Deconstructing Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series – Chapter Fifteen: Experiment in Terra

While pursuing the Eastern Alliance ship that escaped from the Galactica, Apollo’s ship is intercepted by the light ship. While there, he meets a light being named “John” – who reveals his face. He is told of a planet that needs his help, and is ‘transported’ near there. Starbuck finds him on his radar and orders Boomer to take command of the squadron while he ‘rescues’ Apollo.

It turns out that Apollo has been selected to rescue the planet Terra from its own imminent destruction. The Eastern Alliance is planning on using its nuclear arsenal to destroy their enemies, the People’s Nationalistic Force, on the same planet. General Maxwell has tried to persuade the President of this fact, but the President is convinced that the Eastern Alliance is dealing in good faith.

The plan seems to go awry when Apollo gives away the fact that he is indeed an alien and is locked up. Adama, now worried about Apollo and Starbuck, orders the Galactica to make flank speed for Terra. Starbuck, in the meantime, lands on Terra, finds Apollo’s fighter and the message that Apollo left on his com-box. He also encounters forces from the PNF and overpowers them.

Brenda, the woman who finds “Apollo,” meets with her father, General Maxwell about everything that has happened thus far – the upcoming treaty with the Eastern Alliance, the man whom Apollo impersonates (based on how she has been swooning all over him, it would seem that the two of them are lovers on some level) – and is interrupted by PNF officers, who take them into custody.

Starbuck makes it to the city when “John” appears before Starbuck. After “discussing” the situation, Starbuck breaks Apollo and his party out of the prison and they make their way to the Presidium. Adama continues to fly the Galactica at maximum speed towards Terra. General Maxwell informs them that the situation is looking grave; the President is about to unveil the ‘secret’ treaty with the Eastern Alliance, and they themselves will be short on any proof of deception by the Eastern Alliance.

Starbuck heads back out towards his own fighter to make a display of strength and superior technology, while Apollo and the rest go towards the Presidium and make an impassioned objection to the treaty. While the president is about to gloat over the inevitability of the treaty, the Eastern Alliance launches every nuclear weapon in their arsenal. The PNF’s automatic defenses launch, and everyone is waiting for the warheads to detonate.

Adama uses the Galactica’s shields to act as a barrier above the ionosphere and destroys all the missiles. The Eastern Alliance, seeing their grand designs go bust, decides to sue for peace on the Nationalist’s terms. As the President and General Maxwell begin to celebrate their newfound hope, Apollo disappears.

Apollo and “John” discuss the situation and John tells Apollo that Terra is not “Earth.” They share a light moment as they begin to leave Terra.

Review and Thoughts:

Episodes like “Experiment in Terra” are what I don’t like about the series. In what should have been a one episode appearance for the ‘Angels of Light’ (back in “War of the Gods, Part 2”), they return to have Apollo perform some kind of clandestine operation for them, but details are sketchy.

Larson Connection:

Edward Mulhare as Devon Miles...err..."John" the friendly light ship alien.

Edward Mulhare as Devon Miles...err..."John" the friendly light ship alien.

Edward Mulhare, who plays “John” in this episode, will go on to star in Larson’s most famous 1980s TV creation, Knight Rider, as Michael Knight’s boss Devon Miles.

Boomer Shafted…Again:

Any chance for Boomer to get any screen time, as well as any chance to actually have a direct hand in saving Apollo and/or Starbuck, gets flushed almost immediately. Get beyond this moment, and Herbert Jefferson’s onscreen presence gets minimal.

Nazi Stand-ins:

The Evil Space German Leader in Charge of it All.

The Evil Space German Leader in Charge of it All.

The Evil Space German Advisor, the Adolf 9000.

The Evil Space German Advisor, the Adolf 9000.

The Eastern Alliance is supposed to be “Germany under Hitler if set in Sci-Fi.” “Greetings from Earth” would establish this, complete with the German Army-like uniforms and German-like accents (the only thing missing was, “Jahvol, Mein Fuhrer!”). Also, the leader of the Eastern Alliance is a “Kommandant” (which is not German for “Leader”). Another sad side-note is that Mel Brooks borrows the uniform designs almost lock, stock, and barrel for his Sci-Fi parody Spaceballs.

Good vs. Evil, or War of the Gods, Ignored:

In War of the Gods, it was alluded to that Count Iblis was supposed to be a ‘renegade’ of the Angels of Light, and uses his powers to usurp those into evil deeds. This time around, it is unclear if Count Iblis had something to do with the inhabitants of Terra, but the Angels of Light tell Apollo that what happens on Terra could affect both the Angels of Light AND the inhabitants aboard the Galactica. What was possibly going to happen was never made clear; and even if the Eastern Alliance did “win” the Nuclear holocaust, their power would not even be close enough to tackle Baltar’s former complement of Basestars, much less take on the Cylon Alliance.

The Colonial Fleet, Ignored:

When things start to look bad, Adama orders that the Galactica make all due haste for Terra. Except, it seems as if no other ship from the fleet is ever shown in the VFX shots these days.

Sci-Fi Connection:

John DeLancie (center).  Apparently, Terran Helmets use Dirtbike Technology.

John DeLancie (center). Apparently, Terran Helmets use Dirtbike Technology.

The lead military technician that confronts Starbuck at that landing site is John DeLancie, known to Star Trek fans for playing the omnipotent “Q” in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager.

President Adar, Version 2.0:

One smug president about get burned to a crisp.  Unless Adama can reach the planet in time.

One smug president about get burned to a crisp. Unless Adama can reach the planet in time.

This President on Terra is just like Adar. The only difference is that thanks to Adama, he doesn’t go up in a ball of fire.

And Yet ANOTHER Wife and Mother Thrown Under the Train:

Brenda and her father, General Maxwell, seem to enjoy a life under the strain of war. Once again, however, Brenda’s mother – General Maxwell’s wife – is nowhere to be found.

Final Rating:

[Dead and Buried] 0.5 of 10 points. This episode is a prime example of everything that I do not like about Battlestar Galactica. Apollo saves the world. Starbuck gets the girl. Boomer gets nothing in terms of heroic deeds. Tigh gets a line – in which he ultimately sounds like a fool.

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One Response to Deconstructing Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series – Chapter Fifteen: Experiment in Terra

  1. Iacobus says:

    How exactly does Starbuck “get the girl” in this episode?

Say What You Mean - And Mean What You Say

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