Battlestar Galactica

Season 1 Episode 4

Act of Contrition (1)

9
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 28, 2005 on Syfy
8.9
out of 10
User Rating
842 votes
21

EPISODE REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

EDIT
When an accident kills or incapacitates 20 of Galactica's fighter pilots, Kara must train a new squad. The process brings back painful memories for her and Lee. Meanwhile, Roslin seeks a cure for her breast cancer.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Walk out of this cabin... while you still can.

    9.0
    Take everything great about seasons 1 and 2 of Lost, add space-opera elements, and you have this masterpiece of an early BSG episode.



    What really struck me was how FAST this episode flew by, even though the actual plot was honestly really simple. I mean, compared to "Bastille Day", you could argue that not that much important stuff really happens for the plot: some pilots die, Starbuck trains new ones, then they get attacked. But the impeccable character work that's going on during the entire episode is so great that, for the first time, I felt really lost in the story, and that's an incredible feat for a TV show on it's fourth episode.



    This is by far the most focused episode of the series so far: even though we once again get a little slice of what's going on on Caprica (not much really) and see Roslin's diagnosis, this is all about Starbuck's guilt. It's really important that they did this episode early enough, since Starbuck up till now and even in the miniseries was far underused, and was a frankly one-dimensional character before this.



    Her character development in this episode, though, is honestly tangible. Many so-called "character episodes" of TV don't have any real character development by the strict definition of the term - they just explain the character's motivations without really changing them at all. That's not this episode, though. At the beginning of "Act of Contrition", Starbuck is laughing and playing around with a crewmate, but that's only a shell for her. When Adama asks her to take up her old post as flight trainer, she immediately starts to break down, flashing back to the ultimate source of her guilt. However, as she attempts (and fails miserably) to fall back into the rhythm of being a flight trainer, all that pent-up guilt comes back to her.



    This culminates in the famous confrontation scene between her and Adama, which as of yet is the best moment in the entire series. As it dawns on Adama exactly what role Starbuck had in the death of his son, Olmos has a few minutes where he's genuinely terrifying. I read somewhere that Olmos didn't tell Katie Sackhoff that he was going to get as mad as he did, and so her reaction to that is utterly genuine. It's the kind of dramatic tension that you'd be hard-pressed to find in episode four of any show. And then we get the MOTHER OF ALL CLIFFHANGERS. Damn.moreless
  • Act of Contrition

    10
    Act of Contrition was a perfectly entertaining episode of Battlestar Galactica and I really enjoyed watching this episode because Starbuck had flashbacks to when Zack was still alive, the President and Dr. discuss treatment for her cancer and new pilots need to be trained after an accident takes out 20 pilots. The story was well crafted and featured a few minutes of Helo and Sharon on Caprica as they find the source of the signal which seems to be a Cylon ploy perhaps. Starbuck, Apollo and Commander Adama face the truth of the past, and it hurt but ultimately it's good that it happened. I wonder if Starbuck was dreaming about what happened to her or what those clips were meant to portray, but well done. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • The one where: Starbuck is in trouble.

    9.0
    There's a really nice set-up to this episode, with each ad break feeding us just a small piece of an intriguing puzzle. That puzzle being Starbuck fighting for her life. It's the anticipation as to how Starbuck managed to get herself in that very situation that lends this episode a lot of momentum. Throw in some much appreciated flashback scenes and some outstanding performances from our main cast, and you have a fun, compelling and cliff-hangery episode.

    It's the first truly awesome episode of BSG.

    Spoilerish Title Sequence: 4 mins and 28 secs into the episode.

    It was interesting to see Kara as a love interest, as she's generally perceived as the badass with the heart of gold. The flashbacks do well to flesh out her character, as well as the interesting father/daughter dynamic she shares with William Adama. Their conflict scenes together were absolutely electric. Katee Sackhoff gives an incredibly raw performance and Edward James Olmos is at his disapproving best. I just felt so bad for Kara (and proud) the way she had to stand there and face Adama's stone cold stare as she confessed the truth as to what happened with Zack. Gold acting stars.

    Meanwhile, on Caprica, Helo and Sharon strike gold (of the food variety) when they stumble upon a bomb shelter that will replenish their supplies so that the writers can isolate this storyline for even longer. There's not really a lot to it, but then again, it doesn't feature enough to take away from the episode.

    Frak-O-Meter: 2 fraks this week, with Kara changing it up a little: ''frak me.''

    Cylon Sex: Afraid not, but we do get some of the human kind with Starbuck and Zack.Spot the six: Just a stalkerish Caprica Six hanging outside of the shop where Helo and Sharon are hiding. Ya know, the usual.

