Deconstructing Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series – Chapter Seventeen: The Hand of God

Apollo, Starbuck, Sheba, and Cassiopeia go to an observatory when they find a video signal on an old frequency that suspiciously looks like an Earth lunar lander. They take the recorded tape to Boomer and he attempts to clean up the signal. What they do figure out is that the signal originated from a nearby solar system. When a patrol is dispatched, they find a Cylon basestar orbiting one of the planets in the system.

Adama decides to take on the Basestar head on, and Apollo gets the idea to infiltrate the Basestar and knock out its scanners so the Galactica is guaranteed the first strike. As he and Starbuck prepare Baltar’s old fighter, Adama makes a deal with Baltar to allow him to be set free in exchange for information regarding the control systems aboard the Basestar.

Boomer rigs a transmitter to allow the Vipers the ability to know which Cylon Raider carries Apollo and Starbuck, and Cassiopeia and Sheba make their feelings known for Starbuck and Apollo. Once the mission is launched, the Galactica prepares to engage in battle with the Cylons.

Starbuck and Apollo complete their mission, but lose the transmitter that Boomer rigged. The Vipers, under the command of Boomer, engage the Cylon fighters. The Galactica slides in during the battle and attacks the Basestar. A pitched battle commences, with the Galactica emerging victorious in the end. Starbuck and Apollo, in their stolen Cylon raider, make it back to the Galactica by ‘waggling’ the wings of their ship, which Boomer recognized.

Back aboard the Galactica, Apollo returns to the Observation Dome to see if another signal can be raised. Starbuck arrives and has Apollo join him to go to a party in their honor, but in the process of turning things off, Starbuck accidentally re-activates a signal booster. After Apollo and Starbuck leave for the party, the monitor shows the first moon landing by Earth, complete with the audio transmission, unbeknownst to anyone.

Review and Thoughts:

This episode had the feeling that everything was going to change. The Galactica and the rest of the fleet were preparing to leave their known galaxy. Baltar had, in effect, made his last appearance in this series with this particular episode as well.

Hey, someone remembered that WE"RE the bad guys of the series.

Hey, someone remembered that WE"RE the bad guys of the series.

The Cylons return as the Villain to be feared, although the Cylon in charge is nothing more than a Gold Cylon. This is a case where the IL-class Cylon should have made one final appearance. And, to be honest, this is a case where Baltar should have confronted the IL Cylon (in this case, Lucifer). And, while Apollo and Starbuck escape, Baltar’s whereabouts should be a mystery.

This was also an episode where the idea behind the story was far ahead of the technology required. Every single VFX and SFX shot was recycled from previous shows, including the Battlestar vs. Basestar showdown. Because of this, there was never a feeling of a pitched battle between the two powerhouses.

Also, had the budget been available for it, I would have Colonel Tigh perform the briefing for the Basestar attack in a larger conference room with a large screen with the Basestar on it. As he describes the Basestar’s capabilities, the screen will have the requisite VFX as a technical readout. When Adama and Tigh describe the attack, once again, the VFX will reflect this. (But that is just one sci-fi fan’s opinion)

Out of the Cockpit, Again:

Boomer gives Apollo and Starbuck a surefire device to keep the other Vipers from killing them.  They lose aboard the Cylon Basestar and resort to Deus Ex Galactica instead.

Boomer gives Apollo and Starbuck a surefire device to keep the other Vipers from killing them. They promptly lose it aboard the Cylon Basestar and resort to Deus Ex Galactica instead.

They turn to Boomer and his long-range communication skills in order to decipher the tape. So, because of this, the shove him off to work on “the tape” until Dr. Welker returns – which, of course, conveniently means that he won’t be available for the patrol…again. He then gets to build another device which could help them once they leave the Cylon ship – which serves no purpose because Apollo and Starbuck lose the device inside the Cylon Basestar.

But Once You Go Black…

When Starbuck wakes Boomer out of his sleep cycle, he is dressed in nothing more than his boxer shorts. Sheba and Cassiopeia looked like they were ready to tell Starbuck and Apollo to “take a walk” and take Boomer to the lab themselves. I wish I were kidding about this.

Redeemed at the End?

On the flip side, Boomer gets a lot of fighter screen time during the attack.

And, About the Fighter Battle:

The thing that has been missing from the fighter battles has been the communications traffic. The last time we heard any kind of comm traffic during the battle was in “Lost Planet of the Gods.” It may have been too much to ask, but on top of the reuse of special effects, we should have also gotten a sense of strategy and tactics during the battle.

Missing Boxey:

Boxey hasn’t shown up for many episodes now.

Missing Athena:

Athena also hasn’t shown up for a number of episodes. In actuality, BOTH of them haven’t been seen since they walked out of the scene in “Greetings from Earth.”

Missing Rigel:

I hadn’t realized it until now, but Flight Corporal Rigel has not been seen in a number of episodes now. Actually, I think the last time she was seen onscreen was during the battle in “The Living Legend.”

A Simple WTH?

Apollo shocked at Sheba's apparent superpowers of psychology.  Or perhaps just bad writing on the attack once again...

Apollo shocked at Sheba's apparent superpowers of psychology. Or perhaps just bad writing on the attack once again...

When Sheba starts to profess her feelings, she starts with “Ever since you lost Serina, you’ve taken every high risk mission on the board.” Huh? How does she know? And then, this little gem, “She was a very lovely woman, Apollo…” Excuse me, Sheba, but again, how do you know? I guess everyone has been talking about it. Wow.

A simple explanation: This exchange between Sheba and Apollo was meant for Athena and Apollo – minus the kiss. Thus, when Athena walks by Starbuck and Cassiopeia – and says, “Good luck, hotshot,” it would be meant for Athena to finally admit that she has lost Starbuck to Cassiopeia. But, since the Larson/Jensen feud came to a head by this time, the role was rewritten for Sheba.

And Once Again, Don’t You Hate Being Right?:

I wonder how many "takes" Richard and Anne performed for this scene?

I wonder how many "takes" Richard and Anne performed for this scene?

I said back with “War of the Gods” that Sheba and Apollo would begin the dance of love. And it would be right here that Sheba takes the first step and kisses Apollo before he goes on the mission.

But the Toy Stays in the Box:

Sheba, once again, was relegated to backup duty. She was actually shown less in the cockpit of her Viper than Boomer was during the “big battle.”

A Welcome Cameo:

Lt. Dietre returns for a quick cameo.  Courtesy of stock footage, of course.

Lt. Dietre returns for a quick cameo. Courtesy of stock footage, of course.

Deitre returns! Also, note that there was a second black female pilot shown as a walk-on.

Final Rating:

[Cautionary] 5.1 of 10 points. Except for the briefing, Tigh was just along for the ride. Boomer got shoved off of Patrol duty, but gets a large bit of screen time during the Viper vs. Raider battle, although it gets treated like throwaway VFX filler. And, perhaps fittingly for this series, it ends with Starbuck and Apollo getting the last actual screen time (unless you count NASA stock footage) for the show.

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One Response to Deconstructing Battlestar Galactica: The Original Series – Chapter Seventeen: The Hand of God

  1. ned says:

    wow that depressed me…. im white and loved the show hand of god thought it was one of the best.
    But yes i would haved liked more boomer and tigh they were great

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