Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: The Road Less Traveled, Faith


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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.

Wherein Roslin gets (a different) religion and there are some redshirts. Faith in particular is so good.

The Road Less Traveled

Starbuck’s not doing too well.

She and her crew have two days left on the Demetrius before they have to rendezvous with the fleet, but they’re no closer to finding the location of Earth. Even Helo, her one real friend on the ship, is starting to think that she’s gone off the deep end. Everyone else, Athena in particular, is about ready to mutiny like Long John Silver and the Muppet crew in Muppet Treasure Island (yeah, yeah, and I guess in the original book, too). They make no effort to hide their incredulity when Starbuck says she’s going to take a Viper out on patrol. Helo tells ’em to can it, ya jackasses, because they’ll be back with the fleet in a few days and they can damn well keep their lips buttoned ’til then.

Turns out the crew was more than a little justified: When Starbuck and Hot Dog are out on patrol they run across an all-but-destroyed Cylon Heavy Raider, and when Hot Dog asks what he should do—which is the sort of thing that Starbuck, as the Captain, should tell him—she just goes all spacey-eyed and flies right toward it.

Turns out one of the last remaining Leobens is on the ship. The evil half of the Cylon fleet destroyed the slightly-less-evil half, but there’s still one Basestar full of Leobens, Eights, and Sixes floating out there in the dead of space. Leoben needs Starbuck’s help to bring the malfunctioning Basetsar to safety. In return, the Cylons—specifically the hybrid, which has been asking to see Starbuck—will help humanity find Earth.

Starbuck brings Leoben onboard, which needless to say no one else is particularly pleased about. Athena, having more first-hand knowledge of the Cylons’ tendency toward psychological manipulation than anyone else, is especially distrustful. Starbuck orders that Leoben be taken too her quarters, and everyone does this:

But minus the snazzy wigs and waistcoats.

All this time Anders has been out on patrol, and when he comes back and Helo fills him in he’s a bit… well, nut-punchingly angry is one way to put it. Leoben is the dude who kept his wife locked up for months on New Caprica, after all. He walks in on the pair of them being closer than two people strictly need to be when they’re working on an art project. Anders jumps on Leoben and demands, against Starbuck’s protestations, that he be taken to the brig. Helo and the marines are all too willing to comply.

In the brig Leoben gives Anders a speech about destiny and people being meant for more than they seem. It’s the same sort of thing we’ve seen a few times so far this season—the “Does this Cylon know about me, or is it the standard flowery crypticness?” moment. We know none of the normal seven Cylons know who any of the Final Five are, but Anders doesn’t, and the uncertainty’s messing with his head. He threatens to shoot Leoben, which is when he fesses up about the Cylon civil war and his deal to get the humans to Earth.

Helo and Anders appear to be considering it, but Athena straight-up says Starbuck is too cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs to make the decision. Maybe they should take matters into their own hands so she won’t lead them, and the rest of the human fleet, into the trap. Helo’s response is a glorious “Oh hell no! You think you’re going to mutiny? On my watch?! I don’t care if you are my wife, you shut that down right now.”

Turns out Starbuck’s been creeping and has heard the whole debate. She says they’re going to take Leoben up on his offer and head to the Basestar as soon as they can pull the coordinates from the Raider. Suck it, fools.

A redshirt named  Mathias is inspecting Leoben’s Raider when it explodes, killing her instantly. Starbuck, assuming Leoben rigged the ship, proceeds to beat the crap out of him. He maintains his innocence but still goads her on, telling her that this time if she kills him he won’t resurrect. But she decides not to kill Cylon Skeevy McProphet after all. Leoben tells her that the reason she feels different now is that she’s transformed into “an angel blazing with the light of God” who will lead her people to salvation.

Over in the mess hall Mathias’ death has majorly freaked people out, and the eulogy Starbuck delivers doesn’t do anything to make people think she’s not crazy. Well no wonder: The jist of it is “Mathias’ death was stupid, and it was my fault, and I have to live with that.” Starubuck, once you get back to the Galactica you might want to hunt down Adama for a few pointers on inspiring speeches. Not depressing. Inspiring.

Starbuck breaks the news that they’re not rendezvousing with the fleet—their mission is to find Earth, and the Basestar will help them do that, so they’re going. After she leaves Helo has to physically restrain a guy who’s ready to go after Starbuck and… try to beat her up, probably. Heh. Good luck with that, weenie-man. He makes a crack about how of course Helo’s the one to protect Leoben, because he’s a Cylon-lover. TOO FAR, BRO, TOO FAR! Helo pistol-whips him, and it doesn’t inspire joy in me like the time Gaeta stabbed Baltar in the neck with a pen (nothing can even approach that), but it was still cool. One mutineer down, the entire rest of the ship to go.

