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Lost Planet Of The Gods Part II Analysis
By Walt Atwood
As the infected pilots recover in the Galactica's infirmary, the maverick shuttle pilots brag up their victory in the Officer's Club. Starbuck and Apollo are relieved to hear that the bridge crew has detected an unknown blip trailing the Galactica fleet, just beyond tracking range. At first, Tigh approaches Apollo about leading a recon patrol to see what's out there. Then Serina appears and insists she is assigned as Apollo's wingman. In the confusion, Starbuck launches in Apollo's fighter. Apollo takes after Starbuck, followed by Serina.
The Cylon lure works. A slew of their raiders descend on Starbuck's ship before he knows what hit him. Without a shot fired, Starbuck is lost at the void's fringe. Aboard the Cylon Basestar, Lucifer and the Centurions escort their catch to Baltar. It is here that we learn of Baltar's plan to approach Adama with this new hostage as a peace offering. The encounter is as much a surprise to Lucifer as it is to Starbuck.
On the Galactica's bridge, Apollo cannot resist staring into the scanner, hoping to see Starbuck's Viper reappear. Serina consoles Apollo, but he still cannot accept that their comrade could disappear so suddenly. Serina presses on for marriage, saying that the predicament they are in may never end, and Starbuck would've wanted them to move on. As Adama performs the "sealing" ceremony on the Galactica's amphitheater deck, Tigh notices a star appearing. If Adama is right, the planet orbiting that star is Kobol: the birthplace of the human race.
Lucifer reports that the Galactica has been sighted approaching a dead planet orbiting a lone star. Baltar figures out what is happening and orders his personal craft readied. Lucifer cannot accept Baltar's confidence in approaching the humans with a peace plan.
On the planet's surface, Adama wants camp set up on a site of pyramids, a sphinx and other great ruins he suspects were once the thriving city of Eden, "the first to fall" on ancient Kobol. Apollo and Serina are grateful to have a dead planet to themselves for a honeymoon. As the warriors ready to bivouac among the ruins, Adama orders a guard to be posted.
As Adama, Apollo and Serina probe the pyramid "temple", which turns out to be the tomb of "the ninth Lord of Kobol," they discover an elaborate protective access system, which can only be opened by a Medallion from the Council of Twelve. Apparently, the ninth and final lord returned to Kobol to die after the thirteen tribes left to form new colonies beyond the void. The writings in the temple reveal the "last days" of this civilization. As Adama pays his respects to the dead, Baltar appears, wearing his own Medallion. When the traitor greets Adama as "old friend", the beleaguered Battlestar commander lunges for his enemy's throat.
Baltar insists he has been defamed by these treason charges. He tells of how he has seen the Cylon seat of power in chaos; how the Galactica could strike their capital and devastate the Cylons. Adama hisses to Baltar: "you have the tongue of an angel, and the soul of a serpent." Apollo takes Baltar into custody.
Back on the Basestar, a Centurion is paged to Baltar's throne room... to find Lucifer perched on the pedestal and ready to declare Baltar's peace envoy a failure. Though the Centurion is certain Baltar will deliver the Galactica fleet to Cylon, Lucifer is "thinking out loud" about why he was not chosen to be the new Imperious Leader over his "IL-group" competition; perhaps a military victory under his command might change his stature. "What is your command?" the Centurion asks.
On the planet's surface, the rookie warriors are enjoying their open-air evening on Kobol, when Starbuck appears. Apollo orders the warriors to ready themselves and demands that Baltar explain what is going on. When Apollo takes the traitor back into the tomb to talk to Adama, Serina notices that the sunlight is intensifying. As the light beams into the tomb, it is caught by Adama's Medallion. the focused rays activate the temple chamber's secret mechanism, and a deeper chamber is revealed. Once inside, Adama discovers more writings of what happened here. But then the tomb begins to shudder: the Cylons have begun a bombardment of the ruins.
Starbuck and Athena begin launching a counter-strike from the camp. On the Galactica, Boomer and some of his fellow warriors report for duty. "Lieutenant, obviously you can't even stand", Tigh warns Boomer. Boomer replies "The Viper is flown from the seated position, sir." Just when all seems lost for Starbuck and Athena, Boomer and company rout the Cylon attack. On Kobol, the Cylon attack nearly kills those left in the tomb. Adama is just about to learn of the thirteenth tribe when a Cylon attack shatters the tomb, leaving the writings destroyed and Baltar trapped under the rubble. While Adama's party try to free Baltar, they eventually give up and abandon him. The traitor vows to get even with Lucifer, "you have not heard the last of Baltar!"
