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22 April 2009 @ 01:52 pm
the bottom line is your son didn't have the chops to fly a viper.  
Yes, I'm aware this is ridiculously late. I did consider waiting until Sunday and watching "Act of Contrition" and "You Can't Go Home Again" back to back. While that would certainly have been better for me (I can't stand watching one part of a two part episode), that's not really in the spirit of the epic BSG re-watch. (Besides, I already did that with "33" and "Water", so I should at least try to watch everything else in the proper order. At least until next season.)

Unlike with "Bastille Day", I'm not going to give you three paragraphs of talking about how much I love the episode, Tom Zarek, and Captain Apollo. I do enjoy "Act of Contrition" (and "You Can't Go Home Again"), but I don't think it inspires me to ramble like "Bastille Day" does. I don't know why, I'm just weird that way. So onto the show.

As opposed to just starting the show now, I really could have already started it and typed all that up while the intro/previously on played. /Random. The previouslies recap: Kara telling Lee that his brother, Zak, failed basic flight but she passed him anyway; Helo and Sharon on Caprica finding an emergency beacon (or something); Laura telling Lee about her cancer; and Kara telling Lee he hasn't changed either (from their conversation in the brig in the miniseries).

The episode properly begins with something that will become a common trick for BSG, at least in season two. Fittingly for this series where cycles mean everything, we start at the ending: Starbuck in her Viper, falling through the atmosphere of a red moon. Alarms are chirping at her and she struggles to reach for the joystick.

Flash. Back to the beginning. Pilots' quarters: Lee puts a helmet down on the table, Kara laughs. "You are so unprepared," she teases. He playfully tells her to shut up. "You're the worst CAG in the history of CAGs, actually." In the hangar, Flat Top lands the Raptor for the thousandth time, and his fellow pilots come to congratulate him. He smiles as they hoist him on their shoulders, singing.

Lee runs into the room, carrying a can of red paint. Kara asks for a brush and Lee repeats her, dumbly. Kara nods and says it again, while Lee gives an embarrassed chuckle. Kara rolls her eyes, "You're the worst. The absolute worst!" Lee holds up his finger and dips it into the paint. They're adorable in this moment, exactly how I like them: Apollo and Starbuck, the CAG and the hotshot pilot, not quite brother and sister and not quite lovers.

I'm not much of a Lee/Kara shipper, honestly. I hate unrequited love stories, but if there was ever a couple that needed to stay unrequited to me, it was Lee and Kara. I like the tragic aspect that they just aren't good for one another, that it's just never the right time, that there's always something between them. I like it when they're friends with sexual tension underneath. I hate they never really made it past what happened on New Caprica, though I do adore in "Islanded in a Stream of Stars" (I think, or is it "Someone to Watch Over Me"?) when Lee tells her it doesn't matter what she is. He knows who she is; she's Kara Thrace. Starbuck. The hotshot problem pilot. In my ideal series finale AU scenario, Kara doesn't disappear and Sam isn't hybridized and Lee accepts that loving Kara and Kara loving him is enough; they don't have to be in love. They'll always be there for one another, but she loves Sam, and she won't divorce and he won't cheat.

(All right, so this episode makes me ramble some. Also, I haven't mentioned it, but I adore how Kara looks in these scenes. She's just completely adorable in her little cap. Back to the show.)

The Chief barks at one of his deckhands for not telling him it was Flat Top's thousandth landing and orders her to get him a wagon. "Now we look like idiots!" he says. "Someone get me a wagon!" The pilots are still celebrating in the background, singing. It's joyous, something to cheer about after so much death. And we don't know it when we first watch this episode, only four episodes in and too new to the show to know what happens next, but BSG rarely lets people be happy without some sucker punch to follow it up.

