stupid plan, that will ultimately hurt the fleet. Apollo brings up that Tigh would like nothing more, than to see Starbuck dead. The two stubborn officers nearly get into a brawl over the situation Adama makes his decision shortly after that, and orders that all Vipers be diverted to the search.

This further adds to my evidence that Commander Adama is unfit for the position of military leader of the fleet. How did the Colonials choose their military commanders, by lottery?!
Roslin freaks out when she learns about Adams’s decision. She call’s Apollo to ask for an explanation. And he gives her one. He tells her that he recommended the plan. She is not happy about that!

Starbuck, has wasted no time, getting out the insides of the spaceship. She tears out the brain of the ship, and haphazardly tosses it aside. All this sadgeezer can think is, “She should save that. The scientists on the Galactica will want to examine that later.” But unfortunately for her, she’s about to run out of air. She figures that since she’s alive, the ship should have it’s own oxygen supply. When her air supply runs out, and she’s about to suffocate, she finds the air supply with her remaining strength finds a tube to give her some needed air.

At the same time on the Galactica, Gaeta alerts Adama that one of the patrols will soon run out of fuel. Adama orders that the patrol be re-fuel in flight in the moons atmosphere. It’s a dense, and well written conversation, so I’ll type it out for you:
Gaeta: Blue Flight reports bingo fuel, sir.Adama: Have them stay on the search, send the tanker to them. (beat) Is there a problem Mr. Gaeta?Gaeta: It’s just that trying to tank in all that turbulence sir, will be extremely hairy. I suggest we wait until the clock has rundown and then tank up on the way back up to Galactica.Adama: Did someone call them back to Galactica?Gaeta: I assumed…Adama: The search was over? That it was hopeless? We should write Starbuck off as dead? Is that what you’re telling me Mr. Gaeta?Gaeta: No sir.Adama: What are you trying to tell me Mr. Gaeta? (clock runs out) You have your orders.

I can really relate to Gaeta in this situation. I’ve had times when I can’t actually speak my mind, because an intimidating superior doesn’t want to hear my logical opinion. Nice body acting from Alessandro Juliani here.

President Roslin calls Adama to give her condolences about the lost pilot, and asks when they’ll get moving along to their next jump location. He replies that searching for a lost pilot is a military decision and that they won’t be leaving yet. He doesn’t tell her when they will conclude the search either. Col Tigh then questions Adama’s motives for this search, and points out that he is endangering the whole of humanity. Adama doesn’t like hearing the truth and relieves Tigh of command. Tigh turns and melodramatically salutes Adama goodbye, and marches off the command deck.

A few hours later on the moon below, Starbuck has finished repairing the ship, so that she can pressurize the cabin, and breathe air without a tube. And so that when she breaks atmosphere, she can avoid imploding! She then starts tinkering with the many organs and membranes to figure out how to pilot the craft.

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Roslin pays a surprise visit to the Galactica, and demands to speak with Adama. Tigh greets her at the landing bay, and fills her in on the situation. He explains to her, that both Adama and Apollo are too close to Starbuck (because of Zak) and that they won’t give up the search. When she meets up with Adama and Apollo in his office, she scolds them like a mother yelling at her kids she tells them, “You’re both officers. and you’re both honourable men. And you’re both perfectly aware that you are putting the lives of over 45 thousand people and the future of this civilization at risk, for your personal feelings. Now if the two of you, of all people, can live with that, then the human race doesn’t stand a chance. Clear your heads!” They realize the err of their ways, and order the search concluded, and the fleet to jump.

But not just yet of course. Starbuck has to get back. She’s discovered how to fly the Cylon Raider. And much too proficiently. Seriously, she can fly this thing with the greatest of ease, and with jury rigged controls. Starbuck must massage membranes in a certain way to get the ship to move the way she wants it to. Yeah sure, this I believe! She takes off and makes a bee line straight for the Galactica. The Galactica spots the Raider, and figures that it’ll intercept it before they can jump, so they scramble the Vipers to intercept. Here’s another logic hole. It’s only one raider, so the Galactica should just jump anyway. It has point defence guns to defend herself so why bother scrambling the Vipers? Another contrivance is that Apollo is one of two pilots to get to their Vipers in time. Apollo was on the other side of the ship when the he Raider was detected. What, no other pilots standing by in the launch bay besides Hotdog?

In the end, only Apollo’s craft makes it out of the launch tube. Which I can accept for story purposes. He tries to intercept the Raider, but its pilot, Starbuck, does a sweet job of evading his fire. She’s a really good pilot, and handles the Raider with great control. She gets right behind him, and their radar signals merge, preventing the Galactica from obtaining a shooting solution. She then pilots her craft right above the Viper’s windows to get Apollo’s attention. She does a barrel roll, and show’s Apollo what’s written on her wings, “Star” and “Buck”.

Everyone cheers when they realize that she’s piloting the craft, and they bring her home to Galactica. As Starbuck is being carried off to sickbay, to tend to her wounded knee, we hear Chief Tyrol tell the Raider “Your ass is mine now!”

I’d rate this episode a conflicting 38,528 out of 10.

Dissecting the Episode:

Could Starbuck have really “vacuum-proofed” the hull, and flown the ship as well as she did?No. Ahhh… still no.

A biologically controlled space ship? Isn’t a biological brain slower then a computer? So how is that an improvement for the Cylons?Presently no. Computers are slower than advanced brains (primates, and other higher mammals) because brains can process many billions of more inputs than present computers. Just think of the billions of bits of data our brain processes every moment. All of our 5 senses, bodily functions etc. And our sense of touch is a major one! Our skin is full of nerves that sense heat, pressure, texture… In a decade computers will be able to process more data then human brains, either through advanced chemical, quantum or biological computers.

The latter are computers the use DNA in their computations. If I had to use pseudo-science for this series, I’d say that the Cylons and Biocylons use DNA-computers rather than the more mundane computers we are familiar with.

Since DNA-computing is a step above everything but quantum computers this would be an improvement for them. Plus this helps us further understand the Cylon evolution from “toaster” to the human like bio-Cylons.

This plot seemed familiar. It’s loosely based off of Galactica 1980’s “The Return of a Starbuck”

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Battlestar Galactica reviews are © 2005 Ryan Bechtel
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

Battlsestar Galactica names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Sci-Fi Channel, NBC-Universal and R&D Television.

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