Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recap: Scar, Sacrifice
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.
After a week off for personal reasons, Battlestar Galactica Newbie Recaps are back. I’m so glad to be past Black Market now, you guys. I did not need two weeks with that being the last episode I saw.
The central conflict in this episode belongs to Starbuck and Kat, who have been bumping horns of late. We’ve not really seen much of Kat before; if memory serves the most screentime she’s gotten so far was in the HOMG Lucy Lawless episode, when it came out she was addicted to stims. I can only assume her stepping to the forefront, even temporarily, means she’s going to die soon. That’s what happens with this show. It gets me attached to minor characters, then kills them.
But back to the plot.
Since the destruction of the Resurrection ship the Cylons have stopped mounting large-scale attacks. The reasoning behind that is that the Raiders reincarnate just like the skinjobs do, and now that the Resurrection ship is gone they can’t afford the casualties incurred when they send a frak-ton of Raiders out against the fleet. Their new tactic is to send smaller batches to pick off Viper pilots one at a time.
The scariest Raider—the Cylons’ Red Baron, if you will—is Scar, a particularly nasty mofo who likes to hide behind asteroids, pop out to kill one Viper while it’s separated from its wingman, and fly away before anyone has time to return fire. It’s a nasty, effective tactic, one that leaves Our Heroes little time to… be prepared. *crickets*
The episode starts with Starbuck and Kat running patrol above a Colonial mining ship that’s just hit paydirt and therefore really needs to be defended against Cylon attack until they’ve mined all the ore they need to make more Vipers. Starbuck tells Kat to be careful, since they’re patrolling in the same location where two pilots died.
From there we flash back to 94 hours earlier, when Starbuck, Kat, and their fellow pilots were boxing up the belongings of a dead comrade. Kat looks at a picture of his dead girlfriend and tries to recall her name, but she can’t. Starbuck brushes Kat off, saying it doesn’t matter what her name was, which Kat disagrees with. Their snit-fit is interrupted by the arrival of two newbie pilots, who are told about Scar. The nuggets doubt that one Raider could be better or worse than all the others—they’re all machines, aren’t they?—but the old-timers quickly disabuse them of that notion. The official nugget hazing has begun.
Flash back to Starbuck and Kat’s patrol: Kat sees something hiding behind an asteroid; thinking it’s Scar, she takes off after it. In the next flashback we get a better look at the two pilots’ rivalry. While hanging out and drinking with the rest of the squad Starbuck and Kat both claim they’ll be the one to kill Scar. Kat even bets $200 on it, though Starbuck says there’s no way she’ll be able to win. Not that Starbuck’s at her best, either; Kat calls her out on her alcoholism, to which Starbuck responds with a barb about Kat’s little stim problem. As far as we know Kat’s stopped taking stims, but in this episode it becomes clear that alcohol is definitely a problem for Starbuck. Lee tries to get her to stop pounding ’em back, but she refuses, which leads to her taking a tumble and remembering Anders—remember him?—through a haze of drunkenness.
From there we’re back to Starbuck and Kat, whom it turns out isn’t chasing Scar, because the real Scar pops up from behind a different asteroid and comes after the Vipers from behind. Starbuck realizes what’s up and avoids Scar’s surprise attack, but just barely.
Speaking of Scar, the next scene is of Starbuck attempting to instill her fellow pilots with a little knowledge on how not to be killed by the guy. All the debris around the mining ship screws with the Vipers’ radar, meaning that the only way to see Scar coming is to use your—
“—eyes,” interjects Kat, like she’s Hermione Granger’s mean, angry cousin. At this point she’s intentionally antagonizing Starbuck, and it continues when Starbuck mistakenly says they’re going out in teams of four, when the briefing says it’s teams of two. To be fair to Kat, Starbuck is far from blameless. Her drinking habits have clearly started interfering with her work. That said, Kat’s still taking things too far.
From there we cut to Starbuck (politely) drilling Boomer for info on Scar. We find out that Scar may have been reborn a dozen times before, and also that he has a particular hate-on for Starbuck. This was never explicitly stated, but is Scar the Raider Starbuck gutted and learned to ride in season one, just in a new body? Shots of it were included in the “previously” recap, plus it would explain why Scar has it in for Starbuck in particular.
Back to the fight with Scar. Kat realizes it’s her, not Starbuck, who’s fighting him, and she tries to get to Starbuck but is unable to find her. The ‘buck isn’t particularly helpful on that count, though, ignoring Kat’s request to say where she is in favor of single-mindedly pursuing the enemy.
