Saturday, 21 March 2009

Battlestar Galactica - Top 15 Episodes


Well thats all folks, Battlestar Galactica held it's series finale last night across the pond (here in Blighty, we need to wait until 9pm, Tuesday on Sky One!) and from the various tweets I've seen (while hiding behind my hands so I don't actually see the ending) it was a great ending. Now that it has wrapped up, I thought it would be fun to build up a list of my top 15 favourite episodes. Now I’m well aware that this list is entirely subjective, but should strike up a bit of debate out there and please feel free to comment as I'm certain not everyone will agree. Note this list doesn’t include the show’s finale ‘Daybreak’.

15) Six Degrees of Separation

One of the better episodes to come out of the first season, Six Degrees of Separation sent a collective chill down everyone’s spine from the first scene onward. Baltar is called down to CIC where a woman named Shelly Godfrey has accused Gaius Baltar of supplying the Cyloncs the defence codes that lead to the descrution of the Twelve Colonies (which they did!). However, he is horrified beyond reproach to discover not only does Shelly Godfrey look like the Caprica Six but also the fact that she could be seen by everyone else. This episode testing the limits of Baltar’s character, where your faith stands in the face of neverending hopelessness, and the lengths some people will go to to keep their darkest secrets hidden. Dramatic, unforgiving, character-defining. Simply a great episode.

14) Maelstrom

Maelstrom came to us towards the end of the show’s third season and was actually one of the high points in an otherwise lackluster season. This episode planted the seeds for Kara’s eventual return in the show’s fourth season. We get greater depth into her character both with her mother’s long battle with cancer, Starbuck’s childhood but also something greater, the possibility that Starbuck is actually some type of oracle, as she painted the same image (the Eye of Jupiter as seen in the Temple of Five) as child. Furthermore, we get the death of Starbuck. At a time when Baltar’s trial was nearing closer to it eventual happening, Starbuck’s death came as the final nail in the coffin for a lot of people abroad Galactica, specifically one Lee Adama.

13) Scattered

This was a highly anticipated episode for the series as the season two premiere. Adama is been shot twice in the chest by Boomer and amidst all of the confusion hell breaks loose. Tigh must come to gripes with the possibility that he might have to take control of Galactica, Boomer (not knowing what she did until it was too late) is thrown in the brig, and to add to their burdens Gaeta accidently inputs the wrong jump coordinates leaving the Battlestar stranded and the Colonial Fleet defenseless. This episode really showed how vunerable the Colonial Fleet is to an attack from the Cylons without Galactica there to protect it. As a premiere it was fantastic, a perfect blend of action and drama that left us wanting more.

12) The Passage

‘The Passage’ was a fantastic replacement mid-episode for an otherwise less-than-stellar third season. The basic premise: the Colonial Fleet is out of food, and their only hope for survival is a planet of algae that can be cultivated and eaten. The only problem is a radioactive nebula that must be traversed in order to reach the planet. This is one of the most difficult episodes to watch, as the fighter pilot continuously cross the nebula hungry, tired, and sucking up more and more radioactive materials guiding the ships one at a time towards the algae planet. How long can humans live without food when pushed to the limit, this episode answers that.

11) The Valley of Darkness

This is a person favorite of mine. After the events of the season’s two premiere, and a fire fight with a Cylon Baseship, and cylon freighter (unbennounced to the crew of Galactica) has crash landed on-board Galactica with a dozen or so Centurions. If anything this episode shows vulnerable being on Galactica is without communication and electricity. Why destroy Galactica from the outside when you can destroy it from the inside? This episode is basically a race to beat the Centurions intent on destroying the ship’s life systems. Suspenseful and terrifying, Valley of Darkness will always hold a place in my heart.

10) Kobol’s Last Gleaming (Part 1 & 2)

This episode should the dynamic between Roslin’s religious views and Adama’s political views come to a head as Roslin, behind Adama’s back, orders Starbuck to retrieve the arrow of Apollo. Similarly, Gaius Baltar and every ships head towards a planet to be the fabled Kobol in search for clues to Earth. However, these ships are quickly shot down and crash land on the planet. We also get the subplot of Helo and Sharon comes to a head on Caprica as he shoots her in the shoulder, and the Boomer on board Galactica attempts suicide at her own peril. Overall, just a great closer to a debut season.

9) Blood on the Scales

This is the most recent episode to make the list, and for good reason. Gaeta, alongside Tom Zerick, have convinced more than a few members of Galactica’s crew to mutiny against Adama, and his plans to allow Cylon crew members on board to repair Galactica’s infrastructure via a biological resin. Blood on the Scales was the second part after ‘The Oath’, Gaeta has taken over CIC and most of those loyal to Adama has been either imprisoned or killed. Eventually, however, they do retake the ship but not without dozens dead and the true loyaties under Adama are shown.

