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WAR OF THE GODS

Parts One and Two

Written by Glen A. Larson

Original Airdates: January 14 and 21, 1979

Review by Matthew Wharmby - mwharmby@amdragon.com

Starbuck, Apollo and Sheba meet Count Iblis on the red planetTHE PREMISE:

A mysterious stranger offers the Colonial fleet an extraordinary choice which pits good against evil...

THE STORY:

Silver Spar Squadron moves through the skies on a routine patrol. The Galactica's newest unit is named after its counterpart on the Pegasus, and led by Bojay. The patrol is winding down when all of a sudden, white-hot lights streak towards them at an impossible speed and then dart away again, defying all attempts to either scan or follow. Bojay appeals for calm as Jolly and the other pilots begin to lose their nerve, but finally they prepare to turn around - and that's when they see it. A massive ship of pure light, moving with a sonic whine of deafening proportions that first cripples the vipers entirely and then overcomes their pilots, swallowing up everything.

The Galactica has picked up Silver Spar's distress beacon but can't identify why the four ships have simply disappeared. However, a seismic disturbance on a planet ahead of them might have had something to do with it, although it seems implausible that four ships could have crashed at once. Starbuck, Apollo and Sheba all have personal connections to the missing pilots, strengthening their conviction to launch and begin the search.

The three vipers approach the red-tinged planet and scan it, immediately taking note of the 'no life forms' reading, which seems odd, since the planet looks like one capable of supporting life. Perhaps none of the Thirteenth Tribe made it out this far on their way to Earth. As they enter he atmosphere, they note that much of the vegetation has been burned out by a crash as yet unseen. As they get out of their ships, some of the tension is defused as they take in their bright red surroundings. 'You two ought to see yourselves. You look really weird!' Starbuck chuckles. 'I've never seen you look better,' Sheba quips back, returning the favour from that outrageous proposition he made to her before Gomoray.

Apollo, Starbuck and Sheba investigate the crater and sight the burnt wreckage of a very large ship, and all three warriors are startled out of their wits when a man in white robes appears and warns them off going down there due to the radion levels, and indeed Apollo's hand scanner won't work. All their questions are met with more questions, all answered enigmatically and with a broad smile. The ship was indeed his, but was destroyed by the 'Great Powers'. 'You mean the Cylon Empire,' offers Sheba. 'No,' says the stranger. Apollo in particular is amazed at how he's survived the crash alone and unscathed, and thinks his evasiveness must be due to confusion from the crash, but Sheba has taken a liking to him and offers him food. But it's not food he needs. 'You must have people. Will you be returning to them soon? I wonder if I might accompany you.' After that's sorted out, he cryptically mentions their quest and whether he might be able to help them with it, further puzzling Apollo and Starbuck. Sheba, however, is sympathetic to the man and shrugs off Apollo's uneasiness about the strangeness of the whole thing.

Having sent Starbuck to bring back a shuttle, Apollo and Sheba lead Count Iblis (for that is his name) across the red fields, whereupon the same white lights that accosted Bojay earlier appear again and tear across the sky. Apollo and Sheba are deafened by them, but Iblis is unaffected. He states they are looking for him. Back aboard the Galactica, Apollo and Starbuck report their mixed results to Adama while Sheba sticks close to Iblis. She gives him a tour through the bridge, but as he enters the scanners go out, puzzling the crew. The moment he's gone, they wink back on again as if nothing had happened. When Adama finds out that this total stranger's been allowed to wander through the most sensitive regions of the ship, he is livid. As if in knowledge of this, Iblis asks Sheba to meet Commander Adama. His mention of the commander by name surprises her. While Apollo and Starbuck are being bollocked by Adama for the security breach, Iblis enters and introduces himself.

Somehow Sheba has been swayed by the Count and his requests, filling Apollo with concern, but she's convinced that Iblis cares for all of them. And if Apollo can't see that, 'you're a lot less sensitive than I thought.' That's below the belt, and Apollo reels.