Back to Kara and Lee, Adama comes for them. "You're not ready yet?" he asks, and Lee accidentally knocks the paint can to the floor. It spills, bright red across the floor. Kara laughs; Bill frowns, "Someone's going to have to pick that up." Kara points at Lee and Lee points at Kara, laughing when he looks at her, and she giggles, slaps his finger. Bill shakes head, "Let's go."

Chief finds a wagon, pushes it over to the pilots, and Flat Top sits in it. They're still singing.

Kara, Lee, and Bill walk through the halls of Galactica, Lee carrying the helmet. Kara asks in a sly tone, "So, did the Commander tell you what happened on his thousandth landing?" Bill grumbles, "I don't remember telling you what I did." Kara grins, "Yeah, whatever." Kara begins to tell the story, with Bill adding, "This has all been over-exaggerated." They're sweet, a little family. Dad, son, pseudo-daughter. I wish Zak hadn't died, because I think this would have been an awesome family, even with Lee and Bill butting heads every five seconds.

When we go back to the hangar, deckhands watching the pilots push Flat Top around, we linger on a rack of drones. The music picks up, drums beat. Something's going to happen. The dread still builds in my stomach every time I watch this. This is the first time we see deaths due to an accident, just a cruel twist of fate.

Kara's still telling the story. Lee chuckles and even Bill's smiling a bit. We cut back to the pilots, spinning around, and Flat Top's laughing, wearing a sash. 1000th. We linger on the drone again, the music pounding. It goes silent when we move back to the Adamas. It picks back up when we return to the hangar. We watch them spin in circles, we watch as a strap breaks on the drones. One falls a little, catches.

The music's going crazy now. We spin with Flat Top, the pilots' faces blurring, and they're clapping and laughing along. Flat Top raises his arms in victory, the drone falls to the floor. Ignites, bright yellow and orange fire, and flies through the air. Flat Top barely has time to react to the sight before it hits him and the others.

Galactica rocks, red lights flash in warning. A woman (subtitles identify her as Dualla, but I'm pretty sure it's not Dee) announces a fire in the hangar. Bill, Lee, and Kara run toward it. End of the teaser.

The theme music is appropriately somber before we get to the blipverts. I never had a real problem with the blipverts, though I do feel they were particularly spoilery in the earlier seasons. In the later seasons, I feel they didn't show quite as much, or something. I'm not really sure, though I did stop watching the blipverts for 4.5. (Such a shame, because if I had watched the blipverts for "Deadlock", I would have turned the TV off right then and saved myself a lot of heartache.)

After the credits, we once again see Kara in her Viper. She's gasping, struggling. Another flash and we're back in the hangar deck. Master-at-Arms Sergeant Hadrian checks out the rack, declares to Chief Tyrol that it happened because of metal fatigue, old equipment.

Hadrian: Worn strap fails, drops a million cubit drone to the deck. Kills thirteen pilots and lands seven more in Sickbay.


Chief Tyrol is stunned as he follows her. They walk over to the site, there's black burns on the floor, on the Raptor nearby. Hadrian says they got lucky; if it had been a missile instead of a comm drone, it could have taken out the side of the ship. Chief says he never had a death on his deck before. I want to hug him, he's so shell-shocked.

Lee's still sporting his bruises from last week. He's telling what remains of his pilots about services for the dead. We get to see how empty the room looks. It's staggering. Kara sits next to Boomer, and there's a friendship I wish we had gotten to see more of. I wish we got to see Kara and Athena being friends, too, because I think at some point they would have become friends, even if we didn't see it (except for a scene in "Unfinished Business", and I can't remember if that's only in RDM's version or not). Certainly after New Caprica, after Kara came back from the dead, after the Demetrius. And I know there probably just wasn't time, but as much as I love season 4, I feel like there was so much more they should have done with these relationships and they just didn't.

It's ridiculously frustrating, especially since RDM is so "It's about the characters, stupid!" Well, clearly someone should have had that revelation back before the finale, because God knows a lot of season four just blatantly ignored character relationships. But this is all really for another post and I should just focus on this episode.

