BSG Recap: Islanded in a Stream of Stars

Sunday, March 8 by

The producers of the original Battlestar Galactica had a plan.  In the late 1970s, it wasn’t uncommon for a male lead in a TV series to have a major pop career.  So when they found out early on that the Bee Gees – the biggest recording act in the known universe – were fans of their show, they reached out.  The plan was this:  the Bee Gees would write a thumping disco tune; Dirk Benedict would sing it; coke and hookers and cash to every AM station imaginable and voila! a world-wide smash that would guarantee a second season of Galactica.

That song was called “Islanded in a Stream of Stars.”   I’ll be giving you a taste of the words throughout this recap.  For example:

Islanded in a stream of stars
Death and betrayal is what we are
Trust and love have gone so far
Islanded in a stream of stars

The plan – as plans often do — ran into a snag: Benedict refused to sing it.   Apparently, Barry, Robin and Maurice were doing the bad cocaine when they wrote the words, because the song was full of doubt and confusion and fear.  The Gibbs argued that noone paid attention to the words of disco songs – “Stayin’ Alive” was about a guy with no options in his life but dancing, for Christ’s sake! – and it was a guaranteed smash.

Benedict felt that singing the song might add an extra – almost womanly! — dimension to the cigar-chewin,’ happy-go-lucky persona he had created for Starbuck.  So he put the kibosh on the entire project.  A few years later, the Gibbs changed the tune slightly, the words entirely, and the song found a new life as the Kenny Rogers-Dolly Parton smash hit “Islands in the Stream.”

According to Saul Tigh, here is what what’s happened previously on Battlestar Galactica:
•    Kara Thrace and her phantom daddy played Hera’s magical transcription of “All Along The Watchtower.”
•    After the bullet in his brain was removed, Samuel T. Anders became Coma Boy.
•    Laura Roslin is dying. As is the Battlestar Galactica
•    Boomer helps to facilitate thatdying by jumping very very close to the ship and tearing a gynormous hole in her hull.  While stealing the miracle child, Hera.

We open with a dreamy shot of Hera playing spaceships on that table that’s mostly used for airhockey, but occasionally used for mapping out battle strategies.  Hera is also running, running running through the Opera House.

On the Galactica, the repairs to the gynormous hull hole aren’t going so well, and a random Six and a knuckledragger start screaming at each other, but stop short of fisticuffs.  He’s lucky.  Oh, and Chief is nowhere to be found.  Apparently, he’s completely withdrawn after helping Boomer escape last episode. 

Everybody else, though, is well and truly accounted for.  In face, many of them are in Adama’s quarters, where Ellen & Kara are trying to convince the  Lee and Bill that they should go after Hera with everthing they got.   Ellen’s pretty sure that Hera is at the Cavil’s Holiday Camp, the Colony that was set up as the Cylon home.

Kara is now convinced that Hera is important, and explains how she and her phantom Daddy channeled Dylan, thanks to Hera.  “She’s the key, sir.”  Wait a second! I thought that Dawn was the key.  Is that why the final episode is called “Daybreak?”   Some kind of weird Buffy crossover?  Man, Joss Whedon would love that!! 

Adama, drink in hand, draws Kara into a trap by asking if it’s destiny.  When she confirms, instead of saying “Destiny, Destiny, no escaping that for me!”  He drunks about how much he hates destiny.  After all, look where it got them.

Luckily, Tigh convinces him to begrudgingly – Adama send a Cylon Heavy Raider out to look for Cavil’s Holiday Camp.  And please nobody mention this to Helo and Athena.  They’re not so happy with each other right now, since their relationship has been utterly blindsided by the evilest of Athena’s 4,655,896 twins.

Speaking of twins, Roslin and Caprica Six are dreaming in twain again.  It’s the old Hera at the Opera House dream, where Hera is running running running through the Opera House straight into the arms of America.  I mean into the arms of Caprica Six and Baltar.  Unless, of course, it’s not Caprica Six, but Head Six.  Maybe that’s why it’s such a disturbing dream for Caprica Six: she knows that it’s not her Hera’s running to, but a different Six.

Too many Sixes?  Don’t worry, we’re about to lose one. Another crack appears in the hull of the Galactica, with bodies flying out into space.  That doesn’t seem good.  In all of the camera-spinning craziness,  the Six who was fighting with the knuckledragger sacrifices herself to close a hatch door and save him.  She gets sucked right out into the dark, cold vacuum and right into the opening credits.

