Six years, four seasons and over eighty episodes later, the story of the re-imagined “Battlestar Galactica” is complete. Whether you loved it, hated it or are somewhere in the middle, it’s good to know the series went out on its own terms.
“Battlestar Galactica” went from an idea that was initially scoffed at by many fans to one of the most acclaimed shows of the past ten years. Along the way, we had the ups and downs, but in my mind these are the ten episodes that really stood out from the six year run of Ron Moore’s influential and acclaimed series.
Please note that the opinions expressed here are just that–opinions. You may agree, you may disagree. But in my mind, these are the episodes that made viewing “Galactica” such a pleasure for four seasons.
“Galactica” gives us our first real look at the internal side of Cylon politics. And it’s a fascinating look . We learn a lot about what it means to be a Cylon and to download over and over again. It’s the first of several season two episodes on this list…
It took ten episodes for the rest of the fleet to find out who four of the five final Cylons are. And the impact is everything we’d been waiting for…and more. The scene with Adama smashing mirrors and breaking down at the revelation Tigh is a Cylon is not to be missed and should be reason enough for Emmy voters to be ashamed to have overlooked Edward James Olmos all these years for at least a best acting nod. Then, you get the fleet getting to Earth and it’s a desolate, radioactive wasteland. In five minutes, we go from pure hope to feeling like you’ve been kicked in the gut…and that’s what “Galactica” was all about.
Ron Moore mines one of the original series’ most popular episodes and does it even better. Moore changes the game by having Admiral Cain outrank Adama, thus throwing the stutus quo into chaos. Seeing the sacrifices both sides have had to make to keep running and alive is compelling and a fascinating examination of our characters and our assumptions about them. The longer cut of the episode on the season 2.5 DVD set only adds layers to this one.
7. “You Can’t Go Home Again”
When her viper crashes, Starbuck is trapped on a planet with a wounded Cylon Raider. Meanwhile, Adama and Lee risk the fleet to find Starbuck before the Cylons find them. The homage to classic “Galactica” with Starbuck using the trick of waggling the Raider as she comes back to the fleet is a nice touch.
6. “Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2”
The biggest game-changer in history and a cliffhanger that left everyone speechless. Moving the story forward one year, this one kicked off the New Caprica arc and the Cylon occupation. And while the final twenty minutes are superb, it’s easy to forget that the events leading up to it are also a superb culmination of season two’s storylines. Baltar is elected president, the missing nuke is finally brought into play and the Six from the “Pegasus” gets her revenge. It lead to the longest gap between new episodes…and one of the hardest to endure.
It’s be easy to insert “Maelstrom” here as the definitive Kara Thrace episode. And while that one is good and gives the entire final season a fascinating story arc, the story of Starbuck and Kat vying to take out a veteran raider nicknamed “Scar” is a far better exploration of the Starbuck character and psyche (at least at that moment in the series).
4. “Kobol’s Last Gleaming, Part 1 and 2”
The first season comes to end with a bang–literally. Character tensions that have been bubbling all season come to a boil. The opening teaser in which no dialogue is spoken is masterful. But it’s only a moment’s pause before pieces start falling into place and then the rug is pulled out from under us. The cliffhanger of Adama being shot while the fleet is in chaos left us hanging, begging for more. Luckily, SciFi only made us wait a few weeks for more–the shortest wait for new episodes in “Galactica” history.
3. “The Oath/Blood on the Scales”
These two episodes are so intertwined, it’s hard to separate them. After six years in space, a mutiny breaks out on-board “Galactica” led by Tom Zarak and Felix Gaeta. These two episodes showed how the series combined superb action work with character drama that is second to none. The scene of Laura Roslin swearing vengeance on Tom Zarak is not to be missed. This two parter was the highlight of the final run of episodes. The final episodes may have given us the answers, but this one gave us everything we loved about the show all in one two-part package.
While the mini-series was good, it wasn’t exactly a home-run. So, the first episode of the series had to be good. Many of us (myself included) tuned in that first night cautiously optimistic for what the show might be. Right out of the gate, Ron Moore told audiences this wasn’t your old school “Galactica.” The story of the Cylons attacking every 33 minutes took this series to a new level. The crew was running ragged, sleep deprived and at wit’s end. The bleak, unflinching look at the attacks told everyone that this “Galactica” was playing by a new set of rules.
1. “Exodus, Part 2”
This one earns a place in my top ten just for the atmosphere drop alone. One of the single most thrilling moments in the history of the show. But that alone doesn’t make for the top spot. After the longest gap between new episodes in the show’s run and one of the biggest game-changing cliffhangers in the history of television, “Galactica” brought the New Caprica arc to a stunning conclusion with a story that was insightful for not only the action but the characters. This episode shows exactly what the show could be when it was at its absolute best. And this was the series at its absolute best.