Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"The Hand of God"

***1/2

Air date: 3/11/2005
Written by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Directed by Jeff Woolnough

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"The Hand of God" is an exemplary balance of Battlestar's key elements of its first season: military strategy, character analysis, foreboding prophesying, space-flight action, and discussions of a religious nature. It doesn't have quite the emotional kick or empathetic reach of a "33" or an "Act of Contrition," but as an hour of solid storytelling and setup material along several fronts, this is clearly one of the season's best outings.

The fleet is facing a fuel crisis, which will soon leave them as sitting ducks for the Cylons. On a vital scouting mission not unlike the one in "Water," Boomer and Crashdown (Sam Witwer) find an asteroid rich in tylium ore, which will solve the fuel crisis for well over a year. The only problem: The asteroid is crawling with Cylon Raiders; they found the tylium first and have already set up a base and a refinery.

Meanwhile, Roslin gives a press conference about the fuel crisis but hallucinates snakes crawling on her podium. The hallucinations are brought on by her chamalla medication (potent stuff, that) for her cancer treatment, but they take on an added significance when Roslin seeks the counsel of Priest Elosha (Lorena Gale) and explains these hallucinations and the vividly prescient dream that she had ("Flesh and Bone"). Elosha says Roslin's experiences have been foretold in the sacred scrolls by one of the prophecies of the oracle Pythia, who predicted the expulsion and rebirth of the human race, and that the human convoy would be guided by a dying leader. Which is to say: What is the Matrix, and is Roslin the One? In any event, this signifies the future of a much more significant storyline.

Adama decides that now is the time for the Galactica to go on the offensive: "We take the tylium from the Cylons," he says. The Galactica has the element of surprise — always a useful military possession — and besides, this may be the only chance the fleet has before they run out of fuel and become helpless targets. With the right battle plan, it can work. Adama recruits Kara to help devise the attack strategy with Lee and Tigh; they need Starbuck's crazy, out-of-the-box thinking in pulling off something that itself is somewhat crazy. She throws out their initial strategy: "It's a textbook-perfect plan, which is why it will never work."

I enjoyed the credible details of the military strategizing in the war room. The plan is explained almost as if it were a chess game — on a big map in the center of the room, with models standing in for the players. The stakes are made clear: Either this plan works and they destroy the Cylon base, or annihilation of the fleet is virtually guaranteed: "End of game," as Tigh puts it. The risk is big, but in many ways it's an inevitable and necessary piece of doing business. "Sometimes you have to roll the hard six," Adama notes matter-of-factly.

Kara consults Baltar, the resident Cylon expert, in figuring out a way to destroy the base without contaminating the tylium with nuclear radiation fallout. Baltar says that blowing up the staging tanks on the Cylons' tylium refinery will cause a chain reaction that will destroy the base, but he doesn't know where the stating tanks are, so he retreats into his mind to ask Six for help. Six says that God will point him in the right direction. At a loss for what to do, Baltar picks a spot on the map at random and says, "There." Immediately after the meeting he begins to go into panic mode, but Six reassures him: "God doesn't always speak in words."

It's an interesting notion. In real life, God doesn't tell people what to do in the way that Baltar wants to literally hear God's voice. (Compare this to the idea of the Prophets on Deep Space Nine, which were worshipped by the Bajorans but also were tangible life forms whose existence could be proven as opposed to simply believed as a matter of faith.) Six's reassurance is that if Baltar simply puts his faith in God, he will be led down the right path. But Baltar's faith is shaky at best. What's nice about these details is the way the plot services the characters and vice versa.

Speaking of characters, Kara has her own dilemma. She can't be a part of the assault, because the doctor hasn't cleared her injured knee for flight status. This is a disappointing blow that she resists, which leads to a great little scene in the weight room that is effective in its simplicity. Adama gives her a hypothetical flight situation involving G-forces as he adds weights to her knee exercise machine. As much as she tries, Kara's knee can't hold the weight, so she isn't going on the mission. End of story. The demonstration is so definitive that Kara knows it's not even worth an argument.

In her place as go-to pilot will be Lee, which prompts in Kara a certain level of resentment since she wants to be out there flying the mission. Lee has his own resentments, mainly for feeling like he's always playing second fiddle to hotshot Starbuck. The struggle of the competing egos is a believable subplot for these two characters, and Kara sums it up nicely by saying to Lee, "Don't frak it up by overthinking." There's a nice father/son scene before the mission where Adama offers Lee some moral support. Once the mission is under way, Adama turns his advice back to Kara, who struggles with the transition of giving up the cockpit for the war room.

As in "Act of Contrition" and "You Can't Go Home Again," I really like the way Adama has the role of father to these two characters within the confines of the professional military setting. It's an interesting dynamic that works for characterization even while it keeps the plot moving forward along its main thrust.

What's less along the main thrust and involves scenes that feel somewhat perfunctory by this point, we still have Helo and Boomer on the run on Caprica, being chased by the Cylons, who now consider Boomer a traitor. Much to my own relief, there's finally some dialog where Helo wonders aloud where all the people are and how, gee, isn't it strange that we haven't seen a single living person in a month of running around? Helo spots Six with the Cylon squadron and recognizes her as the same woman that Sharon shot in "33," prompting Helo's confusion. The only other plot point here is Sharon vomiting, which wouldn't ordinarily seem like a plot point except for the fact that I already know the revelations in season finale.

