Jammer's Review

Battlestar Galactica

"Resurrection Ship, Part 2"

***1/2

Air date: 1/13/2006
Written by Michael Rymer & Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Michael Rymer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Resurrection Ship, Part 2" is an episode that has great images, great dramatic moments, and great examples of characters facing tough emotional situations. This is a powerful episode with a clear message. I only wish it could've ended on a note that was a little more messy and a little less pat. There are people here that go through hell, and the only thing holding the show back somewhat is that the plot doesn't seem quite willing to go through hell with them. It yearns for tidy resolutions (although, to be fair, it's not completely tidy).

The central question in "Resurrection Ship" is this: Is our survival worth it if we have to jettison our morality and human decency in the process? For Admiral Cain, the answer appears to be yes, although she'd surely argue that she's doing the best she can under the circumstances. Cain is not evil, not crazy, not even selfish. But she does do and permit evil things. When balancing the moral scales, she's in the wrong. She condones torture. She has ordered the execution of innocent civilians. She rules with an iron fist. Democracy is basically unheard of. It's all about martial law, steadfast obedience and order, all serving the bottom line — survival. What Cain perhaps has not stopped to really ask herself is whether it's all necessary. The Galactica has survived just as long as the Pegasus under similar circumstances, and has managed to bend morality without completely breaking it.

There's a scene early in the episode where Cain calls Kara in for a discussion that hints at what makes Cain tick. She doesn't believe that a moment's disobedience can be tolerated. She orders executions because she believes she has to — because without the chain of command, there is chaos. She implores Kara not to flinch when crucial difficult decisions must be faced. The irony of this speech is that by the time it comes, Kara has orders from Adama to take Cain out. Cain is unknowingly telling Kara not to back down from the mission to kill her.

Lee is assigned to provide Kara with backup during the assassination. Lee is understandably appalled at the notion of taking out a superior officer, and one could argue that he holds the most crucial emotional pieces in this episode. After being demoted by Cain and having his flight status revoked, there's a scene where Lee visits his father's cabin to hear for himself that Adama has actually ordered Kara to assassinate Cain. Adama confirms it, but the punch in the gut to Lee is not only that Adama plans to go through with it, but the fact that the president is the one who suggested it. "She's made of sterner stuff than people give her credit for," says Adama.

That may be true, but it's of no comfort to Lee. Jamie Bamber's performance nicely conveys Lee's saddened isolation; it's like he's been abandoned by everyone he cares about. No doubt he understands the pragmatism of this order, but that doesn't make it an easier pill to swallow; it's as if humanity has been chipped away from everyone around him — including the president, who used to be the one who stood for democracy and civil decency, and now is ordering the killing of a Colonial Fleet admiral.

What's perhaps most interesting about the story structure of this episode is how the assault on the Cylon fleet and the resurrection ship almost becomes secondary to the drama unfolding between Adama and Cain. I say "almost" because it isn't so much secondary as it's played as a dramatically charged foregone conclusion, while the showdown between Adama and Cain is played for genuine suspense. Even so, the battle sequences are impressive, both in visual design and emotional impact.

There's a lead-in to the battle where Adama asks Sharon why the Cylons hate humanity so much. Sharon uses Adama's own speech from the miniseries — where he posed the question of whether humanity was worth saving — as the case against him. (It's worth noting, however, that the Cylons are even more guilty than their creators, because they took their beliefs to a final conclusion of all-out genocide.) From Sharon's words we cut directly into the middle of the battle sequence, which is an interesting editorial choice; I like that we don't witness the battle start or end, but only see it in its broader middle strokes, because the story knows we're already familiar with the plan's details from part one.

Lee's mission to destroy the resurrection ship's FTL drive is successful, at which point he's hit, the Blackbird is destroyed, and he's ejected into space. In a bold and effective visual choice, we see the battle through his eyes as he floats helplessly in space, waiting either to be rescued or to die. The methodology here has an almost poetic artistry; the continuing battle unfolds in silence before Lee's eyes, with the atmosphere and music providing a counterpoint to the brutality. (Although I'm really starting to wonder just how many times Bear McCreary's scores from previous episodes can be recycled with virtually no alteration.)

