Battlestar Galactica

“The Captain's Hand”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 2/17/2006
Written by Jeff Vlaming
Directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan

Review Text

After a number of episodes that have featured somewhat pedestrian fare (although "Scar" wasn't pedestrian; I just didn't quite buy the foundation and thus not the show), here at last is "The Captain's Hand," which is like an all-out, fully functioning, multi-tiered reminder of what Battlestar Galactica is really about. It's about (1) how things work on a battlestar, where sometimes a lot of people do not get along, and (2) how government and politics operate in the post-apocalyptic landscape. It's about people, and all their flaws, problems, strengths, grace under pressure, heroism, arrogance, gross incompetence, human compassion, human weakness, and twisted, conniving selfishness. It runs the gamut.

Take Commander Garner (John Heard), for example. In the wake of Cain's and Fisk's deaths, Adama has seen fit to promote him from chief of the Pegasus engine room to commander of the entire battlestar. It's very possible — and will be blatantly clear well before the end of the hour — that he's not up to the task. His command style is from a very different school of thought — a school of no flex. Down in the engine room, they were blue-collar guys who didn't get cut any slack, because if the engines didn't work, the ship wouldn't go. Garner is not planning to cut anybody any slack now that he's in charge, particularly not from a pain-in-the-ass prima donna like Starbuck, who has been assigned to Pegasus to train pilots.

Lee, freshly released from sickbay (seemingly directly into Dualla's bed) after nearly a month since the events of "Sacrifice," is dispatched to the Pegasus with a promotion to major. He's the XO, but is sent partially to ease the tensions between Commander Garner and Captain Thrace. With Garner, it's always Captain Thrace. It's never Starbuck.

Meanwhile, Lee and Kara are on cold terms. Very cold. I don't know what happened in the month between "Sacrifice" and "The Captain's Hand," but there's a black cloud hanging over everything, no doubt stemming from Kara's accidental shooting of Lee. They have not dealt with it. If they have, they've dealt with it badly.

When two Pegasus Raptors and their crews go missing, personal issues must be set aside and a search mission ensues. This is easier said than done. Kara has pissed off Garner one times too many and he's had it with her. She's spent all her credibility and can't earn it back, and when she has a theory into the disappearance of the Raptors (that it's a Cylon trap), he dismisses it out of hand.

John Heard is convincing as a man whose career path did not teach him how to effectively handle interpersonal conflict. Oh, he can certainly stand his ground and be authoritative — no doubt about that — and will gladly have a loud argument in front of the crew where he wins simply because he's in command. But he shows zero flexibility and little competence when it comes to the big picture, which is ultimately his undoing. It leads him to blindly follow his narrow path, even against Admiral Adama's orders. (My one complaint of the episode is that Garner seems too transparent in his obstinacy for Adama not have seen red flags before selecting him.)

This makes for some energized and entertaining scenes where the characters go after each other with verbal back-and-forth. Garner is not above publicly haranguing his officers, and eventually there comes a turning point where it looks like Garner is going to jump the ship right into the middle of a Cylon trap and get everyone killed. Lee steps up to relieve Garner under regulations. He fails. I was intrigued by the notion that he fails partially because he's perceived not as a member of the crew, but an outsider from "the Bucket." (Pegasus is "the Beast.")

Garner jumps the ship, it is a trap, and in an instant the ship is surrounded by base stars, besieged, attacked, and crippled. The swiftness of these events is jarring and effective, a reminder that this series doesn't much screw around. But I also was intrigued by how the story displays heroism even alongside gross error. Garner's command incompetence puts the Pegasus in a terrible spot, but once Garner realizes he's wrong, he cedes command to Lee and goes below decks where he can have a positive influence — in the engine room, where he ultimately sacrifices his life to save the ship. Later, Lee's debriefing to Adama sums up Garner nicely (if charitably): "He was used to dealing with machines. Command is about people." Further proof that the show is not afraid of changing things up: By the end of the episode, Lee is given permanent command of the Pegasus.

There's another storyline here, where a girl stows away in a cargo container and it's learned that she came to Galactica to discreetly seek an abortion from Dr. Cottle. In our current political world, abortion is possibly one of the most controversial and divisive of subjects, and it seems not much different in the Galactica world. What I find fascinating, however, is the way the story uses abortion as an issue not to mirror our own world for allegorical purposes, but as a political story specific to Galactica's world, and thus with different priorities.

Roslin is pro-choice. But given the reality of the human race's situation, she now has to reconsider that position. Adama reminds Roslin of what she herself said in the miniseries: If the human race is going to survive, it's going to have to start having babies. Abortion is quite simply counter to that goal. It's not about belief systems or moral righteousness; it's about simple pragmatic logic, and there's something about the notion of logical truth overriding assumed belief that I find appealing. Roslin doesn't want to ban abortion, but logic suggests that she must. Her struggle gets no easier when she goes to Baltar for reasoned analysis and he tells her that based on current trends the human race will be extinct in 18 years. Yikes. Against all her own previous instincts, Roslin bans abortion, with likely large political repercussions. This is provocative, hot-button material, handled in an original way.

And yet this is still an episode that slows down for the character touches. Perhaps my favorite is where Roslin, sitting in the middle of her chaotic campaign headquarters, stops to look at a picture of her and Billy and — here's the key part — smiles. Her reaction shot is not one of pained grief (which would've also worked but been more obvious) but of fond memories. It's the kind of moment you get when you have actors, directors, and editors with good instincts.

We've also got Baltar being counseled by Zarek, with all it's Machiavellian undercurrents. Zarek has too much baggage to run against Roslin in the presidential election, and suggests Baltar do it instead. The double-reverse Baltar pulls in the final minute of the show — announcing his candidacy because he can't side with Roslin on the abortion issue — is wonderfully sneaky.

And the Kara/Lee interplay is also a pleasure to watch unfold. Although I initially felt a bit lost because so much time is missing between "Sacrifice" and "The Captain's Hand," watching the Kara/Lee coldness is painful to watch, and when they finally make up at the end, it's surprisingly affecting. The cuteness and timing of Lee's line, "You have a brain?" is perfect. They may get pissed off at each other, but you can see these two people really care about each other.