The execution of Galactica's battle plan — involving decoy ships, Vipers, traps, and no shortage of explosions — is a refreshing change of pace for the series. After all season on the run from the Cylons, it's gratifying to finally see the Galactica go on the offensive to kick some Cylon ass. It's essentially another take on the assault on the Death Star, but it's done with skill and excitement and features the best and biggest space-battle sequences of the season so far. There's a twist in the plan where a decoy is revealed not to be a decoy but the primary thrust of the assault. There's also the traditional main-character heroics when Lee storms the fortress with his Viper in an improbable act of Starbuck-like madness ("We'll have to blow this thing manually") and plants a bomb that sets off a big 'splosion, just as Baltar had outlined.

The victory is milked for a rousing celebration scene in which champagne bottles are opened, military men and women cheer, and comrades embrace. Kara hugs Roslin in a particularly unrestrained moment of emotion, and the music by Bear McCreary swells with what seems to be Irish influences. (Intriguing.)

Leave it to Battlestar Galactica, though, to take a major victory and still employ it for ominous notes. Because Baltar's random guess was right on target, he takes this as a divine sign and tells Six, "I am an instrument of God" (which, by the way, is an attitude Six fully encourages). Baltar's self-ascension to that of a man who carries out the will of God reveals him as a potentially very dangerous individual; it's representative of a significant character turning point. Up to now he has been pathetic and narcissistic, but now we see his narcissism twisted into self-aggrandizement. It's compelling — and a little frightening. If Baltar was a man of comic mischief before, he shows the notes of a more legitimate villain here.

Previous episode: Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down
Next episode: Colonial Day

Season Index

32 comments on this review

Sci-fan - Fri, Jun 5, 2009 - 7:29pm (USA Central)
I didn't get this episode at all.
So what if they blew up the mining base? There's still over a hundred cylon ships around to stop the fleet from getting any of the ore, surely they would protect it at all costs?
I was also disturbed by all the jubilation and the celebrations, it was a costly mission and several pilots died but no one seems to care, that isn't good writing.
enniofan - Wed, Aug 12, 2009 - 9:42pm (USA Central)
yeah, but you can assume though that the pilots that died would probably have been remembered in a ceremony off screen.

or at least in Scar...
breadbohn - Fri, Nov 20, 2009 - 12:28pm (USA Central)
A solid episode, I think. But it seems to me the cameraman was frakking around too much with the zoom button.
Brendan - Mon, Jun 14, 2010 - 10:07pm (USA Central)
Sci-fan... a couple things

1) The implication is that without the base operational the raiders would be scattered and disorganized, easy for the picking. And the first strike force rolled over more easily than they would have in order to draw them to Galactica.

Dee says the remaining raiders were "bugging out" as in running away. There was no more ore to protect it went up in flames.

2) A few pilots died as with any mission, but it was also a staggering victory in the face of terrible odds, in which the entire fate of the human species was resting, and they pulled off a miracle. Why you don't see how that is cause for celebration is confusing. To say they didn't care about the dead pilots is absurd.

3) All the criticism of BSG I've heard usually involves it being too dire and depressing... I don't agree but it needed this moment of catharsis badly.
Nic - Sat, Jan 15, 2011 - 7:50am (USA Central)
Ironically enough, the 'happy' scenes in this series, such as the celebration at the end of this episode (or the birth of the baby in "33" and Starbuck's return in "You Can't Go Home Again") are always my favourites. I don't know if they are more touching simply because they are rare, or simply because they are better written/acted.
Nick Poliskey - Wed, Apr 13, 2011 - 8:43am (USA Central)
Solid episode, but I gotta jump on Starbuck, again. I am actively frowing from dislike, to "when will they just kill her". The fact she keeps getting these sweet jobs without any actual reason for giving her these jobs is turning my annoyance with a character into an annoyance of a show, and I hope that ends.

I feel she is falling into the "mace windu" trap. What I mean is in the star wars prequels, Mace Windu (Samuel L Jackson) was a badass, but not because he did anything, but because they kept telling us he was. Starbuck is having the same problem. Maybe I am watching the wrong BSG, but I keep hearing every character say how amazing she is, while in the same breath say how flawed she is, everything she does seems to go wrong (except commandeering an alien organism ship, which is stupidly impossible) until here, but the only reason she was given this oppurtunity was because of......

Yeah I hate her. first she was the one person out of 45000 who could interrogate a Cylon, and now she is the one person out of 45000 to organize a mass military assault on a cylon base. Again, she is an injured pilot who killed the captains son? No one else is bothered in the extreme by this character.
Michael - Sat, Nov 12, 2011 - 5:38am (USA Central)
@Nick Poliskey:
I don't quite understand your animus toward Starbuck. She's NOT "one person out of 45000." She is one person out of--I forgot exactly how many--two dozen, if even that, pilots of whom she and Apollo are the most senior and experienced. She is part of the very limited--qualitatively and quantitatively--veteran military personnel. Unless *I* missed something, I'd say the hierarchy goes Adama->Tigh->Apollo->Starbuck, in terms of experience, training, gravitas and seniority. That makes her pretty high up.

I agree--as I wrote elsewhere--that she has a difficult and often jarring personality and she's not exactly a looker, but that's what actually makes her almost endearing to me. I'd much rather have someone like her than some cute tottie in a tight body-suit (think Seven of Nine or T'Pol). She is REAL.

