As much as Ron Moore has embraced the Internet as a way to promote Battlestar Galactica, I have to wonder if that didn’t backfire a bit here.
Back in December, Moore and co-producer David Eicks spoke to the Maureen Ryan for her Chicago Tribune TV blog. In the interview, Moore hinted at major changes coming to the show in the final few episodes and highlighted “Maelstrom” as a pivotal story in the Battlestar Galactica story. At the time, rumors were swirling about a major cast member being written out, a new Cylon model being revealed and much, much more. Moore dropped some broad hints, said the episode would send the show off in a new direction and that there would be a shock or two along the way.
The way Moore talked about the show, I had visions of something like season one’s “Kobol’s Last Gleaming” going through my head as I tuned into SciFi last night. What I walked away from was an episode that was good, but I’m not sure was exactly worhty of all the pre-publicity praise heaped upon it.
From the first time we met Kara “Starbuck” Thrace we’ve known she was pretty screwed up. It made her a more fascinating character to watch and it gave actress Kate Sackoff a lot of material to work with. And, for the most part, it was good. But somewhere along the way, it turned darker, leading to this season’s Starbuck. On New Caprica, Starbuck was held prisoner by Lebonen who frakked with her head big-time. He presented her with a daughter that he claimed was theirs..and just as Starbuck was starting to connect, that was ripped away. He stripped her of her dignity, held her prisoner and kept coming back every time she killed him, professing his love for her–and that she loved him as well.
Starbuck was finally freed from the captivity, but she was never quite the same. She was more hardened and world-weary. She disconnected from everyone and everything, except being a pilot. She toyed with Anders, Lee and anyone else who came into her orbit. About the only people she didn’t frak with this year were Adama (yeah, good luck with that) and Tigh. Interestingly, the only person she showed any warmth toward this year was Tigh. Starbuck even took part in being part of the tribunal that decided the fate of the alleged collaborators on New Caprica. It was this duty that led to a rift between she and Anders–one that was never fully healed. Which all leads us to this crossroads in her life. Told time and again she has a destiny, Starbuck had it confimed a few weeks ago. She keeps seeing the Eye of Jupiter in her dreams and has been painting it since she was a little girl. Starbuck goes to a mystic for advice and gets the same dark portents of doom. She seeks out things to make her feel better–including bedding her husband. However, once the encounter is over, Anders turns to trying to heal their broken relationship again, something Starbuck doesn’t want.
As the story progresses, we begin to see what it was that started Starbuck down this path. Seems she had issues with her mother–a woman who drove Starbuck hard and no matter what young Kara did, it was never enough. Their relationship was one of mental, verbal and physical abuse, leading Kara to think that she had to earn the love of the people in her life. (In a way, this explains why she passed Zach on his flight exam. She may have been afraid of losing his love if she flunked him). Kara never got the chance to have closure with her mother, something that is haunting her to this day.
But now Kara makes peace with it all and then kills herself. Lebonen pops up in her head to help her have one last encounter with her mom and then Kara crashes her raptor, thus ending her life.
Or is it? This is Battlestar Galactica, so she could still be alive. She could be a Cylon, though at this point I think that would be a huge mistake for the show. Reading all of that analysis, you might think this was a great episode. It was written by two of my favorite non-Ron Moore BSG writers, David Thompson and Bradley Wheddle. The duo worked with Moore on DS9 and I have to say, the DS9 roots were showing. As Kara’s memories kept surfacing, I found msyelf recalling the first episode of DS9. That’s the one where Sisko is stuck on the death of his wife and won’t move on. The prophets point this out to him at one point when he demands to know why they keep bringing him back to the pain of her death and they point out he’s the one who keeps coming back to it. That is what seemed to happen with Kara and her mother–Kara was trying to deny it but she could never get past it. Well, at least not until the final moments of her life when she made peace with the universe and died.
The entire episode was one long fore-shadowing of her death–even down to her picking out where she wants her photo to go on the memorail wall. And as strong as seeing Edward James Olmos lose it was for the final scene, I have to wonder how much more powerful seeing Lee hang up her picture on the wall would have been. I wonder if we’ll ever see this scene or see Kara’s picture up on the wall. I want to love this episode, I really do. But while it was good, it was no where near the event that I thought it would be based on the early hints given by Moore. I wonder if this episode will be more significant in retrospect when we see where Moore and company are taking the series next. The death of Starbuck is a huge event for the show. I just wish the episode had been all that it was promised to be