Battlestar Galactica: You Can’t Go Home Again

I think we had much of the discussion last week, owing to the fact that the Brits have already watched the first season, and the Americans are one week ahead of the Canucks– whose country, curiously, provides the show’s locations.

Anyway, the acting remains strong in Part 2, but the writing grows weaker.


“You Can’t Go Home Again”

Cast and Crew:

Katee Sackhoff as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
Edward James Olmos as Commander Adama
Mary McDonnell as President Laura Roslin
Jamie Bamber as Lee “Apollo” Adama
James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar
Grace Park as Sharon “Boomer” Valerii
Bodie Olmos as Hot Dog
Michael Hogan as Col. Tigh
Tahmoh Penikett Helo
Tricia Helfer as Number 6

Writer: Carla Robinson

Director: Sergio Mimica-Gezzan

Plot:

Adama places the entire fleet and the only known human population at risk in the hopes of rescuing one pilot. Meanwhile, Starbuck must survive on a desolate moon, a crashed Cylon her only hope of escape.

High Points:

1. The episode handled Starbuck’s initial experiences on the moon effectively.

2. Although it moves rather slowly, the Caprica plot has become interesting. It could be interesting to see an entire episode concerning soldiers surviving in occupied territory.

Low Points:

Do I need to say it? This show has taken great pains to be realistic, within the context of their necessarily handwaviated premise. This episode throws plausibility out the window. I understand that Adama has mixed feelings, but he would not put the entire human race at risk for that length of time in order to save a single pilot, especially after that pilot’s air supply was exhausted. As for Starbuck’s miraculous ability to fly an unfamiliar ship with a bizarre interface after a day of repairs…. Did she take part in a training exchange with Starfleet Academy, or what?

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6. Duty vs Personal Feelings. It’s not that it’s a bad plot premise at all, only that it is an old one. Additionally, the story bears a strange resemblance to one of the few Galactica 1980s I’ve watched, “The Return of Starbuck.” The manner in which this Galactica’s Starbuck tries to save herself, meanwhile, has become an SF cliche.

Effects: 6/6. Apart from the usual excellent space shots, this episode features a great visual when Thrace’s parachute pulls her along the ground.

Story: 3/6 I enjoyed this, but…. See “Low Points”

Acting: 6/6

Emotional Response: 4/6.

Production: 5/6.

Overall: 4/6

In total, “You Can’t Go Home Again” receives 30/42

Additional Comments and Musings:

1. Have they referred to alcohol as “ambrosia” before this episode? Ambrosia was, of course, the Food of the Gods in Classical Mythology, and the alcohol of choice in the original Battlestar Galactica.

2. Puking in space– yet another good reason to have artificial gravity.

3. You know, it would’ve been the ultimate grim twist if Apollo had shot down Starbuck.

32 replies on “Battlestar Galactica: You Can’t Go Home Again”

  1. J_W_W says:

    Actaully
    This was my favorite episode so far. I do agree with your reference to the episode from Galactica 1980 with Starbuck. It was one of the only ones in that series that was any good at all.

    From the start of the episode I expected she would find the raider because of that old episode with Starbuck.

    I will forgive the patching issue and belive that spacesuit has some property that would keep it in place. And while dramatically and even logically it would have been “right” for Apollo to blow her out of the sky, I probably would have stopped watching if that had happened.

    As hesitant as I was knowing that Starbuck would be played by a woman this time, I like the new Starbuck a lot. She puts a new spin on the character, but there are shadows of the old Starbuck that show through. This episode had quite a few of these character moments for Starbuck.

    • vanyel says:

      Re: Actaully

      As hesitant as I was knowing that Starbuck would be played by a woman this time, I like the new Starbuck a lot. She puts a new spin on the character, but there are shadows of the old Starbuck that show through. This episode had quite a few of these character moments for Starbuck.

      I have to agree: I was a little worried about Starbuck, but she’s a great character played perfectly by Katee.

      As far as ambrosia, they haven’t referred to it much in this series, but they did a lot in the original…

    • TomSwiss says:

      Re: Actaully

      I will forgive the patching issue and belive that spacesuit has some property that would keep it in place.

      I took a careful look at this scene when the ep was rebroadcast. It’s a very brief shot, but she wraps a piece of fabric (something from her suit I presume) around what appears to be a chunk of tissue/meat from the Cylon, making a patch with enough structure to it to wedge in the hole. I think it’s quite likely her patch could work.

      As for being able to fly the thing, it’s not a completely alien craft – Cylons were originally created by humans, it’s not unreasonable that there are design legacies. Yeah, it’s stretching it that she could still outfly Apollo…

      As for putting the whole fleet at risk, one issue not discussed as a motive for the search is that she is apparently the only qualified military flight instructor left. Lose her, you lose or at least greatly reduce the ability to train new pilots, and they are dangerously shorthanded. Add that on top of the personal issues, and I can believe that Adama could convince himself that he was justified. Would have been nice to make that explict, though.

      • joe__gee says:

        Re: Actaully

        As for putting the whole fleet at risk, one issue not discussed as a motive for the search is that she is apparently the only qualified military flight instructor left. Lose her, you lose or at least greatly reduce the ability to train new pilots, and they are dangerously shorthanded. Add that on top of the personal issues, and I can believe that Adama could convince himself that he was justified. Would have been nice to make that explict, though.

        Agreed. My thinking was that Starbuck *is* the fleet’s only qualified flight instructor. They probably should have been searching, and considering that Adama is not a very transparent man — he says what he does and does what he says — rather than wasting energy trying to disguise what he’s doing as a “military necessity” he just goes ahead and does it.

        This show gets better and better. No episode seems to be wasted, every episode advances the plot and ratchets up the tension.

        Being an impatient person, although I live in the U.S. I have managed to finish viewing this season. The level of tension acheived at the season’s end is breathtaking, and virtually everything we’re seeing now comes into play. Nothing is wasted.

        Man these writers really know their craft.

        -Joe G.

        P.S. Does it seem to anyone else that the theme song is different between the U.S. and U.K. version?

        • OrangeCarrot says:

          Re: Actaully

          P.S. Does it seem to anyone else that the theme song is different between the U.S. and U.K. version?

          Yes, I think the US version has some drums during the vocal sequence where the UK version just has the Enya style vocals. I haven’t done a side-by-side though.

        • joe__gee says:

          IS a very transparent man ,,,

          Agreed. My thinking was that Starbuck *is* the fleet’s only qualified flight instructor. They probably should have been searching, and considering that Adama is not a very transparent man — he says what he does and does what he says — rather than wasting energy trying to disguise what he’s doing as a “military necessity” he just goes ahead and does it.

          Not “is not.” Sometimes editing can be a bad thing.

          -Joe G.

          • nkuzmik says:

            Re: IS a very transparent man ,,,

            Agreed. My thinking was that Starbuck *is* the fleet’s only qualified flight instructor. They probably should have been searching, and considering that Adama is not a very transparent man — he says what he does and does what he says — rather than wasting energy trying to disguise what he’s doing as a “military necessity” he just goes ahead and does it.

            Not “is not.” Sometimes editing can be a bad thing.

            -Joe G.

            Care to expand n that a bit?

            • joe__gee says:

              Re: IS a very transparent man ,,,

              Agreed. My thinking was that Starbuck *is* the fleet’s only qualified flight instructor. They probably should have been searching, and considering that Adama is not a very transparent man — he says what he does and does what he says — rather than wasting energy trying to disguise what he’s doing as a “military necessity” he just goes ahead and does it.

              Care to expand n that a bit?

              Should read “… and considering that Adama is a very transparent man …”

              By ovr editing, changing my wording, and missing a word I completely nullified the point I was trying to make. :)

              -Joe

  2. Drew1Down says:

    remember 40,000 people!
    if i was commanding i would go back for her (and not just because she is cute) because who else is going to teach ppl how to fly those old rust buckets, remember this is not star trek, they can’t get some other personal transfer from another planet, space station or ship there are only 40,000 of them and they are on the run. And it builds up the “human” aspect of the charchers, they are not mindless robots who have to follow EVERY rule.

    • Babbster says:

      Re: remember 40,000 people!

      if i was commanding i would go back for her (and not just because she is cute) because who else is going to teach ppl how to fly those old rust buckets…

      I don’t know. How about Lee “Apollo” Adama, the guy in charge of all the fighters on the ship? If all else failed, Big Adama had plenty of flight time and could impart the essentials while his son handled the bulk of the training time.

      No, I don’t think you can pretend that Adama had reasonable military justification for what he did. He did it (and everyone clearly knew it) because he considered Kara his daughter…nothing more, nothing less. What everyone else probably decided was that they needed HIM more than any other single person in the fleet. In every other case, he’s been a steady hand, willing to make tough decisions and yet also willing to work with the civilian government. ADAMA is the human asset the fleet truly can’t replace, and as such if he occasionally needs slack to be cut (even a lot of it), the rest of the military will do it because they’re loyal and the civilians will do it because I don’t think they could imagine running and protecting the fleet without him.

      • octa says:

        Re: remember 40,000 people!
        Very nicely said, I think that’s a perfect explanation.

      • TomSwiss says:

        Re: remember 40,000 people!

        I don’t know. How about Lee “Apollo” Adama, the guy in charge of all the fighters on the ship?

        He’s not a flight instructor. Being a good pilot doesn’t mean you can be a competent instructor. A fairly big deal was made out of the fact that there were only (IIRC) three qualified flight instructors in the fleet, and all but Kara were civilians – she tried to get Adama to have someone else do it, but she was the only one for the job.

        (I teach karate. I’ve met some amazing pracitioners who can’t teach, and I can teach reasonablly well but my own technique is mediocre.)

        Of course Adama had his own personal issues, and you make a good point about how irreplacable he is. But Kara’s value to the fleet is also very high, just adding to the complications. :-)

  3. Drew1Down says:

    Story lines
    this is the best show on TV. It reminds me alot of Babylon 5 where a story is set and is followed till the end, and unlike other scifi shows i can’t predict what will happen, with star trek it was ez, everyone lives happly ever after, there is no risk at the end. But with BG i have no idea what will happen because the only thing that can happen is for them to make a bad situation a little better. And that is the makings of a great show! :)

    • vanyel says:

      Re: Story lines

      this is the best show on TV. It reminds me alot of Babylon 5 where a story is set and is followed till the end

      I was thinking exactly the same thing the other day: they’re crafting a great story arc here, made up from independently watcheable components, though I think that’s going to be less and less the case. The caprica subplot in particular would already make no sense to someone not following it (it’s hanging on by a thread for those of us who *are* watching it ;-) ).

      Now Andromeda…I actually have been watching it for the last couple of seasons (I skipped a year after it got too much religion), and I’m still lost and just going along out of morbid curiosity to see where it goes.

      • Trekkie says:

        Re: Story lines

        Now Andromeda…I actually have been watching it for the last couple of seasons (I skipped a year after it got too much religion), and I’m still lost and just going along out of morbid curiosity to see where it goes.

        It is like watching a train wreck. every time for some damn reason I keep watching it, not sure why. I’m about a week behind in episodes but each episode seems like a total non-sequitor of the previous one other than ‘these 5 people’ and ‘seefra system’ are involved.

    • roseblood says:

      Re: Story lines

      But with BG i have no idea what will happen because the only thing that can happen is for them to make a bad situation a little better. And that is the makings of a great show! :)

      Yeah, I mean, the terrorist from Bastille Day might get a cylon pregnant, the guy stuck on caprica w/ the cylon might become the V.P. of the colonies, Baltar might assasinate Starbuck, The Chief from the flight deck might find out Adama is a Cylon, and Adama being a cylon will assanate the new VP (the terrorist from Bastille Day.)

      • roseblood says:

        Re: Story lines

        But with BG i have no idea what will happen because the only thing that can happen is for them to make a bad situation a little better. And that is the makings of a great show! :)

        Yeah, I mean, the terrorist from Bastille Day might get a cylon pregnant, the guy stuck on caprica w/ the cylon might become the V.P. of the colonies, Baltar might assasinate Starbuck, The Chief from the flight deck might find out Adama is a Cylon, and Adama being a cylon will assanate the new VP (the terrorist from Bastille Day.)

        PS: these are NOT real spoilers.

        • nkuzmik says:

          Re: Story lines

          But with BG i have no idea what will happen because the only thing that can happen is for them to make a bad situation a little better. And that is the makings of a great show! :)

          Yeah, I mean, the terrorist from Bastille Day might get a cylon pregnant, the guy stuck on caprica w/ the cylon might become the V.P. of the colonies, Baltar might assasinate Starbuck, The Chief from the flight deck might find out Adama is a Cylon, and Adama being a cylon will assanate the new VP (the terrorist from Bastille Day.)

          PS: these are NOT real spoilers.

          Are you feeling well?

          Do you have a fever?

          What are you smoking and where can I get some?

        • joe__gee says:

          Re: Story lines

          Yeah, I mean, the terrorist from Bastille Day might get a cylon pregnant, the guy stuck on caprica w/ the cylon might become the V.P. of the colonies, Baltar might assasinate Starbuck, The Chief from the flight deck might find out Adama is a Cylon, and Adama being a cylon will assanate the new VP (the terrorist from Bastille Day.)

          PS: these are NOT real spoilers.

          Not real spoilers, but very well done. :)

          -Joe G.

          • roseblood says:

            Re: Story lines

            Yeah, I mean, the terrorist from Bastille Day might get a cylon pregnant, the guy stuck on caprica w/ the cylon might become the V.P. of the colonies, Baltar might assasinate Starbuck, The Chief from the flight deck might find out Adama is a Cylon, and Adama being a cylon will assanate the new VP (the terrorist from Bastille Day.)

            PS: these are NOT real spoilers.

            Not real spoilers, but very well done. :)

            -Joe G.

            Why thankyou. I take it you’ve seen the whole season from Sky-one yourself?

    • J_W_W says:

      Re: Story lines

      this is the best show on TV. It reminds me alot of Babylon 5 where a story is set and is followed till the end

      Lately, I had the occasional slip of saying Babylon 5 when referring to Battlestar Galactica.

      I think this is a good indication that Battlestar Galactica is well on its way to being the second best sci-fi show ever on television.

      Now, contending for the title … I guess we’ll see.

      • Trekkie says:

        Re: Story lines

        this is the best show on TV. It reminds me alot of Babylon 5 where a story is set and is followed till the end

        Lately, I had the occasional slip of saying Babylon 5 when referring to Battlestar Galactica.

        I think this is a good indication that Battlestar Galactica is well on its way to being the second best sci-fi show ever on television.

        Now, contending for the title … I guess we’ll see.

        Bab5 still in the lead in my book, but BG might give it a run for its money depending on where it goes over the next year or two.

        • nkuzmik says:

          Re: Story lines

          this is the best show on TV. It reminds me alot of Babylon 5 where a story is set and is followed till the end

          Lately, I had the occasional slip of saying Babylon 5 when referring to Battlestar Galactica.

          I think this is a good indication that Battlestar Galactica is well on its way to being the second best sci-fi show ever on television.

          Now, contending for the title … I guess we’ll see.

          Bab5 still in the lead in my book, but BG might give it a run for its money depending on where it goes over the next year or two.

          In my little world, B5 is probably the best SF series that I have seen. I will not deny it has its flaws and weaknesses, but the strengths of the show outweigh them by orders of magnitude.

          That BSG is on what, its 4th or 5th episode here in the States and is already being considered a possible contender…

          That speaks very highly of the cast and crew behind BSG.

