Battlestar Galactica Revisited: 2.01 Scattered
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. We continue with the dramatic season two opener Scattered...
The second season of Battlestar Galactica has a lot to deal with, coming off the dramatic events of season one finale Kobol's Last Gleaming Part 2. Commander William Adama has been shot by activated Cylon sleeper agent Sharon Boomer Valeri. Gaius Baltar, Chief Tyrol, Crashdown, Callie and other members of the Galactica crew are marooned on Kobol, under threat from the Cylons. Captain Lee Apollo Adama has been arrested for treason alongside President Laura Roslin. And Kara Starbuck Thrace has made it to Caprica, reunited with Karl Helo Agathon and discovering his pregnant Cylon lover Sharon. That's a lot to unpack.
Scattered - as the title suggests - deals with the various plot strands and is in no rush to wrap everything up. The biggest event of the season opener is the escape from a Cylon base star, which sees the fleet jump to a different location to Galactica. With Doc Cottle on another ship and only field medics to stabilise the critical commander, it's a race against time to find the fleet, with Colonel Saul Tigh in charge.
While perhaps not quite as tense as season one opener 33, there is a real sense that everything is spinning in control. Tigh is clearly out of his depth, with only Lady Macbethian Ellen Tigh there to encourage him. Flashbacks to the past reveal his reinstatement to the fleet by Adama, supporting the very obvious fact that Tigh is in no real state to manage the very survival of the fleet. Michael Hogan really takes centre stage here, refusing to break down, standing by his decision to imprison Roslin and Apollo and try to stick to the actions he knew Adama would have followed. Not everything is quite falling apart yet, but it is close.
Every scene on Galactica is packed with nail biting tension, guilt and exhaustion. Little moments show Dualla wide-eyed in disbelief at what is happening, to the prison guard buckling and praying with Roslin through the bars of her cell during the Cylon battle. Gaeta, meanwhile, is wracked with guilt over not giving the fleet the new emergency coordinates. Alessandro Juliani really gets to shine too in a hold your breath sequence as he battles against the encroaching Cylon virus to use Galactica's computers to determine the location of the fleet. While little is resolved by the time the credits roll, the fire fight with the Cylons as Galactica travels back to its previous location, is a dazzling action-packed affair.
There isn't much happening on Caprica, though the long-standing relationship between Starbuck and Helo is established well. Sharon stealing the Cylon raider is something of a shock, seemingly confirming Starbuck's worse fears. Fortunately, there is some interesting stuff to come from the Caprica-based narrative in the first part of the season and with Starbuck on the planet, Helo's story feels a little fresher too after an entire season of traipsing through the post-apocalyptic landscape.
Perhaps most surprising is in how Scattered doesn't end with the rescue of the Kobol-based crewmen who were stranded on the planet last season. They are not getting back to the ship any time soon. There is an interesting antagonistic relationship between Crashdown and Tyrol that emerges as the survivors head for safety in the hills. The ensuing fire fight and the death of Warren Christie's Tarn is another tense, tragic moment that raises the life and death stakes for everyone involved. James Callis gets very little to do too as Gaius Baltar, though there is an amusing moment when he reacts the the ludicrous nature of the plan Six has just shown him.
Scattered continues the various story threads begun in Kobol's Last Gleaming but offers little resolution. Everyone is still stranded by the episode's end and even with the fleet reunited with Galactica, the threat of Cylons having invaded the ship during the battle teases more death and destruction to come. With an expanded episode count, season two allows Battlestar Galactica to take it's time in wrapping up the many, many threads from season one. And that's without the bigger and bolder twists and turns to come from the rest of season two...