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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Battlestar Galactica: The Long Patrol - Review

In this episode written by Donald P. Bellisario we are treated to another story where a member of the Galactica finds themselves stranded.  In The Lost Warrior it was Apollo stranded among space cowboys, but in The Long Patrol things are much worse, Starbuck finds himself trapped with… the Space Irish!


The episode begins as the crew of the Galactica celebrate the fact that they are now leaving their own star system for the first time. It’s odd that they are just now leaving their home system when in The Lost Planet of the Gods I’d assumed that the birthplace of humanity wasn’t in the same star system as the Twelve Colonies. Apparently I was wrong and the Twelve Colonies that fled Kobol didn’t travel all that far, that or Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) is covering for the fact that he is totally lost and they’ve been flying around in circles for months.

I told you we should have asked for directions back at that last galactic intersection.

A Colonial Viper has been outfitted with more power allowing for greater range and double the speed as well as having an advanced voice activated computer installed. Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) has volunteered for this mission which Athena (Maren Jensen) remarks is rather out of character until she learns that the volunteer for this mission moves to the head of the waiting list for dinner onboard the "newly-reopened" Rising Star cruise ship. Adama tells Athena that he and Colonel Tigh (Terry Carter) can cover her shift if she’d like to join Starbuck for dinner. Unfortunately Starbuck had already invited Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang) and so when Athena shows up Starbuck tries to juggle both women without either of them becoming wise to this impromptu double date.

In space no one can hear you cheat.

Before things get too wacky, Starbuck is called for duty and he makes his apologies to both girls and skulks away. When Cassiopeia and Athena encounter each other as they exit their respective private dining rooms they quickly discover what Starbuck was up to. Later when Starbuck is lost on patrol and assumed dead (he gets assumed dead a lot), Athena has a nice moment when she informs Cassiopeia that the man they both care for may very well be dead, and she is very sweet and kind about it. Their rivalry is lot more civilized than the one between Betty and Veronica in the Archie comics but one does question why these two beautiful and intelligent women are fighting over such a cad?

He has such a magnificent cigar, doesn't he?

When Starbuck is shown to his new Recon Viper he questions how they could make all those additions and not change the ships weight. Apollo explains that all they had to do to make it all fit was to remove the laser generators. This makes sense to Starbuck until just as his Viper launches he realizes this means he is flying in an unarmed ship. This is a dick move by Apollo and basically the whole command staff. Getting a guy to volunteer for a dangerous mission by offering him a luxurious dinner is one thing, but then to not tell him that said mission will involve him flying into unknown space without any weapons whatsoever is completely bullshit. But because this is happening to two-timing Starbuck we will let it slide.

Frack this!

While on this mission Starbuck becomes acquainted with C.O.R.A. the ship’s voice activated computer system and is a bit put off by its behavior. It has a soft sexy voice and calls Starbuck “Honey” and because it’s some sort of A.I. it sees no point in letting a human fly when it can do maneuvers faster and more accurately that a human can.  And she is not afraid to point these facts out to Starbuck. Now, the idea of an artificial intelligence being used in a spacecraft certainly opens many interesting doors and areas to explore, all of which this series does none of because we never hear from C.O.R.A. after this episode. They create a super-fast ship with computer system that will allow it to out maneuver any Cylon craft yet they never use it again.  Brilliant!

I’m assuming C.O.R.A. left to marry K.I.T.T.

While on this long reconnaissance patrol Starbuck and C.O.R.A. encounter a Sixth-Millennium fighter shooting at a shuttlecraft. Starbuck decides to interfere in this altercation without knowing a single thing about what’s going on. He’s just a sucker for the underdog. He does some fancy maneuvers that sends the fighter spinning out of control allowing the shuttlecraft to escape to a nearby asteroid. Starbuck follows it down, confronts the pilot and discover that he rescued a smuggler of Ambrosa (that’s really expensive wine in the Galactica universe) and who claims he was fleeing pirates.  All this said with a rather thick Irish accent.

Gosh and begorra, you be after me lucky charms.

Lulled by the sight so much aged Ambrosa, Starbuck lets his guard down and gets bashed in the head by a bottle. The pilot whose name we learn is Robber (James Whitmore Jr.) steals the Recon Viper and escapes into space. C.O.R.A. repeatedly asks who he is and where Starbuck is but he ignores these questions, and suffers no repercussions, because as far as artificial intelligences go C.O.R.A. isn’t even as good as OnStar. Robber starts broadcasting a signal that the Galactica picks up and because they can’t recognize the code Robber is using they assume that the Recon Viper is in enemy hands and that Starbuck is dead. Worse is that the signal could be picked up by Cylons so Apollo and Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) are sent out to destroy the Recon Viper.

If he’s not dead this time do I get to kill him?

Meanwhile the very much alive Starbuck gets captured by Croad (Ted Gehring) who was the pilot of the Sixth-Millennium fighter and head Enforcer for the Proteus prison colony. Starbuck proclaims his innocence but is knocked unconscious and taken to Proteus, and it is here that Starbuck meets the Space Irish. When he awakes in his cell he is greeted by Adulteress 58 (Arlene Martel) and discovers that all the prisoner’s names reflect their crimes, but not really their crimes but the crimes of their ancestors. Generations of these people have lived and died in these cells in the belief of “original sin” and have spent all their time making Ambrosa for the Colonial Warriors. More shocking is that Starbuck finds out that the locks on the cell doors haven’t worked for generations but that the people stay in the cells because of some sense of duty to the Colonies. And they seem to be subsisting solely on Ambrosa supplied by the guards. They finally get roused into action when Starbuck informs them that the Colonies have completely forgotten this place existed and that all the Ambrosa they’ve been making for the war effort is just sitting in warehouses and on loading docks collecting dust.

The very dim, and unfortunate, Space Irish.

Starbuck leads a revolt over the Enforcers just in time for Apollo and Boomer to arrive with Robber and his family. Seems Robber was just trying to get to the planet Aeries for the sake of his daughter and the code he was using was an old shipping code that luckily Cassiopeia recognized so was able to call off the kill order. If this all seems to raise more questions than it answers that’s pretty much what this whole episode does. We never even find out why getting back to his daughter was so important.  Did she have space cancer and Ambrosa is the only known cure?

No time to explain, we have Ambrosa to drink!

For a brief moment Starbuck thought he was going to be rich, what with thousands of years of Ambrosa now sitting in his lap, but then the Cylons arrive and during the fight the entire supply of Ambrosa is destroyed. What is really strange is that the Cylon raiders were here on orders from Baltar (John Colicos) who we last saw pinned under a huge stone slab in the Tomb of the Ninth Lord of Kobol. How the hell did he escape death, and why is he calmly giving orders to Lucifer when he swore to kill the robot bastard?
Strange use of stock footage resurrects Baltar for…reasons?

The episode ends with even more questions being asked; Robber and his family join the fleet but we don’t find out what happened to the rest of the Space Irish, are they dead or just dead drunk? There is an added mystery tossed in as Starbuck reveals that the cell he was in had a painting of the Earth’s solar system and Robber states that it was painted by the “Silent One” who had been found floating through space by the Enforcers. Sadly the show never got around to explaining this one. They're pretty big on introducing things like C.O.R.A. and the Silent One and then completely forgetting about them. This certainly demonstrates the importance of a good showrunner for a series, which unfortunately Glen A. Larson was not.

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