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Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: Final Cut, Flight of the Phoenix, Pegasus

Recap

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.

My notes for this week’s recap begins with “footage of massacre on Gideon—news report by is that Lucy Lawless?!

Final Cut

The fact that Tigh inadvertently caused a riot that ended with several civilians being killed hasn’t been mentioned all that much over the past few episodes, but there’s one person who definitely hasn’t let it go: New character D’Anna Biers (Lucy Lawless!!!), a reporter of questionable journalistic integrity who’s putting together a news segment on it to get people all fired up about the fact that no one’s gotten punished yet.

Her efforts bring her to the attention of Roslin and Adama, who instead of shutting down her operation give her unlimited access to the Galactica and her crew so she can make a balanced documentary that puts a face on the men and women of the military. It’s not technically unlimited, though, since Adama lets her know she’ll be booted if she captures any footage that could be a threat to the fleet’s security. Good thing there aren’t any huge military secrets—like, say, a captured Cylon—on board, huh?

This episode is shot using a mixture of normal techniques and first-person camerawork, like you’re actually seeing the footage D’Anna and her trusty cameraman are shooting as they’re shooting it. Some characters take to being filmed better than others. Adama and Lee, for example, have a twin “I have to do this, but I don’t have to like it” vibe going on. With Adama that manifests as world-weariness whenever he’s on-screen, whereas Lee takes out his frustration by snapping at one of his pilots for mooning the camera. Fair.

For others, being interviewed helps bring their angst to the forefront. Dee talks about how she fought with her father over enlisting and never made up with him before he died in the attacks. Kelso, one of the pilots involved in the Gideon massacre, is clearly upset with Tigh over sending them to the ship in the first place. Even Gaeta, a.k.a Mr. Professional, expresses regret at never having had a life outside the service.

The worst interview of the bunch belongs to Tigh, who while all this documentary business is going on has been getting death threats. The first instance occurs when someone paints “From the darkness you must fall” on his mirror, the same way someone painted “Cylon” on Boomer’s mirror last season. (Wait, did we ever find out who did that? Was it Boomer and I just forgot?) The second time comes after Adama tells Tigh to attend a conference on Cloud 9. Ostensibly the point of his being there is to hold his head high and show his critics he ain’t give a damn about them, but Adama also wants him to get some mandatory (and alcohol-free, yeah right) R&R.

Tigh doesn’t want to go, and it turns out he doesn’t have to, because someone sabotages his ship. (At this point I’m thinking he might have done it himself to avoid having to hob-nob with a bunch of strangers, but I’m just projecting what I’d want to do in his place.) At the urging of Ellen, who thinks Adama’s trying to throw him under the bus (of course), Tigh agrees to an interview with D’Anna, who puts a drink in his hand and makes damn sure he’s holding it during the interview. Nice. It doesn’t take him long to realize he’s been set up for a PR disaster, and as he readies himself to storm out of the room in an epically grumpy fashion D’Anna blocks his path. He pushes her (not cool, dude, even if you were being baited. I love you, but not cool), and she gets it allllll on camera.

D’Anna shows footage of Tigh’s epic blow-up to Adama, who apologizes for his XO and says Tigh hasn’t been brought up on any charges because Adama refuses to sacrifice people in the court of public opinion. They’re at war, he explains, and they all have to live with what happened. Adama, that’s… not really how the justice system works, y’know?

It turns out the person who has it in for Tigh is Kelso-the-pilot, who’s suffering from some major PTSD as a result of his involvement in the Gideon massacre. He attacks Tigh in his quarters, but when Tigh tells him what happened was his own fault, so go ahead and shoot him already (only a partial bluff, I’m convinced), Kelso’s unable to make himself pull the trigger. D’Anna’s managed to figure out that Kelso was the one trying to kill Tigh and rushes in with some guards, but they weren’t even necessary, because Tigh is occasionally not a failboat and has managed to take Kelso’s gun.

