The 10 Most Disturbing Episodes of Battlestar Galactica

By Jason Helton in Daily Lists, TV
Monday, February 13, 2012 at 7:59 am
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Like it or not, it's hard to deny that Battlestar Galactica certainly left its mark on television. Not since Babylon 5 has a sci-fi series so embraced long-running storyarcs, and worked so how hard to incorporate real world scenarios into a science fiction universe. But one thing can be said with no doubt whatsoever -- this show is dark as shit. Aspects from the original series like cute robotic dogs, aliens, little boys going on adventures, and much more are replaced with characters with major flaws, tragedy around every corner, and not a single character was safe.

Reportedly, Sci-Fi Channel execs were upset at the amount of darkness and despair in BSG's first few episodes, and suggested to the writing staff that they show a happy time on the Galactica, like a party or something. So the staff rewrote the opening scene of "Acts of Contrition" to include a celebration -- in this case the celebration of a pilot's 1000th landing. The Sci-Fi execs got their party... complete with a missile drone literally crashing the party, splattering 13 pilots across the bulkheads. Apparently, that was the last time execs tried to interfere with the plot of the series.

However, that scene is nowhere near as dark and disturbing as some of the things that take place during the series' entirety, as this list showcases. Now, there's no way the short space of this article to list every single dark point in the series; plus, trying to rank the horrible things that happen in these episodes is like trying to decide which invasive dental procedure you would like without anesthesa -- we simply did our best. Warning: If you haven't seen Battlestar Galactica, there are a ton of spoilers ahead. Also: This list is kind of a bummer.

10) Collaborators

Emotions were running wild after the rescue from New Caprica -- particularly ones of anger toward those who were thought to be collaborating with the Cylons. The episode opens up to deckhand and former New Caprica Police Captain Jammer kneeling inside of a launch tube, hands bound, in front of a group of six other people. He's tried by the group, consisting of some civilians as well as Sam Anders, Colonel Tigh, and Diana Seelix, and then convicted, and the group watches as he is sucked out of the launch tube.

It turns out this little group of six is a government-sponsored vigilante squad, tasked by acting President Tom Zarek with finding, judging, and executing known Cylon collaborators. With Jammer taken care of, they focus their attention on their next target: Felix Gaeta. Of course, we all know that Gaeta was the mole feeding the resistance information. Thankfully, Chief Tyrol was on the other side of Gaeta's information funneling operation, so when Gaeta describes his actions, Tyrol is able to confirm that indeed Gaeta was working for the resistance, saving Gaeta from a horrific death by launch tube. The idea that many people we have typically thought of as heroes turning into vengeance-seeking murderers is rather frightening, especially when we find out that the government (or what's left of it) is behind it all.

9) Razor

For those unfamiliar with the series, Razor was a Battlestar Galactica movie set mostly aboard the Battlestar Pegasus, chronicling the story of Admiral Cain right after the attack on the colonies, as well her assistant Kendra Shaw. As we've heard in stories told by her crew in BSG, the Pegasus had a disturbing and violent past, and the TV movie proves it. We had previously heard from Colonel Jack Fisk that Cain murdered her previous XO when he refused to order a suicide mission. Of course, Fisk quickly changed his story and claimed it was a joke, but here we discover that Fisk told the truth as we witness Cain take Colonel Belzen's sidearm and splatter his brains all over the Pegasus CIC. But Cain's legacy was far from over.

Civilian consultant Gina Inviere was a network administrator on the Pegasus at the time of the attack. As it turns out, she was also a model 6 Cylon, and to add a little fuel to the fire, she was also Cain's lesbian lover. When it is discovered that she's a Cylon agent, needless to say Cain takes it a little hard. She unleashes Lieutenant Throne on Gina, a so-called "Cylon interrogator," and essentially tells him to do whatever he wants to her. As we find out later on, his methods include beatings, starvation, and gang rape.

