Battlestar Galactica “The Captain’s Hand”/ “Downloaded” Review (2×17/2×18)

26 Sep


ARC 6, Part 1: “The Captain’s Hand” and “Downloaded”

“The Captain’s Hand”–2×17

I’d hate to be commander of the Pegasus, considering I’d probably die within a few days of taking command. In this episode, Commander Garner becomes the third to perish in the span of five episodes, and he goes the “sacrificing yourself for the good of everyone else” route by returning to the engine room he knows so well.


It’s an interesting sequence of leaders: Cain to Fisk to Garner is a tumble from an authoritative, respected, and feared presence to someone who acts the part of a leader, but is undone by his inability to deal with others. Cain wouldn’t budge because she was a leader, while Garner doesn’t budge because he isn’t a leader; command is about the people, after all. Ultimately, the reins of the ship now belong to Lee Adama, someone who isn’t from the Pegasus.

I like how the episode explores the choices our leaders make in this BSG world; Adama’s choice of Garner, for example, is a bit questionable considering how incompetent Garner is, but you can see why Adama would elect to stick with a Pegasus officer in a time like this. Roslin, meanwhile, makes the choice to criminalize abortion, and that’s even more questionable at first considering, well, her entire character; the writing choices are obviously derived from a desire to explore a *Tough Choice*, so it feels manipulative at times, but it’s an interesting conflict nonetheless. The rights of the individual aren’t placed up against, say, religion, but rather the survival of the entire human species, and we’re placed into an entirely new context here. Roslin eventually makes a choice that benefits Baltar–although surely, she’d know that criminalizing abortion, especially through a blanket rule, isn’t necessarily going to increase the number on that whiteboard?–and now, she has some serious competition in the upcoming election.


This is one episode in which the flashbacks don’t get tedious; rather, they provide an engaging tone and set the scene for the rest of the episode, providing us with a look at how Cylons–specifically Six and Sharon–are downloaded into new bodies. After the opening, we delve into the Cylon side of things; thus far, the show’s posed questions that have challenged the characters’ consciences, but now, we gain more insight into the way Cylons like Six and Sharon think, the way that they, too, can become racked with guilt. In contrast with D’Anna referring to them all as the “Cylon”, these two think of themselves as individuals, as people not working as the larger whole, but for the larger whole, and those feelings build up throughout until they both see the hypocrisy inherent in “humans don’t respect life the way we do”.

The episode cleverly sets up the duality of the Baltar-Six interactions, with the Baltar hallucinations echoing the Six hallucinations we’ve seen already, and there’s a bit of a full circle thing going on here: what causes one to hallucinate the other is, for the other, a result of the hallucinations. Tricia Helfer is magnificent here, and the episode in general is a breath of fresh air after an extended stay in a big pile of crap. Let’s see what’s in store for the show as we head into the two part finale.

GRADES: B (“The Captain’s Hand”), A- (“Downloaded”)


-Although I’m not a huge fan of the way Garner’s character is written, there’s no denying that John Heard plays him well.

-The pacing of the show needs a serious makeover. For example: Lee and Dualla. I get that there’s been a significant amount of time passed between “Sacrifice” and “The Captain’s Hand”, but jeez. Let’s just forget about Billy and manufacture some tension between Starbuck and Lee and dive headfirst into a relationship no one cares about, right?

-Roslin’s decision in “The Captain’s Hand” also, in hindsight, emphasizes her view of the Cylons as not human, considering her decision to abort Sharon’s baby a few episodes back. Eventually, in “Downloaded”, we see that she elects to fake the death of the baby, Hera.

-Next up: two part season finale. Time jump!

Photo credit: Syfy, Battlestar Galactica


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