Battlestar Galactica & Caprica Reviews

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BSG - Season 3 - Episode 08

BSG - 3x08 - Hero - Originally Aired: 2006-11-17

My Rating - 2

Fan Rating Average - 4.35

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Synopsis
When three Cylon Raiders Jump into the middle of the fleet, the Galactica braces for a fight. But two of the Raiders are actually chasing the third. Taking advantage of their enemies' preoccupation, Starbuck and Kat gun down the two pursuing ships. Then a man calling himself "Bulldog" sends a desperate radio signal from the third Raider. Hearing it, Adama orders the craft escorted onto the Galactica. A haggard man disembarks. DNA comparisons confirm that he is Lt. Daniel "Bulldog" Novacek, who once served under Adama.

Novacek and Adama tell Roslin that they conducted a mission together about a year before the Cylons attacked the Colonies. While investigating illegal mining near the Cylon armistice line, Novacek was shot down by the miners. Adama gave him up for dead, but Novacek ejected and was picked up by the Cylons. For three years, they held him in a cell aboard a baseship, but he finally escaped, stole a Raider, and fled to the human fleet.

Roslin suspects that this simple narrative is not the whole truth, but Adama just asks her to trust him. Later, he confides the true story to his son, Lee. The admiralty actually ordered Adama to spy on the Cylons, not on renegade miners. While he observed aboard the battlestar Valkyrie, Novacek, his best pilot, flew a small stealth ship over the armistice line to hunt for evidence of Cylon military preparations. There, an unknown vessel attacked Novacek. As more mystery spacecraft circled in for the kill, Adama ordered Novacek's ship destroyed by a missile to cover up the spy mission. Having endured guilt about that decision for years, now he must face the additional fact that, despite his actions, the Cylons discovered and captured Novacek. Indeed, Adama now believes that this failed spy mission provoked the Cylons' massive attack on the Colonies.

While Adama confesses this to Lee, Novacek hears the same story from Col. Tigh, who was also aboard the Valkyrie that day. Novacek never knew that the missile strike which sent him into enemy hands was ordered by his own commanding officer. He's appalled to learn the truth.

Meanwhile, as Starbuck reviews film of the Raiders' high-speed chase, she notices that the pursuing Cylon ships deliberately fired their weapons past Novacek's craft, missing him. She can only conclude that the Cylons wanted their prisoner to escape. Whatever the reason for that, it can't bode well for the human fleet. Then, without warning, Novacek violently ambushes Adama. Betrayed and furious, he'll be satisfied only when Adama is dead... [Blu-ray] [DVD]

Problems
- Adama is in his dress uniform during the ceremony, then is shown in his regular uniform sending off Bulldog. He's then shown inexplicably back in his dress uniform when Tigh comes to his quarters.
- Bulldog's mission was said to have taken place 3 years prior to this episode. But Adama lost command of the Valkyrie in 21348, which is 8 years prior to this episode.

Factoids
- This episode establishes that the Battlestar Valkyrie was Adama's command before the Galactica.
- This episode marks Adama's 45th anniversary as an officer in the Colonial Fleet.
- The dossier Billy prepared for Roslin about Adama includes a short biography, but actually conveys a lot of information. Among the legible things in it included Adama's place of birth, Qualai, Caprica, a small coastal community. His mother's name is Evelyn Adama, an accountant. Most importantly, however, is Adama's military service, which reads:

D6/21311 First commission, Battlestar Galactica, fighter squadron
E4/21312 Commendation for shooting down Cylon fighter in first combat mission
D5/21314 Mustered out of service post-armistice
R6/21317 Served as Deck Hand in merchant fleet and as common [...] aboard inter-colony tramp freighters
D1/21331 Recommissioned to Fleet
D6/21337 Major: Battlestar Atlantia
R8/21341 Executive Officer: Battlestar Columbia
C2/21345 Commander: Battlestar Valkyrie
C2/21348 Commander: Battlestar Galactica


- That info connotes that the current year is 21356, if we add 45 years to 21311, the date of Adama's first commission. This also puts Adama at 66 years of age. The current year being such a high number is intriguing, as it connotes over 20,000 years of recorded history for the Colonials.
- Survivors, according to the main title: 41421. (This is up one from last episode, due to Bulldog's addition.)
- Adama had a line in this episode in which he said, "I thought maybe the Cylons had beaten the bullshit attitude out of you." However the word "bullshit" was censored on many major cable networks during the episode's first airing.
- This episode establishes that Adama was given command of the Galactica as punishment for bungling the black ops mission, as a sort of quiet retirement.

