Recently, I hopped aboard the Battlestar Galactica train. I know, I know – you might as well confiscate my Nerd Card now, because why the frak did it take me so long? Now, I’m referring to the 2004 reboot (I’ll get to the elder series in another ten years). SyFy’s critical darling quickly became one of my favorite shows. Everything from the political slant to the religious inspection ticked off all the right boxes for me. Of course, Battlestar Galactica also has an intricate mythology interwoven throughout the series that is very satisfying. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love me some world building.
Now, I’ve given myself the behemoth task of writing about my personal top ten favorite episodes in all of Kobol. This proved to be extremely difficult, as I love them all. They are all God’s children. However, I was able to pinpoint the episodes that contained my most cherished moments from the show, the moments that encapsulated everything Battlestar Galactica represented. Here is that list, in all its splendor. Enjoy.
1. 33 (Season 1)
One of Battlestar Galactica’s earliest episodes, “33” showed a Colonial fleet in ruins post Cylon decimation of the 12 Colonies. Now, the entire fleet is forced to jump into hyperspace every 33 minutes when Cylons consistently show up at said 33 minute mark and attack. This episode was a prime example of humanity’s will to survive, even risking precious sleep for it. We’re also introduced to the idea of Cylons amid the fleet. Not to mention, Gaius and Six had some memorable scenes in “33.” Also, remember when Galactica still had the capacity to jump with such ease? Frakkin’ toasters.
2. Kobol’s Last Gleaming: Part 2 (Season 1)
Boy, this episode was a whopper. Battlestar Galactica knows its way around a season finale, weaving the story with finesse and unprecedented expertise. Adama accusing President Roslin of mutiny when she usurps his command is such leaps and bounds from where these two ended up in the series finale. Starbuck having to face off against a Six when she reaches Caprica and locates the Arrow of Apollo, thus finding Helo and discovering that Sharon is a Cylon. Lastly, frakkin’ Boomer shooting Adama not once, but twice! What a way to end a season! Of course, the action was certainly appealing to me in this episode. I also dug the Greek mythology intertwining with the religious undertones as a whole. We see the beginnings of the “prophecies” that culminate in the fleet’s search for the 13th Colony, Earth.
3. Home: Part 2 (Season 2)
Sorry, I’m a sucker for the second half of two parters. Our Caprica group finds the Tomb of Athena, which in turn solidifies a path to Earth. This is the first time I realized the 12 Colonies were named after the Zodiac. I know, I’m a little slow on the uptake. Let me reiterate how much I love that Greek mythology, non-denominational Christianity and now the Zodiac all coexist together, helping to tell the story. Seriously, it’s like Battlestar Galactica is blatantly telling us that we can all coexist in harmony together with our various belief systems. Or something. Also, once again the Gaius/Six scenes take home the gold. Six attempting to persuade Baltar that he’s crazy and simply hallucinating her is priceless.
4. Downloaded (Season 2)
Who doesn’t like exploring the toaster side of things? This episode stood out to me because we were finally privy to how the “enemy” lives. Plus, D’Anna is one of my favorites of the twelve models, so it was exciting getting to see her live her best Cylon life. Caprica Six is also spotted and we see how much the Cylon invasion affected her, in spite of her brothers and sisters hailing her as a hero. She too has an invisible Gaius that follows her around! Aw, true love is living inside your partner’s head at all times. Hera, the Cylon/human hybrid baby, is finally born.
Not only did I love observing how the Cylons were living on Caprica, I dug how Caprica Six was experiencing very human emotions in reaction to the chain of events she started. What does it mean to be human, really? Also, downloading pods for the win.
5. Exodus: Part 2 (Season 3)
Time for a rescue mission! Adama and the remainder of the fleet in space swooped in to save those living in captivity on New Caprica. Lee is now Commander of the Battlestar Pegasus, with wife (yes, wife) Lieutenant Dualla at his side. A year has passed since certain members of the fleet colonized New Caprica when, right on cue, the Cylons invaded (again) and frakked things up. Just can’t escape the skin jobs.
