GWC Re-Watch Frak Party: Act of Contrition

It’s weekfive of our planned off-season re-watch of the entire “re-imagined” BSG canon, and it’s time to move on to the season one episode “Act of Contrition.” So why not join us here for the GWC online frak party? There’s room for everyone, though you’ll have to bring your own snacks…

Feel free to jump in at any point with your comments on this week’s episode as the re-watch is by definition spoiler free. We’ll be in and out, but we’ll definitely take a look at your comments before we start next week’s podcast.

See you here all week!

17 Responses to "GWC Re-Watch Frak Party: Act of Contrition"
  1. Dainin says:

    Ahhh the advantage of being on the west coast. 🙂

    One thing that just popped out at me this time, was I realized that unlike every military I have seen depicted, the colonial forces do not wear any hats or headgear, other than helments on the marines in combat. Funny the things that pop out. I really doubt it was a concious decision, saves money after all to go without a special head gear, but it seems that it is a deviation from traditional military dress which stresses unifomity, comraderie and belonging.

    Granted that hats would not necessarily be worn in CIC for instance, but Adama when he went to meet Kara for the first time was hatless, and I can’t think of any other time I saw one.

  2. Mike P says:

    This was the very first episode of BSG that I saw, so I have a special fondness for it. I also happened to watch it from a hospital bed where I was laid up with a broken leg — so I had *mucho* sympathy for Starbuck in the weeks following where she is recovering from her crash!

    The most gripping scene, in my opinion, is when Kara tells Adama about passing Zak — James Edward Olmos turns in an incredible performance, having to play paternal love (for both Kara and Zak, frankly) mixed with incredible rage. Wow. That’s one man you don’t want to disappoint, and Kara knows she has, and Katee Sackhoff plays it perfectly, too.

    One question — because I haven’t gone back to check yet — is Zak played by the same actor we see in the photograph in the miniseries? Something about the photo in this episode looked slightly different, as though it had been restaged (just as they had to reshoot the scene where Tigh burns Ellen’s photograph, when they brought Ellen aboard as a character).

  3. Browncoat Bryan says:

    I don’t know about you all, but when Kara faced Adama and told him about Zak, the look on Adama’s face said it all. That was the “I’m a gnat’s length away from kicking your ass right about now” look.

    Personally, I’m trying to practice that look myself, so that I can use it on my kids. All I know is that I would hate to see that look used against me. And, I have to admit, Kara is one brave person. I would have made so craaaaap up if I saw that look coming my way.

  4. Gray says:

    This is a tremendous episode. I think it’s one of the first ones where they really hint at the way they’re going to continue to use the flashback. I remember hearing RDM in the episode commentary wondering aloud if they had successfully toed the line regarding the frequency of usage of flashbacks. I think this was indeed a flashback heavy episode, but I don’t think it was weighted too much by them. I think they struck a nice balance.

    I started watching BSG after the 3rd season had begun and through hearing other fans talking and reading the synopsis for this episode it was one I really had a hard time convincing myself to watch. I already loved Starbuck so much as character that I was really dreading their confrontation. Which is one of the unique things about this show, I think. We all love it to the point of obession sometimes, but it is frakking hard to watch. The stuff the characters go through is absolutely harrowing.

    And EJO and Katee really, really sold that scene. Every expression on her face in the pivotal showdown breaks my heart. You can see that she is just so scared of disappointing him and losing that relationship. Without words, she say this! And EJO is just this tightly coiled, bottled up rage-filled man. When KS walks out of that room and grabs her head (which was an instinct by KS and not script-written) I am usually halfway to a good cry.

    Act of Contrition is probably in my top ten.

  5. Zigdon says:

    Dainin: About hats – while I know a lot of TV is obsessed with army hats, from my experience in the Military, outside of helmets in the field (when needed), hats are rarely actually worn. In the IDF, even in formal ceremony, the hats remain folded on the shoulder.


  6. BoxytheBoxed says:

    I love how he had the party, and then they had the f— blown out of them, it made me laugh…very hard
    So Starbucks list: adama and baltar…so far…as the list updates…

  7. Saberhawk says:

    One of EJO’s best efforts. I do miss this Adama. Great to see Kat and Hotdog again from the beginning.

