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LadyGhosts of TV Past

LadyGhosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, Episode 3.07, “Hero”

Previously on Battlestar Galactica – WHOA! We’re flashing all the way back to the very beginning here! Adama’s big speech in the miniseries, layered over images of the first Six we ever see, the Cylon attack, and everyone realizing we are at war. We then jump to a few episodes ago, when Adama lectures Tigh about how he needs to stop sowing discontent, and Tigh responds by saying Adama won’t be seeing him again.OH GOD THIS EPISODE. Right.

Tory holds up an oil painting of Gaius Baltar.
I just need you all to look at this again. LOOK AT IT.

We open with heavy breathing on a blank screen, and then see a pair of eyes in a face we haven’t seen before. Just for a second, though, because then there’s an oil painting of Baltar, and Tory would like to know what to do with it. It seems they’re going through old stuff on Colonial One, because Roslin stumbles across the briefing file Billy (BILLY, WE MISS YOU) made for her before her first trip aboard Galactica. We get a moment of important plot exposition here – Adama’s previous ship was called the Valkyrie, and he’s coming up on 45 years of service. Roslin wants to have a ceremony honoring Adama’s service. (And, also, her hair looks awesome up.)

Over in CiC, there are three enemy raiders on the Dradis, but something looks off – it looks like the first one is being chased by the other two. Cat and Starbuck are already in the air, and they take out the back two raiders, but the first one is still heading straight for Galactica. Over the audio, aside from Starbuck and Cat, there’s another voice – “This is Bulldog” – but it’s faint. Cat’s about to shoot the raider down when Adama tells them to hold their fire and escort the raider in. Helo and Gaeta look at each other – no one knows what’s going on.

Bulldog, covered in Cylon slime, salutes.
Welcome home, Bulldog. You're covered in goo and we don't know who you are, but still, welcome.

The Cylon raider is brought into the hanger deck, which is full of Marines. Some goo comes out of the bottom of the raider, and then a man falls out, also covered in goo. He’s the same dude whose eyes we saw in the opening scene. He salutes Adama, who returns the salute, and then the man asks if it’s really him. Adama says yes, and “Welcome home, Bulldog.” (And there is some absolutely gorgeous background music for about 10 seconds, if you’re interested.)

Oooh, it’s gonna be a flashbacky episode! A younger Adama is being instructed by someone (who?!) about a mission that must be secret, involving a stealth ship.

Modern day, Cottle clears Bulldog – he’s not a Cylon. He also seems to be more than a little traumatized. Adama calls Roslin to explain, saying that he went missing from a mission three years ago. Cottle says that Bulldog is physically healthy, but he’s not sure about mentally.

Adama questions Bulldog – whom he calls Danny, but I’m going to keep calling Bulldog, following my “one name per person” rule – about how he got out. Bulldog responds with a story that Adama quickly recognizes as a joke, which is a good sign – Bulldog still has his sense of humor, and, we are lead to assume, his sanity. The real story of Bulldog’s escape is this: the Cylons on the ship he was on got sick and died. Bulldog flashes back to being imprisoned; he apparently killed a sickened D’Anna who was torturing him (if you count the sound of metal hitting metal torturous, which my migraine-prone head certainly does, but I suppose it isn’t as bad as, you know, electrodes-on-the-fingers torture. How killing a D’Anna allowed him to escape isn’t clear, because from that flashback, we go right to Roslin interviewing Bulldog, asking for more information about how he got captured in the first place. It was a year before the Cylon attack, it was a Black Ops mission to go after some Taurons who were straying too close to the Cylon armistice line/no-fly-zone. The Taurons shot Bulldog down; Adama thought he was dead, so he left. Bulldog ejected and was picked up by the Cylons, apparently. Roslin kicks out Bulldog and Tory and asks Adama what really happened. Adama tells her to trust him. The President leaves, and Adama knocks over a chair.

Baltar and Six are asleep in bed behind D'Anna, who sits up and looks unhappy or concerned.
Alright then, this seems to be happening.

D’Anna’s on Galactica? That’s what it looks like, except maybe she’s dreaming. Yup, dreaming that she’s executed by a bunch of Galactica marines. She wakes up and is in bed with both Baltar and Six. (Baltar’s in the middle.) They’re in a ridiculously nice-looking bed in the middle of this very utilitarian space.

Oh, Tigh. He’s lying in bed, testing his field of vision. Adama shows up and updates Tigh – Bulldog’s alive! Tigh’s pleased but also knows the full story – which we’ve clearly not yet heard. Tigh tells Adama to tell Bulldog the truth, which Adama doesn’t want to do. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED? Someone’s pounding insistently on Tigh’s door, and, of course, it’s Bulldog – drink? You have no idea. Yes, I do.

Tigh and Bulldog kind of embrace?
That's a whole lot of frustration and anger in a very small space, right there.

Adama Sr. calls Adama Jr. in for a talk, which I’m assuming is going to be interspersed with Bulldog and Tigh’s chat – yup. Bulldog questions Tigh as to how Adama wound up on Galactica, and Tigh explains it was supposed to be his “graceful retirement” (let us again remember that Galactica was ancient and obsolete before this war started), and then Tigh gets bitter about Adama, talking about how fond the old man is of covering his own ass, and then inches closer to whatever the real story is of Bulldog’s capture – which Bulldog apparently doesn’t know.

