Looking back at Battlestar Galactica, Season 1

Date: Sat Apr 26 2014 Battlestar Galactica

As I noted earlier I'm rewatching the modern Battlestar Galactica episodes preparing for the coming airing of season 4.5. This is the second half of the fourth season and is due to be the climactic ending of an awesome series. I just finished rewatching the first season and have some thoughts.

Curious pointing at cylon crew members ... I noted several scenes where the dialog would mention Cylons and then immediately flip to showing one of the final five (Tigh or Tyrol). Curious because supposedly the final five hadn't been chosen until shortly before season 3's revelation of them. Or were they? Hurm...

Why use flight crew for security details ... There's a couple times where flight officers like Starbuck and Apollo are used to lead security details. Such as the security team at the initial Quorum of Twelve meeting .. or the storming of the Astral Queen .. or when Tigh and Apollo went to arrest Roslin. Why? They have a whole series of Marines who provide security details in other circumstances, isn't it atypical of military structures to use flyboys for this kind of detail? Aren't there marine officers who could be leading these security teams?

33: What can I say, it's a brilliant idea brilliantly executed. Machines don't tire out and they could know that by constantly dogging the poor pitiful humans that they will eventually wear them down and they'll make a mistake. I wonder why the Cylons, if they knew the location of the humans, why did they not just send in a huge fleet? Well, duh, obviously the humans have a trigger finger on jumping to new places as their means of escape. That means the Cylons don't have a chance with that strategy, so they're instead inducing fatigue. But what's really curious in this episode is the obvious connection between playing with Baltar and the destruction of the Olympic Carrier. The presence of "Head Six" is one of the most curious parts of Battlestar Galactica .. is she real or is she a figment of the imagination. She appears to be real and appears to be connected with the Cylon planning. Or...?

Water: Yeah, create more problems for the humans.. And several curious scenes between Boomer and Tyrol about who is or is not a Cylon.

Bastille Day: Cue one of the nemesis figures of the story, Tom Zarek. (Played by Richard Hatch, who was Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica series) His character is an interesting one throughout the whole show, being part political prisoner of conscience and part schemer for power. His origin story sounds a bit like a Nelson Mandela but it's clear he's no idealist.

It's also curious about how Head Six forces Baltar to request a nuclear warhead and the later use of that same warhead by another Six to blow up Cloud Nine. It's also curious how in this episode Cmdr Adama says there are only five nukes but in other episodes don't really acknowledge this limited resource.

Act of Contrition: Whoops.. dead pilots all over the landing bay. The intertwined lives of Kara Thrace and the Adama's has to be played out and that's the thing which teases out the story. Force Starbuck back into the role of flight instructor and it causes her to revisit her guilt.

Also.. back on Caprica, we have Helo and a Sharon traipsing around for several episodes. In this one they find this restaurant with a bomb shelter that's somehow still functioning. Helo's kinda dense, maybe, he's aware enough to realize it's a crazy scene they find. A fully functioning survivalist hangout but for some reason the survivalist isn't there to utilize the shelter? It seems likely the Cylons set it up so Sharon could have a space to work some magic on Helo...?

You Can't go Home Again: Curious title.. Well, okay, it's difficult to go home again when things have changed back home. But I don't catch the connection. In this episode we have the Adama's breaking the rules and spending lots of fleet resources to rescue Starbuck who has crashed on a barren planet. The emotional tie is that both Adama's love Starbuck like a daughter/sister/lover-wannabe and cannot let go of her like they would any other pilot who crash lands and cannot be found. Cmdr Adama's last conversation with Starbuck was "get out of here while you can still walk", a statement he most likely is regretting. In any case Starbuck proves herself legendary by working out how to fly a Cylon Raider and rejoin the fleet.

Litmus: Anybody can be Cylons? Who can we trust? This is one of the episodes that draws strong strong corrolaries with our modern times. In our present day The Terrorists can be, well, anybody. That kind of fear mongering has led our modern society to be in fear of our own shadows, and you see this play out a bit in the initial reactions in this episode to the revelation that Cylons are among us.

This episode also demonstrates something of the danger of the absolutism of military leadership. An inquiry was launched into the bombing of the water storage tanks, and the inquiry was supposed to be fully independent. However when Adama did not like how it was heading he called a halt to the inquiry. Not very politic of him. However the Sergeant at Arms leading the inquiry was making faulty leaps of logic and in general the process was very extremely flawed. Kind of like the witchhunts aimed at the Clintons during their Presidency.

Six Degrees of Separation: What do you do when your fantasy woman begins walking around in the flesh and talking to people and making accusations. Dr. Baltar must seem to be a strange bird to those around him as he is constantly holding a dual conversation with the physical people around him and the Head Six. This is another of the episodes where this question is raised about how real is Head Six. If she's just a figment of his imagination then how could the connections with Shelly Godfrey be made? Also we've seen with the Sharon's that they have long range telepathic communication between Cylon models, raising a possibility about the connection between Head Six and the others. In the Sharon's, Boomer isn't consciously aware of what's happening to her counterpart on Caprica but it affects her deeply. Maybe there's a bit of Caprica Six (as she's later known) embedded in Baltar and causing the Head Six apparition. Or...?

