Onto the second part of Battlestar Galactica’s miniseries. I’ve been watching on a streaming service, and both parts are melded into one. Where does part two begin, you may ask. I’m not entirely sure, so I eyeballed it, based on time. We obviously begin right in the middle of the action; exactly where part one left off.
1. Captain Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama
Lee is briefly introduced in the first half of the miniseries, and the second half kicks off with the Captain successfully fooling the Cylons into thinking they destroyed Colonial One, the ship carrying President Laura Roslin. He’s set up as a hero. The relationship between Lee and Laura Roslin begins to take shape over the course of this episode. She and Lee appear to have similar philosophies, which is exemplified once Roslin has amassed the convoy of human ships, and the Cylons locate them. While surrounded by her advisors, Roslin makes the difficult decision of leaving the non-FTL (faster than light) ships behind – a recommendation made by one of her de facto advisors, Lee Adama. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, according to both Roslin and Lee. Lee has aligned himself with Roslin at a time when she and his father, William Adama, are at odds.
The world humans have known their entire lives has come to an end. The institutions put into place to maintain law and order have been disrupted. A former Secretary of Education is now the President, and she is struggling to maintain order; a military member of the old guard, on the day of his retirement, is in charge of the war against the Cylons. When Roslin and Adama meet, we see what is important to both; Roslin believes the Galactica needs to help gather and protect human survivors. Adama believes it is time to fight. “The war is over,” says Roslin. “It hasn’t begun yet,” is Adama’s reply. Roslin says humans need to start having babies. There are only 50,000 of us left. Adama gets up from the table and walks away. Do the humans stay and fight, or do they run? Here is the setup of a conflict, which, as I remember, runs throughout the series.
3. Commander William Adama
The second half of this miniseries really gives our characters a chance to develop and grow. Again, it asks a lot of its audience, but it also gives us a lot. After the confrontation between our foils, Roslin and Adama, we’re on the bridge of the Galactica and Adama tells his XO the fleet should run, “We need to start having babies,” echoing the prior words of the President. Movingly, Lee says he agrees with his father. It’s the first time we’ve seen these two agree, and the miniseries has done a quality job of making us care. Adama is a thoughtful leader; he’s a military man, a fighter, but he’s smart enough to know when he’s lost a war, and it’s time to retreat. I
4. The Cylons
The Cylons were some of the most intriguing characters for me when I first watched this series. So much mystery. So much unknown. Caprica Six reappears in the second half of the miniseries; she’s a device that functions to help us get to know Gaius Baltar: his life on Caprica, how he unwittingly assisted the Cylons in destroying the planet, along with the majority of the human race. But, she’s not the only Cylon we meet in this episode – oh no, she is not. When the Galactica arrives at Ragnar Station Ammunition Reserve, there is only one person there, and as it turns out, he is a Cylon. But this miniseries gives us even more to contribute to the character development of these machines: the Cylons are affected by the radiation surrounding the station – it kills them – slowly.
But, wait, there’s even more. As we heard from Caprica Six in the first half of the miniseries, Cylons can’t die. When their body dies, their consciousness is simply transferred into another body, identical to the one they already inhabit. In the world of Battlestar Galactica, Cylons get their own theme music – I love this. It’s no “Imperial March,” but it’s effective. This series does music and sound so well; it’s so distinctive and just adds to the world being built. The penultimate scene of the episode focuses on Adama in his personal quarters. There’s a note. He opens it. He reads it. “There are 12 Cylon models.” He folds it up, and locks his door.Continued below
The first time I saw this, my mind was blown. Obviously, it’s not the same in a rewatch, but I was still excited to see all of this unfold again, with a different perspective, and different expectations, really. The final scene leaves us with Aaron Doral abandoned on the space station as Galactica takes off. Baltar has been tasked with developing a Cylon detector; he hasn’t developed it yet, but his suspicions of Doral have led him to accuse the public relations specialist of being a Cylon. Even we, as an audience are unsure of the validity, and morality, of this accusation. Our moral qualms are put to rest when he begins to fall ill, and Cylons board the station to save him. We see various copies of Caprica Six board. We see various copies of the arms dealer board…and we see BOOMER board. Gasp! *Cue Cylon music* On my first watch, the miniseries had me at this point, way back in 2003, and I’m still in it.
5. Ambitious speeches
Is Commander William Adama’s speech to the crew of the Galactica iconic? In my memory, it most certainly is. This is a moment I was waiting for with great anticipation. The impact wasn’t the same as it was 15 years ago, but I still felt what Adama was throwing down. I wanted to feel it, so maybe that influenced my experience a bit. You know what still played well with me? The theory that the thirteenth colony, the missing colony told of in the ancient scrolls, is called Earth. The connection is right there for the audience. It develops a world, a world that isn’t that different from our own, and a world that is, possibly, no different than our own. It involves us in the story. In terms of thematic purpose, Adama’s speech gives his people hope, a new hope, something to cling to in the darkest of times. It works. For now.
I’m excited to delve into Battlestar Galactica’s episodes now that I’ve revisited the miniseries. I’m most excited for the questions of morality humans must deal with in the face of extinction. Extinction perpetuated by their own creation.