Battlestar Galactica: Maelstrom

Most significant episode ever? Possibly, but you’re going to have to decide that for yourselves.

Cast

James Callis as Dr. Gaius Baltar
Edward James Olmos as Admiral Adama
Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin
Katee Sackhoff as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace
Jamie Bamber as Lee “Apollo” Adama
Michael Hogan as Col. Tigh
Tricia Helfer as Number 6
Grace Park as Sharon “Athena” Agathon/Boomer
Tahmoh Penikett as Helo
Aaron Douglas as Galen Tyrol
Kandyse McClure as Anastasia “Dee” Dualla
Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta
Callum Keith Rennie as Leoben Conoy

Synopsis

Starbuck has a series of visions of Leoben, who guides her through her memories of her mother’s death and leads her to make a drastic decision.

High Points

  • Starbuck and Apollo’s scene in the corridor where the photos are
  • Starbuck meeting Adama and Roslin in the corridor
  • Adama’s final scene
  • The rest of the episode

Low Points

  • Nooooooooooooooooo!
  • The Scores

    Originality: I saw where it was going, but I didn’t really see how it was going to get there, or what was going to happen afterwards. I definitely wanted something to happen afterwards. This sort of thing is definitely not done very often — and certainly not this well. Six out of six.

    Effects: Those are some very very pretty clouds, and at one point we were treated to a fantastic external shot of Galactica‘s unused flight pod, the one which was turned into a museum before the miniseries. Beautiful, and utterly convincing. Six out of six.

    Story: Undeniably significant. The effects of this story, whatever they are, are going to be resounding through the entirety of the rest of the series. It was paced superbly, and nothing wasted. Six out of six.

    Acting: Katee Sackhoff’s finest hour. Six out of six.

    Production: Everything moved very nicely between dream and reality, with some good transitions chosen. I won’t say this was exceptional though, although the production wasn’t a let down either. Five out of six.

    Emotional response: I don’t think I need to say anything here really. Six out of six.

    Overall: Wow. Simply wow. Brave, and maybe we’ll come to regret these events later on, but there are paths which could lead to even greater and more mysterious things coming from this and it will definitely be worth watching to find out if they’re taken. That slight niggling uncertainty though gives me five out of six here. Not because it’s not a six out of six overall, but because I don’t feel quite comfortable giving the episode forty-one.

    So Maelstrom roars onto the screen with a total of forty points out of forty-two. Truly one of Galactica‘s finest moments.

    31 replies on “Battlestar Galactica: Maelstrom”

    1. y42 says:

      Oh, that Leoben! SPOILERS
      Everytime Starbuck comes close to getting offed, I wish she would, but I know she won’t.

      Like this time, in the end, Appollo saw the cylon heavy raider, we saw Starbuck with her hands on the ejector seat lever… we don’t see that she bails at the last second, the cylon troop transport collects her and brings her back to Leoben. But you know that’s what happened.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: Oh, that Leoben! SPOILERS
        1. This is where the F/X money they saved the last few eps went.

        2. Many people now wonder if Karais a Cylon, even if that doesn’t really makes sense. I think they’ll want us to wonder about that when she makes her return.

        And I’m pretty cetain she‘ll be returning.

        • y42 says:

          Re: Oh, that Leoben! SPOILERS

          Many people now wonder if Karais a Cylon, even if that doesn’t really makes sense. I think they’ll want us to wonder about that when she makes her return.

          And I’m pretty cetain she‘ll be returning.

          I’m sure they’ll play it that way at first.

          • snarked says:

            Re: Oh, that Leoben! SPOILERS

            Many people now wonder if Karais a Cylon, even if that doesn’t really makes sense. I think they’ll want us to wonder about that when she makes her return.

            And I’m pretty cetain she‘ll be returning.

            I’m sure they’ll play it that way at first.

            Apollo: "Come back! Come back!" *grin*

            snarked

    2. x00 says:

      The Corridor Scene
      Perhaps I’m reading too much into this…

      Just before she met Roslin and Adama did anyone notice when Starbuck started up the stairs the lighting went dark and when she came down it started working again….?