* * *

Anyway, as far as the show: Loved it! Great to see the humans kicking some ass for a change and the jubilant final scenes were entirely understandable. Made me well up.
Nick P. - Sat, Nov 12, 2011 - 8:06am (USA Central)
@Michael,

Without giving too much away of the rest of the series, she is at this point a Lieutenant (Geata is even ahead of her in rank), but more than that, she is a pilot. I have since seen the end of the series, and allthough my critiques of her character have dulled a little, I maintained my issue with Adama putting her in unnessary situations when there is someone superior usually standing right next to her.

Like I stated earlier, Tigh is far more qualified to interrogate a Cylon prisoner, and Apollo is far more qualfied for leadership in this episode. I am curious if as you watch the series you find Adama is quite Cronyistic with his faves. I suspect that it is more just the standard TV trope of getting "chicks do action".
Michael - Sat, Nov 12, 2011 - 11:41am (USA Central)
@Nick:
Hm, I'll be looking out for that. You've gotten me real curious now :)

I don't think pushing her has anything much to do with "chicks do action." As I said, she's hardly a heroine-type character. I AM looking forward to seeing how Adama is going to develop. So far, I really like the guy.
Justin - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 8:32am (USA Central)
"It's the perfect plan which is exactly why it won't work."

What a great line for a wonderful character. I do not at all get the anti-Starbuck vibe I'm seeing from some fans. She's nuanced, compelling, and superbly acted. This was a great episode with terrific character development for Adama, Apollo, Starbuck, Roslin, and Baltar. It was also very satisfying to see our heroes have a victory for once. And a convincing one at that. It's the human condition that won the day here. Something tells me that the Cylons don't have the capability of "out of the box" thinking. This episode and "Flesh and Bone" really set Kara Thrace up as a worthy adversary and nemesis to the Cylons. I love her.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 10:00am (USA Central)
@ Justin :

People have the superbly idiotic notion that they may judge a character based on whether or not they might *like* her as a real person in their lives. Look no further than Michael's misogynistic appraisal of Roslin in the comments to come.

One thing about this show I admire is that it would be impossible to side completely with anybody. Circumstances are such that every character has at some point to contradict himself and/or his beliefs which means, if you like a character because you agree with him, you will eventually disappointed. If you like a character because they're created, developed and portrayed well (and Justin, you're on the money with Starbuck--it only gets better), you're in for a treat.
Nick P. - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 10:29am (USA Central)
@Elliot,

Or maybe some characters just rub some the wrong way. If you listen to the podcasts it is fairly evident that Ron Moore had a big crush on Katee Sackhoff. I did not find her particularly attractive, and she annoyed me for a good chunk of the series. There were episodes I absolutely enjoyed her, but for the most part, she was annoying, and written poorly. It is not because I may or may not like her as a real person, it is because the writers put way more there than Katee (or likely any actress) could handle.

BTW, just because Michael found Roslin and bad character, which I disagree with, does not make him mysogynistic.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 10:38am (USA Central)
@Nick P.

It's, of course, not my business to tell you you're wrong if Starbuck's character annoyed you. It is also completely irrelevant how Moore felt about Sackhoff. If you have some evidence as to why her character was poorly written, I'd welcome the discussion, but describing her as "annoying" is a reaction we have to actual human beings, which is fine, but no sign of poor writing.

You're right that hating a female character doesn't make him misogynistic, but calling her "broad" and "bitch" in every appraisal of her actions (implying that her "bad" decisions are a result of her being female) does.
Michael - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 2:06pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: I don't have a problem with Roslin because she's a broad (New York for woman), but because she's a dumbass yellow-bellied liberal, and an inconsistent one at that. Her doctrine may wash in a college anthropology classroom, but real wars are not led or conducted the way she has. Plus, a president does not engage in conniving machinations to retain power and promote cronyism the way she has at the best of times, and certainly not when the survival of the race is at stake.

So, pray keep your asinine projections to yourself. Rather than create a truly pathetic straw man attempt, you could have simply asked. It's funny how you liberals are every bit as bigoted as those whose bigotry you profess to oppose.
Zane314 - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 2:11pm (USA Central)
Hi Justin! I've been reading and enjoying your episode comments here at Jammer's excellent site, keep it up! A few meta-comments. I love love love BSG and overall I'm really happy with the casting, acting, and characters. But during the mini and most of season 1 I was in what I call Starbuck phase1, my "up and down" time with her. I didn’t like her lashing out at Tigh about his wife and drinking but her back story with Zak and 1.04/1.05 were real good. She was also cool in 1.10 Hand of God being grounded but still contributing. She could be a little jerky but there was balance overall. I'll definitely chime in during s2 and later to comment on your comments on how she develops and I'm real interested in what you think of Starbuck during the series arch.

BTW, I *hated* her in Flesh and Bone because it made no sense to have Adama order her to interrogate Leoben - she's a hot shot pilot not an intel officer. I know its TV and she's number 3 in the credits but it took suspension of disbelief to see her in there. Secondly she extensively used torture and was snarky and sarcastic the whole time. I was happiest in 1.08 when Leoben said he could break free and she assumed a big smirky smile - his breaking his bonds, tossing the metal table aside, throwing her against the wall and holding the door shut made me go YEAH! Too bad normal torture victims can't do this, not they want to, more likely they just want the torture to stop. The end was cool when she connected with him and prayed for him after his summary execution by Roslin (without consulting the military no less). But still, I really was pissed at her for the torture. And note, not only did the Colonials gain zero info from Leoben, he totally got into her head which I think was very clever writing by Moore & Co.