Iblis thanks Adama for delivering him from his enemies, whom he describes as infinite, everywhere and relentless - but no more specific than that, claiming that Adama might not understand. Iblis becomes irritated at the inference that the Cylons are any more powerful than his own enemies, but then snaps back into charming mode. He then unloads revelation after revelation, identifying Colonials, their background and their destination. Adama stands his ground when informed casually of Earth, whereupon the penny drops. 'Your people will be safe under my leadership.' Adama is stunned but stolid. 'Why do you think I'm here?,' states Iblis. 'I've come to prepare your way to Earth.'

Adama records in his journal that word of Count Iblis has sparked fascination among the fleet, but Adama still has doubts about the integrity of the man and his effect on Adama's ability to keep order if this proves to be another disappointment.

In the Life Center, frustration is etched on Salik and Cassie's faces as they reveal that none of the scanners they've been using have been able to get a reading on Count Iblis, even when used clandestinely by Cassie. They speculate on whether he could be an android.

Sheba takes Count Iblis to the Agro Ship, where the peaceful atmosphere relaxes Sheba. She asks him whether they can expect to find a strong civilisation there, but Iblis knows that that's not the quest that burns closest to her heart, and reveals it to her. Her quest for her father, Commander Cain. 'You will see him again,' he tells a stunned and emotional Sheba before asking him to place her trust in him.

Now the white lights gather around the Galactica. Adama goes on unicom to assuage the panic breaking out in the fleet, since the ships or manifestations don't appear to be hostile. On the Agro Ship, Sheba is frightened but Iblis is defiant. 'They taunt you with a glow that conceals everlasting darkness,' he hisses. Red Squadron is launched against the white lights, but Greenbean and Brie are swiftly outrun and then ambushed by the Ship of Lights, which swallows them up to add to the tally of warriors M.I.A. Apollo and Adama are frustrated at the fleet's complete inability to withstand the white lights, but an irritated Starbuck suggests they order Count Iblis to come clean.

Sheba's tour of the fleet now takes Iblis aboard the Rising Star and to the triad court, where she explains the game and the morale-raising effect it has on the population. When asked what kind of games he plays, Iblis regales her somewhat gleefully with games of life and death. She's perturbed, but Iblis states 'Death is not the end.' She can sense his dark side and compares it to her father's love of conflict. Apollo and Starbuck then arrive and ask Iblis to accompany them to the Galactica. When Iblis vacillates, Apollo makes it an order. Sheba takes great offence, and as they leave voluntarily, Iblis issues Apollo with a shocking threat, made all the more deadly because of the friendly smile with which it is delivered. 'Don't ever make the mistake of threatening me again, Apollo, or you'll forfeit your life, in the wink of an eye.'

The Council comes to session to discuss Count Iblis. He reiterates his intention to lead them to safety. When asked for proof that his people are on a higher level, Iblis moves a statuette telepathically, silencing them. He then asks the Council to prepare three tests for him. However, the wishes can only be carried out from this time forward. The loss of the pilots, as well as having already happened, was beyond his dominion and therefore irreversible. All of this hinges on whether the fleet is willing to follow Iblis, and already he's looking impatient.

Baltar's baseship now takes a visit from the white lights, which fuddle the Cylon scanners as well and nonpluss Lucifer. Baltar wonders whether it's not a Colonial scientific development and is surprised when Lucifer hopes it is. 'The alternative,' he warns, 'is that we have encountered a new and more powerful force in the universe than our own.'

Sheba escorts Count Iblis to the stinking, wretched conditions aboard the Gemini freighter. If all the starving people want is a bit more food, then he can offer it - providing of course, that they follows him. Iblis castigates Adama for his negligence, but Apollo retorts that Adama is doing his best. Still, the weak minds and empty stomachs on the Gemini turn their allegiance over to Iblis then and there, especially when he promises a bounty of food about to turn up on the Agroship. Astonishingly, this is exactly what has happened - the trees have borne fruit like mad.

