The second half of Season 3 suffers from a pacing issue. Episodes 11 and 12 are good enough, and there some great scenes in the two-part finale, but a lot of the episodes are pointless “filler”, which is normal for most of these long-running sci-fi shows, but something about Battlestar Galactica’s over-arching plot style of storytelling makes these episodes a chore to watch, impatiently tapping your feet, waiting for the next bit of the Cylon-Earth plot. So, with that being said, let’s take a look!
While collecting algae on a barren planet to use as food, Tyrol discovers the Temple of Five, built by the thirteenth tribe. However, a tense standoff ensues when the Cylons arrive looking for the same temple…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
Leoben, Kara and the mysterious symbol!
Admiral William Adama (Edward James Olmos) – Admiral Adama isn’t in a bad place in his life, all things considered. The fleet is back together, they’ve found a food source, and his relationship with the President still puts a smile on his face…
Major Lee “Apollo” Adama (Jamie Bamber) – Apollo has settled back into being a high-ranking member of the flight crew, rather than commanding his own ship. That being said, his personal life could do with a sort out…
Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) – Starbuck is once again beating herself up about various things, from her husband who she doesn’t really want, to the pilot who she secretly liked and admired being killed. Time for more drink!
President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) – President once again, Laura Roslin is trying her best to keep the fleet together, even when she hears some bad news for her health…
Gaius Baltar (James Callis) – Baltar was forced to work for the Cylons during the New Caprica occupation, and now finds himself on a Cylon Basestar with two humanoid Cylons, a Six and a Three, at his side. Everything is looking up, but what if that’s because he himself is a Cylon? Who are the final five?
Number Six (Tricia Helfer) – The Number Six humanoid Cylon models often find themselves in leading roles, one being responsible for the nuking of most of humanity and all.
Number Eight / Sharon “Athena” Agathon (Grace Park) – The Number Eights are an emotional lot, and one has even managed to reintegrate itself back into human society… admittedly that human society kept the fact her human-Cylon daughter was still alive from her, but hey-ho…
Number Three (Lucy Lawless) – The Number Threes are a troublesome lot, one in particular feels its her fate to see the faces of the “Final Five” Cylons, something that is forbidden to all of her kind…
Captain Karl “Helo” Agathon (Tahmoh Penikett) – Helo is finding his place among the ever changing crew of the Galactica, but soon will have to do something unforgivable in order to reunite his family…
Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) – Colonel Tigh is slowly returning to his old self as XO of the Battlestar Galactica, the horrors of New Caprica behind him, and nothing but easy riding from here on… oh.
Chief Petty Officer Galen Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) – Chief is getting used to married life, by which I mean he’s arguing with his wife, throwing himself into work and booze, and only looking after his son when he has to. Great guy!
Samuel Anders (Michael Trucco) – Sam is technically still Starbuck’s husband, though you wouldn’t know it. He’s started to think about training to become a viper pilot, because… why not?
The opening two-parter is great stuff, as Chief Tyrol “accidentally” finds the mysterious “Temple of Five” that leads the way to Earth. Around the same time Baltar leads the Cylons to the same planet and wishes to use the temple to find the faces of the Final Five Cylons to find out whether he was one or not. It leads to a great, tense stand-off between the humans and the Cylons, and some entertaining ground-level combat as well, as Apollo, Sam and others have to take positions and assault the Cylon centurions that arrive. We also see Baltar getting captured and brought back to the fleet, which is good until it leads to the dull and stretched Baltar trial stuff… It ends with the planet’s sun going supernova (a supernova that then points the way to Earth) and everyone just escaping in time. It also has a subplot involving Sharon and Helo finding out about their child being alive and on-board a nearby Cylon basestar, and how she rescues it by being killed and resurrecting on their ship. It was a good sidestory to an already good story! We end with the symbol of the Eye of Jupiter from the temple being matches to a symbol Starbuck painted all the time as a child, and the Number Three model, who managed to see the faces of the Final Five, being decommissioned due to committing the heresy of seeing them. She claims the Cylons will see the five soon too… so, double future-teasing!