The episode ends with Helo’s reservations about Starbuck’s leadership capacity overcoming his loyalty. He asks her to reconsider going after the Basestar; when she says thanks but no thanks, he straight up refuses to follow her order to jump.

She promotes Gaeta to XO, but he also refuses, because… of course he does. She could ask him to pass the salt and he’d be a passive-aggressive little jerkwad about it. I love him more than is probably reasonable.

Helo says he’s removing Starbuck from command, which makes her look like she’s about to wreck some shit. But there’s not much she can do. The mutineers don’ mutinied.

If we get anything more with Anders trying to fix his relationship with Starbuck I’m just going to point to this episode and say “No, dude. Your marriage is over.” He didn’t even make a token effort to take her side during the mutiny. Yeah, I get that his newfound toaster status means he has other things on his mind. And he may very well agree that Starbuck’s making all the wrong decisions. But still, Anders! Support your wife! Or, at the very least, don’t mutiny against her.

But this episode wasn’t just the dissolution of Starbuck and Helo’s beautiful, beautiful friendship (quiet sobbing). Back on the Galactica Baltar’s a full-on cult leader now, giving sermons that go out to the entire fleet over pirate radio. Tyrol’s feelings toward him aren’t exactly warm and fuzzy, but at Tory’s convincing he attends a service. It would seem that Baltar’s message of forgiving oneself for past evil deeds might strike a chord with Tyrol, considering his guilt over his role in Cally’s death, but instead the sermon ends with Tyrol holding Baltar down and choking him half to death. To be fair, Baltar did single him out mid-speech and ask him to join his hippie cult take his hand because that’s what Cally would want him to do. Putting a man on the spot and using his dead wife against him? In public? When you didn’t even know the dead wife in question? Jerk move, Baltar. And not exactly smart, especially given how Tyrol earlier told him that there are some things—like, say, betraying humanity to Cylons on New Caprica—that are just plain unforgivable. What do you think was going to happen?

But by the end of the episode the two of them seem prepared to make amends: Baltar comes to Tyrol’s room in the dead of night (I think I read a fanfic like this once), dressed as an extremely fashionable Unabomber, to ask forgiveness for his massive dickery. He admits that it was presumptuous to mention Cally and that he has committed unconscionable crimes. But he’s been offered a chance at redemption because [dramatic irony alert] he’s accepted who he really is.

Yeah, you’re a giant skeezball.

Baltar doesn’t want Tyrol’s forgiveness because he genuinely feels bad for what he said. I don’t know, maybe on some level he does, but on the whole he just wants to make himself feel better, wants to shore up this mental image of himself as the benevolent shepherd of an adoring flock. And then there’s something Tory told him earlier in the episode: Roslin doesn’t take his group seriously because it’s only managed to attract people on the “fringes.”

But anyway, Tyrol seems to accept his apology. He shakes his hand, anyway. And I can’t blame him for turning to religion—or at least choosing to give up his hatred of Baltar—in his time of crisis. Things have continued to be awful for him, as we see in this episode: He’s begun to suspect that Cally was killed. (Watch your back, Tory!) One scene had him ready to literally blow his brains out. And Tigh’s giving him grief for not adequately “pulling himself together.”

We also find out that Tigh’s been spending more time with Caprica, whom he was macking on last episode.

To finish out this recap with a less ehhhhh-inducing mental image, here’s a gif of a baby panda going down a slide!


I would like to issue a humble apology to Anders. After I wrote a whole paragraph giving him crap for not defending Starbuck in the mutiny, “Faith” starts out with him single-handedly shutting the mutiny down.

By shooting Gaeta. One of my favorite characters shoots another one of my favorite characters.

BSG, what makes you think that’s OK?!

What happens is that Helo orders Gaeta to jump the ship back to the Galactica so Adama can figure out what to do with Leoben’s proposal. Anders holds a gun on Gaeta and demands that he abort the jump, and when he doesn’t, he shoots him in the leg. Starbuck immediately jumps into combat medic mode and binds the wound, because even if you have personal differences with someone you’re a soldier and shouldn’t let that stop you from performing your duty (more on that later, Gaeta).

Starbuck admits that taking the Demetrius to the Basestar is too much of a risk—she’ll just take Leoben on a Raptor and go herself. She asks Athena to go as well, since she’ll need to know if the Cylons are cooking up a trap. And Anders and New Caprica resistance member Jean Barolay offer to go as well, the latter because she’s a Starbuck fangirl who wants to be there when she finds Earth.