A troubled Adama reflects in his journal that Iblis is continuing to sway the population with his miracles. Apollo still doesn't trust him, and when Starbuck mentions the effect he's having on Sheba it strikes a nerve. Apollo confront his father, who wonders about Iblis's place in the universe and whether the Lords of Kobol might not have had comparable powers. Perhaps Iblis is the contact with a parent civilisation, but this frightens Apollo - they would be powerless to control their own destiny. But Adama notes that Iblis asked, not demanded, submission. Since this freedom of choice represents the most fundamental of beliefs, could Iblis be a god? It is time to propose the tests and find out forthwith.

At the Council, they have decided on two of the tests so far - deliver their enemy, and accurately plot the course to Earth. Iblis knows what the Councillors are thinking before they think it, so to prove his good faith he will carry out their first wish first. And on Baltar's baseship, an extraordinary change has come over the human traitor. Slumped in his chair in an unmovable depression and still frustrated by their lack of success against the white lights, he orders Lucifer to contact the Galactica and appeal for truce terms. Although Lucifer warns Baltar of the possible fate he could have in store by rendezvousing with the Galactica, his mind is made up.

Absolute astonishment is the order of the day when the news of Baltar's truce terms reaches the Galactica. The unique event goes straight into Adama's diary as Blue Squadron escorts in the single Cylon fighter containing 'the treasonous instrument of our Holocaust' . 'It is just as Count Iblis promised,' Adama reads. 'Our enemy has been delivered.' 'To Be Continued' reads the title card atop a visual of the Ship of Lights steaming through the stars at full speed, that nagging little question unanswered...

Part Two opens with Baltar's show trial before the Council of the Twelve. Immediately a Sire, quaking with anger, pronounces the sentence they handed down in absentia for 'treason against the state, and in violation of every moral and ethical code of conduct known to man' - life imprisonment aboard the Prison Barge. Baltar protests, pleading that they need him against this new and unknown enemy power. Iblis interjects, and suddenly Baltar is openly frightened. He does not know who Count Iblis is, but his voice is familiar. 'I came here of my own free will,' Baltar tries to rally, but Iblis replies 'Just as you willingly drop to your knees to accept your punishment.' Choking and spluttering, that is exactly what Baltar does, and he's carted away. Iblis reminds the Council that he has done what he was asked, and of the need to decide upon their third and final test before the journey to Earth begins. The Council are so impressed that they propose electing Iblis to its presidency. Adama urges caution amid the unanswered questions, suggesting an adjournment.

Baltar now has four walls and bars to house him for the rest of his life, but he's defiant once again as Iblis visits him aboard the Prison Barge. He now recognises his voice as that of the Cylon Imperious Leader, but Iblis replies that for that to be the case, his voice would have to have been transcribed a thousand yahrens ago at the beginning of the war, making him a millennium old. This stuns Baltar into silence, and he's even more cowed when Iblis simply steps through the locked door and reassures him briefly with a gentle hand on the shoulder. When Baltar looks around, Iblis is no longer there...

Aboard the Rising Star, celebrations are under way, kicked off with a triad match. A resigned Boomer knows that compared to Apollo and Starbuck, his blue team are the Bolton Wanderers of the triad premier league and are about to take their customary ass-whipping. When Boomer reveals he'd give anything to beat them just once, Count Iblis offers to help. 'How badly do you want to win?' he asks, fixing Boomer with those coal-black eyes. When the game gets going, Boomer is a new man, playing so aggressively that it surprises Starbuck and Apollo, and the blues end up in an unexpected 15-14 victory. At the after-party, Apollo, already irritated by the defeat, criticises Iblis's irresponsibility in diverting people in critical jobs to mindless celebration, but Iblis is exultant. Starbuck has some wry conversation with the Count, broaching the subject of whether Iblis was interested in Sheba. Turns out he's not as monogamous as he looks, which rather impresses Starbuck. Iblis then gets the drinks in. Sheba, dancing with Apollo, asks whether he's jealous, and he rails against her for thinking that something so petty could affect his judgement. She storms off.

On the morning after, the white lights return to buzz around the Galactica, and Adama is incensed when no pilots respond to the klaxon to go after them, having defied curfew for duty officers. Apollo storms into the officers' dorm to find his pilots lying about with monster hangovers, thoroughly unable to function. Just then Count Iblis stalks in in a rage, berating the pilots' lack of discipline when the fleet is under attack. Apollo snaps completely and goes for his throat, and Adama follows to break them up. Furious at the breakdown in order, Iblis threatens to relieve Adama of command once he's elevated to the presidency. In the corridor outside, Adama stops the Count and asks who was attacking them. Snidely, Iblis says little but the fact that the white lights are also from his dominion.

'Then why do you fear them?' Adama presses, angering Iblis, who professes fear of nothing.
'Not even God?', Adama points, not taking his eyes off Iblis's.
'What do you primitive children know of what you call God?', Iblis spits in contempt, hissing the last word.
'Only that we have been given laws that cannot be broken by any man or creature.'
All smiles again but with a menacing edge, Iblis has the last audacious word. 'Those laws do not apply to me.'

Now just about compus mentis, Blue Squadron gets going against the white lights, but Boomer's had enough, straying away from the flight to open fire on one. It jinks out of his sights and skips away, but this has attracted the Ship of Lights, which lures Boomer away and swallows him up. In hopelessness, Blue Squadron can only return home. Starbuck suggests dumping Iblis straight back on the red planet, but his grip on the fleet is now almost total. It's clear that Iblis and the white lights have a connection.

Our Heroes ask Dr Wilker for a scientific explanation of the agricultural miracle, and he gives one - the increases coincided precisely with the appearances of the white lights. As plants bend towards light, so they responded to the large quantities offered by the moving ships or manifestations. In Adama's office Apollo is greeted by the extraordinary sight of his father attempting a little telepathy of his own, moving an ornament across his desk. This has thrown Apollo's Wilker-derived theories of Iblis' achievements right out, but Adama explains that before his son was born, he was part of a classified military experiment involving mind over matter. 'I used to drive your mother mad,' Adama reflects with a smile, 'bending eating utensils until she made me stop.' Adama tells Apollo that the human race in its two-hundred-yahren lifespan is only just beginning to use their brains' incredible potential. From their points of view, a higher race with lifespans of thousands of yahrens would be perfectly capable of carrying out seeming miracles. But here is where Adama's theology comes into play. The first settlers on Kobol knew these higher forms as visitations from angels - guardians of the universe charged with making sure their powers are never abused by any of their own kind. Meaning that Iblis is one of them. 'Or was,' Apollo states bluntly, and we now know at what level we're dealing with. The key to Iblis is back on the planet, and Adama pleads that neither he nor his son let their thoughts reveal to Iblis what they're doing. This outstanding scene ends with a touching tribute and renewed respect from father to son and vice versa.

Starbuck waylays Apollo in the landing bay and begs to come along. Adama explains the departure of the shuttle to Tigh as a mission to teach triad skills to the children. He then goes on a sleep period with orders not to be disturbed. But the shuttle's headed away from the fleet. Of course this is picked up by Iblis, who's with Sheba on the Agro Ship again. Losing his temper and hissing 'What are you up to, Adama?' he leaves Sheba alone. Appearing on the bridge again, he winnows the information out of a weak-willed Tigh and then barges into Adama's quarters. 'I don't believe in you, Count Iblis,' Adama tells him. 'As did those poor souls on the planet - they followed you, and they paid the price.' Unable to convert Adama, Iblis vows to punish him in another and more devastating way - going after 'a life more meaningful to you than your own.' It transpires that Sheba fought her way out of the launch bay and headed off in a viper after the shuttle. But Adama is are helpless in the knowledge that the missing Iblis will also be on the planet.