      • OrangeCarrot says:

        Re: The Corridor Scene

        Perhaps I’m reading too much into this…

        Just before she met Roslin and Adama did anyone notice when Starbuck started up the stairs the lighting went dark and when she came down it started working again….?

        Yes, that totally happened. And I’m sure the director and editor saw it as well and you can assume it was not lost on them. It was most likely intentional.

        • rickyjames says:

          Re: The Corridor Scene

          It was most likely intentional.

          I think this was supposed to show that the handoff of the statuette from Starbuck and Adama has some cosmic significance. At first Starbuck, er, missed the boat on recognizing this important moment was upon her and as a result her surroundings (and future) momentarily dimmed. Now Adama has a holy object with the symbolic significance of being a pathfinder in his possession. Now, after putting it at the helm of something he’s worked on for literally years on this show, he crumpled it all in an instant of dispair. This symbolizes his receptiveness to sweep away the old and accept a new path, in more ways than one. We haven’t seen the last of that winged totem.

          Since this scene has such foreshadowing imbedded in it, I’m wondering if Adama reaching out to Rosalin but being interrupted by Starbuck before actually making physical contact also has some future significance…

          • snarked says:

            Re: The Corridor Scene

            Since this scene has such foreshadowing imbedded in it, I’m wondering if Adama reaching out to Rosalin but being interrupted by Starbuck before actually making physical contact also has some future significance…

            I noticed that too; but the byplay between them has become increasingly more personal since the hiatus. It’s pretty obvious that’s going to be used in some future ep somehow. How? Beats me. Meanwhile it’s fun…

            Adama could certainly use some R&R right about now *grin*

      • Trekkie says:

        Re: The Corridor Scene

        Perhaps I’m reading too much into this…

        Just before she met Roslin and Adama did anyone notice when Starbuck started up the stairs the lighting went dark and when she came down it started working again….?

        Don’t forget when she and Lee were talking under the viper and she gave him that sideways glance there was a nice red reflection in both eyes.

    3. J_W_W says:

      Shark jump in progress??
      While I agree with the review that this was one of their best episodes, I fear that it is the beginning of a shark jumping.

      We all know Starbuck will be back, but I feel that to bring her back might just finish the jump.

      I’ve said before that if any of the main characters turns out to be a cylon, I’ll stop watching. I know, I know there are major continuity problems with making any of them cylons, but I just feel like they are forcing something with Starbuck.

      Screw spoiler tags, theres just too much in the following, read ahead at your own risk…..

      The destiny thing really bothers me, because that means she’ll be back or she has no destiny. If thats the case the writers wasted our time, which I might find to be the most forgivable offense. However, I believe there are only four options here:

      1) Starbuck’s a cylon, or a hybrid or modified by cylons to be able to download or something. We know cylons don’t have childhoods, but Starbuck has a child’s memories. But Leoben knows about her childhood, maybe the memories are planted. Hey, its happened with other (Blade Runner) androids before. I think this is the most likely option. This makes me unbelievably pissed because for one, if this is the case it proves that the writers are making this up as they go along, and one day said. "Starbuck’s a cylon". Of course theres the ovary removal on New Caprica, which is pointless if she’s a cylon and they know it, but hey, they’ve created this mysterious final five out of whole cloth, so maybe only Leoben knows Starbuck’s one of the five, right? Absolutely making it up as they go, with all the plot holes that entails. I’m very pissed if this is the case.

      2) She’s just dead. This is interesting because then her "destiny" is pure red herring and meaningless. This episode actually becomes stronger over time then as we mourn the suicide of a main character and Apollo and Adama wrestle with the choices they made. I’ll keep watching with a pang of regret the whole time.

