Well, here we are for yet another edition of Lizbeth Rewatches Battlestar Galactica — 1978.
Tonight's episode: 'Lost Planet of the Gods, Part 1'
Episode Subtitle: Sweet Mother of Jesus, Stop Calling Them "Girls"
Re-watching "Lost Planet of the Gods, Part 1" after many, many years of not watching it was a voyage in self-discovery.
As in, "My, how my tastes have changed."
Where once I had Starbuck-love, I now have Starbuck-meh.
Where once I was Boomer-who, I now am Boomer-awesome.
Where once I had Apollo-meh, I now have Apollo-love.
And yes, Adama is still as crazy as a shit house rat.
And as for the 1978 Battlestar's attitudes about women in uniform, Christ, where can I possibly start?
Now, to be fair, the attitudes of women in combat in 1978 were vastly different than they are now. I think the fact that everyone (except only the most deluded among us) pretty much know that women are de facto fighting along side men in Afghanistan and Iraq may have something to do with the whole 'WtF?' feel of the episode. Also, we've been inundated for years in SciFi with images of women as frontline officers, combat pilots, soldiers, resistance leaders...loooooong before a certain blonde picked up a stake.
As a result, 1978 Battlestar's take on the subject is...ummmm...head-breaky to anyone living in the 21st century. Now, to give the 1978 series credit, once the women were given the right to sit in a viper cockpit they stayed in the viper cockpit and the Galactica's viper pilot contingent was a co-ed affair from there on out.
However, I feel it important to point out (at the risk of spoiling y'all) that this whole notion of "Women don't get to be fighter pilots unless the human race is on the verge of extinction" is blown right out of the water during the 1978 series's Pegasus arc thanks to this woman:
But Sheba is a subject for another day. Let's just say that when she was introduced, she kicked Apollo and Starbuck's asses without so much as breaking a sweat.
Where was I?
Right. Gender issues. And 1978 Battlestar. And head exploding.
We open the episode with Adama hosting a fabulous family dinner (Me: Where the hell did they get all that food?) and Adama praising the Humolon Serena for her fantastic cooking skills. It's a nice compliment, except that Adama takes it that one step further by hinting that it's her big selling point. Adama? Dude? That's Jane Seymour you're talking to. I'm pretty sure that the men and women who think she's hot are not gonna kick her out of bed if she turns out to be a lousy cook.
The Humolon Serena immediately tells Adama that she didn't cook squat, because everyone knows that Cylons can't cook. She then throws the blame on Athena. Athena's not taking this lying down and she immediately blames the Humolon Serena for the meal. As for me, I suspect that the two of them have poisoned the food and are playing CYA in case there's an inquest into the deaths.
This is Adama's cue to start throwing anvils at Apollo's head about how the Humolon Serena is a huge find because of her mad cooking skillz, yo. Boxey joins in on the fun and hints that Apollo just might need get around the Galactica by taking the short bus, if you get my drift. Apollo can't take it any more and announces that he and the Humolon Serena are getting married.
Remember what I said about Lee/Dualla moving at the speed of a glacier compared to Apollo/Humolon Serena? That wasn't a joke. In any case, I'm sure their half-breed child will be beautiful.
With wedding bells sounding in the air, Athena gives Starbuck a come-hither look, and Starbuck runs his ass out of the room so fast that he leaves skid marks. Now, here's where 1978 Battlestar shows that continuity is for other people. Waaaaay back in 'Saga,' Starbuck proposed and Athena turned him down flat, on the basis that she was overwhelmed by the destruction of the Colonies and the billions and billions of dead keeping her up at night, which is a completely valid reason. Sure, that didn't stop her frakking with his head when she found out that Starbuck moved on within 5 seconds of her turning him down, but whatever.
I should also note that Starbuck's little chippie, Cassiopea, is now a permanent resident on the Galactica, so really, you'd think Athena would figure that Starbuck ain't worth it, but no. She's making goo-goo eyes at him and Starbuck (who had proposed and got turned down) immediately transforms into a commitment-phobe in front of our very eyes.