"Act of Contrition" is written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, two writers who would go on to write most of the Kara-centric episodes and, really, some of the best episodes of the show period (in my opinion, of course). TWoP's Jacob sort of absolutely hates them, for reasons I'm not sure of. I do have some problems with their episodes and I'm not overly keen on any Adama and Tigh scenes they do, but, come on, they wrote "Downloaded", which is awesome. Both parts of "Exodus". "Maelstrom", which is probably more of a YMMV, but I liked it. "Revelations". And "Sometimes a Great Notion", which is perhaps the best episode of Battlestar Galactica, ever. It is the one episode out of season four that I think is on par with the New Caprica arc AND season one of the show.

(Of course, this is all IMO and YMMV, and so on. Plus that's not all the episodes they did and I'm not saying those weren't any good, but I listed the ones that I often think of as great BSG, and those are it. Well except for maybe "Maelstrom", but I did like it.)

ANYWAY. I promise to talk about the episode now. Bill comes into the briefing room, touches the picture on the wall. I love that picture. It's so beautiful and heartbreaking and I swear if I ever went to the set, I would have stolen it. Or if I had the money, bought it.

Focus on Kara, flash. A flicker of the past: an airfield, Bill walking toward her. It fades and she closes her eyes, submerging us in the flashback. Bill walks toward her and she salutes him, he salutes her. "Are you Lieutenant Thrace?" he asks. We're back in the present, Bill standing at the podium. He's doing his commander thing, building the troops up when they're broken into pieces. Kara's still seeing flashes, remembering the day she met the man who was going to be her father-in-law.

He introduces himself and she apologizes, says she was going to come see him before the funeral. Bill tells her it's all right. Back to the present and the funeral. Everyone's dressed in their dress grays and Elosha is presiding over the funeral. Kara stands next to Lee and we fade back to the past: Zak's funeral. Kara stands next to Bill; Lee stands next to his mother, holding her as she cries. Zak's coffin is between them.

I love how this funeral scene looks. You have to say, BSG did the best funeral scenes ever, and Zak's is lovely in this too bright quality that it has, but there's still these shadows, like on Lee's face. (Also, how gorgeous is Lee in those dress grays with those blue eyes? Yum. I mean, um, sadness, because this is a funeral sequence, and stuff.)

In the past, Bill holds her hand at Zak's graveside. Kara remembers being in bed with Zak, a memory within a memory, blue shadows and just a little too much light giving it a dream-like quality. I really love the editing here, going between the two funerals, and the music, and the gun salute. It's great.

After the funeral, Bill hands Kara a glass of water. They toast to the memory of pilots they've known and before he sits down, Bill says he wants her to train new pilots. She was a flight instructor, once, and if that's not a terrifying thought, I don't know what is. Can you imagine having Kara Thrace for a teacher? Don't get me wrong, she was a great flight instructor (as we later find out, the Zak thing aside), but it's Starbuck. STARBUCK. I would hate to be one of her students, because God(s) know(s) she'd be one hard teacher to please.

She laughs because she knew it was coming. "I don't think I'm the right person for this," she says, and he asks if she knows someone better. "No. No," she chuckles, because she's Starbuck, and there's no better fighter than her. Lee could do the job I'm sure, but he doesn't have her instincts. That little bit of crazy recklessness that makes her perfect.

Bill: I know what this is about. It's about Zak. It was not your fault. You had nothing to do with what happened. It was an accident.


Kara looks away when he says that, flashes back to a conversation with Lee, back in the miniseries. "Lee? Zak failed Basic Flight." Lee's confused and Kara explains what she did. "His technique was sloppy and he had no feel for flying, but I passed him. Because he and I... Because I felt something and I let it get in the way of doing my job. And I couldn't fail him." It's sweet, really, and sad. She loved him so much and he wanted to be a pilot so much, because of his father, and she couldn't tell him he wasn't good at it. I wonder if she thought he'd get better, that she'd help him get better as time went on? Or if someone else would fail him down the line and then it wouldn't be her fault.