      3) Ship of light. This one is _really_ far fetched, but I include it as this is still Battlestar Galactica and anything old can become new. I the original series, Apollo was given up for dead on a mission, but later found to have been saved (maybe even resurrected) by a mysterious ship of light (or ship of the gods). IF and this is a bigggg if, they can pull this off within this series mythos and with some good reasoning for active meddling of the gods, this might work. But its very heavy Dues Ex Machina, being literally a actual machine of the gods in reality. With good enough writing and working in of Galactica mythology, it could maybe work, but probably wouldn’t. The other factor here is that without everyone in the fleet seeing the ship of light, Starbuck coming back would make everyone think she’s a cylon.

      4) El grande Dues Ex Machina or Amnesia or Dallas -Rosanne-Newheart-Elsewhere syndrome. So maybe in the awesome special effects of this episode were wrong. Maybe the ship that blew up had some one eject moments before the incredibly detailed explosion, or maybe she was snatched from the wreckage by cylons with, um, lets see some lame device like a transporter or something. Maybe the storm’s really a wormhole and the explosion really didn’t happen because time runs backwards throught he wormhole and Starbuck will come out on the other side. Or maybe its a dream, or they’ll find time travel and be able to save her (remember Galactica 1981 had time travel :-). All options for this one are super lame, espically given the fantasticness of the visual effects of this episode, it will take slight of hand to rework what we actually saw to tell a different story.

      All in all this show is at a turning point here. They could well be overselling the drama in order to have a main character deal with being a cylon (because just having Sharon do that isn’t enough) and frak the audience.

      There are so many ways this could go bad, and so few that could turn out alright….

      • madhack says:

        Re: Shark jump in progress??
        My current theory:

        The Cylons recognized early on in their dealings with Starbuck (flying a Cylon ship back to Caprica for the Arrow of Athena, for example) had a thing about flirting with death. As soon as they got the chance on New Caprica, they began to groom her. Now they’ve helped her overcome that fear of death, something that’s fascinated her for so long and that she’s faced so many times — possibly with the help of whatever they may have implanted in her in the hospital on New Caprica.

        As for her destiny: Leoben, in her hallucinations, told Starbuck that was going to "discover what hovers in the space between life and death". My only two pieces of evidence: 1. If she’s dead, the whole destiny thing, with her painting the Eye of Jupiter and whatnot, was effectively a waste of story. 2. Apollo did catch a glimpse of the Cylon raider. As it disappeared into the clouds, Starbuck’s Viper appeared. She may have been imagining things, but the Cylons were sure as hell there. (Or Lee is also losing it, but that’s pretty improbable)

        The only other real possibility, IMO, is that she’s one of the five. We have no idea how long the original five humanoid Cylons might have been around, so it’s… possible. I’m not sure even these writers could make that story plausible, though.

        In either case, when she does come back, she will certainly be looked upon with the utmost suspicion. Both Adamas will back her, too, considering their personal histories, and this will produce interesting tensions within the fleet.

        I trust these people to produce good television, so I’m going with my first option, for now… subject to change as new information is revelaed, of course. (I was a very early "Baltar is a Cylon" advocate, which taught me not to bite too hard into any bait BSG leaves). With all of that said, if she stays dead, I’ll respect the hell out of the producers for it.

        • snarked says:

          Re: Shark jump in progress??

          My current theory:

          2. Apollo did catch a glimpse of the Cylon raider.

          I’m not so sure about that. We saw it from the camera eye, above and behind his fighter – not from his cockpit eye. I suspect it was done that way intentionally ;-)

      • Trekkie says:

        Re: Shark jump in progress??
        RE: #1

        Didn’t the original sharon talk about her childhood on one of the mining moons or something? What interested me is the pictures of Kara were all around her grade school ages, no baby picture. Not sure if that was significant or not.

        I’ll be annoyed if she comes back as a cylon, I’m hoping sort of they do a snatch with the heavy raider grabbing her by hard docking and that’s why the ship imploded is after they jettisoned her viper that’s what caused it to implode and then explode.

        Either way, we got 4 days to see if they advance it or ignore it all together in favor of ‘The Trial’

        • joe__gee says:

          Re: Shark jump in progress??

