The Best of ‘Battlestar Galactica’

It’s hard to believe that ten years ago we were well into the first season of Ron Moore’s epic sci-fi show Battlestar Galactica, and even more mind boggling is the fact that it has been off the air for almost 5 years. The fact that the the show still feels present is because we haven’t stopped talking about it, looking to Battlestar for inspiration, and even just turning on our favorite episodes to remind ourselves of the brilliant series. In celebration of the show’s 10 year anniversary, we have complied our list of our five favorite episodes of Battlestar Galactica from good to greatest.

#5) “Resurrection Ship Part 2” (S2E12)

Resurrection Ship

In all of Season 2, which feels like the weakest out of 4 amazing seasons, it is the second of the double header episodes in which the Galactica and their alter ego incarnate, the Pegasus, deal the Cylons a deadly blow. Everything about this episode is the embodiment of what Season 2 is all about: division over survival, showing the differences between how survival in the face of such odds is dealt with, presenting new faces on the issue for us as the audience to contend with as well as the start of questioning humanity. The Cylons are also given a more human face as Gina – the captured and tortured Number 6 (Tricia Helfer) – escapes with Baltar’s help (James Callis), beginning both the evolution of the Cylons that continues throughout the show as well as Baltar’s personal journey as he finally does one selfless thing for the woman he loves. The writing and editing is some of the strongest in Season 2, and the music in both is perfectly composed to enhance the tension as the risky mission to destroy the Hub carries through and the possible assassinations draw closer. Basically, “Resurrection Ship Part 2” keeps our eyes glued to the screen and on the edge of our seats.

#4) “Exodus Part 2” (S3E4)

Exodus

After their harrowing experience on New Caprica under Cylon occupation, the crew of the fleet must return home and continue looking for a new home, though they are all highly damaged. Besides the fact that yet again Battlestar delivers an episode filled with tension and excitement, “Exodus Part 2” is the full embodiment the show’s emotional structure, encapsulating the whole tone and feel of the series within one episode as it mixes triumph with tragedy in brilliant harmony. Within this episode we see some of the best and worst of humanity and Cylons, creating the tone for the first half of the season perfectly, and the Adama Maneuver is simply one of the best moments in Battlestar military strategy.

#3) “The Oath” & “Blood on the Scales” (S4E13&14)

Blood on the Scales

The two episodes consisting of this brilliant double header are incredibly hard to separate into their individual story points unlike the rest of the two parters. They are both brilliantly written, split at exactly the right point to create the right kind of tensions as well as making them inseparable, and they move the the story along perfectly from where the season broke. Not only do we say good bye to Tom Zarek (Richard Hatch), who has been a thorn in the side of the whole series, but Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) comes out of her funk explosively as the coup attempt draws to and end. It is the tension, the destruction, and the sadness as the worst of humanity leads the desperate (Gaeta – Alessandro Juliani) to their end that make these two episodes fantastic.

#2) “Crossroads Part 2” (S3E20)

Kara Resurrected

The ending of Battlestar Season 3 harkens back to the shock factor we associate with the ending of Season 1, and it completely rocks everything we thought was going to be true going forward with the series. “Crossroads Part 2” not only brings in the revelations of four of the Final Five Cylons as characters we have come to know and love, but it is also a culmination of everything that has happened in Season 3 emotionally, bringing an unhappy catharsis to the New Caprica debacle while introducing a new way of looking at the universe, especially now that some of our characters are Cylons and Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) is somehow back from the dead. Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber) in “Crossroads Part 2” challenged everyone to look at themselves and ask which one of them was perfect, fit to be absolved of all sins over all others in one of the best speeches of the series as this episode drew the explosive season to a very fitting end, and with the final 10 minutes awash in the brilliant cover of “All Along the Watchtower”, this finale still brings goosebumps to the skin in the best way possible.

#1) “33” (S1E1)

33

“33” sets the tone for Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica after his Miniseries proof of concept in one of the best season openers of all time. The story of the episode follows the fleet’s continuous flight from the Cylons after their narrow escape at the end of the Miniseries, beginning with faster than light jump preparations, but something is off. The Galactica crew are falling asleep at their posts, Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) has more than day old stubble, and every clock is counting down to 33 minutes. At the end of the 33 minute countdown, the ever encroaching Cylon fleet appears over the human survivors, and they jump away, resetting the clock. We learn that the Galactica crew have so far gone 130.35 hours without sleep, a very compromising position for the characters to start out the season. “33” has an incredible pace and feeling of fatigue lacing every minute of the action as every 33 minutes comes with the Cylons successfully finding the fleet’s location. The machines’ relentless pursuit is draining on the Galactica and Colonial One crews, and ultimately a grave sacrifice must be made to ensure the continued survival of the fleet. “33” is nearly a perfect episode. It sets the tone for what is to be a harrowing show about survival, human ingenuity and stamina, and keeping human ideals alive amidst overwhelming tragedy and hardship. “33” is brilliant.

In a show filled to the brim with brilliant episodes and moments, it’s incredibly difficult to decipher which are our favorites without leaving out a few. Though they didn’t make our list, here are some of our other favorite episodes from this legendary series:

“Revelations” (S4E10) – “D’Anna demands that the four Cylons in the fleet be sent to the basestar. Only Tory goes, while the remaining three are suddenly drawn to Kara’s Viper by the music. The route to Earth is finally found.”

“Bastille Day” (S1E3) – “Deciding to use the thousand prisoners on a prison transport ship to mine the ice on the planet they’ve found, Galactica’s plans are upset when a political prisoner onboard leads an uprising, taking hostages. He questions the legitimacy of Roslin’s government and demands free elections to be held in the fleet.”

“Collaborators” (S3E5) – “Tyrol participates in the Circle, a secret tribunal on Galactica that tries and convicts in absentia those accused of collaborating with the Cylons during the Occupation. The death sentences–administered without the knowledge of Roslin or Adama–begin to weigh on Tyrol’s conscience. Baltar faces a similar jury among the Cylons, who must decide whether he is allowed to stay with them.”

“Sometimes a Great Notion” (S4E11) – “Chief Tyrol, Colonel Tigh, Sam Anders and Tory remember living on the planet and dying there. How did they get to the colonies? Starbuck finds a piece of her Viper, and despite Leoben’s warnings, starts to look for the cockpit… Roslin loses her faith in the Scrolls of Pythia. A tragedy prompts Adama to confront Saul.”

What are your favorite episodes and moments from Battlestar Galactica? Let us know in the comments below!

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(Photos copyright: NBC Universal Television, BSkyB)

(Synopsis courtesy of IMDb)

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