Deconstructing Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series – Chapter Four: The Long Patrol

With the Galactica now in uncharted territory, Starbuck takes a new recon fighter, dubbed RCV-1 Starchaser, on an extended patrol. When he encounters a freighter under attack from a fighter, Starbuck manages to allow the freighter to escape. He meets with the freighter’s captain and is rewarded with a blow to the back of the head and his fighter stolen. The thief then starts transmitting a signal, which is picked up by the Galactica and the Cylons – who send a patrol to investigate.

Starbuck takes the freighter and is captured by the same fighter pilot he encountered earlier. When they land, he tries to talk his way out of the situation, when it is revealed that the cargo aboard the ship is bootleg wine. He is subsequently thrown into prison.

In an attempt to protect themselves, Adama orders a course change – and sends Apollo and Boomer to destroy RCV-1. Just before Apollo starts his attack, Cassiopeia recognizes the code being sent as an old merchant code. When Boomer and Apollo land, they find RCV-1 being stripped for cargo room, and the thief with his wife and child.

Back at the prison, Starbuck confronts the jailers, and find that the door to his cell is open. When he tells the prisoners the truth about their labors, the people rise up and take over the jail. The Vipers find the jail and land, reuniting Apollo and Boomer with Starbuck – and Robert with the other prisoners. The Cylons show up, and the Vipers make quick work of them.

Back on board the Galactica, Adama toasts to the new members of the fleet. Boxey shows everyone a map that he drew, and Starbuck finds a mistake on the map. He explains that he saw a map similar to the one Boxey drew in his cell. Adama tells Starbuck that Boxey drew the map based on an ancient legend of the Earth system. Robert explains that the maps in the cell were drawn by a man known as “The Silent One.”

Review and Thoughts:

Clunker #1, meet Clunker #2. This episode, following on the heels of the less-than-stellar “The Lost Warrior,” is one of those episodes that would have worked better with changed elements. In “Lost,” Apollo takes center stage as the Warrior who must bring order to chaos. Now, it’s Starbuck’s turn.

With just 6 episodes (4 chapters, since there are many multi-part episodes – I prefer to think of them as “chapters” to make things easier) in to the series, I am now convinced that this show would survive the test of time a little better if the episodes themselves were more representative of the larger ensemble cast that is Galactica.

Continuity Nerd Complaint:

One of the extras on the Rising Star mentions that he has been on the ship for hundreds of voyages, and that the move out of the star system reminded him of the days before the war. If President Adar from “Saga of a Star World” is to be believed, the humans have been in a state of war for 7,000 years. Maybe not with the Cylon Alliance, but with someone including the Cylons.

Also, later in the episode, the prisoners tell Starbuck that they had been producing munitions and Ambrosia wine for over 700 years. Starbuck also notices that some of the wine had been aged for more than 1,000 years. Since this prison colony believes that the Cylons need to die, the war with the Cylons has been going on for more than 1,000 years.

So, maybe this guy is either suffering from Alzheimer’s, or he misspoke in the passion of the moment – or, just maybe, he is an extremely long-lived individual.

Concept Used Far Too Often:

C.O.R.A. is the Computer, Oral Response Activated. Why is this considered a CUFTO? Because CORA is the precursor to Twiggy and Dr. Theopolis, the smart-alec computer combination in Glen Larson’s remake of Buck Rogers…and his most famous smarty-pants, the Knight Industries Two Thousand from Knight Rider. CORA, being a “female” computer, speaks like a woman who hasn’t had a whole lot of physical fun in a while – and calls Starbuck, “Honey” far too much.

Casting Archetype Used Way Too Much:

Once again, the sympathetic wife is a blonde. The only thing keeping this from being an episode that sinks completely into the abyss of vomit is the fact that the kid is a redhead. But she is not even given a speaking part. Just to stand and elicit sympathy and “awww” from the audience. Even at the table for the final scene, she just gets to sit there, and do nothing.

The Athena/Cassiopeia Battle:

I have no idea how much mileage Galactica intended to get out of Starbuck being a playboy – and attempting to divide his attention between Athena and Cassiopeia, but my modern sensibility says, “one episode too much and counting.” I realize that getting serious with Athena means Starbuck marries into the most powerful family before and after the massacre – with Adama being President of the Council of Twelve, Apollo being Viper Group Commander and successor to Adama’s Council seat and Galactica command, and Athena being considered among any of those as well. I also realize that Cassiopeia represents someone who loves Starbuck because he showed kindness and love despite the fact that she is a Socialator (the closest equivalent would be a Courtesan or Geisha). And, being the kind of guy Starbuck is, it would be hard to choose.

But, in retrospect, it plays like a marriage (with Athena) and an affair (with Cassiopeia) in which all parties involved battle for romantic supremacy. Except that regardless of the outcome, Athena and Cassiopeia both lose by even dignifying the battle for as long as they have.

Colonel Tigh:

For the most part, Tigh was along for the ride, and once again does not do much of anything.

Lt. Boomer:

Boomer got shafted here. First, he gets a bead on a target – and is “interrupted” by a screaming woman. And the target he was going to shoot…a “cute” kid. The flip side here is that he keeps Apollo from being shot in the back by yelling that he found a woman and child, which made Robert acquiesce immediately.

The Prison Planet:

There is one black male enforcer, who does not have a speaking part. He is prominently shown putting the rifle to Starbuck’s back.

The Prisoners:

None among the prisoners. However, note that the female is named “Adultery” and she is dressed in a very revealing outfit.

Final Verdict:

[Tokens] 2.3 of 10 points. Although the story here makes a little more sense than “The Lost Warrior,” “The Long Patrol” suffers from many of the same maladies Warrior suffers from. The old waiter’s line about things before the war without much explanation or exposition is just plain bad. What makes “Patrol” less suffering than “Warrior” is that there was at least an attempt to advance the back-story of the Colonies – and some time was paid to advancing the grand scale story about Earth, Kobol, and some of the higher powers involved within the Galactica universe.

Other than this, however, this episode should have stayed in the can.

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