          Either way, we got 4 days to see if they advance it or ignore it all together in favor of ‘The Trial’

          I recall reading somewhere that Katee is done for this season.

          -Joe

      • snarked says:

        Re: Shark jump in progress??

        3) Ship of light.

        "You’re not Leoben."

        "Never said I was."

        Reduces it to

        1) Starbuck died and had an incredible death sequence that they spent a fair amount of effects money on, or

        2) Pure speculation: the thirteenth tribe has evolved, and they’ve ‘come back’…

        3) ETs. I think we can probably dismiss this one?

        ;-\

    4. Daemonik says:

      My thoughts…

      Like this time, in the end, Appollo saw the cylon heavy raider, we saw Starbuck with her hands on the ejector seat lever… we don’t see that she bails at the last second, the cylon troop transport collects her and brings her back to Leoben. But you know that’s what happened.

      Two problems with that theory:

      One: The pressure from the planet’s atmosphere imploded Starbuck’s viper. Her body is a lot less sturdy, and unlike the few seconds of vacuum that Chief and Cally survived, a few seconds of enough pressure to implode a starship means human pate.

      Two: If Starbuck is a Cylon then she could have just resurrected. It’s not like they’ve stated that you can’t have a single resurrection unit in a Cylon shuttle after all. So, no real reason for her to eject and the Cylon’s to make a dashing rescue. Even if she could have survived it.

      The most important thing that everyone seems to be overlooking is in the apartment when Starbuck is watching her mother die and Leoben says that death is beautiful, Starbuck pauses for a second and says "You’re not Leoben" to which he replies "I never said I was". At least that’s the way I heard it.

      If that is what they said, then is this "Leoben" one of the unseen Cylons, conveniently borrowing Kara’s image of Leoben, or was he some other entity.

      We’ve known that the Colonial’s worship "Gods" who seem to share something with the Cylon’s "God" (remember the Oracle on New Caprica and her vision for D’Anna?). Is there some God/s working behind the scenes, pulling on fate’s strings?

      • Damien says:

        Re: My thoughts…

        The most important thing that everyone seems to be overlooking is in the apartment when Starbuck is watching her mother die and Leoben says that death is beautiful, Starbuck pauses for a second and says "You’re not Leoben" to which he replies "I never said I was". At least that’s the way I heard it.

        The benefits of being able to pause & rewind… yes, you are correct, that conversation does happen as described. I agree that this is a key element to the episode.

        Roll on next Sunday!!

        Damien

      • y42 says:

        Re: My thoughts…

        Like this time, in the end, Appollo saw the cylon heavy raider, we saw Starbuck with her hands on the ejector seat lever… we don’t see that she bails at the last second, the cylon troop transport collects her and brings her back to Leoben. But you know that’s what happened.

        Two problems with that theory:
        One: The pressure from the planet’s atmosphere imploded Starbuck’s viper. Her body is a lot less sturdy, and unlike the few seconds of vacuum that Chief and Cally survived, a few seconds of enough pressure to implode a starship means human pate.
        Two: If Starbuck is a Cylon then she could have just resurrected. It’s not like they’ve stated that you can’t have a single resurrection unit in a Cylon shuttle after all. So, no real reason for her to eject and the Cylon’s to make a dashing rescue. Even if she could have survived it.

        One: FTL is impossible. Artificial gravity is impossible, the Cylon download, as described, is impossible. The virus transmission from the lionhead marker was impossible, etc, etc, etc.
        Moral: If it helps the story, they’ll expect you to suspend your disbelief.

        Two: I didn’t say she’s a Cylon, I’m saying Leoben isn’t done trying to make her fall in love with him.

        • Daemonik says:

          Re: My thoughts…

          One: FTL is impossible. Artificial gravity is impossible, the Cylon download, as described, is impossible. The virus transmission from the lionhead marker was impossible, etc, etc, etc.
          Moral: If it helps the story, they’ll expect you to suspend your disbelief.

