Battlestar Galactica Revisited: 1.05 You Can't Go Home Again
Ronald D Moore's re imagining of the 1970's sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica set a gold standard, both for sci-fi and TV reboots. The darker, grittier re imagining, that saw a fleet of human ships fleeing the dreaded Cylons in search of Earth, won a whole host of awards and critical acclaims over its seven-year run. With the series looking to go through another quasi-reboot under show runner Michael Lesslie, we look back at the first reboot that defined the early days of twenty-first century television. This time, the first two-parter of season one concludes with You Can't Go Home Again...
Picking up immediately after Act of Contrition, You Can't Go Home Again continues to explore the impact of Starbuck on Apollo and his father's lives, as a desperate search and rescue mission sees them put the entire fleet at stake to save one pilot.
While it doesn't have the emotional depth of the last episode, the pay off is that we understand the emotional stakes at play. This is not an episode where Commander Adama and Captain Apollo act with reason. This is deeply personal and that high tension runs throughout the episode. It's also an episode that doesn't wrap things up with a last minute save of Starbuck as her oxygen runs out. While she does make it back to Galactica, it is all based on her actions, retrofitting the crashed Cylon raider. If Starbuck hadn't saved herself, she would have been left for dead.
It's a simple but effective episode, really showing the depths of Starbuck's skills as she navigates hostile terrain and salvages the crashed Cylon Raider to escape. The interior design of the enemy ship is fascinating; red organic flesh intermixed with technology makes for a vivid, unsettling set-piece while also continuing the theme of organic-technology that has been epitomised by the human-looking Cylons on the show. Seeing Starbuck breathing oxygen through what looks like a bloody tube to survive, shows just how desperate her situation is, a nod into the more horror-like elements at play in the series.
It's interesting to see Adama off his game this episode, challenged by Tigh over his actions to use fleet resources to find Starbuck, and then the President itself. The tension between Roslin and Adama is palatable, a battle of wills for the survival of everyone in the fleet. There are no shouting matches, no bold threats; that is not how these two play their game and that makes for some fascinating moments as the episode progresses. It's really great to see how quickly Roslin has learned to hold her nerve against military men with far more experience than she. Mary McDonnell really is a force of nature on the show, commanding every scene without every needing to shout to be heard.
There's also a bit of an interesting development on Cylon-occupied Caprica this episode. The scene with Helo and fake Boomer this season have been largely inconsequential to the plot, little snippets intercut with the main story line. But the 'capture' of Boomer makes for an interesting twist. The scene where Helo tries to avoid the two Cylons is packed with tension, the threat of the toaster pinging a great hold your breath moment before violence ensues. Given the crew's 'affectionate' name for Cylons, the fact that the toaster design is chrome with a red light is a nice creative touch.
You Can't Go Home Again is a tightly-paced episode that explores Starbuck's skills on a hostile moon, threatens to fracture the uneasy alliance between Adama and Roslin and offers the first hint of a bigger story line on Caprica. With the emotional groundwork laid down in the previous episode, this instalment focuses on the fallout of Starbuck's betrayal and the bond she shares with Adama. It's what makes that final scene between them, as she allows herself to be vulnerable, that really cements that bond, with terrific performances from both Katee Sackhoff and Edward James Olmos. And as a quasi remake of the original Battlestar Galactica's final episode Hand of God, it's great to see the remake isn't afraid to look to its admittedly cheesy predecessor for great material to revisit.