In the tenth episode of season one of Battlestar Galactica, Baltar is a minor player in terms of screen time, but in many ways, he’s the central focus of “The Hand of God.”
1. Religious prophecy
This is where the prophecy and mythos of Battlestar Galactica is introduced and this mythos is what really kept me hooked on the show during my first watch of the series. President Roslin has a vision while she is hosting a press conference where she reveals that the fleet is almost out of fuel; it’s a vision of snakes. Roslin reveals the details of her vision to Priestess Elosha, as well as her visions of Leo Conoy. Elosha recounts to Roslin, and to us, the story Pythia (an ancient oracle) wrote 3,600 years ago, in the sacred scrolls, of the exile and rebirth of the human race, and of how the lords anointed a leader to lead a caravan of the heavens to their new homeland. According to Elosha, “unto the leader they gave a vision, of serpents numbering 2 and 10 as a sign of things to come.” Watching this again makes me realize how the writers really held back in introducing the mythos of Battlestar – it works. I’m excited to see how exactly this mythos plays out throughout the series since I don’t exactly remember the timeline.
At its core, this series is a series about survival. The things we do as humans in order to preserve our own lives. The fleet is running out of fuel, they have about two days left, max, and so they need to find some tylium to mine in order to be able to continue their journey. Luckily, they find some. Unluckily, what they find is a Cylon tylium mining operation on an asteroid. There is so much that goes on in this episode: action, suspense, character interplay. It’s too much to explain, but long story short, Starbuck comes up with a plan; an out of the box plan to defeat the Cylons and take their mining facility. No one knows where exactly where to bomb the tylium mine so as not accidently render the tylium ore useless – but lucky them, they have a wildly intelligent scientist on board, Baltar, who after telling Starbuck and Tigh where to drop the bombs, reveals to Six that the fate of the entire human race rests on his wild guess. He really has no idea where the mining facility’s vulnerabilities lie.
3. Cool, calm, collected vs. impulsive and unstable
Lee Adama comes up with the first plan to attack the tylium asteroid. Commander Adama asks Starbuck what she thinks of it and she tells everyone that it’s a textbook perfect plan, which is why it won’t work. She comes up with the plan the fleet decides to use; it’s outside the box thinking, which is why Commander Adama went to Starbuck in the first place. Lee has to lead the Vipers in their attack since Starbuck is out of commission; Commander Adama proves to Starbuck she’s unfit to lead in an insanely effective way, and Lee believes everyone thinks he’s going to fail, Starbuck and his father included. Starbuck tells him he thinks too much to be successful, but Adama believes his son is smart enough to pull it off. Starbuck is impulsive, she thinks outside the box, and this makes her teeter on the edge of instability; while Lee Adama is cool, calm, collected, and a textbook rule follower. In this battle, Lee manages to think outside the box while maintaining his cool demeanor. He’s smart enough to take Starbuck’s advice, and he destroys the Cylon’s hold on the tylium asteroid. Neither of these young pilots would be anywhere without Commander Adama. He gives Lee the confidence he needs to complete the mission, and he teaches Starbuck she can’t always be in control. I’d like him to mentor me.
4. Baltar and God
I’ve said it before, but I can’t stand Baltar. Everything about him repulses me, but this is exactly why I love him as a character. The first time I watched Battlestar, I didn’t focus on Six as part of Baltar’s psyche, but this run through, that’s what I’m focusing on, and it makes him even more of a complex and dangerous character in my mind. He’s having these philosophical and religious discussion with himself, ultimately, which perhaps is something we all do, but Baltar is straying into unstable range in “The Hand of God.” He talks through what happened during the fleet’s most recent mission, and fixates on the fact that he led the humans in the right direction; he told them where the Cylons were most vulnerable, when in fact he really had no idea. Six convinces Baltar God was working through him, and in one of the most disturbing scenes in the series so far, Baltar declares, “I am an instrument of God.”Continued below
One of the elements of this series that stuck with me was the use of music. I love the opening music. This episode really hits it out of the park. It’s a fast-paced and dramatic episode and the music only adds to those elements, particularly in the final fight scene and the aftermath of the battle. I’d like to describe it more, but I tried and it just doesn’t do the music justice. You’ll just have to watch.
This episode is one of the tightest so far this season. It fools you into thinking it’s all action, but it’s much more than that.