Back in the present, Kara and Bill take a drink at the same time. Well, it's basically the same time. It's close enough to make me giggle, because I like things like that. I mean, they're not even looking at each other, but they still very nearly drink in sync. Sometimes, I'm really easy to please, okay?

Bill stands and tells her Zak passed Basic Flight and that it was an accident, could have happened to anyone. "I need new pilots. And I want you to train them," he says. "I can do that," Kara says, finishes her glass and stands. Bill walks to her and puts his hands on her shoulders, looks at her like a daughter. Hugs her and doesn't see her distraught face.

In the future, Starbuck's still struggling in her Viper.

In the present, smoke rises from a cigar as Crashdown and Boomer make a bet. Starbuck and Dr. Baltar are playing cards. Gaeta watches, 'cause where Baltar goes, he goes. Kara's mind isn't on the game, she's thinking of Zak, of them. Crashdown asks Gaeta about the Cylon detector and he plays dumb while Boomer looks on. Kara's still lost in her memories; she reassures Zak he passed Basic Flight, "By the skin of your teeth, but you passed." He tells her he doesn't want any special treatment from his father, and certainly not from her.

Then some other things happen and she puts down her cards, leaves. Crashdown calls after her, having just lost money thanks to her walking out. Boomer grins as she picks up the cubits.

On Cylon-occupied Caprica, it's raining and dark. Helo and Sharon have followed the military signal to a restaurant. They look around, trying to find the source. They walk down some stairs and find an empty bomb shelter. Food and medical supplies, and Helo's overjoyed. This is all a part of the plan, the Cylon plan, of course. As Helo opens up what looks like a rice cake and Sharon takes a bite out of it, a Six walks by the restaurant in what is one of the most beautiful shots ever.

On Galactica, Laura sits on a bed in Sickbay. She's wearing a gown and Doc Cottle (♥!!!) pulls back the curtain. He leaves the curtain open and Laura is quick to ask him to close it, snapping her fingers and everything. She leans over to look out, make sure no one is watching her, and wondering what the President is doing in Sickbay.

Cottle: You are obviously an intelligent, well-educated young woman. Would you mind explaining to me why you waited five years in between breast exams?
Laura: Yes, I would mind. It's none of your business. I was busy.


I'm sorry, have I mentioned how much I love Cottle? No? Well, I love him to pieces. I love him svfm, and I love Laura, and I love their scenes together. I love that Cottle smokes around his patients. Cancer patients, pregnant patients (remember, in "A Disquiet Follows My Soul", he lights up around Caprica? ♥. And Ishay gets all frown-y and it's awesome, except of course she doesn't even like Caprica or little baby Liam, so it's kind of hilarious. But she's a nurse and those are just her instincts, so it doesn't matter that she personally wants to airlock Caprica, you still don't smoke around the pregnant woman, Doc.)

ANYWAY. Laura's face is also very hilarious here, when he lights up. She's all "WTF?" and probably really jealous 'cause you know she wants a cigarette too but has none.

Laura: Do you mind?
Cottle: I do, actually.


And then they talk about her cancer. Too late to operate, talks about Doloxan, and alternate treatments. I love his "Oh, Gods. You're one of those." It's just awesome. Both of them are also awesome. And I love them and they were awesome in the finale. :(

Kara is reading a list of people she's going to train. "Boonie jumpers. Shuttle jockeys. And a Fleet Academy washout. This is the best that you could come up with?" she asks Lee. "Diamonds in the rough," he says, and she scoffs. He tells her they're the most qualified pilots in the Fleet. Kara sarcastically says, "Great!" and then we see her walking into the briefing room.

