With this episode, Galactica suddenly figures out what it is, and what it wants to be. Up to this point, the show has been scrambling to make deadlines, and just throwing crap on the air without much thought. Suddenly they start planning ahead, settling in for a long haul, which never materialized. Suddenly they’re taking major chances, stepping away from things that have been over done, and exploring the unique potential of the series in ways that even the RDM Galactica series never did. We are now fifteen hours and ten stories into this series - about two thirds of the way through its one and only season - which is a bit late for a watershed of this kind. I’d say it was too late, but really this series was doomed before it ever hit the air.
PLAY BY PLAY
Silver Spar Squadron (Including Bojay and Jolly) are exploring way ahead of the fleet when they’re intercepted by quick-moving light balls that run circles around them. A loud noise and a big ship of lights comes up behind them and they black out.
Of course an opening that neat can’t be left unpunished, and so back on the Galactica, we’re subjected to several minutes of sweaty homoeroticism: Starbuck, Apollo, Boomer, and some guest beefcake we never see before or again are playing “Triad,” a sort of combination of volleyball, racketball, Greco-roman touchey-feelery and Pockatock ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_ballgame ) Seriously, it’s all kinds of gay. Cringingly awful. I remember being ten and watching this whe first broadcast, and just going beet red with embarrassment. My dad said something like “This show ain’t gonna’ make it,” and left the room. Whenever people talk about how embarrassing and cheezy the original Galactica was, I’m pretty sure they’re referring only to this horribly conceived scene:
Seriously, how embarrassing is that? I mean, that’s the kind of thing that gay people would find over-gay. (“Oh, honey, that outfit, no! At least butch it up with a nice feathered boa or something…“)
Apollo and Starbuck win. (If you can ever call filming a sequence like that ’winning’) Word comes in that Silver Spar has gone missing, and at roughly the same moment, the ships’ sensors detected a big explosion like something hit a planet. Sheeba - Who‘s chestier than I realized - Starbuck, and Apollo are dispatched to investigate, and they come to an unnamed world I will call “The Tinted Planet.”
Everything on this planet is oddly color-corrected in post production to give in a strange look. It’s a cheap trick, but kind of clever, and I totally applaud them trying to introduce some exoticism in the series, rather than endless visits to “Planet SoCal.” They quickly find a huge crater with the burned out wreckage of a ship in the bottom of it. As they’re investigating, a man calling himself “Count Iblis” appears and warns them not to go down there because of radiation levels. Iblis (pronounced “Ib-lee”) isn’t forthcoming with terribly useful information, but he does allow as how he was on that ship, that it was destroyed by “The Great Powers,” and claims he doesn’t know how he survived. The light balls appear, and Iblis isn’t affected by their noise, but he does seem scared. Apollo calls for a shuttle, and they take him back to the fleet.
Once there, Iblis appears to have some strange influence over Sheba, and uses her to tour the high security areas of the ship, and pointedly avoids going to the medical center. Debriefed by Adama, Iblis once again gives little useful information, and claims that things are ‘too complicated’ for the Commander to understand. The light balls show up again, and Red squadron (Greenbean and Bree) are launched as protection, but that goes missing as well. The lights also buzz Baltar’s base star. Baltar suspects it’s some new thing Adama’s scientists have come up with:
Lucifer: “I hope so.”
Baltar: “Why would you hope the humans would have a new weapon like this?”
Lucifer: “Because the alternative is that there is some new force in the universe more powerful than us.”
Iblis tells Adama that he’ll take control of the fleet if the people want it, and offers to prove his messianic credentials by three tests of their devising. With Sheeba, he tours the fleet, and rabble-rouses with the poor refugees. The people clamber for a miracle, and Iblis performs a variation on the Feeding of the Five Thousand. The people - on short rations for months -