Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: Collaborators, Torn

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I’m a sci-fi geek who has never seen Battlestar Galactica. Yes, I know, I know. 2013 is the year I change that, and I’m blogging as I go.

So now that humanity’s escaped from New Caprica everything’s good for them now, right? No trouble? Two full episodes of people drinking fruity cocktails and playing Yahtzee?


Poor Jammer. We barely knew ye.

The episode starts with our favorite insurgent-turned-NCP officer (OK, our only insurgent-turned-NCP officer) being tried and executed for treason and crimes against humanity for his role in helping the Cylons on New Caprica. The ones doing the judging are a group of six calling themselves the Circle: Tigh, Anders, Tyrol, Jean, some random lady, and guy named Connor whose young son was killed during an NCP raid on a temple.

Jammer protests that he was trying to help people and explains to Tyrol that he cut Cally loose when she was about to be executed. Tyrol and Anders are clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing, and so am I—Jammer’s been bound, gagged, and dragged into an empty, ominous-looking airlock. It doesn’t exactly look like an official trial.

Later Tyrol goes and asks Cally, hey, by the way, did an NCP officer try to save your life down on New Caprica or anything? She confirms that someone did, but it’s too late for Jammer, who’s already been airlocked.

The next scene is Adama and Roslin forgiving Baltar for surrendering to the Cylons: There was nothing else he could’ve done, they say, and anyway, all that messiness with betraying humanity is behind them. I smell something fishy. Head Six shows up and berates Roslin and Adama for their leniency and tells Baltar not to make her angry… and it’s when Adama responds “You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry” that we realize this has to be a dream.

I don’t know what’s funnier: That even in Baltar’s dreams Head Six scolds him, or that Baltar’s unconscious comes up with Adama quoting The Incredible Hulk.

No, wait, it’s totally the Hulk one.

Roslin then kisses Baltar, which is a little weird, to put it mildly. The earlier part of the dream showed us Baltar’s subconscious need to be forgiven, but I think the Baltar/Roslin kiss was there just to freak me out. Baltar wakes up in a very sci-fi room aboard a Cylon Basestar, where he’s being kept prisoner.

From there we meet up with the real Roslin, who’s planning a game of Presidential Musical Chairs with Zarek. With Baltar gone he’s the President now, but only temporarily: He’ll nominate Roslin as his Vice President, and once that’s gone through he’ll step down. That’s Roslin’s cue to say “Hey, you know who would make a great Vice President? Tom Zarek!” The two of them seem to be getting along pretty well at this point, though there is some residual tension from him being… y’know… a manipulative terrorist.

Then we get to my second favorite character, Felix “Let me ruffle your hair” Gaeta (sorry, Tigh). Back in civilian clothes after the whole “Being Gaius Baltar’s Chief of Staff” thing, he walks into the CIC to do Adama a solid by helping repair the communications system. Tigh goes off on the poor guy, accusing him of being a traitor and asking him, if he was so friendly with the Cylons, whether he knows where Tigh’s missing eye is. Dude, really? Harsh. Harsh and crazy.

Luckily for Gaeta, Adama agrees: He pulls Tigh aside and tells him he needs to pull himself together. Tigh says he is together, thank you very much, and other people may be willing to forget what happened down on New Caprica, but he isn’t.

I really feel for him this episode. Not to excuse the fact that he’s being a crazy jerk, flying off the handle at Gaeta and being perfectly OK with executing people. But he was tortured on New Caprica. His eye was plucked out. And he killed his wife for being forced to collaborate with the enemy; if they don’t punish people who collaborated of their own free will, that would mean, in his mind at least, that Ellen died for no reason. And it’s not like he wasn’t traipsing along the edge of the deep end even before that happened. He’s a wonderfully complex character.

Ignoring Adama’s demand that he rest, Tigh instead meets back up with the Circle to examine evidence of accused collaborators and, more likely than not, find them guilty and sentence them to death. Connor’s particularly into it, and Tigh yells at him that they’re reasonable people serving out justice, not hotheads set on vengeance, dangit. Just a suggestion, Tigh: If you want to impress upon people how balanced you are, slamming someone’s head against the table isn’t really the way to go.

