Battlestar Galactica – Season 2 Episodes 11 – 20 Review

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The second half of the second season of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica is bookended by two really good two-parters, but a lot (not all) of the single episodes in between fall flat, almost becoming akin to a bad episode of a 90s sci-fi show rather than the (at the time) more revolutionary parts of the storytelling. Still, at least half of the episodes are worth watching, a lot of chunks of 10 episodes from other series at the same point couldn’t claim that! Let’s have a look…

Synopsis:

Both the Galactica and the Pegasus are at a standstill, both sets of viper ships ready to destroy each other if they’re given the order. Thankfully Starbuck returns with some vital new information about a key Cylon ship, and soon thoughts are shifted to that… mostly…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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*Gasp!* It’s a scene from the final scene of the finale! Oh well, only so many pictures of half-decent quality out there, sadly…

Commander William Adama (Edward James Olmos) – Adama has had his authority taken from him, with Admiral Cian outranking him. But when two of his crew are set to be executed by her, he suddenly, for the first time in his loyal life, wants to fight against his own higher-ups…

Captain Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber) – Apollo is stuck on the Pegasus, having dropped several ranks and having to answer to the smug officers now above him… If he could only return to the Galactica…

Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) – Tired of being stuck on the Pegasus and told to do nothing, Starbuck has taken the Galactica’s stealth ship and taken a few snaps of a new, very large Cylon vessel…

President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) – President Roslin is happy to have a second Battlestar on the fleet, but less than happy to have Admiral Cain leading the soldiers, given her far more… strict policies. Maybe it would be better if she was out of the way…?

Dr. Gaius Baltar (James Callis) – Baltar is still the Vice President of the colonies, and perhaps one day he’ll be even more, but right now his focus is on the Number Six copy that’s been mistreated (to say the least) on the Pegasus…

Number Six (Tricia Helfer) – One of the Cylon human copies. As well as the mistreated Six on Pegasus, there is also one that helped the Cylons destroy the human colonies (known as Caprica Six) and another Six that seems to exist only in Baltar’s head…

Number Eight / Lieutenant Sharon “Boomer” Valerii (Grace Park) – The Number Eight Cylon human copies have had an odd time. The “Boomer” that served on Galactica has since been resurrected back to a Cylon world she still doesn’t think she belongs to, and another one previously on Caprica is currently pregnant with a half-human child and is on board the Galactica…

Number Three (Lucy Lawless) – The Number Three Cylon human model has been on board the Galactica as reporter D’Anna Biers, but now they’re back amongst their own kind, able to lead a good number of fellow “skin jobs”.

Lieutenant Karl “Helo” Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett) – Helo is the father of the Sharon copy’s child, as well as a survivor from Caprica. He is trying to fit in back on board, but an accidental killing of a Pegasus officer has put him in a rather delicate position…

Admiral Cain (Michelle Forbes) – Bravely lead the Battlestar Pegasus across unknown space and luckily met up with the rest of the fleet. Now she commands it, and is facing some heavy friction…

Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) – Tigh is worried about the state of mind of Admiral Cain after sharing a drink with her C.O. His loyalty to Adama may soon conflict with his best interests…

Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) – Much like Helo, Chief has been thrown in the Pegasus brig and is awaiting his execution after killing a Pegasus officer who was about to rape the Cylon Eight that’s carrying Helo’s child… (God that’s a weird sentence…)

The Good:

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A “Resurrection Ship”… in a screenshot made very dark, for some reason.

The opening two-parter, “Resurrection Ship”, is great stuff, both from the point of view of exploring the Cylons a bit more, and because of the tension between both Adama and Cain. The story focuses on a joint effort to take out a Cylon Resurrection Ship, as you may have guessed, a ship that guarantees the human Cylons “download” into a new body. It has some great ship to ship and battlestar to basestar action, but the best part about it is that both Cain and the duo of President Roslin and Adama come the conclusion that the military fleet isn’t big enough for both Adama and Cain, so they both plan each other’s assassinations. Even though I’d already seen it, the tension is still great fun to watch. Both eventually back down, but Cain is killed anyway when the Number Six Cylon she had been keeping (and mistreating!) escapes thanks to Baltar and gets her revenge. It’s still a great two-parter, and was fun this time round due to having watched the original series and their version of Cain and Pegasus, and how dramatically different it is.