Episode 17, “Maelstrom”, has some dull Starbuck throwing hissy fits stuff that I’m tired of, but damn if it doesn’t still have a great ending! Starbuck keeps seeing a seemingly phantom Cylon ship and chasing it into the cloudy top of a gas giant, and eventually gets told to trust a vision of the Leoben model of Cylon and flies and explodes in the clouds of the planet, telling Apollo to “just let her go” because “they’re waiting for me”. Some rather sad moments of other crew members reacting to her death, and you have a powerful episode.
While a lot of Episodes 19 and 20 are taken up by a rather dull and un-sci-fi-y courtroom drama bollocks, it does still have a great final few scenes. Colonel Tigh, Chief Tyrol, Sam Anders and the President’s right-hand woman Tory are all hearing a strange song being played and soon arrive in the same room, and immediately realise they’re four of the Final Five Cylons. “Wow, it really is like turning on a switch” says the Chief, man I still remember freaking out when he said that the first time I watched it. It wasn’t hard to assume that was the case, but hearing it confirmed in such a nonchalant way, wow, still love that scene. Then in a big battle during the final moments Starbuck returns and tells Apollo that “she found Earth” and she’s going to lead everyone there, much to everyone’s confusion, then we pan out to see Earth itself. Such a brilliant cliffhanger for the season.
I’ll also mention Episode 15, “A Day in the Life”, for being good. Not great, but good. Tyrol and his wife Cally are trapped in an airlock, and Admiral Adama deals with that and the anniversary of his marriage bringing up his dead wife in hallucinations. Like I said, it’s a good episode, and definitely doesn’t deserve to be in the “Bad” category.
Helo vs. the evil racist Doctor! Everyone’s favourite episode!
A good chunk of these episodes is all about Gius Baltar and his trial, which is sadly just not that interesting, especially in the middle of a sci-fi epic that’s heading towards its conclusion. Episode 18, “The Son Also Rises”, features Apollo teaming up with Baltar’s latest lawyer (who is a really out-of-place Irish wise-arse) and eventually joining him on his quest to acquit the former President, for the sake of justice. It leads into the trial itself, which takes place across Episodes 19 and 20, and it’s all American legal system stuff that just screams “out of place”, just like the whole “President” and “Colonial One” (that looks like Air Force 1) stuff already does (this isn’t our future, it’s a different society! We only share the Greek pantheon, that was how it was set out…) Anyway, as usual James Callis is great as Baltar, but he can’t save these long drawn out scenes, and I think we’re all fed up of the Adamas falling out…
Then you have Episodes 13 “Taking a Break From All Your Worries”, 14 “The Woman King” and 16 “Dirty Hands”. Each one of them tells a self-contained story that is pretty standard sci-fi affair, but as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, due to this series storytelling it just seems to drag everything to a halt. 13 focuses on the relationships of some of the crew, including more Apollo-Starbuck stuff, 14 has Helo have to work in a refugee camp-like set up and finds a racist Doctor out, and 16 has Tyrol eventually lead a worker’s strike to get them fair rights… They’re not terrible viewing, but dull and uninteresting.
I do also find it funny that I always found Apollo really boring, and then they make him quit his days as a pilot and become wrapped up in the legal system and act as a lawyer… Yeah, that’s going to make him more interesting!
Get ready to see a lot of this…
Looking back, 11 and 12 are great, and there are bits of the finale that will forever be some of the best moments of the series, but the trial slows the pace down to a crawl, and feels completely out of place. It does set up the more consistent final season well, if nothing else…
Episodes 11 “The Eye of Jupiter”and 12 “Rapture”:
Episode 18 “Maelstrom” and 19 and 20 “Crossroads”:
Episode 15 “A Day in the Life”,
Episodes 13 “Taking a Break From All Your Worries”, 14 “The Woman King” and 16 “Dirty Hands”: