Make your own free website on Tripod.com

TAKE THE CELESTRA

Written by James Carlson and Terrence McDonnell

Original Airdate: April 1, 1979

Synopsis by Matthew Wharmby

PREMISE: Veteran Commander Kronus is decorated at a ceremony, but the model conditions on his industrial ship conceal harsh conditions which spark a mutiny. One of the rebels is Starbuck's old flame Aurora. The power struggle aboard the Celestra prompts Kronus's corrupt deputy to attempt to maroon him and the rebels.

THE SHOW: Adama reads into his journal that a general lull in events of late has led to a renewal of hope, during which the people of the Fleet can even, from time to time, indulge in ceremony. This is revealed as an awards event in which Commander Kronus, currently skipper of the electronics ship Celestra, is decorated and given formal command of all three industry ships. We hear of his military exploits, when as commander of the Battlestar Ricon leading the Colonial Sixth Fleet, he destroyed three Cylon basestars at the battle of Kasmaro Archipelago. However, the assembled Galactica warriors (getting a chance to dust off their old dress uniforms for the last time) have a shock when Starbuck nearly steps out of line. As usual, he's clocked a girl in the audience, but this time can identify her by name. 'My God! It's Aurora!' he says as his friends have to yank him back into formation before Colonel Tigh spots him.

Aurora is Commander Kronus's pilot. She has some business aboard the bridge before shuttling Kronus back to the Celestra, requesting information about the 'beta sector'. Starbuck catches up with her, but she blanks him. Once the curmudgeonly commander is aboard the shuttle, we see his second-in-command, a smug young individual named Chaka. He takes the opportunity to suck up to Kronus by congratulating him on his decoration, but the commander pours scorn on the occasion in general. 'When I commanded the Ricon and six hundred fighting ships, that was a fleet!' he grouses. This collection of slow-moving derelicts 'isn't a fleet...it's a convoy.' More importantly, he knows full well that Chaka is expecting Kronus to retire and hand over command. Kronus has to let him down gently, but in doing so plants the seeds of resentment into his deputy.

When Aurora gets back to the Celestra, she meets her boyfriend Damon, a weedy fellow with an afro that would make Kid (of Kid & Play) jealous. The information she got from the Galactica bridge is going to come in handy when they and a few other Celestra crewmen decide to execute their long-awaited plan to take over a shuttle and make a run for it. The reason is the slave labour conditions imposed aboard the ship by Chaka.

Aboard the Galactica, Starbuck is miserable that Aurora has taken no notice of him and has apparently moved on (perish the thought!). He begs Apollo to come with him to the Celestra to try and sort things out with her. Unfortunately the old cad has already got something planned with Cassiopeia, whom he has to blow off. Irritated, she demands the immediate return of the ducats for the triad match they were going to see aboard the Rising Star - but manages to keep Starbuck's jealous nature interested by keeping him guessing as to whom she might be going to offer the extra ticket.

Under the pretense of using their spare time to go over to the Celestra for a maintenance check, Apollo and Starbuck make their way there, but are surprised to walk straight into a firefight. Aurora, Damon and their co-conspirators have managed to surprise the security personnel in the landing bay and pinch their lasers, but further guards have sounded the alarm and fired on them. Starbuck and Apollo are figuring out whose side to take when Aurora appears and draws a bead on Starbuck - roll commercials.

Aurora has her former lover dead, but Apollo moves up behind her and covers her in turn. Unwilling to blast Starbuck, Aurora lays down her arms and calls a halt to the mutiny. She is upset with Starbuck for having ruined everything, especially when Kronus takes a predictably firm line and orders them all shuttled to the Galactica brig, with the commander making the handover in person.

Once the shuttle is away, Chaka can now unleash his own counter-plan. Still bitter at not having been given command after Kronus's award, he is now going to undercut him altogether. Having notified the Galactica that they are experiencing engine trouble that will force them to drop out of position pending repairs, he orders his helmsman Hermes to cut power to the Celestra's main systems and running lights, letting the ship vanish off radar. This is strictly against regulations - but then again, so is feeding the shuttle false coordinates which will send it haring off into deep space. By the time their two centares worth of fuel runs out, they won't be able to make it back, and if they do, will not be able to see where to land. Just to make certain of his own gratitude, Chaka summarily promotes his entire bridge staff, with the accompanying pay raise.

As the shuttle zooms off in the wrong direction (hold on, you'd think you'd be able to sight the other 219 ships in the fleet and navigate by them!), the mutineers sit there in shackles and with long faces. Starbuck wanders over to chat to Aurora and try and figure out why she'd start a rebellion on a fleet ship. Angrily, she spits that Chaka is forcing the workers aboard the Celestra to complete sixteen-centare shifts. Kronus did not actually know this, probably rationalising the high productivity as evidence of his efficiency. What they were planning to do was to steal a shuttle and flee to the twenty-first planet in this system, which she chose from the info she collected from the Galactica earlier. What to do, Starbuck asks. 'Live!' Aurora cries out. As she is explaining this to Starbuck, Damon goes into a major sulk in the corner, figuring she's chosen Starbuck anew - which is where the show's Romeo has to turn stern and tell him off. It's obvious to Starbuck that she loves Damon now - while Starbuck loved her once, it's over. With a guilty thought back to Cassiopeia, he concedes to Damon like a gentleman. With everyone all smiles, all the better to plan their strategy of revenge against Chaka - assuming they get back alive, as it's at this point that they realise that they've been sent in the wrong direction. With a sharp about turn, they steam back in the vague direction of the fleet.

After two centares expire, a smug Chaka reckons his adversaries have had it, and orders Hermes to fire up the engines and resume their position in the fleet. Hermes punches it, and they're away. Once they're within visual contact, they'll bring up the lights and nobody will be any the wiser for what's happened. Not far away, the shuttle is on their trail, but running fast out of fuel. Apollo is furious to see the Celestra dark, and homes in on their landing bay as the ship's last drops of fuel are used up and they're running on fumes. As it happens, this has turned the tables on Chaka, as he can't pick them up as they come in. Our Heroes disembark and head for the armoury, but the shrewd Chaka has ordered the contents emptied and stashed in a box on the bridge. Thus, with just Apollo and Starbuck tooled up, the others have to use their fists to go through the various guards they encounter on their way to the Celestra bridge.

As they storm the bridge, a shootout ensues between Chaka's men and Apollo, Starbuck, Aurora, Damon and even Commander Kronus. However, in the fracas, a stray round hits the flight console and the Celestra begins to plunge out of formation. Commander Kronus bravely seizes the stick to bring the ship back level, but is hit himself and collapses. Alternating gunshots and punches, Our Heroes overpower Chaka and his men, but the focus of this episode is out of it and not responding.

A solemn scene aboard the Galactica recalls the first scene as the cast reconvene to send off Commander Kronus where before they'd decorated him. After a brief funeral eulogy delivered by Adama, Kronus's body is committed to space, in a local equivalent of burial at sea.


John's Comments:

RATING: 1 1/2 stars out of 5

This is my pick for the worst episode of Battlestar Galactica. A lot of people will probably disagree, but I have to go with this choice simply because I found this episode to be incredibly boring. The Magnificent Warriors and The Lost Warrior were also really bad (and they were certainly more simplistic), but I never found them to be boring. A story focusing on the hardships of voyaging on the rag tag fleet is a great idea, but this episode takes one self-destructive turn after another and may be the best example of a wasted opportunity for the series. Many of BG's bad episodes were somewhat saved by wonderful performances from the actors, but there is nothing here that stands out (although the Starbuck/Cassiopea reconciliation at the end is a nice moment). Starbuck and Apollo actually look stale. This is one of the few times that neither Richard Hatch nor Dirk Benedict are able to rise above the mediocre writing. Commander Kronus is incredibly boring - a static, stale character with little depth. Because it's hard to care about the character, it's hard to feel anything during the "dramatic" finish when Kronus dies. Given the moronic decisions he makes, I felt like saying "Good riddance." On the other hand, Ana Alicia suceeds in making Aurora interesting, but she is mostly wasted in this episode. Unfortunately, her boyfriend is more boring than Kronus, and I just wanted him to shut up. Despite these issues, the main problem with Take The Celestra lies in the script itself.

One of the biggest (yet least noted) flaws of Battlestar Galactica was the way it portrayed life in the rag-tag fleet. Day-to-day existence on a fleet of mostly derelict ships would no doubt be a grueling struggle for survival. Yet the series rarely ever indicated this. Most scenes with civilians consisted of parties, gambling, and triad games aboard the Rising Star! (hardly the most accurate look we could have been given) Take The Celestra was the perfect vehicle to change this, but unfortunately the writers took the easy way out. Aurora and the other mutineers were "illegally forced" to work so many double shifts. This makes the issue of right and wrong very easy to determine, but consider another direction the writers could have taken.

What if the harsh working conditions existed throughout the entire fleet? (and, logically, they should have) What if Aurora and the others were not working harder than anyone else and simply decided they had had enough? Would they be morally right in trying to escape the fleet (considering that the loss of manpower would likely hurt the remaining Colonials)? Apollo, Starbuck and the rest of the military are always talking about the importance of freedom. Apollo talks about it strongly in his speech to the Precedium in Experiment In Terra. When Starbuck tries to convince the prisoners to rebel in The Long Patrol, he says "You have rights. You're human beings!" When they finally escape, he says, "That's freedom." I think an interesting idea to explore is how free the Colonials actually were. Surely many of them wanted to settle on some of the planets the fleet passed by. If Adama refused their wishes, he would technically be restricting their freedom. Unfortunately, this kind of story is problematic because the extent of Adama's power is never clear; in fact, it varies from episode to episode (depending whatever works best for the story that week). But this kind of story would have made it a tough call as to whether Aurora and her friends were right and whether Starbuck and Apollo were totally justified in stopping them.

Anyway, that's the episode I would have liked to see, or anything other than what we did see, the most boring Galactica episode to date. The story is riddled with holes, outdone perhaps only by Experiment In Terra. Whereas that story's flaws are not immediately noticeable, most of this story's flaws are. Commander Kronus' decision to immediately shuttle the prisoners back to the fleet despite being so far away doesn't make much sense. His accompanying the shuttle makes even less sense. Colonial law states that a commander has to personally take the mutineers in for charges? Huh? Even when his ship is out in the middle of nowhere? Okay. Whatever. Kronus should have waited until the Celestra rejoined the fleet. His decision makes him look like an idiot.

How is it that Chakka is able to get almost the entire crew to mutiny with him on a whim? He couldn't have been planning mutiny beforehand because he had expected to become commander of the Celestra. And if the entire crew wasn't with him in the mutiny, then how could he have expected to get away with powering down the ship? And could Starbuck and Apollo both be so clueless that they wouldn't be able to remember which heading the fleet was on? And how does the shuttle run out of fuel so fast? And how is it that Kronus could not have known or heard about any of the harsh working conditions? The Celestra isn't that big of a ship. Are we to believe that he never left the bridge? To top it off, why is there such an urgent need in the final battle scene to "level out" the Celestra? It's not as though there were any ships or planets around that it could crash into. Almost nothing in this episode makes any sense.

The minor plot of Cassiopea agonizing over Starbuck's evasiveness in their relationship is far more compelling than the main plot of the Celestra mutiny. But even the Starbuck/Aurora plot has problems. For one thing, the writers have Starbuck act like a total jerk by skipping his date with Cassie so he can see Aurora. Why would Cassie put up with that? And how is it that Starbuck had a serious relationship with Aurora going during the time of the Destruction? Didn't he clearly have something going with Athena back then? If so, this only makes Starbuck out to be a bigger womanizer than anyone thought (not exactly the best way to endear him to viewers). Aurora makes a valid point in her anger towards him. If Starbuck really did care about her, why didn't he check to see if her name was in the fleet computer? Just because her house was destroyed doesn't mean for certain that she was killed. It's also highly questionable that Starbuck ever made it back to Caprica after the Cylons attacked. We've never been given any indication that anyone besides Adama and Apollo ever went back. Considering how dangerous it would have been (not to mention how strong a chance that someone might have led the Cylons back to the Galactica), I think it's absolutely ludicrous to suggest Adama would have allowed anyone to return to the planet.

The viper joystick on a pole in the center of the Celestra's bridge is about as silly as anything ever seen in this series.

This episode is not the first time the Celestra appears. It can be seen in the fleet in the opening credits (after Terry Carter's credits) and at the end of each episode when Adama does his monologue, "Fleeing from the Cylon tyranny..." It's worth noting that the Celestra does look appropriate for an electronics ship; It looks ugly and boring. Too bad the story had to be the same.

The network censors did not want Kronus to die, but thankfully the writers won out.

The Celestra landing bay firefight proved troublesome for the writers as ABC censors insisted that every cut to the firefight from other scenes was a new "incidence of violence," putting the episode well over its allowed limit.