Pre-battle, Helo is spotting Starbuck as she angrily lifts weights. Helo defends Kat, saying she’s just a hot-headed kid, much the same as Starbuck was before she met Anders. Starbuck obviously still thinks about him all the time, but she says she doesn’t, because he has to be dead so what’s the point?
Starbuck’s later confronted by a newbie pilot, BB, who’s scared witless about the possibility of facing the Dread Cylon. She less-than-reassuringly tells him that if Scar attacks him all he can really do is fight back. If he runs, he dies. Kat intercepts BB, telling him his wingman knows what he’s doing, so just listen to him and he’ll be fine. That leads to another conflict between Starbuck and Kat, who tells Starbuck off for rattling off a textbook quote on tactics.
It turns out BB should’ve listened to Kat: When he’s out on patrol he sees Scar, and everyone tells him to retreat because he doesn’t have enough fuel for a firefight. It’s the one situation where it’s the right move to get the hell out of dodge, but he doesn’t. He’s shot down before reinforcements can get to him.
Starbuck’s affected by the death and her part in it, though she pretends not to be: Drinking with Lee, she claims she doesn’t even remember pilots’ names after they’ve died. President Roslin promises a bright and shiny future for the human race, she explains, but it’s one that they won’t get a chance to see before they die, so they should really “get what [they] can” right now. Lee agrees, to which Starbuck replies: “So why don’t we?” Lee still doesn’t get that she’s talking about sex, the adorable moppet. Until she kisses him.
Let’s all have a round of applause for Starbuck’s modified “last night on Earth” move. Well done, Ms. Thrace.
Not that the sex goes well: Starbuck keeps flashing back to Anders, and Lee tries to get her to slow down, which causes her to nope right out of there. He asks “What about us?” but gets told that there is no “us.” She’s hung up on Anders and wanted a quick lay; there are no deeper feelings than her wanting to sleep with him. Lee fires back, saying Starbuck’s great with the dead guys but not so good when it comes to dealing with living ones. Starbuck slaps him and storms out.
One: Starbuck and Lee. I ship it.
Two: This ship is going to cause me immeasurable pain, isn’t it? Dammit!
Back to the battle, where Starbuck’s engaged in a game of chicken with Scar. Kat yells at her to pull up, since there’s no way Scar will, being a machine and all. What she’s doing is tantamount to suicide.
There’s one final flashback to the previous morning. While holding a briefing Starbuck gets informed that one of her pilots, Jo-Jo, died 20 minutes earlier while on patrol. Starbuck was supposed to be Jo-Jo’s wingman but replaced herself on the schedule due to being hung over, a fact that Kat calls her on (of course). Starbuck asks the other pilots to leave and the two of them have a verbal confrontation, with Kat accusing Starbuck of being a drunk has-been who sends other pilots off to get killed, and Starbuck firing back with her own character assessment: Kat’s on her ass so much to cover up how scared she is, both of Scar and of being forgotten. That causes Kat to lose it, and she strikes her superior officer right before Lee walks in to see what’s up.
Starbuck doesn’t rat Kat out, but Lee knows something happened, and he orders the two of them to fly a patrol together. Now we’ve circled around back to the present (finally).
Starbuck, still on a collision course with Scar, closes her eyes and gets ready to die. She keeps thinking of how she told Anders she’d come back for him, though, and at the last minute she pulls away from a fiery death and corrals Scar within Kat’s sights so she can kill him herself.
Which Kat does, meaning she’s won the bet and humiliated Starbuck at the same time. Kat knows the kill was a team effort, so I was kind of worried that, during the celebration scene that follows, she would refuse to accept the special super-duper mug the best flier gets on the grounds that Starbuck deserves to keep it. Starbuck should get some, if not most, of the credit for Scar’s death, it’s true, but Kat stepping up and mending their rift and becoming Starbuck’s BFF would be so cheesy you could dunk whole loaves of sourdough in it. (Fondue references FTW!)
Instead Starbuck has to endure the mortification of filling Kat’s cup. Tigh’s face when she has to do that is the best thing since the last time Tigh made a hilarious face at someone else’s discomfort. (Two episodes ago, if you’re keeping track.) But Starbuck gets back at her, stealing her thunder by tearfully dedicating the celebration to their fallen pilots, whom she proceeds to list, because she actually does remember their names.