An emotionally poignant moment from a minor character whom we haven’t seen in a while? I smell a redshirt.

By the time they set off they have about 14 hours to complete their mission. After that the Demetrius will have to jump back to the Galactica with our without them. They don’t make the rendezvous, they get separated from the fleet. A wounded Gaeta tries to make Helo promise that he won’t let Doc Cottle amputate his leg, even though if they wait until the clock runs out to go back to the Galactica there won’t be much else Cottle can do. Essentially, he’s trying to see if Helo might potentially say “Ah, screw it” and return to the Galactica before Starbuck and her crew gets back.

Gaeta m’boy, it’s time for an

You need to stop letting your emotions rule your decision-making so much. It’s becoming a problem.

Your megacrush on Baltar blinded you to what an obviously self-interested skeev he is. You sided with him on New Caprica, and almost got executed because of it. Then your hatred of Baltar led you to perjure yourself, and while nothing bad has come of that (yet), it was still frakking stupid.

And now you want Helo to abandon the Basestar crew so you won’t lose your leg. I get it. You’re in pain. You’re scared. That’s most of what’s going on here, and I feel for you. But part of it is that you hate Starbuck, and you’re letting that cloud your judgement. There’s no way sacrificing five people, not to mention a chance to find Earth, is the right call. You know that. You’re a smart dude.

Unfortunately, you can also be a vindictive tool.

I love you, and I don’t want you to lose your leg either. You’ve been through enough.

But you need to cut it out.

Intervention over. Bring it in for a hug, Felix.

Starbuck and co. jump into a warzone filled with destroyed Basestars, but Starbuck says she can “hear” something that indicates the non-destroyed Basestar is around somewhere. “The unstuck music vibrates in all of us,” Leoben clarifies in a decidedly un-clear way, “Few can hear it. Kara’s one of the few.”

Yeeeeah, Leoben. You’re really not helping Starbuck seem like she’s not a Cylon. Judging by their facial expressions, Athena and Anders (poor Anders) can hear the “unstuck music” (WTF, Leoben?) too.

Starbuck sees the Basestar where it’s circling around Saturn (ohai Saturn!) like a comet. Exactly like the comet Starbuck saw on her way back from Earth, in fact. Except it must’ve been a vision, since when the Cylon civil war broke out after she was already back to the fleet. Whatever. Point is, part of Starbuck’s vision has been proven non-crazy.

On the Basestar Athena gets a social call from a whole slew of fellow Eights, who according to Leoben have started quite the Athena fan club since she went against her programming and ditched Cylonitude for the human side of the Force. The leader asks Athena for help rebelling against the Sixes, since they used to know what they were doing but now they’re making bad call after bad call.

Put your big girl panties on and deal with it, Athena responds. You pick a side and you stick with it; you start switching when things get rough and eventually you won’t have anything.

She speaks the truth. The human leadership has done some awful things to her—like kidnapping her baby and lying about it, for one—but if she hadn’t stayed loyal who knows where she’d be?

The head Six refuses to let Starbuck see the hybrid—apparently Leoben wasn’t exactly authorized to promise an audience. But Leoben and Starbuck pull a good cop-bad cop routine and convince Six that the Cylons need an alliance with the humans, and the only way they can get one is if they take a field trip to the hybrid’s room.

A bit of tech chat goes on in the Cylon CIC—Athena points out that the hybrid will have to be pulled offline in order to link up their ships, which Six objects to on the grounds that it might kill her. Blah de blah blah—Six tries to make things go a certain way, but that way is stupid, so she folds. It’s a theme for this episode. Anders tries to dip his hand into the Cylons’ liquid computer thing, which is stupid—you’re a secret Cylon, dude. Emphasis on secret. What will you do if the computer responds to you and someone notices?—but also kind of ballsy. Anyway, the group moves on, so he doesn’t get to see if he can use his Cylon powers to pull up Minesweeper.

Back at the Raptor my redshirt prediction comes true: Back on New Caprica Barolay brutally murdered one of the Sixes, who’s been traumatized by it ever since and takes her revenge by beating Barolay to death.

That doesn’t exactly help the humans and the Cylons get along. Anders holds a gun on the Six and is all ready to just kill her right there, even though Starbuck tries to talk him down. The main Six realizes the two groups are at a stalemate and pulls the trigger on her fellow Six herself, even though with the Resurrection ship out of range there’ll be no downloading into a new body. She directs a snarky comment at Starbuck afterwards about whether that’s “enough human justice for you? Blood for blood?”

Starbuck’s face.

That is the look of someone who’s the exact opposite of impressed with Six’s moralizing. Try that guilt trip crap with lesser beings like Baltar and it might get you somewhere. But Starbuck? Please.