Anyway, immediately after the meal, it's patrol time. Boomer and Jolly have to go in one direction, Starbuck and Apollo in the other. No rest for the wicked, I guess.
Cut to Starbuck and Apollo getting ready for patrol. All the way to their vipers, Starbuck's whining about how
We cut to a Cylon basestar so we can catch up with what Baltar's been doing. Now, at the end of 'Saga,' the Imperious Leader (Number One Cylon) was destroyed when the Planet of the Bug People blew up and took out his basestar. He was replaced by a new Imperious Leader (Number One Cylon Number Two), who decided to extend the olive branch to the survivors of his predecessor's attempted genocide and had assigned Baltar to the task. Baltar was dumb enough to point out that he really doubted that Adama was gonna buy it.
Well, I guess somewhere between that scene and this scene here, Baltar got thrown back into the brig for pointing out the flaw in the Imperious Leader's plan. The Imperious Leader must've bought it again, because now Baltar's getting dragged into the throne room again and the Imperious Leader (Number One Cylon Number Three) has decided to assign Baltar the task of hunting down the Galactica and its civilian fleet.
This version of Baltar clearly has the brains of a squirrel because he's immediately all over that action. The Imperious Leader then introduces
I think the phrase "walking lightbulb" is really all we need to say here. In any case, after the Imperious Leader gives Baltar his own Cylon aide-de-camp and his own basestar to play with, Baltar skips out of the throne room promising sunshine and puppies.
Now it goes without saying that Gaius would've spotted the problem with this plan. Once he destroys the Galactica and the fleet, he wins the title of "Last Human Alive." His wearing the crown would be short-lived, however, since about 2.5 seconds after getting it the Cylons will execute his sorry ass.
I think it's clear that Baltar desperately needs a Chip Six. Sadly, he (and us) will have to make do with Lucifer.
When we get back to Starbuck and Apollo, Starbuck's still whining. He spends so much of the patrol weeping and wailing and tearing his clothes about Apollo's impending marriage that Apollo orders Starbuck to stop acting like he's announced that he has one month to live.
Also, the way both Starbuck and Apollo are talking, you'd think he was getting married the second they were done with patrol. It's hard to tell, because it's clear the writers still aren't sure what a "centon" and what a "micron" is supposed to mean. Also, the characters are still interchangeably using years and yahrens, and months haven't yet been dropped from the Colonial language (yes, it eventually disappears). There are also some time-element words that I've never heard before, and I'm pretty sure I'll never hear again (millimicrons? bwhuh?).
In either case, while Starbuck whines and Apollo starts rooting around his cockpit looking for ear plugs, they stumble across a big ol' magnetic void. It's in the way of their patrol path and messing with their instruments. You'd think it would be impossible to just trip over something like that, since you'd think it would be sending out some pretty powerful radio waves that could be picked up by, say, the computers on the Galactica.
Apparently, if you assume that, you would be assuming wrong.
In either case, Starbuck can't help but intone: "This is no place to bring the fleet."
Dun-dun-DUUUNNNNN! Foreshadowing, yay!
Starbuck valiantly offers to fly into the void and explore, since ol' Apollo's
He promptly gets lost.
Starbuck, by the way, starts whining again.
Apollo now realizes that the only thing between him and certain death is Starbuck's nasally voice. Relieved that Starbuck can finally be useful, he tells his soon-to-be ex-boyfriend to keep on whining so he can use the transmission as a navigation point. Unfortunately, that's when the radio goes dead.
While Apollo's chilling and Starbuck's freaking, on the Galactica proper the Viper Boyz are preparing the sausage fest in honor of Apollo's impending doom. No, no, not that kind of sausage fest, since it's pretty frakking clear that only the Humolon Serena
There's some hilarious hijinks involving food stolen from the officer's rations and some bullying by security people and Tigh stepping in to save their asses, but it's not important. What's really important is that in the middle of this manly-man crew, I spy with my little eye Ed Begley Jr.! In less than 3 seconds, ol' Ed proceeds to not only act rings around everyone in the room, but around just about every single person in the opening credits even though they're not even in the same scene. Go Ed!