And that's why this episode works. It's about people and decisions and relationships. It's not about "plot" even though it has one, and a good one.

Previous episode: Sacrifice
Next episode: Downloaded

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

55 comments on this post

    re-watching the series came across this episode.

    good episode...I think Adama's decision to put Garner in command was hasty at best, same with his decision in that one episode to name a new CAG without Tigh knowing who he had in mind all along. and we saw how that went...same with Garner.

    regarding the sub-plot: I know this show wanted to be political, but at it's heart, it is AT BEST ludicrous to believe that with the fate of humanity in the balance and only 49k survivors, that abortion would remain legal. I see the tortured soul-searching going on here with Roslin and the Gemenese leader and I just found it contrived.

    they become such caricatures here: Roslin as the aggrieved protector of freedoms, who went on record with Adama in the miniseries that they needed to start having babies... and the religious conservative, portrayed as nothing but an asshole.

    regarding the sub-plot: I know this show wanted to be political, but at it's heart, it is AT BEST ludicrous to believe that with the fate of humanity in the balance and only 49k survivors, that abortion would remain legal. I see the tortured soul-searching going on here with Roslin and the Gemenese leader and I just found it contrived.

    Funny, I found in contrived in the other direction. With humanity crammed in overcrowded ships, resources so scarce they're rationed and no end in sight until they find a planet to settle it would be stupid to want a positive growth rate, let alone a high one.

    Once we're introduced to a douchebag character like Garner there are two options. He either redeems himself through sacrifice or he dies cowardly. The writers chose to sacrifice him this time, whatever. Also, the contrived Dee-Lee(go cubs!) romance continues to annoy me.

    I would say Adama's decision to promote Garner came just as fast as this week's "Previously on Battlestar Galactica" would let him. ;-) I wonder where this could have fit into actual "previously" episodes. Sadly the tendency to add needed information into the previouslies didn't end here.

    I'm glad Derek posted that comment, because I was starting to think my memory must be suffering.

    With this episode I felt like the writers were back from vacation and we were back on track. I hope I'm right.

    And it's always good to see John Heard. I've always found him to be an interesting actor. Beneath what first appears to be a bland, Joe Six-pack face, you sense something more complex going on, something a little twitchy.

    Jammer, I know your reviews are all written and done, and I love them for the in-depth thought and observations that I miss, but... I started watching BSG (and start watching any interesting TV series) based on it's unique premise and creativity. I get addicted because of romance, sexual tension, and love triangles. I'm always so bitterly disappointed when I finish an episode and run to my computer to see "what did that MEAN?" and you don't even mention whatever glance or pregnant pause that has me in a tither.

    I am sick of the Dee/Lee romance though. I'm not sure I trust her, Dualla's character hasn't been well developed. I want the confusing Kara-Lee relationship further explored. Well, I want to explore Lee. Kara's an awesome character, I'll let the writers and cameras do that.

    Who would want to be the Commander of the Pegasus? 3 down from 3.

    Putting Tigh in as commander of the Pegasus would have been a more practical solution than Garner - or maybe it was a political decision to choose someone from within Pegasus to contain dissent despite their ability?

    Definitely the best episode since "Resurrection Ship Part 2". I completely disagree with Roslin's decision to ban abortion. Yes, the human race needs to survive, and of course they should try to discourage abortion and provide incentives to couples who decide to have children. But to quote Adama, "it's not enough to survive. One has to be worthy of surviving", and the human race isn't worthy of surviving if it deprives its women of the right to choose. That being said, the episode was not 'offensive', it showed both sides fairly and I'm interested to see how things turn out. Though it's kind of obvious Baltar was lying about his projections.

    Dualla/Lee: Yuck. Just yuck. Did she even mourn Billy? This couple has zero chemistry.

    Starbuck/Lee: For the whole episode I wondered if he knew that she was the one who shot him. Here are two characters who are not necessarily in love, but are closer than they ever could be with any one else. I like that.

    Roslin's declaration that "I have fought for a woman's right to control her body my entire career" caused me to burst out laughing, because only four episodes ago the President was determined to terminate Sharon's pregnancy very much against the latter's will. (She was so determined to deny Sharon's right to control her body that she issued the order from her presumed deathbed, and for reasons that weren't explained particularly well.)

    The abortion subplot doesn't make for good drama, because the central moral issue Roslin wrestles with is incomprehensible to anyone who is already anti-abortion. This is beneath BSG, which in the past has been able to make compelling arguments for two diametrically opposing views of a given situation; here, it just assumes that the audience is pro-choice and presents Roslin's problem accordingly. It's especially ludicrous to imagine any leader wanting to draw this particular line in the sand in the fleet's current situation, with humanity on the brink of going out forever.

    Meanwhile, Dee's character takes a huge hit over her apparent non-reaction to the death of Billy. In episode running time, she shows up in bed with Lee approximately ten minutes after poor Billy dies saving her life, and in that time there's been no indication that she's spent any time at all mourning him (even as Billy's memory remains very much in Roslin's thoughts).

    The clumsy, careless handling of both Roslin and Dee in this episode damages the credibility of both characters and, in my opinion, keeps "The Hand of God" well below the 3.5 stars Jammer awarded it.

    When Lee got up out of the bunk in the beginning, he did mention that it had been a month since he was shot. Maybe that's still not long enough under normal circumstances (although I feel it was made obvious in previous episodes that Billy was losing her affections) but in an existence where you have a high risk of any day being your last, I can believe her hooking up with Lee that quickly. You only have one life and in the world of BSG, there's not much else to look forward to than companionship.

    Oh goodness, Lee and Dee... - revolting.

    Re abortion, I do not accept the matter being one of a woman choosing what to do with her body. The fetus--which I do not accept as constituting a person--was not her and her alone creation; therefore, the decision of what to do with it should not be hers and hers alone.

    At any rate, I do not see the usual arguments in favor of abortion, such as poverty or inability to cope, holding water here. Since the Fleet is perforce a tightly-knit community, an unwilling or unable mother is never on her own.

    Given the precariousness of the human race, mandating that personal convenience should not come before the survival of the species, under penalty of law, is the logical choice; excluding, of course, incest as well as--in my view--confirmed deformities or disabilities.