There's another character I really don't like but it's mostly for stuff you haven't seen yet. But I mention it because she's a she. So I'm negative on 2 women but by no means do I consider myself misogynistic: a hater of girls or women just because of their sex. My favorite characters in the show are the Boomers, I really enjoy their stories and I think Grace Park fit the roles perfectly and acted well in all of them. Of course she's very pretty too! But that's not the point. I like Six but it's for her sly God/sex banter torturing poor Baltar with nearly non-stop hallucinations which brings out the best in James Callis. It's not just because she's attractive. Same for the 2 females I don't like in the show - it's not looks, it's their casting, direction, writing, and acting all in one. And both female characters I don't like are good people in real life; I've read a bit about them both, real good people and nice to boot. Plus, I don't dislike them 100% of the time in BSG. Like you said about Tigh Me Up Tigh Me Down: It is really is a testament to how brilliant this series is because my 2 least favorite characters in the show have many good and even great moments in my eyes.
Lastly, calling women actors on the show a bitch or a broad is certainly cruel and mean and possibly points to the speaker being a misogynistic. We don’t need that on Jammer’s board or anywhere else.

I've heard all the web podcasts and the 16 unique, non-podcast commentaries on the Blu-Rays and I can say for a fact that Ron Moore constantly heaps praise on Katee, more than any other actor by far. And Moore love, Love, LOVES the character Starbuck, he talks about it all the time. It really seemed out of sorts to me for an ensemble cast but apparently show runners frequently have a main character that they lock on to no matter how it works for the show or the fans. It's the "Creator's Pet" tv trope but without much of the fan hate (but there is some). See tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CreatorsPet While some may say it's "completely irrelevant how Moore felt" to me it does matter because I'm trying to make sense out of something that seemed out of place and not up to par for BSG. Moore just loved Starbuck to death and I think her performance created a feedback loop with the writers which intensified the character over time. I'll be interested in how you see Kara developed over time.
Nick P. - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 3:35pm (USA Central)
@Zane314,

your description of Kara is exactly my feelings. I do not like Kara Thrace, it is not because she is a female, or that I am misogynistic, it is simply that the writers put her in situations that are just situation you would not reasonably assume she would get to. You use the example that I first used in that in a fleet of 50,000 people, the best interrogator they could find was kara Thrace, a problematic Pilot????? Come on. And people will always defend this, but at the end of the day it is simply that Katee/Starbuck gave Moore a director hard on. Whether he was in love with Katee or Starbuck I suppose will never be known, but listening to the podcasts youa re quite correct, she was his pet character, no doubt.

And to defend starbuck, I think as the series goes along, the problem is really Adama and Cronyism. Me and Michael document this in these comments if you sift through them. In fact, I would say that my "liking" of Starbuck is inversely related to my "liking" of Adama.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 3:41pm (USA Central)
@ Michael :

1) I've lived half my life in New York and "broad" is not "woman" it's "woman I don't respect because she's doing something other than making me a sandwich or giving birth." I also noticed you've no justification for the word "bitch"--I'll take the point, however, if every time you refer to Tigh, it's "jackass." You've got plenty negative to say of Baltar, but don't resort to name-calling.

Can you please just admit that you won't be happy with a character unless he (preferably, he) is a war-mongering racist hardass with little regard for intellectual debate or psychology? Your implications when you criticise a character's actions are nearly always something like "lilly-livered"--as though the only reason a person may not wish to commit murder or even genocide is that it's too scary for them.

As for "projecting" goes, swing and a miss assuming I'm a liberal. The point of art isn't to confirm or reject our political beliefs--it MAY do that as art conveys ideas in a way more concentrated that real life--but to touch our souls. I don't almost ever agree with Colonel TIgh and his bigoted drunken dribble, but that does not make his character wrong or annoying; it makes him a good foil in debates. This is different from a character like, say, Eddington from DS9, whose asinine ideas were simply taken at face value and built up falsely to make him a martyr. His character is annoying not because of what he says or believes but because of the writers' contrivance to make him right. I'll say the same thing, to be fair, about Janeway's character under Jerri Taylor's pen.

If you don't like or agree with Roslin's decisions, that's totally fine, but to dislike a show or a character because it isn't sending the message about things like war games or politics with which you agree is fatuous at best. You make it seem like liberals sit around all day masturbating to "The Communist Manifesto" while conservatives in the other room are humping copies of Marshall's "Principles of Economics." Roslin's character, with all it's contradictions, is well developed, motivated, characterised and portrayed. Adama's character (as a matter of record) is her equal as a character and moves in all those same ways in counterpoint to Roslin's. While they eventually find themselves in harmony, if you dislike one in one moment, you'll find yourself changing your mind in another. That's human nature and it's wonderfully realised here. If you expect your characters to simply act from a soap box and do all those things with which you agree, try "The Superfriends"...or DS9.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 3:50pm (USA Central)
@Nick P.

