Ladyghosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, 3.08, “Unfinished Business”

Guys. You guys. This week’s episode? It’s my favorite. My absolute favorite. If we could just freeze the series here, I’d be happy – none of the complicated sadness that comes afterwards, none of the ending that was, you know, incredibly frustrating, depending on whom your favorite characters happen to be. So let’s dive in, shall we?

Previously, on Battlestar Galactica, half the crew’s down on New Caprica; the Cylon fleet found New Caprica, but everyone was rescued eventually, well, almost everyone; Starbuck and Sam are over and done; Starbuck mocks Lee for his relationship with Dee, but Lee is proud to serve with and be married to Lt. Dualla. Starbuck just wants to hurt someone, and it might as well be Sam.

Helo in a boxing ring, looking angry
Hot Hot Helo, everyone!

FISTICUFFS! THERE IS AN ABUNDANCE OF FISTICUFFS IN THIS EPISODE! OH HOW I LOVE FISTICUFFS! Lee and Helo are in the middle of a boxing ring, surrounded by people, and Tigh is refereeing. Lee gets hit in the face and flashes back to waking up nekkid outside somewhere. And to Starbuck circling around him – okay, wait. I’ve seen this episode A LOT. I’m going to try and recap it as if I’m seeing it for the first time, which is my standard operating procedure, but I think that’s going to be tougher than usual.

Anyway, so Lee’s in a boxing match and is having flashbacks to something. Helo’s pretty much handing Lee’s ass to him. Somewhere else, Starbuck and Sam just concluded frakking, and Sam wants their marriage back, but Starbuck’s not ready. Sam thinks this is because he’s not what she really wants, after all. Starbuck says she’s late for the dance and leaves.

The dance, it seems, is the boxing match, and Starbuck then flashes back to waking up on what looks suspiciously like Lee’s chest – and her hair is long. Back in what seems to be reality, Starbuck goes down to chat with Helo, who is being prepped for another round by Athena – she’s literally in Helo’s corner – and side-eyes Lee.

Doc Cottle miming punches
This is probably not the most important image associated with the paragraph to the right, but it is my favorite.

We get an adorable second of Doc Cottle watching the punches and miming the fight to himself; Adama and Dee walk through the crowd, and then Lee’s thinking back to seeing Sam and Starbuck while on New Caprica, and Starbuck smiles sadly. Lee’s still getting his ass whupped, and Helo wins that round of the fight, because Doc Cottle has declared it over. Lee goes over and gets his dog tags out of a box and tells Starbuck he’s done for the night. Starbuck ribs him, responds by putting her own tags in – signaling she’s up for a fight. Dee watches their interaction warily – they’re in each other’s faces. Lee puts his tags back in.


Ah ha! Credits are useful because we get information afterward. Namely, the bright sunny day Lee keeps flashing back to what looks like New Caprica, 17 months ago, 8 months before the Cylons show up. Lee and Dee walk around, and it seems that Dee’s been transferred to Pegasus. Sam and Starbuck show up; there’s some sort of celebration that Baltar’s hosting, with an open bar. This should end well!

Laura Roslin, in a pretty red dress, sits next to Adama on New Caprica.
Laura Roslin wants you to know that the night is dark, and full of terrors.

Roslin comes up, in her absolute bestest outfit, and sees Adama sitting on the ground, letting dirt (alright, alluvial deposits) fall through his fingers. They sit and chat and are kind of flirty and I yell at them to make out.

Back at the boxing match, Roslin comes up to Adama – she apparently loves a good fight (MORE REASON TO LOVE ROSLIN.) Adama gives us some plot exposition – the fights are an underground tradition, a way of letting off steam and relieving aggression, and rank doesn’t matter. Adama’s tags aren’t in the box, so he won’t be fighting. Hot Dog will be, though, and he calls for Starbuck as his competitor. Starbuck, then, starts flashing back to this day on New Caprica. Starbuck KO’s Hot Dog as Lee watches, glaring, while Dee rubs his shoulders.

Tigh and Ellen sit at a table and cuddle on New Caprica
A living Ellen! Tigh's right eye! Happier times for all!

Back in time and space to New Caprica, Baltar’s breaking ground for a new tomorrow. Awwww, Ellen! There’s rolling, fun, Irish-sounding music, two-eyed Tigh, and Ellen and Sam and Starbuck, are joking and drinking. Tigh’s apparently thinking of that time, too, with Ellen. Adama and Roslin are smoking cigars and drinking, and Roslin tells Adama she’s thinking of building a cabin, near a stream of clear water.

Back to the fight. One of the deck hands comes up to Tyrol, says that there’s still one ship down, but he doesn’t want to miss the fight. Tyrol says that’s fine, Adama overhears and seems pissed. Oh, we flash back to a meeting between Tyrol and Adama, when Tyrol requests to leave duty and settle on New Caprica. It seems Adama said no, initially.

Adama gives Roslin his glasses and gets in the ring. He unbuttons his coat and orders Chief Tyrol into the ring. As their hands get wrapped, Callie looks worried and Tyrol says that it’s okay, Adama’s not serious. And then there is lots of betting.

As soon as the bell rings, Adama cold-cocks Tyrol, and it’s clear he’s quite serious. Tyrol’s getting his ass kicked by the old man. Tyrol flashes back to explaining to Callie that they’re not allowed to leave Galactica. We focus on Lee for a second, who flashes back to some sort of dancing that day on Caprica, and it’s this folky sort of dance involving changing partners and he dances with both Dee and Starbuck. Everything is happy and nothing hurts, though there is lots of Starbuck watching Dee and Lee and Lee watching Starbuck and Sam.

Adama and Roslin lie together, (dressed, in the dark, outside) with Roslin's head on Adama's shoulder.
TBH, if the rest of the show was just "Pillow Talk with Bill and Laura" I would be pretty damn happy - and I think we'd still be able to hit most of the major plot points?

Somewhere on New Caprica, Adama and Roslin are lying together, wondering if this is what the rest of their lives will be. I DON’T KNOW, WHY DON’T YOU MAKE OUT?! The music in the background for them is the dance music, and everyone’s wheeling around all happy and full of promise. Back to Adama and Roslin – she’s now cuddled up next to/on him, and they talk about enjoying the moment, and Adama debates letting people move down to the planet.

In the fight, Adama trash-talks Tyrol, and Tyrol starts fighting harder. Starbuck manages to compliment Adama Sr. while insulting Adama Jr.

On New Caprica 18 months ago, Sam is passed out under a table, Dee went back to Galactica for the night, and it’s just Lee and Starbuck and a lot of alcohol.

Tyrol and Adama stand in the middle of a boxing ring, glaring at each other .

Fight: Tyrol knocks Adama down, Cottle picks him up and tells Adama that’s enough. Roslin jumps into the ring and starts giving really specific boxing advice. Flashback: Adama lets the Chief and Callie settle on New Caprica AND EVERYONE IS JUST SO HAPPY. The fight’s getting gritty; Tyrol has Adama up against the ropes, then down on the ground. Tyrol helps Adama up, and Adama decides it’s speech time. Essentially, break time is over, and the fact that this crew – this family – disbanded before the fight was won, cost people’s lives. So Adama’s done being soft, and it’s back to work everyone.

Tyrol calls out to his deck hand, and they go fix the fighter. Roslin helps Adama walk away. Tigh announces the fight’s over; Starbuck’s not pleased. She jumps in the ring, and starts hassling Lee, referencing”¦something that sure as hell sounds like they slept together? After asking him if Dee knew what she was getting, Lee punches her, and agrees to fight. Everyone comes back to watch the fight, and Dee’s got a “oh fuck, no” look on her face.

They start fighting, and then Starbuck flashes back to the same night – she and Lee have wandered away from the celebration, and Lee wants a tour of her imaginary house and of the future life of Kara Anders. Starbuck says she’s not getting married; Lee asks what’s the point – and what if this is the rest of her life, is this who she wants to spend her life with?

Back in the ring, Sam comes in and stands with Dee, asks what’s going on. We go back to the night on New Caprica, and apparently, Starbuck and Lee”¦get it on? Make sweet, sweet love? One of those things. Starbuck wonders what they’re gonna do, and Lee says they accept it – tell their (former) significant others, and proclaim their love to the world.

Starbuck's face in the dark, happy and giggling.

And then Lee does my most favorite thing ever. Stands up in the middle of nowhere and shouts at the top of his lungs how much he loves Kara. (I wonder at this moment in time where Adama Sr. and Roslin are.) Kara gets up and yells the same thing – how much she loves him. And she looks a little scared. AND IF EVERYTHING COULD END RIGHT NOW AND I COULD JUST TELL MYSELF THEY ALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, I WOULD BE A MUCH HAPPIER WOMAN.

But no, we have seven minutes left.

Back at the fight, Starbuck’s on her hands and knees, and Lee looks vicious. Starbuck grounds him with a kick, he goes down, and then realizes he’s woken up alone on New Caprica. He comes swaggering back into New Caprica City, runs into his father, who promptly tells him that Kara got married. Lee clearly chokes back tears for a second; apparently, Adama Sr. is that oblivious? He goes on to mention that Starbuck’s mustering out. At the fight, Lee lays into Starbuck pretty fiercely. On New Caprica, Anders excitedly tells Lee how it happened – getting married was all Starbuck’s idea. We see her sad smile, and then Lee kisses Dee, who really deserves far better than frakked-up Lee.

Now Lee’s remembering fun times with Starbuck – when she wore the pretty dress on Cloud Nine, drinking together, etc. The fight gets slower and closer, and all of a sudden, they’re embracing in the middle of the ring. Anders walks away, Dee stays. Kara and Lee whisper that they’ve missed each other.

Sweaty and bloody, Lee's face rests on Starbuck's shoulder as they hug.

Thanks, as always, to MonChiChi for the screencaps. There will be more Baltar soon, I promise.

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11 thoughts on “Ladyghosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, 3.08, “Unfinished Business””

  1. After putting it off for weeks I finally watched the final episode of BSG. The whole time as the characters started going their separate ways (with flashbacks in between) it reminded me so much of this episode. Talk about angst. Also, Lee looks amazing in the episode.

  2. “. . . Starbuck then flashes back to waking up on what looks suspiciously like Lee’s chest . . .” I love that you can tell it’s him just from the chest shot. You are such a Lee + Kara fangirl. I’m compiling a photo album entirely of Shirtless Lee screenshots, so prepare for me to blow your mind.

  3. I agree with everyone! I love this episode! I watched it twice just because I knew I had missed subtle things, and that definitely does not happen with every BSG episode. I think this show used flashbacks in a really good way, kind of like what Lost tried to do, but the flashbacks are less character-destroying. Even when people’s behavior in flashbacks is frustrating, it’s also very consistent with their character. I also love Dee in this episode. It’s so tragic, but she’s also so perceptive that she sees what is happening between them immediately. I always wanted her to meet someone better and move on from Lee. Dee existed most often to prompt change in either Lee or Bill Adama, which is annoying. I can recognize that I’m so used to having women of color serve in those types of roles that I didn’t even realize how underdeveloped her stories were until someone else pointed it out.

  4. Oh man, seriously. This is my favorite episode. It’s so sexy and angsty and we get an abundance of shirtless!Lee. Oh, Starbuck. Why must you always self-destruct? You could’ve been so happy! WHYYYYYY?

    In other news, I only just finished the series two weeks ago and I am having a really hard time accepting the ending. Anyone for a support group?

    1. I just finished the series last night, so HELL YES.

      This episode: Poor Dee. In a lot of shows when there’s a couple that “should” be together, but they’re with other people, the current partners are somewhat demonized, like the viewer is supposed to see them as jerky obstacles to TRUE LOVE. I like that this show doesn’t do that. We cheer for Lee and Starbuck, but we can’t exactly cheer against Dee and Anders.

    2. I just finished the series all of an hour ago. I feel you with the ending. I was warned the ending kind of comes at you from left field, but it was still not prepared for it.

      As I say with most TV shows I become obsessed with, what will I do with my spare time now?

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