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Throwback Thursday - Battlestar Galactica - Unfinished Business

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Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favourite TV episodes from over the years.

Battlestar Galactica (re-imaged) - 3.09 Unfinished Business
(Home Video Release Includes 70 Minute Extended Cut Version)
Directed by Robert M. Young
Writen by Michael Taylor

"Sounds like a personal problem to me." -Kara

One of my favorite episodes of Battlestar Galactica gets to the series core with a rare flashback episode that informs the previous eight episodes of season three and then echoes through the remaining eleven & beyond! It's an episode where the "Starbuck" relationship shennanigans  dynamics are on the forefront and where, the series reminds viewers that this dark space opera conducts itself with the pyschological analysis of the human condition, often expressed through pyschical agression, which is surely abusive in nature, but it's abuse stemming from the pain of love, loss, and regret.


To put the episode in perspective, the first eight episodes of season three have been about life during the New Caprica Cylon occupation, the great escape from the Cylon oppressors, and the beginnings of a reckoning among many in the fleet with many finding themselves with survivors guilt and loads of pent up agnger. This is also on the heels of the season two finale when Doctor Giuas Balter, newly elected President of the 12 Colonies, was given insight (another word for blackmail) from messenger six to give the human people a new place to call home and ultimately quash Laura Roslin's mystical notions of playing prophet, but whose vision is ultimately thwarted when the Cylons show up and threaten to the nuke the planet, leading Balter to become seemingly complacent and condeming almost everyone else to a dreadful repression for which Balter will not only take the blame for, but will have a profound effect on the way he has to live for the remander of the series.

"This is how you fight your enemies, Chief? This how you fight for your life? No excuses! Show me you're a soldier! Get up! - Bill Adama

It's from these plots that in the present, Admiral Bill Adama decides that a boxing compition is good morale for the crew to help them blow off some steam--steam that runs much deeper than viewers know or that Adama seems to at first admit. Surprisingly, Bill has a bone to pick with a certain mechanic (Galen Tyrol) that left his duties on the Battlestar, insisting that he an his pregnant wife, Callie, needed to be down on the planet to raise their child, and not up on the space ship. --And in case anyone doubted, the old man still has it, but that's not to say that Galen doesn't get over his fighting-the-old-man guilt trip, he does! He proves his own capacity for pain accordingly, making viewers realize Bill's need for masochism stemming out of his own guilt.  Unsurprisingly, however one match that also comes to take heed is between Lee and Kara, whom also (and probably will forever) have unfinished business...

But before the Cylons showed up to ruin everything, there was a bit of light---a glimmer of hope that the characters could live on this planet, start families to repopulate the human race, --that the heavy burdens they had carried thus far could be lifted or laid to rest, --Well, until self sabatoge comes into play!

The episode then plays out shifting between time periods of brutal & gritty uniquely filmed boxing matches between certain pairs of characters and this wonderious time on New Caprica where just about everyone is participating in a groundbreaking ceromony on Founder's Day. Breifly, Lee's now married to Dee after formerly being shot by Kara and becoming suicidal during the "Battlestar Pegasus" ordeal, which is after Kara had abandoned her former feelings for Lee, for a rescued Samual T. Anders!

One of my favorite things about the series has to do with the musical compistions and theme choices of composer Bear McCreary and Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore, of which McCreary hails from a Scotish heratige. For whatever reason, the Adama family theme is often Celtic in nature, despite that neither Tauron and half Tauron characters played by James Olmos and Jaime Bamber don't visually encapsulate an idyllic representation of the Scotish people, but rather it's what's underneath that does--this idea of proud clans fighting for survival of their country and their culture--a group of people that know what it is to be ensalved, repressessed, but proud and stubburn and willing to fight to the end. Father & son Bill Adama and Lee both drive this survivalist story through this theme of preserving traditon vs when it might be time to change--an aknowledgement of when we are holding onto things for far too long or taking things out on others for all the wrong reasons, which can lead to more unrepentant damage, instead of looking inward to deal with some of our own choices. This season in particular was about that, but this episode really hits the theme on the nose!

Wow! You literally drank Anders under the table. - Lee

In this episode the Celtic musical theme shows up again, not just in the form of song, but in the form of something similar to Scotish country dancing on the evening of Founder's Day! After a bit of dancing, Dee left because she's tired and Kara has drunk Sam under the table! It's clear though to feel in these scenes, as the characters go round and round, Dee's reserved distence in relation to the tight pull between Kara & Lee once they come into cotact.

I loved the exhilaration of that particular scene, which I was reminded of recantly, when watching an episode of Victoria. It was an episode with a little ode to Scotland, or really considering one of it's shared actresses, Nell Hudson, an ode to Outlander --a fantasy romance series at first primarily set in 1740's+ Scotland, which is also from Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore and with another beautiful score from Bear McCreary! It's one of the reasons I chose this episode, because I realized how much it resignated with me--and feelings of my youth, when I too would love to go out for night of silly dancing! There's something so naive, yet magical in using music & dance as a persuit of the unknown. Some little intersteller moment of happiness a person experiences out on the dance floor accompenied with another or others that makes all other time seem nonexistent.

