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Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?’ And ‘Sine Qua Non’


This is the 32nd in a series of “Battlestar Galactica” recaps. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the franchise. Read the last piece, “Revisiting Battlestar Galactica: ‘The Road Less Traveled’ And ‘Faith’” here.

Spoilers ahead.

In yet another de facto two-parter, events natural and supernatural conspire to fracture a fragile alliance of humanity with the rebel Cylons almost as soon as it is formed. “Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?” is an apt reference to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the 1967 dramedy about a proposed interracial marriage – and how much it disturbed the white liberal parents who thought themselves less prejudiced than they really were. Even the black maid’s concerns here are vaguely echoed in Athena’s role severing the alliance.

Athena acts as she does because of her daughter, which foreshadows the theme of “Sine Qua Non,” which is Latin for that which we cannot do without. Adm. Adama initially rejects Athena’s and Col. Tigh’s sine qua nons as rationalizing their behavior; he ultimately accepts them when he realizes Pres. Roslin has become essential in his life.

‘Guess What’s Coming to Dinner?’

In a broadcast, Baltar reveals Roslin has been sharing visions with Athena and Caprica Six. On Colonial One, Roslin privately admits to Apollo that Baltar is correct.

The Demetrius and the damaged Cylon Basestar plan to join the fleet. A technical glitch causes the Basestar to arrive first, lacking the ability to signal it is under colonial control. The fleet prepares to attack, but Col. Tigh senses something wrong and holds fire long enough for the Demetrius to arrive and vouch for the Basestar.

Gaeta is taken to the sickbay, where he loses his right leg below the knee. He can be heard singing to ease his trauma throughout the episode.

Natalie Six is questioned by Adama, Roslin, Tigh, and Tory. She explains the Cylon civil war is based on her faction’s desire to find Earth with the help of the Final Five, whom she reveals are among the fleet. To build trust, Natalie offers to take Galactica to the Hub that services the Resurrection Ships, not only to unbox the Threes who can identify the Final Five, but also to destroy the Cylons’ ability to resurrect.

Roslin agrees to the mission, but Tigh (probably fearing discovery as one of the Five) later advocates destroying the Hub upon arrival. Roslin decides they will help unbox the Threes, but refuse to turn over the Final Five until they reach Earth.

Similarly, Natalie privately plots to have Centurions take human hostages as insurance.

Roslin, Athena, and Caprica Six share another vision of the Opera House, in which Hera is taken by Caprica Six and Baltar. Athena awakens to find Hera staring at her. Hera says “Bye, bye.”

As Roslin undergoes another cancer treatment, Starbuck tells her of the Hybrid’s prophecy that “the dying leader shall know the truth of the Opera House.” Starbuck agrees to help Roslin discover the meaning of the message.

Apollo warns Roslin the Quorum may take a “no confidence” vote over her plan for the joint mission with the Cylons. Roslin speaks to the Quorum. So does Natalie, who explains the rebel Cylons’ mortality gives their lives meaning and dissuades them from war. The rebels want to find Earth and bring their message to all Cylons. Roslin gains the Quorum’s support.

Natalie second-guesses her plan. Leoben believes it too late to change course, but agrees to speak to the Centurions while Natalie stalls Adama.

Baltar meets Roslin aboard a Raptor. Roslin informs him they are going to meet the Hybrid because he was in her vision.

Athena finds Hera has filled her coloring book with drawings of blonde women and the number six. When Athena looks up, Hera has vanished. Athena searches Galactica’s corridors in a panic, echoing her vision.

Hera has found Natalie, under a security escort en route to Adama. Natalie is talking to Hera when Athena discovers them. Athena draws her sidearm, asserting that Natalie will not take her child. Although Natalie denies any such intent, Athena shoots her twice.

On the Basestar, Roslin and Baltar are taken to see the Hybrid. When the Hybrid is reconnected, she immediately causes the Basestar to jump away from the fleet, taking with them half the Viper force, which was aboard for the joint mission.

‘Sine Qua Non’

Natalie is rushed to the sickbay, but dies on the operating table.

The Quorum is alarmed at Roslin’s apparent abduction by the Cylons. Apollo concedes that Adama likely will oppose Zarek as acting President. He recruits Romo Lampkin to assist in the search for an interim President.

Adama angrily questions Athena about the shooting. Athena explains her vision, but Adama believes she violated the trust he placed in her. Athena is taken to the brig.

Adama now must protect the fleet and search for the Basestar with only half of his Viper forces. A Raptor jumps into range of the fleet. By the time Racetrack reaches that ship, its pilot has died but Adama’s copy of the novel Searider Falcon is found on board. The Raptor’s data recorder reveals its prior location.

A scouting mission finds the wreckage of the Hub and a Basestar. Adama chooses to believe it was not the rebel Basestar. He orders Raptors to wait for that ship to return.

In his quarters, Adama confronts Tigh about his private meetings with Caprica Six, having learned she is pregnant. Adama feels betrayed. Tigh accuses him of risking the fleet to search for Roslin. The two briefly fight, but quickly tire of it.

Lampkin concludes Apollo is the only logical choice for interim President. Yet when he informs Apollo, he almost kills him. Lampkin feels guilt over leaving his wife to die during the Cylon attack on the colonies. Apollo already knew about Lampkin’s past from the search for Baltar’s counsel and dissuades Lampkin from murder.

Apollo is sworn in as President. Adama, realizing his love for Roslin has affected his judgment, surrenders his command to Tigh. Adama’s final order is to reunite Athena with Hera, noting that everyone needs their family.

Adama boards a Raptor to remain in case the rebel Basestar reappears. As the fleet jumps away, Adama sits and reads the singed copy of Searider Falcon.