"Resurrection Ship, Part 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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27 comments on this post
Sun, Dec 23, 2007, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
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.
Thu, May 8, 2008, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 24, 2008, 4:54am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 25, 2009, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 1, 2009, 1:32am (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Aug 11, 2009, 1:31am (UTC -5)
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.
Wed, May 4, 2011, 12:07am (UTC -5)
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.
Mon, May 16, 2011, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
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.
Tue, Oct 18, 2011, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 17, 2011, 10:49am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 4, 2012, 2:31am (UTC -5)
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...
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 1:32am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 26, 2013, 8:17am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 24, 2013, 7:15am (UTC -5)
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
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 3:57am (UTC -5)
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!
Fri, May 9, 2014, 11:04pm (UTC -5)
To take one possible combo, imagine if Cain had decided not to order the marines into CIC, but Adama gives Starbuck the signal to shoot Cain and Starbuck doesn't go through with it. That would have shook up our impressions of Adama quite a bit to say the least.
Wed, Apr 1, 2015, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
So far I've enjoyed the pace of BSG, the main arc to this point has never been parked for that long, particularly in the first series it really swept us along. I felt that DS9 had too many single episodes with little or no impact on the grand scheme of things; it frequently felt like just passing the time with the main characters. I've really enjoyed BSG for the lack of that so far, perhaps Final Cut and Rise of the Phoenix slowed things a little but the last three episodes were fantastic again.
I'm also braced for the religion/prophecy aspect to eventually disappoint. If I've worked out anything from science fiction fantasy, it's that The Big Prophecy is Always Real! I feel that not letting the low points annoy me is a skill I honed quite a bit watching DS9, the episodes there were quite uneven too. This was the main reason I discovered this fantastic site, and I definitely learned that when Jammer said that an episode was a dud, he would invariably be correct!
So despite your warning Slacker, I will grit my teeth and push on watching these! It's pretty unthinkable to just leave things here. The ominous thing is that this entire program completed years ago and it's not possible you're wrong about the facts! Hopefully there will be some more great highs to go with the lows. For now I will hope for the best, and if I spot any jump-able sharks I will toss them in the airlock!
Sun, May 17, 2015, 7:26am (UTC -5)
It's too bad this site does not have email notifications so we could carry on more of an interactive conversation. If anyone wants to provide feedback, disagree with me, or describe how my warning was ignored but in retrospect looks good, tweet at me: I use the same handle on Twitter.
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
I will avoid any spoilers after Resurrection ship part 2.
I agree that the show declines in quality, but I would put the start of that around early season 3. I still think it's worth watching all the way.
The first two seasons are great, and Pegasus is probably the single best episode (or maybe 33). The core of the show is the character drama, but there are also interesting events events that occur, such as finding Kobol, meeting Pegasus, etc. Early in season 3 these events become rarer. The fleet kind of cruises on autopilot. With no plot to react to, the characters get stuck in bickering and angst. The mythology and Cylon history, which never really are compelling or even make that much sense,, become a bigger focus.
I don't think it's ever unwatchable (though there's a notorious boxing episode that comes close) but it loses something along the way.
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 1:04am (UTC -5)
I've been trying to understand why I didn't like seasons 3 and 4 as much as season 1-2 - I think it's because they took the detour into mythology and stuff which was a sharp decline in momentum from the whole daily-battle-for-survival. It felt like the series was slowing down and thus wasn't nearly *as* interesting and compelling as S1-2 until S4's "Revelations" onward.
Just my two cents; I completely understand anyone who thinks differently.
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
Incidentally, much the same pattern can be seen (from my perspective, anyway) in Babylon 5.
Then again, those who know me on these boards know that I hold no truck with mysticism, mythology, mind-trips, and the like. I dislike and avoid them generally, but recoil at their deployment in sci-fi in particular.
All the above being said, I extol B.S.G. head and shoulders above pretty much every sci-fi show ever.
Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Nov 15, 2016, 12:47pm (UTC -5)
As Jammer rightly pointed out - 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. And as Jammer notes - it's very hypocritical of Sharon.
Dissecting Sharon's argument - isn't she essentially positing that humanity isn't worthy of survival through collective responsibility? She maintains that humans still kill one other and are governed by greed and petty jealousy. She does have a point in that, granted - but if we judge the entire race by the deeds of the few, how do the Cylons measure then, when you consider that pretty much all of them wilfully engaged in a genocide? In other words - if humanity's "rotten apples" make them not worthy of survival, then it's an even stronger argument against the continuing existence of Cylons.
On that note I'd also like to comment on sympathy for Gina Inverie - while I agree that what was done to her was monstrous, I think her own sins are too easily forgotten. Essentially - we're being manipulated by the writers; after all, how we could not to empathize with a brutalized and vulnerable (and beautiful, let's not forget) woman?
