Anyone who watched more than 10 minutes of a new Battlestar Galactica episode when it was on — or read this TR list — the show is pretty frakking dark. In fact, some of the comments received last time questioned the point of watching a show that was so depressing. In looking back, particularly at the list, the show indeed did have some very dark moments. Being that the show started off with the extermination of 99% of all of the humans in the 12 Colonies, there wasn’t much room for sunshine, lollypops, obnoxiously cute kids and their robot dogs. Instead, the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica became a show about survival against insurmountable odds, a show that was more a commentary on the early 21st century, war, and terrorism than a space opera in the classic sense.
That being said, the show was not without its moments of happiness and levity, because quite frankly with all of the bad shit that happens to the Rag Tag Fugitive Fleet, it’s a wonder that the majority of the survivors didn’t pull a Dualla and spray brain matter across the bulkheads. While the last list centered on the most disturbing episodes of the series, this time we are focusing on the moments of happiness experienced in the fleet. Note that these are only moments, in my rewatching of pretty much the entire series for my lists, I never quite found a single episode that I would consider a happy one. These moments usually prefaced or followed some sort of tragedy, and often the happiness was short lived, but for a short time, these characters got to feel what it was like to feel alive, without all of that whole pain and suffering thing. Note, if you haven’t watched Battlestar Galactica, I’m about to spoil just about every single positive moment in the series… all 10 of ’em.
10) A Child is Born, “33”
After a long hiatus between the miniseries and the start of the regular season, Battlestar Galactica started off with a bang, with its Hugo Award-winning episode “33”. While the miniseries ended on a somewhat upbeat note, the Galactica and the remains of the human race setting a course for Earth, the series started off on a pretty grim note, with the Cylons relentlessly attacking the fleet every 33 minutes.
Exhaustion follows the fleet just as much as the Cylons do, and matters get worse when a ship, the Olympic Carrier goes missing after a jump. It becomes clear how high the stakes are in this new series when the Carrier reappears, most likely a trap. Radiation alarms go off signaling the presence of nukes aboard the ship, now on a collision course with the fleet. Apollo and Starbuck have no choice but to open fire on their own.
Throughout the episode, new president Laura Roslin has been keeping track of the number of souls aboard the fleet, a number that has been steadily dwindling, particularly quickly after the destruction of the Olympic Carrier. After receiving a report from her aide Billy, she goes back to the board one final time, however instead of subtracting a large amount from the number, she adds one. Apparently in all of the chaos and combat, a small miracle has taken place: A baby boy was born in the fleet, the first glimpse of hope for the exiled humans.
9) Galactica Finds an Ancient Copy of Rand McNally, “Home”
The second season begins in a very dark place, with Commander Adama suffering from a pair of holes in his chest, the fleet torn apart due to the conflict between President Roslin and the military, Lee Adama in the brig, Kara Thrace and Helo on Caprica, and crew members marooned on a Cylon-infested Kobol. Then things go from bad to worse: Kara gets shot; riots ensue when the fleet is under Commander Tigh’s rule, and the people on Kobol are dying. But things change when Starbuck returns to the fleet with the Arrow of Apollo.
With most of their issues resolved the crew of Galactica searches Kobol for answers in the quest for Earth. When the series began, Commander Adama expressed that Earth was a myth, something to keep the people moving forward. His beliefs change when he recovers from his attempted murder, and joins Roslin, Zarek and others down on the surface of Kobol. Once the pragmatist, he is at least willing to go along with Roslin’s quest, and keeps an open mind for the most part. The expedition arrives at the legendary Temple of Athena, but upon entering it, finds that most of it is crumbled ruins of statues representing the original names of the colonies, which ironically are the signs of the zodiac. When they find a mostly intact statue of Sagittarius missing his trademark arrow, it becomes pretty obvious where the Arrow of Apollo goes. When inserted, the Temple seals shut, locking in Adama, Roslin, Starbuck and others, but when they look around, they are no longer in ruins but are in a field of tall grass, with large Stonehenge looking rocks surrounding them, each with a depiction of a constellation that coincides with the names of the colonies. After pondering for a few minutes they discover the truth, they are not looking at a map to Earth; they are standing ON Earth, at least a representation of it.
Looking up in the night sky shows the planet’s position in relation to the constellations, essentially showing the Galactica crew where it is, based on the stars around it. Looking for clues to where in the universe these constellations all exist, they see an object most of them easily recognize, what they refer to as the Horsehead Nebula. Skepticism turns to determination, as prophecy aside, everyone in that room seems pretty sure that Earth exists, and it is where they are supposed to be going. The leave the temple with the first real signpost towards a new home, and have direction for the first time since leaving the ruins of the colonies.