This episode had it all: oodles and oodles of political intrigue to whet the palate, Gaius failing miserably as President of the Colonies, a rescue mission, Colonel Tigh quietly murdering Ellen in consequence of her giving valuable information to the Cylons. Starbuck being held captive by Leoben. Tigh with an eye patch! Adama sporting a mustache! Not to mention the reunion between the two aforementioned best buddies made me ask myself, “Why am I cutting onions while watching Battlestar Galactica?”
6. Unfinished Business (Season 3)
Ah, the boxing episode. Adama gave everyone a chance to blow off some post-New Caprica escape steam by stepping into the ring. You could challenge an opponent, preferably someone you had an unspoken “beef” with. Once you properly duked it out, said “beef” should dissipate. You’re both back to being soldiers of the fleet. We saw main cast members put on their boxing gloves and take each other out (and not nicely, mind you). Battlestar Galactica is not only generous with their flashbacks, but also quite adept at inserting/executing them.
We finally discovered why there was a rift between Starbuck and Apollo. I like Dee and Anders well enough, but I’ve been rooting for a full-blown Kara/Lee romance since Day One. I’ll chalk it up to the writing as well as Katee Sackhoff and Jamie Bamber’s sizzling chemistry. This episode fulfilled my Kara/Lee expectations and then some. Not to mention, everyone brought their acting A-game.
7. Crossroads: Part 2 (Season 3)
Alternate title: “All Along the Watchtower.” Can I just gush over Bear McCreary for a second? He’s one of the best modern composers, and his take on “All Along the Watchtower” is one of my all-time favorite covers. So, this episode! So much happened! Four of the Final Five Cylons were revealed. Tyrol wasn’t quite a shock to me, considering there were a few subtle clues sprinkled along the way. However, Tigh being a Cylon jolted me to the core. It made him more intriguing, especially given his deep hatred for the toasters conflicting with the fact that he’s one himself. I loved how the big reveal was orchestrated, with Anders, Tory, Tigh and Tyrol all being “switched on” by the song. Side note: I want “It’s on the frakkin’ ship” carved onto my gravestone.
Now, I can’t forget Gaius’s trial of the century. For one, Mark Sheppard as the lawyer Lampkin was deliciously devious. Part of me couldn’t help but see a bit of Crowley, but that’s what made me love him so much. The highlight of the trial for me, though, was Lee’s monologue. He questioned what it means to forgive, and how the remaining humans operate the scales of justice. This moment officially made me like Lee. Yes, Gaius did terrible things (and is still someone I love to hate), but so did many other people aboard Galactica. It’s a monologue that still resonates today, especially given the circumstances surrounding our own broken justice system.
Lastly, Kara Thrace’s return was jarring. She frakkin’ exploded! How is she flying a brand new raptor and looking pristine herself? I have questions for you, Ronald D. Moore.
8. Sometimes a Great Notion (Season 4)
Well, they’ve finally made it. Earth, in all its splendor. Its decimated, utterly demolished splendor. My heart sank when the fleet landed on a planet that was destroyed 2,000 years prior. Then, the revelation that Earth was actually inhabited by Cylons! I dug seeing the four of the Final Five recall glimpses of their past lives on Earth. Tyrol strolling through a farmer’s market. Anders remembering that he was a musician. Tigh was sporting a suit and fancy spectacles! Starbuck discovering her incinerated raptor and coming to grips with the fact that she died. Which again begs the question: who or what is Kara Thrace? Also, the hybrid aboard the Cylon basestar was correct: Starbuck did lead the fleet to destruction.
How about Dualla committing suicide right after her date with Lee? That scene gutted me. They seemed to be working through their differences, on the road to marriage recovery. Dualla appeared to be jubilant. The first time I viewed this scene I had to rewind it to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. One of the most shocking moments in Battlestar Galactica history, hands down. Unfortunately, Dee’s suicide is a prime example of the damage done to everyone’s collective psyche. Expending a ton of energy searching for a home, only to find said potential home in ruins. Also, it’s an accurate representation of the powerful grip of depression.