    And lastly: Roslin vs. Baltar? I think I'll intentionally invalidate my ballot.

    @Dan : There is a contradiction in Roslin's character, and I believe it to be a purposeful one. Sharon is not a woman to her, she is a machine carrying a weapon its belly (or at least, that's how she saw her at the time of "Epiphanies"). It's the same kind of contradiction one sees in pro-lifers who support capitol punishment.

    The cleverness of the sub-plot here (although I consider it to be of far greater importance than the cast off plot of endless promotions) is that in our world today, the exact opposite is true of "Galactica"'s; abortions may be an unsettling but necessary measure in order that the planet not be choked out of its ability to support human life.

    @Arkalen : The point is the population needs to start expanding its youngest generation before the breeding-aged become to old to reproduce and parent; babies consume far less energy and resources than grown adults, the oldest of whom are on their way out quickly enough.

    @Elliott: "[A]bortions may be an unsettling but necessary measure in order that the planet not be choked out of its ability to support human life."

    Oh boy... Look, I'm not "pro-life," but I think the way to maintain or even reduce the global human population is not to hump around with all and sundry and then go aborting the resultant fetuses, but to educate the populace on contraception and to actively promote small families. With that in mind, we shouldn't be encouraging abortions; we should be exerting pressure on the Arabs, Africans and Indians to quit breeding like rabbits.

    BTW, I'm pro-capital punishment (which is, incidentally, another "measure [for] the planet not be choked out of its ability to support human life"), and though I'm not "pro-life," you will find that the key difference between "pro-life" and "pro-death penalty" is that the former is an innocent life (insofar as one accepted that the fetus constitutes life), whereas the latter is NOT. I hardly find wanting to protect innocent "life" contradictory vis-a-vis wanting to terminate the life of a repugnant criminal.

    Thanks for this! I consider myself a huge Eight fan and a big Roslin disliker, especially for Roslin's mistreatment of Athena. And I missed the giant irony of Roslin ordering a forced abortion on Athena and Helo while saying later in The Captain's Hand: "I fought for a woman's right to control her body my entire career"
    Roslin's duplicity and hubris is truly impressive! I can't believe I missed it, thank you for noticing and posting. I'll add it to my anti-President "Dictator-for-Life" Roslin arsenal! :)

    Elliott said:
    "Sharon is not a woman to [Roslin], she is a machine carrying a weapon its belly (or at least, that's how she saw her at the time of "Epiphanies")."
    While this may be Roslin's "logic" I think it's completely false. Where was the evidence for the danger of Athena's fetus? Where there signals coming from her womb possibly going to a Basestar? Where there fetal developments, like an Alien, visible in scans? No, it was just Roslin's belief that Hera's birth would be terrible for the fleet and the President doesn't have to explain her or his self to anyone, not the press, not the military, not even the voters. Also, Roslin's "logic" could apply to a regular Human fetus which could grow up to be a murderer or an awful Stalin-like leader. (sarcasm mode on) Why wasn't she willy-nilly commanding forced abortions of all Human women or at least the "shady" ones who deserve it? (sarcasm mode off)

    Michael said:
    "Re abortion, I do not accept the matter being one of a woman choosing what to do with her body. The fetus … was not her and her alone creation; therefore, the decision of what to do with it should not be hers and hers alone."
    I at least agree with part of your statement along with an addendum: the decision on what to do with a fetus - allow birth or aborted it - should have a small input from the man who impregnated the woman. But, the woman in this case is the final vote to give birth or abort, the man is just an adviser albeit an important one that we hope is in unison with the woman's desires. The fetus is part of the woman, it's her body, and the decision is ultimately hers and not someone else in a government or, much more common, religious capacity. I think the vast majority of pro-life folks and almost all the activists have their abortion position 100% driven by their religion. Why should their religion guide a particular woman's decision?

    Michael said:
    "... is the logical choice; excluding, of course, incest as well as--in my view--confirmed deformities or disabilities."
    This sounds a lot like eugenics which is probably rated as low as genocide as approaches to the world goes. I think that with a population of 40k-50k, the decision to abort or not should be up to the women even if the fetus will have a very bad disability, like Sickle Cell. But I think that virtually every potential mother would choose to abort in these circumstances once it was explained about the short pain filled life the child will have and the lack of meds/facilities in the fleet for a severely disabled kid.

    Michael said:
    "... we should be exerting pressure on the Arabs, Africans and Indians to quit breeding like rabbits."
    This is a patently racist statement and it's factually incorrect. Fertility rates are primarily driven up by low education and low income with conservative religious belief being a big accelerator. In the United States among whites, the highest fertility rates are in Utah and other conservative religious states. Israel’s Ultra-Orthodox community has a sky high birth rate. In the United States (and abroad) we have the ultra-fundamentalist “Quiverfull” movement that is predominantly white and strives to have as many children as possible. In Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia THERE ARE big education programs and free or very cheap contraception. Of course, conservative U.S. governments do everything they can to thwart the education and contraception available in the U.S. and abroad primarily due to conservative politicians seeking the support of fundamentalist Christian constituents. Please reconsider your beliefs regarding fertility and race Michael.

    With the survival of the race at stake and having to contend with extremely limited resources, disproportionately expending those meager resources on individuals who would be unable to materially contribute to the society is reckless, at best. Yes, you could argue that someone with a horrible physical or mental deformity could nonetheless turn out to be a Beethoven or Hawking, but that is a long-shot. This is not a theoretical scenario to which we can apply lofty college sociology and ethics 101 principles. War is ugly business, and in a war of survival legal and ethical niceties go out the window. You may not like it, but that's the reality.

    As far as "racism," I only accept the existence of the human race. We can be subdivided into ethnicities (even though these are of very limited use), cultures, etc. Arabs, Africans and Indians do breed like rabbits. African Americans don't. That is a statement of fact, and there's nothing racist about it. They don't do it because of their so-called ethnicity, but mostly out of the reasons you correctly adduced: Poverty and lack of education. I will also add that Utah residents are hardly the primary cause of global overpopulation; the groups stated above are.

