Sunday, December 18, 2011

Battlestar Galactica--"The Hand of God"

“The Hand of god’ is the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. The series ends on a high note with a battle against a Cylon Basestar that mirrors the finale of Star Wars. U know fans do not like to hear that, but sneaking onto the basestar to disable the scanners parallels Ben Kenobi’s shutting down the Death Star’s tractor beam The finale fight between the Galactica and the Basestar is clearly inspired by the destruction of the Death Star. Hey, I do not say its is bad. If you are going to steal, steal from the best.

Apollo and Starbuck take sheba and Cassiopia up to the celestial navigation chamber to play heavy pet the daggit when the festivities are interrupted by a long out of use signal comes in through the navigation system. Curiosity piqued, they attempt to clean up the message, but can only determine it is an routine radio transmission from a rudimentary space craft thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years ago. Taking a viper patrol out in the general direction of the message signal, they discover a Basestar waiting in ambush. Adama works under the assumption the Cylons sent the signal out as a lure. Rather than reverse course, he opts to fight.

The Galactica has the element of surprise, but an attack would still be a desperate battle with the Colonials outnumbered two to one. Apollo brainstorms an idea to use Baltar’s ship to get into the Basestar to disable its scanners so catch the Cylons completely off guard. To gather enough recon, Adama offers Baltar his freedom, albeit marooned on a nearby planet, in exchange for the layout and guard complement of the Basestar. Baltar agrees.

The plan for Apollo and Starbuck to sneak onto the Basestar works, save for their losing the signaling device that would keep Vipers from destroying their ship. (They survive by “waggling.” True story.) The Galactica successfully destroys the Basestar. Although the entire story up until the dogfight between the Cylon Raiders and the Vipers implies are going to be outnumbered and outgunned, it never appears as though the Cylons are winning. Maybe in the Charlie Sheen sense. The dogfight loses something since it is entirely easily recognizable stock footage. Ambitious though it may be, “The Hand of God” is done on the cheap.

Nevertheless, the episode utilizes what it has. The story is not only exciting in the action sense, but also on the personal level. Sheba and Cassiopia yank their respective men aside to scold them for taking on every dangerous mission which comes along. Sheba worries that Apollo has a death wish sense Sirina died. Cassiopia wants Starbuck to stop being so reckless and build a responsible life for himself. These two scenes foreshadow what would have come in Glen larson’s early notes for the second season. Sheba was to be killed early on. Apollo would resign his commission upon her death. Starbuck would take over as head of the Blue squadron. Alas, a second season was not to be.

There are some issues with “The Hand of God.” The signal received is the 1969 moon landing. If the Galactica is just now receiving its first transmissions from Earth, then it ought to be receiving the oldest. Naturally, the moon landing was chosen for its poignancy, but the images received should have been the 1936 Olympic games or maybe even that famous first image of Felix the Cat. Boxey’s absense is conspicuous considering Apollo’s supposed death wish is a prominent plot point. Is his son not a concern? What may be the biggest deal is baltar’s release? We never find out if adama kept his word, but it is assumed he did. Certainly, Baltar would have been rescued from his marooning and returned to haunt the fleet in later episodes had they been produced. Surely adama would lose much prestige in the eyes of the survivors for releasing the man responsible for the destruction of the Twelve Colonies. I let these issues pass, however. “The Hand of God” is still a worthy resolution even with its issues and lack of originality. I find myself lamenting what a continuation of the series might have entailed because of the episode, so it did its job.

Eddie Seidel, Jr. famously took the cancellation tragically much harder.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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