This is terrific stuff. It's almost enough to make me overlook logical questions like: How is it in the past a battlestar was always considered no match for a base star, and yet here we have two battlestars and two base stars going head-to-head and it seems now that the Cylons are completely outmatched by the Galactica and Pegasus? And shouldn't this battle result in a lot of human casualties? It sure doesn't seem to here.

The battle is a major victory for the humans, who destroy the resurrection ship and chase the surviving Cylons into a retreat. This also means it's time for the show's central drama — the dual power plays of the two battlestar commanders — to play out. This is milked for some truly agonizing suspense, especially concerning Starbuck; it's a tense moment that has the audience on the edge of its seat because anything is possible. It's noteworthy, then, that neither commander has the stomach to go through with their respective assassination plans. As Adama puts it to Starbuck: "It's not enough to survive. One has to be worthy of surviving." — which is the story's message in a nutshell.

So, then, how is all the brewing conflict between Adama and Cain resolved? Not inappropriately, it comes down to Baltar and Six. There's a brilliantly performed scene where Baltar turns his back on the fantasy Six by using her own words against her to simultaneously gain Pegasus Six's trust. Rather than helping her commit suicide, Baltar helps spring her from her cell in the interests of "justice" (i.e. revenge). And justice she gets, by hiding in Cain's cabin and shooting her. One could argue that maybe Cain gets what she deserves, but let's also not forget that Six has more than her share to pay for as well. Baltar gets her off the Pegasus and finds her a place to hide.

And yet ... I can't shake the feeling that on a plot level this is all too neatly resolved and lets characters off the hook so they don't have to take definitive actions. Essentially, Adama and Roslin are saved by good fortune rather than having to take the desperate measures they were fearing. Cain dies at the hands of a Cylon that the entire fleet already reviles. Meanwhile, Baltar is apparently scot-free because there are no witnesses (also because no one thought to put video cameras in the prison cell of Pegasus' No. 1 enemy). Just how many times can Baltar get away unscathed?

If the plot is perhaps a bit neat, there are plenty of character tidbits worth mention. For starters, there's Lee's confession that he didn't want to come back from his mission alive; the episode shows that he possibly even avoided rescue. Here's a man who has been pushed to his limits. Kara makes an intriguing speech at Cain's funeral service that seems to side at least partially with Cain — although it reveals Kara has perhaps been too quickly swayed by Cain's unofficial mentoring program. And never have Adama and Roslin — who have been through so much — seemed closer. She promotes him to admiral, which, if you think about in terms of a cosmic joke, might've saved everyone a lot of trouble had she done it before the Pegasus showed up.

"Resurrection Ship" asks tough questions and gives its characters tough assignments. If it doesn't completely follow through on its indicators of passing a point of no return, it's because the conventions of television require that we have another episode next week where primary characters aren't dead, imprisoned, or forever morally compromised. It's a dangerous universe out there.

Previous episode: Resurrection Ship, Part 1
Next episode: Epiphanies

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15 comments on this review

Caradog - Sun, Dec 23, 2007 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
Fantastic episode.

Just a small point however. I too was stumped at how two battlestars could go toe to toe with two basestars and defeat them with such relative ease until I looked back into the series. In "Flight of the Phoenix" a large force of Cylon raiders is completely destroyed. Presumably these raiders originated from the fleet assaulted in this episode. Without a fighter screen the base stars could conceivably be taken out without much hassle.

