The third season of Battlestar Galactica ended with an enormous confrontation between the Colonial Fleet and several Basestars. Starbuck, presumed lost, appears to Apollo, almost as a vision, and tells him to follow her because she knows the way to Earth. The season three finale also included the series' first musical number, a rousing rendition of "All Along the Watchtower" sung by either cylons, or viper pilots, or cylons posing as viper pilots. We can't be sure.
Since the end of season three, there have been a couple little shorts that flashback to the first Cylon war, when the Old Man was a viper pilot himself. Two of them contained zero-g battle scenes that trump anything in the Star Wars movies (Mr. Lucas, the enemy's gate is always down).
We also got to watch Razor, a lengthier flashback that tells some of the story of the Pegasus after the surprise attack, and some of the story of the Pegasus after Apollo takes over as CO. I won't go through it here, but we get introduced to Grotesque Bathtub Cylon who tries to get a message to Apollo that Kara Thrace, our Starbuck, is the Herald of the Apocalypse, and that she will bring about the end of humanity. I assume that's what was happening when Starbuck appeared at the end of the third season, but who knows. I don't have much reason to trust Grotesque Bathtub Cylon, since he was grotesque, lives in a bathtup, and is a Cylon.
Begin season four, which is much anticipated in these parts. The folks in charge know it, too, so they even changed the credits to reflect our uncertainty about the final five Cylon models, which just might include you favorite character. They all seem to think they're Cylons. In fact, my favorite scene in the series so far is when Saul Tighe is confronted with the fact that he may be a Cylon and, like the stubborn mule that he is, declares that he chooses to be a Colonial Officer and do his job, anyway. I am thinking he's not a Calvinist.
We're back in the clouds with Apollo, who is trying to decide whether or not he is actually seeing Starbuck. The battle with the Cylons that was ramping up in the final moments of season three has started. An interesting detail, new to my eyes, is that the Cylon Raiders bleed now when they get shot. Starbuck even gets what appears to be guts on her windscreen. We see Tighe go into a Cylon trance and shoot Adama in the face, but that turns out to be a daydream. Was he resisting his programming, or is he just worrying like a human?
The Chief is shouting at everyone in the launch bay to get more vipers and raptors in the air. Anders, Starbuck's husbandish guy, gets launched and soon has an encounter with a Raider. The Raider, using its little red eye, clearly connects with Anders and lets him go. We even see a little flash of red in Anders' eyes, as if he has had a retinal scan. Suddenly, the Raiders return to their Basestars and begin a retreat. Tighe wonders aloud why they would let the Colonial Fleet go, since the Cylons had the chance to finish them.
This is quite possible the best spaceship battle I have ever seen on film. Things are hectic, but you can clearly identify who is who, what the strategy is for both sides, and how grim things look for the Colonials. Visually, it is seamless, with pursuits, missiles, and anti-spacecraft weapons creating very realistic havoc...
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