The next person to be tried is Gaeta. Noooo. Anders defends him, saying that even if he worked for Baltar there’s no hard evidence that he did anything bad himself. Tigh takes the exact opposite viewpoint: Baltar didn’t actually run things, so Gaeta must’ve been the one ordering executions and all that. Excuse you, Tigh. Gaeta?! He was an idealist with a mancrush on Baltar, not a moustache-twirling evil villain sending people off to be tied to the train tracks. Tyrol counters that there’s no proof that Gaeta was running anything (yeah, ’cause it’s a stupid suggestion!), but then a list comes up indicating that Gaeta saw the death list Cally was on. He didn’t do anything about it (but he did! He gave it to the resistance!), therefore me must be guilty.

Anders is the smart one here, saying they don’t know when Gaeta saw that list or what he did or didn’t do afterwards. But then he turns not-so-smart, saying he’s done with the whole thing and peaceing out. Um, Anders. Maybe you should quit after you vote not guilty? They need six votes, and with Anders gone they only have five. For their new jury member you can be darn sure they’re going to find someone who’s predisposed to bringing the hammer down on supposed traitors.

That person, as it turns out, is Starbuck. Gaeta’s eating alone in the mess hall when she sits down at his table, except instead of being all comradely she rakes him across the coals for doing Baltar’s dirty work and never bothering to think about his former friends, i.e. her. Starbuck, nooooo. To be fair, she has no way of knowing Gaeta was passing information to the insurgents… until he straight up tells her about it. Starbuck doesn’t believe him, nor does Jean, who overhears the entire conversation and then (presumably) is the one to invite her to serve on the Circle.

Now that they’re back up to six members they can decide Gaeta’s fate. I wanted to absolutely scream during this scene, because neither Starbuck nor Jean tell the rest of the jury about Gaeta claiming to be a spy for the insurgency despite the fact that that’s kind of relevant information. Also Tyrol keeps repeating that they don’t know what Gaeta did when he saw the list. You could, I don’t know, ask him?! Everyone except Tyrol finds Gaeta guilty, and then Tyrol gets badgered into making the same call.

I want to punch so many people.

After the vote Anders comes to see Starbuck aside and calls her on sentencing people to death to make her feel better about what she went through. Their relationship’s gone downhill since New Caprica. An earlier scene saw Starbuck rejecting his physical advances, and now Starbuck says she can’t be with him anymore because she’s changed, and every time he looks at her she wants to tear his eyes out. She wants to hurt someone, and he needs to go before that someone becomes him.

Are they… are they actually addressing Starbuck’s PTSD from having been kidnapped and held prisoner for four months, during which time she was severely emotionally abused? You go, BSG! So many shows will put characters through the wringer for dramatic effect and then just forget that real people usually won’t have bounced back during the summer hiatus.

The Circle kidnaps Gaeta and informs him that he’s going to be killed, but oh-so-helpfully explains that he can always try and convince them of his innocence first. Gaeta refuses on the grounds that he already explained that he was a mole—he told Starbuck, after all, and here she is on the jury, so they must know—and he’s not going to beg for his life.


At first I wanted to scream at Gaeta for not having told anyone before all this—his old friends and coworkers all hate him, and mentioning that he was risking his life for the insurgency every single day would go a long way toward not being a pariah. But then I realized he doesn’t want to be forgiven, because he still hates himself for having been taken in by Baltar. And as if that’s not enough, Gaeta thinks Tyrol, his friend, knows about him being the mole and still thinks he deserves to die.

Stop this show, I want to get off.

(Side note: I want all the Gaeta-centric fanfic, but I can’t go a’hunting for it without being spoiled. This is why I hate watching shows late.)

Gaeta’s about to die, and he even appears to have accepted his death (because he thinks he deserves it. I hate this show)… but it doesn’t happen, because Starbuck kicks him and starts screaming that “Ohhhh, you’re not going to lie about how helpful you were with your information and your stupid yellow dog bowl, huh?” Hearing that, Tyrol realizes that Gaeta was the source and cuts his bonds. Horrified at what they almost did, he tells the other jurors that Gaeta’s the only reason they knew about the death lists in the first place, and if it weren’t for him humanity never would have escaped New Caprica.