Lastly, Ellen Tigh is a frakkin’ Cylon, baby! Enough said.
9. Blood on the Scales (Season 4)
Felix Gaeta staged a mutiny. That’s a sentence I never thought I would type, much less think. Here’s a military official who sits quietly in the background, obediently carrying out orders to the best of his ability. Like I said earlier though, these people have been through the ringer and the revelation that the search for Earth was futile had a grave affect on everyone. Granted, I watched the webseries “Face of the Enemy” prior to watching the mutiny of Season 4. It gave me so much insight into what Gaeta did on New Caprica, his relationship with an Eight and his thoughts on the Cylon race in general. So, while the mutiny isn’t completely out of character, it was still surprising. Also, seeing Richard Hatch as Tom Zarek is always a blessing for the eyes.
This episode also tested the strength and fortitude of those fighting against the mutineers aboard Galactica. Roslin managed to rally the Cylons (Twos, Sixes and Eights) to her side. Adama and Tigh fought tooth and nail to get Gaeta and Zarek under control. Lee and Starbuck also fought to protect the fleet. In short, the human spirit can be close to unbreakable, as was demonstrated here.
10. Daybreak: Part 2 & 3 (Season 4)
Here lies the end of Battlestar Galactica. The series finale received mixed reviews, especially after the religious reveal. However, I adored it. We had an explosive mission to the Cylon’s Colony ship to save Hera from Cavil. Boomer was put out of her misery. Galactica, her journey also at an end, is propelled into our Sun along with the remainder of the fleet’s ships once our Earth is discovered. How about the revelation that the world of Battlestar Galactica existed 150,000 plus years ago? When they inhabited our Earth we were merely cavemen, shuffling wordlessly through empty, expansive greenery. That, to me, was another shocker in a series chock full of them. The remaining members of the 12 Colonies helped mold and shape our (fictional) history as humans. Also, this clearly means we’re all half Cylon since the Twos, Sixes and Eights lived in domestic bliss with the humans.
How about McCreary’s once again astounding score? I adored hearing everyone’s individual themes play throughout the finale. Roslin and Adama’s ending? My heart broke when she finally passed, but I was grateful that she died next to the one she loved. Adama building that cabin for Roslin and spending the rest of his days in solitude is both satisfying and saddening. I wanted him to at least see Lee one more time, or Tigh. My heart was utterly shattered watching everyone permanently split up, but I knew it was a necessary evil.
Kara Thrace, I still have no frakkin’ clue who you are. After she “completed” her mission she vanished into thin air. I wholeheartedly believe Daniel (the Seven) is her father and she’s perhaps a Cylon/human hybrid herself without knowing it. Maybe she’s an angel? It would explain the rising from the dead thing.
Guys, those flashbacks! Once again, Battlestar Galactica ups the ante on their flashback game. Seeing the origin story of how Starbuck and Lee met coupled with their final scenes together brought immense closure. I also loved the flashbacks with Roslin prior to discovering her cancer, and Adama taking the job as Commander of our dear old Galactica.
“All of this has happened before, and it will happen again.” That quote didn’t make sense to me until I watched the final scene. We’re 150,000 years into the future, 2009 to be exact. Artificial Intelligence is progressing at a rapid rate. Does this mean said AI will eventually turn on humanity and demolish our planet? Maybe. Then, we’ll be as the 12 Colonies were: floating through space, trying to survive and outrun the enemy. Guess it’s time we seriously evolve our means for space travel!
Well, that’s all I wrote. Do you know how difficult it was narrowing down 75 episodes to ten for this list? Almost impossible. However, I’ve always liked those odds. Do you have any favorite Battlestar Galactica episodes that aren’t on this list? Be sure to blast them off in the comments!
So say we all.
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