Again, you're not wrong about the way Starbuck is treated by Adama or Lee. It's actually frequently adressed by other characters like Tigh and Lee throughout the first 3 seasons. But it's not because there's anything wrong with the character of Starbuck, it's because Adama chooses to treat her that way. His choices may be flawed but they fit in with his character, especially given the way he sees family and the revelations about his past (I won't say more to avoid spoilers). From a human perspective, sure it's fine to criticise Adama for this favouritism, but it's not a flaw in the writing. Plot-wise, character is far from perfect as she frequently makes mistakes even when given those 1-in-50.000 opportunities. Starbuck's abilities as a pilot have little to do with what make her an interesting character and the plot pieces she has to fill are flimsy grounds for criticising her.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 4:00pm (USA Central)
@Zane314:

If having Kara be Leoban's interrogator made little sense to you, why not *HATE* Adama for it? Or Toni Graphia? Or RDM? Hating a character for being in a plot point with which you disagree is like hating a bomb for blowing up. That you feel righteous anger at her for employing torture does not mean the writers made a mistake and made Starbuck do something "bad", it means her character is complex. Every single character on this show has or will do something horrible, and something wonderful, and maybe something horrible again. It's getting to those points through dialogue and myth which make the show so engrossing.
Zane314 - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 4:30pm (USA Central)
Elliott, I responded to you on the Flesh and Bone page: www.jammersreviews.com/bsg/s1/flesh.php
Zane314 - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 5:36pm (USA Central)
Hi Nick P.! Thanks about the Starbuck agreement. I do want to say that I don’t dislike *everything* about her and that I know in real life she’s a good person, has survived cancer, and is very charitable. But Starbuck is mean and harsh so I’m not a big fan of that. Yes, Tigh is harsh too … and I’m not a fan of that part of his persona. The issue with Kara is the writers made her *too* mean and harsh IMO. I don’t want to do spoilers but I see 3 phases for Starbuck, I’ve edited this post from elsewhere to be sensitive to new viewers:

phase1, mini to late s1: “up and down” – I didn’t like her lashing out at Tigh about his wife and drinking but her back story with Zak and 1.04/1.05 were good. Sucked (with some redemption at the end) in 1.08. She was also cool in 1.10 Hand of God. She could be a little jerky but there was balance.

phase2: late s1 to end of s2: “the jerk phase”

phase3: early s3 to the finale: “repulsive, simply repulsive”

I truly believe that pulling her out of 2 major story lines, rounding some harsh/sarcastic corners, and playing up some slightly nicer moments would have made her perfect. E.g. add some more stuff like the 2 excellent deleted scenes from s2 where she showed a softer side and a caring side. I really like Kat and think if Lucianno was 5’ 6” plus she’d been great as Starbuck … I’ll keep quiet due to spoilers.

The other thing with Starbuck was she was great at so many things! Unbelievably so.

1. best pilot in the fleet, maybe one of the best pre-Great Attack, I’m good with this, make her an awesome pilot, loved her saving Apollo in the mini with a crazy hard stunt

2. best sniper in the fleet, this makes no sense with Marines on board and no, piloting well and being a good sniper are totally different things (this was completely show driven to get her into 1.03)

3. top military planner, e.g. for Hand of God. You mean the old warhorses Adama and Tigh couldn’t do better? This comes up again in s1 and s2. I did like her in Hand of God with a busted knee learning to contribute outside of the cockpit, but they played up her military planning genius too much

4. best card player in the show, except for Baltar the super genius who can probably card count

5. a combination of Scotty, Mr. T, and MacGyver: her repairing the Raider in 1.05 was pretty amazing, I know it was show driven and a great episode but still

6. 1 item redacted from 1.11

7. 2 items redacted from 2.02

8. 1 item redacted from 2.04

Ok, ok Moore, enough is enough! I know this is the fave character from the old show, I know Katee is number 3 in the credits after the super established big two, and I know you love, Love, LOVE Starbuck. But come on, this strains credulity. All the other characters are pretty balanced and not too superhuman but not Starbuck! It put me in the situation of thinking “wow, what new great skill will I discover Starbuck having in this episode?” And I don’t want that, it detracted from the show’s realism and hurt her character.

I’ve written a lot about Adama’s “Cronyism”-like enablement of Starbuck elsewhere and I can’t spoiler it on this page. But I posted a great quote by Dee from a deleted scene at www.jammersreviews.com/bsg/s3/rapture.php which really sums it up.

Hola Elliott! I agree Starbuck is far from perfect, she has great flaws and terrible baggage. But, though she makes mistakes she’s good at way too many things and she almost always comes out “on top” in a situation, even when she’s chewed out. Again not wanting to spoiler, she has many confrontations where she may be wrong or get the logical short end of the stick but her anger and sarcasm seems to always insulate her from responsibility and give her the air of victory. And she’s never contrite! There’s a scene in early s4, a terrible situation which she caused, and it was completely her ultimate responsibility. But she’s angrily barking orders with an impatient, irritated, sarcastic tone that is incredibly off putting.

I know a lot of folks love her and that’s cool, I respect that. And kudos to Moore & Co. for making a compelling character, no doubt about it. I just don’t enjoy Starbuck, at least not most of the time.
Nick P. - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 10:36pm (USA Central)
The problem is that elliot cannot stand that people do not like starbuck. First of all, I have said many times, there are quite a few places in the series where I like her quite a bit, particularly, late in season 4 (can't give it away without spoilers).

At the end of the day, we all have characters that we mostly like, and others we like less, or quite a bit less. I have always thought boomer, the chief, and Balter were my fave characters. Roslin and Adama, i liked less and less as the series went on, although I freely admit that both are outstanding actors, and did the best with the teenage drama crap Moore kept feeding them. Starbuck, I am sorry, NEVER quite became likable. Again, she had her moments, but they were too little too late.