I have a theory, and it may very well hogwash, but here goes: Starbuck totally knew what she was doing when she was yelling about Gaeta claiming to be the mole. In her mind Gaeta was probably lying, but what if he wasn’t? Then his death would be on her shoulders, since she’s the one who didn’t pass the information on to the jury. Starbuck may be messed up, but she doesn’t want to be responsible for the death of an innocent friend. She couldn’t just come out and say “Holy crap, I forgot, Gaeta said he was an informant, maybe that’s relevant?,” because that would be admitting her mistake, and in Starbuck’s mind she’s the only one who’s allowed to hate herself. (And boy howdy, does she ever.) In a roundabout way, she intentionally saved Gaeta’s life.

There. Watch me get Jossed.

In an earlier scene we found out that Lee and Adama were aware, not of what the Circle’s been doing, but that people known to have survived the exodus from New Caprica have started disappearing. After Gaeta’s near-execution the rest of it comes to light. Adama, Lee, and Roslin are none too pleased with President Zarek, who gave the Circle the go-ahead and has been providing them with signed death warrants for whomever they deem guilty. Zarek explains that it’s all perfectly legal and that by facilitating the hush-hush executions of traitors (or “traitors”) now he’s making it so Roslin doesn’t have to deal with long, drawn-out trials during her Presidency. Sure, Zarek. You were doing this all to help Roslin. Sure. Roslin objects, arguing that everyone deserves a trial by representation and that, while said trials may very well turn into media circuses that consume her second term, they will also provide justice.

She later changes her mind, at least about going through with trials: In her post-inauguration press conference she announces a general pardon for every human in the fleet to help facilitate healing and reconciliation instead of vengeance. You go, Roslin.

If Baltar knew about that, I’m guessing he’d wish he were on the Galactica instead of hanging out with the Cylons. See, while the Circle has been trying collaborators, the Cylons have been deciding what to do with Baltar. D’anna helpfully lets him know that the vote on whether to allow him to stay is deadlocked—three models want him there, three don’t. The decision rests with the Sixes. Then, in a later scene, Caprica comes in and tells her one-time guyfriend that her feelings for him made her lose sight of who she really is: Not a human, but a Cylon. Baltar, trying once more to save his skin, objects. At the end of the episode a close-mouthed Caprica returns to his room with a nice white shirt, implying that the decision has been made.

But what’s the decision? When I saw that scene I assume Caprica had voted against him and he was going to die, but I’m pretty sure the Cylons never actually said the decision was whether to kill him or not, just whether to “let him stay.” I see no reason why they’d let him live, but I’m pretty sure the writers wouldn’t kill him at this point. And hey, maybe Caprica voted for him. Sure, she was all quiet and ominous in that last scene, but you never know.


Last episode’s first scene gave us an execution, and this one gives us some eye candy. Hey-o. A bikini-clad Head Six is lounging on the shores of Baltar’s subconscious (see, because she’s on a shore, but she’s also in Baltar’s head. I kill myself sometimes), where she tells him to take advantage of his time on the Basestar to find out as much about the Cylons as he can, specifically this little thing called projection. Baltar asks her what she is, and she—predictably—refuses to answer. The latter part of this scene has both of their faces artistically obscured by lensflare, which is wonderfully fitting: Her real identity is uncertain, and throughout this episode his will be, too. I can feel my inner cinematography nerd smiling.

After his mental siesta Baltar finds himself back in his room on the Basestar, where he’s paid a visit by D’anna and Caprica. They want to know if he can tell them how to get to Earth, and he says no. Ohhh, what a pity, they say, because we really wanted to have a reason to keep you alive for a little longer. Oh well!

Wait, says Baltar! I may not know exactly where Earth is, but I spent quite a while comparing the map Roslin and Adama found on Kobol to astrometric charts, so if anyone could find it, it’d be me. Please don’t kill me.

Baltar is so predictable. I have a headcanon that D’anna and Caprica sit around and gossip about things they’ve psychologically manipulated him into doing. “The other day I mentioned that Cylons take a critical eye toward poor diets and he totally gave me his slice of cake!” “That’s nothing. Yesterday I told him the Cylon god really likes Pig Latin, and he was eaking-spay it-yay for hours.”

Turns out the Cylons want to find Earth because they’re looking to settle there. Get your own planet, toasters! Geez.

Back on the Galactica the Vipers are engaged in a training exercise that Starbuck proceeds to mess up when she disobeys orders, bangs her Viper into Kat’s, and lets her ship run out of fuel. Back on the ship Lee berates her for her reckless move, saying it’s fine if she wants to die but he’ll be damned if she’s going to take a ship with her. When Starbuck is less than apologetic, Lee revokes her flight status.