    Further, overpopulation is not caused by "conservative politicians" but by the people doing the overpopulating who are -- in many cases -- egged on by various religious (and NOT fundamentalist Christian) leaders to do precisely that. They also do it out of boredom, out of a misogynistic mindset, out of despair, and out of a plethora of other reasons.

    Hi Michael, I'm glad you responded. I agree very strongly with you that we Humans are all of the same species, Homo Sapiens. I believe the word "race" when applied to Humans is at best scientifically controversial and at worst is a European convention invented during the Age of Discovery to justify the massive wealth transfer from the Americas, Africa, and Asia to Europe which incidentally killed huge portions of those plundered lands. I recall EJO saying this at the BSG panel at the UN, he's a very intense defender of indigenous, weak, and poor peoples - he's a good guy. [see the bottom of this comment for EJO’s quote]

    But [you knew a but was coming! :)] many people who argue "we have no race" use that to follow up stereotyping, mean, and sometimes untrue statements. Stephen Colbert frequently lampoons this fallacy on his show when he interviews noted civil rights leaders and thinkers saying "I don't see race, our society is beyond that." Of course he'd satirizing and criticizing this approach that is almost always taken by a white person whose knee jerk response to an accusation of racism is "I don't see race!" So while I agree that technically there isn't "race" I very much try to use that to bring people together regardless of appearance, ethnicity, geography, and language. Many people (and I'm not insisting you do this) take this "no race" idea to inoculate them from criticism for bigoted and discriminatory ideas and actions.

    My point about Utah and Ultra-Orthodox Jews is that high fertility rates are not dependent on being members of the groups you listed but by a combination of education, poverty, and religion (in these cases, religion). Also, I didn't say overpopulation was caused by conservative politicians in the US but they do try their best to limit family planning both in the US and abroad. This certainly raises fertility rates.

    Lastly, your again saying 3 groups of people comprising about 36% of the world's population "breed" and don't reproduce, have kids, or whatever is offensive. It takes about 2.5 billion people and says they are more like non-Human animals which breed, not people or persons who have families. Also, saying these people having lots of kids makes them like "rabbits" is again dehumanizing. I wonder what the many, many brilliant scholars, religious teachers, mothers, writers, scientists, nurses, teachers etc from the Arab, African, and Indian peoples would think of this, what did they do to deserve this grouping? And for the uneducated, impoverished who have large families for the wrong reasons, should we reacted with dehumanizing, cruel comments?

    These sorts of demeaning stereotypes are not only hurtful to many/all of the 2.5 billion people you're referring to but it also has an insidious effect on people not from those groups. By creating distance between "us" and "them" it becomes easier and easier to treat "them" as something less than Human. We Humans should all be "us" and treated with empathy and compassion ... at least until we have a Cylon Humanoid issue to contend with! :)

    PS – Jammer: thanks again for your great reviews and site! Plus, thanks for indulging me on an almost completely off topic; I will get back on topic from now on!

    PPS – I found a transcript of Edward James Olmos talking about “race” at the U.N. :
    I still find it incredible that we still use the term race as a cultural determinant. To this day, you should have never invited me here because I detest what we’ve done to ourselves out of a need to make ourselves different from one another we’ve made the word race a way of expressing culture. There’s no such thing and all you high school students bless your heart for being here. You are a hundred champions right now that are going to go out understanding this. The adults in the room will never understand it. Even though they’ll nod their heads and say you’re right they’ll never be able to stop using the word race as a cultural determinant. I just heard one of the most prolific statements done by one of the great humanitarians. He’s really trying to organize and bring us all together and he used the word race as if there is a Latino race an Asian race, Indigenous race, Caucasian race or a Latino race. There is no such thing as a Latino race, there never has been, there never has been. There never will be. There is only one race and that is what the show brought out. That is the human race period. Now the pressure comes, why did we start to use the word race as a cultural determinant? The truth is that over six hundred years ago the Caucasian race decided to use it as a cultural determinant so it would be easier for them to kill another culture. That was the total understanding, to kill one culture from another culture. You couldn’t kill your own race so you had to make them the “other” and you to this day I’ve spent thirty-seven years of my adult life trying to get this word out and now I am done and well prepared as the admiral of the Battlestar Galactica to say it to all of you, there is but one race that is it. So say we all. So say we all. So say we all.

    Look, I won't engage in protracted discussions, as time doesn't permit, but I'll this much.

    I'm a Jew (Israeli, among other things, and Zionist); my other half is an Arab (Kuwaiti, Muslim). To me, "race" truly does not exist. If I had it my way, nations, nationalities, religions, and even cultures and languages wouldn't exist. Yes, I'm a globalist and a humanist. Some would call me a horseman of an ominous New World Order. (Bull.)

    Having said that, there ARE clearly identifiable groups of people. How you group them is up to you; use any existing demographic, or generate your own. And some of those groups evidence some common characteristics. Pretending otherwise is not a sign of "enlightened" thought or anti-racist; it's disingenuous and foolish. Moreover, it is every bit as bigoted as the other side of the coin, to wit, that one "race" is superior to another. Yes, there are exceptions, but exceptions prove rules. There is by and large nothing wrong with generalizing.

    With that in mind, I restate: Africans, Arabs, and Indians are the principal causes and locomotors of global overpopulation, which will pretty soon come to bite ALL of us in our collective derriere. The reason is that they do not exercise self-control, whether it be due to ignorance, poverty, ennui, religion, or some other factor. Bringing kids wantonly into the world without thought for their welfare does not merely constitute breeding, in the sense of following a, yes, animalistic instinct to procreate. That is the mildest of descriptions. AFAIC, a priori condemning someone to a life of penury, disease and misery because you can't keep your willie in your pants amounts to a crime, even a crime against humanity. If such a description "offends" someone, they are cordially invited to BITE ME.

    "Sorry," but there is no need to tread on eggshells, lambaste conservative U.S. politicians, or relativize responsibility (q.v. Utah Mormons or the 7aredim), when the blame can be put squarely on those not using their heads... - well, the one on their shoulders, at any rate.

    You don't want to be described as "breeding" like a "rabbit"? Then don't.