Islanded in a stream of stars
How we die is who we are
Forever seeing deep, wide and far
Islanded in a stream of stars

39,521 survivors searching for a home.  Home.

Yup, as Cottle confirms right after the commercia break, we’ve lost 35 more humans.  And 26 cylons, to boot.  The knuckledragger says that, despite all of the Cylon Super Glue, Galactica has got 5 more jumps, period.  Maybe.  She’s dying. 

Remember that time when they had to jump every 33 minutes or get blowed up by the cylons?  Better hope that never happens again. 

Here’s a fun fact:  Sonja, the Six who represents the rebel Baseship in the Ship’s Captains Quorum, wants the Baseship to take Galactica’s place as the Fleet’s bodyguard.  Adama doesn’t like that.

Here’s another fun fact:  Roslin dying, and so is Galactica, and Adama is desperately fighting destiny by pretending that neither one is actually happening.  When Roslin points that out again, Adama doesn’t even address it. See?

The Fleet Captains are more than willing to address both of those facts.  Lee Adama is currently ruing the day he ever had this idea, because the Fleet Captains meeting makes the old Council of Twelve seem like the Algonquin Round Table.  (BTW, has the statute of limitations run out on that reference?  I can only actually name two people at the Algonquin Round Table: Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.  And I only love one: Robert Benchley, who was one of funniest write—oh, wait, right, Battlestar Galactica.)

After all, it’s not like these people grew up memorizing Robert’s Rules of Order.  Unless, it was Robert Benchley’s rules of order!   In fact, they probably became captains of spaceships because they didn’t like being around and agreeing with other people.  So they’re all yelling and screaming and fussing and fighting and Lee Adama is keeping order by the ancient rite of yelling louder than everybody else.   He does, however, stop short of whistling at them.

The point of yell—er, discussion: Sonja’s plan to make the Basestar the Fleet’s bodyguard.   None of them like it.  Because, you know, cylons murdering humanity.  That old thing.  Sonja points out that Adama will be in charge, because that was the deal they made.  So, on a dime, the Ships Captains immediately start squabbling over scavenging from Galactica. 

That’s a bit much for Lee Adama.  He screams that nobody is taking anything from William Adama’s ship until William Adama says “come on board, boys, it’s ransacking time!”  And in the most awkward attempted transition in the history of this show, one of the captains says, “what does Baltar say about that?”

Lee and I both say at the same time: “Baltar?”  What does he have to do with any of it?

Baltar agrees with Lee and I, because he’s on the wireless, not talking about the Galactica, but talking about angels.  Uh-oh.   Normally, I have no truck with this kind of crap. You know, “it was an angel who rescued me from that car crash.”  Really, how about the angel stopping the car crash in the first place?!?   However, it soon becomes quite clear that Baltar is referring to Head Six as his angel, and since we’ve seen her since the mini-series, fine, I’ll give him this.

Also, he’s not just babbling about angels, he’s essentially confessing that he’s been seeing Head Six since the mini-series.  Then he abruptly disconnects from the wireless, because he sees Caprica Six – who does a lot of aimless wandering through the ship – and offers his condolences for her recent sudden lack of fetus, and lack of a place to stay, to boot.  Nearly weeping, he offers up his place, but Caprica Six has never been about sharing Baltar, and just tells him to piss off.  She claims that she’s changed, but he really hasn’t.

In Sickbay, a dying Eight freaks Tigh the fuck up by thanking him for the privilege of meeting and working with him.  After he points out that he’s spent most of his life trying to kill her kind, she speaks for all us by saying “Too much confusion,” and dying.

Islanded in a stream of stars
Confusion’s course is just the par
My soul is always yours to mar
Islanded in a stream of stars

“I want my mommy. I want my mommy.”  Nothing like a good kidnapping to turn a creepy kid into a weepy kid.  Hera is now just a scared, sad, little girl, having woken up on a spaceship with a woman who looks exactly like her mommy, but is instead the evilest of mommy’s 4,655,896 twins.  Who knows how much Hera has previously been told about any of this?  I’m guessing not much.  Which doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know all of it on some level, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.  But, right now, only one thing matters to Hera:  “I want my mommmmmy!” 

Boomer does what every babysitter has done since the beginning of time when faced with a kid who won’t shut up: she threatens to put the make the kid unconscious by brandishing a huge-ass needle of sleepy juice.

Man, I can’t tell you how many times that happened to me when I was growing up.