Both Starbuck and Tigh are still majorly messed up by their experiences on New Caprica. While drinking in his room Tigh hears Ellen’s voice, and when he looks outside to investigate he sees someone he thinks is her but is actually just some other lady in a Pepto Bismol pink suit. Starbuck, meanwhile, gets a visit from Kacey and her mom Julia, who are living on a refugee camp on the Galactica. She wastes no time in telling them to buzz off, because she doesn’t want to be Kacey’s friend and it’d be bad for Kacey to be around her, too.

Their respective capital-i Issues established, the two of them both make their way to the pilots’ rec room, where they proceed to smack talk everyone who was fortunate enough not to have been on New Caprica. One of those people is Kat. She doesn’t let Starbuck get away with any of that bull, pointing out that coming up with a rescue plan wasn’t exactly easy and that pilots died pulling it off. Tigh and Starbuck are having none of it, though: If you weren’t on New Caprica, you can’t be trusted.

So the two of them are BFFs now. Is the apocalypse nigh?

Helo, in a meeting with Adama, lets the old man know that Tigh and Starbuck are second-guessing the rescue and ruining morale. Adama says both of them know better, and Helo responds that he doesn’t think they care. Determined to snap them out of it, Adama marches to the rec room and tells everyone else to GTFO. He asks Starbuck for her gun and suggests that one of them just go ahead and shoot him if they feel like it. (They don’t, of course. Head Six doesn’t have the monopoly on dramatics in this show.)

Adama gives each of them an ultimatum. To Starbuck: She can shape up and stop sowing discontent among the crew, or she can find another ship to live on. Tigh’s deal is slightly more lenient: He can go back to his quarters and not leave until he’s gotten himself together and is ready to be the man Adama’s known for 30 years.

Starbuck, after storming out, decides to accept Adama’s offer: She cuts her hair off, albeit with a giant knife, because Starbuck. Tigh’s not so receptive, saying the man Adama used to know doesn’t exist anymore. (♪Now I’m just some officer you used to know.♪)

I don’t know, Adama, I think maybe your ultimatum didn’t work because you literally sent Tigh to his room. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s not gonna work, though honestly I don’t know what would. While Starbuck puts on her big girl panties and goes to visit Kacey, Tigh stays in his room, drinks up a storm, and looks at an old picture of him and Ellen. He legitimately looks like he’s about to cry. There’s a lip tremble there. A lip. tremble.

It’s not been wall-to-wall Tigh ‘n’ Starbuck drama this episode. Gaeta’s been doing SCIENCE, you see. He’s been given the task of deciphering Baltar’s notes on the search for Earth and thinks he’s managed to find something of a landmark: A nebula shaped like a lion’s head that, because SCIENCE, looks like it has a blinking red and blue eye. Roslin expresses doubts that Baltar’s research is legit, but Gaeta points out that the one thing Baltar can always be trusted to do is look after himself. He wanted to find Earth so he could get there. With no other leads, Roslin and Adama decide to send a Raptor, piloted by Racetrack and Athena, to check out the nebula.

Back on the Basetar HQ Baltar has shared that same intel with the Cylons, who’ve sent a ship to investigate. Baltar and Caprica talk about his relative trustworthiness while striding around the halls of the ship, and Baltar remarks that it seems like they’re going around in circles. Of course it does, responds Caprica, since you, as a human, are incapable of projecting. Baltar’s ears perk up, and he asks her to elaborate.

Projection, she explains, means that the Cylons can see their surroundings however they want. For example, Baltar sees them walking through a ship, but she sees them walking through a forest. Back in his headspace Baltar remarks that it’s quite a coincidence that Cylon projection is so similar to the way he constructs his own vivid mental realities. “It is a coincidence?,” Head Six asks, ramping the manipulation up to eleven.

Inception: done. From then on Baltar thinks he might be a Cylon. He quizzes Caprica on how there are twelve skinjob models but he’s only ever seen seven of them: Who are the other five? Would she know one if she saw it? Caprica refuses to answer, saying that none of them ever talk about the final five.