    Anyway, don't take any of this personally. None of it matters in the grand scheme of things :)


    You're right that Roslin's reasoning is faulty in that there is no direct evidence that Sharon's baby would be a threat--however, there is circumstantial evidence given the other Sharon model (Boomer), in spite of not wanting to be anything other than a good and loyal human officer, was programmed to kill Adama, and was compelled by her very nature as a programmable machine to attempt it. It's not unreasonable to assume that even if a Cylon didn't have a personal agenda against humanity, he/she could still be a threat by technological means.

    More importantly, I don't agree with Roslin or like her desire to abort the baby any more than you do--but it was well written into her character and into the show. If someone like Helo or Billy or Kara had made the call, it would be different--out of character and unjustifiable.

    I'm truly stunned by all the "I like this person but not this one, so when this one does something, I like it, but when this one does not, I HATE it"...etc... There are few characters in this series whom I would call "heroic" through and through and defensible as mostly "good" people: Helo, Athena, Billy and the angels...[shh that was a spoiler].

    Now that Lee is Commander that means the show cannot ignore Pegasus. Good.

    I don't know what endless debate went on here regarding abortion and I don't really care. But, the in-Galactica-universe solution of outlawing abortion is pretty much a no-brainer. They should also legalize polygamy. The human race needs babies and lots of them. It also needs a healthy gene pool and the first law of genetics is to spread the genes apart. Therefore, multiple sex partners for all. Free love, man...

    So, Dualla's old flirt, Billy, is shot saving her ass... and one episode later she in the bed with Lee... How cheap!

    Hi Elliott, good comments, thanks. But I didn't understand this part:

    Elliott said: "I'm truly stunned by all the "I like this person but not this one, so when this one does something, I like it, but when this one does not, I HATE it"...etc..."

    Not sure if that's for me but I'll take a shot at a response anyway.

    I do like some characters more than others; I look forward to seeing Eights, Tigh, Cottle, Romo, Helo, Leoben, Doral, Baltar, etc. While I don't like Starbuck or Roslin (2 examples) so much and am not as interested in seeing them come up, I know they're integral parts of the series and can't imagine the show without them. Plus they both have some enjoyable/moving scenes. When Athena does something controversial, e.g. at the end of a season 4.0 episode, I'll tend towards explanations/rationalizations or simply irrational defensiveness. Roslin yields an opposite bias: when she does something controversial it's more likely to make me jump to criticism and anger.

    It's sort of a chicken and the egg thing. Do I have a pro/against bias to start and does that make my judgements either like or HATE? Or, do I develop the biases based on the character actions in the mini/s1 and then in s2 onwards do I then have the like/HATE magnifiers in effect? I think (hope!) the latter. I don't mind being biased but I hope I develop those character biases for fair reasons, at least fair to me.

    Elliott said: "There are few characters in this series whom I would call "heroic" through and through and defensible as mostly "good" people: Helo, Athena, Billy and the angels...[shh that was a spoiler]."

    I couldn't agree more! What a messy, grey set of players, very un-Star-Trek-like where Worf, Ensign Roe and Paris are the wild, nutty, edgy characters. But even Roe's nuttiness can't touch Lee putting a gun to Tigh's head or Roslin subordinating mutiny with Adama's top pilot in s1. BSG is dark and complicated ... but it's all the better for it.

    Calling out Helo (only one controversy and that was him being high minded) and Athena (I plead temporary insanity for her one debatable action) is right on the money - those were the closest heroic, clean characters that span the series. And even they aren't simplistic characters, quite the opposite, I think Athena is one of the two most complicated characters (Boomer is the other for me). Great job by Moore & Co. making an interesting range of complicated characters.

    @Zane314 -

    Hi Zane!

    The comment wasn't adressed to you specifically...let me be totally clear: I love a good villain. When Shylock or Hagen or Saruman or Darth Vader make their appearances, I am pleased in spite of the fact that as people I might find them abhorrant. That's my point: dramatic characters can't be hated unless they fail to fulfil their dramatic obligations. I hate weak characters (like Gaeta)--weak as in failing dramatically--not characters whom, as real people, I might actually feel hatred for in my own life. I would detest a man like Tigh in almost every sense, but he is so perfectly utilised in the show that I love his character. Does that make sense?

    SIgning off.

    "Athena"??? Would you guys PLEASE quit dropping spoilers? Jammer has said it enough times already - how come nobody listens to him?

    I am watching this series for the first time. Nowhere in the show to date has anyone ever called Helo's Sharon "Athena". I can only assume that this happens in a show down the line, and that's a major spoiler because it means Sharon turns out to be a god of some sort. So come on people! Give me a break, will ya? Stop it with the spoilers already!

    Yeah, I know... If I don't like the spoilers, then I shouldn't read the comments. But 99% of the time, I very much enjoy reading the comments. There's a lot of good conversation here. It's only when people start dropping the spoiler bombs that I start getting annoyed.

    Okay, now that I've gotten that out of my system...

    Jammer, I've read all of your BSG reviews so far, and I enjoy them greatly. Thank you for the great work you've done here!

    After 2 or 3 very crappy (IMO) episodes, I felt that this episode was a refreshing return to form. I was starting to wonder about this show. Seemed like it was really going off the rails to me. But this episode brought things back into line, for the most part.

    I too find the Dee / Lee relationship to be annoying. No chemistry there whatsoever. And the transition from Billy's death is very poorly written. I thought that Dee and Billy were much more believable as a couple. I understand the actor who plays Billy had to leave the show, but the whole Dee and Lee thing just doesn't work.

    I haven't been too impressed with how the writers have handled the Pegasus since Admiral Cain's untimely - er - *departure*. First, they off Fisk, an officer who was sympathetic and complex and had the potential to be a great character on the show. Then they kill off Scotty... I mean, Garner. Who had to go down to the engine room because, "There's Cylon's off the starboard bow and she canna take much more, Captain!"

    So 3 Pegasus officers down. (4 if you include Thorne, who was apparently highly regarded.) At this point, if I were a Pegasus crewman, I would be starting to have some SERIOUS reservations about "Admiral" Adama and the whole batch of new leadership. There could even be a conspiracy to mutiny brewing.

