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Battlestar Fodder

Battlestar Galactica: Episode 2.17 - "The Captain's Hand"

by Shannon Nolley, Sci-Fi Fodder Editor


The Captain's Hand
Episode 2.17
17 February 2006

Before we get into this week's episode, let's take a moment to remember noble Billy who was killed off last week, arguably sacrificing himself for his love, the lovely Petty Officer Dualla (Dee). If only she had loved him back... Well, anyway...

PegasusWe open with a pair of Raptors from the Pegasus. They are out on a training exercise. They experience a region of intense radiation that interferes with communications. They had anticipated the disruption but decide to head away from the fleet to see if they can get away from some of the interference. Kids, you really shouldn't be crossing the street without a grown-up! This isn't going to go well!

Lee and DeeMeanwhile, back on Bootystar ... I mean Battlestar Galactica, a bunch of pilots are banging on the door to their quarters. They've been locked out. Inside, Apollo emerges from behind a bunk curtain in his undies, yelling to the pilots to go shower - they'd be gone when the pilots get back. They???? A hand reached out from behind the curtain and pulls back the other half. It's DEE!! She's naked under the sheet! Apollo reaches for his shoulder wound, giving it a soft acknowledgement. It's been a month since he was shot. Doc has given him the greenlight to get back to duty. He leans back to Dee for another ... kiss. She shrugs him off saying they have to get going. Fine, fine. He rises and starts to put on his jacket. Dee - still naked - stretches slowly (giving the camera a long look at just enough of her torso and upstretched arm to know that if this was cable, we'd see a lot more) and walks behind Apollo. He's talking about how he has to report to the Pegasus (Dee tells him that nicknames circling the fleet for the Galactica and the Pegasus that are respectively The Bucket and The Beast). He's going to be the interim XO. He's been tapped because Starbuck is there as flight training supervisor and driving Commander Garner (the newly promoted engine room chief) crazy. Dee moves close in behind Apollo, moving her hands up and down his still bare chest. She follows the coat line up to the lapel and asks when he was going to tell her about "this." Oh yeah. He was made a major. Kewl! Major Lee Adama now. They joke about it being a big deal and collapse on a nearby table kissing and still mostly naked.

TyrolElsewhere on the Galactica, movement inside a cargo container draw the suspicion of Tyrol and his deck crew. They are afraid it's either a Cylon or something else dangerous. However, when they open the container Tyrol finds a pregnant 17-year-old girl named Rya Kibby who asks Tyrol if he is Doc Cottle. Huh. How 'bout that.

The raptors receive an broken message from an unknown origin. They relay back to the fleet, but their own message is garbled. As the Pegasus command is trying to figure out what they said and if they need help, the Raptors jump away and vanish from the fleet's radar screens. That's not good.

(opening credits)

StarbuckApollo reports to duty on the Pegasus. Starbuck greets him with some smarmy comments about her not being there for him. Commander Garner welcomes Apollo who is being closely followed by Starbuck. Garner doesn't like her. He says that she should be busy in the hanger trying to find the missing raptors. Starbuck doesn't even know that the raptors are missing and gets irate. She's also irritated by what she perceives as Apollo sucking up to Garner and throws some nasty looks Apollo's way before she huffs off the bridge to deal with the raptors. She heads straight to the pilots' quarters/showers and demands to know why she wasn't kept informed. Their reply - she's not part of Pegasus' crew. She deducts that it was Garner's orders for them to treat her that way, so she shares a few choice words about the Commander's incompetence and paranoia with the pilots.

Apollo earfulMeanwhile, back in Garner's quarters, Apollo is getting an earful about how pilots suck and engineers rule. Garner was chief engineer, remember. "Nobody ever cut us slack in the engine room," he says. "Being a snipe is different than being a viper jockey. The engine room is like a finely tuned watch. Nobody freelances. Things are done in proper way, proper order." We see that Garner has a thing with his watch. He carries it around and places it on nearby tables as instead of wearing it on his wrist. It's that finely tuned machine. He understands it. It's like a woobie. The fact that the Commander needs a security blanket isn't very reassuring.

New AideOn Colonial One, we tune in to President Roslin looking fondly of a picture of her with Billy. A new aide or some such assistant (Torrie) comes in and asks Roslin about running for re-election (her first election, actually, she was appointed after the President and the rest of the cabinet were killed during the Cylon attack). Roslin will run - there's so much more to do. The new chick already has poll results with her! (Oh - she's good). Roslin has a good rating across the board - the military, the civilians, even the religious extremists among the Gemenon. She jokes that it hasn't been hard with a convicted terrorist as her only opponent.