But there is also another truth, like alot of crazy drunken one night stands, that, sometimes, a person wakes up in the morning and realizes what their reality really is and this becomes true, too for Starbuck, who then automatically redefines Lee.

After drunkenly wondering around, finally having sex, and shouting their confessed feeling to great outdoors, Lee sadly awakes the next morning to find himself alone. He stumbles back into the town only to find out from his father that Kara has married Anders! It's no wonder then Dee and Anders have to be put through the ringer with Kara's and Lee's unresolved issues, issues that will be taken out in a few good blows, but for '"Starbuck'", carry even more immediate weight, because viewers also know that after this point in time, she was taken captive by Leoben, where she murdered him over and over again just so she could eat in peace and in which, he conned her into believing she was a mother, only to have the child taken away and be reunited with her real mother. It says so much about Lee too, that he could just wrap his arms around her at the end of the boxing match; contain her in a deep embrace, especially because one can SO feel the pain on his face, when Kara leaves him behind on the morning after in the flashback scene. It takes a lot for a person to be willing and capable to endure someone else's pain, when you also have so much of your own.

Another highlight of Founder's Day, which is where this episode actually starts from, is also the romantic relationship between Bill Adama and Laura Roslin. Roslin's a character I really liked the first two seasons, but in the last two, I often found myself in heavy disagreement with a lot of her choices and her narrow self-centered idealism, but that never stopped me from appreciating the relationship she formed with Bill. This was one of those rare times where Battlestar was willing to let the characters be a little silly & comcially juvinille--trying to let them get back some of that late teeneaged or collage-age youth and opptomism. It was such a delightful surprise to see Bill and Laura just get high!! But like Kara and Lee, there's a tragedy that comes from their scenes together. Laura eventually tells Bill about a cabin she wants to build--and this great notion is not just shattered by the Cylon occupation, but it's a heatbreaking teather the final episode of the series.

"Have I ever told you how glad I am I married you?" - Saul Tigh

On a similar note the episode also breifly looks at Colonal Saul Tigh's and Ellen's relationship too. On a first viewing, their flashback sequence is bit painful or bittersweet to watch, as just a few episodes ago viewers witnessed Ellen feeding the resistence information (among other things--eewww) to the Cylons, specifically one of the main Cavils, in exchange for Saul's release afer being tortured and loosing an eye! Saul found out about it and did the unspeakable!! But what's more interesting is when one looks back at their scenes in this episode--and if it really was the more painful part of their story for either of the Tighs or viewers alike!?! It becomes a bit humorous to think about Saul's retribution, when the reveals of "The Final Five" come about, but it's also darkly ironic to think about Cavil's plan(s) and the series themes of many characters having them, let alone the universe!

Some viewers will always not like the romatic relationship dynamics on this series, especially perhaps the love square between Kara, Lee, Dee, and Sam, given where the series leaves them, but for me, this is where the series more complicated and tragic soul of humanity is---and it really Kara's instability to realtionships overall, which play out in greater detail later in season 4, that doesn't just make her so frustrating, but it's also because she's apart of something so much bigger than herself, that also makes her unrulyness so beautiful.

But even when we set aside whatever kind of angel Kara exactly is in the bigger scheme of the characters' universe, this episode not only holds weight in the ongoing struggle between her and Lee thus far, but also because in the final season, viewers learn these events of Founder's Day weren't the first time that something like this had happened between them, --but even more so, that it's the absence of Zak Adama that binds them together, and a realization that perhaps Kara has to be mean to those she truly loves, because every time she tries to be kind, it results in a great loss for her. (Zak, Kacey, Her Parents).

"I missed you." - Kara

"I missed you, too." - Lee

This is an episode that's so well written (Michael Taylor was nominated for a 2006 Nebula Award for this script), directed, and acted, being a kind of guilty pleasure of an episode, but also because it emotionally ties the many parts of this series together and marks in blood, sweet, and tears a more intimate, but provocatively creative way to tell viewers what the series is really about underneath it's mystical, militarily, and technological allure. It's about a dance between love & pain, where pain is often born out of a loss of love. It's about how that pain doesn't simply go away, but rather it binds!

"When you step on this deck, you be ready to fight, or you dishonour the reason why we're here. Now remember this: When you fight a man, he's not your friend. Same goes when you lead men. I forgot that once. I let you get too close, all of you. I dropped my guard, I gave some of you breaks, let some of you go, before the fight was really over. I let this crew and this family disband, and we paid the price for it in lives. That can't happen again." - Bill Adama

It's something that manifests and has to continually be worked on and reshaped, if we don't want it to completely destroy us, both as individuals, but also as a people, a people who want to survive and want to survive together for any of it to mean anything. It's something that we carry that doesn't really leave us, as much as it teaches us about ourselves. Whatever it is we can or can't tolerate in life --and sometimes, if we are lucky, get to come back to for reassessment, closure, or a realization that some things we carry, like the love for another, no matter how painful, never really ends as long as we can let ourselves feel them.

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