Apollo and Starbuck return to the red planet and discover that there was no radion threat. They get close to the crashed ship and find bodies. They lift up the charred segments and discover that the bodies are hooved, horned devils - the eternally cursed forms of the souls that followed Iblis. As Sheba rushes up and is about to be shown the corpses of the damned, Iblis appears and roars at them to stop. When beckoned, she lurches towards him in a stupor that Apollo can't bring her out of. 'You command no-one who does not willingly give you dominion,' Apollo says to Iblis. 'Then you know who I am,' Iblis answers chillingly. 'Think back to the ancient records, ' Apollo urges Sheba. 'The names Mephistopheles. Diabolis. The Prince of Darkness.' Iblis then threatens to strike her down, and Apollo's had enough again. He pulls out his laser and shoots Iblis square in the chest - but is horrified as this reveals Iblis's true form - a pig-snouted, black-faced monster. The Devil himself! Iblis then carries out his threat and blasts Sheba with a laser bolt - but Apollo leaps into the way at the last second and is felled. Starbuck is appalled to discover that Apollo is dead; Count Iblis has killed him.

The cold-blooded murder of Apollo breaks the spell on Sheba and she dissolves in tears. Both Starbuck and Iblis know that the devil has done wrong against his dominion, and so do the lights as they appear and taunt him anew. This is Count Iblis's due to bid them goodbye with one last threat. 'There will come another time, another place. And we will meet again.' And he dissolves, via one last horrible incarnation of his true form. Exhausted and stunned, they can do nothing but take Apollo's body back to the Galactica. Still shaken with tears, Sheba, convinced that it's her fault despite the fact that Apollo knew better, can only apologise fruitlessly for her weakness as the shuttle proceeds. At that point the lights return and follow the shuttle - and straight behind them comes the accelerating sonic abuse delivered by the Ship of Lights, which closes up to the shuttle. Starbuck and Sheba wilt into unconsciousness as the mysterious vessel engulfs them...

Starbuck awakens in a bright white chamber, communicated with by mysterious life forms. His uniform has turned bright white and he is completely dazed. The fact that Starbuck can see and hear the forms is by their choice, and he is bewildered when trying to touch one and his hand goes straight through. Sheba then appears, also safe, and is scared that maybe they're dead. 'Is that right, are we dead, and you're angels?' Starbuck tries. 'Oddly enough, there is some truth to your speculation,' the angel replies, almost amused, before leading them to an even larger chamber. There on a platform lies the body of Apollo, and he's still dead. Starbuck and Sheba rail to the angels that Apollo is of no possible harm to them, but the angels agree that they have been impressed by Apollo's ability to grow beyond the limitations of the flesh, and by his noble sacrifice to save Sheba's soul from falling. Apollo was not meant to die, but Sheba. She then realises what the angels are and how they know them, and convinced of that truth she answers with a yes the angel's earlier question of whether she would trade her life for Apollo's. When pressed, Starbuck can't help but agree, and the angels then bring Apollo back to life. Even Starbuck can't hold back tears. When Starbuck asks why the angels are going out of their way to bother with them, the angels reply cryptically 'You are now, what we once were. What we are now, you may become.' Count Iblis, on the other hand was once an angel, but now uses his powers to corrupt others. Still, the angels cannot interfere in freedom of choice - anyone's. It was not Count Iblis' right to kill Apollo. Finally, Apollo asks what will become of the nine pilots taken into the Ship of Lights' dominion, and they too are freed.

It's back aboard the Galactica, and a small dinner in Adama's quarters to celebrate the return of the warriors and the end of Count Iblis. But none of the warriors involved in the recent events can offer an explanation of what just happened. Bit by bit, it comes out. Apollo remembers challenging Count Iblis, Starbuck remembers Apollo taking the blow for Sheba, and Sheba remembers taking Apollo's body back to the fleet - but nothing thereafter. Except... 'there was a light,' Starbuck says. 'A sound.... It was beautiful.' 'It was as if there was something good, pure and caring out there,' Apollo says, in a daze. 'We've always been caught between good and evil,' Adama concludes when they entertain the prospect of what they've been fighting recently. 'That would be no different, even if we were to find Earth.' And right there and then, the co-ordinates for Earth spill from the three warriors' mouths. All Adama can do is gape at them.