It’s not like that, of course. The act was entirely sincere on Starbuck’s part and wasn’t designed to make her look like the bigger person after all the passive-aggressive shenanigans Kat’s been pulling. Still, I like to imagine Starbuck going back to her bunk internally crowing because who’s the one everyone likes now, huh?
The episode ends with Starbuck explaining to Helo that, while she could’ve taken out Scar, she probably would’ve died in the process. A few months ago that wouldn’t have mattered, but not now. “You’ve got something to live for,” Helo tells her, “not just die for.” The dude in love with a Cylon is spouting hackneyed romantic clichés. Oh-kaaaay. Helo, I just don’t know what to do with you. Starbuck’s reason to live is Anders, and while I’m firmly on the Starbuck/Lee pain train, I’m glad that the whole “Heeeeyyyy, there’s still a human resistance back on Caprica, maybe we should go… get them or something?” plotline looks like it’ll be coming back soon.
Something else that makes me happy: Starbuck and Helo’s friendship. BrOTP 4 lyfe.
Two good episodes in a row! I can feel the specter of Black Market starting to fade into the background.
This episode introduces us to a new character, Sesha Abinell, whose husband was killed when a Cylon attacked one of the fleet’s freighters. Ever since then she’s been on the vengeance train to Kill-the-Cylonsville, collecting information about their tactics as well as evidence that Adama is harboring a Cylon—that would be Boomer—aboard the Galactica.
Adama’s none too pleased that word about Boomer’s gotten out, but Roslin’s hardly surprised: Adama’s been having regular meetings with her and allowing her to interact with his crew. Of course someone’s eventually going to spill to an outsider. Billy, in a rare moment of assertiveness, tells Adama he should just ‘fess up already. Roslin suggests that they should “make a case” for staying on the ship, but to Billy it’s even more simple: Explain to the people that she’s a military asset, that she doesn’t pose a threat, and that she’s the only source of intelligence they have on the Cylons, and everyone will just… come around. Oh, Billy. That’s season one of Game of Thrones Sansa-level naïve.
Billy’s adorability climbs even higher when he asks Dee to marry him, slipping his old debate ring her on finger (awwww), before she says that she can’t marry him. Record scratch. Sad awwww.
From there we head to Cloud 9, where Dee is on an honest-to-God date with Lee Adama. She says she doesn’t know what to make of her and Billy, but she knows she can’t marry him. She doesn’t know what to make of her and Lee, either.
Ugh. Lee/Dee. I don’t understand it, and I don’t like it. Make it stop.
Lee and Dee aren’t the only major players in the Cloud 9 lounge. Sesha is there as well with several shady-looking dudes she keeps eyedarting at. Ellen’s there boozing it up. Then Billy shows up too. He approaches Dee to say hello just as Lee comes back with their drinks. Awkwaaaaard.
Billy quickly cottons on to the fact that the woman he just proposed to is on a date with a colleague of his; Lee apologizes and nopes right out of there to sit next to Ellen. Billy handles the situation pretty admirably, actually; he doesn’t lose his cool, doesn’t accuse Dee of being a vile temptress or anything. He just very despondently tells her that, whatever was developing between her and Lee, she should’ve been honest with him about it. Dee apologizes and tries to explain, but Billy, having said his piece, walks away.
Lee at this point has noticed Sesha acting suspicious, and also that she’s packing heat. He escorts Ellen to the bathroom for what she presumes is sexytimes, but alas, he’s just realized stuff’s about to go down. Poor Ellen: Her second Lee Adama butt grab will have to wait for another day. Sesha and her three colleagues close the blast doors and pull out their guns, taking everyone in the Cloud 9 lounge hostage.
While all this is going on Boomer is chatting with Adama. She asks him whether the fleet knows of her existence, a question he deflects by grilling her about places the Cylons might try and stage an ambush. She presses him, though, and he admits she’s no longer as Top Secret as she used to be. After Boomer’s taken away Tigh comes in and says that if people knew how Adama relies on a Cylon for intel they’d be scared out of their wits (which is fair). He’s not scared, says Tigh, but he doesn’t like the way Boomer’s gotten under his boss’ skin.
Meanwhile Lee and Ellen are still in the bathroom on Cloud 9. Lee has a plan to use the dry ice in Ellen’s drink to trick the oxygen sensors into thinking the carbon dioxide levels are being raised, thereby forcing the baddies to open the doors. Ellen ignores his request that she be quiet and calm, though (Ellen Tigh here, folks), leaving the bathroom and telling her captors that her husband’s the XO of the Galactica and they’ve done goofed.
