This is the seventeenth in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Scar’ And ‘Sacrifice'” here.
The second half of Season Two has been erratic in quality, but “The Captain’s Hand” and particularly “Downloaded” build on the confidence generated by the prior pair that the show’s creative team is recharged. It probably helps that both feature some changes in scenery, particularly in the Cylon-centric “Downloaded.”
It also helps that questions of politics and faith influence humans and Cylons in these episodes without becoming the central focus of either. As previously noted, the sci-fi setting allow the writers and the audience to consider issues – even an issue as sensitive and divisive as abortion – from angles generally not considered in the typical debate, despite our decades-low and declining fertility rate.
‘The Captain’s Hand’
Following a tryst, Dualla discovers Apollo has been promoted to Major, which he does not consider meaningful. Adm. Adama assigns Apollo to assist the new captain – and former senior engineer – of Pegasus, Cdr. Barry Garner (John Heard).
Two Raptors from Pegasus disappear during a training mission supervised by Starbuck. When Apollo arrives, Garner is blaming Starbuck for not paying attention to the mission. Garner has a chip on his shoulder over the way pilots get favorable treatment never extended to engineers like him. Apollo is annoyed that he is cleaning up after Starbuck again; the subtext is that she accidentally shot him during the recent hostage situation on Cloud Nine.
On Colonial One, Pres. Roslin holds the first meeting of her reelection campaign. Her poll numbers look good, though Roslin observes this is because her opponent, Tom Zarek, is widely considered a terrorist. Zarek, realizing he cannot beat Roslin, solicits Vice-President Baltar to run against her. Zarek argues that many voters would prefer Baltar’s scientific outlook to the religious one of Roslin or the Geminese.
On Galactica’s hangar deck, Cally and Tyrol discover a pregnant teenager named Rya (Amber Rothwell) stowed away in a shipping container. Rya asks to see Dr. Cottle.
Adama visits Cottle as he concludes his examination of Rya, who seeks an abortion. She pleads with Adama not to be returned to her Geminese family. Cottle suggests the case could be seen as one of religious persecution and Rya could request asylum – which Rya immediately does, much to Adama’s consternation.
Sarah Porter (Patricia Idlette), the Geminese representative on the Quorum of Twelve, petitions Roslin to release Rya to her parents. Porter also observes that Roslin will need Geminese support in the election. Roslin, noting that abortion is legal under colonial law, tells Porter that Rya’s asylum petition is under review and refuses her immediate release. After Porter leaves, Adama and Roslin discuss her dilemma. Roslin states that she has always been pro-choice. Adama reminds her that after the Cylon attack on the colonies, she herself said people needed to start making babies.
Meanwhile, Starbuck reviews transcripts of the garbled wireless transmissions from the training mission. She concludes the missing Raptors may have responded to a distress call. Other Raptors out on the search-and-rescue mission also receive a distress call, perhaps from the missing Raptors.
Garner is inclined to make a FTL jump to rescue his crew, while Starbuck and Apollo believe it is a familiar Cylon tactic to lure them into an ambush. Adama orders that Garner send only five Raptors as a reconnaissance-in-force. Garner defies Adama and jumps Pegasus right into a Cylon ambush. A Cylon nuclear missile strikes and disables the ship’s FTL drive.
Garner hands command of the Pegasus to Apollo while he goes to the engine room to direct repairs. While Apollo directs the Viper squads, Garner enters a compartment losing oxygen to repair the FTL drive. Garner succeeds, but dies. The Pegasus escapes the Cylons.
Adama promotes Apollo to Commander of the Pegasus and Starbuck to CAG of Galactica. Before leaving Galactica, Apollo and Starbuck reconcile, noting that neither will enjoy their new duties.
After Baltar projects that humanity will be extinct within 18 years at current birth rates, Roslin signs an executive order criminalizing abortion. However, before doing so, Roslin grants Rya’s asylum petition and permits her abortion, angering the Geminese.
Baltar states that he cannot support Roslin’s decision to curtail colonial freedoms and announces his candidacy for the presidency. His mental Six gives him a slow clap.
The episode begins nine months ago, with the Six who seduced and shielded Baltar on Caprica downloading into her new body aboard a Cylon Basestar. Upon awakening, Caprica Six has her own mental Baltar. Ten weeks later, the original Boomer downloads into a new body following her assassination by Cally aboard Galactica. Boomer is even more traumatized by the experience, screaming when she sees another of her model (Eight) among the greeting party.
Boomer continues to show strong PTSD, moving into her old apartment on Caprica. A Number Three (Lucy Lawless) recruits Caprica Six, ostensibly to help Boomer recover. Yet as Caprica Six and Boomer talk, they realize their love of humans makes them doubt the righteousness of the Cylon attack, even as they have become heroes and celebrities in a culture based on unity. It occurs to them that Three hopes their PTSD will result in them being “boxed” – moved into cryogenic storage.
Three rejoins them. As they leave, their stairwell collapses due to a bomb set in the building’s parking garage by resistance leader Sam Anders. Caprica Six’s leg is broken, but she refuses Three’s offer to kill her.
Three and Boomer discover Anders in the rubble. When Three decides to kill Anders, Caprica Six bludgeons her with a piece of rubble. She and Boomer allow Anders to escape and hope that the time it will take Three to download following the attack on the garage will give them time to marshal Cylon opinion in their favor.
Meanwhile, on Galactica, the Boomer copy gives premature birth to Hera, her child by Helo. Roslin decides Hera cannot be raised by Boomer and orders Cottle to fake the child’s death. Helo and Tyrol scatter ashes they believe are Hera’s, while Roslin and Cottle deliver the child to an adoptive mother who believes Hera is a human born under scandalous conditions on Pegasus.