BSG: Lost Planet of the Gods, Part 2

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Sorry to whoever might have happened by in the time between the last BSG post and this one. I didn’t mean to cliffhanger things even remotely this much, although I’m not sure you can say that about a show that’s almost 39 years old. Either way, let’s dive into the

Overly long Synopsis

The episode recap is really long this time, covering the last episode in detail before getting to the new stuff. Including the credits, it actually takes 4 minutes to get to the true opening scene of the episode where we find that there’s intense magnetic interference from the void and lots of panic in the fleet, so we gather them in close.

Apollo and Starbuck go visit Boomer in his cryotube. Whatever the medical team found on that asteroid, they’ve got the virus on the run. Everyone is happy Boomer isn’t going to die, especially Boomer.

Tigh and Adama in the office, talking about where they’re going and Adama trots out the Colonial Bible “The Book of the Word” and points out his medallion as a symbol of faith, handed down through millennia to the members of the council. Cobol is a real place, dude.

Somewhere below, the female pilots are celebrating their victory and talking viper combat. Apollo and Starbuck are busy being jerks and making supposedly “female” small talk and Serina breaks in to make sure they feel included, something they probably wouldn’t have done. But the whole thing gets interrupted because Starbuck and Apollo are going on patrol to find out what the blip is at the edge of sensor range in quadrant Delta 9. No, wait. Starbuck isn’t going because Serina is Apollo’s wingman. It’s posted. (Wait, seriously?) But Starbuck hijacks Apollo’s Viper, Apollo hijacks Serina’s, and Serina finds one lying around, so they all end up going.

Apollo actually acknowledges that Serina is a good pilot even as he’s trying to send her home, but it works out that the three of them can stretch their range pretty far to take readings. Starbuck is the farthest out and suddenly surrounded by Cylons, giving us the first “Frack!” of the series. He’s escorted back to the base star to meet Baltar who claims a mission of peace. Starbuck, lighting a match on a centurion’s chest plate, talks to Baltar like they know each other. A few threats and a little posturing and Starbuck is taken away and will be treated well. Lucifer is not impressed and doesn’t trust Baltar’s logic.

Back on the ranch, everyone is upset that Starbuck is dead. With open displays of affection on the bridge, Apollo and Serina decide not just to go ahead with the wedding but to move it up because they need hope. Everyone does. That marriage ceremony is actually pretty Christian (it’s the late 70s, so don’t be surprised), just with lots of candles and a few alternate terms while lots of people look on in the background. Note the presence of capes as part of formal wear, blessing from “the Lord of Cobol”, and being sealed instead of married. Just as they kiss, a star appears, bright and shining and leading them out of the void.

In a lovely demonstration of “who cares about actual science”, the star has a planet in an orbit 1-3 parsecs out. Surprise, it’s Cobol. In a scene obviously filmed later, we see doubles of Adama, Apollo, and Serina walking towards the great pyramids and later through some other Egyptian places, with some voice over. When we see the actual actors, they’re just as obviously on a sound stage. They’ll make camp, with guards, all of whom seem to be the new female recruits to save on acting budgets.

The star surprises Baltar until he remembers his own mythology, but the plan is still good with a tiny bit of modification, and he’s going in alone while Lucifer looks after Starbuck.

<sigh> The biggest city on Cobol was called Eden.

<sigh> Adama’s medallion opens up a secret tomb complete with mystical chanting, creepy music, dark passages, skeletons of tomb robbers, and a trap that Adama’s amulet opens again. More darkness until they reach the tomb and they’re looking around as Baltar strolls in, smiling until Adama almost strangles him.

Baltar plays innocent, claiming he was captured and then spared to lead them into a trap. He tries to convince them that they can launch a counter attack and take over the Cylon Empire. He’ll even release Starbuck as a gesture of good faith. The lunatic smile he wears is half way between believable and psychotic. Adama, unfortunately, comes across as just as crazy, looking for evidence of the 13th tribe.

The newlyweds share a tender moment on the surface; Apollo is the practical skeptic, more worried about their people than mythology, and definitely worried about his dad. Starbuck comes strolling out of the desert, bringing intel and actually buying into Baltar’s crap. In the tomb, Baltar tries to con Adama again and the star conveniently comes back and sends light into the chamber, reflecting from Adama’s medallion to set up a triangle of light and open a super-secret inner chamber.  Baltar dives in, the other three follow quickly just as the Cylons finally get tired of waiting. Dust and rock falls from the ceiling, trapping the intrepid tomb raiders and letting Baltar show his true colours, using fear to try manipulating his enemies.

While Starbuck leads the female pilots into battle as the camp is destroyed (pew pew), Adama keeps reading the wall, and the still-sick male warriors report for duty, giving the opportunity for Boomer to deliver what might be the greatest line in the series so far: “A viper is flown from the seated position, sir.”

