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Throwback Thursday - Battlestar Galactica - Episode 1x05 - You Can't Go Home Again

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

Warning: This article may contain spoilers.

It is no secret that this writer is not a fan of reboots or remakes, be it a movie or television series. When the Ronald D. Moore reboot/remake of the 1970s sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica starring Lorne Greene and Richard Hatch was announced in the early 2000s, I was not overly impressed. I was incredibly disappointed to learn my favorite character, the rash, reckless hero Starbuck, beautifully played by Dirk Benedict, would be a woman in this version.
Early in the new series run, the SyFy channel wisely ran a weekend marathon of the first six episodes aired to generate interest in the show. The fifth episode, "You Can't Go Home Again," was the primary reason I changed my mind about remakes, at least for Battlestar Galactica. The most significant factor in my change of heart was the performance of Katee Sackhoff. Her work in this one episode gave such incredible depth and insight into the character of Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck, and made me a fan of her, the character, and the show.
In this episode, Starbuck has crash-landed on a distant moon and is running out of oxygen. Sackhoff peels off so many layers of the complicated Starbuck as she fights for survival in a virtuoso performance. She taught herself how to repair and fly a Cylon raider ship that had crashed on the moon with her to save herself and rejoin the fleet. She also manages to find a way to communicate when she arrives so that she is not immediately destroyed as an enemy ship. Her actions showed the depth of Starbuck's ingenuity, courage, intelligence, and most importantly, her will to live. She dramatically returns to the Galactica in a stellar cinematic moment to a deserved hero's welcome.
The episode also served to show how important Starbuck was to the crew of the Galactica, but most importantly to Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos). Scenes between Olmos and new President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) were outstanding. Slowly she began to understand why the Admiral would not give up the search for his most outstanding fighter pilot.
The action sequences featuring the space battles offered some prime examples of the exceptional cinematography and effects work Battlestar Galactica became known for. The camera work back and forth between Apollo (Jamie Bamber) as the lone fighter protecting the fleet and the Cylon ship jockeying for position, and the Admiral on the bridge of the Galactica are outstanding. As is the moment Apollo realizes who his opponent is because she found a way to write her name on the underside of the, as he put it, "frakking wings."
Good casting and a good story are keys to impacting an episode of television. Choosing Katee Sackhoff as Kara Thrace, aka the new Starbuck of Battlestar Galactica and giving her a showcase episode like "You Can't Go Home Again" early in the series proved to be a wise decision. This episode turned this remake/reboot skeptic into a believer of this series and retooling of a central character. I had the opportunity to personally share those thoughts with Sackhoff upon meeting her at Dragon Con several years later. I am still not a fan of reboots or remakes, but this is one case where I did not mind being wrong.


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