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Five Thoughts on Battlestar Galactica‘s “The Captain’s Hand”

By | July 30th, 2020
Posted in Television | % Comments

1. The right to choose

After the Chief and his deck crew locate a stowaway teen in a crate on Galactica, looking for Doc Cottle, Commander Adama and President Roslin soon determine her reason for leaving her Gemenese family behind, an abortion. Apparently Doc has been the go-to during these times, unbeknownst to Adama. The Doc firmly believes in a woman’s right to choose, as does the President, who reminds those attempting to bring this girl home to her religious parents, that abortion is legal under Colonial law, a law the President fought for, a woman’s right to control her own body. But shortly after her reminder, Adama reminds Roslin of what she said immediately after the Cylons’ initial attack, “if we want to save the human race, we better start having babies.” If the President trusts anyone, it’s Adama, and she weighs his words carefully. So carefully, in fact, she asks Baltar, hey, haven’t seen much of this guy in a while, oh, and here’s Six, she’s been MIA for some time as well, about the human race’s population. And he gives her some bad news. Along the lines of, if things continue this way, the human race will be extinct in 18 years, kind of bad news. So she does something that would appall pre-attack Roslin, she makes abortion illegal.

2. Command structure

Wow, Liz. Nothing sounds more boring than command structure. This episode opens with the training exercise disappearance of two Pegasus Raptors and as it happens, the Pegasus has yet another Commander, Barry Garner, aka Kevin McCallister’s dad, the former Senior Engineer on the ship. They’re really drilling down looking for leaders, and it shows. Kara Thrace is struggling in her position on Pegasus, as she is publicly dressed down by Commander Garner in the CIC, and is confined to quarters, all while newly promoted Major Lee Adama watches. Thanks, Lee. Unfortunately for the Pegasus crew, which seems to be highly anti-Galactica in its sentiments, receives a distress call similar to the one Kara believes the missing Raptors received, a not completely unusual tactic used by the Cylons to lure members of the Colonial fleet to their deaths. Major Adama tells his father Kara’s theory, one he believes as well, stepping on Garner’s feet, displeasing the Pegasus Commander. Commander Adama orders Garner to send a recon mission, but Garner goes rogue, and jumps to the location of the distress signal. Low and behold, it’s a fracking Cylon trap. Guess that’s what happens when that boring ol’ command structure is violated.

3. Free Will

This episode obviously highlights a woman’s right to choose, but who really is in control of their own decisions in the world of Battlestar? Who gets the right to make their own choices and control their own destiny? Is the idea of free will even possible within an organized society? Maybe only those at the top are able to make their own decisions. We see Roslin, at the top, appear to be in charge of her own decisions, but how many of them are politically motivated? How driven is she to please the people in order to stay in power? She might not be pleased with her decision to eliminate a woman’s right to control her body, but what sacrifices will she have to make to compete with this decision in order to win the election? At the end of the the episode we see Baltar seize the opportunity and declare he is running for President against Roslin, as Tom Zarek has dropped out of the race. Baltar compares Roslin stripping women of freedom to Cylon-esque actions. What decisions will she have to make to rectify this loss of face? Even within the military there is a distinct lack of control in decision making. You follow commands, even if you don’t agree with them. That’s the whole point. And when Commander Garner doesn’t do just that, when he exercises his free will, he pays for his transgression with his life.

4. The ultimate sacrifice

Once Garner realizes what he’s done, made the wrong decision, and violated military rules, he leaves Major Adama in command of the bridge and heads down to engineering, since no one seems to understand what needs to be done in order to fix the FTL. In a last ditch, and highly heroic, effort, he fixes the FTL, saves the ship, but dies in the process. It’s difficult to begrudge a man that gives his life to rescue his crew, even if he disobeyed orders and got them into the mess in the first place. And this seems to be a place Lee Adama is coming from when he writes up his report on the incident. But not Kara Thrace, she submits a report with guns a blazin’, telling the whole truth, as she always does.

5. Feels a little bit like nepotism

Commander Adama and his son have a heart to heart off the record regarding Commander Garner, and Lee reveals that his flaw was he was used to working with machines, and that command is all about people. The Commander tells his son to remember that, since he’s now assuming the new role of Commander himself. Seems confusing. Only two Commanders in the fleet, and they’re both Adamas. But, Lee has proven himself in action against the Cylons, he leads people well, and they’re willing to follow.

//TAGS | Battlestar Galactica

Liz Farrell


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