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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Kobol’s Last Gleaming’


This is the eighth in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘The Hand Of God’ And ‘Colonial Day'” here.

Spoilers ahead.

The “Battlestar Galactica” season 1 finale brings almost all of the show’s simmering tensions to a full boil. “Kobol’s Last Gleaming” puts the Galactica mythos front and center, raising religious and military/civil conflicts simultaneously. Competing colonial factions clash, while a major piece of the Cylons’ motivations are revealed.

Most importantly, these conflicts all arise organically from the characters’ motivations as they have developed over the course of the season.

Let’s take a look at parts one and two.

Part One

The opening is nearly a montage. Cdr. Adama and Cpt. Apollo box; the father chides his son for treating it as sparring. Starbuck makes love to a man revealed to be Baltar; the session ends when she cries out, “Lee” (Apollo’s real name).

There is fallout. Starbuck avoids Apollo and Baltar. Apollo learns of the tryst and lectures Starbuck on the problems that would be created by her sleeping with the vice-president. Baltar’s head is shoved violently into a bathroom mirror by his mental Six.

Pres. Roslin confesses to Priestess Elosha that she has breast cancer, with only six months to live. As this news parallels the prophecy of a leader who will bring humanity to a new homeland, Elosha ironically remarks, “You have made a believer out of me.”

During a scouting mission, Boomer’s Raptor discovers and photographs a habitable planet. Roslin, Elosha and Billy examine the photos.

Roslin first sees an inhabited city with a great domed building and six spoke roads, while the others see only ruins. Elosha produces a drawing representing the planet Kobol and matching Roslin’s description. The domed building was known as the Opera House. Roslin concludes the colonies’ scriptures are true.

In the crew’s quarters, Boomer places her gun in her mouth. She is interrupted by Baltar, who is looking for Starbuck. Baltar surmises that Boomer was about to kill herself and — knowing she is a Cylon sleeper — half-encourages her by telling her there are things worse than death and to follow her heart.

As he and Six walk away from quarters, they hear a gunshot. Boomer, however, only shot her cheek and lands in the sick bay.

Meanwhile, Adama advises permanent settlement of the new planet, while Roslin resists the idea. Adama orders a survey party of Raptors to gather scientific samples.

Roslin later suggests they could find Earth if they used their captured Cylon Raider (which has long-range FTL capabilities) to retrieve the Arrow of Apollo from Caprica, in accord with scripture. Adama is surprised at Roslin’s newfound religiosity and dismisses the idea.

The survey party’s FTL jump puts them amid Cylon forces who have arrived near Kobol, including a Basestar. One Raptor is destroyed by colliding with a Raider. Another, carrying Tyrol, Cally and Baltar as passengers, is damaged by Cylon fire and heads for a crash landing on Kobol. The third Raptor is ordered to report back to Galactica.

Upon hearing the report, Starbuck proposes using their captured Raider to launch a nuclear warhead at the Cylon Basestar.

Subsequently, Roslin recruits Starbuck to use the Raider to retrieve the Arrow from Caprica. Starbuck initially refuses to disobey Adama’s orders. Roslin reveals that Adama lied to everyone about knowing Earth’s location, just to give them hope. Starbuck becomes convinced Roslin is correct.

Accordingly, during a test flight of the captured Raider, Starbuck places an encrypted call to Adama implying she knows of his deceit before making an unscheduled FTL jump. Adama knows she has gone to Caprica.

Also on Caprica, the Boomer copy attempts to calm Helo. She dares him to shoot her; he does, but only wings her shoulder. Helo decides she is still useful in assisting his escape.

Part Two

The Boomer copy then brings Helo to a museum in Delphi, mentioning that the Arrow of Apollo is kept there (suggesting the Cylons have anticipated Roslin’s plan to get to Earth via Kobol). She also reveals to Helo that she is pregnant by him.

Roslin admits she convinced Starbuck to disobey Adama’s orders. Adama demands her resignation; she refuses. Adama then says he is terminating her presidency. Roslin responds that he can come and arrest her in view of the assembled press.

Both assume the other is bluffing, but only Roslin is (the media is not onboard Colonial One). Adama directs Col. Tigh and Apollo to assemble a strike force and arrest Roslin.

Adama also visits the sick bay to offer Boomer the mission of flying her Raptor (equipped with the Cylon transponder discovered on Galactica during the mini-series) past the Cylon Basestar’s perimeter, launching a nuclear warhead, and returning to Galactica. She accepts.

Starbuck flies her Raider past the Cylon defenses around Caprica and lands near the museum. She retrieves the Arrow, but is confronted by a Six. An extended fight ensues, ending when the two women fall through a hole in the floor, rendering both unconscious.

Starbuck is revived by Helo. Starbuck sees the Boomer copy and lunges toward her, but is restrained by Helo, who reveals the pregnancy (to Starbuck’s horror).

On Colonial One, Tigh declares Roslin is under arrest. Apollo draws his sidearm on Tigh, declaring that a coup is not the answer to a bad political decision. To avoid bloodshed, Roslin tells Apollo to lower his weapon. Tigh takes Roslin and Apollo into custody.

Meanwhile, Boomer reaches the Basestar, but her missile launcher malfunctions. She decides to dock with the Cylon ship and release the warhead manually on a timer. Inside the Basestar, Boomer is met by a party of Boomers, confronting her with her true identity. Yet the Cylons allow her to leave and destroy them.

On Kobol, the crash survivors debate a plan, while Baltar is led to the nearby ruins by his mental Six. Entering the ruins transports Baltar to a restored version of the Opera House, which he somehow recognizes. Baltar and Six walk onto the stage, where she shows him the contents of a cradle; they kiss.

Adama escorts Roslin to the brig and returns to the CIC to address Apollo’s mutiny. Boomer is there. Adama congratulates Boomer for carrying out her mission despite having questions about it (an unveiled dig at his son). Boomer shoots Adama twice, sending him sprawling backward onto the big board.