We forget, perhaps a bit too easily, that she took an active part in a genocide (she does, after all, admit to not being a sleeper agent; which means she is most definitely responsible for it) and an act of mass murder onboard the Pegasus later on.
Does that mean that whatever happend to her was justified? Certainly not, but I would never cheer for someone who took part in a genocide and on top of that is a mass murderer - hence my earlier comment about the writers manipulating us.
In short - Gina, for me, was definitely not deserving of any sympathy. What was done to her was monstrous, but does not make her any less responsible for what she did.
I'm probably not getting Caleb's response now, but I thought I'd quote him anyway:
"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."
If Cain is Hitler, then Gina is a Hitler combined with Stalin and Pol Pot, essentially.
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:32am (UTC -5)
With that sort of mentality should we go around hunting certain species to extraction because there is no clear reason why they “deserve” survival? If their role in ecology and the food chain can be replaced by others do we have the right to decide they no longer serve a valid purpose and end their species’ existence? Of course not, in my opinion. To be able to even comment on this issue one must have such a great understanding of the universe and metaphysical concepts as to being able to understand the “mystery of existence”; they must be able to accurately answer the age old question of why we were created and what the purpose/meaning of life is. Only someone with that level of wisdom could stand a chance of applying those concepts to mankind as a whole and evaluating whether or not it deserves survival. Suppose we are incarnated into this world and life as a way for or souls to gain wisdom from experiencing mortal life with all its temptations and pain, enabling our souls to grow and mature in a way they would not if we never lived as mortals, and then enabling us to enrich the divine more upon returning to it after death, compared to if we had never lived and gained this wisdom. If that is true (and the Cylons are mostly very religious so this should be just as likely a reason and purpose for the continuation of the human race as any other), then humanity deserves to survive because of the divine purpose being fulfileld through the mortal existences it facilitates. Comitting genocide on mankind would thus be a terrible sin as it would interfere with God’s purpose of enriching all of our souls.
Beyond hypothetical mystic/pseudo religious scenarios, Sharon’s point might sound edgy and meaningful initially but it’s one that is actually nonsense. Simply put if people are living peacefully, just trying to survive, and not really putting good into the world but not committing evil either, they have every right to survive.
Fri, Feb 8, 2019, 3:57am (UTC -5)
I think too many people get caught up in wanting to be edgy and profound, along with trying hard to show they are not naive, in supporting characters like Cain. I’ve seen something similar among the Babylon 5 fans who want to claim to side with the Shadows and say they have the stronger morality. I also think these people are the ones more vulnerable to the manipulation of the writers (who here didn’t want things to be too black and white so they started having some characters defend Cain while at the same time having no other characters be the voice of reason when this happens and challenge their defense if her.
If anyone wants to challenge my stance that the executing of Cain would have been a morally good act and even heroic to some degree (ie if I were president I would have handed out medals to Adama, Starbuck and Lee if the original plan for killing Cain had succeeded and Starbuck and Lee somehow survived the attenpt (that’s another thing that bugged me was how lazy the writers were in devising Adama’s plan to kill Cain... there was nothing to keep Cara and Lee from getting riddled with Pegasus bullets if they did actually kill Cain as per the original plan, in the middle of her bridge and surrounded by her officers and marines). If anyway wants to disagree and debate me on this or isnjist curious as to my reasoning I will explain it, but otherwise I won’t waste my time if nobody is interested or even reading these comments anymore.
Fri, Oct 11, 2019, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 8, 2023, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Kara was ready to kill Cain and Fisk's marines were ready to remove Adama -- but b/c the plan to destroy the resurrection ship went so well, everybody's happy. But there was a good prelude building to this moment. Cain explained her "philosophy" to Kara about not flinching when you have the moment. All the good vibes put an end to the extreme pragmatism.
Is it that Lee is shocked that his father and Roslin would give Kara an order to assassinate Cain that he doesn't want to make it back alive? I didn't know what to make of the scenes with him lying in a lake and just out of it after ejecting during the attack on the resurrection ship. I suppose it's a way of showing how jaded he has become. Will he get made CAG again?
Baltar and the Pegusus #6 -- could this mean that the #6 that's been "guiding" him is now gone? Now Baltar presumably has the real thing. Clever how the Pegasus #6 gets the last laugh, so to speak, on Cain. And then Fisk takes over -- he's a good guy. Cain gets a good eulogy, including from Kara. It's a very tidy resolution, including Tyrol and Helo coming to see Sharon -- though this one's tougher for the chief.
3 stars for "Resurrection Ship, Part 2" -- things worked out too perfectly for me and it looks pretty much like status quo going forward but for Roslin's illness intensifying. The destruction of the resurrection ship was too easy, nowhere near the kind of uncertainty compared to "The Hand of God" -- but that wasn't so much the point of the episode. A terrific 3-parter overall.
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