This is the sixteenth in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Epiphanies’ And ‘Black Market’” here.
After two weaker episodes, “Scar” is a marked improvement and “Sacrifice” a slighter one. Taken together, they emphasize the series is at its best when the saga is driven organically by its characters.
“Scar” concerns the burdens carried by the fleet’s Viper pilots. It is a situation seen enough – in “33,” “Act of Contrition” and “Final Cut” – that it would seems stale, but for the way the writers use it to explore characters. “Scar” focuses on the growing rivalry and animosity between Starbuck and Kat. While Kat is a tertiary character, she has been developed sufficiently in some of the episodes just mentioned that the audience can understand both characters’ motives and care about their conflict.
“Sacrifice” is less successful due to lack of character development. The villain Sesha (Dana Delany) is a new character with mixed motives. We understand how revenge mutates into a conspiratorial mindset, but never see it. The episode also ends the romantic triangle involving Apollo, Dualla, and Billy – but that storyline was underdeveloped, which detracts from its denouement here.
The episode is told as a flashback (a device relied upon too much recently) during a dogfight involving Starbuck and Kat against Scar – the most formidable Raider in the Cylon fleet. The stakes are high, because according to Boomer Scar may have reincarnated a dozen times, with all of the experience and range that entails. Yet with the Cylons’ Resurrection Ship destroyed, Scar can be killed permanently.
In the pilots’ mess, Starbuck drinks from the stein she was awarded as Galactica’s top gun. She boasts she will kill Scar, who just killed another pilot with his usual tactic of hiding in an asteroid field, taking advantage of the uselessness of radar to destroy a Viper from behind and jumping away before the wing pilot can take a shot. Scar has an ideal situation because Galactica is protecting a mining ship in a debris field where an asteroid contains the ore necessary to rebuild damaged Vipers.
Kat bets Starbuck the stein that she will be the one to kill Scar. The two argue: Starbuck calls Kat a stimulant junkie, while Kat accuses Starbuck of becoming another drunk like Tigh. Kat has a point. Starbuck is drinking heavily to drown her feelings for Sam Anders, the resistance leader on Caprica she vowed to rescue. She has not convinced Adm. Adama or Pres. Roslin of the value of a rescue mission.
Kat is proving herself the sharper pilot in a briefing, training, and in boosting the morale of rookie pilots. Starbuck, sinking into alcohol and despair, provides advice that proves fatal to a rookie in a confrontation with Scar. She even drunkenly seduces Apollo, only to reject him during foreplay, admitting she is trying to “get over a dead man.”
The morning after this binge, another pilot dies on a patrol Starbuck was too hung over to fly. Kat calls out Starbuck. During the ensuing argument, Starbuck accuses Kat of riding her to cover up her own fear of Scar. Kat punches Starbuck, but when Apollo appears to order them to patrol together, Starbuck does not report Kat.
Instead, the two fly a patrol, where a Cylon Raider acts as a decoy to draw out Kat. Starbuck realizes this in time to turn and confront Scar, who damages Starbuck’s Viper. Starbuck is then pursued by Scar through the asteroid field until she sets up a game of chicken. Ultimately, Starbuck breaks off but leads Scar to Kat, who kills Scar.
On Galactica, Starbuck fills the stein she has ceded to Kat, then toasts the dead Viper pilots, naming all the names the other pilots have admitted forgetting. Starbuck confides in Helo that she broke off her attack because she cannot forget Anders.
Sesha Abinell formulates a plan as she remembers the death of her husband in a Cylon attack. She stares at one of those collages that conspiracy theorists always assemble, this one suggesting the military has been infiltrated by and is colluding with Cylons.
Sesha listens to a transmission accusing the military (correctly) of harboring a copy of Boomer. Roslin, Billy and Adama are also listening and debating how to respond. Billy argues for going public. After the meeting Billy proposes to Dualla, but she refuses him.
Later, on the Cloud Nine, Dualla and Apollo are dating in a bar where Ellen Tigh and Sesha have also arrived. While Apollo gets drinks at the bar, Dualla is confronted by Billy, who is there on business. At the bar, Apollo notices something wrong about Sesha. He ushers Ellen and her dry ice-filled drink into the restroom, which Ellen misreads as an imminent tryst.
Sesha and her gunmen seize control of the bar and close the security door. Apollo takes Ellen’s drink. While he opens a service panel and places the dry ice near an oxygen sensor, she foolishly reenters the bar to open communications with Galactica.
Sesha demands that Adama turn over Boomer within two hours. Apollo subdues a gunman in the restroom and brings him out into the bar, but Sesha calls his bluff and forces him to disarm.
Due to Apollo’s subterfuge, the oxygen alarm goes off , requiring Sesha to allow a technician to conduct repairs. Starbuck, posing as the technician, convinces them to leave the security door half open for oxygen, then begins firing as marines attempt to enter under the security door.
A gunman and two marines are killed in the crossfire. Starbuck escapes, but not before wounding Apollo with friendly fire. Dualla has Billy assist in packing Apollo’s wound. Roslin tells Adama they cannot negotiate with terrorists. Adama tells Sesha he will turn over Boomer, but not alive. Adama explains Sesha convinced him that he was played by Boomer.
Once Boomer’s body is delivered, Sesha realizes Adama sent the original Boomer’s corpse, but it provides the opportunity for a second attack on Sesha’s team. Sesha and Billy are both killed in the gunfight. In the morgue, Adama meets Roslin. She grieves for Billy, who was the closest she had to family. Meanwhile, Dualla comforts Apollo in the sick bay, overheard by Starbuck.