Flesh and Bone: Is it illegal if it's performed against a nonhuman? In this episode they take the waterboarding-is-torture argument and portray it for us. It's also a portrayal of the figmentary justification for torture "what if a nuke has been planted in a city, you have the culprit in hand, and have 20 minutes to locate and defuse the nuke, doesn't that justify any-necessary-means"? In our modern age we have The Terrorists depicted as dehumanized stereotypes and we have torture being rationalized as appropriate treatment of The Terrorists. There's a clear and obvious analogy here of Cylons = the boogyman. Often political leaders create boogymen to cause the population to wage horrendous acts against the enemy. And that's what we see here, military might placed to the purpose of committing horrendous acts.

Helo and Sharon kissing in a tree. First comes love, then comes marraige, then comes Hera in a baby carraige.

Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down: The title is clearly a pun, but one I don't get. This episode marks the return of Col. Tigh's estranged wife, Ellen, whom Tigh believed had been killed during the attack on Picon. She was apparently unconscious for three weeks aboard the Rising Star. Clearly there is a suspicion, her sudden reappearance is more than strange and of course raises doubt over whether she is a Cylon. Is she or isn't she? Only her hairdresser really knows. In this case it's Baltar who really knows but despite having a fully functioning Cylon Detector he's not telling the truth to anybody. Interesting ploy on his part.

We also have Sharon leading Helo to Delphi, where they will later meet Starbuck. Coincidence?

The Hand of God: When you follow spiritual guidance is it always (?ever?) the loud booming voice that clearly tells you what to do? One of the themes in the whole story is the rational scientific mind beginning to embrace the Divine, and the unraveling of trust in the scientific method to learn to trust higher power and higher wisdom. We have a shortage of fuel causing them danger and suddenly they find an asteroid full of their go juice but crawling with cylons. Hurm. Sometimes when you're being chased by a bully you have to turn and punch them hard in the nose.

Colonial Day is kind of like our Independence Day, I suppose. There's a bit of tension remaining about the full structure of government and a carryover from the original series is the Quorum of Twelve. To have a full government structure all the offices have to be filled but for some reason Roslin is reluctant to do so. Zarek is right to force this issue. But we also see Zarek as the schemer grasping for power in that his machinations could have been used to topple the existing government and place him in the Presidency. Idealist? Naaaah.

This episode marks the unveiling of Cloud Nine. This sort of ship is common in Science Fiction stories but the name and structure is a direct reference to a design by Buckminster Fuller.

There's also a reference to The Man who Shot Liberty Valance in that Zarek's gunman is named Valance and was curiously killed by an unknown party.

Kobol's Last Gleaming: As a kid watching the 1978 Battlestar Galactica I was always confused over why they prayed to The Lords of COBOL. I mean, COBOL is this icky computer language not the name of a set of Gods, what could they be talking about. What a geek I am, truly. Anyway... Kobol (note different spelling) is a planet supposedly fiction but they learn is real despite having been written up in the ancient scriptures which are their equivalent to our Bible. And the Lords of Kobol have clear analogues to Greco-Roman mythology.

There's a lot going on in these two episodes...

One of the themes in the whole story is this phrase "This has all happened before and it will all happen again". In a way that's a simple reference to how societies seem to recreate the same problems over and over when later people forget the lessons of the past. But it's also a sideways reference to Hindu mythology and it's wheel of time mythology. Curiously the modern BG episodes all begin with a sanskrit chant. And in the 1978 series the military insignia included a Sri Yantra.

According to the Wikipedia: As written fiction, Kobol is an anagram of the Mormon "Kolob," a celestial body named in the Book of Abraham and identified as being near the home or origin of God.

Roslin has been taking Camalla Extract for her Cancer and it's caused several interesting side effects. One of them is visions and indeed Camalla is supposed to have been an herb in longstanding use by Priests to induce visions. In any case the visions have been showing clear connection to the ancient scriptures as if their modern predicament is simply a reenactment of a previous cycle of time. The visions tell them what to do while on Kobol, namely to retrieve the Arrow of Apollo and bring it to the Tomb of Athena because that will reveal a map to Earth.

Uh, wasn't Earth a figment of Adama's desire to give the people something to live for?

It would appear they were wrong and the scripture was right. But that creates a division between Roslin and Adama as they are taking two sides of this argument, and in order to retrieve the Arrow of Apollo they must use a 'military asset', the cylon raider. Sneaking around behind Adama's back, Roslin talks Starbuck into stealing the raider and going on an unauthorized jaunt to Caprica to retrieve the Arrow.

Girl fight!! Watching the fight between Starbuck and Six I couldn't help imagining the priceless treasures being destroyed between them as they fought. This was set in what was supposed to be a museum housing their principle cultural artifacts and its full of statues etc no doubt with ancient historical significance. But none of that matters really because the old culture was destroyed.

Cliff Hanger!! Boomer was sent with a Raptor to drop a Nuke into the belly of the Cylon Basestar orbiting Kobol. But while there she encountered dozens of instances of herself. Ah the revelation of the truth of your true nature... She's a nudist!! Wait, she's a nudist Cylon!! Whatever, it does wake up her latent programming which she's been fighting against the whole series. Upon return to Galactica and upon being congradulated by Cmdr Adama she shoots him... oh my what a cliff hanger.