The Galactica needs to know what lies ahead. To find out, they build a special ship and send their hottest pilot, Starbuck, on a long range patrol. The ship they build is one of a kind. Designed to carry extra fuel and eqipped with more powerful engines that will allow it to outrun almost anything it meets, it has only two drawbacks: No guns and C.O.R.A.
C.O.R.A. is a computer, a girl computer. Designed to keep the pilot company and also fly the ship while he sleeps, C.O.R.A turns out to have a mind of her own. It's a good thing too, because when Starbuck finds himself alone on a former prison planet that has been cut off from the colonies for generations, he needs all the help he can get.
This was a good episode, one of the best in the series. Dirk Bennedict's Starbuck was one of the best characters the show had and the interplay between him and C.O.R.A. was fun to watch. The concept of the prison planet where the descendants of the original criminals are still paying for the crimes of their forefathers is orginal too. With more shows like this one, this series could have been on longer.
For this series to be entertaining and watchable today (somewhat like Star Trek TOS), episodes that don't have specifically dated/cliché items work best. So please no three-eyed dancing women at the Space Bar.
When watching this episode I was able to keep with the story, despite the early Starbuck two-women on one date item. I actually found it entertaining and like the new Battlestar series, dealt a little with the reality of a black market created by the war (i.e., there is a long waiting list to get a nice dinner and some privileges can be bought for the right price).
The focus of the episode is sending Starbuck out in a scout ship to survey the space ahead. As mentioned by tmkreutzer in his review, the fighter is lacking weapons to improve its speed.
After an event that has Starbuck losing his vehicle to another humanoid, he ends up in a prison on a planet that has been cutoff from the main colonies for generations. The prisoners are now part of a chaste system: inheriting the prison time of their parents and their parents. They actually stay behind bars that don't lock! The prisoners are kept busy by creating the alcoholic drink ambrosia which they themselves drink in prison. Ironically most of the drink they produce is unused and sitting on the docks, unbeknownst to the prisoners, since the penal planet has lost contact with the other colonies. While it is unclear how much the leaders of the planet are aware of the outside world, they clearly know there are no cargo ships coming and hide that knowledge from the prisoner-class to ensure the hierarchy.
It is only when Starbuck tell the prisoners their ambrosia is just sitting on the docks that the prisoners walk out of their unlocked prison. The chaste concept is interesting and would have made a interesting and meaningful story, but it fails to really have impact. But there is one interesting thing revealed when Starbuck is rescued by Apollo and Boomer: Starbuck sees an old picture on the wall of the prison that Adama recognizes as the solar system that contains Earth, giving them both hope and a better sense of the configuration of the system (presumably to better help them locate and identify it).