The top 10 episodes of “Battlestar Galactica” – so far!

January 16, 2009

Friday’s the beginning of the end for Battlestar Galactica. Five years and four seasons (although, let’s face it, with the huge delay between the end of the first half of season 4 and tomorrow’s launch of the second half, it’s really more like season 5 than 4.5!) of fleeing the Cylons only to discover that the Cylons were among them already and key to finding Earth. To mark the occasion, we put our heads together and came up with the list of Top 10 Episodes – the ones that really grabbed us in a series that has consistently done some truly great storytelling.

10) You Can’t Go Home Again
-nominated by harrysaxon
The new BSG tended to shy away from the marooned plot device the older incarnation relied upon so frequently, but you can’t go schlepping across the galaxy without crashing a fighter once in a while. Starbuck needing the downed Cylon raider to survive and ultimately escape was a nice nod to the episode in the second season of the old series where viewers finally learned of Starbuck’s fate ( although that Starbuck never made it home). Also a good episode for showing some of the tension between Adama and Roslin over what’s a good or bad command decision and what’s in the best interests of the fleet.

9) Razor
-nominated by bloginhood
A brilliant, dark piece of storytelling and one that would have rated higher on the list if not for the fact that it focussed primarily on a Pegasus officer and her plunge into depression as her humanity erodes. Wonderful to see old-style Cylon centurions, raiders and base ships, a quick view of a slugfest between old-fashioned dreadnoughts, and a glimpse into Adama’s past.

8 ) The Ties that Bind
-nominated by bloginhood
Lots of character development in this episode as the 4 secret Cylons aboard Galactica struggle with what the revelation means to their identities. Other characters were in for tough times as well. It was hard watching Cali and Tyrol’s marriage crumble, harder still to watch Cali collapse in on herself, and hardest of all to witness Tory’s calculating, brutal murder of the deckhand.

7) Exodus – Part II
-nominated by bloginhood
This was an extremely busy episode, and yet one that gave enough time to tell all of the powerful stories it needed to: Tigh killing his wife for collaborating with the Cylons (which made the later revelation that he was a Toaster that much more of a punch to the gut); Baltar choosing to go with the Cylons, despite having been threatened and used by them, and allowing D’Anna to take Hera; and the rescue from New Caprica. And the space battle, with all of its twists and turns left me breathless.

6) Final Cut
-nominated by harrysaxon
The first appearance of D’Anna Biers, the supreme mistress of manipulation. Through the documentary interviews, we got to see the real depths of the desperation felt by many of the crew – most importantly, the secondary characters who are always chipper enough in the background but rarely (up to that point, anyway) had a chance to get truly personal with us. And it made nice use of the theme from the old series.

5) Crossroads – Part II
-nominated by harrysaxon
Ah, the revelation of 4 of the Final 5! The ultimate mind-frak for a group of previously rock-solidly loyal people who now have to decide what to do with themselves, and, more importantly, who they really are as people. And now that these folks have been outed, the tension goes way up in terms of the mystery of the fifth. Also a perplexing and cool use of “All Along the Watchtower”.

4) Revelations
-nominated by bloginhood
At long last, the Fleet reaches the finish line – Earth has been found! …but it’s a ruin. Ain’t that just humanity’s luck? After watching this episode last spring, I was reminded of Adama’s what-do-we-do-now speech at the end of the pilot/miniseries, ’cause that’s gotta be one of the big questions on the minds of the thousands of refugees who have just experienced the second-biggest downer of their lives. And, of course, what the state of the Earth means for the series’ place in our timeline has been great fodder for geek debate over the past few months. Does this mean they’re in the future or the distant past? We’ll see how this is resolved over the next few weeks.

3) 33
-nominated by bloginhood
The series’ first episode put it into high-gear immediately. It reminded me of the line from “High Fidelity” where the narrator tells us that to make a great tape, you’ve got to start off big, then kick it up another notch to push the energy hgher. Just because they left the Colonies doesn’t mean the humans are off the hook – where the old series tended to give us a one encounter per episode form of cat-and-mouse, this new version showed us that the Cylon’s pursuit was not only relentless, it was fast and efficient. Here we see characters that really we’ve only just begun to get to know pushed to their breaking points. We see the battles not as exciting adventures, but as frightening, tiring chores. And just when the tension gets unbearable, it dips – every so briefly, so we can catch our breath before it hits us again and shows us the kind of tough, haunting choices that sometimes are forced upon people so they can survive.

2) Pegasus
-nominated by bloginood
This took a beloved episode idea from the old series and curb-stomped it. When Pegasus arrives, the people of Galactica think they’ve been blessed – a newer, bigger battlestar with all the trimmings to even the odds against the Cylons, and a tough Admiral Cain who isn’t interested in hiding from the enemy. Problem is, where Lloyd Bridges’ Commander Cain from the old series was a likeable, roguish, Errol Flynn kind of buccanneer, Michelle Forbes’ Admiral Helena Cain is a remorseless, megalomaniacal, brutal real-life kind of a pirate who advocates rape, torture and the plundering of the civilians she’s sworn to protect, not to mention flouting the authority of the Presidency. This Pegasus isn’t a steed of the gods, rather a nightmare preparing to prey on the Fleet. There were some tough scenes in this episode, not only the attack on Sharon, but having to see Tyrol and Helo get clapped in irons and sentenced to death as punishment for their heroism. The scene to really watch though was Adama in the corridor where he learns the news of the imminent executions and has to decide in only a second or two whether he’ll go against his military conditioning to obey superior officers (something he demands and needs from his own crew in order for them to survive) or to mutiny and put the survival of humanity at stake by getting into a firefight that he probably can’t win against a superior battlestar. In that brief moment, Edward Olmos showed some acting that would put 99% of the award-winning veterans of stage and screen to shame.

1) the pilot/miniseries
-nominated by bloginhood
This is what started it – the first impression that made everyone sit up and say “Uh. Wow.” I was one of those who tuned in with a lot of trepidition – the old series was a cheese-fest, what could this new spawn of Hollywood inflict in SF fans? And yet, right from the get-go, the story was compelling and believable and looked and sounded so utterly frakin’ cool. Even if the rest of the series had never been given the green-light, as a stand-alone, the miniseries was a masterpiece. As great as all the episodes since then have been, none of them mean anything without the dazzling start the series got off to.

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