Ana Alicia (Aurora) later appeared in the Galactica 1980 episode Space Croppers as Gloria Alonzo, a farmgirl with a crush on Lt. Dillon.

Blooper 1 - Tickets are called duckets (which is a bit confusing in itself), yet Cassiopea accidently calls them tickets at the end.

Blooper 2 - When Apollo and Starbuck land on the Celestra, you see the Vipers slowing to a stop. Your attention is drawn to the far Viper, but the viper nearest to the camera is the cockpit shot Viper and it has an incomplete outer skin. You can see the wooden skeleton at the bottom of the screen.

Blooper 3 - After the battle ends, in a wide shot of the bridge we see Kronus laying next to the viper joystick with one arm wrapped around it. Then in a close-up shot, the arm is down at his side.

It is revealed that the protocol for funerals involves launching the body into deep space.

Sheba appears in dress uniform for the first time. Normally, I wouldn't bother mentioning something like that, but in an episode like this, it's tough to find strong points.

In take the Celestra, when Apollo and Starbuck land on the Celestra and you see the Vipers slowing to a stop. Youre Attention is naturaly drawn to the far Viper, but the viper nearest to the camera is the cockpit shot Viper and it has an incomplete outer skin. You can see the wooden skeleton at the bottom of the screen.


Matt's Comments:

RATING: 2 stars out of 5 (Fair)

They should have called this one 'Take the Olestra', because, like the diet supplement, it leaves you shitless (bored, that is). That's probably unkind, but I had to get the weak allegory in somehow. It's also murderously hard to even write this review, there's so little to recommend it.

This episode has no relation to any of the others, time-wise, which makes it rather disconcerting.

Fanfic repairs a lot of this episode - it's amazing what resourcefulness can spring out of just 24 hours of television drama (like 'Ship of Lights' John says in Experiment in Terra 'I have to do the best with what I've got!'). Kronus is often added to stories exploring the pre-Destruction past, especially ones in which a youthful Adama and Cain feature. 'I preferred him when he was my aide,' is one of the coldest lines ever addressed regarding the otherwise beloved, grandfatherly commander!

There is a rare good moment where some of the drudgery of life in the Fleet is noted - Boomer and Sheba are waylaid in the corridor by Cassiopeia, who asks them 'How was patrol?', to which Boomer replies 'Oh, same as usual, Cassie...Boring.'

Ana Alicia is the finest woman to have appeared on this show, with the exception of Jane Seymour. They liked her so much they brought her back for Galactica 1980!

Other than a rather disjoined firefight, not an awful lot goes on in this one, and the long drawn-out scene aboard the shuttle, where everyone's explaining half the episode, rather drags. Additionally, the sound effect used for the shuttle interior when in motion is incorrect.

How DOES Kronus die? Does he have a heart attack (as John has suggested), is he hit by fire (incidental or otherwise), or does he just get bored?

It's surprising how unwelcome fist fights are on Battlestar Galactica - don't ask me why, but it doesn't seem to work. Starbuck knows this, shaking his hand in pain after knocking down an opponent!

Cassiopeia can count herself satisfied with the outcome of this. She's got Starbuck on an elastic band long enough for him to stretch away from her but bounce right back.

I disagree with John, I think the Celestra looks tough. Hammerheaded and brute, it could probably have lasted a good few rounds in battle. Not surprisingly, mattes of this ship were also used in Buck Rogers.


Regular Cast

Capt. Apollo		Richard Hatch

Lt. Starbuck Dirk Benedict

Commander Adama Lorne Greene

Lt. Boomer Herbert Jefferson, Jr.

Athena Maren Jensen

Cassiopea Laurette Spang

Col. Tigh Terry Carter

Baltar John Colicos

Boxey Noah Hathaway

Flt. Sgt. Jolly Tony Swartz

Rigel Sarah Rush

Omega David Greenham

Dr. Salik George Murdock

Dr. Wilker John Dullagham

Brie Janet Louise Johnson

Ensign Greenbean Ed Begley, Jr.

Giles Larry Manetti

Cpl. Komma Jeff MacKay

Imperious Leader Dick Durock

Patrick Macnee (voice)

Lucifer Felix Silla

Jonathon Harris (voice)

Guest Cast

Aurora		Ana Alicia

Paul Fix Kronus

Nick Holt Chakka


Battlestar Galactica Episode Guide

Enter Sheba's Galaxy