    And what does Adama do about this? Probably the stupidest thing the man could do, under the circumstances. He promotes his SON to lead the Pegasus. There it, folks. I would say "Cronyism at its finest", except that it's far worse than that. We're talking Nepotism here, perpetrated by a man who already wields an alarming amount of power. I wish Lee had shown the integrity of previous episodes, and turned down the command outright.

    And what does Colonel Tigh think of all this? Maybe Adama already discussed it with him in his annual review.

    For the most part, BSG follows an internal logic that is very consistent. But sometimes, it loses me. The Pegasus story arc (so far) is one of those times. I think in a real fleet, the moment Cain was gone, Adama would move to the Pegasus and assume command of it. He would put Tigh in charge of the Galactica. I don't see any other logical way to maintain control, and I don't know why this wasn't done from the start.

    Sure, Tigh is a lousy officer when he's top dog, but he's very good as a right-hand man. Which is what he still would have been, with Adama commanding the Pegasus directly. Commanding the Pegasus would be the only way to reprogram those people with Adama's values, and integrate them into the rest of the fleet's culture. I just don't get it.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed a "previously on Battlestar Galactica" moment that never actually happened. Thought I was going senile there!

    (Note: I've noticed that many times in the "previously" scenes, they show alternate takes from what was actually shown. There was one that was particularly egregious. ("Kobol's Last Gleaming", I think?) That was the episode where Starbuck confessed to her role in Lee's brother's death. In the actual episode, she says, "And IT killed him." In the "previously" scene, she says, "I killed him." BIG difference!)

    I'm avoiding the whole abortion debate here. Same as the whole torture argument, you guys went off the rails here. You're not going to change someone else's mind on the subject by arguing. Especially not in an internet forum.

    One last thing about this episode. If I recall correctly, someone mentions - yet again - that Sharon (NOT "Athena - give me a break, people!) is "just a machine". That whole "machine" argument is getting on my nerves. It is quite obvious to anyone with any sort of brain whatsoever that the humanoid Cylons are NOT machines per se. You can call them a clone, a copy, a simulant, a replicant, an artificial humanoid, a bio-engineered cybernetic creature, or whatever... But to insist on calling them a "machine" borders on stupid.

    I could see calling them a machine when nothing was known about them. But after doing scans and blood tests and finding that their body is virtually identical to a human being's, continuing to call such an organism a "machine" is just dumb. Actually, what it is is lousy writing. Despite the facts, the writers are intentionally and heavy-handedly continuing to have characters call these things "machines". Why? I don't know. To dehumanize them in order to create drama, I suppose.

    P.S. On Roslin's actions on the show, two things baffled me:

    1. So the President can just outlaw this or that, no questions asked? Just what kind of government are we running here? What is the point of having the Quorum of 12 when apparently, Roslin acts as the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branch, all in one?

    2. Why in the world did Roslin outlaw abortion AFTER the girl had one? Didn't that kind of defeat the entire purpose of why they were arguing about it in the first place? Points scored for the pro-choice writers, apparently. But it didn't make much sense.

    I would have liked to have seen someone have a calm sit down with the girl explaining the current state of the race and the future demographic outlook. Discuss with her the options of having the child and then giving it up to foster care, or how the community would give her aid in raising it if she changed her mind. In other words, educate the individual about her choices and stakes she may not be aware of.

    I disagree with abortion laws, pro or con. I disagree with pretty much all ways that governments politicize everything into issues. We should be free to make any decision regarding our own lives on our own. As such I would have liked that little chat I wanted to have been between the girl and her doctor. If she still wanted an abortion, very well - if not, very well.

    Very well either way because she would have made an educated decision for herself. Good on her. As is, she is portrayed as a scared girl who wants this thing out of her (though I wonder, then, why she keeps affectionately stroking her tummy). Perhaps she already knew her options and the overall outlook, perhaps not. Perhaps she was just regretting spending one night with a handsome Viper pilot. We will never know. The show dehumanized her, just using her to score political points - just like governments do today.

    Anyway, not a bad episode. Last few had been so bad that I took a several month hiatus from watching it but, now I return.

    The Pegasus is a higher tech ship than the Galactica. Does anybody know why it's computers are immune to Cylon attack? It was very clear in the miniseries that the Cylons simply disabled the battlestars computers before dealing with them, and Galacticas immunity and that of the old Vipers have been major plot points. What's the story with Pegasus?

    @J: Galactica's computers weren't networked, which is why they were immune. It's not that the computers were simply older.

    Presumably, the Pegasus crew figured this out at some point and didn't network its computers.

    May I suggest a different take on the Lee/Dualla dynamic?

    While I agree with Jammer and most of you that their relationship just does not work, maybe it's supposed to be that way. Not only is there the established reasoning(Lee is her superior; their relationship is not allowed under Fleet regs), there's also the severe baggage both these characters carry into this coupling. These are both emotionally damaged people: Lee feeling his beliefs being abandoned by those around him(see Ressurection Ship part II) and Dualla's fractured(and unresolvable) relationship with her father. I see both these characters as only using each other as coping mechanisms for their deeper issues and that their relationship is meant to look awkward based on this faulty basis for said relationship.

    Now future episodes may prove me to be dead wrong(I hope not), but from what I've seen so far the writers have earned my respect and I hope this doesn't prove to be another contrived TV relationship just used to show off two attractive actors.

    The Garner heroic conclusion was too predictable and too clean. I don't mind that he became a hero in fixing the FTL, but I just don't like the way he died. My preference would've been him being court marshaled despite his heroism. And maybe he could have been sent back as a chief mechanic after a stint in the brig.
    All the discussions about abortion just became too spidery for me. I don't mind discussing political hot button issues and religion in the BSG universe, but I don't like it when people try to migrate the discussion back to real life.

    @clint Athena was Sharon's call sign from very early on. When she would fly with crashdown he'd frequently call her athena


    Boomer was the call sign for the Sharon that flew with Crashdown and he called her Boomer not Athena. The one Helo met on Caprica is another Sharon but she's not Boomer, and who I refer to as Caprica Sharon. Let's not confuse the two.

    Every single episode has Michael spewing some moronic, racist, uber-right wing bile.