"Attention on deck!" she calls and looks as they continue talking. Then she becomes scary. "That means get on your feet, nuggets!" In the first row, the three pilots who will become Chuckles, Hot Dog, and Kat sit. They'll be familiar faces, later, and I really miss Kat. She was awesome, too.

Starbuck: Pilots call me Starbuck, you may refer to me as God.


Perhaps one of my favorite Starbuck quotes EVER. She tells them about the Viper Mark II and we see Hot Dog doing this really cool flippy thing with his pen that I just love. He leans over to Chuckles and says, "She's laying it on a little thick," and they chuckle. "Costanza, right?" Starbuck barks and he's quick to answer, "Yes, God, sir."

"Not anymore," she says, walking over and getting in his face. "From now on, your name is Hot Dog. And when God speaks, Hot Dog, you listen." In the background, Kat grins. "Maybe if you had learned that at the Academy, you wouldn't have washed out," Starbuck clicks her tongue and winks. Then she looks over at Chuckles and pulls the beanie off his head, points at one of the other nuggets and orders them to sit up.

We cut to them in Vipers. Kat's trying to land and Kara tries to talk her through it. "Don't chase the lights. Watch the numbers and correct with thrusters." Kat's nervous and fumbles the landing as the LSO orders her to wave off. Sparks fly as the bottom of her Viper scratches the deck, metal screaming. "Punch it, Kat!" Kara orders and we cut to her in the briefing room.

Starbuck: Worse than awful. Wretched beyond belief, actually. You call yourselves pilots? It's gonna take a week for the knuckle draggers to pound your divots out of the flight deck.


Kat says she's being unfair, and Chuckles chimes in with "It's only our first day." Kara looks at them, tilts her head. "No. It's your last." She walks out and goes to the rec room for a cup of coffee. Lee comes in, disbelief on his face and in his voice when he tells her she can't wash them out on their first day. Kara doesn't look at him, "I just did." Lee says, "Look, I have 40 Vipers and twenty-one pilots." They're still getting water off the ice moon and can't even maintain a CAP. "Gods forbid if the Cylons show up," he says, and she tells him to bring in the next group of candidates.

"The next group has never been in a cockpit," he says, and I think you can hear a bit of Jamie Bamber's real accent when he says "been". It's cute. I like his real accent. And I hope we're nearing the end of this ep, because I'm getting kind of tired of this. I don't know why I even decided to do this, considering I knew I wouldn't have as much to say on this ep. Plus "You Can't Go Home Again" is much more interesting to me.

Anyway, Lee tells Kara this isn't a request, and she tells him she won't pass another student who isn't ready. Lee realizes it's not about the nuggets; it's about Zak. Kara tells him to be careful and steps closer, and he orders her to step back. She leaves and we flash forward, her in her Viper, reaching for the eject lever. She reaches it and ejects into the atmosphere of the red moon.

In Adama's quarters, Bill says to Lee, "Starbuck says they can't cut it, they can't cut it." Lee points out it's only their first day, but Bill trusts Kara's instincts. He says Kara is the best pilot he's ever seen (and probably doesn't even think about the fact he's saying this to his son, who never really wanted to be a pilot but did it anyway, because that's what Dad expected him to do). Lee says he's not arguing that, but says he thinks she's letting her feelings about Zak cloud her judgment. Bill says they've talked about that and Lee's confused.

As Bill continues to speak about how they talked, Lee gets a little annoyed. He thinks Bill knows Kara's secret and that he has forgiven her for it. When Bill finishes, Lee rises from the chair with an angry "Okay." He almost starts to leave, but he says, "You should talk to her." He adds that he thinks she's taking out her guilt over Zak on the nuggets. Bill's confused, now, asking what she did for Zak. Lee's realized his mistake, "I thought you just said..." and Bill asks again, "What did she do?"

Lee: It's not my place to say and I've already said more than I should have.
Bill: Captain, just...
Lee: Dad, you have to ask her.


