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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
Galactica 1980: The Return of Starbuck Galactica 1980
"The Return of Starbuck"
Written by Glen A. Larson
Directed by Ron Satlof
Original air date: May 4, 1980

Dr. Zee recounts to Commander Adama a startling and vivid dream he had...about a Warrior named Starbuck.

Read the synopsis of this episode at the Battlestar Wiki site

Didja Know?

This was the final episode of Galactica 1980 and widely acknowledged as the fan favorite episode of the series, with a tone much closer to the original BSG series than any other. The story is based on the 1968 film Hell in the Pacific, about one American and one Japanese soldier marooned on an uninhabited Pacific island and forced to work together to survive. The 1979 novella "Enemy Mine" also has a similar premise and was turned into the 1985 film of the same name.

The exterior scenes on Planet Starbuck were shot at Red Rock State Park in the Mojave Desert of California.

Didja Notice?

How is it that Dr. Zee does not already know he was not born in the fleet? Did Adama (and others) lie to him about it or did he just never care to learn about it (which seems unlikely)? Why would Adama conceal the infant boy's arrival in a cobbled-together life boat? And if he was lied to, what was Zee told about who his parents were?

How could Dr. Zee not have been aware of the past existence of one of the fleet's greatest Warriors, Starbuck?

Many of the shots of Boomer and Starbuck's battle with the Cylon Raiders are from past episodes of BSG, with the older, one-seater Vipers being flown. But, there are several moments when it is clear that new footage was shot in the dual-cockpit of the newer Vipers of Galactica 1980.

The planetary system seen at 5:47 on the DVD, where Starbuck finally crash lands on one of the planets, is a shot of one of the Colony worlds from "Annihilation".

Planet Starbuck is seen to do Tatooine one better, having three suns!
Planet Starbuck

At 8:03 on the DVD, we can see that Starbuck's ejected Viper cockpit is really just a reuse of the stage cockpit normally used for filming the actors as they act in piloting the craft; the parachute covers the small portion of the engines built into the back of the cockpit and metallic debris obscures the incomplete lower half of the module. In fact, at 9:11, we can see through a gap in the module (about the middle of the screen) when Starbuck reaches in to grab his emergency pack! Viper escape capsule

At 8:39 on the DVD, a strange beep/whine tones twice. What is it? Is it supposed to be some kind of noise from the escape module?

At 10:34 on the DVD, we see behind Starbuck as he approaches the downed Cylon Raider, the cluster of rocks and boulders that he will turn into his shelter with the help of pieces of metal from the Cylon wreckage.
Starbuck's new home

On his first night on the planet, Starbuck notes that "the astral winds were increasing the bite of the cold." I'm not sure what he means by the term "astral wind". There is a known phenomenon called the solar wind, a stream of charged particles (protons and electrons) emitted by the sun, but it does not have a known appreciable effect on planetary temperature or pressure systems causing aerial disturbance.

At 12:48 on the DVD, the Cylon body in the background is obviously just an empty Cylon costume propped into a chair, as the cloth around the knee joint is seen to be empty and twisted to the side. Of course, it could be argued within the story that the centurion's leg was broken in the crash. one dead Cylon

The centurion Starbuck reconstructs from the parts of the three inoperative ones, henceforth known as Cy, has a different tonal quality to its voice than the typical Cylon, possibly due to a damaged vocal simulator. Cy's voice is provided by well-known voice actor Gary Owens, while evidence suggests that regular centurions were voiced in both G1980 and BSG by voice actor Michael Santiago.

Arguing with Cy after his reactivation, Starbuck remarks that the Cylon has the mentality of a two-year-old. Shouldn't that be two-yahren-old?

Worrying about Cy's march into the night to find him a wo-man, Starbuck remarks on the cliff edge's treacherous fall of thousands of metrics. Here, "metric" seems to represent something similar to "meter", but in past episodes of BSG, seemed to represent "kilometer".

Here, Starbuck uses the term "day". In BSG, this was normally referred to as a "time cycle".