Back in space, Starbuck's stopped whining has started worrying. Even though Apollo is obviously out of radio range, he proceeds to inform invisi-Apollo of his plan, which seems to involve doing the exact same thing as Apollo just did while firing his lasers so Apollo can see him coming. Starbuck fails to point out the drawback to the plan by not mentioning that he might accidentally hit Apollo's viper and cause it to blow up.
Well, he's already killed Zac. Maybe it's time to add Apollo's scalp to his belt.
In any case, Starbuck flies in, fires his lasers, and Apollo sees him and gets all excited since it appears that listening to Starbuck whine is not a fate worth than death. What makes it doubly hilarious is that while Richard Hatch is craning his neck to "look for Starbuck," he leans over so much that his head actually pops outside the front of what's supposed to be a closed cockpit! Seriously! I guess they don't actually have glass around the cockpits when they're filming the viper scenes, which would explain how Hatch's head popped out, but it still gave me a chuckle.
Anyway, thanks to Starbuck's mad flying both of them manage to get themselves turned around and back into normal non-void space. Apollo's so relieved that he magnanimously pretends to listen while Starbuck brags about his mad flying skillz and whine about the wedding all the way back to the Galactica.
Meanwhile, Boomer the Awesome and Jolly get a weird reading from some moon and decide to check it out.
Now, you know how in 2003 Battlestar all the viper pilots are wearing space suits? Well, in the 1978 version they don't wear spacesuits. They've just got these uniforms with (we are later shown) pressure suits underneath. This lack of spacesuit-having is where it smacks them in the face, because unbeknownst to Boomer and Jolly they've picked up some viral or bacterial friends while walking around the moon.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that Boomer spots the Cylon outpost that's cleverly disguised by a fissure in the side of a cliff (although I suspect the bright lights around the entrance helped significantly in his spotting it). Jolly gets to carry the idiot ball for this scene so Boomer can go all expository dialog about those sneaky metal bastards. It's a nicely acted scene. Too bad the dialog is confusing as all hell.
Right about here is where you really really appreciate the fact that on 2003 Battlestar, a cigar is a cigar, as opposed to a cigar being a fumerello. As Boomer exposits away, he's using these bizarre science fiction-y words for spider, web, cigar, dog, party, food, crockpot, you name it. If it's a common object to us, it's got a bizarre name in the 1978-verse. You can tell it isn't at all rolling naturally off the actors' tongues, and it really grates against the ear. Now, I used to be able to follow this fluently with no trouble. Right now, I'm all, "Gah! That hurts to hear! Stop it!"
While Boomer and Jolly are flipping a coin over who's going to be the one to give Adama the bad news, we get a short scene where we see Baltar running a taste-test on the scenery in his new throne room, which just so happens to look like the Imperious Leader's throne room. Good grief, Baltar's dumber than I thought! Nothing says "I have no clue how precarious my situation is" like dropping hints that you think that you are not only equal to your boss, but that you should replace him when he gets blown up.
In either case, by the time Lucifer shows up John Colicos's choppers have already been imprinted on a few key pieces of furniture. Colicos stops chewing long enough to hear Lucifer tell him that the Galactica has already been found, so it's time to wake up and smell the genocide. Lucifer natters on and on about how Boomer the Awesome and Jolly are sooooo busted because the Cylons spotted them wandering around the moon, and that they were allowed to escape (just as Baltar ordered) so they could lead the Cylons right back to the Galactica.
Baltar — and it's hard to tell whether he's playing for time, or if he really is waiting for "the perfect opportunity" to win that Last Human Alive crown — tells Lucifer to hold off on the bloodshed. See, it appears that he has a veeeeery cunning plan. What that plan is we are only left to ponder, since he doesn't choose to share it with us. Now, usually, in the parlance of American television and cinema this would be a big red flag that Baltar's plan will work. Thankfully, we know that there are 20 hours of programming left to this series. It follows that any and all of Baltar's plans are doomed to failure.