BaltarElsewhere in the fleet, Baltar is meeting with Tom Zarek (the convicted terrorist). Zarek is talking elections. He can't beat Roslin and he knows it. He wants Baltar to run. Baltar says he finds politics boring, but Zarek says Baltar's office as Vice President and his scientific background - in contrast to Roslin's religious ravings - will be refreshing to the fleet. Zarek promises support. What's in it for him? He just hopes Baltar will remember his friends. Hint hint. Nudge, nudge. This short exchange is very poignant. Baltar has been looking to take on Roslin. Now he's got the backing to do it (besides his hallucinations of Six, that is).

On Pegasus, Apollo heads to the pilots' ready room. After Starbuck leads the others in a round of smarmy talk about Garner, Apollo snaps them out of it. Focus should be on getting the raptors back before they run out of air. Thinking outside of the box is key - something Starbuck should be good at. He wants to know everything about the raptors and their crew. Starbuck throws Apollo another glare as he leaves.

Next, The Girlto the infirmary on Galactica. The pregnant woman (Rya Kibby) is sitting on a table. Adama is talking to Doc Cottle who explains that occasionally young girls will be referred to him and he asks no questions. Basically, he does abortions when asked. This girl is in her fourth month, but he can still perform the procedure safely. Adama goes to talk to the girl. She begs for him not to send her back. She's from Gemenon ship. Her parents are very religious. Adama says that she snuck aboard a military ship, her parents have contacted him through their delegation and they want her back. Doc mutters that she's a victim of political persecution and could apply for asylum. Adama gives him a dirty look. Doc walks away with a "I'll just go over here" look. The girl nods. Asylum. That's what she wants.

Gemenon FactorOn Colonial One, the Gemenon delegation has gone to the President about the girl. Adama is there as is Roslin's new aide. Abortion is a big thing. Roslin had lobbied hard for a woman's right to choose while on Caprica. Now she's faced with it in a much different context. Now, the fleet's pro-life Gemenon faction threatens to pull its support unless she condemns the practice of abortion and makes it illegal. As usual, Roslin doesn't like threats. Her aide is a bit annoyed that she's already making enemies just after she's decided to run for re-election and leaves. Adama stays behind. He looks sullen. Roslin sits in a chair positioned right under the population tally board. (It reads 49,584) Adama remarks that the number doesn't go up very often. When they first met, Roslin commented that if they want to save the human race, people needed to start having babies. Roslin is taken aback. She's not sure what to think.

GarnerBack on the Pegasus, Starbuck is going over the last transmissions they received from the raptors with another pilot (another attractive woman, I might add - I wonder how long it will take Apollo to sweep her off her feet). It's broken, but Starbuck makes out that they received a distress call that they were going to investigate. Starbuck goes to the Commander with Apollo. They believe that the raptors fell into a common Cylon trap. They lure away the pilots and when the Battlestar goes hunting for them, the Cylons attack. Garner doesn't believe it. They need to go get the pilots. They are running out of air. Garner turns his attention to Starbuck. He knows what she said about him to the other pilots. He is confining her to quarters until he can have her shipped back to the Galactica. She's escorted out by a marine.

ApolloA bit later, we find Starbuck getting out her aggression by doing some serious pushups. Apollo enters. He's annoyed. She's annoyed. Everyone's annoyed. She thinks he's sucking up to the Commander and not supporting her. He thinks she's being irrational and needs to stop trying so hard to buck the system. Maybe she needs a kick in the ass. She asks what his problem is. "YOU!" he replies. He has to keep cleaning up her messes and he's sick of it. "Poor you. Your life is so hard," she says. "You mean since I got shot?" he says. " Note, here he COULD have said "Since YOU shot me??" (Remember, she seemingly accidentally shot him during the hostage situation in last week's episode "Sacrifice.") He didn't say that, though. He's too much of a gentleman for that. Regardless, Starbuck can't hide her guilt on that one. She avoids the issue and instead redirects the conversation to the raptor issue.

Garner and ApolloMeanwhile, yes, the raptors are still out there. Starbuck explains that she thinks they were chasing a phony distress call. The Pegasus receives a broken distress call that might be from the raptors with a location close to where they think they last were. Garner wants to go there at once. Apollo disagrees. He still believes it to be a trap. Garner thinks it's time to call Adama to settle this. That doesn't go so well. Adama asks what Apollo thinks. He says that he and Starbuck both believe it to be a trap. Garner is quite annoyed at his new XO for disagreeing with him! Adama says he also thinks its a trap and won't allow the Pegasus to go after the raptors. Garner can send a recon mission, but that's it. Garner doesn't like that and dismisses Apollo from the bridge.