RATING: 5 out of 5 (Excellent). The standout episode, and by a long margin. Why couldn't we have had more like this! When Glen Larson is at his best, he's simply exceptional. The religious and ethical undertones of this episode are incredibly mature, especially the dialogue regarding freedom of choice. Patrick Macnee is superbly menacing and charming, and the father-son dynamic of Apollo and Adama is wonderful to watch.

THE USUAL BITS:

That warrior with the moustache is a survivor and a half. Blown away in the pilot, he lived to accompany the mission to Carillon and now he's in Silver Spar Squadron!

The Ship of Lights is a real marvel.


John's Review

RATING: Five stars out of five (Outstanding)

War Of The Gods is one of the best and most popular episodes of Battlestar Galactica. It is not the very best episode, nor is it completely flawless, but it is easily the most complex of all the stories we were given. The bottom line is that it is extremely rare to see this kind of thing done on TV. This is one of the few episodes to fully utilize Galactica's Von Daniken premise (God Is An Astronaut). We learn that angels are not spirits of the dead, but advanced beings who are thousands of years ahead of the Colonials in both technology and spirituality. Count Iblis (whom Apollo addresses in part 2 as Mephistopheles) comes across as a form of devil. There is an interesting parallel with mythology. Just as the angel Lucifer (or Satan) rebelled against heaven, Iblis rebels against his brothers on the Ship of Lights.

Iblis may well be the most fascinating character in the entire series. What is fascinating is that his voice is the same as that of the Cylon Imperious Leader. Baltar recognizes this (and it would have been an unforgivable flub if he didn't). There are two primary theories about Iblis' origin. The first is that Iblis exterminated the original reptile Cylon race and created the mechanical one, starting the thousand year war with the humans. The second theory is that Iblis and the Imperious Leader are one and the same. Iblis calling Baltar "old friend" would seem to support this. Also, it is made clear in the end that Iblis cannot control anyone who does not choose to follow him. If Iblis is the Imperious Leader, then Baltar technically was "following him" since he (Baltar) was serving the Cylons. It really makes you wonder if Glen Larson planned to have Patrick Macnee play Count Iblis from the very first episode or if it was just an amazing coincidence that the same actor who provided the Imperious Leader's voice turned out to be perfect for the Count Iblis role. Considering how incredibly rushed the production of the show was, the latter would have to be a possibility. If it's the former, then you really have to applaud Glen Larson for planning so far ahead.

There are other marvelous scenes. Iblis' slow manipulation and seduction of Sheba is riveting (especially when he kisses her on the Agro-ship), and Apollo's subtle jealousy is the first hint of romance between the two. The white lights and the Ship of Lights are a marvel and have to be considered among the best special effects the series has ever produced. The scenery of the red planet, including the visual effect of Starbuck, Apollo, and Sheba when they walk on that world is also outstanding. The triad court is a fantastic (and obviously, expensive) set. You have to give the producers a lot of credit for creating such a unique game for the Colonials to play. It makes sense. With the grueling struggle for survival in a rag-tag fleet, the Colonials have to have some sort of entertainment to take their minds off their plight.

As with most episodes, the performances are all top-notch. Richard Hatch plays his end perfectly, carefully balancing Apollo's distrust of Iblis and his caring for Sheba. Dirk Benedict adds a whole new dimension to Starbuck. His rage and grief over the death of Apollo (especially when he attempts to shoot Iblis) stand out as some of Starbuck's most memorable moments of the entire series. Anne Lockhart is also great portraying Sheba's slow seduction and manipulation by Count Iblis. Her joy at Apollo's resurrection firmly establishes her inner feelings toward him, and this subplot would come to a stunning head in the final episode. Lorne Greene never falters in his performances, and this is no exception. Greene does a tremendous job portraying a man torn between his desire to find Earth and his distrust of Iblis. One of the best moments has to be during the Triad game. During the game, Adama and Iblis are seated on opposite sides of the court. There are really two battles going on here: the battle between the players on the court, and the battle between Iblis and Adama.