          Two: I didn’t say she’s a Cylon, I’m saying Leoben isn’t done trying to make her fall in love with him.

          I’m not arguing that FTL or any of the stuff in Galactica is real. I was saying that in the universe that the writers have described to date, where FTL is possible, no one has explicitly said that cylon regeneration takes a huge ship and that, within the confines of the story, they could, "could", safely claim that such equipment would fit into a Cylon shuttle for a single individual without breaking the carefully crafted back-plot that they’ve presented so far.

    5. joe__gee says:

      What affected me most …
      It wasn’t Kara’s death, it was Adama’s reaction to it. That brought the whole thing home for me.

      This was an awesome episode, but I couldn’t help feel that the writers had better give us something for what they put us through, or at least this fan will be royally pissed off.

      I have my suspicions: a Cylon-made human resurrection system.

      I have my fears: Kara was a Cylon plant with memory implants. Blah.

      I also remember, however, the great skepticism with which we faced the finale of season two (one year later, etc …) That gave us probably one of the most thrilling moments ever seen on science fiction TV, The Great Rescue. These writers have pulled rabbits out of hats before.

      I don’t put it past them to salvage this one in a way that will have us cheering at our TV sets again. :)

      -Joe

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: What affected me most …
        How about Kara is dead, and they’re going to return a newly-minted Kara Cylon to the fleet. I’m not crazy about that option, but it wouldn’t violate continuity, and it might mean that the Cylons actually have a plan.

        Given the build-up, however, I think Kara herself has to return, somehow.

      • valen1260 says:

        Re: What affected me most …

        I also remember, however, the great skepticism with which we faced the finale of season two… That gave us probably one of the most thrilling moments ever seen on science fiction TV

        Excellent, excellent point. The rescue was a magnificent, memorable, applaudable hour of television.

    6. Eldhrin says:

      Between life and death…
      I found it interesting that Leoben-hallucination kept going on about the place between life and death, because that’s where D’Anna wanted to go to find the final five. It’s very significant in Cylon thought, possibly because they can actually go there and come back to tell people about it.

      I am convinced that raider was real though. That’s going to be significant.

    7. benvking says:

      I thought most of this was obvious but …
      1. Starbuck IS a Cylon (Isn’t that like the worse kept secrete in ALL of fandom?)

      2. Starbuck is dead (As dead as a cylon can be anyway). The resurrection ship doesn’t have to be close. It could be several light years away. Remember when Boomer was shot by Cally, she resurrected on Caprica. And when Leoben was shown the airlock the Cylon fleet wasn’t any where near them at the time.

      3. The heavy raider was not real it and the Leoben visions where "in her head" like the Baltar has a six in his head and Caprica 6 has a Baltar in her head.

      • Timeshredder says:

        Re: I thought most of this was obvious but …

        1. Starbuck IS a Cylon (Isn’t that like the worse kept secrete in ALL of fandom?)

        It’s the worst-kept rumour in all of fandom, fueled by word that she wouldn’t be back this season. It’s veracity is a little iffy.

        • Timeshredder says:

          THE INTERNET HAS CORRUPTED ME!

          It’s the worst-kept rumour in all of fandom, fueled by word that she wouldn’t be back this season. It’s veracity is a little iffy.
          [/quote]

          "ITS veracity is a little iffy" NOT "IT’S."

          Dang.

      • madhack says:

        Re: I thought most of this was obvious but …

        1. Starbuck IS a Cylon (Isn’t that like the worse kept secrete in ALL of fandom?)

        I feel it’s too obvious, and I hope it isn’t the case.

        3. The heavy raider was not real it and the Leoben visions where "in her head" like the Baltar has a six in his head and Caprica 6 has a Baltar in her head.

        But the raider is clearly seen from Apollo’s point of view, when he makes visual contact with Starbuck’s viper. He sees its engines, and as it grabs his attention, it vanishes into the clouds in the upper left corner of the frame; as it’s vanishing, another set of engines appears out of the clouds in the lower right corner of the frame, which turns out to be the viper.