Baltar and SixMeanwhile, on the Galactica, Roslin is in Baltar's lab. They are discussing population numbers and "our administration." Baltar's hallucination of Six is there, saying that Roslin must be desperate if she's making nice nice. Baltar says he's already done the math and if they keep on the current path, in eighteen years the human race will be extinct. Baltar looks smug. Six is standing over him with her hands on his shoulders. Roslin is stunned. This is not good news for a pro-choice advocate.

AdamaNext, Adama is listening to his radio in his quarters. The President is making a speech. Adama looks worried. Displeased. Roslin is announcing that starting now abortion is illegal. They MUST keep human race flourishing. Anyone - a mother or medical practitioner - engaged in an abortion will be prosecuted criminally. Roslin has to choke down these words to get them out. She isn't happy about this. We still don't know how Adama really feels about the subject. He's only commented that it's a political issue. We don't know if he's sullen here because of the new law itself or because he knows it will divide the fleet.

apollo and garnerBack aboard the Pegasus, Garner is going to jump the ship. Everyone is scrambling. Apollo tells Starbuck to head to the hanger. She's the best pilot and they'll need her. Apollo heads to the bridge where he gets in Garner's face. This is a direct violation of Adama's orders. Garner says that's nice. He's going to go after his pilots. He's not waiting on recon. He'll have Apollo removed from the bridge and relieved of duty. He calls over a marine. No, Apollo will remove HIM from duty and place him under arrest! He tells the marine to take Garner in custody. Well... not so much. Garner might be incompetent and disobeying the Admiral's orders, but he's still Pegasus crew. Apollo's new here. Loyalty is loyalty. The marine will take Apollo. As Apollo is removed from the bridge, Garner orders them to jump. On the bridge of the Galactica, the jump doesn't go unnoticed but there's not much they can do.

Garner in troubleThe Pegasus has jumped to the raptor's location. They found them. Two more raptors head out to inspect them. Closer..... closer.... yep. They're dead - and not from lack of oxygen. Their windows are smashed. Garner looks confused. Worried. With good reason. Just then, three Cylon basestars jump into radar range. It's a traaaaap. Who could have guessed? Now they're in big trouble. One battlestar against three basestars? Even the wondrous Cain would have had trouble with this. One of the basestars throws out a few good shots. Direct hits. The FTL drive on the Pegasus has been hit. They can't jump away. Crapp!

Apollo commandThe ship is under heavy attack now. It's like fireworks! They are getting hammered by the attack. The vipers launch and engage the enemy. Apollo, who hasn't gotten very far from the bridge, returns (the marine agrees there's bigger fish to fry now) and starts assessing the situation. Garner is freaking out. He's on the phone to engineering (his peeps). If they just tweak the thingamabob it'll be fine! He's consumed by it. Apollo is handling the Pegasus bridge crew. Garner is STILL on the phone with engineering. Flustered, he turns to Apollo and says that he's going down there. Apollo has the Con. He runs out, leaving his watch behind. Errrr... the Commander of the Pegasus has left the bridge during an attack by three Cylon basestars?!?!?! Apollo suppresses his freakout. The bridge crew can't believe what just happened. Apollo counts to ten and digs in. He's good at this.

Meanwhile, Garner makes his way to engineering. Now, here's where I figure the writers of the show have a choice - they can go with the standard formula, or they can do something new, something different. The different is what the best new shows do. That's what this show has been doing. However, if they go formula, it will go like this: Garner pulls a Spock/Scotty move where 1) he determines that he's the only one who can fix the thingamabob that will allow the FTL drive to work again so the ship can jump out of danger; 2) going in to fix the thingamabob is life threatening but he braves it anyway because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one; 3) he fixes the thingamabob at the last second but.. 4) he dies in the process. Let's see what they do here....

Garner heroWhile Apollo is on the bridge kicking the crap out of one of the basestars, Garner has made it to engineering and the room with the thingamabob. The hull in the room has been breached and air is escaping from there quickly, so it's been sealed off. No one can get in there to fix it! (uh oh.... looks like #s 1 and 2 are happening quick here). He makes it to the valves which he apparently must turn to make the little lights turn green. One by one he does it. The last one is stuck!! You gotta hurry!! The other two basestars are closing! Air is still escaping from the room quickly. Garner takes a wrench and hammer to the last valve. It... just... won't... budge... With his hand on it, he falls to the floor. Slowly it turns just a bit more. There! It's green! (that was #3) Get out! The oxygen has run out! Oh... wait... he's dead. (and we have #4) (Is it ironic that he had the Pegasus jump to save the raptor crews who would be running out of air?) But, he did it! FTL drive engaged! Apollo recalls the vipers so they can jump. Starbuck and the other pilots land quickly - and upside down! Sweet! With everyone on board, Apollo orders them to jump. They do and leave the Cylons wishing they had never messed with Apollo! Remember, without the Resurrection ship, there's no body jumping for them!