Despite everything, the episode is not completely perfect. Not all the questions are answered (which in itself is not a bad thing), but some of what happens doesn't quite make sense. First of all, why does the Ship of Lights kidnap the viper pilots? We are never given any kind of answer. What makes it more confusing is that by kidnapping the pilots, the Ship of Lights actually aids Iblis because the Colonials look to him for protection. And why does Baltar say that Iblis now no longer holds any power over him after Baltar recognizes Iblis' voice? Perhaps this is supposed to be a clue to understand who Iblis is, but if this is the case, I can't make anything out of it. Above, I discussed the two primary theories about Iblis' origin, and although there is much evidence in favor of Iblis and Imperious Leader being the same person, it doesn't quite hold up because wouldn't the Cylons then easily be able to locate the Colonial fleet? Therefore, the first theory makes more sense overall. But there is still the question of how Iblis was able to make Baltar surrender to the Colonials. The episode tries to make it seem that Iblis did not perform his bigger miracles, that the white lights caused the crops to grow and Baltar came of his own free will (the latter is hinted by Apollo in a missing scene that was cut from the original script). Of course, the idea that Baltar would surrender on his own is ludicrous considering the coward that he is. And why would the white lights come to the fleet if that would cause the crops on the agro-ship to grow and thus fulfill one of Iblis' tasks? Most importantly, why would Iblis dare the Colonials to make 3 challenges to him if he did not possess the power to make them come true?

There is also the issue of what was inside the crashed ship on the red planet. A popular belief is that the ship is the wreckage of the Battlestar Pegasus and inside is the body of Commander Cain. This popular myth is false. The Berkely novelization tells us exactly what is inside the ship: tall, cloven-hoofed horned beings with tails. This is hard to understand. Are the beings in the ship supposed to be devils? If that is the case, it doesn't really make Iblis appear all that evil for killing them. It could be viewed as another parallel of mythology. After being defeated by heaven, Lucifer and his followers fall into hell. Likewise, Iblis' ship containing his followers (the devils) crashes (falls) to the earth. It's not a perfect allegory, but fascinating nonetheless.

I'm not trying to pick the episode apart with these various criticisms. Actually, the story works much better with its mystery and ambiguity rather than easy, clear-cut answers. One of the problems with television these days is that shows rarely challenge the viewer to think; instead, most shows sacrifice ambiguity and insist on spelling everything out as simply and clearly as possible. The mystery of Count Iblis is really what makes War Of The Gods so special and one of the most famous and highly debated of all the Galactica episodes. I'm glad that we are not given the answer to who Iblis is because the only way a mystery can retain its power is as long as it remains unsolved. Why do you think the great magicians never reveal how they do their tricks? If you are looking for a great movie example of this, then I suggest you check out Peter Weir's Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Anne Lockhart has stated that, when Sheba returns to the red planet in part 2, a scene was shot where she actually does look inside the wrecked spacecraft and screams at the sight of the cloven hoof. Anne said that the actual body was covered with a white blanket and only the cloven hoof was shown, and the look of it was so poor that it was left out of the final cut. Anne has said, "It looked like a dead sheep." The censors may also have had something to do with the footage not being used.

The script of this episode has missing scenes left out of the final cut. There is more evidence shown that it was the white lights, rather than Count Iblis, that caused the crops on the agroship to grow and multiply. It is also implied that Baltar came to the fleet of his own free will out of concern over the white lights, not due to Iblis' power. Click here to read the missing scenes.

There are other differences in the Berkley novelization: Starbuck, Apollo, and Sheba are all naked on board the Ship of Lights; After Iblis is gone, the white lights come to the fleet one last time. When they leave, Baltar is gone. Baltar is found by the Cylons unconscious inside his Cylon raider, with no knowledge of what happened or his decision to surrender. All he can remember are strange white lights...

