Battlestar Galactica Review: "Islanded in a Sea of Stars" (Episode 4.20)
For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world
islanded in its stream of stars - pilgrims of mortality, voyaging
between horizons across eternal seas of space and time. -Henry Beston
When we last left the fleet, Boomer had escaped with Hera, tearing Galactica a new one in the process. Anders is still braindead, Starbuck might still be a walking corpse, and some of the Cylons in the fleet have taken to venerating their creator Tigh as a weird father figure. You know, your average day on Galactica.
The hole in the ship is widening despite the best efforts of its crew and the Cylon goop, and the fleet’s other captains are lining up to pick at Galactica’s bones like overeager lobbyists at a TARP hearing. They’ve got five jumps left in her, max.
The Cylons and Starbuck insist that Hera is the key to the Humans’ and Cylons’ shared destiny (she DID compose the song that awoke the final Five, after all.) Apparently Hera’s been taken to the nexus of the Cylon fleet, the ominously named “Colony,” a mobile research lab / military base where the Five first developed resurrection technology. Adama, his world crumbling around him, has no more patience for the slow drip of revelation and puts the kibosh on the search for Hera even as a faltering Helo begs to borrow a Raptor to look for her: “I’ve had it up to here with destiny, prophecy, with God or the Gods. Look where it’s left us.”
On the faith front, Gaius Baltar has returned to the airwaves and is preaching about the presence of angels who “take the guise of those nearest and dearest to you,” a not so subtle nod to both his imaginary Six and Starbuck’s pianist dad.
In a surprisingly emotional moment (and perhaps entirely apropos of episode 4.20,) Adama visits Roslin in sickbay and they light up a “medicinal” cigar they’ve been saving since New Caprica and trade memories. Adama seems dead set on holding the ship together, even as Roslin warns that he could lose both of the women in his life at once. “Neither one of my women are dying,” he smiles, “they just need a little more care and attention.”
Meanwhile, the Five have been busy trying to get a moribund Anders back online. They hook him up to Galactica’s network, which wakes him up, but only to the point where he can babble in perfect mimicry of the hybrid Cylons who run the basestars. Normally, Galactica’s unnetworked computers would stop Anders from wiring himself into the ship’s vital systems, but the organic metal the Cylons pumped in Galactica’s veins has allowed him to “theoretically” tap into everything, including the FTL drives.
Starbuck is having difficulty watching her husband turn into a vegetable, and is about to shoot him when he grabs her arm and starts talking in hybrid-speak, warning once again that she is the “angel of death.” Later, Starbuck has an open-door, mid-urination bathroom chat with Baltar and asks him if he really believes in angels. His response hardly matters to her, because she tells him about finding her corpse on Earth and tosses him her dogtags, asking him to take a look at them. “The only thing I know for sure,” she quips, “I’m not an angel.”
Cut to the funerals for the crew who died when Boomer escaped. Gaius, naturally, chooses this opportune time to announce that there is indeed the possibility of “crossing over” to eternal life, if you’re willing to face death. His proof? Starbuck’s dogtags, crusted with DNA from her dead body. And yet there she walks, “living proof that there is life after death.” Starbuck, on the verge of tears, slaps Baltar, yet in the very next scene she seems more at peace than she’s been in a while. She realizes that Hera’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” is connected to the larger pattern of her destiny, so she plugs Anders back in for some answers. “New command,” he intones ominously.
Boomer and Hera spend some time bonding during their flight. We learn that Hera can project like the other Cylons, and she joins Boomer in the (now imaginary) house she planned to live in with Tyrol. We get to glimpse the Colony as Boomer approaches and delivers Hera to Cavil’s waiting arms - it’s a menacing techno-organic hunk of rock, rife with spikes and scrolling red Cylon lettering. The Colony was moved by Cavil just before the Cylon civil war, meaning the humans’ attempts at finding it are pretty much futile. Hera wails as Cavil takes her away, and only in this late hour does Boomer (presumably) see the folly of her ways.
Adama has another breakdown as he visits his quarters (or maybe he’s just coming down hard from his blunt session with Madam Prez.) After getting himself together, he confides in Tigh over a glass of liquor that they’re going to begin evacuating Galactica. Tigh hedges, but Adama is insistent: “This ship never let us down, so we’re gonna send her off in style.” The two share a final toast to Galactica as the camera pans away, and we hear the leitmotif of the ship’s theme from Season 1.
Once again, this week's episode was more about setting up for the finale than advancing the plot, but Battlestar Galactica is slowly inching towards conclusion. The ship (and show) is headed on a one-way trip but, as Starbuck’s resurrection proves, death might be the least of their concerns now.