pop culture | no politics
Author's Note: Having grown tired of what's currently available on TV I've decided to rewatch some of my all time favorite shows. I'm limiting myself to one episode per week in order to experience the storytelling as it was originally intended, which hopefully will preserve the thrill of having to wait a week to see what happens next. This article covers the Battlestar Galactica episode "The Farm", which originally aired on August 12th of 2005.
Previously on Battlestar Galactica: Starbuck and Helo meet up with a human resistance force on Caprica. Apollo helps Roslin escape from the brig, and with the assistance of Tom Zarek she disappears in the fleet. Commander Adama finally emerges from his coma, only to discover that Saul Tigh has made a mess of things in his absence.
This week brings us a different kind of Battlestar Galactica episode as “The Farm” not only shifts the focus from the fleet to the events on Caprica, it puts an emphasis on psychological games complimented with a sprinkle of body horror. I haven’t been shy about my disinterest in what happens on the former home of humanity’s government, the stories told on Caprica hasn’t necessarily been bad, they just haven’t matched the quality of storytelling found in the fleet events. The visuals are unappealing as everything is painted in ugly yellows and browns, and while I understand that is an attempt to visualize the now-radioactive planet it becomes difficult to look at after a handful of moments.
But the events on Caprica are quite interesting in this chapter of Battlestar Galactica, despite the fact that they’re so disturbing. While Starbuck has succeeded in her mission to acquire the Arrow of Apollo, she still needs to find a way to get back to the fleet. Along with Helo and Resistance fighters Sam Anders and Sue-Shaun she concocts a plan to steal a Cylon ship from a nearby airport, but before they can launch their attack they find themselves in a firefight with a Cylon patrol. Starbuck doesn’t get to cover in time before the camera presents her in a dream like state before tilting down to reveal she’s been shot in the abdomen. Over the years there has been speculation among viewers that Starbuck is another secret Cylon model, although I don’t think anyone has ever implied that if this is true that she is aware of the fact. While I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, the way she reacts to being shot has always felt like acceptance to me, as if on a subconscious level she knows that death is nothing more than a reset button for her.
Starbuck awakens in a hospital room, where she finds herself in the care of a doctor named Simon. He claims that Anders brought her in, but when she asks where he is Simon informs her that he died on the operating table. It’s obvious to both the viewer and Starbuck that something is off about this guy, but since she’s still weak from her injuries, and whatever drugs Simon is administering to her, she is not in a position to do anything about it.
Simon’s visits get progressively stranger as the doctor seems far more interested in Starbuck’s reproductive system than the injuries she sustained in the firefight. Benign questions quickly morph into aggressive suggestions as he lectures the Viper pilot on the importance of maintaining the human race. Starbuck counters this by telling Simon that she has no interest in having children, that she’s a warrior not a mother. Simon speculates that she’s reluctant to have a child because her x-rays show signs of child abuse, and while Starbuck doesn’t confirm that we can see how much this hurts her. The disturbing conversation becomes even more troubling when Starbuck awakens to find a new surgical scar on her abdomen, and while she’s still not fully-healed she knows she must escape. Starbuck also takes note that Simon accidentally used her call sign when addressing her, despite the fact that she has never told him what it was.
Starbuck blocks the IV that is delivering her sedative and leaves her room after hours where she finds Simon chatting it up with a Cylon Six model, confirming her fears that she’s under the care of the enemy. She sneaks back to her room and the next time Simon visits she makes her move, using a shard of broken glass to stab him in the neck, and starts looking for a way out of the hospital. She eventually ends up in some kind of experimentation room, where she finds a bunch of women hooked up to some machines. Among them is Sue-Shaun, who begs Starbuck to put her and the others out of their misery. Apparently this is the fate that Simon had planned for her, to be coupled to a Cylon device and turned into some kind of incubator. A disturbing scene for sure, and after a brief hesitation Starbuck grants Sue-Shaun’s wish.
After using a fire extinguisher to take out the Six Starbuck finally breaks out of the hospital. Another Simon is waiting for her outside, but Anders, Helo, and the rest of the Resistance have arrived and kill him. Yet another shootout ensues, and it once again looks like the odds are against the humans until Sharon arrives in a stolen Cylon ship and shoots all the Centurions. While both of these rescues feel rather convenient it’s a relief to see Starbuck finally find safety after all she’s suffered through in this episode. The Caprica events wrap up with Starbuck and Helo saying goodbye to their new friends as they fly off with Sharon to reunite with the Galactica.
The big news back at the fleet is that Adama has returned to command, and his focus is understandably on his son and the fugitive president. Lee and Roslin have managed to disappear somewhere in the fleet with the aide of Tom Zarek, and it isn’t long before Roslin makes a public display of her political power. She gambles that her religious beliefs will be enough to win over the fleet, and delivers a public broadcast asking ships to follow her before Zarek’s ship jumps away. After a few moments twenty-four ships also leave the system, showing Commander Adama just how influential Roslin remains. While he can occasionally be harsh there’s no doubt that Adama takes pride in his role as the fleet’s protector, and we can see how big of a heartbreak losing a third of fleet is for him.
“The Farm” is certainly a unique episode of Battlestar Galactica, but it’s yet another well-paced, character-driven chapter that does a great job of exploring Kara Thrace. And with the events on Caprica seemingly wrapped-up the focus and shift back to the fleet, where the Adama-Roslin feud is quickly building to a climax.