Before we get to the finale, I’ll mention Episode 18 “Downloaded”, which is a great episode devoted to looking at humanised Cylon life and how the Caprica Six and the original Sharon Eight have a hard time rejoining Cylon life after their experiences with the humans. This is also our first real exposure to the Number Three model, at least acting as a Cylon. She makes a good baddie, even among the other Cylons!

The two-part finale then, “Lay Down Your Burdens”, which while not as good as Resurrection Ship, still had its moments. Starbuck and her team returning to Caprica in order to rescue the resistance fighters she previously met (and the man she fell for) was great, especially when everyone is pinned down in a small bunker and have no idea how to get out. It leads to the discovery that the Cylons just up and left, and then return to the Galactica. One of the Resistance was a copy of a Reverend that Chief Tyrol sees in the opening, leading to them both being arrested and revealing that the Caprica Six and the original Boomer has sparked a revolution across the Cylons and they now see it fit to leave the humans be.

This is all happening at the same time as a frankly boring US-style election is going on between Roslin and Baltar, with the latter winning due to the crew finding an Earth-like planet to settle on and his policy of wishing to do so. This leads to a still bizarre flash-forward to over a year later, where “New Caprica” has been founded and people are starting to live on the surface, several characters are now married with little fanfare and Adama has his “we need him to look young, let’s have him grow a mustache” mustache, which I guess means it’s just something that happens to Adama whenever there is a move forward or backwards in time? Well, anyway, the episode and indeed season ends with the Cylons arriving and taking control as the fleet above New Caprica flees. It’s a good cliffhanger, but I still don’t like the jump forward, and it makes so many pivotal relationships and storylines just happen off screen… Still, good two-parter, not great.

The Bad:

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This really is bad… Why is there a black line down the right side of the picture! Rrrrr!

The rest of the season is comprised on some smaller scale stories, a lot of them feeling like they’re out of the sci-fi textbook. 14 “Black Market” has Apollo go to the underground to explore the black market trading that going on, and it’s… pretty bad, complete with a cheesy 30s gangster looking guy. 16 “Sacrifice”, deals with Apollo and a few other characters getting caught in a hostage situation in a bar, and includes Starbuck leading a rescue team… it’s just… not very good.

Episode 15, “Scar”, tells a good story about the Galactica pilots’ grudge with a particularly sneaky Cylon Raider as well as a rift that grows between Starbuck and newer pilot Kat, with Starbuck becoming more and more unpleasant and drunk. The story itself is fine, but it’s told by cutting back and forth from the “present” dogfight between Starbuck, Kat and the Cylon Raider known as “Scar”, and the past of everything leading up to it. It’s not well paced, and worse is when they catch up to the present they re-run all the previous footage from the dogfight before we finally see the conclusion! It just becomes obnoxious.

Finally Episode 17, “The Captain’s Hand”, tells a good story about someone who’s been promoted to lead the Pegasus who isn’t capable of leading. Apollo tries his best but the new leader keeps making stupid mistakes. He eventually saves everyone at the cost of his life, and Apollo is given command of the Pegasus. All that is a good, fun watch. Sadly the other half of the episode is full of US political bollocks again, this time extremely unsubtly about abortion and whether it should be legal. It’s so heavy handed it really drags the episode down in my eyes…

Overall Thoughts:

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One last look at Admiral Cain…. oh wait, I’ll be covering Razor later, so probably not!

So the latter half of Season 2 is one of the weaker part of the revived BSG series, but I’d put Resurrection Ship and Downloaded up against most stories in the series, so you certainly shouldn’t skip them! In fact this bunch of episodes are a lot like my original Battlestar Galactica reviews, it needs some split scoring!

Episodes 11/12 “Resurrection Ship” and 18 “Downloaded”

5 Star Watch

Episodes 19/20 “Lay Down Your Burdens”:

4 Star Watch

Episodes 13 “Epiphanies”, 15 “Scar” and 17 “The Captain’s Hand”:

3 Star Watch

Episodes 14 “Black Market” and 16 “Sacrifice”:

 

2 Star Watch

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