Battlestar Galactica: Islanded in a Stream of Stars

As the great show “Battlestar Galactica” winds down, we spend an episode with our beloved characters as they come to grips with their rather bleak futures.

 

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.

First a sidebar: My movie buddy Jim and I have been rewatching Ron Moore’s other great show, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (don’t worry, I’ll have more on that at a later time), and so far, I’m loving that show even more than I did the first time I watched it (and Jim’s totally digging his first time through too). As that rewatch has been winding down (we’ll be down in a matter of days!), we’ve discovered a curious pattern in the episodes; episodes without a “B” plot are rarely exceptional, and more often than not, they tend to be on the awful side.

I only bring this up because tonight’s BSG episode is one of the only examples of a show, any show, I can think of where there isn’t an “A” plot. In the teaser, we get a glimpse of the tangible damage Boomer inflicted on Galactica as a Cylon/human crew tries and fails to fix a hole in the ship. That hole leads to other problems, and soon the whole ship is buckling; she’s got at most six jumps left in her, and she’s fading fast.

 

And from there, we spend time with our heroes as they come to grips with the idea of a world without Galactica (much like the fans were doing at the time this episode originally aired), and it’s a scary, bleak world they are imagining for themselves (just like the BSG fans, including me, were imagining).

 

They’ve been on this endless mission for four years now, and all it’s gotten them is more and more loss. They’ve lost people, supplies, ships, planets. All of them are only moments away from losing everything they love, and it’s finally starting to sink in that their home, their protector, will very soon be gone.

Hopelessness is everywhere, and some are feeling it more than others. Helo and Athena (who is once again getting opera house visions along with Caprica Six and Roslin) are coming apart bit by bit because of their daughter’s kidnapping.

Starbuck finally (finally) opens up and shares her story with a real person in the hopes of getting some real answers about what happened to her. Of course, she already knows the answer, she’s known since Earth: Kara Thrace died in that explosion and her body somehow wound up on Earth. This Starbuck, whatever she is, is something new and while she doesn’t have the answers, she’s getting herself ready for whatever she was brought back to do.

Adama is (once again) refusing to see what’s right in front of him, and is moping about trying to convince himself that everything is fine (I’ve discovered this time around that I have zero patience for crybaby Adama). Tigh backs him up for a while, but even our stalwart XO has to admit that this is the bitter end for the ship. And while the ship may die, the people she shepherded will live on.

 

And in the background, there is Boomer, taking her little passenger to her doom at the hands of an evil scientist, and while she’s hated that kid since she was a baby, that little girl will bring Boomer’s soul back to her. She can fight it all she wants, but she is a woman who loves.

Islanded” is a hard episode in some ways; a lot happens, but nothing really happens. Our characters start out hopeless, and wind up slightly less hopeless, a huge step for these people with nothing to look forward too. Like the fans were two years ago, things are looking grim because they are grim, but little kernels of hope are still there: Lee will always love Starbuck in any form; Tigh will always have Adama’s back (and vice versa); Roslin will live long enough to save Hera; Baltar will rise to the occasion (eventually), but only to prove that he’s not a loser.

It’s not over yet. Hope is coming soon.

Stray thoughts

  • One detail I totally missed the first time around; Adama now walks around his ship with a marine guard, because there are people aboard who would take the shot if given the chance. Nice touch.

  • Another detail I missed: “There’s a whole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza” – yes, I do remember our grand ship’s nickname. But who outlived who, Pegasus???

  • One of the reason’s I was so excited about this episode is that I really wanted to see the deleted scene with Chief and Athena in the brig, and I was not disappointed. Aaron Douglas doesn’t need to say anything to reflect Chief’s sorrow, and Grace Park, a onetime weak link in an otherwise great cast, delivers a cold and furious speech to him that leaves no doubt about her acting chops. Man, I still love being surprised by this show.

  • But I shouldn’t have been surprised by Baltar here. Just when I was beginning to like that guy, he goes and betrays Starbuck in a misguided attempt to regain Caprica Six’s favor. Seriously, what was he trying to accomplish there, other than hurting someone who had the courage to trust him. Classic Baltar, that frakker.

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Next up: “Daybreak” (extended) (yep, all of it)