Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Battlestar Galactica—Maelstrom

The Upshot from Sci-Fi Channel: Galactica’s top gun, Kara Thrace/Starbuck (Katie Sackhoff) finds herself on the edge of a nervous breakdown as she battles the emotional fallout from her captivity on New Caprica.

Oh my Gods! They killed Starbuck….you frakers! Or did they?????

It was the worst kept secret in Sci-Fi that Katie Sackhoff had expressed her desire to leave BSG and that the final three shows of Season 3 had been shot without her—but even knowing that it was coming or perhaps because we DID know it was coming, we were left unsatisfied.

Mrs. FanBoyWonder, who watched the show with us, said it was “disappointing” and she agreed with us that there was something missing with the episode.

Indeed, one big thing that had been missing all season was the Starbuck that we had all known and grown to care about. That Starbuck never left New Caprica.

The Starbuck that we did see this year began the season as a captive and a victim, later a malcontent, a lover, a betrayer and adulterer and then we didn’t see much of her at all until her big episode in Maelstrom.

Here we got to see a hint of the old Starbuck even as we got to find out about Kara Thrace. Her mother Socrata Thrace (guest-star Dorothy Lyman) was a battle-hardened veteran of the First Cylon War who believed that suffering was good for the soul so young Kara suffered—tough love or cruel abuse all depends on your point of view.

We see now how Starbuck became the toughest character on the show and the most fragile—“Fear gets you killed, anger keeps you alive.” Good tip for basic training. Not so good for Parenting 101.

We see Kara’s mother in Starbuck in the way that she treats her estranged husband Sam Anders (Michael Trucco). Poor Kara, she’s longed to experience unconditional love but once she has it in Anders, she doesn’t know how or what to do with it.

As for Anders, we don’t know whether to laud him for sticking it out or pity him for holding onto someone so toxic. Most of all it’s a crying shame that Kara’s husband only merited a single scene in the episode.

We really hope that the writers find something for him on BSG now that his wife and reason for being around is gone. Anders is too good a character to let slip away.

We see the beginning of the end of Starbuck when she dreams that she's in her old apartment on Caprica with the Cylon Leoben (Callum Keith Rennie) struggling to cover up the colorful mandala—the circle pattern that resembles the Eye of Jupiter—that we previously learned she’s had in her head since she was a child.

While awake, she hallucinates that a little girl — her younger self — is with her aboard the Galactica.In desperation, Kara visits a religious oracle, but the woman frightens her by saying that Leoben and even Kara's abusive mother are all part of Kara's great destiny.

Later on patrol over the cloud planet where the Fleet is hiding from the Cylons to refuel, Starbuck spots a Cylon Heavy Raider and engages in hot pursuit until she is nearly lost in a dangerous swirling storm that looks not unlike the mandala/Eye of Jupiter.

The problem is no one else saw the Cylon ship and even Starbuck is wondering whether she is losing her mind. As someone who exemplifies the phrase “wartime hero, peacetime screw up” and for someone whose entire identity relies on being a fearless, hotshot pilot, her loss of confidence in the cockpit is worse than any physical wound.

When Starbuck tells Apollo that she doesn't trust herself to fly. Apollo insists that she's capable and promises to fly as her wingman—“whatever it takes’ to get her back in the saddle.

In a bit of foreshadowing as Starbuck sits in the hallway shrine with Apollo, she tells him that she wants her picture next to Kat (Luciana Carro), who died the good death earlier this season.

Yet even more foreshadowing came in a touching scene between Starbuck and Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) reminiscent all the way back to their first scene together in the miniseries—“What do you hear Starbuck,” he asks. “Nothing but the rain,” she replies.

Then Starbuck gives Adama the figurehead she received from the Oracle of Aurora the Goddess of the Dawn to use as a headpiece for Adama’s beloved model wooden ship. Classic behavior of someone who believes they are about to die and/or about to take their life. Desperate signs that both Adama men will surely blame themselves for missing forever after.

Meanwhile, on patrol with Apollo, Starbuck again sees the Cylon Raider and again dives toward the mandala-shaped maelstrom.

As the crushing atmospheric pressure begins to rip apart her viper, Kara passes out. She returns as if in a dream to her old apartment, where Leoben greets her and leads her into a vision of her dying mother.

The vision of Leoben and Kara’s mother tell Kara they are there to prepare he for “what happens in the space between life and death.” These are not idle words, we note, as it was the same thing that the Cylon D’Anna (Lucy Lawless) was searching in her quest to see the Final Five Cylons and God him/herself before her model was “boxed.”

Starbuck says good-bye to Apollo and flies toward the eye and to her “special destiny.”

From Apollo’s point of view, we thought we saw the mysterious Cylon Raider for a second before Starbuck’s viper blew apart and the last visual we had of Starbuck was with her hand poised on the ejection lever.

The shock in Galactica’s C.I.C. (Combat Information Center) is palpable, even that crusty old bastard Col Tigh (Michael Hogan) was moved. The scene cuts to Adama alone in his quarters, tears in his eyes as he works on his model ship. As he smashes it to pieces, there’s nothing that really needs to be said.

Kara was like a daughter to him—the fiancé of his deceased youngest son—and now he has suffered the loss of another child.

Bottom line: Given that the mandala/Eye of Jupiter is somehow tied to the road to Earth, given that there is no proof that the Cylon Raider wasn’t real and given that we saw Starbuck’s viper blew apart but we didn’t see a body—we don’t think that we’ve see the last of Starbuck or her “special destiny.”


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