In a slightly earlier script, the man that Apollo, Sheba, and Starbuck find on the red planet is named Prince Diabolis. Story editors Jim Carlson and Terrence McDonnell suggested the name of Iblis which is the Islamic name for Satan. This was fortunate, since Diabolis would have been a dead giveaway as to who the character really was. Also, Apollo, Starbuck, and Sheba are all naked on the Ship of Lights.

After wandering aimlessly in space for who knows how long, the Galactica finally has the coordinates to Earth.

The beings on the Ship of Lights are never given a specific name. However, in the unproduced Galactica 1980 script The Wheel Of Fire they are referred to as the Guardians Of The Universe. In the BG Maximum Press comic book series, they are referred to as the Seraphs.

The model of the Ship of Lights was composed mostly of computer microchips.

Strangely, Baltar is sentenced to life imprisonment without a trial or any chance to defend himself.

Does Colonial law strictly forbid the death penalty under any circumstances? It must. I can't imagine any other reason why Baltar would not have been executed for helping cause the destruction of the twelve worlds.

Baltar's private cell on the prison barge is a better living accommodation than what the majority of the people of the fleet have.

Sheba is seen in the opening sequence for the first time in part one.

The first hint of romance between Sheba and Apollo is shown in part two.

Lucifer appears for the last time in part one.

Muffit appears for the last time in part two.

Adama says that the average life expectancy of a human is two hundred yahrens. (years?)

Starbuck, Apollo, and Sheba's uniforms turn white when they are brought on board the Ship of Lights. In the Galactica 1980 pilot Galactica Discovers Earth Troy, Dillon, and Jamie's uniforms turn white when they travel through time.

Blooper 1 - part one: When the first group of pilots disappear, five vipers are shown flying, but everyone says that four pilots are missing.

Blooper 2 - part one: In Adama's quarters, immediately after Red Squadron disappears, when Adama tells Starbuck and Apollo to bring Count Iblis before him, look at the way Apollo's hair is combed. In the next scene, when Apollo and Starbuck find Sheba and Iblis on the triad court, Apollo's hair is combed quite differently. In the next scene, when they bring Iblis before Adama in the Council chambers, Apollo's hair is suddenly combed the way it was in Adama's quarters. Since it is unlikely that Apollo would have combed his hair twice in such a short period of time, it qualifies as a flub.

Blooper 3 - part two: When Boxey walks into the pilots' barracks, Apollo is lying on one of the bunk beds. But as flight commander of the Galactica, he had his own quarters, so there is no reason he should have been resting there.

Blooper 4 - part two: Sheba is seen in the audience at the triad game in two different seats.

Blooper 5 - part two: After Boomer disappears, Starbuck says that eight pilots are now missing, but Boomer was the ninth.

Blooper 6 - part two: Tigh tells Adama that Iblis is on Agroship 9, yet there is only one agroship left in the entire fleet.

Blooper 7 - part two: Count Iblis causes the computers to go haywire when he enters the bridge in part one, but when he confronts Colonel Tigh on the bridge in part two, nothing happens.

Blooper 8 - part two: When Apollo and Sheba are on the red planet in part one, they are in agony when they hear the high-pitched whine of the white lights. When Starbuck and Sheba are on the red planet in part two and the white lights reappear, they are completely unaffected by the sound.

Blooper 9 - part two: Starbuck and Apollo repeatedly say that they needed protective gear for radiation to explore Iblis' crashed ship, yet they bring no such gear with them when they finally explore the wreckage.

Blooper 10 - part two: Sheba leaves her Colonial viper behind on the red planet when she and Starbuck take Apollo's body back to the Galactica on the shuttle.

The wrecked ship found by Apollo, Starbuck, and Sheba on the red planet was built from pieces scavenged from sets used in Universalís TV movie Brave New World.

To read my review of the Berkley novelization, click here.

In an interview, actor Patrick Macnee casually mentioned this episode was written by Michael Sloan who, if he did indeed contribute, is uncredited.


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

Count Iblis             Patrick Macnee


Battlestar Galactica Episode Guide

Enter Sheba's Galaxy