Back on the surface, Adama, Serina and Apollo are reunited with Starbuck and Blue Squadron when Cylon infantry guns down Serina. She is mortally wounded but evac'ed to the Galactica before Apollo and Boxey say good-bye. Apollo now must rear the little boy on his own.
A Second Look This BATTLESTAR outing makes splendid use of John Colicos as Baltar, and the phenomenal robot Lucifer, animated by Felix Silla and voice by Jonathan Harris. The duel of the titan egos on the Basestar takes a strange turn, mixing doses of comedy with treachery. The sight of the IL-Cylon on Baltar's throne approaches farce. But the show belongs to Colicos' Baltar, whose con-artist tour-de-force comes into full bloom on Kobol.
The notion of a star appearing overhead at the very moment when Apollo and Serina are sealed was well played, if a bit too coincidental. When later Baltar apologizes to the air for defiling the ancient crypt, and then begs Adama to "use your power... get us out of here", the whole Kobolian mystery is a bit over the top. It is not clear if the show's makers want us to believe that Adama is tracing the footsteps of history for a well-grounded cause, or if his quest is based on some magic from the dead. One good thing is clear: Adama's Medallion beat Indiana Jones' staff-jewel laser to the Well of Souls by a few years. :-)
Missing from the Sci Fi channel "syndicated" version of this episode was a nice shot of Starbuck's Viper on approach to the Basestar. Other scenes seem chopped down to allow for commercial time. The explanation for Boomer's sudden recovery isn't adequate, either. Way too abrupt. This detracts significantly from the serialization aspect of the series. Speaking of which...
This episode underscores the serialized, soap-opera nature of the series does work well when it is allowed in the oven for long enough, and with the right ingredients. "Part 2" capitalizes on all the events that came before and does well on its own.
Jane Seymour turns in an improved portrayal of Apollo's bride, Serina. Too bad it was her swan song in the role. She was really starting to make something with it. But what was she doing out there on recon probe? That whole scene almost made a farce out of Starbuck's abduction. It's like Mom insisted on following Dad on his trip outta town. "Can I have the keys to the station wagon?" More proof positive that the show's makers did not take the war and military aspects of the series as seriously as they should have.
Spectacle Value Maren Jensen gives a nice cameo appearance as Athena, ready to fight the Cylons: fluffy hair, makeup and all. If Calvin Klein ever needed a female fighter pilot for a designer jeans ad campaign, Athena would be the lady. Speaking of ladies, at least the "girl" demeaning was toned down. Too bad they had to dub in those silly "Eeeee!" screams when the Cylons attacked the camp. Maybe showing one of the ladies hopping into the turret atop a land-ram would've been a better use of footage. They didn't even have to show the turret firing; just one lady ready to fend off the attackers while the others get clear to their fighters. But this was 1978, after all.
This two-part story cemented the status of Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict as stars of the show. Make no mistake, even though some remember it as "BATTLESTAR PONDEROSA", Apollo and Starbuck are at the top of the characters list.
While this episode recycles some space and combat footage, the real spectacle is the focus of the plot: the ancient ruins. Every Kobol scene was effective, shot and performed better than anything thus far in the series. Even the Cylon attack worked beautifully. That great success also fuels the confusion behind what the series is trying to communicate about this quest for thirteenth tribe: the physical manifestations seem to suggest the quest is based on ancient heritage, while the magical/legendary aspect suggests mysticism.
The other great thing about GALACTICA is the music. The score here was much better than in "Part 1." This series championed the power of music, even freezing an occasional touch of Colonial pseudo-disco in time. It is a treat to listen to.
IF BATTLESTAR GALACTICA WERE NEW TODAY:
This episode would be the most viable. Even though the Cylons have definitely worn out their welcome by now, the quest and the pursuit are tightly bound in a drama that works well against the backdrop of ancient ruins. Despite this, I also just watched a STARGATE SG-1 rerun of "The Fifth Race," in which Colonel O'Neil is accidentally "programmed" to make contact with the Askard race in another galaxy by reconfiguring the Stargate portal. Ironically, STARGATE seems to borrow from BATTLESTAR's theme of ancient mystery, underdog exploring the unknown, and the serialization of drama. Maybe now, if the older franchise is revived, it can learn from its younger student. STARGATE goes a step further by layering its cosmic history. It isn't just found in ancient historical texts in one place or time. The cosmos is much bigger than that. "The Fifth Race" shows us multiple legacies that are ongoing and more complex. What if this thirteenth tribe branched off, settling in more than one place? Or what if the thirteenth tribe intermarried with another race, and turns out not to be human anymore? Or what if it turns out that the Galactica unknowingly is leading the thirteenth tribe, and will ultimately settle on Earth? Or what if Earth is humanity's point of origin, which then spread to Kobol, and lost track of its roots? (Maybe the Great Colonies are thousands of years in humankind's future.)