Never let it be said that Battlestar Galactica 1978 didn't break conventions, hunh?
In any case, Baltar rips off a piece of seat cushion and thoughtfully munches it. He finally orders Lucifer to keep the baseship out of the Galactica's scanner range and just follow. Lucifer asks the obvious question: "How about attacking now?" Well, Baltar doesn't like that plan because one-on-one isn't sufficiently lopsided enough for him. Lucifer's all, "Ahhhh, so we're gonna call for back-up and when the million other basestars get here, we'll attack." Baltar kills that plan, too.
Hmmmm, maybe Baltar isn't as dumb as we thought. More Cylon basestars in the immediate vicinity when the intrepid Galactica becomes toast means more chances of him losing his head after he nestles that Last Human Alive crown on his head. Best to keep the backup down to a minimum, I say.
While I'm re-evaluating Batlar's IQ, Lucifer's robot circuits get stuck in a logic loop. The way he sees it, those pesky humans in the fleet aren't going to get any deader if Baltar has his way. Baltar shrugs it off and says that he's looking "for an opening." An opening for what, he doesn't say.
Back over at the Galactica, Boomer and Jolly are landing. Jolly's acting like he's flying drunk and Boomer is yelling at him to straighten up and fly right. Jolly's sweating buckets and complaining about a buzzing in his ears. Boomer handwaves it as a problem with Jolly's oxygen and tells him to go to the Life Center. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Boomer gets stuck with the job of telling Adama the bad news. As a result, Boomer's so afraid that he'll miss Apollo's
You can see where this is going, can't you? Y hallo thar disease-of-the-week!
As Adama and Tigh contemplate their precarious position vis-a-vis a nearby Cylon outpost, Boomer shows up for the party where he immediately starts feeling the effects of his infection. Boy, that virus/bacteria/weird space sickness has, like, no incubation period, does it? In any case, Boomer starts sweating and stumbling around the Officer's Club while Tigh checks in via videophone. Tigh, thinking that Boomer's already three sheets to the wind, threatens to shut down the party if he catches more pilots getting drunk.
Now, the placement of this scene doesn't even make any sense. Boomer would have to be a sextuple-handed drinker and he would've had to chug all those beers (or whatever the 1978 versions of Galacticans call beer) all at the same time to get that drunk that fast. Either Boomer the Awesome has an alcoholic history they're not telling us, or Tigh thinks that Boomer's a lightweight.
In either case, the scene really isn't important other than the fact that the estimable Ed Begley Jr. once more proceeds to perform acting rings around everyone that ever appeared on this show for even 2 seconds as the Girls-Are-Icky Club begins to realize that Boomer might actually be sick and contemplates getting him some medical help.
Cut to the Life Center where we meet Dr. Cottle's 1978 equivalent, Dr. Salik. We also find out what happened to Cassiopea. Gone is this...
Which is now replaced by this...
See Cassie? Cassie is very sad. The mean ABC censors not only forced her to quit her job as a prostitute (socialator in 1978 Battlestar-speak) and become a nurse, but they made her dress in a potato sack while they were at it.
Poor, poor Cassie. Don't worry, Cassie. I still love you and your snarky little ways.
Nurse Cassiopea and Dr. Salik are covered head-to-toe in plastic as they consider a very, very sick Jolly. He's sinking fast, so they decide to get him in something called a "cryo-tube." In the meantime, Cassie slips and tells the Doc that Jolly and Boomer failed to go through Decon, which means everyone on the ship who came in contact with these two are possibly infected by this mysterious illness. Dr. Salik naturally goes boom upon hearing this.