So...... the Garner thing was pretty formula. Why'd they do that?!?!?! I find it rather disappointing when good shows do such formulaic things. Really not necessary. If they wanted to get rid of Garner and show how studly Apollo is, they could have certainly gone a different track. They've killed off the other two Pegasus commanders in non-standard style. Ah well.

Commander ApolloAfter the battle, Apollo is in Admiral Adama's quarters. Adama is reading his report of Garner and the incident. Apollo has written a generous review while, naturally, Starbuck was less than flattering. Adama asks if there was one thing he would say (off the record) was Garner's flaw, what would it be. Apollo looks at Garner's watch, which he has brought with him. Apollo said that he was good with machines, not with people. You need to be good with people to be in command. Adama stands and walks over to Apollo. He says, that's good. Remember that. As he takes command of The Beast. He picks up a jewelry box from his desk, opens it and displays it to Apollo. The Pegasus needs a new Commander. Garner was his choice but he wasn't a leader. He's not going to make the same mistake twice. Congratulations Commander Adama! WOW!!! Apollo rises, choked up and his eyes softening. The takes the new lapel insignia with one hand and shakes his father's hand with the other.

RoslinBack on Colonial One, the Gemenon rep is pissed. Despite making abortions illegal, Roslin won't be prosecuting the girl - she sought it before the law was enacted. The Gemenon rep says she insists that the girl be returned to her parents! Roslin is angry now. She says that they have gotten their pound of flesh (the new law) - they had better take it and go. (The board now reads 49,579 - likely casualties from the Pegasus encounter)

HugApollo and Starbuck are chatting. Apollo is packing for his new position on the Pegasus. Starbuck can't believe she's been made CAG of the Galactica now (in Apollo's stead). Apollo jokes that she should have fun in the morning meetings with Tigh. Starbuck extends a hand of congratulations to Apollo for his new position. He takes it and they have a long pause. He admits that she was pissing him off. She was bucking authority, making trouble and getting away with it again. He told her to be careful. When he bucked the system, he nearly lost everything. (Is he referring to when he went against his father with Roslin?) Starbuck asks if they're ok - you know, the shooting thing. He teases her. They hug and long solid hug. Starbuck looks worried, happy and then sad.

Roslin is having a press conference with Baltar about the abortion issue. Baltar speaks up and says her decision was made with good faith, but he can not support it. Every time you take one of our freedoms, we become more like a Cylon. Instead, he announces his opposition to her new policy and his own run for the presidency. Roslin and crew are shocked, of course. The Six hallucination stands looking on with glee. Roslin and crew leave. The press runs after them for statements. Baltar stays in the room. Six stands and slowly applauds. Baltar smirks and nods.

The end.

But what about Dee?? Perhaps Apollo can negotiate to have her on the Pegasus. He's the second-highest ranking officer now. It's possible. Let's just hope there's not Pegasus curse. They've quickly gone through three commanders. Things happen in threes, right? They're done now, right? Sure. They'll probably demote Apollo before they let him get killed off. Who would all the ladies dream about in the dark nights in their lonely bunks? Not Baltar, that's for sure! Having Apollo in charge of the Pegasus could give Adama more stabilization and unification among the military population It doesn't sound like Apollo is interested in bucking the system again any time soon. From what we've heard about the fast approaching season finale, Adama will need all the help he can get in keeping the fleet together. I just hope that the Pegasus crew's loyalty issues to Galactica officers was cured after Apollo's great lead during the attack. I have one lingering question about this episode, though. Why was it called "The Captain's Hand"? Mainly because no one was a captain in this episode. Any ideas?


Next week, it's "Downloaded." Sharon wakes up in a slime bath to Six saying that she's been reborn and that they'll take care of her. She's pissed. She says she doesn't like betraying people she loves (Adama, Tyrol) because she's a fraking Cylon! The website says "The conquerors of occupied Caprica hail two "heros of the Cylon," (Sharon and Six) who both resist their new celebrity. It looks like we'll get a special glimpse into the world of the Cylons. Check out a behind the scenes videoblog on the slime bath. It's gooey. Lucy Lawless is back to reprise her role as D'Anna Biers.