    How predictable that sooner or later some college freshman who thinks he has the wisdom of the world in his pinkie finger should come along, projecting his own bigotry onto me, betraying his own and actual racism, and deploying the archetypal juvenile tactic of cryptofascists: slurring one's opponent.

    If this was a synchronous type of a forum, especially out in public, "Trent" would be screaming me down so I didn't even have a chance to put forward my point of view.

    All the while, he is *genuinely* convinced, without a hint of irony or self-awareness, that he is tolerant, enlightened, open-minded, and a progressive thinker.


    I too think that the subplot is rather ludicrous - when our survival as a species is at stake, personal liberties will have to be limited. And before it's brought up - I wouldn't compare it to something like Patriot Act - humanity is, after all, at the brink of total extinction.

    It has been brought up that "it's not enough to survive. One has to be worthy of surviving". If that's the case, would be worthy of surviving if we'd put our individual needs before the survival of the whole species?

    What makes it even more of a non-issue is that I imagine the child could very easily be given to a fleet-wide children crèche. Seeing that there's probably a lot of people without jobs to take care of them.

    This is why I found the whole dilemma rather hollow; it's transplanted directly from our world, with little thought given to it.

    Addendum: I'm pro-choice, because I believe that the state shouldn't dictate what to do either way; but in BSG's case, I really think there are other, more important considerations.

    Garner's sacrifice at the end felt like the end of The Wrath of Khan where Spock goes to the engine room and sacrifices himself

    Ok so here is the thing that is truly bothersome about how the whole abortion debacle. If Roslin or Adama are so worried about the human population dwindling, then maybe they should fucking stop executing people left and right.

    Or being so cavalier about human beings they are willing to sacrifice at every turn for "the greater good".

    Their pro life attitude is inconsistent and hypocritical because if logic necessitates that they have to rethink the way they do things in this apocalyptic world, then maybe that should apply to their "legal" system and how they dispense punishment as well. Maybe consider abolishing the death penalty.

    But no, we cant have that because then that would limit Adama and Roslin from being able to exercise their particular brand of justice as they deem necessary. I find it astonishing that the issue is not even looked at from this angle. The connection is nowhere drawn. Not even in later episodes where they put their own loyal crew members in front of a firing squad.

    Certainly if life matters, then the rationale should go both ways.

    So why go after abortion?

    Because it is an easier target.

    No one is gonna argue about the BEBES. The cute little innocent ones. And hey, what's denying a woman the right to her body if you need her to give up that autonomy so she can serve as a breeding machine for the dying human race. I mean isnt that why she is a woman? So she can birth out?

    Boy, oh boy, some people really hate babies, don't they, particularly when the babies come up against third-wave feminism... *rolls eyes*

    Firstly, the value and consequence of the lives of a middle-aged criminal--who, through his criminality, undermines the quality of the human race's future, which is already on a precipice--and that of an unborn baby are beyond any kind of a meaningful comparison.

    Secondly, it's hysterical there are still folks out there peddling that risible canard about abortion being about a woman's "right to her body." An embryo or fetus is in no way similar to an appendix or a toenail, even in the best of circumstances. With the future of humanity at stake though, where every body (especially young body) counts, tedious S.J.W. banalities are of no import whatsoever.

    But hey, let's not let any logic get in the way of the good old pro-life pro-death-penalty people are hypocrites folderol, shall we :)

    Wow Ellen, wow.

    One of the most emotional moments in the entire series for me was when Roslin went up to that VAP board erased the last number and then incremented it by one.

    The point is not that the life of a criminal is worth the same as the life of a fetus, the point is that if the rationale for wanting to ban abortion is that we are the LAST of the human race and we need to save as many as we can, that every human matters, then maybe that logic should be applied at all levels, not just when it comes to birthing out babies. If we are, literally, the last humans left, then maybe some thought should go into maybe reevaluating capital punishment. But they dont do that and that is hypocritical. If you are not going to apply that principle consistently then you are just picking and choosing and going after the lowest hanging fruit. As I said, who could say no to babies. Apparently I, even though I got a couple of my own.

    Not to mention that Roslin and Adama have been and will continue to have a gross disregard for life, human life, at every level anyway. This is not even talking about the civilian ship of more than 3000 or so people they just let be blown up "for the common good", but their punitive measures too. They later wanted to execute Baltar, a brilliant mind who was, at gun point, forced to do the bidding of the cylons, alleging he was a traitor who had a choice. They didnt even wanna give him a trial. In fact, Adama was ready to suspend the trial when Lee started asking his girlfriend some hard questions.

    Adama threatened to execute Tyrol's wife and baby during the worker revolt and because he was standing up for the abused and overworked slave laborers and wanted improved working conditions. Not to mention the vigilantes who, after Caparica Two, executed about a dozen people and got away with it. That's 12 humans less and it is debatable they were traitors. And even if they really were, a court of law should have determined so, not their private tribunal. And not with executions that they didnt even get a slap on the wrist for.

    And dont even get me started on putting Gaeta in front of a firing squad because he objected to selling out to the cylons. Now right or wrong, he was still a human being and a damn loyal one too. Yeah he engaged in mutiny, but if you can forgive the genocide of the human race and make friends with the murderers, maybe you can forgive Gaeta too. But no they couldnt casue Adama is an asshole.

    That said, I am not interested in discussing the merits of pro choice and abortion here on this forum. First of all that was not the main point of my argument (Adama and Roslin's hypocrisy was) and hey, if you dont like abortions pal, dont get them....

    Well, on reflection, you make a strong point. Use or threat of use of the death penalty was administered very capriciously and, apparently, disproportionately (although in such extreme circumstances there is quite some leeway allowed for disproportionality in order to achieve other objectives such as discipline). SO yes, the incidents you enumerate are quite absurd for the most part.

    That said, as a matter of principle, I contend that an existentially-imperiled humanity is stronger if the criminality within it is eliminated, including by executing the criminals, even if it results in lower population figures in the immediate aftermath.

    Thanks for the exchange and the well-argued reply.

    If they wanted to increase the birth rate, they could restructure the fleet around giving extra resources to couples who conceive and reducing workload for expectant mothers and trans fathers. Instead, they choose to endanger vulnerable people for the crime of being in a bad situation.

