Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 1 - Episode 10

BSG - 1x10 - The Hand of God - Originally Aired: 2005-1-3

My Rating - 10

Fan Rating Average - 5.82

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Synopsis
As its fuel supply dwindles, the fleet must seek out a new supply of tylium ore or risk becoming sitting ducks to any Cylon attack. A recon patrol finds an asteroid full of the fuel, but there's a catch. The Cylons have found it first and established a heavily guarded refining plant.

Kara devises a plan: Jump three decoy ships near the asteroid; when the Cylons attack, destroy their bases, leaving them stranded in space. It's a bold tactic, but it will take luck, skill and daring to pull it off.

Meanwhile, President Roslin begins to hallucinate as a result of the Chamalla she's taking to combat her breast cancer. When she consults Elosha, a priestess who has used Chamalla to induce visions, she learns that her circumstances fulfill a 3,600-year-old prophecy.

On Cylon-occupied Caprica, Sharon and Helo's flight from the Cylon overseers suddenly becomes more complicated when Sharon discovers she's pregnant. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- This episode received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series. (2004)
- This episode is an homage to the identically named BSG 1978 episode, which was the series finale for that series.
- Crashdown says that the Cylon base has the only Tylium source in 12 light years, which implies that Galactica has traveled 12 light years since they left the colonies 37 days ago.
- The scene in which the Six in Baltar's head breaks Baltar's neck in his fantasy is a reference to fundamentalist Christianity which contends that to be a true Christian, one must undergo death and rebirth, which is what baptism represents.
- Roslin indicates that there is an overcrowding problem within the fleet.
- William Adama's father was named Joseph Adama.
- According to Roslin, they've stolen enough fuel from the Cylons to last them a few years.

Remarkable Scenes
- Crashdown and Boomer finding Tylium ore on an asteroid only to discover the Cylons built a base there to mine it.
- Adama: "We take the Tylium from the Cylons."
- Elosha: "3600 years ago, Pythia wrote about the exile and the rebirth of the human race. 'And the lords anointed a leader, to guide the caravan of the heavens to their new homeland. And unto the leader they gave a vision of serpents numbering two and ten as a sign of things to come.'"
- Adama regarding Starbuck: "We're not gonna win this one by the book. I want Starbuck in here because she's not weighed down by conventional thinking. With all due respect, gentlemen, we're not as crazy as she is."
- Baltar: "Suppose god doesn't want me to destroy the base because he's the Cylon god. Right?" Six: "God doesn't take sides. He only wants your love."
- Baltar taking a wild guess about the location of the storage tanks.
- Adama testing Starbuck's knee.
- Apollo: "Dad, I'll bring it back." Adama: "You better. Or I'll kick your ass. It's a good lighter."
- The battle commencing.
- Apollo going through the conveyor tunnel.
- Apollo destroying the Cylon base.
- The celebrating, including Starbuck abruptly hugging Roslin, catching her off guard.
- Apollo returning the lighter to his father.
- Six, recalling a later verse of the scrolls of Pythia: "The outcome favored the few and led to a confrontation at the home of the gods."
- Baltar: "I am an instrument of god..."

My Review
Ronald D. Moore calls this episode season one's guilty pleasure. I agree. But the bottom line is most science fiction fans really enjoy kick ass space battles. I know it was one of the many things that made Star Trek DS9 so amazing for me, so it's no surprise that this episode appeals to me on those grounds as well.

But also as RDM says it's not enough to do the guilty pleasure episode, you have to do it well and deliver on other levels as well. And this episode does this extremely well. One of the things that would have very quickly become a complaint of mine is BSG's failure to address the limitations of the fleet's fuel. This episode spearheads that issue in the very first scene. Not only that, but instead of having a guilty pleasure episode where the Cylons attack the fleet, which was done extremely well in 33, we have an episode where the Galactica attacks the Cylons. I love every bit of that.

I thought it was wonderful to build off of Starbuck's knee injury in You Can't Go Home Again and force her to sit this mission out. But the writers did more than that. Not only was Starbuck forced to sit out, but it added a new layer of depth to the story, for Apollo now has to the be hotshot pilot pulling Starbuck-style "retina detaching" moves, as he put it. I loved the fact that this change of pace put the two characters at odds, instead of the usual "you can do it! I believe in you!" lameness that's prevalent in other kinds of storytelling.

So when it came time to do this thing, there's extreme pressure on Lee, both of the said and unsaid kind. In addition to the obviousness of failure resulting in the destruction of the entire fleet, Lee is also trying to prove to himself he can be just as impressive a pilot as Starbuck is, and that's what that whole "through the conveyor tunnel" move is all about. All of this depth, all of this drama, and all of this tension is set behind one of the most beautiful space battles I've ever seen as a backdrop. Indeed, The Hand of God is the most visually spectacular episode of the entire season.

Beyond this is the religious innuendo Baltar is facing. Six has been manipulating Baltar into believing; truly believing in the Cylon god for the whole season, but this episode is what really converts Baltar I think. For the entire mission is all on Baltar's shoulders. Can he accurately guess the location of the storage tanks or not? Baltar insists his guess was completely random and just a lie, but Six insists that its accuracy is directly proportional to Baltar's faith in the Cylon god. When Baltar's guess is proven to be "right on the money," Baltar's finally given in.

"All this has happened before and all of it will happen again." Leoben first said this to Kara in Flesh and Bone. Kara noted that it was part of the scriptures. Now Six is quoting the same line of scripture and more to Baltar. Indeed, Colonial religion and Cylon religion appear to be coming to a head. Something religious is going on with Roslin and something religious is going on with Baltar. It may all just be a coincidence of course, but the Cylons don't seem to think so; they seem to know what it is, or at least what it means and are confident it will happen soon.

Specifically, Leoben said the colonials will find Kobol, the birthplace of all mankind. Six said "the outcome favored the few and led to a confrontation at the home of the gods." This must mean that the outcome of the battle favored the Colonials, which is true, and will lead to a new confrontation between the Cylons and the colonials at Kobol, assuming the religious predictions pan out.

I also continue to be delighted by the ambiguous portrayal of religion in the show. All these coincidences lead the characters to believe there is a supernatural element to the story, yet as an objective viewer there's no reason to believe anything happening actually is supernatural which adds immensely to the realism of the show by showing how religious belief has a profound psychological effect on the characters while keeping the audience detached from that effect and grounded in the realistic portrayal.

The final plot point worth discussing is Helo and Sharon on Caprica. There was a fairly obvious hint dropped in this episode that Sharon is indeed pregnant, which confirms my suspicion that the whole Helo/Sharon thing has been an experiment by the Cylons in procreation. But where is this going? Their experiment appears to have been successful in the sense that Sharon appears to be pregnant, but at the same time, Sharon appears to have betrayed the Cylons. This episode leaves you wondering if Sharon's betrayal and the supposed upcoming confrontation at Kobol is connected.

In the grand scheme of things this is among Galactica's top episodes. It's far more than a guilty pleasure, for it is pivotal to the show's developing story arc. Both visually spectacular and thought provoking.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Jonathan explains it all on 2013-04-18 at 6:19pm:
    I don't understand what happened to all the cylon fighters.

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