    Injuries: Just the fatalities of 13 pilots, with another 7 in sick bay. Nothing too serious...Boomer or Sharon?: Sharon again this week, but only cos Boom aint around.Ships Lost: Ships are getting off easy, huh?Battlestar Bleakness: Well, there's nothing like a quick massacre (during a celebration!) to kick-start an episode. Or how about when Adama asked Starbuck to leave his office, ''while you still can.'' Yikes. Everything just clicks here. The score really caught my attention this week, and can I just say it's easily one of my favourite aspects to the show. It just so happens to have awesome acting, hella cool ideas and lots of space battles. All present in this episode. A BSG classic.moreless
  • "...the scene that I had my first emotion reaction to anything involved with the characters lives came..." SPOILERS

    9.5
    With the opening of this episode I could tell that it was going to be flashbacks revolving around Starbuck and actually kind of reminded me of the "flashback episode" of Firefly. How it was all leading up to the main character of the episode got into the strange and dangerous situation they're in. Then we cut to the men celebrating one of the pilot's 1000th landing on the Galactica. Starbuck and Apollo share a cute scene where they are painting the pilot's helmet with red paint, spill the bucket, and Starbuck blames Apollo, through a point of the finger, on Apollo. It's really interesting how the pilot's act around each other. Apollo and Starbuck can be laughing one minute, and then calling each other "sir" the next and holding their hands behind their backs just the same way that Adama will hug Starbuck one minute and speaks like a commander the next. Their dynamics are all interesting to watch. It's nice when you see celebrations of different cultures within a sci-fi show because it makes the characters that much more human in a world we don't understand. It gives us insight into the character's minds, culture, all with keeping a creative new thing to entertain the viewer. Now the scene that I had my first emotion reaction to anything involved with the characters lives came from Adama and Starbuck and her confession. Superbly acted on both their parts. The way Adama pursed his lips and almost seemed like he wanted to yell and scream at Starbuck but held it back and his eyes began to well up with sadness as Starbuck continued to confess her mistake. Incredible. I got teary eyed. I can sympathize with both sides in this situation. I understand Adama's rage/sadness and I understand Starbuck's guilt and sadness. It's still amazing that I actually like Starbuck because she is well...likable. I wonder how this will play out with their relationship in future episodes. I don't expect that this storyline will be over anytime soon. 9.5/10moreless
  • .35 seconds

    7.0
    What is it about military ordinance in this universe that makes it so unstable? lol, and conducive to the plot(whatever that was that went off in the Miniseries to separate Adama with the cylon from the rest of the crew and the drone in this episode). I guess it only really bugged me because it didn't even seem necessary, flight school is something that they would need pretty badly even without losing 13 pilots. I'll chalk it up to God playing favorites.



    The scene between Starbuck and Cdr. Adama, when she reveals she passed Zach even though he failed, was well acted on both their parts. Olmos' physical acting was especially impressive, how's he's almost quivering with rage and keeps his lips pursed together as if he's trying to prevent himself from verbally berating her or worse. Definitely my favorite scene of the episode.



    The scenes in the Vipers were good, I love the hollow sound their guns make, sort of what you might expect in the vacuum of space.moreless
Edward James Olmos

Edward James Olmos

William Adama

Grace Park

Grace Park

Sharon "Boomer" Valerii

James Callis

James Callis

Gaius Baltar

Jamie Bamber

Jamie Bamber

Lee "Apollo" Adama

Katee Sackhoff

Katee Sackhoff

Kara "Starbuck" Thrace

Mary McDonnell

Mary McDonnell

Laura Roslin

Jill Teed

Jill Teed

Sergeant Hadrian

Guest Star

Tobias Mehler

Tobias Mehler

Zak Adama

Guest Star

Bill Meilen

Bill Meilen

Caprica Cleric

Guest Star

Lorena Gale

Lorena Gale

Priest Elosha

Recurring Role

Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell

Billy Keikeya

Recurring Role

Sam Witwer

Sam Witwer

Alex "Crashdown" Quartararo

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (1)

    • About 25 minutes into the episode, Boomer is searching for the source of a signal. She searches through and knocks over a bookshelf. Among the books on the shelves were Raise the Titanic! (1976) by Clive Cussler, Burr (1973) by Gore Vidal, Daughter of Silence (1961) by Morris L. West, The Warbirds (1990) by Richard Herman, Jr., The Final Diagnosis (1997) by James White, Puppet on a Chain (1969) by Alistair MacLean, The Burning Mountain (1983) by Alfred Coppel, The Second Seal (1950) by Dennis Wheatley, The Angry Tide (1979) by Winston Graham, The Holcroft Covenant (1978) by Robert Ludlum, a book by Doris Lessing, a book by Eric Ambler, a book titled Night Sky and a book with the word "Oberst" on it. (It is unclear whether that is the title or the author's name.) Another book, possibly a spy thriller, has a swastika on the cover.

  • QUOTES (1)

  • NOTES (2)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • The Forrestal Fire

      The missile accident on the Galactica was a reference to the tragic accident aboard the USS Forrestal on July 29, 1967. While stationed in the Gulf of Tonkin, the planes of Attack Carrier Air Wing 17 had flown 150 missions against targets in North Vietnam over a four-day period. At about 10:50 a.m. (local time) on July 29, a Zuni rocket accidentally fired from an F-4 Phantom II, striking the fuel tank of an A-4D Skyhawk preparing for launch. (The Skyhawk was piloted by Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, the future U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate.) Leaking fuel on the deck set off several subsequent explosions. Burning jet fuel poured into the interior of the ship. The deck fire was contained by 11:47 a.m. The interior fires continued to burn until 12:20 a.m. on July 30. The accident resulted in the deaths of 132 crewmen, 62 more injured, and two missing and presumed dead.

      After the fire, the Navy emphasized fire fighting and fire prevention. Video footage from the accident was incorporated into basic training. Co-executive producer Ronald Moore watched the video as part of his training when he was enrolled in Navy ROTC as a student at Cornell University.

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