    Unless the plan is to load the newborn into a cannon and launch it immediately as ordnance, they will need a system to care for children. Rather than set one up, of course, they repeat the cycle of societies depending on the compulsory, unpaid labor of women.

    I've loved Star Wars since I was 8 years old. I've been a Trekkie for 16 years. When I got to college way back when, I was shocked to see how the sci-fi club was uniformly white supremacist and sexist. As I continue to rematch my favorite shows, it's less of a mystery. Sure, it's common for someone like Card, Heinlein or Berman to shill for their bigotry, or better yet, create a world without the people they hate, but that's not all that happens. Sometimes, even the best, most enlightened artists like Ron Moore have blind spots, and these can result in stories that end up supporting the Far Right. I am glad he wasn't personally involved in this one though.

    I will say that Jammer himself does a pretty good job of giving me hope for my beloved nerd community. These bloody comments do not.

    What is it with sci-fi these days being infested with conservative Christan, bigoted, misogynistic, mens-rights extemist, racist hacks? Not saying anyone in this comment section demonstrated all of the above here, though Michael, after looking at many of his comments, comes close.

    About the only thing I can say is people seem shocked the episode assumed viewers would be pro-choice. They were shocked the episode didn't "consider both sides fairly." Unfortunately it's 2018, a time of the old-guard's bigoted resurgence and where literal neo-Nazi's not only support American leaders but also decry people saying mean things about them. (The irony)

    To these people I suggest something they probably can't accept: The writers of this show didn't see abortion as a topic to show both sides of in a balanced manner. They, like most decent human begins, approached it from the collectively assumed "right" ground and debated the character going against that. You don't get mainstream shows trying to portray the holocaust as a debatable point where the Nazi's had good reasons. Same thing here.

    I take pleasure in the fact that ultimately it was Roslin's narrow-minded, cowardly decision to go after the low hanging fruit, after the easy targets and criminalize abortion that cost her the election. Of course it wasnt the only thing, Roslin is overall just an asshole with mostly bad ideas who only selectively obeys the laws and as she sees fit (see her trying to rig the election) and people eventually saw that. But this very act of her was undoubtedly a nail in the coffin.

    The part where Baltar invoked the cylons and how their lack of freedom is what makes them mere machines, puppets, and that he was not willing to let humanity go down that route. That was brilliant. He told people exactly what they needed to hear while Roslin was standing there with egg all over her face exposed as the autocrat that she and her boyfriend Adama really are at heart.

    Well played Gaias.

    And wise and beloved Gaius Baltar ruled for many years and the people were full of joy and the harvests plentiful.

    The end.

    This comment section is dumpster fire.

    People get executed for breaking laws and being unredeemable in the eyes of society. Yes, these are living people by the absolute numbers, but they are working contrary to the health of society. And when the human race is on the brink of extinction, it makes even MORE sense (not less) to remove undesirables who are putting the last remaining humans at risk. There is a big difference between executing a criminal and preserving the life of the unborn. One person made their choices, the other does not have a choice. These lives are not equivalent.

    I'm pro-choice but Roslyn's decision makes perfect sense and it actually sends a message loud and clear to anti-choicers: the only time we should really ever think about banning abortion is when the human race is about to go extinct. That is literally the only justification.

    The way this episode dealt with the issue of abortion was totally original and I loved it. It actually satisfied both type of viewer - pro-choice and anti-choice - without really alienating either. It was brilliant.

    Executing undesirables and threat to a healthy society are some of those phrases... hmmm... because the court system never makes mistakes and is not biased against the poor... :)

    And let's not look at the rap sheets of the ruling class in BSG because technically most of those should be in prison or get the chair.

    At this point in BSG's run, I feel it needs some new ideas or to get back to the quest to find Earth and its existential questions rather than minutiae of running the fleet. Yes, there are some notable moments here with Baltar opposing Roslin (sparked over abortion rights of all things) and Lee being put in charge of the Pegasus when it was so obvious the former commander (put in place by Adama would get killed).

    This episode just feels too contrived -- why not throw in the obviously divisive abortion issue to separate Baltar and Roslin. Baltar, ever the opportunist, had previously given Roslin a demographic update that humanity would be extinct in 18 years so she changes her stance on abortion as it relates to a stowaway from the religious world of Gemini. This whole subplot felt shoe-horned into a better subplot of a Cylon trap. But I guess BSG is trying to cover a fair amount of ground here.

    And it also seemed like Garner was deliberately being a hard-ass with Kara. We had no previous history between the 2 for reference. For once I'd like to see Kara have a normal episode where she doesn't get into a pissing match or be insubordinate. And now Lee who once put a gun to Tigh's head is a commander (started the show as a major). So there's a lot here that's quite fortuitous.

    Good line about command is about people and Garner was an engineer and thus he preferred dealing with machines (so to speak) -- but the episode is a touch predictable in making Lee succeed in command and Garner succeed with the machines at the cost of his life. Garner was made to look extremely rigid in command.

    And Baltar talks about taking away freedoms which is what he says would make humans more like Cylons -- if abortions are not allowed. There's a heavily flawed argument -- but we can understand that a fair number of the population would take this view just like our humanity and Baltar's all about the presidency now, while Roslin loses popularity for her change in stance. Also interesting how Baktar had a little conversation with Tom Zarek earlier...

    2.5 stars for "The Captain's Hand" -- BSG is in a slump for me. 5 straight sub-3* episodes since "Home, Part 2" though nothing worse than mediocre. Quite the episode for Lee who starts off sleeping with Dualla and now is commanding the Pegasus -- he used to be beneath Kara when "Ensign Ro" was around. Overall, this episode might have worked better for me if it came earlier in the series but I feel like I've seen too many episodes of its ilk now. Some good developments masked by the usual BSG fare.

    My thought is that using Roslin's and Adama's logic she should have ordered the forced impregnation of every female in the fleet and put the ones who refused to submit in chains tied to a birthing table.

    There is no difference between forced impregnation and forced pregnancy except it allows a cleaner conscience for the ones doing the forcing.

    At this point to me the fleet is no different than the former Pegasus commander who chose expediency over morality.

    Submit a comment

    ◄ Season Index