Battlestar Galactica

"Resurrection Ship, Part 1"

3 stars

Air date: 1/6/2006
Teleplay by Michael Rymer
Story by Anne Cofell Saunders
Directed by Michael Rymer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

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.

Previous episode: Pegasus
Next episode: Resurrection Ship, Part 2

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15 comments on this post

Wed, Nov 12, 2008, 5:28am (UTC -6)

Something that bothered me as I watch the Pegasus arc (I am currently watching all four seasons, just got them here in Iraq as a gift!) is why the President just does not come out and tell Adm. Cain that she IS the president and the chain stops with her, not Cain. If needed (like if Cain said, "So?") she could just relieve Cain. That bothered me because Cain is all about the chain of command but yet does not recoginze there is someone she has to answer to as well.
Mon, Jan 5, 2009, 10:29pm (UTC -6)
Problem is Cain would've either said "stfu" and gone back to Pegasus or made her own little coup. Whatever happens, it wouldn't be good.
Thu, Mar 5, 2009, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
Cain's idea of the chain of command stops short of her respecting any external authority. The war & near-extinction of the human race have put her on top of the food chain, making her and the Pegasus the perfect predators. This is evident in her little tantrum in "Pegasus", about how she's a flag officer on detached service in time of war. Which is a load of BS, as both the civilian authority and the remainder of the fleet are present at the time.

Anyway, an officer that has cannibalized the last civilian ships left in existence (to her knowledge) for spare parts isn't likely to relinquish her authority on the say so of any civilian leader.
Sun, May 15, 2011, 9:16pm (UTC -6)
I was a little sad to see that "imaginary" Six has gone back to her old shallow almost-naked self after showing genuine emotion in "Pegasus". Her scenes are so gratuitously exploitative that they seriously undermine the progressive issues the show is trying to deal with. And that's really too bad, because the show has such strong characters - Roslin, Thrace, Valerii - and "Pegasus" dealt with the psychological aftermath of rape better than any sci-fi show I have ever seen. It's a paradox!
Thu, Nov 17, 2011, 9:52am (UTC -6)
As many of you have said, this show is inconclusive, frustratingly so. We have unfinished business; we have to tie loose ends; that's what we're waiting for.

What's gotten into Roslin? She's grown a brain and a pair of balls, all in the space of a couple of shows. I'm actually beginning to like the old broad.

I await next part with bated breath. This is such an awesome show!!
Thu, Nov 17, 2011, 9:54am (UTC -6)
Are you still in Iraq? I'm just south of the border in Kuwait :D
Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 12:57pm (UTC -6)
Holy shit, how did it feel to watch this military dramatization IN the military IN a warzone? (assuming you guys are in the military). I would think it would be a little bit of an overload.
Mon, Dec 23, 2013, 10:02pm (UTC -6)
These cliffhangers are going to be the death of me. Wow I love this show. I'm glad we got to see some of the Pegasus crew shoe in regret and second thoughts about Cain, who is just plain evil. Cheers to Roslin for calling a thing a thing and saying we got to take out Cain.

Am I starting to see Adama and Roslin falling for each other? That's kinda sweet.

Can I just say, I hate how this show plays brief clips of the coming episode after the title credits. They stopped for a little while but then they brought it back. I don't need to see that even though the spoilers aren't massive. But still, I turn away while it plays.
Mon, Jan 13, 2014, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
"Is Cain crazy? No."

She had civilians killed for resisting her orders, killed her XO for disobeying her order to (stupidly) attack a superior force and believes that she can defeat all Cylon occupying forces and retake the 12 colonies (even though they are so radioactive as to be basically uninhabitable for any serious length of time).

Yes, she is very crazy. Read the Wikipedia page on psychopathy and she checks off lots of traits. A few of my favourite: Grandiose sense of self-worth, conning/manipulative, lack of remorse or guilt, callous/lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility for own actions, lack of realistic, long-term goals, impulsivity, fearlessness.
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 7:44pm (UTC -6)
Even in times of war, there legally still was a strong of command that ends indeed with the president, or at the very least the quorum of 12.

If the president has the power to apoint a admiral (that she has) than she also has the authority to strip one.

I wonder why laura did not just demote Cain and promoted Adama.
After that Adama could drag her before a military court and find her guilty of crimes of war (that she did). enough to dishonourbly discharge her and put her in jail for life.
Paul M.
Thu, Jun 4, 2015, 7:45am (UTC -6)
DutchStudent, you operate and the assumption that Cain would acknowledge Roslin's authority and meekly accept Roslin's and Adama's judgment. That was never going to happen.
Sun, Dec 27, 2020, 7:24pm (UTC -6)
Look, either Cain accepts Roslyn as President, or she’s a stateless individual with a powerful ship. Aka, a warlord, a thug.

It’s a great three parter, and it’s also believable that both Adama and Roslyn would initially defer to Cain. Adama from decades of service, Roslyn just from lack of experience.

Cain is just a tyrant. For understandable reasons, *maybe*, but her entire claim to her throne is based on the Colonial government. She might well have the opinion that the Secretary of Education is not up for the task of President, but that’s just not her call.