However, not even Boomer can go through with it:  Hera looks so lost and sad and lonely that Boomer’s heart grows three sizes – which, since she is a machine, might not even be a metaphor!   Instead of knocking Hera out, Boomer just sadly looks at her.  At this moment, I think that Boomer becomes the wild card that she was pretending to be when she let Ellen escape.

Speaking of love, Ellen and Saul are arguing.  She wants more effort in the Hera search-a-thon.  Saul wants more effort in the booze search-a-thon, having just thrown an empty bottle of hooch against the wall of their room.  Ellen, exasperated, asks Saul if he realizes how important Hera is to his people?  That’s just the problem, Ellen:  Saul Tigh doesn’t think of cylons as “his people,” he thinks – even now – of humans as his people. 

The fact that he and Ellen were married 2000 years ago means nothing to him, because he can’t remember it.  What he can remember, though, is Bill Adama rescuing him time and time again from his own damn sorry self.  It frustrates him so much to be torn between who he is and what he knows.

Ellen, who has amazingly dialed it down from yelling to loving exasperation – man, do I know that look — wants him to understand more about who he is; someone who was part of a small group who took a chance to end the endless cycle of violence between man and machine. 

Which failed, yeah, but maybe Hera – the human-cylon child — is the Second Chance.

Saul:  “I had a child.  He died.”
Ellen: “You’re wrong.  You had millions.”

Two of those millions, the Wild Card and the Second Chance, are in a raptor jumping jumping jumping towards Cavil’s Holiday Camp.  They’re bonding over the ancient rite of trying to get a sad, scared child to eat something.  Boomer tells Hera about her happy place, the house on Picon that she and Chief planned out. 

Whooosh!  Boomer goes there.  And suddenly, Whoosh! Hera is there, as well.  And it’s neither quiet, creepy Hera, nor sad, weepy Hera.  She’s happy, she’s pretty and she’s eating.

Baltar is shaving in the unisex bathroom.  Kara is pissing (I hope) in the same one; where the stall door isn’t even working.   Kara uses the opportunity to ask him about the angels he was babbling about.  Does he really see them?  He responds:  “with alarming regularity.”  Kara says that regularity is good when “you’re full of crap.”  BTW, what’s up with all of the poopy jokes aimed at Baltar?  A couple of weeks ago, when Baltar was requesting the guns, Adama said that he had to go to the head to take care of a project he’d been working on.

In any event, Baltar is all whatever, freakshow, and non-sequiturs: “By the way, who are you again?”  “I’m a dead chick,” she responds. Sigh.  I know why they did this, but man, that right there is some awkward dialog.  In any event, she gives him her story – pulling the dog tags from her own dead body, and challenges him to do some tests with the dog tags, help her figure out who or what she is.  “Only thing I know for sure,” she finishes, “I’m not an angel.”  OK, Gregg Allman.

Also, true, as we’ll see in about two minutes.  So, they’ve wheeled Sam out of Sickbay and put him into a room on Galactica inside a makeshift hybrid tank. Looking like an angel, Kara enters Sam’s Hybrid Haven. An expository Eight tells her that they hooked him up to the main power grid hoping that might do the trick.  Nope.  His battery is still dead. 

Kara cannot bear to see him this way, and after hustling the Expository Eight out of the room, she gets sadder and sadder as she starts talking about how she once threatened to put a bullet in his brain if she ever found out he was a Cylon and how now she just doesn’t care what he is, human or cylon, it just doesn’t matter anymore because in the end, he’s just Sam, her Sam, which is how she’s always going to remember him.  Then, she pulls out a gun and – BLAM!! — puts a bullet in his brain.

Jumpstart!

Instantly, Sam’s “awake” and grabs her wrist – hard! – while spouting the normal hybrid gibberish.  Which isn’t gibberish, I know, but I also can’t be bothered to transcribe it or we’ll be here all day.  Except for the part where he turns, and looks right her and says: “You are the harbinger of doom, Kara Thrace, you lead them all to their end.”

At the same time, shit all over Galactica – which has been full of rattles and power arcs and general signs of falling apart – gets 10 times worse.  Spark! Rumble! Camera shake!

Adama is reading to Roslin.   Again. But she’d rather get stoned, and has some of that New Caprican Brown stashed in the book. It was the weed they smoked the first time they Did It.  It’s some powerful shit, mannnnnnnn, because she almost starts instantly talking about the concept of home, and how it took slowly dying on Adama’s ship for her to finally feel at home.  But, she says, it’s time to leave this home.  Adama just thinks that “home” is a funny word, if you if you repeat or stare at it long enough.  Hoooommmme.  Hommmmme.  Hooooommeeeeee.  Hooooooommme.

