Battlestar Galactica season 1 episode 5 review: You Can’t Go Home Again

How far would the Adamas go to save Starbuck? Simon continues his adventures with Battlestar Galactica...

5. You Can’t Go Home Again

For much of Galactica thus far, Commander Adama has contained his emotions, and kept logic and control at the fore of his personality. Even when dealing with his son, Apollo, in the mini-series that kicked the show off, it was clear that this was a man who knew what he had to do, and how he had to do it.

In You Can’t Go Home Again, though, that temporarily went out of the window.

This is effectively an episode that concentrates on the search for Starbuck, and has some of the daftest material thus far within it. We see the story from two perspectives. We see Starbuck on the surface of an unwelcoming planet, with hostile conditions among her many problems, and a big whack on her knee restricting her mobility not far behind.

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Back on Galactica, meanwhile, Adama and Apollo increasingly let their emotions take hold in the search for Starbuck, making decisions that put the fleet at greater risk. This is in spite of the assessment that once the Cylons realise their patrol hasn’t responded, a fuller attack squadron will not be too far behind.

Starbuck, we learn, had to bail out from her Viper, and once she cuts her parachute free, we learn that she’s got a finite amount of oxygen. Back on Galactica, they work out just how finite that is, and it’s time for the ticking clock prop to get another outing. Starbuck looks to the skies for inspiration, and finds, a second later, one of the Cylon fighters that she managed to blast before she crashed onto the planet herself.

Search stories are de rigeur for science fiction shows from time to time, and Battlestar does take a few odd choices here. The biggest problem, for me, is that we’re asked to buy that Starbuck could get into an alien ship and work out how to get it running in a short space of time. Granted, there’s dialogue in there about how there are only four controls required to fly a ship, but even so, I thought for the first time the show was asking me to take a sizeable leap of faith in logic. I’ll do it, but it certainly stuck out.

We then get a few slight clichés in the mix, as the search becomes more and more desperate, and the clock ticks down to zero. But then Battlestar pulls a fine trick and keeps the clock going. This then illuminates just how far Adama and Apollo will go to try and find Starbuck, and what I first thought was a run of the mill countdown became a ticking clock of another kind.

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When that clock keeps ticking, despite nearly half of the fuel reserves being used, and Vipers getting damaged (which proves convenient, albeit logical, for the episode’s ending), it’s left to President Roslin to knock Adama and Apollo back into shape. I’m expecting that thread of working out just who’s in charge to be explored further in the episodes ahead.

Of course, just as Galactica is about to make a jump to avoid the expected next wave of Cylons, Starbuck in her Cylon fighter comes into reach. Only Apollo’s Viper, unsurprisingly, is working, and after a short dogfight, he sees the word ‘Starbuck’ scrawled on the underside of the ship. It’s a fun gung-ho sequence, albeit just a little contrived.

It’s the beligerance of Adama that’s the highlight for me here, though, in what was otherwise a slightly weaker episode. Things continue to fall into place on Caprica, though, as Helo and Boomer get separated, and I expect that thread to be picked up on quickly in the next instalment, Litmus….