Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 2 - Episode 17

BSG - 2x17 - The Captain's Hand - Originally Aired: 2006-2-17

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 5.41

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Synopsis
On the Galactica, movement inside a cargo container draw the suspicion of Tyrol and his deck crew. When the box is opened, a stowaway is found inside, a pregnant 17-year-old girl named Rya Kibby. Once in custody, she asks to be brought to Doc Cottle.

Meanwhile, a pair of Raptors from the Pegasus, out on a training exercise in a region of intense radiation that interferes with communications, relay a garbled distress signal back to the Pegasus, under the command of the recently promoted engine room chief, Commander Barry Garner. Before Garner and his crew can verify the Raptors' transmission, the Raptors jump away and vanish from the fleet's dradis screens.

Ratcheting up the tension aboard the Pegasus is the running feud between Garner and flight training supervisor Capt. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, a battle of wills that is only made worse by the arrival of Garner's interim XO, Lee "Apollo" Adama, newly promoted to the rank of major.

Back on the Galactica, Rya Kibby's desire to exercise her legal right to an abortion, and the revelation that Doc Cottle has been providing this service to women in the fleet for the past few months, becomes an incendiary political issue. The fleet's pro-life Gemenon faction threatens to pull its support for President Laura Roslin unless she condemns the practice of abortion and makes it illegal.

Aboard the Pegasus, Commander Garner proves unequal to the responsibility of commanding a battlestar. He insists on mounting a quixotic rescue mission, despite Starbuck's insistence that the signal the Raptors followed was almost certainly a Cylon trap. But when Garner disobeys a direct order from Admiral Adama and orders the Pegasus to go after its missing aircraft, it's up to Apollo to take action and prevent the Pegasus and her crew from becoming the Cylons' next victims.

As the abortion debate flares throughout the fleet, Roslin is forced to take a stand on the issue. Recognizing that every potential life counts in a shrinking human population, Roslin ponders an executive order that will create a wedge issue, one which Gaius Baltar is almost certain to exploit as he launches his own surprise bid for the Colonial presidency. [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
None

Factoids
- Survivors, according to the main title: 49584. Seven people died in the previous episode, but the survivor count only went down by six. (A simultaneous birth in the fleet could account for this discrepancy.)
- This episode establishes that Mercury class battlestars (such as the Pegasus) do not need to retract their flight pods prior to jumping, unlike whatever class Galactica is.
- According to the podcast commentary, Steve Mcnutt, the director photography for this show complained to RDM about the whole "bucket" and "the beast" nicknames for Galactica and Pegasus. RDM was so "scalded" by the complaint from such an unexpected person that they never used the terms again.

Remarkable Scenes
- Tyrol discovering the young pregnant girl hiding in one of Galactica's cargo containers.
- Garner: "Nobody cut us any slack in the engine room. I can tell you that right now. But then, uh, I don't know, maybe being a snipe is different than being a viper jockey. No flashy stunts for us. No flying by the seat of our pants down there. The engine room is like a finely tuned watch; everything in it needs to be monitored and maintained in a very precise fashion. Nobody freelances. Everything is done in the proper way at the proper time in the proper order or there'd be no power. No lights. No hot showers for your flyboys. You know major, I think some of the people around here could learn a thing or two from the snipes."
- Adama meeting with Rya. I love the look Adama shoots at Cottle when Cottle suggests Rya apply for asylum. Cottle then just kind of tucks his tail between his legs and walks off. Then Adama just kind of looks back at Rya, hoping she didn't catch it. But she did. Adama's day just got a lot more complicated. ;)
- Adama reminding Roslin about her statement in the miniseries that if they want to save the human race, they had better start having babies, and how that statement relates to the abortion issue.
- Lee Laying into Kara.
- Kara: "Poor Lee, your life is so hard isn't it?" Lee: "You mean since I got shot?" Ouch. Below the belt!
- Baltar informing Roslin that the demographic projections of the fleet indicate that the human race will be extinct in 18 years.
- Roslin banning abortion.
- Apollo unsuccessfully trying to take command of the Pegasus after Garner went up against Adama's orders.
- The Pegasus jumping away, then 3 Cylon Basestars jumping to the Pegasus' position. An ambush.
- Garner placing Apollo in command so he can go take personal command of the engine room. I love how Apollo when assuming command just kind of stands there and says to nobody in particular, almost in shock, "I have the con."
- The sight of Pegasus firing her main batteries.
- Hoshi: "Base ship's turning away. He's, he's frakkin' runnin' major!"
- Garner's noble sacrifice.
- Adama promoting Apollo to commander.
- Baltar betraying Roslin and running for the presidency in opposition to her.

My Review
The Captain's Hand is a fantastic episode which shakes up the show quite a bit in a very good way. While granted it seems a legitimate criticism one could make of the show by now is that BSG offs Pegasus commanders faster than Star Trek offs redshirts, I think after the events of this episode, that isn't going to be happening anymore. And really, it kind of makes sense that Pegasus commanders would be dropping like flies until somebody level-headed gets the position and as much as I wanted to see Fisk stick around, having Apollo command the Pegasus is an utterly fantastic twist.

In addition to the Pegasus story, we've got Roslin going and banning abortion, which is a fascinating plot point. I mean, think about it. Adama's right. That population number doesn't go up very often. In the real world, we enjoy our rights to birth control, but we have billions of people on this planet. And indeed an overpopulation problem in many parts of the world. Now, Galactica may have overcrowding issues on some ships as well, though perhaps less now with the introduction of the Pegasus which seemed to only have fraction of the crew compliment that it could have, but the core idea is that in order for the species to survive, you've got to start having babies. This was an idea that was prominent in the miniseries, and I'm glad it's been tackled here so directly.

Special mention as usual goes to the visual effects in this episode. While the Pegasus battling three Cylon Basestars may have been a short sequence, it was a spectacular one. The sight of the Pegasus firing off her forward batteries was just incredible and watching Lee Adama command the Pegasus was an unexpected treat. I hope we get much more of this in the future. Finally, Baltar betraying Roslin and running for president was a fantastic twist at the end. So overall, The Captain's Hand is an exciting ride which shakes up the show quite a bit and certainly doesn't lose its spectacle with repeated viewings.

Continuity note: the next episode chronologically is the two part special Razor, Part 1 and Razor, Part 2. Razor was actually produced, shot, and aired at the beginning of season 4. However, Razor can and arguably should be watched directly after The Captain's Hand as it contains no real spoilers. If you are using my site as an episode guide and you're watching the episodes in sequence, I suggest you go watch Razor now, then come back to season 2 and and pick up on where you left off with the next episode as aired: Downloaded.

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