8) Kat Finds Her Ship, “The Passage”
Kat had spent most of her time among the Colonial Fleet in constant competition with Starbuck. The pressure to perform as one of the top Viper pilots consumed Lieutenant Louanne Katraine, up to the point where she started taking and eventually overdosed on stims to keep up. This constant battle with Starbuck (whom Kat felt was a risk due to Starbucks constant drinking and irresponsibility) came to a head when Kat’s secret was revealed: She’s not Louanne Katraine.
Apparently, Sasha (as she was known on the Colonies) was a drug runner in her previous life. When she escaped, she took the name of a dead person, stealing her identity and her crime-free life, and then joined the Colonial military, leaving her past behind. Of course, her secret was out when she ran into an old flame/partner in crime from her clandestine days, who tried to blackmail Kat for food. Of course, Starbuck happens to question Kat’s old flame and threatens to out her to the Admiral.
While all of this interpersonal drama is going on, the starving fleet is trying to make its way across a radioactive expanse to reach a planet with copious amounts of edible algae (yum). Each of the ships has to be guided by a Raptor, and thus far the mission hasn’t been going well, with multiple ships being lost, including the Carina which was escorted by Kat. Her personal issues drive Kat to vow not to lose another ship, and despite having a pretty heavy dose of radiation thus far, she steals another pilot’s radiation badge and continues on mission. When she loses yet another ship, the Faru Sadin, she is ordered with the rest of the fleet to jump due to increased radiation and spacial instability. She defies orders and continues to search for the Faru Sadin, eventually finding it while receiving a fatal dose of radiation.
At this point you might be asking, “How is this happy?” When she arrives back at the fleet with the missing ship, she exits her smoking ship to thunderous applause from everyone on the flight deck, and in a final act of defiance and pride, thrusts her hands in the air in triumph. While her act eventually did result in her death, the joy and pride she showed when arriving home one last time showed how much of a change she had made in her life, a change that was worth dying for.
7) Tyrol Meets his Family, “Someone to Watch Over Me”
Poor Galen Tyrol. This man… wait… machine… wait… man-like machine goes through a good bit of hell throughout the series. First he discovers that the woman he loves is a Cylon, which he finds out when she busts a cap in Commander Adama. Eventually he hooks up with the ever adorable, dental school destined Specialist Cally, who we learn later was “the best of limited options.” He finds out he himself is a Toaster, then finds out his kid isn’t his, this Cylon just doesn’t get a break. But he does have one moment of true beauty in season four, which quickly turns to a moment of grand betrayal.
The apparent love of his life, Boomer, is in the brig aboard Galactica, after bringing Ellen Tigh back from a Resurrection Ship. Looking for closure, he visits her in her cell, trying to figure out if she ever did love him, or if he was just a part of her mission as a sleeper Cylon. While he is initially resistant to her explanations, his emotional defenses crumble when she introduces him to the Cylon ability of “Projection.”
For those who haven’t seen the series, projection is the ability the humanoid Cylons have which lets them view the world in a theme which is pleasing to their own individual tastes. They essentially have an area of the brain that acts like a blank canvas, where they can paint their own world for them to fantasize about, to the point where it seems real. Think of it as a holodeck in their head, which they can share with other Cylons.
When they touch hands and she shares her projection with him, any doubts of their relationship are stripped away from Tyrol’s mind. She shows him the house she planned for them on Picon, where she expected them to go after they left the military. As he explores his “home”, he stops in his tracks as he sees evidence of the evolution of their relationship, marks on the wall to show the growth of a child. Boomer shows him to the door of their fantasy daughter, and instantly you can see his heart melt, tears forming in his real-world eyes. An interesting contrast to how he seemed to be with Nicki, the child he thought was his for the last season and a half, who seemed more of an annoyance to him than anything. This single moment of peace he experiences is most likely the happiest moment of the series for Tyrol, and it doesn’t last long. It turns out that this was all a setup for Boomer (who just so happens to be frakking Brother Caval, the old ass Cylon played by Dean “Al” Stockwell), who uses Tyrol to break out of the brig, steal Helo’s mixed species daughter, and make a run for it.