The surprising part of Razor, though, is the demons that Kendra Shaw possesses. Throughout the film, she seems to be haunted by something dark in her past, often seeking out the comfort of hallucinogenic drugs for solace. We had previously learned from Pegasus deck Chief Peter Laird of the assault on the Scylla, a civilian transport that had escaped the Cylon apocalypse. It's Shaw's role in the Scylla massacre that is the source of her demons, as we discover that it was she who fired the first shot, personally executing a woman and her children. She eventually receives her redemption, sacrificing herself to destroy the Cylon facility and the first Hybrid. Overall, Razor shows us just what is behind the evil of Admiral Cain and explains her actions, making her more of a pitiable creature rather than a pure villain.

8) Occupation
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When we think of suicide bombings, we think of a horrible act perpetrated by terrorists on innocents. Suicide bombings are cruel and cowardly, and seemingly inexplicable to anyone with a conscience. And then BSG had the "heroes" use them.

When we last left New Caprica, the Cylons had just invaded, the Fleet had turned tail and ran, and Leoban was on the hunt for Starbuck. "Occupation" opens up with scenes from across New Caprica: Ellen Tigh frakking her robot son in efforts to get her now cyclops-like husband out of a Cylon prison, an attack on a Cylon heavy raider by Tyrol and Anders, and most disturbingly, Kara Thrace sitting down for a beautiful meal with Leoban, where she calmly shanks him before sitting down and finishing her meal, literally bloody handed. As the episode goes on, we learn the insurgency is growing, and needs a larger and more effective form of attack. Former Viper pilot Duck (above), who apparently has lost his wife to the Cylons, volunteers to become a suicide bomber at the New Caprica Police graduation in hopes of killing Gaius Baltar. Of course, instead of sending a message to the Cylons, it instead strengthens their resolve. They crackdown on the humans, and in the next episode take a majority of the characters we care about prisoner. It's the first time in the series where it becomes hard to sympathize with the humans, who resort to terrorist tactics that so many people have condemned in the real world.

7) The Farm
"The Farm" opens with a bit of a shock -- specifically, Starbuck getting shot while on Caprica. She awakens in the care of a doctor named Simon. While it looks like she is going to live, Simon relays the heartbreaking news that Kara's lover Sam Anders was killed during the attack that put her in the hospital. Then he Simon immediately suggests to her that she should really start working on the whole baby-making thing, much to Starbucks dismay.

Before long, and still under almost constant sedation, Starbuck wakes with a scar on her pelvis. The thing is, it's not her kidney that is missing, but her ovary. She eventually escapes once she sees Simon talking to a Number 6 and determines that he is indeed a Cylon, but then walks into the truly horrific aspect of the hospital -- the Cylons' have created a baby-making factory, and numerous women, including resistance member Sue Shawn, are attached to some kind of big Cylon frak machine. In an act of mercy, Starbuck shuts down the machines, killing those attached to them, but we are given the impression that there are hundreds of such facilities scattered across Caprica and possibly the rest of the 12 Colonies.

6) The Ties that Bind

It was bound to happen. Eventually, someone would discover the identity of the Final Five. Of all the likeliest candidates to find out, Cally Tyrol was the only one who lived full time with her hidden cybernetic hubby. As Cally became more and more depressed with her lot in life, and more upset with her husband hanging out with his new buddies all the time, she took matters into her own hands and followed in the footsteps of many paranoid wives -- she started spying on him.

She initially thought his extra-curricular activities were more along the lines of an extra-marital affair with Tori, but after a little more digging, she found the true Cylon nature of their relationship. Dazedly walking to the hangar after clubbing Tyrol with a wrench a la Gordon Freeman, it seemed like Cally was intending on killing herself and her toddler Nikki via a launch tube, but before she can close the door Tori shows up to talk her down. Finally, Tori is able to rescue little Nikki from his suicidal mother, but unfortunately for Cally, Tori whips out her pimp hand, bitch-slaps her, locks her in the airlock, and launches her into the frozen void of space like a meat Viper. The episode's final scenes are of her frozen corpse, eyes still open, while the Admiral informs her husband.

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