Oh, and Baltar is testing Kara’s dog tags.  After having sex with one of his groupies, now doubt.

We’re back in Sam’s Hybrid Haven, and the expository Eight is telling Tigh that Sam has somehow connected with the Cylon superglue, meaning that he’s frakking with the ship’s power.  Not the computers, because they’re still famously not networked.  But it’s entirely possible he could be connected to the FTL, and in his state, that might not be good.  Ya think?

The whole time, of course, Sam is waxing hybridisms like "All has happened before and all will happen again," and — talking about the Galactica — "There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza." So Tigh orders him unplugged, not remembering that Sam Anders Unplugged was a huge huge hit on Earth.  One of the songs:  “Islanded in a Stream of Stars.”

Islanded in a stream of stars
Never home is where we are
Start every day behind your bars
Islanded in a stream of stars.

Apparently, the recon mission to find Cavil’s Holiday Camp was a failure. He’s moved it to a different location.  Probably because tourism was wayyy down.

Boomer and Hera are talking about projection.  Hera’s bonding with Boomer, and vice-versa.  I’m guessing that this isn’t part of Cavil’s evil plan.  I wonder why he forgot how easy it was for Eights to fall in love.  

And out of love, because Helo needs to win Athena back by finding Hera.  On the way to the mass funeral for everyone who died in the hull breach, he accosts Adama and begs, pleads and nearly demands to go look for her.  No dice, son. Suck it up, is Adama’s response.

My advice to Helo: steal a ship.  That’s what everybody else does!

At the funeral on Galactica’s hanger deck, Ellen and Baltar and Adama and Caprica are all leading the mourning of the dead in their own ways, but it’s the aftermath of the funeral that matters.

Which is this: Baltar starts preaching about eternal life.  As everybody heads for the exits, he stops them with this: he’s got scientific proof.  Of life after death.  Somebody – not a cylon — has died, but they’re alive right this very second.  It’s a riddle.  It’s also Kara Thrace.  He holds up the dog tags: “She took these from her own mortal remains!!”

Kara just walks up to him and slaps him.  Hard.  Adama breaks up the service by using the ancient rite of yelling louder than everybody else.

Wall of Rememberance.  Lee gives Kara essentially the same speech she gave the unconscious Sam:  I don’t care who you are, I love you no matter what.  She just smiles sadly, and puts her picture between the pictures of Kat and Dee.  She’s dead.  She’s alive.

Cavil’s Holiday Camp. Boomer and Hera have finally made it, and as Boomer hands Hera over to Cavil, neither one of them are happy.  Hera calls for Boomer, but Cavil just evils:  “You’ll have all sorts of new playmates pretty soon.”  Uh-oh.  Boomer cries: is there any doubt that she is now going to betray Cavil somehow?

One last bit of breakdown from Adama.  In his quarters, he tries to cover up the Cylon Super Glue with white paint, but it doesn’t work.  He gets more and more desperate and more and more sad and crazy and starts throwing the bucket of paint all over the walls in a Pollock-like frenzy, but when that doesn’t give him the effect he’s looking for, he falls down crying, with paint all over him.  Oh, those artist types, what with the drama and everything.

Back at Sam’s Hybrid Haven, Kara thinks that Sam can help her.  With the meaning of “All Along The Watchtower.”  Good luck with that. Also her life.  Her universe.  her everything. So she plugs him back in, and is going to deconstruct the song for him.  I can’t believe that somebody hasn’t already made an endless loop of it and played it for him.  Must I think of everything?  Music!!   It’s always music!

Adama has called for Tigh.  He’s come to the acceptance phase about Galactica’s death.  Which calls for drinks!  He calmly tells Tigh that Galactica is going to be stripped.  “We’re abandoning ship, Tigh.” At first, Tigh refuses, but Bill plays the friend card, which Tigh can never refuse.  “This ship never let us down, so we’re going to send off her in style.”

So they sit on Adama’s couch, paint still on his pants, and they toast the Battlestar Galactica.  You should, too.

Islanded in a stream of stars
Everything ever has ended so far
All you can do is be who you are
Islanded in a stream of stars

 

Jim Connelly writes about Popular Culture and Technology at Medialoper
 

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