Warning: Spoilers (spoilage factor: about the same as that cookie you’ve left in your office desk drawer, saving it for a snack later, just a couple of days too long)
What an explosive way to kick-off season 4 of Battlestar – literally! Of course we knew it would pick-up where season 3 left off, but that was one-heck of a no-holds barred battle sequence to open the show with. Certainly a great space dogfight, but it went far beyond a simple SFX candy fix, surpassing anything sci-fi has served up on the big or small screen in a long time (way beyond the slugfest at the beginning of “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith”) because of the emotional punch of the group of characters who’ve just discovered they’re Cylons and have just been thrown into a battle before they’ve even settled their identity turmoil. That fact that they’re not sure about themselves or what they should do and sometimes need to give themselves a shake – or have someone else give them a shake – to snap-to and get on with things made this sequence especially strong. This isn’t just a pat one-shot plot twist where characters make a change, shrug, and get on with what they’re supposed to be doing, this realization is a psychic blow that leaves them reeling and unsure of not only themselves, but of their actions or inactions during the fight.
If there was a weakness to the episode, I’d say it was the Adama-Starbuck relationship. At first viewing, it seems as though Adama is a little more comfortable with Starbuck than you’d think he should be. Sure, he loves her like a daughter and some part of him desperately wants this to be the real Starbuck so she’ll be back in the family, but given his tendencies over the past three seasons, you’d think he’d be more likely in this situation to have his guard up (like when Sharon returned), suspecting another betrayal, and thus be at least a little more hostile. Although some might argue that this seeming indulgence of Starbuck on Adama’s part shows the cleverness of the writing here in illustrating just how human the Admiral is, and how prone to making a possible mistake out of the need to have a loved-one back.
All in all, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this final season play-out.