6) Roslin and Adama, Sitting in a Tree, “The Hub”
When Bill Adama and Laura Roslin meet for the first time, they immediately don’t see eye to eye. Roslin wants to install an educational computer network aboard the Galactica, while Adama insists that it will never happen so long as he is in command. The good news for Roslin is that he won’t be in command for long, with both the ship and her commander due to stand down. Plans change however when the attack on the colonies begins, and the Galactica is thought to be the only surviving Battlestar.
Their relationship has its fair share of ups and downs, such as when Adama had the president arrested and sent to the brig, where she spent a good portion of the second season of the show. Over time his stance toward her lightens, and where once he thought of her as an adversary, he begins to develop a level of respect and eventually friendship with her. As her health deteriorates, it becomes apparent that Adama feels more for her than just friendship, as he sits by her bed reading to her during cancer treatments, but his feelings for her become completely obvious when he opts to stay behind and wait for her after she was shanghaied on a Cylon baseship, stating “I can’t live without her.”
Upon their reuniting in the episode “The Hub”, it becomes apparent that her feelings for him are the same. They embrace, and she whispers in his ear that she loves him, and in true stoic Adama fashion, he simply replies “It’s about time.” (Note: The video example is from the episode “The Oath” as no examples from “The Hub” were available online.)
5) Oh Hai Pegasus, “Pegasus”
Once the Galactica was on the lam from the Cylons, things generally went downhill. In the first season there were few moments to celebrate, and the most miniscule of victory generally came with a price, sometimes a pretty large one. When the Galactica saw a large ship jump in, they immediately diverted the combat air patrol to intercept and investigate the object. It was described as a dream by Apollo, who was the first to spot the Battlestar Pegasus, long thought destroyed in the destruction of the colonies.
Despite contact via the wireless, skepticism remained until at last a Raptor and escort Vipers landed on the Galactica, carrying Admiral Helena Cain, welcoming the crew of the Galactica back to the Colonial Fleet. Military discipline is for the most part thrown out the airlock as the Galactica crew erupts into cheers and hugs, welcoming this new batch of humans. Of course, over the course of the episode, the relationship between the Galactica and Pegasus crews goes to shit pretty quickly, and before the end of the episode, Vipers from both ships are playing a game of interstellar chicken. For a time though, the universe seems a lot less hopeless, and the Rag Tag Fugitive Fleet is not as alone as they once though.
4) Apollo and Kara Hook Up, “Unfinished Business”
The sexual tension between Starbuck and Apollo is as constant a force in the Battlestar universe as the “One True God.” It’s apparent throughout the entire series that they secretly want to frak each other silly, that is up until Starbuck returns from New Caprica.
To say that her experiences on New Caprica changed her would be an understatement. Starbuck went through an enormous battery of psychological torture, including forced cohabitation with Leoben, a daughter that didn’t really belong to her and lots of fun involving steak knives. Needless to say, once she was released, she was a little jaded, coming to a head during the episode “Unfinished Business” and an event called the Dance, a ship wide boxing competition. It’s not long before Starbuck calls out Apollo to settle some issues.
The two of them go at it like Tasmanian Devils… fighting that is, relentlessly pounding on each other without any semblance of mercy. It’s during the fight that we start to see flashbacks of events on New Caprica prior to the invasion. Apparently on a night of celebration on their new homeworld, Kara and Lee after a fierce night of drinking, wander off from the settlement, and end up making passionate love under the stars of New Caprica. Afterwards, they ponder over what to do with their significant others, Cylon Sam Anders for Kara, and Dualla for Lee. In a scene where Lee is as giddy as a 9-year-old girl, he screams it to the stars for all of New Caprica, the universe and the gods to hear: “I’m Lee Adama, and I love Kara Thrace” ” With some coaxing, giggling all the way, Kara does the same. It’s arguably the cutest moment of the series, with both of them acting like lovesick teenagers, and for a short time, the happiest people in the universe. Of course, it wouldn’t be Battlestar without some drama, so when Lee wakes up alone and wanders back to the city, he discovered Kara ran off and eloped with Sam first thing that morning.
3) Apollo Destroys the Death Star, er… the Fuel Depot, “Hand of God”
Once the destruction of the colonies takes place, the members of the fleet depend on a small number of Viper pilots to keep them safe. The most decorated and combat hardened of these pilots is Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, and Lee is always operating in her shadow.
When the Fleet runs out of fuel, there are very few options for them if they want to survive. It seems the only viable one is to go on the offensive, attacking a Cylon refinery. Of course said refinery is under heavy guard, and to make matters worse, ace pilot Starbuck is grounded due to injuries sustained a few episodes prior. That leaves Lee leading the strike force, and the odds are certainly stacked against him.