Adama and Roslyn, and indeed Galactica’s fleet, have been attempting to honor their government.
Sun, Jan 16, 2022, 1:03am (UTC -6)
There are a few tunes that define certain TV shows for me. Scifi in particular did an amazing job with themes, at least until fairly recently.

Christopher Franke’s work on Babylon 5 is legendary. DS9 used Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man as it’s opening credits song. Firefly brought an entirely new genre - folk - to the scifi small screen. Fascape had such a unique sound. Andromeda brought a very 00’s sensibility to its soundtrack,

nBSG had an incredible soundtrack too.

Two nBSG themes in particular stand out for me.

One is the Bill/Lee Adama father-son “A Good Lighter” theme we first hear in "Hand of God,” when Lee is going out on a big mission and Adama gives him his lawyer-father’s lucky lighter. We get it again from time to time, and each time it perfectly evokes the bond between these two men.

And the other is the Roslin Adama theme we hear for the first time here in "Resurrection Ship, Part 1”. Just listen to how beautiful it is,

As @enniofan pointed out back in the "Valley of Darkness”, the music on nBSG often benefits from being based on classical pieces. The Roslin Adama theme is based on an incredible piece by Sergei Prokofiev called Lieutenant Kijé. Take a listen,

One of the most romantic pieces ever composed!

Here is Bear McCreary, the composer for nBSG, playing the Roslin Adama theme.

There is a famous story about the soundtrack to the Babylon 5 finale “Sleeping in Light.” Evidently JMS gave Chris Franke very simple instructions when it came to the score the station’s destruction: break my heart. And by god, that’s what Franke did.

Watching nBSG again after all these years, I’m struck by how clear the dialogue is. How excellent the sound editing is. In Home, part 1, @Jammer said,

"The episode has a great scene that works because of its haunting stillness. Adama sits in his quarters doing touch-up painting on a model sailing ship, and has a monologue to an off-screen listener: "Betrayal has such a powerful grip on the mind. It seems like a python. It can squeeze out all other thought, suffocate all other emotion until everything is dead except for the rage. I'm not talking about anger. I'm talking about rage." The scene is entrancing, in no small part because it's so quietly pitched. Edward James Olmos plays this monologue with utter calmness and emotional detachment, as if Adama has separated himself from his feelings and can contain and objectively analyze them. “

What @Jammer and the rest of us might not realize is that aside from new-scifi lacking the basic story-telling, acting, and directing abilities it used to possess in spades, today it also lacks the sound editing abilities to make a scene like Adama's rage monologue possible.

In this day and age no one would be able to make head or tail of what the frak Adam was saying. The slow boil of the rage would be masked under distortions, enhancements, SFX, action, lens flares, some bullshit quotation for some old book, and of course so therapy psycho babble.

But when nBSG was being made, we still had men like Ronald D. Moore and Bear McCreary who strove not just for excellence. They strove for beauty. Hopefully JMS keeps a keen eye on the music and sound in his reboot,
Wed, Jan 19, 2022, 5:49am (UTC -6)
"... the Roslin Adama theme we hear for the first time here in "Resurrection Ship, Part 1”. Just listen to how beautiful it is,

Thanks...Now on my top play list.....could stop a war. :)
Tue, Feb 7, 2023, 7:47pm (UTC -6)
What really elevated this episode was the brilliant ending scene with Cain and Adama simultaneously plotting to take each other out -- just cutting back and forth between the 2 until the final order. Otherwise, I think the resurrection ship idea is a huge vulnerability for the Cylons, but it is cool and interesting from a sci-fi perspective.

Roslin has a very pragmatic aspect to her personality -- she's a wolf in sheep's clothing. She makes it clear that Adama has to kill Cain. But also we get the background on Cain and how truly evil she is -- using war as an excuse for any kind of behavior like killing the civilian families of those who didn't do what she said.

It's curious that there don't seem to be any other females on the Pegasus -- and how Cain quickly develops an appreciation and common ground with Starbuck. So when somebody disobeys orders but delivers the goods, it's fine. But again, how quickly Tyrol and co. built a fighter, let alone a stealth fighter, requires too much suspension of disbelief -- they don't even have replicators!

Roslin's illness takes a turn for the worse and her bond with Adama is as strong as ever. The episode gradually builds a case for Cain's "atrocities" and this confirms Roslin's suspicions for what Cain would do to the civilians protected by Galactica.

Plenty of good secondary scenes in this one -- BSG excels at these little character interactions. The Pegasus #6 Cylon says she was a soldier and expected to die -- now she wants to die. But she cooperates with Baltar and tells him about the resurrection ship. So she wants to die but not transfer her consciousness due to what she suffered at the hands of the Pegasus -- this puts all the Cylons in jeopardy.

3 stars for "Resurrection Ship, Part 1" -- started out messily with all the fighters doing who knows what but then it's clear that there are no rules, laws anymore. These humans are their own worst enemies -- Cain vs. Adama/Roslin. Good balance between drama, characters and a bit of sci-fi and another excellent cliff-hanger ending.

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