Battlestar Galactica season 2 episode 17 review: The Captain’s Hand

Another fairly contained installment of Battlestar Galactica, as John Heard pops up to lead everyone into trouble...

2.17 The Captain’s Hand

The simmering distrust between the crew of the Pegasus and the Galactica gets explored in The Captain’s Hand, which is highlighted when Apollo gets promoted to Major Adama. He’s then deployed on the Pegasus, to help out its new Commander, Barry Garner. Garner, who used to be an engineer, is played by John Heard, who in a past life kept leaving Macaulay Culkin behind in Home Alone movies. How he never ended up reported to social services in those films remains something of a mystery.

Starbuck, anyway, is sending out Raptors from Pegasus on a training mission, when a pair of them promptly disappear. Garner, we soon learn, wasn’t built to handle situations like this, and is far happier with a sack of spanners than the control of a Battlestar. Certainly compared to Admiral Cain – and the Pegasus clearly lives in her shadow – he struggles to hack it. His answer is to blame Starbuck, and order a rescue mission.

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Analysis of the broken last transmission from the Raptors leads Starbuck to suspect that they may have been answering a distress call, but then all and sundry seem to be aware that this is a tactic the Cylons are fond of. After all, it allows them to lure Colonial ships out in small groups and take them out. What’s not to like?

Garner, however, is having none of it, and against the specific orders of Adama, he declares that the Pegasus is going to jump after the Raptors. Meanwhile, the noise you heard was me slapping my head in despair.

When the Pegasus arrives in its new destination, it proves to be a trap and a half, with a trio of Basestars reigning fire down on the Battlestar in double quick time. Naturally, one of the salvos takes out the FTL drive, and this gives the episode an added dual purpose: it means that Apollo can take control of the Pegasus and prove to be a natural at this sort of thing, and it means that Garner can go and fix something vital to save everyone, and die in the process. Those boxes eventually ticked, and Apollo gets promoted to being the new Commander for his trouble. That should set things up nicely.

While all that is going on, the impending Presidential election is coming to the fore. The battle between Roslin and Tom Zarek is clearly going the way of the former, and if she’s going to be toppled, a different issue is needed. But when a young pregnant girl is found stowed away on board the Galactica, she asks for an abortion, and political hell soon breaks loose.

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Roslin hates the idea of outlawing any form of abortion – it’s the kind of thing she’s fought against her entire career – but she’s faced with the fact that humanity’s numbers are dwindling. Fortunately, Baltar is on hand to help with the sums. If humankind continues on its current course, then the human race will be extinct in 18 years.

This forces Roslin’s hand, and she reluctantly announces that she’s banning any abortions. Mid-press conference, though, the snake-in-the-grass Baltar suddenly announces that he disagrees, and that he’s standing for President. And you know what? I suspect he’s got a sporting chance.

The momentum here is slowly building up towards the end of the season, and for me the most interesting thread right now is the political one. The Roslin vs Baltar battle has the capability of turning the entire show on its head, and I look forward to finding out what’s next, in Downloaded…