And Elliot is continuing to imply that anyone that does not like Kara or Roslin must in fact be misogynistic, which is ludicrous. Sorry, Elliot, but Kara is not portrayed the way she is because she is a "complex character, just like all of us", it is because Moore had a boner for her. And it is not like we are making this up, Moore pretty much admits it in every podcast involving a starbuck episode.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 10:59pm (USA Central)
Nick, I said explicitly than people may like or not like whom they choose, but that Adama's assigning Kara to do things for which she may or may not be deserving or qualified has nothing to do with the quality of her character. I ask that you present me some evidence that the character was poorly written--that Moore liked (lusted after) the actor and made of her arguably the most important character in the series because of it has no bearing on the quality of the writing.

I only accused Michael of being a misogynist because he is and it's telling in his language.
Elliott - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 11:02pm (USA Central)
@Zane314: Since you have obviously seen the whole series, dare I offer the explanation for her always "coming out on top" as a divine intervention? I'm not sure I like the explanation very much myself, but it is certainly consistent with this universe, given the prescience of Roslin, Baltar, Athena, D'Anna...the list goes on.
Nick P. - Wed, Jun 27, 2012 - 11:52pm (USA Central)
@Elliot,

I believe we have been REPEATEDLY giving you evidence of Moore's boner for Katee. Just listen to ANY PODCAST.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - 12:26am (USA Central)
@Nick : Did I say he didn't? What I'm saying is who cares? I'm sure plenty of writers and producers had boners for various cast members in other series. I see no evidence that this infatuation hurt the show.
Michael - Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - 5:48am (USA Central)
@Elliott: "Broad" -- to me -- means a woman I do not respect or admire, period. Not because she's not a male but because she did, thought, or was something I disapprove of. End of story.

As for projections, yeah, I knew I was wrong. I wanted to make a point, which was evidently lost on you: Projections are most of the time inaccurate.

I did call Roslin a bitch and I stand by that epithet. If a male behaved the way she did in a few instance, I'd consider him a male bitch, even if I'd call him an "imbecile" or "moron" in lieu. So, take your sanctimonious "we shouldn't sing baa baa black sheep" sophistry dreck and shove it.

Not to make this too long, I'll state just a couple of points:
(1) I'm not a racist or a hardass. (I'm an Israeli Jew and Zionist; my other half is a Kuwaiti Arab Muslim.) My political views are actually middle of the road, with a slight right lean in some cases, a few left in others. I am ALL in favor of using intellect and discourse to address both theoretical and practical issues. However, and this I am adamant about: A war is NOT conducted in a college classroom. All the lofty ideals, many of which I agree with, are simply impractical and undesirable in a war, even if the other side played by the same rules, which it often does not. If we had fought WW2 the way we've been the war in Iraq, we'd NEVER have won it. NEVER.

(2) I do not at all denigrate the show because it doesn't send the kind of message I'd subscribe to. Where the hell did you get that idea from?!? If anything, I vigorously extol BSG for invoking such passionate feelings in me, be they feelings of support or recoil/disgust. THAT's a testament to BSG's quality. And, frankly, I find that far more engaging than I would a show that simply sent the kind of message I'd invariably approve of.

(3) I've no problem with name-calling, especially -- and let's not lose sight of this -- F-I-C-T-I-O-N-A-L CHARACTERS!!!

I hate what America has become: You're either a fascist or a Commie. What happened to being allowed to simply disagree with each other, regardless of how misguided one thought the other was?!?!?
Nick P. - Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - 8:35am (USA Central)
@Elliot,

I can't speak for everyone, but I at least, do not believe Starbuck hurt the show at all. I just never liked her character. I still think BSG is the best sci-fi TV show EVER, period. If anything, I loved having a weak annoying character, because it makes the tigh-Tyrol stuff so much more impactful.
Zane314 - Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - 9:52am (USA Central)
Hi Nick P. and Elliott, if you guys only read one sentence [of probably too long post! :)] read this: let's dial down personal comments and keep mining the great discussions for this show. I really can't hack "you said this because you're X" or "you're just a Y" and so forth. I'm a forum wimp in that respect. But I love love love talking about BSG! And you guys have both seen it, are passionate about it, and post here. Thus I value your constructive, show based comments. If I write something, call me out on it just like Elliot did. I'll explain ad nausea for you! The name calling and harshness, mostly not by you two, is such a turn off, it makes me want to abandon the forum. But I'm steeling myself against the negativity and will ignore the bad and focus on the good. Ok, soap boxing over, thanks for the patience.

Starbuck is a hot button character from day one when it was announced he was to be a she this time around. I only watched the show last Fall 2011 but reading the SyFy BSG Archives it is apparent that fandom blew a gasket pre-mini about her being a she. It never really hit me watching first time around that a female playing Starbuck was an issue. I mean I noticed it! But I gave her a chance just like I gave Boomer who not only was a woman this time but ethnically Korean (born in the US, Canadian by upbringing & culture - what a mix!). I was really pissed at her for answering Tigh's teasing of her call sign and insubordination with her taunts about his marital problems. Yes, all 3 items were true but Tigh choose things I thought were either subjective or not really a taunt, I mean, Starbuck revels in her being a rebel and getting tossed in the brig for drunk and disorderly should be a badge of honor for her. But Starbuck's taunt back to Tigh was much deeper, meaner, and way out of bounds considering what he had said. Ragging a on persons broken marriage (and man was it a mess!) is just despicable. But she still wasn't totally wrecked for me, she got in the hole at the end of the mini:

(Starbuck's quarters - Tigh walks in, Starbuck stands up)
Tigh: As you were.
Starbuck: Just trying to avoid another trip to the brig, sir.
Tigh: Lt. Thrace. Kara, what you did out there today with Lee Adama, it was a hell of a piece of flying. The Commander has always said that you were the best pilot he has ever seen. Well, today you proved it. Now, about yesterday, during the game, well, maybe I was out of line too. And I just- (Starbuck smirks) I wanted to say - sorry. Well, don't you have anything to say?
Starbuck: Permission to speak off the record, sir?
Tigh: Granted.
Starbuck: You're a bastard.
Tigh: You just don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you? I am offering you a clean slate here.
Starbuck: I'm not interested in a clean slate with you. You're dangerous. You know why?
Tigh: This'll be good.
Starbuck: Because you're weak. Because you're a drunk.
Tigh: Are you done?
Starbuck: Yes, sir.
Tigh: You're returned to flight status. Let's see how long that lasts.