  8. Architect says:

    This is the episode that really cemented my devotion to this series. I mean, the mini and 33 served to reel me in, but this episode…wow.

    I think that this episode is rather pivotal in the sense that it really gave Katee Sackhoff ownership of the character Starbuck. It’s like the foundation episode that really provides a footing for this character’s evolution all the way through to this just past season. It provides us, the viewers, the proper lens (if you will) as to how we see this iteration of Starbuck; it establishes an emotional investment with the character.

    Katee Sackhoff also demonstrated her own acting abilities to stand on her own when played up against EJO – that all too familiar scene when she had to confess to her surrogate father, Papadama, is pretty much well said by Gray in the above post. Very well done, very well played. When she walked out at the scene’s end, it tore at me deep down. It just reminded me of my own experience of having to summon all kinds of mad courage to tell my own dad that I had f***ed up in one thing or another, and feeling that gut wrenching sense of, I don’t know, failure or having betrayed something. Which makes the ending of the following episode, with both EJO and KS again, all that more satisfying with all shades of awesome-ness.

    I can’t say enough praise for this episode – I appeciated all the little beats that provide insights into the character and her relationship with one of the most important person in her life. I appreciated the fact that she would not only shepard her nugget charges back to Galactica, but would indeed turn around to give them better odds by taking on all eight (EIGHT!!) Cylon Raiders.

    It is interesting to see Starbuck’s decision to turn back and fight after watching all the subsequent episodes to date. It’s like a hindsight fore-shadowing kind of thing.

    One more note and I promise to STFU with all this gushing. If Kara Thrace was ever a real person, she would kick the ass of most, if not all, the people I know. Yet, I’ve read quite a number of people on the internets being rather protective of her – I guess I am one of those people too. She’s sort of like one’s kid sister or one of your best friends. I don’t know. Anyway, thanks all for reading. Thanks for giving me an outlet to gush. Where I am at, too many people pooh-pooh ANYTHING sci fi. Oh, well.

    I had hoped that Galactica Watercooler would consider doing a concurrent “watch and talk” podcast to this episode. I know, I know, there was a poll done that established which ep got that treatment, but still… (puppy dog eyes)… If not, I look forward as always to hear you alls post show commentary next week.

    OK. Done. Back to lurkerhood I go.

  9. Goldschmied says:

    Let a rousing cheer be given for Galactica and may Architect always remember that we true believers and by that I mean us hardcore sci-fi addicts will always be a beacon of profound meaning in a sea of soap opera watchers. I’ll hit the sack now because it’s already midnight in my part of this small world.

  10. Doc says:

    I wonder how much of Starbuck taking on all eight of the raiders was her concern for the nuggets and how much was her trying to commit suicide because of her guilt over Zak.

  11. Gray says:

    I’ve actually been thinking about that last point myself. It’s probably undoubtedly clear that I am a die hard Starbuck fan. I would stop short though at saying I’m a Starbuck apologist so I feel like I can say this without it being blind loyalty.

    I think the choice was just Starbuck. I don’t think it was a conscious step in either direction. To her it might’ve been the same thing. However, I don’t think it was suicidal in the conventional way. I think she truly believes that if she’s meant to pull it out of the fire, she will.

    You can’t argue that she was distraught but she’s been distraught a helluva lot on this show and she’s never tried to kill herself. Ahem. Until she does 🙂 Ostensibly.

  12. Mike P says:

    I had the same thought, Doc. I think Starbuck wanted to die. She was torn up over (she thought, wrongly as it turns out, but still) having completely frakked up her relationship with Cmdr. Adama beyond repair. Add that to the residual guilt over having passed Zak in the first place, plus whatever darkness she is feeling along with everyone else about the aftermath of the Cylon attack — hey, we know from the miniseries that some are wondering, “Are they [i.e., the dead] the lucky ones?” I think Starbuck was wondering that at this point, too.