They would have to do a better job depicting the abyss.
If they ever got their hands on another casting coup like Jane Seymour, they had better not let go of her. Mistakus collossus!
They would have to be a little more clever with their allegories. Some say the series reminded them of the Mormon legacy. Others say it was derived from THE AENID by Virgil. There is also a whiff of the original American colonists arriving from England to escape persecution under the Crown. This was impossible to define in one year's slate of episodes. If a revival were to champion an agenda, it would have to choose a direction (or directions) to go in and be more thorough in defining them.
They would also have to be more careful how they treat regular characters, like Baltar and Lucifer. Even a non-serialized drama cannot show scenes like the one with Lucifer on the throne or the one where Baltar is trapped in the tomb without showing how they are reconciled. Irresponsiblus galacticus!
They should do what is necessary to lure Patrick MacNee back to the show, if only for brief appearances and/or voice-overs. The introductory "There are those who believe..." narrative is best kept alive, and delivered by him.
TIDBITS & NITPICKS
Neat: the Cylons are supposed to still be hidden in the void, yet there are stars everywhere.
Apollo's plea to Adama to flee Kobol "while the star is still dormant" makes it clear that Kobol is in the heart of the abyss, not its far edge. So why do we see so many stars there? Does the abyss mask a wormhole or something that sends the ships across hyperspace to emerge in a new galaxy, a la "The Long Patrol" and "The Hand of God"? This is never fully established, one way or another.
Kobol must have a peculiar rotation. When they go into the tomb, it is day, when Starbuck reappears, it is night. When Adama unwittingly opens the tomb's deepest chamber, it is as if mid-day is near. When the Cylons attack, it is night again. If these sudden changes occur because of the fluctuations in the star, it's a miracle this world isn't in an ice age.
It makes no sense...
... for Apollo to allow his green pilot-trainees to make planetfall with their Vipers. They don't need fighter-craft down there, much less that many pilots.
... for the Cylons to attack the ruins, not the Galactica first.
... for so many pilots to be with their ships on the planet, and then Boomer and his squadron launch with even more ships from the Galactica. I don't think they are supposed to have that many Vipers at this stage in the series.
Again, in order for the "endless" nature of this void to make any sense, all craft in the Galactica and Cylon fleets, especially fighters, must be capable of at least the speed of light, if not several times that speed. The generic term "lightspeed" must apply to varying magnitudes of faster-than-light travel.
Nice to see that Sara Rush's "Woman on Duty" is instead listed as Rigel. She made a nice little supporting cameo in "Part 1", and again in "Part 2". She delivers a professional sounding "launch when ready." Too bad we don't get to see more.
Even though Hatch's Apollo and Benedict's Starbuck get the top billing, everyone else still gets the best lines, from Athena needling Starbuck to get into battle, to Adama's parting shot to Baltar "It seems your friends have sealed your fate as well as ours." And the best scene in this episode was when Baltar first appeared in the tomb and Adama lunged at the traitor. Lorne Greene still had some action in him! :-)
You have to love the charitable nature of Adama and his family. There's Baltar, a guy who would make Hitler look like a pussycat, trapped under that rubble, and Adama, Apollo and Serina are risking their lives and giving themselves a hernia just to save that crazy, corrupt S.O.B. That's compassion of Biblical proportions!
Walt missed my biggest nit pick, namely the death of Serina. Or rather, its depiction. I would have preferred a sudden death on the planet over the overly emotional (yeah, it makes me cry- so what? I'm a sensitive 80's guy) strung out farewell. OR, I would have preferred that she'd died of Solium poisoning as originally planned- but to have her shot & dying for hours made their health science seem like a joke to me. In terms of a laser hit, what didn't kill her quickly SHOULD have been treatable IMO.
This episode and the final episode of RDM's Galactica really strike home for me, as I DO really believe in the whole Anicent Astronaut theory