Starbuck seems to indicate that he had seen Angela in his dreams before Cy found her on the planet and brought her to him. Might this be an indication that he had actually encountered her before? Might he have been abducted by the Ship of Lights at some point prior to crashing on the planet, where he met her and, indeed, impregnated her at the wish of the Beings of Light? This would make more sense, from an adult perspective (remember the Galactica 1980 series was aimed at kids), than Angela's suggestion in the episode that he is the "spiritual" father of the baby (Dr. Zee); if my speculation is true, he would be the biological father as well.

Near the beginning of the episode, Starbuck states that he has only a few days rations. Yet, he later states that his rations are growing low by sharing them with Angela, after at least a few weeks have passed!

On Earth, human pregnancy generally lasts about 9 months. Starbuck refers to the gestation period as about 9.5 months. Is there a difference between Earthling and Colonial pregnancy, or is it just a difference in the estimation of generalities? (Not to mention the Colonial term for "month" is "quatron").

We do not see a scene in which she reveals her name, but, in the final act of the episode, Starbuck refers to the woman as Angela; whether she told him that name or he simply applied it to her is unknown. On Earth, the name "Angela" is derived from the Greek word "angelos", which means "messenger of God". An appropriate name for one who is a representative of the Beings of Light, who seem to be somewhat analogous to "angels" of Earth's western religions.

Watching this episode as an adult, I realize that Starbuck was sacrificing himself to let Angela and the baby escape. But at the time it originally aired, I remember I was like, "That bitch! She took off and left Starbuck on the planet against the Cylons!" Okay, I probably wasn't thinking "bitch" as a 13-year-old at the time, but it sure seemed like Angela had launched the escape craft and left Starbuck behind on her own initiative.

While greeting the investigating trio of centurions near the end of the episode, Cy refers to himself as "Group Leader Cyrus", implying that he had the name of "Cyrus" before his crash-landing on the planet. 

Unanswered Questions

What happened to Starbuck? At the end of the episode, he is left alone on the planet after the death of Cy and the escape of Angela and the baby with little or no food. But there is, presumably, a fully functional Cylon Raider nearby (the one that brought the Cylon trio at the end), which Starbuck might be able to escape the planet in. A follow-up teleplay, "Wheel of Fire", was written but never produced as an episode due to the cancellation of the series. In the follow-up, it would have been revealed that Angela was one of the Beings of Light from the Ship of Lights and Starbuck was being tested in our current episode for his worthiness to become one of them, which he does.

Is Cy truly dead for good? Might Starbuck be able to repair him again with parts from the other fallen centurions?

How was Dr. Zee able to have such a clairvoyant dream? Is it a previously unknown ability of his? Or did the Beings of Light send the dream to him?

Memorable Dialog

a dream about a great Warrior.wav
I always look out for Number One.wav
tell them not to sit around waiting.wav
do you think I want to leave someone I love like a son?.wav
goodbye, Starbuck.wav
Planet Starbuck.wav
you're a genius.wav
die, human.wav
human evil.wav
we are enemies.wav
your final word.wav
cultural dissidents.wav
what are you going to do with the universe.wav
a minimum of information.wav
so you keep telling me.wav
you mind if I call you Cy?.wav
you have the mentality of a two year old.wav
what an interesting coincidence.wav
did I irritate you?.wav
you now owe me.wav
who is teaching whom?.wav
how do you hurt a Cylons feelings?.wav
my companionship is not adequate.wav
pain and sorrow.wav
she's alive.wav
I feel I have already compromised everything I believe in.wav
I am rapidly being surrounded.wav
by your command.wav
I'm going.wav
I'm nothing but a machine.wav
I know it's a lot to ask.wav
time of arrival.wav
you lost the war.wav
another great human plan.wav
don't mention that the idea came from me.wav
half Galactican and half Cylon.wav
we're all in this together.wav
a very healthy baby boy.wav
not friends.wav
I must go.wav
judgment day.wav
you are a good man.wav
3 against 2.wav
Group Leader Cyrus.wav
not human, not Cylon...friends.wav
I judge this mortal to be good.wav
could I be Starbucks son?.wav

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