Battlestar Galactica: Act of Contrition

After an accident kills 13 of Galactica’s pilots, Starbuck is put in charge of training the replacements, which brings up painful memories of Commander Adama’s other son Zack.

A note to first time BSG watchers; these aren’t the reviews for you. I plan to write about the show with the ending in mind. If you haven’t seen the show, you will be spoiled on stuff that happens at the end. You’ve been warned.

“Act of Contrition” is a great example of why I’ve never really loved the first season of BSG, or for that matter most shows in general.

At first, we get to see the more damaged side of Kara Thrace. She has to face the Old Man and tell him it’s her fault his son is dead. In an attempt to run away from her guilt, she takes on eight Cylon raiders, an act that would get any other pilot killed (it’s almost like she has nothing to fear from death).

To quote a friend of mine, before this episode Starbuck comes across like a cartoon character, full of piss and vinegar and justifiable arrogance. But like most people, there’s more to the story. She’s unique, we all know it, and nothing is going to kill her in the fourth episode of the series.

It’s why I can’t really love this episode; at the cliffhanger, she’s stranded on a planet, no one knows where she is, her ship has been destroyed, and she’s likely dead. Even the first time through, there wasn’t any suspense, because I knew she was going to be okay (however, I will eat those words when we get to “Maelstrom”).

The episode is not a total wash; early on, we can see the writers really know how to bring the tragedy to a good time. The juxtaposition of the funerals was moving, and I didn’t even mind the flashbacks, although they were a bit much toward the end.

And I have to be somewhat kinder to this episode because it introduces my favorite minor character in the entire show: Doc Cottle.

Mean ol’ doctors are a television staple, and I’m glad BSG decided to fall in line. Cottle is gruff, no nonsense, and sees no problem in smoking around a cancer patient. He’s also an exemplary doctor; he’ll treat the patient with kindness and compassion, be they human or Cylon. One scene here put me in his corner and I never left.

Next up: “You Can’t Go Home Again”