The group visits the hybrid, who’s spewing her own brand of cryptic nonsense. Some of it sounds relevant—specifically “children of the one reborn shall find their own country”—but there’s not much sense that can be made from it. Eventually they run out of time and have to book it back to the Demetrius before Helo has to leave without them, so they decide, screw it, they’ll just pull the hybrid’s plug. Except when an Eight tries it a Centurion shoots her and the hybrid starts screaming blue murder.

Something about Eight’s blood dripping into the hybrid’s tank gives her some sort of coherency, because she reaches up to touch Starbuck’s face and actually tells her something useful: “The dying leader will know the truth of the opera house. The missing three will give you the five who have come from the home of the thirteenth.”

Six, Athena, and Starbuck figure out what that means: The “five” are the Final Five Cylons. The “home of the thirteenth,” aka the thirteenth tribe of humans, is Earth, which the hybrids know how to get to. And “the missing three” is D’anna, who knows what the Final Five look like.

Are we getting D’anna back this time? Are we really? It’s not gonna be like that time Cavil said he was bringing her back and then went all turncoat?

I need more Lucy Lawless. You don’t understand.

All this is great, albeit not for Anders, who has quite the “Oh, sh*t” moment when it’s revealed that part of the plan to find Earth involves allying with someone who’ll be able to out him as one of the Final Five. Still, on the whole, reassuring. Something else the hybrid said to Starbuck, not so much: “You are the harbinger of death. You will lead them all to their end.” It’s the same thing the ur-hybrid said to Shaw in Razor, and Starbuck’s not too pleased—read: horrified—to hear it.

Leoben says Starbuck will lead humanity to salvation. The hybrid says she’ll lead humanity to its end. Could the truth lie somewhere in between, like Starbuck’s going to lead humanity a Cylon-specific salvation? Humans getting turned into Cylons or something? Hell, I don’t know.

There’s a neat moment in this scene where the dying Eight reaches out to Athena for comfort, but she refuses provide it. It’s Anders who steps up and holds her as she dies. After a few months (I guess it’s months) of struggling with the revelation that they’re Cylons, Anders, Tory, and Tyrol seem to be… settling into their Cylon identities, I guess you could say. Interestingly, they’re not too far from how they were when they thought they were human. Tyrol’s the angry one. Anders is the nice one. And Tory’s the sexy manipulative one, though we really don’t know how similar that is to how she was when she was human. (I’m willing to take the tendency toward manipulation on credit, though, since she’s in politics, and not in the wide-eyed cute way Billy was.) Tigh I don’t quite have a fix on yet.

But what about the other part of the hybrid’s prophecy: “The dying leader will know the truth of the opera house”? That relates to what’s going down on the Galactica. Roslin, who’s moved to the sickbay, meets a woman named Emily. Like Roslin, Emily’s suffering from cancer, though she’s farther along. Unlike Roslin, Emily takes comfort from Baltar’s preachings.

In spite of this fundamental difference the two of them get along and become friends—Roslin even opens up about her mother’s fight with cancer in a tearjerker of a scene. Emily explains the vision that made her come around to Baltar’s way of thinking: She was on a river, and on the other side she saw her dead family members. They told her not to be scared, that they’d cross over the river together. Roslin points out that a lot of people in their predicament have similar “visions” that seem real. But Emily says that it’s more than that; she wasn’t imagining things, she really was there. How ya like being on the other side of the vision-skeptic divide, Roslin?

The whole river thing dovetails with Baltar’s belief that there’s more to existence that we can see, and that our world is separated from the next by a river. Even if the higher power in charge of everything is the Cylon God, as Roslin argues, it’s not just the Cylon God—it belongs to all of us.

Later Roslin joins Emily on another dreamwalking excursion, except this time Emily crosses over to the other side of the river to be with her family. Sure enough, when Roslin wakes up, Emily’s died. While in the dream Roslin also sees her own group of spirits, including her mother.

And with that Roslin realizes that there might be something to this whole “Cylon God” thing. “The dying leader will know the truth of the opera house.” Bada-boom.

Back on the Demetrius the Raptor shows up, Basestar in tow, just in time. I wonder how Adama will react to a Cylon vessel just popping up alongside the fleet. The episode ends with him talking to Roslin, kindly pooh-poohing her religious revelation (awwww, I feel like we’re in season one again) and sharing his angst that everyone seems to be leaving him: Lee quit the military, and Starbuck, Athena, Gaeta, and Helo (he refers to the last three as “those kids,” be still my heart) are overdue to return from their Demetius jaunt. Roslin assures him that, no matter what happens, they’re going to find Earth together.

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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