Remarkable Scenes
- Tory, holding Baltar's portrait: "Is there really any place left in the universe deserving of such a rare and distinguished item?" Roslin: "I was thinking put it in the bathroom right over the toilet." Tory: "Excellent choice."
- The raider chase.
- The raider being taken aboard Galactica and Bulldog emerging.
- Roslin after being told what supposedly happened to Bulldog: "So you gonna tell me what really happened?" Adama: "You're gonna have to trust me on this one, okay? It's my mess. I'll fix it." Roslin leaves, then Adama throws a chair across the room.
- Adama going to see Tigh about Bulldog.
- Tigh: "So, you here to talk to your friend or to your XO? Last time I checked, I was neither."
- Tigh revealing Adama's secret to Bulldog and Adama revealing his secret to Apollo.
- The flashback to the Battlestar Valkyrie.
- D'Anna ordering a Centurion to execute her, then revealing to the other Cylons that "there's something beautiful, miraculous between life and death."
- Starbuck watching the footage of the raider chase, wondering why the Cylons kept missing.
- Starbuck revealing to Tigh that the Cylons let Bulldog escape.
- Bulldog attacking Adama.
- Tigh saving Adama.
- Tigh: "You don't wanna believe it do you? No. The truth hurts, Bulldog. But it's better to know the truth than to live a lie. We're all soldiers Danny. We're all expendable. And we did what we had to do to protect the mission. It's ugly, but there it is. The Cylons let you go. The question is why. Ask yourself that, Danny. Because up until a minute ago, you were doing exactly what they wanted you to do. Come here and learn the truth and seek revenge. And that's exactly what you did. You almost gave them what they wanted. The dirty little secret is the toughest part of getting played is losing your dignity. Feeling like you are not worth the oxygen you are sucking down. You get used to it. You start to believe it. You start to love it. It's like a bottle that never runs dry. You can keep reaching for it over and over and over again." Adama: "So how do you put that bottle away, Saul?" Tigh: "I don't know. One day you just decide to get up and walk out of your room."
- Tigh going to see Adama to talk to him about what happened to Ellen.

My Review
A Measure of Salvation was an episode with a good idea poorly executed. Hero is an episode with a bad idea executed equally poorly. First and foremost, the entire main plot seemed entirely unnecessary to me. All the real meat of the story is in Adama's backstory and Tigh and Adama reconciling their friendship. The story was about them, and Bulldog just came across as a poorly thought out plot device.

The largest complaint to make about Bulldog is the deus ex machina way in which he was introduced. RDM once said you can only bring a character back from the dead a small number of times. What he did with Ellen Tigh was his sort of "get out of jail free" card. The audience only lets you get away with that once, or a few times at most. And you'd better have a very good reason to do it. Bringing Ellen Tigh into the story was done for a very good reason. Bringing the Pegasus into the story was done for a very good reason. Bringing in Bulldog wasn't.

Even if you throw aside the idea of the extreme convenience that he survived, the story still requires immense suspension of disbelief. The audience is forced to believe that the Cylons held him for 3 years, did nothing with him, then simply let him go, hoping that he'd find the fleet, learn the truth, and seek revenge against Adama. Perhaps there was no such conspiracy; Tigh and Starbuck were wrong, even though circumstantial evidence points to them being correct. But even if there was no conspiracy, how did Bulldog find the fleet at all in the first place? I just don't buy it.

Furthermore, the date of Bulldog's covert ops mission is completely contradicted by Adama's biography as shown in the dossier Billy prepared for Roslin. Granted, everything else about that wonderful dossier seems to add up perfectly with regards to the continuity of the rest of the show, it is yet another blatant technical problem where Bulldog is concerned.

Other issues challenging suspension of disbelief include Adama's sudden desire to resign his commission after the Bulldog incident. What? Why? In numerous prior episodes, Adama has been willing to forgive almost anything his officers did, because the ship needed every man. Now, Adama feels he's suddenly unqualified to command the Galactica because of something he might have done, maybe, to contribute to the Cylon attack on the Colonies?

Adama said in 33 "we make mistakes, people die" and ordered Dee to resume her duties after a mistake she made cost the lives of the people aboard the Olympic Carrier. Furthermore, Roslin issued a full pardon to all human beings in the fleet to mark a new beginning. The attitude of the show thus far is that everyone's sinned, but it must be overlooked so the fleet can move on. It seems out of character for Adama, one of the front runners of this attitude to forget this.

That said, there are some nuggets of gold in here. The most memorable scenes involve Tigh's internal struggle and how he and Adama reconcile their friendship. I absolutely adore the final scene, in which Tigh finally comes to Adama to talk about what happened to Ellen. (Even if it does feature a pretty obvious continuity error with regards to Adama's uniform.)

I further loved the sight of the Valkyrie and the information we got about Adama's past. It seems that the command of the Galactica was given to Adama as punishment for bungling the mission across the armistice line. This makes Adama's character much more interesting in that he must have commanded some nice influence by the time he made commander to have been given the Valkyrie, a very modern-looking battlestar, instead of what we were lead to believe before that he barely managed to grab command of Galactica, the oldest, least desirable ship in the fleet with what little influence he had. It also sheds new light on a line he uttered in Resurrection Ship, Part 2 about having never given up hope to be promoted to admiral, but had stopped trying years ago.

Another interesting plot point is D'Anna's apparent religious experience between life and death, which she believes means something profound. Of particular note, she appears to be in the same opera house as Baltar saw in Kobol's Last Gleaming, Part 2, and she sees a number of whited out people. Are they the last remaining five Cylons? Or some other people?

Bear McCreary's score is of particular note once again, with a nice violin piece played throughout the episode, mostly during Bulldog's and Adama's scenes. I also much enjoyed the fast drum theme during the Valkyrie flashback. Overall this is an episode in which the ball is dropped pretty hard, but the numerous interesting minor details and the gripping dramatic way the episode comes to its conclusion saves the episode from being a total loss.

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