Now she raises the stakes not content with just calling out his terrible marriage problems. She ignores his complement, harshly rejects his apology, and adds ragging on his alcoholism issue! The drunk comment is so ironic because she was the BSG queen of the drunks. And I really felt for Tigh struggling to overcome his drinking issue, carefully marking his last liquor bottle and limiting himself to just that much per day. Of course, Tigh returns the rejection to Starbuck later in s1 but I had definitely sided with Tigh in the mini and Starbuck was in "the hole" for me from then on.

About misogyny, I've been called out that way for criticism of Starbuck and Roslin ... and I disagreed in detailed length about that. I know of no other BSG forum poster who goes on and on and on (repeat a jillion times) like I do. And in all my BSG ramblings I've *never* said I hate Starbuck or Roslin because they are women nor do I use derogatory labels for them that harsh, unempathetic people frequently apply to women. If you want to see my detailed reply to the misogynist label regarding Starbuck/Roslin criticim, see the following link which I did not start but I definitely posted to!
Re: Starbuck and Roslin are worst thing about this show
www.imdb.com/title/tt0407362/board/flat/197617250
Control-F on:
I find most criticism of Roslin here to be misogynistic at best
My mysoginy reply is right below that comment.

About "evidence that the character was poorly written" - I think think there are 2 viewpoints to the show at a high level:
1) what actually happened in the show, aka "canon", what we actually saw on screen in the episodes, movies, webisodes, and deleted scenes (except deleted scenes that contradict episodes)
2) the why, how, etc of how the show happened, the direction, writing, casting, and so forth

So when I criticize Starbuck and say I don't like this of that, I feel no obligation to justify it with evidence of bad writing. I see Starbuck doing something, e.g. rejecting Tigh's out reach at the end of the mini, and I react. In that case it was a bad reaction! [trying to be spoiler free] When Starbuck returned from a big mission at the end of s2 and Adama greeted her on the flight deck she squished up her face with a smile - my reaction was that's Starbuck, that's her relationship with Adama, it was cool, I really like the little moment. Based on my canon reactions I have my 3 phases for her: up and down, jerky, and repulsive. It is what it is for me and I respect others who see different things with Starbuck. A spoiler free example for another character is Boomer: she had a talk in a flashback in s4 with Adama and Tigh and I thought one of them was WAY out of character. Another poster at IMDB sincerely felt the other character (adama or tigh) was just fine and in character. I mean, I'd bet a lot of money and testify in a real court as a BSG expert and fanatic that one of those guys was way way way out of character and present evidence about it. But, I've got my biases and this other lover of the show honestly disagreed and said why. That's cool, we all see different angles especially with a show that isn't cut and dry like BSG, The Wire, etc.

Now, outside of my gut reaction to on screen canon, I like to delve into WHY? Why was X written this way, what as Y given a certain story, why was Z cast for a role? That's all I can really do now that I've watched the show and formed most of my opinions about canon. Sure, my canon thoughts may drift over time but I'm very unlikely to become a big enjoyer of most or Starbuck's scenes or a big disliker of any of the Boomers' scenes [never! :)]. I do enjoy peering behind the curtain or as Ron Moore said about the podcasts "see how the sausage is made."

So on that topic, I think my behind the curtain belief that Moore was TOO much in love with Katee/Starbuck is the show became imbalanced. Now this criticism is coming from a huge Boomer fan and she was number 7 in the opening credits, Eick (not Moore) had the idea of making her a Cylon, and she probably ended up with way more screen time than Moore originally planned. But keeping this on Starbuck, she was written so harshly it was hard for me to watch at times, with so many skills which took away form the show's realism, and (spoiler free) the writers ended up going to the "unexplained stuff is cool" well way too many times for her. It would have been great to take a major storyline or two away from Starbuck, round some hard corners, have her do a couple of nicer things. And, give Apollo, 4th in the opening credits right about Katee, some more to do and do well. (spoiler free) The writers really walked all over poor Jamie and it was kind of ridiculous. The writers (Moore?) also seemed to have it out for Grace, I mean she acted out so many death scenes it's nuts! But that's for another post.

In general, the quality of the writing had plus *and* minuses. Moore said in the podcasts he wanted a seat of the pants writing approach for BSG, more so than normal tv shows. Meaning that within over story structures he wanted to try all kinds of ideas episode to episode. So if a writer has a cool idea he was likely to green light it *even if the resolution was murky and not there are all*! You can see this when Kara is called a particular phrase with the H word in it - the writer in the podcast (not Moore) said he put it in cause it sounded cool but he was freaked out since he had no idea what it meant or how to reconcile it! This happened a lot in s3/s4 - the chickens had come home to roost and all of the cool, seat of the pants stuff had to be fit together or just let go. Grace Park said that at the end of s4 all the writers were upset, working hard on trying to put it all together. This is where The Wire did just a great job writing: whole seasons felt like incredibly long episodes and all the seasons were smoothly interconnected and consistent. But you can't expect The Wire with every tv show. And on balance I'm glad Moore did his writing approach for BSG, overall it was great.

