Saturday, December 17, 2011

Battlestar Galactica--"Take the Celestra"

“Take the Celestra” is the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica. It is another bottle show dealing with conditions within the fleet. The idea is a good one. We have not seen any of the rough conditions in which the survivors have been living under since the second hour of the pilot. Since then, we have seen wealthier survivors living in relative comfort, casinos, dance halls, and a game room anyone can use. Much like on Star Trek; Voyager, roughing it seems to be a relative term. Why the series waited until the series end to show us the underbelly is beyond me.

“Take the Celestra“ was a troubled shoot. Aside from the regular issue of a tight budget, the story of a coup on one of the ships called for several violent sequences. Some of those violent scenes were written as commercial break cliffhangers or cut aways to other scenes. In television censoring terms, each time a violent sequence is introduced, then cut away from by either commercial or another scene, and then returned to, it is considered a separate act of violence. To cap it off, the climax features an onscreen death. The powers that be were forced to do battle with the network over what could finally make it to air. What made it is quite good for a bottle show.

Adama is hosting an award ceremony for Kronos, current captain of the Celestra and former battlestar commander. During the ceremony, Starbuck spots an old flame of his, Aurora, whom he believed to be killed when the Colonies were destroyed. He catches up with her afterwards, but she is not much interested in talking to him. It would have been easy to confirm she was still alive. As far as she is concerned, starbuck never cared to search for her. She is also motivated by the coup she and her new fellow are plotting against Kronos.

Starbuck convinces Apollo to accompany him on a routine check on the Celestra so he can patch things up with Aurora. They arrive right in the middle of the armed revolt. They manage to stop the coup and arrest Aurora and her co-conspirator, Dannon. Never trust a guy named after yogurt, people. I cannot stress that enough. However, their shuttle is reprogrammed to head off into deep space by hermes, the Celestra second-in-command, Charka, so he can commit a second coup. The cup is eventually defeated, but with the sacrifice of Kronos’ life and Starbuck’s broken heart.

I am left wondering exactly how Aurora, dannon, and Charka ever thought they could stay in command of the Celestra after overthrowing Kronos. Even if the Celestra struck out on its own, which there were no plans for it to do so, it would have been overpowered by the colonial warriors anyway. Kronos was said to be a brutal tyrant, probably due to the ego bruise of no longer commanding a battlestar, but there is not much of his character display to bear that out. He is definitely a straightlaced military type, but not a tyrant. Exactly how are the people in his charge suffering/ Are they really, or are the conspirayors merely hungry for power? I am not certain. These are two murky plot points.

In spite of those murky plot points, “Take the Celestra” is a good action oriented episode. The Starbuck/Aurora subplot would work far better if Starbuck had not admitted to Chameleon a few episode bsck that Casseopia is the only woman he has ever truly loved. The admission makes it difficult to accept he ever had any sort of attachment to Aurora. It is a minot gripe, however. The series is filling out its episode order at this point, so serious complaints about what makes it to the airwaves is like complaining about the amenities on a sinking ship.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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