          Okay, less typing, more working

  4. jayhawk88 says:

    The value of human life *Maybe spoilers*
    I think between this episode, and the prison riot one, the writers missed a real opportunity for a very good show. Namely, exploring the value of one human life when your species is on the verge of extinction.

    Starbuck is obviously one of the most important people left in the human race; probably top 10. She’s the best pilot they have in protecting the rest of the fleet, and has the ability to train others in protection as well. The idea of risking all others for one life may not be such a wrong thing in this case (within reason of course).

    By contrast, the prisoners value to humanity is much less than most others, too the point they might become a liability that cannot be tolerated. It could be possible that realizing you are one of only 40k+ humans left alive would cause a lot of the prisoners to forget the past, and become functioning members of society, but what about the others? Can you afford to feed and shelter a person who is contributing nothing to the survival of the species? Do you trust a man convicted of murder to ever roam free in your general population again, when there is even a chance he may kill again? What if he ends up killing someone like Starbuck?

    Since I’m not a writer I don’t know how you would have written this “show”, but I think it would have been better to ditch the whole “Dude Where’s My Organic Cylon Fighter” thing, and put Starbuck in peril with the prisoners somehow.

    • joe__gee says:

      Re: The value of human life *Maybe spoilers*

      Starbuck is obviously one of the most important people left in the human race; probably top 10. She’s the best pilot they have in protecting the rest of the fleet, and has the ability to train others in protection as well. The idea of risking all others for one life may not be such a wrong thing in this case (within reason of course.

      Excellent point. She’s not just another pilot. In some ways she is more valuable than Lee. Lee might be better for morale, but Starbuck is more functional, even if she’s not higher ranking.

      -Joe G.

    • valen1260 says:

      Re: The value of human life *Maybe spoilers*

      Starbuck is obviously one of the most important people left in the human race; probably top 10. She’s the best pilot they have in protecting the rest of the fleet, and has the ability to train others in protection as well. The idea of risking all others for one life may not be such a wrong thing in this case (within reason of course).

      It seems people are overlooking that she’s not just teaching people how to fly, but that she’s teaching them how to fly in what amount to “Model A’s in space”.

      By contrast, the prisoners value to humanity is much less than most others, too the point they might become a liability that cannot be tolerated. It could be possible that realizing you are one of only 40k+ humans left alive would cause a lot of the prisoners to forget the past, and become functioning members of society, but what about the others? Can you afford to feed and shelter a person who is contributing nothing to the survival of the species? Do you trust a man convicted of murder to ever roam free in your general population again, when there is even a chance he may kill again? What if he ends up killing someone like Starbuck?

      Not to mention that if anger, temperament, disposition, and even the criminal mind have any roots in genetics, wouldn’t you remove that from your population if you could? Even if your population is on the verge of extinction, it probably still serves to not let these people reproduce.

      • GrimSean says:

        Re: The value of human life *Maybe spoilers*

        Not to mention that if anger, temperament, disposition, and even the criminal mind have any roots in genetics, wouldn’t you remove that from your population if you could? Even if your population is on the verge of extinction, it probably still serves to not let these people reproduce.

        That’s a seriously weak argument. Who are we (or they) to judge which qualities are good and which are bad? Think Sickle Cell Anemia – a recessive gene causes it, but carriers are immune to Malaria. It never serves to limit who can reproduce, especially in a small population – google “Founder Effect” if you don’t believe me.

      • dcheesi says:

        Re: The value of human life *Maybe spoilers*

        Not to mention that if anger, temperament, disposition, and even the criminal mind have any roots in genetics, wouldn’t you remove that from your population if you could? Even if your population is on the verge of extinction, it probably still serves to not let these people reproduce.

        (Must resist urge to trigger Godwin’s Law; Muust…resiiist…) A Eugenicist, eh? Given the reference to “criminal genetics”, I’ll take a relevant example: Australia was originally founded as a penal colony. If your logic held true, it should be either a land of cutthroats or a total third-world backwater; last time I checked it was neither.