We immediately cut to Adama talking to Lee, saying “I shot him down.” Lee scrambles for an excuse, but Adama says he shot him down to avoid detection by the Cylons. The real purpose of the mission was to see how likely it would be for the Cylons to strike. Lee is having a hard time grappling with this. Adama’s mission was to take a black ops ship just over the armistice line – which would be seen by the Cylons as an act of war. We flash back to Bulldog’s initial mission: he’s two clicks beyond the armistice line when a ship jumps in, shoots at Bulldog, damaging his ship, and jumps away. And then two more ships show up, and Adama orders Bulldog’s ship shot down. We go back to Tigh telling Bulldog, and Bulldog’s furious. Lee is also angry as hell at his father. Adama says he started it. He started the attacks on the colonies, by crossing over the armistice line; he blames himself for, well, EVERYTHING. Lee tries to talk his father down, saying that he was following orders, that it was the military that put Adama there. Adama points out that it only takes one man, and it seems like he was that man this time.

Back with Baltar, D’Anna thinks God is trying to tell her something big. She then has a Centurion Cylon execute her and spends a moment in a large ornate room, in which stand five hooded figures, all in white. She’s reborn and talks about there being something beautiful between life and death. Oh dear.

Starbuck and Tigh sit opposite each other at a desk. Starbuck is showing Tigh some photographs
Starbuck's barely in 2 scenes this episode, and look how she still manages to help save the day!

In other news, Starbuck’s rewatching the flight footage from when she took out the two Cylons who were chasing Bulldog. She thinks they were deliberately missing. Bulldog’s doing push ups (like he was in his prison cell) and, well, looks wide-eyed and furious. He calls Adama and says they need to talk.

Starbuck takes her findings to Tigh – she thinks the Cylons let Bulldog escape deliberately. She also doesn’t like his escape story, or the fact that he found the fleet so easily.

Adama goes to Bulldog’s quarters, and Bulldog immediately assaults him – gets him in the gut with a steel pipe, punches him in the face a few times, and binds his hands behind his back. Bulldog holds a pipe to Adama’s throat and demands to know why Adama lied to him, why he didn’t tell him the truth. Bulldog said that the thought that kept him alive in prison was knowing that Adama was coming for him. Bulldog thinks he escaped on his own – though what seems to have happened is that they opened the door to his cell. Adama questions whether Bulldog is really responsible for his current freedom. Tigh shows up, armed, about to shoot Bulldog, but Bulldog knocks the gun from his hand; they fight, Tigh wins. Tigh is also back in uniform, ish. Tigh tells Bulldog that he’s been playing into the Cylons hands, especially if he kills Adama. Tigh talks a little bit about feeling worthless, and recovering from that – he’s somehow addressing both Bulldog and Adama. Tigh says that one day you decide to get up and walk out of your room, and that’s how you get over it.

An invitation to attend a ceremony honoring Adama for his 45 years of service.
You are invited to watch the Commander be punished, in a very weird, yet logical, way.

On Colonial One, Adama attempts to hand Roslin his resignation. He’s come clean with everything, and Roslin is just fantastic in this scene – it’s not Adama’s fault that the Cylons attacked, and the fact that Adama thinks that one person could have controlled or prevented the attacks is naive. Adama says something has to be done, and Roslin agrees – his penance for all he’s done will be for him to receive a medal of honor in front of the entire fleet. (Remember how Roslin had been planning this?)

And that is what happens.

Bulldog goes to transfer to another ship, Adama shows up with a uniform for him as a parting gift. No hard feelings, apparently.

Tigh shows up in Adama’s quarters. Adama says he needs Tigh back in CiC. Tigh says that’s not why he’s here. Adama asks about what happened to Ellen. Tigh and Adama sit down across from each other, bottle and glasses ready, and hopefully, begin to restore their friendship. End Scene.

Thanks to monchichi for her fabulous screencaps!

To Discuss:

I’d really like to hear people’s thoughts about Bulldog’s race. On one hand, in a largely white cast, introducing a lead character for an episode who’s a POC is, of course, a good thing. On the other hand, especially after last week’s scene with Simon in shackles, I watched this wondering about the stereotypes regarding incarcerated black men and angry black men – casting a black guy as an escaped prisoner, full of rage, seems like it’s treading on these stereotypes. I am not for an instant saying that this role should not have been played by a POC. I’m just wondering if anyone else saw this as an attempt by the show to use stereotypes to convey character.

To add an additional layer to all of this, I mentioned these thoughts to my chief sci-fi TV guru, a friend who’s seen the original BSG series, and she said that in the ’70s version of the show, there were a LOT more black characters – Tigh, Boomer, and the majority of the fighter pilots were black. She thinks the fact that Bulldog is black is a deliberate reference to the original series, which, considering the plot, makes perfect sense.

So what do you think? Am I reading too much into this and the actor’s race played no role in the character at all? Or do you think it’s an important element? Let me know in the comments!

By CherriSpryte

CherriSpryte wants you to know that The Great Pumpkin loves you.

3 replies on “LadyGhosts of TV Past: Battlestar Galactica, Episode 3.07, “Hero””

On another show, I might have agreed with you on the stereotyping angle, but I think that the show does a decent job of rising above gender and race issues that plague other television shows. Yes, this particular episode has an angry black male character, but he’s hardly the only POC to cross our screens during the show’s run, and we have several regulars who are people of color. 

Agreed – BSG certainly does a better job with race and gender than most shows. I was writing this recap as the internet was exploding with reviews and criticisms of Girls, though, so I had racial representations in television on my mind, and that might have influenced my thoughts a bit!

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