In between recycled battle footage and effects (pew pew), Adama finds a record of the Exodus, the final departure of the 12 tribes, the last days of Cobol, and mention of the thirteenth tribe. Another direct hit on the pyramid traps Baltar under a stone block. The others make a half-hearted attempt to rescue him but are “forced” to leave him behind. Baltar is angry and Adama almost seems sad. Almost.

While the shiny cylon butts in orbit have been thoroughly kicked, there are Cylons on the planet, too, and some Centurions sneak up behind them, one shooting Serina in the back. Cut to sick bay, where we discover it’s a fatal wound and now Apollo will have to take care of Boxey and we’re supposed to be surprised that it’s Serina taken from Apollo and not the other way around. She’s already calling Apollo Boxey’s father, and we’ve never really learned anything more about the previous life and relationship she had.

Lots of tears to go with the sad music, and it’s time to kiss her goodbye. Adama takes Boxey out of the room so Apollo can be with her for her last breaths and a slightly drawn out death. He apparently has a conversion on her death bed and tells her that he’s bought into the idea of the afterlife, though Richard Hatch is a good enough actor that you can read it as being meant to make her feel better as she drifts away. He exits into a corridor filled with sad people, gathers up Boxey, and they share a moment reminding us that her love for them is eternal.

“Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny…”

 

Story

I dropped enough hints in the synopsis, but let’s state it outright: the writing remains weaker in this second half of the two-parter. Plus, the editing seems a bit sloppy, like it was meant to be a longer story and they were working too hard to get everything in, shaved down to bare minimums because they didn’t want to do a second three-part story. Doing some reading, I guess the original plan was for three major feature-length films to be shown on TV a few months apart. That makes this episode make a little more sense in this regard, but doesn’t help the story.

I’m also not thrilled with all of the overt religion here. After the first episode of tiny mentions and actual SF, this is almost browbeating us with the idea that the Colonials are thinly veiled Christians (Mormons, actually). I’m not going to go into all of the issues here, just that there are a lot of them. I don’t remember being sensitive to that as a kid, and the adults I watched it with (my parents) never said anything either.

Other major weaknesses:

The secret tomb bothers me. It’s neat how they picked exactly the right place on the planet to land, and weird how there’s no sign of any high technology until the magic flashlights they find underground, and then that’s all. Not sure how the thirteen tribes left Cobol in their stone pyramids.

I want to attribute this to editing instead of writing, but Starbuck got to the planet how, exactly? And is that where the Cylons on the surface came from? Why did those Cylons wait so long to attack? Why is only one of them a good enough shot to actually hit someone?

Worth noting that I loved Adama’s beer stein on the bridge. Wonder what was actually in it.

 

Acting

Everyone involved in Serina’s death scene shed real tears, which was good even while Apollo’s sudden mystical conversion was ridiculous. Jane Seymour and Lorne Greene carried the day here, though, and she left the series too soon. Richard Hatch and Noah Hathaway managed a conversation with some pretty serious waterworks in progress, but it was fairly standard suddenly single dad fare for the time.

 

Continuity

In a time not known for caring about continuity, even in its soap operas, BSG hits something here and there. At least, it does here. Boxey is still wearing the pin Apollo gave him a couple of episodes back. I’m going to try to remember to watch and see if it stays part of his outfit in the future.

 

Language

Not a lot of new words this time, but we learn about velcron while Apollo and Starbuck are being passive-aggressively sexist in the pilots’ lounge, and I’d really like to know exactly how much of what a “50 megon load” is.

 

Ships and Technology

Yeah, I got nothing this time. Nothing new presented in this episode.

 

Wrap Up

“Lost Planet of the Gods”, either part, is a bit of a disappointment after the stretched-out pilot. It plays hard to the idea presented in the show’s opening monologue, that, “There are those who believe…that life here began out there”. We’re supposed to take the Egyptian motif of these two episodes with the knowledge of the other twelve tribes being roughly named after the constellations of the zodiac, and draw our own causal link. It’s a little bonk-bonk-on-the-head.

There are moments and there is good acting and there are great lines, but it doesn’t come together nearly as well as the pilot did. I’m at a loss to explain the 7.5 average rating on IMDB. I don’t think I can give the pair of episodes more than a 6 overall.

Next stop, “The Lost Warrior”, where we learn that the Cylons missed a planet with humans on it in their extermination campaign. But these humans are somehow unaffiliated with the 12 Colonies, so it’s probably okay.

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Lance
Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than two dozen stories published or on the way. 2019 is the year he dives into independent publishing, starting with "Thorvald's Wyrd", "Skip To My Luu", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.

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