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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Collaborators’ And ‘Torn’


This is the 21st in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Exodus’ (Parts 1 And 2)” here.

Spoilers ahead.

Although “Exodus” concluded the New Caprica narrative, the Cylon occupation left characters scarred, particularly Starbuck (who lost Kacey, whom she believed was her daughter) and Tigh (who was forced to kill Ellen for collaboration). The fallout is explored at length in these episodes.

“Collaborators” was foreshadowed during the occupation, when Tyrol told Jammer that those who worked with the Cylons would be hanged someday. The writers had plenty of historical examples for inspiration. Post-World War II France had its share of retaliation, and not just extra-judicial killings. Women who took Nazi boyfriends were often sexually assaulted or had their heads shaved to identify them as traitors.

The episode’s proposed Truth & Reconciliation Commission also has precedents, notably in post-Apartheid South Africa, but also in various Latin American nations during the 1990s.

In “Torn,” Baltar navigates his continued collaboration with his Cylon hosts and captors. Caprica Six wrestles with her feelings toward Baltar, while the Cylons set their sights on Earth.


With Baltar missing, Vice-President Zarek becomes President. Lacking Adama’s support, Zarek offers Roslin the Vice-Presidency, understanding that he will resign, making her President – at which point she will rename Zarek as Veep.

However, Zarek already secretly used an order Baltar signed during the occupation to establish the Circle, which considers evidence and summarily executes those unanimously judged to be collaborators. The six-member group, which includes Tigh, Anders, and Tryol, is busy, including ejecting former New Caprica policeman Jammer from a Viper launch tube (despite his truthful claim that he helped Cally escape the Cylon firing squad).

Baltar awakens from a dream of absolution by Roslin and Adama to find himself aboard a Cylon Basestar. If his bed was comfortable, the Centurion guarding his door makes him otherwise.

Starbuck is not sleeping well and rejecting Anders’s affection.

Gaeta returns to the CIC on Adama’s orders. Tigh lashes out, asking Gaeta whether he knows where Tigh’s missing eye is. Adama gently escorts Tigh from the CIC.

Later, the Circle considers the case against Gaeta. Although Gaeta assisted Baltar and saw the execution list, Tyrol and Anders are troubled by the lack of direct evidence. Anders leaves; Tryol relies on that departure to delay his vote.

On the Basestar, the lead Three informs Baltar the Cylons are deadlocked over whether to keep him, with the Sixes holding the decisive vote. Caprica Six later tells Baltar her feelings for him must stop, while Baltar asserts their love cannot be dismissed.

In the officers’ mess, Starbuck lectures Gaeta about her imprisonment on New Caprica. Gaeta tells her he provided intelligence to the insurgents; she does not believe him. Indeed, Starbuck has become the new sixth member of the Circle and votes to convict Gaeta. The rest of the group pressures Tyrol into a unanimous verdict.

The Circle seizes Gaeta. He refuses to beg for his life. Starbuck kicks him and demands that he tell the others about his claim he was a mole. When Gaeta mentions a yellow dog bowl used to signal the insurgents of a new intelligence drop, Tyrol realizes Gaeta is telling the truth and frees him.

Roslin and Adama confront Zarek about the Circle. Zarek argues that real trials would consume Roslin’s coming term and make her the executioner-in-chief.

Roslin is re-sworn as President. She announces the formation of a Commission on Truth & Reconciliation for all to tell their stories of the occupation. She also pardons all collaborators, arguing it will be unpopular, but necessary.


On the Basestar, Three and Caprica Six ask Baltar about Earth’s location. When Baltar responds that he does not know, the Cylons note the information would have helped him remain onboard. Baltar immediately admits he had been researching how to find Earth.

On Galactica, Apollo (who has lost significant weight) grounds Starbuck after her recklessness during training damages her Viper. Starbuck also callously rebuffs a visit from Kacey and her mother.

Gaeta is studying Baltar’s notes on the course to Earth. He believes Galactica should seek a nebula shaped like a lion’s head, containing two pulsars that make the lion appear to blink.

In the officers’ mess, Sharon is given a callsign: “Athena.” Former enemies Tigh and Starbuck bond over booze and the complaint that those who lived under Cylon occupation had it much worse than those that stayed with Galactica.

Caprica Six begins to teach Baltar about projection, which allows Cylons to change their perception of their surroundings. Baltar, observing that he has seen only seven of the twelve Cylon models, asks Six about the Final Five models. She tells him they are not discussed.

The Cylons learn the Basestar sent to the Lion’s Head Nebula based on Baltar’s information has been infected by a biological virus. The Cylons fear the infection could spread to the entire race via resurrection.

On Six’s mental advice, Baltar volunteers to investigate (lest the Cylons suspect Baltar laid a trap for them). In this way the Resurrection Ship may be kept away from the infected Cylons. Before leaving, Baltar is introduced by Six to the Hybrid – a Cylon that functions as the brain of a Basestar.

Baltar visits the infected Basestar, takes photographs and collects a blood sample from a dying Six. He learns the source of the virus is a beacon left in the area, apparently by humans. When the Six accuses him of having led the Cylons into a trap, he strangles her. Baltar reports he found nothing important on the infected ship, but Caprica Six and perhaps Three notice the beacon in a photograph.

Adama asks Helo about Tigh and Starbuck. Helo confirms the pair spend most of their time drinking and destroying morale.

Adama goes down to the officers’ mess and requests that one of them shoot him. When neither obliges him, Adama essentially orders them to shape up or ship out. Starbuck ultimately goes to the showers and cuts her hair back to the length it was before settling on New Caprica. She also visits Kacey and her mother. Tigh confines himself to his own quarters and continues drinking.

Athena and Racetrack, conducting reconnaissance of the Lion’s Head Nebula, discover the abandoned Basestar and wings of dead Cylon Raiders.