Friday, 27 June 2008

Galactica 1980: The Return of Starbuck

I have almost nothing to add to what Heckler says about Galactica 1980[1]. What I'm going to talk about is the last episode of Galactica 1980, which, apart from it's framing, is actually more of an original Battlestar Galactica episode.

It begins with Doctor Zee, the Galactica's child genius, having a dream which closely ties in with his mysterious origin. It seems there was once a great warrior known as Starbuck who was lost when his ship was damaged in a fight with the Cylons. He crash landed on an uninhabited planet, which he named "Starbuck" and appointed himself President of. Bored, he finds a crashed Cylon ship and repairs one of the Cylons, who he names Cy. He convinces Cy not to kill him and teaches him to play cards.

Then it gets a bit weirder - a mysterious pregnant woman appears from nowhere, is silent for a week, then asks Starbuck if he would die for her. She reveals that she came from a "dimension beyond", and that the child is Starbuck's spiritual child. The kid is born and Starbuck and Cy stand as his godfathers, the woman (Angela, in a fairly unsubtle hint at her origins) says they need a spacecraft so Cy and Starbuck build one by sticking bits of the Viper and Raider together, then, as predicted by Angela, Cylons turn up. Starbuck sends Angela and the kid off, Cy shoots two of the Cylons, is shot himself and Starbuck gets the last one, leaving him alone with the dying Cy who describes Starbuck as his friend. Back in the framing story, it's revealed that Zee was found on his own in the lifepod of the Viper/Raider.

A swift look at Mormon beliefs leads me to note that Starbuck's drinking, smoking, gambling and womanising[3] aren't merely quirky flaws, but are actual sins. Here on the planet Starbuck he redeems himself by saving Zee and Angela. I note also that in Mormon theology, dead Mormons actively help God; we might say that they become angels. If I have a real complaint it's that this isn't The Return of Starbuck, other than within the scope of the story, it's actually a Farewell to Starbuck (Battlestar Wiki notes that it was originally titled "Starbuck's Greatest Journey", although a rubbish title, one closer to the actual events in the show)

There's one final thing to note - Zee, Starbuck's son, born of an angel, is clearly going to be the saviour of the human race (Zee, of course, is the last letter of the alphabet, indicating an ending - "I am the Alpha and the Omega"). He also has a Cylon for a godfather. What does this mean? Well to me, it suggests the ending is not victory, but peace. Sadly (or, considering the way Galactica 1980 was going, perhaps fortunately) we will never know.

Unless there's a spinoff from the new BSG, involving superpowered kids, flying motorbikes and time travel hijinks. Galactica 2010 anyone?

[1] I say almost nothing, but I'll point out that while those of us raised more or less as Catholics or Anglicans read Adama as Moses and the journey of Galactica's fleet as the flight from Egypt[2], Glenn Larson was a Mormon so it's more directly the journey of the Mormons from New York to Deseret (Utah). On the other hand, the Mormon leadership explicitly drew parallels between the flight out of Egypt and their own exodus to Salt Lake City. I'll be coming back to Mormon theology later in my review, although I'll note I've only read the most entertaining excerpts from the Book of Mormon so the odds are good that I will be very wrong. I should know better than to mix theology with liverwurst and buttermilk movie reviews.
[2] If only there were Ten Plagues, I could tie this into my reading of The Reaping.
[3] Do I need to note that Starbuck ends up with the traditional consequence of womanising - a child - by untraditional means?

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