        Nevermind the fact that the line between “vicious killer” and “fearless hero” is often very thin, especially in wartime. Maybe with the right upbringing, those murderers’ sons would become great warriors, possibly even the saviors of humanity.

      • roseblood says:

        Re: The value of human life *Maybe spoilers*

        It seems people are overlooking that she’s not just teaching people how to fly, but that she’s teaching them how to fly in what amount to “Model A’s in space”.

        Yes, she’s teaching folks how to fly a WWII Era fighter w/ a piston driven propeller and wire/pulley flight control systems and a single weapon system. She’s not teaching them to fly and operate a new gizmo-driven jet powered wonder-fighter with dozens of weapons available. Anyone who could qualify on their next-gen viper could handle the less complex mark-1 (or whatever) spacecraft.

  5. quantaman says:

    The Cylon Fighter
    I’m willing to give them some more slack on the cylon fighter for one reason. The cylons don’t really seem to be that good when it comes to R&D outside of genetics. Look at the fact that the humans are doing quite well in battle with 50 year old tech that the cylons likely had access to when they left, it seems that technologically the cylons have made very few advancements in the meantime. As a result all the tech the cylons have (ie the cylon fighter) were likely just slight external modifications of existing colonial tech so past a makeover allowed by a pilot who could be made to fit into just about any design it was pretty much the same ship.

    As a result given the fact that while she killed the brain but left the body pretty much intact(note it wasn’t dead, just lobotemized) and the body kept the mechanical manipulations from the human ships it becomes kinda possible that she could fly it.

    • radu_floricica says:

      Re: The Cylon Fighter

      I’m willing to give them some more slack on the cylon fighter for one reason. The cylons don’t really seem to be that good when it comes to R&D outside of genetics. Look at the fact that the humans are doing quite well in battle with 50 year old tech that the cylons likely had access to when they left, it seems that technologically the cylons have made very few advancements in the meantime. As a result all the tech the cylons have (ie the cylon fighter) were likely just slight external modifications of existing colonial tech so past a makeover allowed by a pilot who could be made to fit into just about any design it was pretty much the same ship.

      As a result given the fact that while she killed the brain but left the body pretty much intact(note it wasn’t dead, just lobotemized) and the body kept the mechanical manipulations from the human ships it becomes kinda possible that she could fly it.

      I’d like to point out an alternative (complementary?) explanation. It’s a bit spoilerish, not because it depends on following episodes but because after having seen more of the show it’s a lot more likely. Remember the intro at the beginning of each episode… the cylons have a plan. It’s concivable that they actually wanted humans to get their hands on a fighter for some bizarre purpose, and so made sure it can be piloted by a human. Starbuck was desperate enough to try anything so…

      Also i have to say i wasn’t a true fan until i saw the last episode. Maybe because subconstiosly i was waiting for the show to turn hollywood, i don’t know. But now that i’ve seen the whole season it ROCKS! It keeps beeing consistend and the final episode… well i’ll let you get to it. But if the situation at the end of that episode would be a painting it would be a masterpiece :)

      • joe__gee says:

        Yes …

        But if the situation at the end of that episode would be a painting it would be a masterpiece :)

        Repeat after me: everything we see now has a greater purpose. Nothing is wasted. Not one single major plot element revealed in any episode is without meaning.

        I have never seen a more consistent, tightly-scripted show, in any genre, except maybe for “24”. Firefly is great and stands on its own, to compare the two is tempting, but Firefly did not follow a tight arc. Because of that, by my reckoning comparison is unfair. To me, BG stands on its own, even above (insert gasp here) Babylon 5. Of course, thirteen episodes cannot compare to five seasons.

        Gods willing, we’ll see if BG can maintain such quality as B5 over four or five seasons. If they can maintain the writing and acting quality at its current level, in my book BG will take away B5’s crown. On the other hand, if the cast, writers, and directors can “only” do as good as B5, we’re in for a *lot* of great sci fi. :)

        I’d “settle” for that. :)

        -Joe G.

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