Sesha calls Adama and issues her demands: He has two hours to deliver the Cylon agent to her before she starts killing hostages. After the call ends Gaeta (long time, baby, where’ve you been?) tells Adama and Tigh Sesha’s backstory and gives him a list of the people on Cloud 9: About half a marine squad, Lee *insert Adama’s “oh crap” face here*… and Starbuck, who’s getting a bit of R&R but isn’t in the lounge.
Well, that’s it then. Starbuck’s there. This situation’ll be taken care of in time for lunch.
Lee crawls through some ducts and gets his oxygen sensor plan rolling, but by this point the baddies have realized, heyyyy, wasn’t there another dude at the bar before? A nasty guy named Page goes to search the bathroom but Lee gets the jump on him, getting his gun and taking him hostage.
Things go downhill from there. Lee, his gun on Page, confronts Sesha and says he just wants to talk. But Sesha sees Lee and Dee exchanging relationshippy eye contract and comes to the conclusion that she’s his girlfriend. If he doesn’t put the gun down, Sesha explains, I’ll have one of my goons kill Dee. We’ll kill our hostage; I don’t think you’ll kill yours. Bluff called, Lee puts down his gun and gets elbowed in the stomach by Page for his trouble. Now Sesha, in addition to having a tactical advantage, has a great bargaining chip: Admiral Adama’s son.
It’s at this point that the oxygen alarm goes off. Sesha assumes it’s sabotage (which it is), someone trying to kill them by sucking their oxygen out (which it isn’t), and Lee assures her that they probably nicked a line while they were shooting. It should be an easy thing to fix. He just needs to call his dad to get the ball rolling.
By this point Adama’s already contacted Starbuck, who has three marines as backup and two strike teams arriving in about ten minutes to help her rescue the hostages. Sesha calls Adama (with Starbuck listening in) and explains that she’s willing to die for her cause, but she doesn’t think he’s willing to let his son suffer that same fate. Ellen yells in the background to give up Boomer, but Adama says he won’t sacrifice a military asset for the sake of Sesha’s revenge. It’s not revenge, Sesha counters: The military has been infiltrated by a Cylon agent. Boomer’s playing them, and she has to be killed for the sake of the entire fleet. She tells Adama that one person can come in, fix the air system, and leave. Any funny business and she starts shooting hostages.
Adama says he’ll get the air system repaired and, after the call is ended, makes sure Tigh knows that they can’t give up Boomer. Tigh agrees that negotiating with terrorists isn’t an option but expresses concern that Adama still sees Boomer as the human he used to think she was, instead of the machine she is and always has been.
Back on Cloud 9 Starbuck figures out right away that Lee fiddled with the oxygen sensors to give a rescue team an opportunity to get in (I ship it) and decides that she’ll be the “repairman” to go in and case the joint. It’s not the most well-thought-out plan, as Starbuck is fairly recognizable, but they’re running out of time.
It turns out that maybe she should’ve planned it a little better. When she enters the lounge the baddies fail to find any weapons on her or in her toolbox, but when they see Ellen look at Starbuck with recognition in her eyes they start to think something’s up and order another search. Starbuck, realizing the jig is up, pulls a pair of guns from a secret compartment in her toolbox and starts shooting. Her marine backup comes in, and in the hail of gunfire Lee accidentally gets shot. In the chest. By Starbuck.
Starbuck and one marine manage to kill one of the captors and escape with their lives, but the hostage situation is still in full swing, and Lee’s dying besides. Dee rushes to his side and begs Billy to bring her towels to staunch the bleeding. One of the criminals—a guy named Vinson—tells him not to move, but he fires right back that if the Admiral’s son dies you’re all screwed, so how about you let me get those effing towels, huh?
Billy, you’re amazing. It doesn’t even matter that this dude kindasorta stole your kindasorta girlfriend. You will risk your live to try and save his, because you’re a freaking champ like that. Billy comforts Dee as she cries over Lee’s body, telling her that everything’s going to be OK.
It’s at this point that I realized Billy, whom I previously thought was sweet and loveable but kind of boring and maybe a little annoying sometimes, was going to die. Just when I really started to like him. This show can go screw itself.
Starbuck calls Adama and tells him that her cover was blown and she had to open fire. Oh, and that Lee was hit by friendly fire, probably by her, and that he may very well be dead already. He orders her to stand down and await further instructions.