When the intrepid reporter goes to interview a sick pilot she gets some even juicier footage of Boomer, who’s in sickbay due to a bout of presumably pregnancy-related bleeding. Heeyyyyy, thinks D’Anna. I know her, she’s a Cylon! When Adama demands that she give him the tape she fakes him out and gives him the wrong one. Now she has a choice to make: Will she let the public know that Adama’s harboring a Cylon if doing so means possibly tearing the whole fleet apart? She’s helped in her decision when two Cylon raiders pop in for a quick visit. Adama and company handle it perfectly, which seemingly convinces D’Anna that everything with them is wonderful and peachy keen, and that even if they mess up sometimes they’re only human and do what they do is for The Greater Good, so everyone should be nice to them, kthx. Her documentary reflects that, and we get several shots of people watching, smiles on their faces, as they realize that someone has finally, finally recognized their sacrifice.

Except no, it turns out that Lucy Lawless is a motherfrakking Cylon. The final scene is of her, Six, Boomer, and the Cylon PR dude watching the documentary on Caprica, talking about how great it is to know that Galactica!Boomer and her child are still alive. Oh, and the raiders from before? They were only there to get the footage back to D’Anna’s Cylon BFFs.

Holy craaaaaaap. D’Anna was kind of shady this episode, but I genuinely did not see it coming that she was a Cylon. I know, I know, sweet summer child. This episode was amazing.

Also in this episode:

  • This episode featured the Lee-wearing-a-towel scene I’ve heard so much about. Unless there’s more than one? I wouldn’t object to that. *whistles innocently*
  • Gaeta’s interview sequence saw our favorite buttoned-up bridge officer being all flirty and charismatic with his mussed-up hair and uniform. Oh, plus he shows off his tiger tattoo (?!), and he’s smoking a cigarette. It’s like he’s trying to be a ’50s greaser for the camera, and it’s adorable. Oh, Gaeta, you doofus. I love you.
  • Lee makes a joke about how Starbuck couldn’t have been the one to threaten Tigh because there’s no way she knows poetry. Starbuck fires back with a frakking poetry recitation. She’s like an ogre. Or an onion. She has layers.
  • Comic relief this episode comes courtesy of Baltar, who’s all put out that D’Anna doesn’t want to interview him even though I’m the Vice President, Six, why doesn’t she want to talk to meeeeee?! When he finally weasels his way into an interview and psychs himself up to deliver a dramatic monologue about how great a leader he is, he’s interrupted by the arrival of the Cylon raiders. He tries to convince D’Anna not to go film the crisis because it’s probably just a drill, but she’s not having any of it. Oh, Baltar. Your moment in the limelight will have to wait.

Flight of the Phoenix

Gaeta’s link-our-networks-to-boost-our-computer-power trick, though necessary when the Galactica was separated from the rest of the fleet, just keeps coming back to bite the good guys in the ass. In Valley of Darkness a virus managed to slip into the Galactica’s electricity and communications subsystems, and this time a virus has infiltrated… well, pretty much everything. In the weeks since sneaking in through the temporary network it’s begun slowly taking over all the systems and is rapidly reaching the point where it’ll gain complete control over the Galactica and be able to broadcast a signal to a veritable army of waiting Cylon raiders, leading them to a ship that will by that point be entirely unable to defend, or even control, itself.

The name for this virus: Cylon logic bomb.

I think I have a new favorite fictional weapon.

But before we get to that, there’s some drama to catch up on. Helo’s been getting a less than warm welcome from his comrades, who are a little weirded out by the whole being-in-love-with-a-Cylon thing. They’ve been side-eyeing Chief Tyrol for the same reason. The two have a nice bonding session over their mutual—wait, no, never mind. Tyrol, clearly messed up in the head about a copy of his ex-girlfriend, who happens to be possibly-evil, coming back in to his life pregnant with another man’s child, says he’s glad he wasn’t the one who got “suckered into” impregnating Boomer with her “freak kid.” After releasing some tension with a good ol’ fashioned brawl Tyrol apologizes, saying he knows his Sharon is dead.

