This is the fourteenth in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Pegasus'” here.
In this gripping two-parter, the show’s writers again take inspiration from American war history and war movies. Apollo’s observation of the battle seems inspired by George H. Gay Jr.’s observation of the Battle of Midway. Adama’s choice of “downfall” as a codeword may allude to the name of the D-Day invasion of Normandy or the cult German film about Hitler’s last days.
The maneuvering of Cain and Adama seems to have a flavor of Crimson Tide (which inspired the ultimately far different ‘Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down‘). And there is a “blanket party”-style beating in the tradition of Full Metal Jacket. Oddly, despite naming the antagonist Cain, there does not seem to be much from The Caine Mutiny in this story. Cain has none of the cowardice of a Capt. Queeg; she is brutal and her more humane moments reveal only that she is not a caricature.
At the end of ‘Pegasus,’ Cain launched her ready Vipers to meet the ships Adama assigned to rescue Helo and Tyrol (sentenced to death by Cain for killing Lt. Thorne, who was about to rape Boomer). Yet neither Cain nor Adama give permission for their fighters to fire.
The crisis is diffused by Starbuck’s return in the Blackbird, which she commandeered to conduct reconnaissance of the mystery Cylon ship Cain wants to attack. Cain initially mistakes the stealthy Blackbird for a Cylon ship, but is transfixed when Starbuck begins sending photos to the monitor screens in the CIC on the Pegasus. Closeups reveal the ship appears to be holding hybrid Cylons in some sort of storage.
Cain orders a mutual stand down. She and Adama agree to meet on Colonial One. Pres. Roslin attempts to mediate the dispute, but it quickly becomes apparent that neither Cain nor Adama are budging. Roslin manages to broker a truce until after the attack on the Cylon fleet.
Returning to Pegasus, Cain tries to cultivate Starbuck by promoting her to CAG for showing initiative. Cain also tells Starbuck she wants to not only authorize Starbuck’s rescue mission to Caprica (as Starbuck promised Anders), but also force the Cylons off the planet.
Meanwhile, Roslin advises Adama he will have to kill Cain before she kills him. Roslin reminds Adama he has sworn to protect the civilians and it is plain Cain has no interest in the rag-tag fleet. Adama replies that he is not an assassin.
Upon returning to Galactica, Adama apologizes to Boomer for the attempted rape, which cracked one of her ribs, but did not harm her unborn child.
On Pegasus, Baltar tells his mental Six he no longer misses his lake house (where they meet in his head). Cain gives Baltar a copy of the recon photos to show the Six held onboard. Baltar has to dissuade Cain from kicking the captive Six. After Cain leaves, the Six begs Baltar for death.
Adama asks Cally about the Pegasus deck crew, and learns their chief, Laird, was a civilian from a ship called the Cilla. Tigh then questions Fisk about the Cilla. Tigh learns the Pegasus stripped civilian ships for parts, including FTL drives, effectively marooning them. Cain also ordered the transfer of valuable civilians – including Laird – to Pegasus. The families of those who resisted transfer were shot.
Baltar brings the captive Six fresh clothes. She still wants to die. When Baltar responds that her consciousness would be transferred to a new body, Six replies: “not if you destroy that ship.” Baltar then informs Cain and Starbuck that the mystery Cylon craft is a Resurrection Ship; they wonder if making the Cylons mortal might cause them to stop pursuing humans.
Starbuck conducts a briefing on the mission, during which the Blackbird will attack the Resurrection Ship’s FTL drives (carrying a nuke would be discovered by the Cylons). Adama asks for Starbuck to remain for questions after the briefing.
Adama then asks Starbuck to kill Cain upon his codeword by wireless after the attack; she agrees. Meanwhile, Cain orders her exec, Fisk, to observe the attack from Galactica’s CIC and – upon her codeword by wireless – kill Adama afterward.
On Pegasus, Starbuck recruits Apollo to help kill Cain. Apollo returns to Galactica, where he questions Adama about the plot. Adama tells him it was Roslin’s recommendation.
Helo and Tyrol are beaten in their cell until Fisk intervenes and berates (but does not arrest) the attackers.
The joint attack begins. Apollo uses the Blackbird to destroy the Resurrection Ship’s FTL drives. During his escape, the Blackbird is struck and Apollo is forced to eject. He quickly realizes his suit was punctured and is losing oxygen. Experiencing hypoxia, he ignores radio calls from Dualla as he watches the larger battle in the distance.
The Resurrection Ship is destroyed and the Cylon fleet flees. Apollo is rescued by a Raptor.
After the attack, Cain contacts Adama by wireless and — at Adama’s request, puts Starbuck on the call. Adama, using code, calls off the assassination of Cain. Adama notes it is not enough to survive; humanity must be worthy of it (a theme of his retirement speech in the mini-series, of which he was reminded by Boomer).
At Cain’s request, Adama puts Fisk on the call. She too calls off her planned killing of Adama.
Meanwhile, the captive Six disables a guard who enters her cell with Baltar. She hands the guard’s gun to Baltar and again begs him to kill her. He returns the gun to her and says he cannot because he loves her.
Cain returns to her quarters, disarms herself and begins to disrobe. Six, who has been waiting, kills Cain. Fisk assumes command of the Pegasus at Cain’s funeral.
Starbuck visits Apollo in the sick bay. Apollo apologizes for not being there to back up Starbuck and confesses he did not want to come back from the battle. This conversation is overheard by Dualla.
Adama is frustrated that the Six escaped from Pegasus, but is heartened when Roslin promotes him to Admiral now that he commands two Battlestars.