"Y'know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I go get and beat you with til you understand who's in ruttin' command here!"
-- Jayne Cobb

Remover of pain and sorrow

Battlestar Galactica is coming to an end, with its 2-hour season finale airing tonight. I was late to start watching it, having not gotten into the show until well into its third season. Once I did start watching it, though, it didn’t take me long to realize that it’s one of the best frakking shows on television, far outstripping the campy original.

Thinking over the four seasons that the soon-to-be-renamed Sci Fi network has provided us, I’ve put together my ten favourite moments from the series. These were actually reasonably difficult to choose, as there are so many other great moments. However, these are the ones that stick out in my memory and exemplify the best the show has to offer.

Spoiler Alert: Anyone who isn’t up-to-date with the current broadcast schedule should watch out for #10, #8 and #1 (I’ve listed the season and episode number with each one). The other ones don’t really reveal any significant plot elements.

10. Cylonic revelation
Crossroads Part 2 (Season 3 Episode 20)

s03e20-four-of-the-final-five.jpg The moment when Saul Tigh, Sam Anders, Galen Tyrol and Tory Foster all realize that they’re Cylons, having been brought together by a haunting rendition of All Along the Watchtower, is one of the best reveals of the whole series. Not only does this advance the plot in new and interesting ways, it puts an entirely new spin on so many scenes from previous episodes if you go back and watch them again. The way this was handled in the episode (and the lead-up to it over the previous couple of episodes) makes the eventual reveal of the last of the Final Five (in the second half of Season 4) pale in comparison.

9. Clash of the Battlestars
Pegasus (Season 2 Episode 10)

s02e11-galactica-and-pegasus-vipers.jpg When Commander Adama decides that Admiral Cain has gone too far in her maniacal adherance to wartime practices, the Vipers from the two ships wind up in a deadly face-off against each other. The launching of Vipers was a great cliffhanger for the end of the first half of Season 2, and the follow-up in the next episode (Resurrection Ship Part 1) is equally as tense. There is a palpable feeling of dread as the last remnants of humanity stand on the brink of destroying themselves without any help from the Cylons. And Starbuck screaming “We’re all friendlies! So let’s…just…be friendly!” on her return from her stealth mission (into the middle of the furball) was great.

8. Kara back from the dead
Crossroads Part 2 (Season 3 Episode 20)

s03e20-kara-returns.jpg In parallel with four of the Final Five being revealed, Starbuck appears out of nowhere on Lee’s wing and announces that she’s been to Earth. Having seen her Viper explode (with her in it) a few episodes previously, Lee is understandably taken aback. This is a great example of what BSG does so well — blending cosmic events with pure humanity. Both father and son Adama have to go through the process of accepting the loss of Kara, which was handled by the writers as if her death had been permanent. Then, in the midst of what seems to be the final catastrophic battle with the Cylons, she re-appears and they have to cope with the ensuing emotional turmoil while still fighting off the invading horde. Pure brilliance!

7. New Caprica Blunt
Unfinished Business (Season 3 Episode 9)

s03e09-adama-and-roslin.jpg On New Caprica, after Baltar’s ground-breaking ceremony, Admiral Adama and ex-President and now-teacher Roslin share a relaxing moment at the party. After the very boring Felix Gaeta takes his leave, they each pull out a previously-hidden cigarette of dubious origin…or perhaps I should say doobious. This is one of the first times we see Adama and Roslin really taking the time to enjoy each other’s company, outside of the occasional piece of casual conversation in between dire moments on Galactica. And it was also just plain funny.

6. Love is in the air
The Hub (Season 4 Episode 9)

s04e09-adama-and-roslin.jpg On the other end of the Adama/Roslin story arc, Roslin finally tells Adama she loves him after having been dragged across the galaxy by the hybrid on the rebel Cylon basestar. This moment of tenderness was very refreshing, after the apparent hardening of Roslin’s personality over the course of the previous couple of seasons. It was also heartwarming to see a proper response to Adama’s impressive (or foolish, depending on your perspective) gesture of devotion, i.e. leaving Galactica in a raptor to wait for the basestar, all alone in the middle of space. And Adama’s response of “About time!” was very fitting.

5. Baltar besot upon
Kobol’s Last Gleaming Part 1 (Season 1 Episode 12)

s01e12-baltar-roslin-and-six.jpg After being elected Vice-President of the Colonies, Gaius Baltar is being briefed by President Roslin and is becoming quite overwhelmed by the amount of information he has to absorb all of a sudden. To make matters worse, the Number Six that only he can see (is she imaginary? hopefully we’ll find out tonight!) is there questioning his love for her and implying that he is chasing after Roslin. He finally explodes at both of them in a blustery tirade, the verbage of which is carefully chosen to address both women at the same time. The scene is particularly funny when Baltar declares that he is not their plaything and both Roslin and the perhaps-imaginary Six respond in unison: “Plaything?”

4. Caprica Six and Baltar
Downloaded (Season 2 Episode 18)

s02e18-caprica-six-danna-and-baltar.jpg When Caprica Six downloads into a new body after dying to save Baltar’s life in the bombardment of Caprica, she finds herself being visited by Baltar himself, who no one else can see. Sound familiar? This connection between Six and Baltar seems pivotal even though it hasn’t yet been explained. I’m very much looking forward to finding out the answer to this particular mystery.

3. Sex with Six
Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down (Season 1 Episode 9)

s01e09-baltar-and-six.jpg There is absolutely no plot significance to this scene, but the moment when Starbuck walks in on Baltar having a little afternoon delight with his possibly-imaginary Number Six (who Kara of course cannot see) is just gut-bustingly hilarious. His attempts to brush it off as just keeping up with “the old exercises” only serve to dig himself deeper, especially when Kara has to remind him to do up his zipper.

2. Suspicions Revealed
Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down (Season 1 Episode 9)

s01e09-adamas-baltar-and-roslin.jpg Another moment played purely for the laughs is in the aftermath of a Leoben telling Roslin that Adama is a Cylon. When Baltar announces that his Cylon detector is ready, and Adama discovers that previously-assumed-dead Ellen Tigh is in the fleet, Roslin and Adama end up in a tug-of-war over who will be tested first: Ellen or Adama himself. When the secrets and lies all come to light, the result is an entertaining dust-up in Baltar’s lab while all parties involved try to out-yell each other. This episode also has one of my favourite lines of Adama’s, uttered in his trademark gravelly voice when Roslin asks him to be tested first: “If I’m a Cylon, you’re really screwed!”

1. Jump!
Exodus Part 2 (Season 3 Episode 4)

s03e04-galactica-in-atmosphere.jpg When Adama is faced with the challenge of supporting the human insurgency on New Caprica while the Cylon fleet orbits the planet, he uses the FTL drive to jump Galactica directly into the planet’s atmosphere, launches all of his Vipers while the ship plummets to the ground, and then jumps back out just before crashing. This is not only my favourite moment of the series, it’s one of my favourite science fiction moments of all time. I know this merely re-affirms the degree of my geekiness, but when I first saw this tactic, I literally let out a triumphant yell.

Like I said, there were many, many more great moments to choose from…but I don’t really have time to do a Top 100 list… :-)

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Notes

"Remover of pain and sorrow" is from one of the English translations of the Gayatri Mantra, which is used as the theme song for Battlestar Galactica.

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