To get over his angst Tyrol starts on a new hobby: Building a brand new fighter in a cave with a box of scraps. Pretty much everyone besides Starbuck, Adama, and Roslin thinks it’s impossible, but by the end of the episode everyone comes around and helps him get the new ship working. Even Tigh procures spare engines for Tyrol after finding him brewing alcohol to trade for parts. Of course, Drunk Grumpy Cat presents his offer as a way to help another ship get rid of its trash, not as a way to do something nice. And he grabs a mason jar full of booze on his way out. Even if getting alcohol isn’t his primary goal, if Tigh’s earned some he’s going to take it, darnit.

But back to the virus. Adama first gets alerted to its presence after Dee’s headset gets blasted with a super-loud dose of static, making her space out temporarily and then, later in the episode, get all handsy and flirty with Lee. Cylons, what are you up to? Tigh orders Gaeta to go through every line of code until he figures out what’s wrong, a project that will take days. Gaeta cracks and yells at Tigh, which Adama says is symptomatic of how the whole fleet’s starting to feel “the reality of their situation.” I’d hazard a guess that Gaeta’s feeling guilty about inadvertently letting the Cylon virus infect the Galactica in the first place. It’s not your fault, Gaeta. There’s nothing you could have done.

Boy needs a therapist.

Also, I’m pretty sure everyone wants to yell at Tigh all the time.

Next up to feel the wrath of the Cylon logic bomb are Starbuck, Lee, and Hot Dog, who find themselves locked in the shooting range while all the oxygen slowly gets sucked out. Never has a scene of characters being giggly—oxygen deprivation’ll do that to you—been so suspenseful. Lee and Starbuck, seconds before passing out, manage to shoot out the glass in the door and save all their lives. You’re welcome, Hot Dog.

Conveniently for what’s left of humanity there just so happens to be a Cylon onboard who says she knows how to defeat the logic bomb. The question is whether they should trust her. Adama consults Roslin, who earlier in the episode was told by Doc Cottle that she has, at most, a month to live. She tells Adama his judgment’s been clouded by his history with Boomer but, since humans created Cylons, they should be able to find some common ground.

As it turns out, they do have common ground: None of them want to die. Adama enlists Boomer to help with a plan that Gaeta cooked up that involves performing a hard reset on the Galactica and restoring it from backups, basically treating it like a giant iPhone with people living on it. It’s the only way to delete the logic bomb for good, but it’ll leave the ship defenseless should the Cylons show up during the reset. That’s where Boomer comes in.

As it happens the raiders do show up, though they opt against attacking, instead hanging around until the logic bomb takes full effect. Boomer freaks everyone out by stabbing herself in the hand and sticking a cable into her arm (Baltar and Tigh‘s expressions when she does this are gold), using the window of time when Gaeta’s resetting the Galactica’s systems to send a virus to the raiders. They get knocked offline, leaving them easy pickings for the Viper pilots, who get to experience something close to Cylon Death Christmas.

With that crisis out of the way Starbuck tests Tyrol’s now-completed ship, which thanks to a suggestion by Helo is actually a stealth wessel. (Sorry, vessel. Chekov isn’t in this particular sci-fi show.) The episode ends with a christening ceremony for the ship, with Roslin calling it a physical reminder that no matter how bad things get humanity will always make it through. When Tyrol announces the ship’s name—Laura—Roslin gets choked up a little. I have to admit, so did I.

Just a little.

Pegasus

What starts as a panic over an unknown ship showing up ends in an awkward, awkward family reunion as it’s revealed the ship in question isn’t of Cylon origin but rather the Pegasus, a Battlestar that was assumed destroyed but has instead been performing hit-and-run attacks on Cylon mining operations ever since the destruction of the 12 colonies. It’s commanded by one Admiral Cain, who I’m going to go ahead and say is a bad guy, or at least not a good guy, because I’m pretty sure playing nefarious people is her actress’ thing.

The discovery of a new ship makes everyone happy at first, but things quickly get tense, largely because Admiral Cain is technically Adama’s boss and as such is in command of the fleet. She doesn’t much like the way he’s been running things, either. In fact, no one from the Galactica really gets along with their Pegasus counterparts. The only exception is Tigh, who plows through conversational awkwardness with the Pegasus’ XO with the help of alcohol.