My only problem with the episode is the convenient dispatch of Cain by Six to tie up the plot. However, with the reveal of their past involvement in "Razor" it feels a bit more appropiate and complete as a whole.
dworkin - Thu, May 8, 2008 - 8:44pm (USA Central)
Regarding the Battlestars vs Basestars thing. Up till now we've had the Galactica, an antique ship slated for mothballing, flying museum pieces, low on just about everything and required to defend unarmed civilian craft. The Pegasus was fully stocked and a modern craft to boot. After she resupplies Galactica (never mind where the supplies came from) the scales change a bit.
RHuston - Thu, Jul 24, 2008 - 4:54am (USA Central)
Also for the Battlestars vs. Basestars thing, when Kara designs the plan, it is designed to lure away the cylon fighter cover, so the Vipers can engage the enemy, the battlestars aren't pinned down shooting flak at them, not worried about Raiders creashing into the hull. This allows them to engage the enemy at close range. Adding to what dworkin said, remember that in the fight, Pegasus took the fire from both Basestars while the Galactica engaged one. Pegasus > Galactica!!!!
conroypaw - Wed, Feb 25, 2009 - 3:24pm (USA Central)
I don't know what made me go back and read this review again. I just wanted to note that it wouldn't have mattered if Roslin promoted Adama to admiral before the Pegasus showed up. If the colonial military is anything like ours, Cain would still would have had seniority over Adama.
Mark - Wed, Apr 1, 2009 - 1:32am (USA Central)
Characters like Cain -- and there have been a great many throughout television -- are unfortunate, for by their very nature they must be destroyed after their dramatic usefulness has been exhausted. Okay, great, Adama and Cain put down their gun arms, yet Cain was still the same person as before. Machiavellians make for great foils to our standard heroes, but having them around to argue philosophy about every decision the heroes make is tiresome for the drama and the viewers. When one outranks and overrides the decisions of our heroes, it is worse than tiresome, for it creates despair and helplessness. These characters are fundamentally flawed for a long term stay on a television show.

What's mildly amusing is that though the characters of the show decided against the assassination of a very large problem, the writers sure took the easy way out.
Manu - Tue, Aug 11, 2009 - 1:31am (USA Central)
It's already been discussed, but I thought I'd just throw in some more information.

According to the BSG Wiki, which gets it's info from the shows and podcasts, so it's all canon, the Colonial Military is vastly stronger than the Cylons. A Battlestar greatly outmatches a Basestar in sheer power. This is why they decided to use the Virus to take down the Colonies; they could have never won an all out assault.

To even the odds, the Basestar's deploy hundreds of Raiders which, as was said, "tie up" the guns into firing flack and lowering combat efficiency. In a pure slug-fest, a Battlestar would win hands down.

Since the Raider's had been drawn away, those Basestar's never really had a chance.

:)

Nick P. - Wed, May 4, 2011 - 12:07am (USA Central)
I really didn't like this episode. I loved the first 2 of this 3 part arc, but this one came crashing down. I feel like all the star trek writers must have come out of hibernation....

What gets me, and others, into this series, are the tough choices, and FOLLOW-THROUGH, for wrong or right of these characters. Almost to a T every character on the show made a decision, and then either quit, or got saved, in this episode. the only real surprising thing was Baltar letting six escape, but than again, this was only a plot point to eliminate ensign Ro.

Jammer, i think you are wrong, I think they could have taken chances in this one, and had results none to different than what we saw. Had Starbuck fired, I don't think to many people on the Pegasus REALLY would have retaliated, or at least, with Ensign Ros' character flaws, it could be easily written in.

And the battle, how beautiful could that have been if we saw more than 13 seconds?? What I was 100% sure going in would be the BIG BATTLE finally between humans and Cylons became a background for Adamas moralizing. Now, I LOVE Adamas moralizing, but that really could have been the awesome subplot, not the unfulfilled main plot.

I really hope BSG gets back to writing BSG episodes, not TNG. With Ro gone it should be easier.

Nic - Mon, May 16, 2011 - 9:07pm (USA Central)
I'm not sure why, but in the first two acts I had the distinct impression that their mission to destroy the resurrection ship would fail (the same thing I felt during DS9's "The Changing Face of Evil"). It's almost disappointing to discover that the battle went exactly as planned - it makes it seem like the Cylons are easy to trick.