So it’s time for Papa Adama to step up. He visits Boomer in her cell, asking her point blank whether she’s playing with him. Pretty sure she wouldn’t tell you if she were, dude. Her response is that she’s saved the fleet so many times but Adama just can’t believe that she’s not working against them. Something about Boomer’s indignation at Adama not trusting her rubs me the wrong way. Of course he’s suspicious. Cylons are tricksy creatures well known for psychological manipulation and being able to play the long con when the endgame is the destruction of humanity. Her difficulty accepting why she’s not being accepted into the fold could be sincere, but… I don’t know. I don’t think it is.
Adama asks her whether she’d tell him if he asked who the other Cylon agents in the fleet are. (Adama, why have you not asked that yet?) She says she wouldn’t. “That I believe,” says Adama gruffly.
Back in the CIC Roslin tells Tigh and Adama about a manifesto Sesha sent to the press before taking control of the lounge. In it she expounds conspiracy theories about Cylons, and while some of them may be far-fetched (though as far as we know all of them are true), people are starting to pay attention to them. They have to end this now. Adama says the only option they have left is to give Sesha what she wants, which Roslin won’t accept. She’s emotionally invested, too—Billy is the closest thing she has to family—but they cannot negotiate with terrorists. Tigh brings up the elephant in the room, asking what if Sharon is playing them? But it’s not about Sharon, Roslin responds. It’s about how we conduct ourselves, how we deal with threats.
At this point Sesha calls to give Adama a heads-up on his son’s health: Alive, but dying. Up until this point she didn’t know how far she’d go, how many people she’d kill, but now she knows the number is two. She puts her gun on Ellen, whose life is saved by Adama making a split-second decision to agree to her demands. But there’ll be one change: They’ll deliver Boomer, but she’ll be dead. You’ve convinced me that we’re being manipulated, he says, so I have to kill Boomer so it won’t go on any longer. Sesha agrees to the exchange: The body for the hostages.
Over on Cloud 9 the Marines roll a corpse on a stretcher toward the lounge. But the corpse is suspiciously non-pregnant, meaning either Adama had Doc Cottle scoop the Cylon-human fetus out of Boomer’s body before killing her (which seems a bit much for him)… or the corpse he’s giving her is the other Boomer that Cally killed. Adama, you sly dog, you.
Back in the lounge Billy is eyeing one of the guard’s guns. Dee tells him not to try and do something heroic, that he’s not trained as a soldier and he has nothing to prove by playing the hero. Listen to Dee, Billy. Listen to Dee.
The body’s wheeled in, and Sesha peels the sheet down and recognizes her Cylon nemesis. She shoots the body twice and says her mission is finally over… but Vinson realizes that something’s up, namely that the corpse is looking rather decomposed for something that should’ve been alive 15 minutes ago. Sesha gives the order to kill Dee in retaliation, but Billy—here it comes—attacks one of the captors and gets his gun, which in turn gets him shot by Vinson. So Billy’s dead, but it stalled Vinson shooting Dee long enough for the BSG equivalent of a SWAT team to come in and shoot the remaining baddies.
Back in the Galactica morgue Adama is engaged in contemplative silence over Boomer while Roslin grieves over Billy. Your gambit wasn’t worth it, she tells Adama before fixing Billy’s hair all maternal-like and tearfully saying “He was so young.” Damn you, Battlestar Galactica. Damn you.
Meanwhile Dee visits Lee in the hospital. He’s weak, but he’ll survive. Dee tells him they’ll talk when he feels better and that he has to really stay this time (instead of following up a near-death experience by getting buddy-buddy with an escort? Agh, I said I would try to wipe my brain of Black Market). Starbuck hears the whole thing, then walks away just before Dee tells Lee she’ll be there when he wakes up.
I just. Ugh. He’s not into you, Dee. Can the Lee/Dee storyline be ditched, please?
The final shot is of Boomer, in her cell, staring up at the ceiling cryptically. (Yes, she stared cryptically. I don’t know how, but she did.) Is Boomer betraying them? I’m going to guess yes, but not in a straightforward “I’m reporting back to my Cylon overlords, MWAHAHA” way. After all, we already know Cylon leadership is split, because head!Six’s presence in Baltar’s brain is a secret even from the other Cylons, right?
Aw hell, I don’t know. The only thing I feel I can accurately predict with this show is that it will cause me pain.
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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