Cain and Roslin are instantly suspicious of each other, and it turns out Roslin is justified: Cain’s XO tells Tigh that Cain shot her old XO in the head for refusing an order. He laughs it off as a joke, but Tigh’s too grumpy and suspicious to fall for that, thank you very much. A sense of humor? Bah! Also Cain seems not to care very much about the civilian part of the fleet, as she’s not returning Roslin’s calls. You can tell Adama doesn’t like the situation either, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He follows orders, simple as that.

There is one order, though, that he has a hard time following: That Lee and Starbuck be reassigned to the Pegasus. Adama objects, saying his team works well together, and oh by the way, didn’t you say you’d let me run my own ship? Cain’s response is that Lee and Starbuck are both disobedient and that it’s a bad idea to have your son as your CAG anyway, which is… actually kind of reasonable? Very reasonable, in fact. She comes off as harsh in this scene, but she’s technically correct. And so what if she makes the occasionally crabby Adama look like someone’s cuddly grandpa? She’s in the military, darnit!

Adama eventually cooperates and orders that Lee and Starbuck do so as well. The two of them will be on the Pegasus side of things when it comes time for a joint attack against the mysterious Cylon ship that Cain says has been following the Galactica ever since it left Caprica. The first step is performing recon on the ship, but Starbuck says the Pegasus CAG’s (whom I shall refer to in later recaps as Bizarro World Lee) plan is frakking stupid and gets herself booted from the mission because of it. Lee gets a little insubordination in too, slipping Starbuck a surveillance package so she can “borrow” the Galactica’s stealth ship and do the recon mission her own darn self, because Starbuck gets stuff done.

While all this is going on Baltar’s also had a crisis to manage. The Pegasus has a Cylon prisoner of its own, and since Baltar’s the resident expert he’s asked to examine her. Turns out she’s another Six. Oh, and she’s been raped and tortured to the point of catatonia. Gaius and Six (that’s the Six who lives in Gaius’ head… oh hell, this is going to get so frakking complicated) are understandably horrified, and Gaius promises to help her.

(I really wish Baltar had a friend he could talk to about the crazy stuff that goes on in his life. Not because it’d be true to his character or make any sort of sense story-wise, but it would be hilarious. “Hey, G-dawg, all this stuff with Cain is crazy, right? How ya coping?” “Oh, well, I’ve been more concerned with trying to rehabilitate my bodiless, questionably evil girlfriend’s traumatized clone. But yeah, I suppose Adama’s authority being questioned is difficult for him.”

You know Gaeta would volunteer.)

Baltar convinces Cain to let him have complete control of the prisoner so he can treat her however he sees fit, which basically means “not violently.” And he gets Cain’s approval without Six around to tell him what to say, as she’s skedaddled by this point. Oh, our baby’s growing up! Surprisingly, Baltar tells Prisoner!Six about his relationship with the other Six, how she changed his life and he loves her, though he says “I’ve never stopped thinking about her” instead of the sliiiiiightly more accurate (but less romantic!) “She’s living in my frakking head.”

Things are looking up for Prisoner!Six, but for Boomer? Not so much. Tyrol and Helo find out from some bragging douchebag Pegasus crew members (I tried to come up with a politer word, but I think “douchebag” fits rather well) what happened to Prisoner!Six. The two of them book it to Boomer’s cell, where they arrive just in time to stop Thorne, Pegasus’ resident Cylon interrogator, from raping her. That’s great. But they accidentally kill Thorne in the process. That’s not so great.

Helo and Tyrol are arrested and shipped off to the Pegasus, where despite Adama’s best efforts to get them returned to his authority they’re tried, convicted of treason and murder, and sentenced to execution within a few hours. Adama, understandably ticked, decides to hell with the chain of command, he’s going to get his men off the Pegasus. Cain doesn’t take too kindly to that, and the episode ends with Vipers and Raptors from both ships facing off against each other, ready to start a war.

Also in this episode:

  • Laird, the Pegasus deck chief who replaces Tyrol on the Galactica, used to be a civilian but was co-opted into service somehow. It’s presented like it’ll be significant later on, so in the recap it goes.

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