Much like "Scattered" was the logical but — by design — non-definitive continuation of "Kobol's Last Gleaming," then so is "Resurrection Ship, Part 1" the logical and non-definitive continuation of "Pegasus." As a middle chapter that contains no resolution, it's not completely satisfying, but I suppose that's not its job. Its job is to provide more setup, ask more questions, and end with more suspense. It does that. How it will all play out is a question for another day, but what's notable about this episode is how it puts new weights on its characters.
Scaled back in this show is the grand melodrama and epic tone apparent in "Pegasus." In its place is sensible characterization and a few new plot revelations.
It may not come as a huge surprise that Adama's and Cain's alert fighters, launched at the end of "Pegasus," do not open fire on each other as we resume the story. Instead they fly about, nearly ramming into each other as the pilots play a breakneck-speed game of chicken while awaiting orders. Meanwhile, Starbuck — who has taken the stealth Blackbird without authorization — jumps into the middle of the Cylon fleet and photographs a mysterious and previously unseen Cylon vessel, which looks like something out of the video game Doom. Kudos to the CG model designers for coming up with something that looks truly ominous and different.
Cain and Adama call off the hostilities long enough to examine this new intelligence. They meet on Colonial One to hash out a (temporary) agreement to put aside their differences. Cain postpones Helo's and Tyrol's executions, but the agreement between Adama and Cain isn't a friendly one, and Cain hates the idea of having to discuss the finer points of military authority to President Roslin. "We're at war," she says angrily. "We don't have the luxury of academic debate." Cain's mission of survival at all costs has blinded her to what her unflinching hardness has cost her people in their humanity.
Is Cain crazy? No. She is, however, quite amoral, and very accustomed to getting what she wants and not having her authority challenged. (She built that authority on the threat of severe consequences, like shooting her XO in front of her own crew, as explained by Colonel Fisk in "Pegasus.") There's an intriguing scene where Cain calls Starbuck into her cabin for taking the Blackbird on an unauthorized mission. The mission had a positive net effect, so rather than castigating Starbuck, Cain praises her for having guts, and promotes her to Pegasus CAG. You get the sense that Cain sees a little of herself in Kara and perhaps is tapping her as a protege. You also get the sense that if Kara's recon mission had gone south and resulted in something negative, she would've been immediately thrown in the brig.
So just what is this mysterious Cylon vessel, then? Baltar's interrogation sessions with Pegasus' prisoner copy of Six might provide the answer. What's crucial about the Baltar/Six scenes is that they are not about Baltar getting information, but about the complicated (and often imagined) relationship between these two characters, and about this shattered woman who has been beaten, abused, raped, and tortured. "I want to die," she says.
Death for the Cylons is typically not feared, because the consciousness of a dead Cylon is simply transferred into another body, where it can resume its life. That concept takes on a new dimension here; we learn that the process for "Cylon resurrection" requires being within a certain vicinity of the Cylon homeworld — which the pursuing Cylon fleet currently is not. Instead, the mystery vessel is actually their "resurrection ship," which contains the necessary apparatus to recycle dead Cylons' memories into new bodies. Destroy that ship, and the game radically changes.
The interesting twist here is that this broken and tortured shell of Six does not simply want to die and wake up in another body, but wants to die and be actually gone. Apparently her ordeal on the Pegasus has been more than she cares to take with her into a new body. So Six gives Baltar the information about the resurrection ship out of the purely self-interested motive of wanting to die. What does this say about the Cylons and their loyalty to their own race? Has this particular Cylon simply been through so much pain that she no longer cares about anything but dying?
Kara and Lee devise a battle plan to take on the Cylon fleet and destroy the resurrection ship. Meanwhile, under all this, the tensions between Adama and Cain are very much alive. We learn still more alarming things about Cain when the question arises as to the fate of the Pegasus' civilian fleet. There's another ominous scene of Tigh and Fisk drinking and sharing stories, where Fisk reveals that Cain ordered the civilian ships stripped for supplies and the useful members of their crews drafted into the military while their families were held at gunpoint. When there was resistance, the families were actually shot. Fisk does not punctuate this story with a manic, just-kidding laugh. We're way past that point.
Roslin suspects that it's only a matter of time before Cain stages a power play to take Adama out. In one of the show's more surprising moments, she tells Adama, "We have to kill her." It's a moment arrived at by way of logical conclusions reached because of the lack of available options: Certainly Cain does not share Adama's and Roslin's world view, in which certain values must outweigh rampant militarism, and only by eschewing that world view long enough to take Cain out can those values survive. "How did you get so bloody-minded?" Adama asks Roslin. It's a good question — one which I suspect has an equally good answer, steeped in simple pragmatism. We must preserve our way of life.
Other characters have their own personal crises. Helo and Tyrol are sitting in the brig awaiting execution, and their conversations turn to what landed them there — their need to protect Sharon. They don't regret that decision, but I like that they both take a hard look at this messed-up relationship. Tyrol wants to extricate himself from the whole affair. Helo also has serious second thoughts ("I'm in love with someone who isn't even a woman") but can't deny the truth of his feelings.
The episode cliffhangs us with Adama and Cain plotting coups against each other with their most trusted officers. Adama puts Kara on a mission to shoot Cain in the head when he gives the order after the attack on the Cylon fleet. Cain does the same, putting Fisk in a position to take marines into Galactica's CIC to "terminate Adama's command." For Kara, this will have severe personal consequences. Not only might she die, but she's been recruited to carry out an assassination of Adama's superior officer — someone that she shows signs of developing a certain level of respect for. Can she do something like that?
To quote Adama from earlier in the show: "Has the whole world gone mad?" Yes, perhaps it has. But it hasn't gone mad without some very extreme reasons. It could be rightly said that the world came to an end first, then went mad.