More memories of Kara and Zak, staring at the photo of them and Lee together. Adama summons her and she goes. He tells her about what Lee said and Kara denies it. Bill comes around his desk and looks into her eyes. "He said you might have been feeling guilty about something you did for Zak. What did you do for him?" This is Kara's nightmare and she tries to sidestep it. He asks her not to do that, that he loves her like a daughter and deserves more than this. She stammers, before telling him. Bill gets scary now, his face and eyes contorting.

Another flash, Kara and Bill walking in the airfield. Bill talks about a letter Zak wrote him, asking for him to come to his graduation, that he had a surprise about Kara. Kara doesn't want to tell him, says it's not important. Bill guesses they were engaged. Back into the present, Bill says, "You did it because you were engaged," and Kara begins to cry. She says she made a mistake and she loved him, and it's heartbreaking. Katee Sackhoff is amazing. Bill orders her to reinstate the trainees and Kara says, "I will, sir. But I want you to understand..." but he says, "Do your job. And walk out of this cabin while you still can."

She goes, hands over her head, sobbing. Another flash into the future, and we watch her eject again. In the nuggets quarters, she tells them they're reinstated. She's Starbuck again. The nuggets are thrilled. Flight maneuvers and Hot Dog's doing good except: "You left your leader behind." It's fun and in the CIC, Tigh says, "What's gotten into Starbuck? She sounds like a real instructor for a change." Bill just looks at him.

Over the comm., Starbuck exclaims, "Holy crap, we've got incoming." There's a flurry of activity and Kara orders the nuggets to go back to Galactica. Starbuck's asks about the alert fighters, but they're two minutes out. The eight Raiders are getting closer, and she orders the nuggets to go on. She turns around to face the Raiders. Hot Dog comes back and kills his first Raider.

Starbuck orders him back and asks what he's doing. "You said never leave your leader!" he replies, and Starbuck says, "I also said never disobey an order." He gets nicked by a Raider and loses all three mains, leaving him floating. Starbuck says he did a good job and there's one Raider left, on her tail. She says she has it covered as we go back into CIC.

We watch her blip disappear from DRADIS. Dualla says they lost Starbuck's transponder. The alert fighters find Hot Dog, but no Starbuck. She's still chasing the Raider and she shoots, kills him, but he doesn't explode. He hits her Viper, sending it into a tailspin, and they fall into the moon.

We end where we began: Starbuck, struggling in her Viper. She ejects into the clouds, and tumbles toward the ground. To be continued.

God, that was long. I'm glad I didn't decide to do two episodes. Anyway, I should return to my normal BSG-watching schedule Sunday. Maybe. Also going to try to watch Caprica tonight or tomorrow and get my thoughts on that.

Other news:

» Going to watch Caprica at some point and give a review of it.

» Not going to bother with Heroes, because "I Am Sylar" didn't grab my interest enough for me to comment on it. Except I was wrong about it being the season finale. I misunderstood the promo for it the week before. Next Monday is the season finale; I'm not as excited as I should be.

» Have no clue what's happening on 24. Except I read that someone died and I kind of hate that. Oh and Kim came back or something.

» Looking for a new layout, but can't find one I like. Well, I like the ones at milou_veronica, but I haven't found one I like as my layout.

» That untitled Laura + Ellen fic is now 4,395 words. Ellen decided to monologue about the children (all eight of them). The good news is that I can save that for future reference; the bad news is that I'm probably going to have to cut it out of the fic itself. Which really isn't that bad if I do later use it in another fic, but it always makes me a little sad to cut such things.

» Also, I feel as if Laura and Ellen are not actually discussing things as I wanted them to. They touched on humans and Cylons, a little bit about Bill and Saul, but that life and death and living and dying with the choices you make? Not so much. Head, meet desk.

» Added two new icons the other day. Laura in the Opera House and Kara and her father playing the piano. I can't decide what I want to be the 15th icon. There's so many great ones and stuff.

» Annnnnd I think that's it.
 
 
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