    So, interestingly, in a situation that would have killed even the best shot (in or out of the cockpit ) in the fleet, Starbuck survives . . . and then is able to fly a raider back to Galactica (in “You Can’t Go Home Again” — an ironic title, of course, because that is precisely what Starbuck *does* — not to mention going back to Caprica in end of season 1-beginning of season 2, not to mention also going back to see her mother — albeit in a vision — in “Malestrom”) . . . I am wondering: is Starbuck actually the fifth/final Cylon, or did she survive taking on those eight raiders by more than sheer chutzpah and awesomeness alone?

    I haven’t seen “Maelstrom” since it aired, but I think some of the camera work of Starbuck in the cockpit in that episode was intentionally reminiscent of the scenes of her in the cockpit in “Act of Contrition.” Not sure if there are deep connections to be drawn. Maybe, while watching “Malestrom,” we are supposed to think, “Hey, I’ve seen Starbuck in this situation before, and she came out okay that time…”

  13. ByYorCommand says:

    Admittedly, I have not been doing the re-watch due to workload and the arrival of spring.

    However, I have watched a couple random episodes like “Home” and “The Occupation”. It’s amazing how it feels like I am watching it for the first time again, knowing what we know happens at the end of season 3. It’s given a whole new spin for me to analyze : D

  14. dxf says:

    Regarding/inspired by the Athena discussion of whether she has free will: If Cylons have a technological component, is it possible that some of them work better than others?


  15. Jaz says:

    I just re-watched Act of Contrition and I was surprised at how Lee was doing the whole moral sticking-to-the-law thing exactly like he did at the end of season 3. Adama even said, “You sound like some lawyer.” I wonder if RDM and DE planned that Lee-as-lawyer plotline from the beginning of the series.

    I also loved seeing the old Laura…she was so just back then. She’s become so willing to do morally wrong things as a leader. I always feel like I empathize with the difficulty of her and the Fleet’s situation, but it seems like she has been on one VERY slippery slope since season 1.

    And weren’t EJO and KS just thrilling to watch? Architect – you were right on about how amazing their performances were. Totally heartbreaking.

    Did anyone notice that Starbuck had moments of calm contemplation throughout this episode. She had a maturity in certain moments that she really loses in seasons 2 and 3, which is totally realistic given what her character goes through in the whole series. It was so interesting to see that her character used to have ups and downs, instead of mostly downs. And doesn’t Katee just act the hell out of Starbuck??? I can’t say enough about how wonderful her acting is.

    And thank you, thank you, thank you Audra, Chuck and Sean for being our fearless leaders as we wander through the hiatus wilderness! 🙂

  16. White Nugget Center says:

    I was surprised at first watch and now on re-watch that Starbuck didn’t feel betrayed by Lee telling papadama about Zak. When papadama questioned Starbuck, he said Lee had told him to ask Starbuck about Zak’s death.

    Although Lee told papadama unintentionally, if I was Starbuck, I would have been terribly mad at Lee for given me up. Sure, she had a lot of guilt and she really needed to get this out. But it was her story to tell.

    I can’t remember if or how this plays out directly in future episodes, but Lee and Starbuck seem to have brittle will-they/won’t-they relationship for the rest of the season.

    Also, why does Starbuck have this really intense relationship with the family Adama? It’s verges on oedipal/incestuous. Does it have anything to do with the shadowing the “final (5-1)” have with other people in power? I’m also curious why does Lee/papadama recipicate the relationship? Are the people shadowed predestined to accept these hidden cylon somehow?

    She is engaged to Zak, but the only photo Starbuck has of him also has Lee in it. Did Lee go out on his own after Zak’s death to get away from papadama or his attraction to Starbuck? And papadama himself seems to forgive Starbuck eventually(pretty quickly) for her part in Zak’s death.

  17. gafra says:

    Gotta say after watching this ep that Architect has summed it up most eloquently. This was a defining moment for Starbuck, however I noticed that from the miniseries onwards KS and papadama were on very close terms: surrugate daughter etc.

    I find it very hard to believe that Starbuck could carry Zac’s death on her conscience and still look at the old man in the same way. That has to be like a festering sore on her soul…

    What would papadama’s reaction be if Starbuck fessed up when there was no war underway? Truth was Papadama needed her at that moment. I have very little doubt that if Papadama did not need new pilots trained, or a pilot of Starbuck’s calibre, that Starbuck would be spending life either in hack or intensive care…

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