Divine intervention? I don't know about that but regarding Starbuck "coming out on top" the Tigh apology at the end of the mini is an example to me. As is the (spoiler free) the time Starbuck caused a BIG problem at in s4, someone got hurt, and Starbuck starts shouting orders in her impatient, irritated, snarky tone. Not only was she again chosen as the "person of action" with the "skills" for the task at hand but she's speaking in the least concerned, least contrite manner possible for what was her fault! And after, when she actually compromised proving the other side's point there was no apology, no acceptance of what she did and caused to happen. Starbuck did verbally acknowledge "you're right" but it was with that angry, biting tone that belies the words coming from her mouth. There was an articulate post on this in the SyFy BSG Archive but I can't find it again. :(

Lastly, sure plenty of writers have a "thing" for a lead character but we're talking BSG here. If every other show has the Creator's Pet tv trope or none does isn't my concern. I wonder how Moore's thing for Katee/Starbuck colored the show's realization and evolution. BTW, I don't know of other shows I've watched, like Star Trek, where there was a big fave of the show runner like Moore/Starbuck. Now, Hawaii Five-0 did have a fifth team member in s2 that not only took time from Chin and even more from Kono (Grace Park), but the fans really hated this fifth member. The show runner stuck with her for a real long time ... a Creator's Pet example for sure. Now, in Moore's defense maybe if I could hear detailed podcasts for every Trek episode I'd learn that those show runners had things for character X or Y, e.g. was 7 of 9 a Creator's Pet? Maybe. But I think they brought her on to boost rating with her sex appeal and she was largely accepted, even liked, by the fans. With Enterprise, the main reson I stopped watching after s1 was T'pol was such an obvious pander I couldn't take it. I mean, come on, a Vulcan with breat and lip augmentation?!? At least Borg are supposed to be part mechanical and I don't think Ryan was augmented, at least it wasn't obvious with T'pol. And the salve rubbing scene in the Enterprise opener was so base, so ridiculous. Why just not just show Blalock's Maxim video during that part of the Enterprise episode? Come on! :)
Sarah M - Sat, Jun 15, 2013 - 12:14am (USA Central)
Gosh, what a good episode. This is the show working on all cylinders. Fun space battles, interesting character dynamics, and the religious stuff with Baltar and Head Six actually wove intriguingly into the main plot rather than being a weird little side-show. That was just fun, well-written television.
J - Thu, Jul 25, 2013 - 12:54am (USA Central)
It was refreshing to see some good action again. Loved this episode.

Also loved the 1 year of crickets after Zane's last post.
SlackerInc - Tue, Nov 4, 2014 - 12:15am (USA Central)
I liked this episode quite a bit, with a couple caveats:

--The two-dimensional map for an attack in 3-dimensional space. It's hardly the first time in science fiction, and I read that this was due both to budget constraints and the desire to make it simple enough for the audience to follow; but it still bugs me every time.

--This ep is where we start to really get into the mystical mumbo-jumbo with Roslin, which I hate with a fiery passion. On the Wiki page, it says Ron Moore was sneaky and had always intended to start going down this path but basically wanted to get the hard sci fi fans (like me) hooked on the show before introducing it. Dastardly!

--I continue to be annoyed by the pristine state of Caprica, other than being sans humans, living or dead. Not only are the cityscapes perfectly preserved, despite the mushroom clouds we saw in the miniseries, but that stable, though all the horses were gone, still had nice fresh-looking bales of hay ready for them, etc. Is Baltar's broken window the only damage we've seen to any structure?

--I agree with the objections of others in the comments that it was a little too easy, how they handwaved away that the raiders "bugged out". I'm not sure I understand why they would, instead of continuing to go after the Galactica and the Vipers, kamikaze style. They still way outnumbered them, after all.

The "Death Star" assault was very cool, though. I especially like the little maneuvering thrusters the Vipers have. This is a very realistic detail I don't think I've seen elsewhere, and Apollo used them to good effect when he was hiding out in the middle of the mine where the guns "couldn't get a firing solution" on him (good use of terminology that's not technobabble).

Also really liked the scene when the old man comes to talk to his son. Not just the dialogue and acting, but how weathered that old Viper looks. I don't know how they managed to make the metal and paint job look like that with paint or whatever, but it's a masterpiece.

I also think it was "good" (though sad) that a few Viper pilots were shown getting killed (what was it, four or five?). It was just as the top brass predicted: they were going to take losses. Not to do so would have been unrealistic. However, that ties into one other nitpick: the big champagne celebration scene should have been tempered by the fact that they had lost some comrades. I know the significance of their victory was far greater on the positive end than is the cost of a few pilots (and Vipers); but surely some of those celebrating were closer friends with the ones who got killed than others? (I guess we can fanwank that those who were close to them just went quietly back to their "racks" and let everyone else have their celebration.)

Submit a comment

Above, type the last name of the captain on Star Trek: TNG
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

Season Index

Copyright © 1994-2014, Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of any review or article on this site is prohibited. Star Trek (in all its myriad forms), Battlestar Galactica, and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda are trademarks of CBS Studios Inc., NBC Universal, and Tribune Entertainment, respectively. This site is in no way affiliated with or authorized by any of those companies. | Copyright & Disclaimer