It’s pretty obvious that people have concerns about his ability. Starbuck challenges him on it, and his still somewhat estranged father comes by to offer a pep talk. Apollo has his doubts, but the mission launches regardless.
Immediately things go poorly, with the first squadron of Vipers outnumbered greatly. It’s when all seems lost that we discover the real plan, a secret strike force hidden among some mining vessels. Apollo leads the charge and ends up bravely navigating a tunnel about the size of the Death Star trench, eventually reaching his target and singlehandedly obliterating it. As much as this is a happy moment, the real fun begins when the pilots return home and celebrate their first real victory in the war. Ambrosia is flowing, Starbuck congratulates Lee “The Magnificent Bastard” Adama with one of the last cigars in the universe, and Apollo seems to have finally won the respect of his father.
Besides the celebration, the victory scene is the first time we hear “Wander My Friends,” the tune that eventually develops into one of the major musical themes in the show, acting as the Adama family theme for both Battlestar Galactica and Caprica.
2) Pegasus to the Rescue, “Exodus”
While dynamic space battles were not something seen on a weekly basis, but when they were they were absolutely mind blowing. The scene that springs to mind as the most memorable is when the Galactica jumps into the atmosphere of New Caprica in a maneuver sometimes referred to as the “Bucket Drop,” launching her fighters in a surprise attack and jumping out just in time to prevent becoming a very large crater.
While the rebellion on New Caprica was in full effect, the Galactica goes toe-to-toe with four Cylon Basestars and their complement of Raiders, two more than expected. The Galactica is able to hold them off long enough for the civilian ships to get away, but Adama, always expecting the mission to be one way, accepts that the end is near, something that seems to be a guarantee when their DRADIS picks up another ship jumping into the fight.
The camera pulls back from the view of the Galactica getting pounded by multiple Basestars to reveal exiting the nebula, the Battlestar Pegasus, violating orders and coming to the rescue. As Adama both curses and thanks his son, the Pegasus unleashes a massive volley from her main cannon, literally bisecting one of the Cylon carriers in almost an instant. Moving in the middle of the fight and blocking enemy access to the Galactica, the Pegasus continues to duke it out with the Cylon fleet, handing out a ton of damage while suffering greatly. Seeing that the Pegasus has had her last day, Lee Adama orders his crew to abandon ship before setting a collision course with a Basestar, ramming the mighty Battlestar into her, destroying both the Pegasus and the Basestar, and causing debris from Pegasus (namely a flight pod) to carom into another Basestar, possibly destroying it as well. So while it had its cost (I still doubt the validity of a strategy that involves using your more modern and power starship as cannon fodder so your old broke-ass ship can get away), Pegasus saves the Admiral’s ass and the show’s namesake, looking completely badass in the process and preventing a name change to the show, something that test audiences would have hated just a little bit more than an eighteen-month hiatus.
1) Look, Earth!, “Revelations”
Things in the fleet couldn’t get much worse. The Cylons have taken President Roslin and dozens of Colonial soldiers’ hostage in a play for the Fleet to give up the “Final Five”. Of course, matters are complicated due to the Fleet leadership not knowing who the Final Five are. Admiral Adama hits an all-time low, as his lifelong friend Saul Tigh reveals his true Cylon nature.
The tension becomes violent when the Cylons launch a meat satellite (one of their hostages), forcing acting president Lee Adama to load Tigh into a launch tube. While this is going on, Starbuck, investigating a hunch from her newly discovered robot hubby, discovers a signal; one she thinks is the key to everything. Running to the flight deck to stop the execution, Starbuck arrives just in time to reveal her discovery: She really does know the way to Earth.
Putting their differences aside, human and Cylon forces decide to head to Earth together. The tension is high as Lieutenant Gaeta counts down the jump, and the combined human and Cylon fleet jumps into the unknown. Where they end up is a beautiful blue and green world, the planet that has been the stuff of legends made real.
The scene of joy is overwhelming, characters that had been emotionally stressed to limits no one could ever fathom, finally having a triumphant release. Scenes of people throughout the fleet cheering, weeping, mourning for those who didn’t make it, and anticipating starting their lives over on a brand new world grace the screen. It is a moment of pure happiness, at least until they land on a Earth that is extra crispy. Though the outcome is nothing that the human/Cylon alliance expected, for just a few moments people have something to rejoice about, even if it’s to be short lived.