(If you haven’t seen the March 4, 2007 episode of Battlestar Galactica, read no further.)
Wait a minute…that’s it? Starbuck flies into a swirly storm cloud and offs herself for no good reason? Can somebody tell me what the frak is going on here? Her “destiny” was to commit suicide? The massive revelations promised by the writers and producers about Lt. Kara Thrace turn out to be nothing more than a deep-seeded “Mommy Dearest” complex? That’s it…seriously?
It’s hard to look at “Maelstrom” as anything more than a crushing let down. For weeks, the hype surrounding this episode was huge. We were supposed to get answers as to why Starbuck was haunted by the imagery of “The Eye of Jupiter” for her entire life, why Leoben the Cylon told Kara she had a “special destiny”, and perhaps see the ragtag fleet attain a vital clue to Earth’s location. What we got instead was 60 minutes of philosophical jibberish about Starbuck facing her fears of the unknown, confronting the demons from her past (her Mother’s cancer), and not being afraid to discover the place “between life and death” (all told through hallucinations, flashbacks, and dream sequences with Leoben, by the way). We saw no Cylons, no further revelations about the Eye of Jupiter, and the crew is certainly no closer to finding Earth than they were before the season break.
Not to say that the episode was horrible, on the contrary, it had some very compelling dramatic moments and some powerful performances from Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos, and Jamie Bamber in particular. The flashback scene where Starbuck watches a younger version of herself visiting her Mother after her graduation from flight academy and discovering her Mother has cancer was particularly brutal. Worthy of a possible Golden Globe nomination. However, I felt the felt the episode’s overall failure to advance the plot overshadowed these moments.
The episode did deliver on one of the writer’s promises. A major cast member has been chopped from the opening credits of the show. It looks like Katie Sackhoff has some movies or another TV series in the pipeline, or else she did something to piss off the show’s producers. Hopefully, she can return as a semi-regular at some point in the Fourth season and give the viewers an adequate explanation for Starbuck’s seemingly pointless self-sacrifice.
I hate to say it, but it seems like BSG is getting a little sloppy. The first two seasons were tightly-paced and relentless, but so far this season has been choppy and uneven. Too many filler episodes about labor disputes, and far too many dream sequences, mystical gibberish, and unanswered questions are dragging the show down. I’d love to see these final three episodes of the season return to the taught, high-tension storytelling that Battlestar Galactica is capable of.