Kara, in a new downward spiral, keeps getting visions of the mandala and Leoben, which leads her to doubt her own sanity.
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.
So, Kara Thrace died.
Don’t be fooled by what you already know, that she comes back at the end of “Crossroads, Part Two,” and that she is present for all of Season Four. That’s a different being wearing the skin of our beloved screwed up hotshot pilot; the real Starbuck, the one we’ve watched struggle and triumph, dies right before our eyes (with her body and her plane somehow or another ending up on a planet across the galaxy after it clearly exploded).
When she comes back, Starbuck 2.0 is all fire and light and sense of purpose, and that was never our girl. If she had a path, she avoided it; if she had a goal, she dropped out of the race at last second just to sabotage herself; if she had a chance, she messed it up.
She screwed everything up, she hurt everyone she loved, but really, you loved her. She had so much pain and so much love you couldn’t help it. A lot of that is because of Katee Sackhoff’s incredible performance. She brought such depth and vulnerability to a character who could have been a clich, and ‘Maelstrom’ proved to be one of her finest hours.
Our beloved Starbuck, who has been a storm all her life, is finally forced to look back at the destruction behind her. She’s horrified at her past, but her guide (Head Leoben?) gives her a chance to correct her greatest sin – when she abandoned her dying mother and left her mother to die alone.
Her mother was a hard woman, an abusive disciplinarian, but she loved her daughter. Socrata Thrace pushed her special child to be her best and failure came with the heavy price of disappointment. She might not deserve the forgiveness of her daughter, but Kara needs to give it.
Kara needs to step back in time, to be a better person and go to her dying mother and comfort her as she breathes her last breath. And she does; her guide lets her correct a shameful moment, and then leads her to fulfill her destiny. Her body and her plane will make their way to a burnt-out husk of a world, which Cylons and humans will find and weep over together.
Her counterpart will remember the road to a new world of new beginnings, just like Aurora. The fleet has lost its guiding light, but she’ll be back, stronger than ever.
I hear that Amanda Plummer wasn’t available to reprise her role as the Oracle, but her replacement, Georgia Craig, more than makes up for her loss. In one scene, she compounds the spookiness of an episode that opens with Kara having sex with Leoben.
And a major shout out is due to director Michael Nankin for creating genuine chills in an episode that ‘should’ have lost all its power after the reveal.
One final nod to Edward James Olmos; he’s a powerful actor, and sometimes I think he overdoes the emoting, but in that last scene, wow. He finds the balance between grief and histrionics in a wordless and devastating scene.
Late in the game theory: Head Leoben is the entity that returns in Starbuck’s body. Hey, ‘he’ took on other forms before (as we see here), and he’s clearly in on the bigger picture. There is probably no way to know, but I bet Starbuck (our Starbuck) knew what was happening and what would happen.
Next up: “The Son Also Rises”