In the meantime, Starbuck and Apollo land on the Galactica and go through Decon. Awwwww, they're such good boys. Although, I suspect that Apollo is kind of relieved to get some alone time away from Starbuck, especially since his
Tattletale Salik is already on the Galactica bridge and hashing Adama's mellow — such as it was. Salik is pushing for a full-on quarantine and making predictions of total doooooom, while Tigh and Adama lose their shit over Boomer's and Jolly's boneheaded move. Something tells me that if they survive this, Boomer's and Jolly's careers are going to be adversely impacted.
Adama immediately follows Salik's advice, orders security to track down everyone who's had contact with either Boomer and Jolly, and leads the march down to the Officer's Club.
Ummmm, I think I see some flaws in this plan.
First, the absolutely last place for Adama or Tigh is anywhere near a highly contagious, no incubation period, unknown infectious disease. Secondly, anyone going near the Officer's Club should be wearing protective suits (which they most definitely are not). Thirdly, how about calling down to the Officer's Club and telling everyone to stay put until medical teams get there, rather than just running your ass down there? By the Lords of Kobol! How the hell did these people even make it this far? There are amoebas hanging out at the bottom of the Atlantic who know this stuff. And don't get on me that people didn't know this crap in 1978. I saw Boy in the Plastic Bubble, thank you very much. They damn well did know about quarantine procedures.
While Adama, Tigh, Salik, and a mess of security run to save the day, Starbuck is dragging Apollo to his bachelor party. It appears that our "good boys" aren't so good, since they totally failed to check in with the bridge. If they had, they would've called right in the middle of Salik's "quarantine now" chant. In either case, as they unknowingly (and don't forget, dramatically) walk into their doom Apollo complains that he's missing out on getting some primo sex with his Humolon, but Starbuck's having none of it.
Just as they're about to enter the Officer's Club, the gang from the bridge rudely run past them and slap quarantine on the room and everyone in it. Every viper pilot and half the bridge crew has been infected, which means Starbuck and Apollo are the only two viper pilots in the fleet.
Cue the overwhelming orchestration of doom.
After what would've been a commercial break, Cassiopea and Salik contemplate the deterioration of infected pilots' health while Apollo finally reports in to Adama.
Apollo's all, "Blah-blah-blah-void-blah-blah-blah-can't-g
This news is Tigh's cue to start banging his head against a wall. Apollo's just handed them a void-or-Cylon scenario, and he doesn't find either choice all that appealing.
As for Adama, the news causes him to have an acid flashback. At least that's what I think it is, because that's sure what it looks like. His expression goes all funny and he starts playing with this medallion that's pinned right under his chin. He then orders Tigh to head right for the void. Tigh and Apollo object, but Adama ixnays them. While Apollo and Tigh telepathically inform each other that Adama's gone off the deep end again, Adama wanders off the bridge like he's been whacked over the head.
Going by the look on Apollo's face, it's pretty clear that he thinks his father has been skipping his meds again.
However, grim as the situation is, you can't keep a pilot who desperately wants to get laid down. No, no, Apollo isn't spending quality time with Starbuck. He's decided to go visit the Humolon Serena. He's greeted at the door by Boxey and the daggit. Apollo naturally doesn't let this deter him and he swoops up Boxey and makes nicey-nice while contemplating how to get the kid to leave. Boxey mentions that mommy is slipping into something less comfortable, and Apollo naturally assumes that the Humolon Serena is trying on her wedding dress.
Not so fast, flyboy. Humolon Serena makes her grand entrance wearing a pilot's uniform!
Apollo freaks, Boxey flees, and the mood is officially killed.
While Apollo begins foaming at the mouth, Humolon Serena points out that Cylons are the perfect killing machines, so that means she's faster and stronger than he'll ever be. Well, she doesn't say that, but I'm very sure she reminded him after some spine-glowing sex. For now, she just informs him that she's signed on to be a shuttle pilot, so he's freaking over nothing.
Well, our New Age sensitive guy can't stop snitting that no future wife of his is gonna be flying a stinking anything, shuttle or not. Humolon Serena points out that his sister is not only a Colonial Warrior, but a pilot, too (Remember this point! It's important!). Apollo's all, "Well that's different. Sister does not equal wife, kthnxbi." With that statement, Humolon Serena has had enough. She informs Apollo in no uncertain terms that she's more than willing to dump his ass over this.