(8) Six of One

Six of One gave us something that we never expected, civil war among the Cylons. The nine existing Cylon models are divided into two camps, those who believe the final five exist and should be sought after among the Colonial Fleet, and those who believe it should be ignored and the Centurions should be reprogrammed to forget. While normal disputes among the Cylons was expected no one believed that it would ever lead to bloodshed, millions killed, and the near-destoyed final Baseship seeking refuge among the Colonial Fleet for protection. It should also be mentioned that this was the only BSG episode (to date) to be nominated for an Emmy award for Best Writing.

7) Pegasus

Pegasus was one of those episodes that defined BSG. It was one of those episodes that forever changed the rules of power among the fleet. Adama is stripped of much of his authority as Admirial Cain is put in charge of the Colonial Fleet, a much more powerful battlestar is set with the task of protecting the fleet, and rumors among the Galactica’s crew quickly spread as to the circumstances as to how Pegasus survived the inital attack of the Twelve Colonies. It also exposed rape and torture of the Caprica Six, and near rape of Boomer after she’s handed over to the sister Battlestar. This episode is as dramatic as it is suspenseful, and entrenched the series as a force for another two seasons.

6) Razor (Part 1 & 2)

Razor was a highly-anticipated episode among Battlestar Galactica viewers who had to wait more than six months after the show’s third season to see it. Not only did it explain how the Pegasus suvived the initial attack on the Twelve Colonies, but also filled in a lot of the gaps as to how the Pegasus came to be before locating the Colonial Fleet. Now I’ll admit it, these episodes has some problems with them, the how in one scene Cain announces to the ship that she won’t seek vengence against the Cylons, but in the next few scenes imprisons the Caprica Six, shoots her XO in the head, and strips other surviving ships of valuable personnel and parts. There’s also a fantastic subplot to William Adama’s past as a viper pilot forty years ago before the first war with the Cylons, and the search for a remaining Centurion vessel that is still out there bent on destruction. A great episode.

5) 33

The pilot episode of the main series. Just when you think all is over after the inital attack on the Twelve Colonies, things get worse, much worse. Every 33 minutes the Colonial Fleet FTL jump to a new point in space, only to have the Cylons chasing them after 33 minutes. It’s important to note that this episode takes place 78 hours after everyone has gotten no sleep. 33 set the tone for much of the series, the idea that the Cylons will always be a constant threat in the lives of the surviving humans and the idea that there really is no escape. I think I’ll watch it right now.

4) Resurrection Ship (Parts 1 & 2)

The crews of Galactica and Pegasus come to a head as vipers from each side stand off nervously but don’t fire upon one another. Not long after Starbuck returns with photographs of a nearby Ressurection Ship, which is enough to cool tensions for the moment and bring them together. This happens again towards the end of the first part when assissination attempts on both Adama and Cain seem enivitable. This episode also gave the Colonial Fleet the upper hand with the destruction of the ressurection ship, a flawless execution of what good military strategem is when everything more or less goes to plan.

3) Exodus (Parts 1 & 2)

Exodus was just a fucking cool episode. How do you get 30,000 people off a planet during a revolution and additional Cylon enforcements. Since the Occupation of New Caprica by the Cylons and the abandonment of the remaining Colonial Fleet ships from orbit, many waited to see how they would pull this one off. The production values on this episode are exemplary, enough to get an Emmy nomination for best Special Effects for that year. There will be very little disagreement that this episode should be on Battlestar’s Top 10.

2) Lay Down Your Burdens (Part 1 & 2)

This is what the second season was leading up to in its final episodes. The election between Laura Roslin and Gaius Baltar for president. When Starbuck returns with news of a possible planet for permanent colonization, Baltar turns this into an election issue in the face of slumping numbers in the polls. While their signatures is masked by the nebula, Roslin sees colonization on this planet as a fatal mistake for humanity. As a reuslt, Roslin makes the crucial decision to rig the election so that she can win, which thanks to Gaeta fails miserably, allowing Gaius to win the election and begin permament resettlement on what will be known as New Caprica. It also gave us the bombing of Cloud Nine and several surrounding ships, as well as the best cliffhangers of the show.

1) Crossroads (Parts 1 & 2)

It was difficult to name one best episode for the series. And while a lot will probably disagree with my choice, I can’t help but admit that this was a difficult to make. There’s just so much in this episode to work this. Among them the trail of Gaius Baltar for crimes against humanity once he returns from the Cylon Basestar. But there’s so much more. We get the revelation of four of the final five Cylon models. We also get the return of Kara Thrace at the end of the episode alongside ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and Baltar emergence as a cult figure among the disaffected youths.
So there you have it, the top fifteen BSG Episodes. Overall this is just a fantastic series, one that will not likely be repeated for a long time.

What would your top 15 episodes be?