Note: Copyright to all images is held by SciFi Channel/Universal Pictures

Posted by Shannon on February 20, 2006 1:32 PM
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I'm not sure about this Apollo as Commander thing ... Now, my doubts don't stem from the show (in fact, I think Apollo's promotion allows for some *fantastic* father-son plot-lines), but I wonder how this will play out for the fleet. The whole thing redefines nepotism ;)

-- Posted by: mac at February 20, 2006 5:51 PM

I guess I'll skip (mostly) right over my feelings on how I thought this episode contained some of the finest sequences the show has yet provided (the entire Pegasus vs. three base stars offered up untold treasures, not the least of which included Jamie Bamber's performance in the moments after he is unexpectedly handed command of the recently nuked Battlestar). Instead, I'll just get to the part about the whole Garner-saves-the-ship-in-an-all-too-familiar-formula-in-order-to-save-the-ailing-Pegasus.

As audiences and critics alike have discovered, BSG has succeeded on a variety of fronts this season in becoming one of the most compelling shows on television. This, I cannot help but agree with... I don't think the show has ever been better. The reasons I've heard given for this triumph often revolve around the whole "no, it's not a science fiction show, it's a _human drama_ show that involves some sci fi elements". Although I can see the argument for this, I don't believe this is why the show has become so interesting. Instead, I would credit the basics that strengthen and help any hour-long drama on television become a lasting success... intelligent writing that deepens characters, taught plotlines that move the action forward, and key performances that merge actors and their dramatic counterparts into a single being. (The kick-ass space dogfights don't hurt either, FWIW...)

So why did the show cop out and use such a cheesy device to save the Pegasus? After unflinchingly dispatching two commanders of the Pegasus in such unexpected, compelling ways... why do the obvious (and UNNECESSARY) thing and have Garner's character absolved by saving his ship and crew?

Okay... I have to agree strongly with the decision to have the recently promoted Major Adama suddenly and unexpectedly thrown into the thick of the fight. The brilliantly directed sequence not only forced Apollo to deal with command of a Battlestar under attack with fairly grim odds of survival, but it also re-enforced the Galactica-Pegasus crew schism. Admittedly, we've seen plenty of confrontation between the crews dating back to the Tyrol-Helo insty-court-martial (all of which I expect to continue to build to a future breaking point), but the purpose of this scene seems to be about Apollo. Frankly, there's been enough evidence of tension between the men and women aboard the Beast and the Bucket that using this scene for that purpose seems besides the point (perhaps, as intended by the producers of the show). So, I'm down with the whole Apollo-has-the-con thing. And then Garner exits (stage left, even)... and begins the laborious process of doing exactly what I feared he'd do.

He saves the ship. At the cost of his own life. In a scene lifted (as pointed out by Ms. Nolley) almost directly from "Star Trek II", with low tech spanners and hammers substituted for dilithium chambers and... other Star Trek nonsense.


Certainly not for lack of alternative ideas from the producers of this stellar show (pardon the pun)... at least, not as evidenced by the originality they've demonstrated in helping previous jerk-off Pegasus commanders kick the bucket. So why does Garner require absolution for being a dick?

In considering alternative paths to the Pegasus' FTL drives getting back on line, the only reason I can see goes back to one of the basics I mentioned earlier... character.

Garner had to bite the dust... granted. But did he have to do the heroic deed himself? He could have had a "best boy" down in the engine room, someone that appreciated engineering and had a knack for mechanics (again, as Apollo noted, he related to machines, not to people)... or even a team of engineers that the audience was exposed to earlier in the episode. I like this idea, as it gives us characters to relate to... characters to put in jeopardy that we'll care about while they're tring to save the Pegasus from a Cylon armada attack.

But that doesn't really solve the cheesy-ness problem. It's still Garner's character arc they'd be completing. Not satisfying.

So, considering another alternative, we could have had a nameless crew of engineers working together, desperately trying to solve multiple desperate problems while Lee shits himself on the mayhem-filled bridge. It focuses the audience attention on Lee and the space battle... and Garner can still get the axe.

I suppose this approach is at least more satisfying than the ho-hum "can Garner twist ALL THREE KNOBS by HIMSELF in TIME?" But I also have a problem with the anonymity of the Pegasus crew miraculously saving the day.

As I started with... the show has hit its stride at the end of this second season (and, might I add, come a LONG way from what I regarded as a sputtering start in the mini-series and early season one... back when I considered myself among the GINO crowd). The writers, directors, and Mr. Ronald D. Moore have clearly demonstrated they can make this show rock.

When they're ready for a better solution to the Garner disappointment, they can give my agent a call.

-- Posted by: Emjay at February 21, 2006 2:31 AM

So-so. Something was not impressed.

-- Posted by: Madison at January 2, 2013 10:26 AM

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