Battlestar Galactica: The Captain’s Hand

Another episode, another commander for Pegasus, this time one who clashes with Starbuck and Lee over a risky course of action; tragedy ensues. In the B plot, Roslin faces a difficult choice as a young woman pushes a volatile issue into the president’s election campaign forefront.

 

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.

In a rare move, “The Captain’s Hand” is one of the few episodes where the B plot is way more compelling than the A plot, but that doesn’t mean the Pegasus goings-on aren’t worth a paragraph (or two).

 

Commander Garner has a short run in charge and for good reason. He’s a bitter grunt who has nursed a grudge against his superiors for a long, long time. We’ve probably all been there; you keep thinking, if I was in charge, things would be different. I wouldn’t forget where I came from, and I would treat my fellow grunts better.

 

Trouble is, Garner made good on that vow and managed to frak everything up.  Now, that doesn’t mean he should be treating his crew like crap (no great leader does that), but he was so angry over pass mistreatments that he could not move on and listen to the smart and talented people around him (Starbuck, Lee, Admiral Adama). He was so sure that he knew the right course that he nearly lost his crew, and he did lose his life for his mistakes. A noble end, but also an unnecessary sacrifice.

 

This might be a bit of a stretch, but Garner’s demise also had some unintentional ripples down the line. I didn’t notice it too much the first time through, but class issues come up a lot in this show, especially in seasons three and four, and a little bit of that can be traced to this episode.

 

Garner’s a grunt; he got promoted and severely screwed up. Lesson learned: don’t promote grunts. In fact, keep them and their gripes as far away from our precious ears as possible. Explains a lot of what happens down the road.

 

Ah well; Lee Adama is in charge now, he’s dating Dualla and he and Kara are friends again. Things are looking up for our golden boy.  

 

Ok, on to the good stuff.

 

Whenever I think of this episode, I have to remember about Lee and his adventures, because I  (and I don’t think I’m alone here) always think of this episode as “The One Where Roslin Bans Abortion.”

 

It’s wrong, because she took away a right the people already had. It’s wrong because Baltar played her to meet his own ends (and she fell for it). It’s wrong because she wanted to curry favor with her base. It’s wrong because while she believes it’s in humanity’s best interest, she does not get to unilaterally decide that.  It’s wrong because she doesn’t totally believe it’s the right thing to do.

 

Put in any other issue, be it capital punishment, voting, universal health care and the episode would still work, but abortion is the most volatile issue of our times. Who knows how history will look back on us for it, but it’s what we’ve got. Roslin knows all of that, she’s even a pro-choice woman, and she still bans it, for the good of the many over the needs of the one.

 

It’s a credit to the show that no one really comes out as a villain here, even Baltar. It was bound to come up sometime, and for better or worse, Roslin made a tough choice and she owned that choice, broken hearts (mine included) be damned.

 

Next up: “Downloaded”