        It’s hard to pick up on because of the camera-jerk action thing they like to do during scenes like that, but it’s there. In fact, if you watch carefully, both sets of engines are visible simultaneously. Either it’s real, or Apollo is nuts, too.

        • benvking says:

          Re: I thought most of this was obvious but …

          1. Starbuck IS a Cylon (Isn’t that like the worse kept secrete in ALL of fandom?)

          I feel it’s too obvious, and I hope it isn’t the case.

          Me too BUT remember what the Oracle said .. "You learned the wrong lessons from your mother…"

          If she IS a Cylon then her memories of her mother must be implants, and the point of those particular memories where to prepare her to take the steps she did, which was to follow the raider into oblivion.

          Which gets me to thinking, the Oracles know too much. It seems that only they and the Hybrids REALLY know whats going on. What I mean by that is the Final 5 have an agenda separate from the rest of the Cylons and are really calling the shots. Consider that a human Oracle gave Diana a message from the Cylon God and that the Hybrid told Baltar how to see the Final 5.

          The Leobens are either in on it or at least aware of it. Remember he keeps saying "this has happened before and will happen again." And his model believes that the Hybrids are speaking mysteries not gibberish. So It maybe that the Hybrids are Cylon Oracles and that the semi lucid state they are in is Natural for them not a side effect of having to control a Base Ship.

          • joe__gee says:

            Re: I thought most of this was obvious but …

            Which gets me to thinking, the Oracles know too much. It seems that only they and the Hybrids REALLY know whats going on. What I mean by that is the Final 5 have an agenda separate from the rest of the Cylons and are really calling the shots. Consider that a human Oracle gave Diana a message from the Cylon God and that the Hybrid told Baltar how to see the Final 5.

            The Leobens are either in on it or at least aware of it. Remember he keeps saying "this has happened before and will happen again." And his model believes that the Hybrids are speaking mysteries not gibberish. So It maybe that the Hybrids are Cylon Oracles and that the semi lucid state they are in is Natural for them not a side effect of having to control a Base Ship.

            Beware the words of the Oracle, however. The words of BSG’s oracles are every bit as malleable as those from our own history. They can be taken to mean many different things, and it usually isn’t until after the prediction is fulfilled and we see what the oracle was talking about that we say "ah HAH!"

            To paraphrase the oracle on New Caprica: "Poor little Three. You will know love. You will hold it in your arms, only to lose it right before you lose everything." Three, D’Anna, really lost everything, for her entire model.

            I am still not certain Baltar is the Chosen One. I suspect the Chosen One is Starbuck, and I suspect the Hybrid was emphasizing that Baltar should keep his eyes open for her. I wonder if Baltar has some role in Starbuck’s eventual fate. Maybe he will help her reveal the final five.

            I think the god of both the Cylons and the Colonials seems to be forging something from both species. We see Cylons and humans beginning to come together, maybe not in great numbers right now, but it’s happening. They may become so close that the search for Earth becomes a moot point. "Let’s go back to the colonies and all live together singing kum-bah-ya." (I really hope not.)

            What amuses me is the concept of a "final five" seems to be taken from the fan boards, who were talking about the "final five" models long before the term appeared on the show. Why would they be called the "final five" on BSG? Final means the last, or in the way it was used on the fan boards, the five revealed before the end of the show. Since we can assume the main characters on BSG don’t know how many months or years their story has left, to me it would make more sense for them to know the five as the "other five".

            From this I suspect it is safe to infer that at least one of the writers hangs out on fan boards, observing. :)

            -Joe

    8. AveryRegier says:

      Replaced?
      Maybe she got replaced when she was in the hospital, and there is an original floating around somewhere.

    9. rickyjames says:

      One Last Thing
      Don’t forget, they had to write and film this ep without any assurance that there was gonna be a Season 4. This being the last view of Starbuck in Season 3, they’ve basically left it open for fans to "see" a "Starbuck is a Cylon" series ending they want to, should the story never go past the next three eps.

    Comments are closed.