In The Magnificent Warriors we find writer/creator Glen A. Larson still lifting elements from popular movies, and in this case it’s back to westerns with a lame rip-off of The Magnificent Seven. In episode The Lost Warrior we had Apollo filling the shoes of Alan Ladd, as he was forced to stand up to a Cylon gunfighter, but in this episode we have Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer and Commander Adama stepping in for Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Yul Brynner, and the result is not pleasant to say the least.
A Cylon attack on the fleet destroys two of the three “Agro Ships” (the ships that supply the fleet with food) and the remaining one’s airlock was damaged, resulting in the destruction of the crops. Note: The shots of the agro ships is clearly footage from the science fiction classic Silent Running. With the loss of those ships, and the crops needed to feed the fleet, things look really bad.
Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) is informed by Colonel Tigh (Terry Carter) that though the remaining agro ship can be repaired they need new seed to begin growing replacement crops. They are in luck as Apollo (Richard Hatch) and his advance scout team discovered a nearby human agricultural settlement, and that they should be able to trade an “old energizer” for new seed. Once again we are left wondering, “Just where do all these “human settlements” fit into the Cylon’s plans for the destruction of humanity?” Adama wants to use an energizer that can’t be traced to the Twelve Colonies, so that if the Cylon show up here they won’t know the Galactica had just been by, and that’s great for the Galactica and friends but not so great for the settlements, who one must assume are going to be blasted into space dust by the human-hating Cylons. Or do the Cylons only have a bug up their collective asses about the humans from the Twelve Colonies, and don’t care about the numerous human settlements we keep running into throughout the series?
They find a perfect energizer to barter with, but there is just one wrinkle, the owner is Siress Belloby (Brett Somers) and she will not give it up. Colonel Tigh makes the obvious point that the health and safety of the fleet supersede any one person’s need and that, “You just order her to give it up.” But he is told that “You don’t order Siress Belloby to do anything.” Turns out that she will make a deal but only with Adama himself, and this is where this episode’s “comedy” kicks into gear. Her one stipulation to handing over her energizer is that Adama must agree to “court her” and so our silver-haired commander picks up some flowers, heads over to her ship, and takes one for the team.
So with every man, woman and child in the fleet under the threat of starvation this woman decides to blackmail sex from the commander of a Battlestar. This is a horrible character, and it is painful to watch her in every scene she is in. If you are a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation you’ll be used to this kind of horror as it reminded me a lot of Majel Barrett’s character Lwaxana Troi and her relationship with Captain Picard. On the plus side, Siress Belloby only appears in this one episode and is never seen again, unlike a certain Betazoid.
Of course, the siren call of Siress Belloby is not the only drama in this episode, thank god, but the human settlement that has the much-needed seed is under constant threat of extinction by a race of piglike trolls called Borays. On every full moon, these creatures ride into the town of Serenity to steal grain and women, with only the town’s sheriff to stand in their way. The Borays are of a herd mentality so that if you scare off the leader the rest will follow, and that is the job of the sheriff, to stand in the street and shoot at the leader. This plan seems to work but alas it does also result in a dead sheriff, apparently every single time. This makes finding a replacement sheriff difficult and thus the mayor of Serenity, Bogan (Barry Nelson), is forced to trick strangers and drifters into taking the job.
Adama decides he’s been cooped up aboard the Galactica too long, and he wants to go on the mission, but of course, his real reason for wanting to leave the ship is that he doesn’t want to be left alone with Belloby. For some reason allowing a civilian is coming along – a dumb move in anyone’s book – has Apollo deciding that this means it must be safe enough to bring his idiot kid Boxey (Noah Hathaway) along, as well as his dumb robot dog. Boxey adds nothing to the story as he stays with the shuttle where poor Jolly (Tony Swartz) is forced to babysit him. So the away team for this crucial mission consists of Commander Adama, his girlfriend, Apollo, Starbuck, Boomer, Jolly, and Boxey.
Starbuck (Dirk Benedict) and Boomer (Herbert Jefferson Jr.) dress up as undercover as farmers and drive into town with the energizer, to hopefully find someone to trade with, but Bogan refuses to trade their seed for the energizer because he needs a sucker to play sheriff more than he needs a new power supply. A dejected Starbuck and Boomer are later ambushed on the drive back to the shuttle, and both their rover and the energizer is stolen. This episode has very few shining moments for our heroes. Boomer continues on foot to the shuttle, to inform the group what has gone down, while Starbuck goes back to town to try and figure out who robbed them. Things go as well as can be expected, and by that I mean Starbuck screws up and accidentally wins the Sheriff badge in a card game.
Note: Money in science fiction can be a tricky business. In Star Trek we are told the Federation operates within a moneyless “New World Economy” but when you get to Deep Space Nine we find out that many worlds use gold-pressed latinum for currency, yet it’s never explained how people in the Federation who work in moneyless economy get hold of such currency. In this episode of Battlestar Galactica we see Starbuck trying to pay for the grain with a bag full of currency, from various worlds including the Colonies, but wouldn’t the complete destruction of the Colonies mean that their currency would be completely worthless? Sure this backwater planet may be unaware of this fact, but without some kind of central banking system how is any currency’s value monitored?
Bogan places Starbuck’s currency on some kind of computer scanner that tallies the worth of the coins, but where exactly is that computer getting its updates from? This world’s technology is completely inconsistent; the people of Serenity have breach loaded rifles, that are shown to be almost useless against the Borays, and the Borays themselves ride camels and throws spears, so who in the hell brought that very advanced money scanner into town?
When the Borays attack the town our newly appointed sucker…I mean Sheriff Starbuck, along with Adama, Apollo and Boomer, face off against the marauding horde of pig people and fail…somehow. You may wonder how men armed with laser weapons could lose against savages wielding spears, but the answer is simple, our heroes are apparently pacifist idiots. When faced with a charging gang of murdering thieves they fire their blasters into the ground and then into the air. We are given no explanation as to why they didn’t just mop the floor with these pig snouted assholes. Is there some kind of Colonial Prime Directive that I’m unaware of? The Galactica could clearly have taken what they wanted from these backwater morons, but not being space bullies, and wanting to keep a low profile, they took the high road and tried to purchase the seeds, but once things went to shit – as they always seem to do – why in the hell are they still turning the other cheek?
To add insult to injury Belloboy is captured by the Borays, and so our “heroes” have to mount a rescue. I myself thought this gave Adama the perfect out, but I guess he’s nobler than I am. With the help of the robot daggitt they track the Borays back to their cave, and Adama goes to negotiate with their leader, but he fails because the leader of the Borays is a self-centred lazy bastard, and upon hearing this very “similar” description, Starbuck asks if he can give negotiations a try. So where Adama failed by using reason and logic Starbuck succeeds because he is better at reading character. The big “surprise” reveal at the end is that Starbuck gave the Boray chieftain his sheriff’s badge, and so the pigmen will go back to farming for themselves while their chieftain will be in his office getting paid for sitting on his ass. Sounds about right.
The level of lazy writing reached in this episode is staggering, and clearly shows that Glen A. Larson has given no thought to the worlds he’s created. Eight episodes in and we’ve already had two “Space Westerns” and an episode that ripped off three different war movies. No real sense of continuity holds these episodes together, with only Baltar randomly popping up to be villainous between encounters with space Irish and space cowboys. The only positive side to this complete lack of continuity is that Adama’s love affair with Siress Belloby is immediately forgotten, and she is never seen again.
For the index of reviews click here: Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series
The Magnificent Warriors
This was a pretty terrible episode with way too many “wacky moments” centering around a very embarrassed looking Lorne Greene.