Space mutinies and lost loves shake up 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 all that much time dealing with the ships that made up the fleet, aside from The Rising Star of course, and that’s a shame because conditions aboard a ragtag group of ships could easily have lead to a fount of interesting stories. Take the Celestra is one of the few episodes that did touch on the idea that things aren’t all that hunky dory on all the ships, unfortunately it kind of goes all Caine Mutiny on us, and not in a good way.
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’d assumed had 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.” That is cold, and later Starbuck tries to explain to her 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, and immediately the tension ratchets to uncomfortable levels as Starbuck basically blows off Cassiopeia to chase after Aurora. Now Starbuck is supposed to be this lovable rogue – a Han Solo in good standing – 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 Commander Kronus. Their plan involved sabotaging the engines and stealing a shuttle, so that 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 her ex-lover, 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. Turns out that 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, and this didn’t sit well with the up and coming officer. 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 doesn’t necessarily mean he no longer commands the Celestra. For instance, Adama is in control of the entire fleet and he still personally commands the Galactica.
With two mutinies in one day a person has to wonder why exactly Kronus was getting the Distinguished Service Medallion in the first place, he certainly doesn’t appear to be boss of the year material. Starbuck learns from Aurora and Damon that aboard the Celestra the civilians were forced to work sixteen hour days, withheld rations if 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 he had no idea of the extent of his cruelty. This clearly shows that Kronus really did suck at his job, sure maybe he is a bit disgruntled that having once commanded a battlestar, and the entire fourth fleet , and now he’s no basically in charge of a maintenance ship, but that is no excuse for not noticing that people aboard your ship are being abused.
Charka’s plan on taking over the Celestra involved somehow changing the shuttles flight plan – which apparently you can do without the pilot 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. Thus the shuttle would 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, where 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 entirely his fault, and that this is just a blatant cover-up of how mismanaged the fleet really is. Starbuck and Aurora patch up their differences, and they 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, so it’s a shame that the show got cancelled before we had some good episodes focusing on her.
For the index of reviews click here: Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series
Take the Celestra
Episode Rank - 5.5/10
A tepid Captain Bligh and two groups of inept mutineers do not make for great dramatic television.