Battlestar Galactica “33” Review (1×01)

1 May


Battlestar Galactica is, at its most basic level, a survival story. I begin with the same line I used to open my review of the miniseries because 1) I couldn’t think of anything else, and 2) That idea applies even more so to this episode, as “33” is a gripping and powerful exploration of a group of people desperate to survive.

Due to the fact that the miniseries served as a backdoor pilot, the show’s able to drop us into the action without need for much exposition; what we see is a ticking clock, counting down from 33 as sleep-deprived crew-members fight to stay awake, to stay alive as the Cylons remain right behind them. They’re past the point of mere exhaustion now; they’re hurting, dangling over the precipice, with nothing in sight but each other and the ticking clock. The show expertly conveys this through not only the characters’ physical appearances, but also their interactions with each other: Adama forgetting whose turn it is to nap, followed by Tigh lying to allow his Captain an extra turn. Starbuck and Lee, breaking down into laughter–after the former begins to chew out the latter–in a wonderful, human moment. Boomer, terse with a civilian. Adama, cutting himself shaving. “There are limits to the human body.”

Yet, just as in the miniseries, difficult decisions still have to be made. The Olympic Carrier is representative of each characters’ fears, whether it be Roslin’s fear of a constantly diminishing amount of lives or Baltar’s fear of being caught or Starbuck and Lee’s fear of crossing a line that their jobs cannot justify. There’s so much weight piled onto each decision, and that only augments the tension, the fear, and the exhaustion.

Let’s talk about Gaius Baltar now, though. There’s no question he’s trying to save his own ass, but this episode introduces a new twist to his relationship with Number Six. Understandably, the juxtaposition of the repentance scene and the destroying of the Olympic Carrier comes across as a bit problematic at first, especially considering how Baltar’s been portrayed so far. Yet, there are also various layers to explore through the human-Cylon relationships with each other and their respective faiths, and as long as the handling of the topic doesn’t descend into cliche, I’m intrigued. I must say, though, I’m more intrigued by the psychological aspects of his relationship with Six, rather than the religious aspects.

This all culminates in a moving final scene in which President Roslin adds one more number to her whiteboard tally, due to a baby being born. It’s just one number, but each life lost or gained has a deep impact. She had to subtract from that number earlier, but adding one here is a reminder that something good still remains. The situation is bleak, but there’s a reason they’re still fighting.


-Helo’s still here, and his scenes in the forest also follow in the trend of survival; at the end of it all, I’m intrigued by where his storyline is going next. The cuts to Caprica do take a little away from the laser-focused, almost claustrophobic feel of the rest of the episode, though.

-Why 33? There’s no right answer, but I do like the idea of the Cylons picking “33” as a sort of middle finger to the idea of half an hour, therefore reflecting their break from the humans. Then again, “33” could also represent the ties they still share with the humans, as it’s possible that they can literally only catch up to the ships after 33 minutes; technology doesn’t necessarily help them. Or, maybe it’s just some more religious symbolism (Jesus dying at 33 in 33 AD). Or, something something Scottie Pippen.

-I like how the episode keeps it ambiguous as to what exactly happened to the Olympic Carrier. Not much in this world is clear-cut, and although some guilt and uncertainty may keep these guys up at night, they at least get to have the night.

-I really like the memorial organized on the wall.

-Starbuck. Ya gotta love her. Her scene with Lee might actually be my favorite part of the episode.

-Most of my remaining reviews (aside from a select few) will cover anywhere from 2 to 5 episodes at once. I just don’t have the time to really pick apart every episode, but I’ll do my best.

Photo credit: Syfy, Battlestar Galactica

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