Otherwise, though, the battle was beautifully done, and very artistic. I didn't really understand what all the business with Lee was about until you connected the dots for me. And unlike most posters, I thought that Six shooting Cain was very satisfactory and made sense. I'm also glad Baltar got away with it. I agree 100% with what he did (for once).

And I must take issue with those who say BSG is becoming too much like TNG (at least in terms of stand-alone vs. serialized). First of all, it makes TNG sound like a terrible show, which it isn't. Second of all, if this was a stand-alone story, the Pegasus would have been destroyed by the end of the episode, and we would never see any of the Pegasus crew ever again.
Vlad - Tue, Oct 18, 2011 - 9:24am (USA Central)
Having just seen all of BSG, I think this is the best 3 parts of the show. The easy way out the writers took in having Six kill Cain is the only weakness here. Wouldn't it be interesting if Cain gave up on her plan to Kill Adama, but Adama did not. Yes, the lesson of "It's not enough to survive, one has to be worthy of surviving" would have been lost, but I think all would agree that Cain is the one unworthy of survival, so the lesson could have been changed to: "its not enough to be Admiral, one has to be worthy of being an Admiral".
Michael - Thu, Nov 17, 2011 - 10:49am (USA Central)
Good stuff. Not nearly as riveting as the previous two parts and--like others--I didn't care for the copout of Six shooting Cain, but I'm happy with the final result.
Justin - Wed, Jul 4, 2012 - 2:31am (USA Central)
@Mark, I think your assessment is spot on. The character development for our heroes in this episode was very good, but Cain was almost too much of a comic book villain. It WAS a copout by the writers to have Six take her out. Sure, it works dramatically and it may even be satisfying, but in the end it's basically a reset button for Pegasus.

And what about Pegasus and its crew? Fisk is now its commander, but he and many of his crew have atrocities to answer for. Public executions of disloyal officers, murder of civilians, theft and rape. I wonder if this will even be mentioned in future episodes, let alon acted upon...
Caleb - Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - 1:32am (USA Central)
Easy way out? Maybe, but I loved the Six kills Cain bit... I cheered when she did it. This show is complex enough and deep enough in general that I don't mind a tidy ending like this. And sometimes, things do work out in surprisingly convenient ways. It's not the norm, but it's still quite plausible. And I have to disagree on Cain not being evil. She's the definition of it to me. Oh it all makes sense to her sure. It all made sense to Hitler too.
Dork Knight - Tue, Feb 26, 2013 - 8:17am (USA Central)
Was anyone else pleasantly shocked that The Pegasus survived the arc? When they showed up and Cain started showing her villain-face, I was certain - based upon years of television training - that both Cain and the Pegasus would meet their tragic end by the credits of the Resurrection Ship Part 2. I love that she stuck around as long as she did.
Cureboy - Tue, Dec 24, 2013 - 7:15am (USA Central)
Good episode. Didn't quite have the ending punch I was expecting. They took the most obvious route of Pegasus Blonde killing Cain. It would've been more interesting and maybe truer to Cain's personality for her to give the order to kill Adama and then maybe the Pegasus XO decides enough is enough and refuses to do it. Then Starbuck decides enough is enough and kills Cain for giving the order.

At any rate, I disagree about Cain. She was evil. Ordering the execution of innocent families just to get some more soldiers in your military isn't a difficult choice from a flawed leader. It's straight up depravity. It's discouraging that her people didn't try to stop her
SlackerInc - Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - 3:57am (USA Central)
Fantastic episode, and an awesome conclusion not only to the two-parter, but to the whole Cain storyline. I also think it's a perfect place, in retrospect, to wrap up the whole series, both because it actually works as a finale and because it gets so bad after this.

The very next episode after this one features a cliched, shark-jumping plot development; and the one after that is universally acknowledged, even by Moore, as the worst episode of the series. There are a few enjoyable episodes after this, but the quality gets much more uneven and the desperate writers start tap-dancing and throwing in a lot of LOST-style mysteries that, like that other show, worked at the time to string me along but ultimately never paid off satisfactorily.

If you are watching for the first time, I implore you to stop right now and avoid that sour aftertaste. You have been warned!

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