Oh, Baltar, for goodness sake, you’re not a Cylon! For one thing, it’s never been made clear that it’s Baltar’s brainpower that’s creating mental dreamscapes. I just assumed it was Head Six. And Batttlestar Galactica is too good at storytelling to introduce that critical bit of information only when it becomes relevant to the plot. Plus there’s no damn way Head Six just ~happened~ to suggest Baltar look into projection right before Caprica just ~happened~ to mention it for the first time. Head Six made him think he might be a Cylon the same way Brother Cavil made Tyrol think he might be a Cylon. She’s playing to his vanity, too, the way he’s so sure of his own genius his first assumption upon finding out about projection would be that he managed to do it without even knowing it was a thing that could be done.

Congrats on your red herring, show.

Their little tête-à-tête about Cylonitude is interrupted by D’anna striding past and announcing there’s been a problem with the Basestar sent to investigate the lion’s head nebula. They make their way to the Cylon equivalent of a CIC, where all the assembled skinjobs figure out that their brethren have been infected by some mysterious disease. They can’t send Centurions to investigate, since those will probably be damaged, too, and they have to move the Resurrection ship away lest one of the dying Cylons downloads into a new body and infects their entire race.

Head Six urges Baltar to volunteer to check out the plague ship. He initially resists, but she points out that if he’s human he won’t catch the disease, and if he’s a Cylon… well, wouldn’t he rather die now? Baltar offers his services, surprising the other skinjobs, and after a short bit of convincing they agree to let him go.

When he gets to the Basestar he sees dozens of dead or dying Cylons, plus a weird mechanical device that’s clearly man-made. He’s halted in his examination by a brunette version of Six, the only conscious Cylon he sees. She tells him that the device was floating in the nebula when they got there and that it must’ve been left by the original members of the 13th Colony as a beacon or marker. Baltar reassures her that he’s here to help, but the disease appears to have gotten to her brain… though whether that’s in a crazy-making way or a psychic-making way is subject to interpretation. She starts ranting about how he left the marker, knowing that it would kill them, and that he intends to lure in all the other Baseships and wipe out the entire Cylon race. He fails to keep his cool, yelling at her to shut up—which I probably would do in his case, too, if the clone of a Cylon who has a history of knowing things she shouldn’t started yelling about how I was planning to betray everyone. I’d like to think I wouldn’t strangle Brunette Six to death, though, which is what Baltar does.

He heads back to the ship, where the Cylons are arguing about whether to try and save the infected Cylons or leave them to die. After a short but intense burst of bickering D’anna decides the risk of a fleet-wide infection is too great and orders the Basestar to jump. Baltar, under some suspicion because he was the one who suggested they go to the nebula in the first place, lies his butt off and says he didn’t notice anything weird on the ship.

Why did he do that? Telling them about the device would take at least some suspicion off him. If he had been working with the Galactica to plant a Cylon-specific biological weapon, he wouldn’t admit that that weapon was there. Having realized his life is in very real danger he’s started up again with his old Baltar-y tricks, withholding information so can hopefully save his bacon somewhere down the line. Except now he’s playing the game against Cylons, not other humans, and as such it’s much riskier. I like where this is going.

Of course, there’s a minor hiccup when Caprica looks at the photos Baltar took and sees the weird plague bomb, but hey, this wouldn’t be Battlestar Galactica if things were easy.

The episode ends with Athena and Racetrack getting to the nebula and seeing that it does indeed look like a lion’s head with a blinking eye. Their joy at making progress toward finding Earth is cut short when they see a ton of Cylon Raiders and Basestars milling around. Racetrack quite reasonably suggests that they get the frak out of there, but Athena appears to be frozen in place, able only to utter a cryptic message: “When God’s anger awakens, even the mighty shall fall.”

And with that…


Also In This Episode

  • Au revoit, fatsuit!Lee. There’s a quick scene of him post-workout asking Helo to remind him “to never let that happen again. Ever.” The sentiment is shared.
  • The pilot-formerly-known-as-Sharon (whom I’ve been calling Athena) officially starts being called Athena this episode. Whew. It’s just her callsign. Part of me was worried that she’d turn out to be the incarnation of a Greek god or something. (Oh, who’m I kidding, I’d have loved that.)
  • Via Baltar, we get introduced to a new type of character: The Hybrid, a form of questionably-sane Cylon that serves as a sort of living computer for the Basestars.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, comments on this post have been locked. However, Jill and Susana will be reading comments over at our Facebook page, so if there’s anything you’d like to say in response to this post head on over that way. Former Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recaps can be found here, and next week’s recap is here. Have a (non-spoilery, for the love of God) comment? Hit me up on Twitter.

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