The threat works and Apollo then tries to smarm on some reason by saying it's a dangerous occupation, even if she's "just a shuttle pilot" who wouldn't have Cylons shooting at her on a regular basis. Humolon Serena rolls her eyes and points out that it's not all that safe playing sitting duck as a civilian either.
Forced to choose between sex with Jane Seymour and sex with Dirk Benedict, Apollo opts to stick with the pretty one who has bewbs. He apologizes for being an ass, admits the little Humolon has a good point, and orders her to be top of the class because, damn it, he's an officer and he's got standards! He only sexes up the best pilots in the fleet.
The Fighting Agathons, they're not.
Adama finally snaps out of his acid flashback and makes his way down to the Life Center. When he arrives, he starts whining how the only pilots he's got left are Apollo and Starbuck. He then pleads with Salik to give him a timeline for a cure, because Lords of Kobol know that he really, really thinks it's a bad idea to have Apollo and Starbuck doing all of the patrols all by themselves.
Salik's all, "Ummmm, you realize that all we're doing is delaying their inevitable deaths, right? The only way out of this is for you give me a free pass to that moon where this thing came from."
Adama won't give him the free pass, but he does pick up an anvil and start beating Salik over the head while screaming, "We're doomed! Dooooooooomed!"
Salik's all, "Bitch, please. That's your problem. My problems begin and end with the Life Center door. So, gimme that pass now, or find yourself some new pilots."
Guess which option Adama goes with?
Cut to Adama in his quarters. In 1978, there are no books with the corners cut off, or funky sacred scrolls. What we have is computer screens and line drawings of something that looks like Egyptian hieroglyphics, Ogham, and Sumerian rendered in eye-watering electronic green on greenish-black text. Let's hear it for 1978 tech!
Because we obviously can't read over Adama's shoulder, what with it being written in gobblygook, Adama's thoughtfully decided to read the writing out loud so we can get in on the exposition.
Well, whaddya know. It's about the exodus from Kobol. Hey, remember how it took us an entire season to find Kobol in 2003 Battlestar? In 1978, the Galactica finds it in 2 episodes (aka 4 hours of broadcast time)! Awesome! No beating around the bush for these guys.
Of course, that doesn't explain how Adama knows that Kobol is anywhere nearby. Sure, there's a mention of something that could be a void (an endless magnetic sea, I think the Kobolians called it), but how the heck does Adama know that this space phenomenon is the same space phenomenon that the Kobolians had to deal with when they left Kobol? I suppose we could fanwank that there are additional clues in the text and that Adama read just enough to us so we'd get the gist of the plot, but what would be the fun in that?
Apollo enters Adama's quarters. This causes Adama to start acting a little squirrelly, like he's been reading ancient porn from Kobol, which for all we know he could be. As soon as Apollo stops moving, Adama's on his feet and handing a Pocket PC off to Apollo. It appears that no one is overly in love with the idea of working Starbuck and Apollo around the clock, so he's dug up a list of names of people with flight experience. Some are retired warriors who are too debilitated to get back into a cockpit. The rest are people who've been training as shuttle pilots. Adama orders Apollo to draft the shuttle pilots into service, because, like it or not, they're in the Colonial service now.
Apollo tries at this point to say that this plan is a really, really bad plan. As in a sucktastic plan. As in a plan that Adama does not want to implement.
Adama's not feeling it and basically orders Apollo to stop with the talking and get with the drafting.
Apollo gives up and hands the Pocket PC back to Adama. He then points out that he knows for a fact that daddy-o did not read any of those names on the list. As Apollo huffs out of the room, Adama picks up the Pocket PC and scans the list. His reaction to seeing that the Humolon Serena is an official draftee pretty much ruins his day.
ETA: Due to LiveJournal posting constraints, I was several paragraphs over the minimum. So now, I'll just have to post the rest of this in Part 2.