Space mutinies and lost loves shake our heroes in this action pact episode as the series winds down to towards the end of its one season run. The series didn’t spend much time on the ships that made up the fleet, aside from the Rising Star of course, and that is a shame because conditions aboard a ragtag group of ships could easily lead to a fount of interesting stories. Take the Celestra is one of the few episodes that touch on the idea that things aren’t all that hunky dory on all the ships.
The episode begins with a full dress ceremony for Commander Kronus (Paul Fix), the captain of the civilian electronics ship the Celestra, who is being awarded the Distinguished Service Medallion as well as being promoted to command of three of the fleet’s industry ships. It’s while at this ceremony that Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) spots Aurora (Ana Alicia), an old flame of his who he had assumed died during the Cylon attack on Caprica.
Aurora seems rather immune to Starbuck’s roguish charms, and when he asks why she never let him know that she was alive her response is, “I’m in the personal computer. Anyone could have found me, if they cared enough to check.” Later Starbuck tries to explain that he saw her house destroyed by the Cylons so he just assumed she was dead, but being this was a girl he apparently loved you’d think he could have spared the two minutes to search her name in the fleet’s database. I guess he was just too busy double teaming Cassiopeia and Athena to bother. Speaking of Cassiopeia (Laurette Spang) she walks over to tell Starbuck that she got them tickets to that night’s Spheroid concert, immediately the tension ratchets to uncomfortable levels as Starbuck basically blows off Cassiopeia to chase after Aurora. Starbuck is supposed to be this lovable rogue but his treatment of Cassiopeia here is disgraceful, sure they have never formalized any kind of commitment, but he really comes off as a huge dick here.
Aurora herself has more important things to worry about than an ex-boyfriend as she and a group of others from the Celestra, including her new lover Damon (Randy Stumpf), are planning an escape from the fleet. It seems that things are not all that rosy aboard the Celestra as we learn from the rebels that their reason for mutiny is because of the oppressive living conditions imposed by the ultra-strict Kronus. Their plan involved sabotaging the engines and stealing a shuttle so they could escape to a nearby habitable world. Starbuck arrives via Viper, dragging poor Apollo (Richard Hatch) along, to hopefully get a chance to settle things with Aurora, but his timing is awful as they touch down in the Celestra’s landing bay just as the mutineers are in the middle of a firefight. The battle ends when Aurora is unable to shoot Starbuck, and Apollo is able to get the drop on them.
Commander Kronus orders that the mutineers to be immediately transferred to the Galactica to face charges, and because a senior officer must be present when charges are laid Kronus accompanies Starbuck, Apollo and the mutineers on the shuttle. Unfortunately this gives the Celestra’s executive office Charka (Nick Holt) the perfect opportunity to stage a coup. Charka had assumed he would be given command of the Celestra when Kronus got his promotion, but Kronus told him he wasn’t quite ready for command yet. I’m not sure why Charka would assume Kronus would no longer captain the Celestra just because he has been given extra command over three other ships. Adama is in control of the entire fleet and he still personally commands the Galactica.
With two mutinies in one day one has to wonder why Kronus was getting the Distinguished Service Medallion in the first place. Starbuck learns from Aurora and Damon that aboard the Celestra the civilians were forced to work sixteen hour days, withheld rations of they didn’t meet their quotas, and never allowed to leave the ship. Starbuck confronts Kronus with this and it’s revealed that he knew Charka was a tough taskmaster but no idea of the extent of his cruelty. This clearly shows that Kronus really sucked at his job, sure maybe he is a bit disgruntled that having once commanded a battlestar and the entire fourth fleet he is no basically in charge of a maintenance ship, but that is no excuse for not noticing people aboard you ship being abused.
Charka’s plan on taking over the Celestra involves somehow changing the shuttles flight plan, which apparently you can do without the pilot’s noticing, and then turn off all energy and beacons aboard the Celestra, basically “Going Dark” so that the shuttle can neither find the Galactica or backtrack to the Celestra. The shuttle will fly through the void of space until eventually running out of fuel and air. This plan fails when the mutineers agree to alter the shuttle’s computers to act as ion tracking sensors to locate the Celestra, in exchange for fair hearings regarding their mutiny. Apollo is able to land the shuttle inside the Celestra landing bay undetected because going dark also prevents them from detecting approaching ships. Apollo, Starbuck, Kronus and the mutineers storm the bridge and take it after a brief laser battle. Commander Kronus dies while regaining control of the helm, or really in this case it’s the ships joystick.
So the day is saved and the idiot Kronus gets his noble martyrs death, but despite Adama’s (Lorne Greene) wonderfully eulogy extolling the virtues of the man it should be clear to everyone that most of the events that led to two bloody mutinies were his fault. Starbuck and Aurora patch up their differences and separate on good terms; she to lover boy Damon and Starbuck back to walking doormat Cassiopeia, which is just terrible as she is the only character I have any sympathy for in this episode. When Sheba (Anne Lockhart) asks her why she doesn’t go after Starbuck she informs her friend that, “A relationship based on possession isn’t for me. I… I don’t want to own Starbuck, or anyone else for that matter. If what he and I have together is worth anything at all, we’re gonna… we’re gonna survive all this.” Laurette Spang’s Cassiopeia is probably the most fleshed out and interesting character in the whole series and it’s a shame the show got cancelled before we got some good episodes focusing on her.