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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr
enik1138 at popapostle dot com
Battlestar Galactica: The Hand of God Battlestar Galactica
"The Hand of God"
TV episode
Written by Donald Bellisario
Directed by Donald Bellisario

Apollo intercepts a strange transmission of unknown origin. Meanwhile, the Galactica attempts a sneak attack on a hidden basestar.

Read the complete story summary at the Battlestar wiki site

Didja Know? 

This was the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. The series was canceled by its television network, ABC, after just one season.

The basestar core through which Apollo and Starbuck travel was shot in the mockup of the Skylab space station which currently resides in the National Air and Space Museum.

According to "The Death of Apollo" Part 1, the fleet ship Taurella fell behind the fleet and was lost in the first yahren of the exodus. I have more-or-less arbitrarily decdided to place the loss of this ship in between "Take the Celestra" and this episode. This brings the fleet down to 214 ships.

Didja Notice?

Apollo informs the others that the chamber to which he had brought them is a celestial chamber, at the highest spot on the Galactica, above the main thrusters. It's dome is constructed of transparent tylinium.

Apollo implies in this episode that the Galactica is about 500 yahrens old.

As they approach the new solar system they've discovered, Apollo, Starbuck, and Sheba detect five planets and they individually investigate the first three before discovering the basestar. If the four remaining planets were considered to be on the other side of the sun in their orbits at this time (and therefore not detected), this could be taken as Earth's solar system! Notice that the three planets investigated are described as: 1. a giant, about 80% hydrogen, 12% helium (just like Jupiter), 2. an atmosphere of mostly compressed carbon dioxide (like Venus), 3. no atmosphere, barren rock, red (like Mars). The other two planets seen on the Vipers' scanners look like another gas giant (probably Uranus or Neptune) and, possibly, Earth itself. If this is the Earth system and it is, apparently, about the time of the first moon landing (1969), the only explanation that both the fleet and the Cylons have not detected its civilization must be that the transmission frequencies are too primitive to be monitored regularly (as suggested by Apollo's description of the old celestial chamber). If this is not the Earth system, then BSG must take place anywhere from 4 years (the closest solar system to us, Alpha Centauri, is about 4 light years away), to hundreds or thousands of years in the future in order for the Apollo 11 transmissions, travelling at the speed of light, to have reached them.
Earth solar system?

When Commander Adama suggests they attack the basestar that's awaiting them, Colonel Tigh objects that they haven't dared tangle with a basestar since they fled the Colonies. Within the confines of the TV series this is true, but in the comic books the fleet faced off against three basestars in "Collision Course"...and took them all out! (Admittedly, they did have some help from Scavenge World at the time, so maybe Tigh means "by themselves".)

There is a nice cut from 16:33-34 on the DVD where an exterior shot of the basestar cuts to a close-up shot of a basestar model on the Galactica as Colonel Tigh points out its defensive weaponry.

In the scene in Adama's quarters from 19:16-20:18 on the DVD, the left-hand monitor screen on the wall is showing various views of the fleet as it moves through space.

When Apollo assigns himself (along with Starbuck) on the mission to infiltrate the basestar and blow up the control center, Sheba angrily accuses him of wanting to get himself killed, taking "every high risk mission on the board" since losing Serina (in "A Death in the Family"). But does Sheba really know this? She didn't become a member of the fleet until long after Serina's death (when she was marooned on the Galactica away from her father's ship, the Pegasus, in "The Living Legend" Part 2). She also comments that Serina was a very lovely woman. Again, it's doubtful Sheba ever knew Serina, unless they somehow met before the Cylon massacre of the Colonies; since Serina was a reporter, it's possible she interviewed Sheba on what it was like to be the daughter of a living legend.

When Cassiopeia confronts Starbuck about his volunteering for the basestar mission and he responds, "Cass, you know me, I'll make it," she sarcastically remarks, "Knowing you, you're probably going to find some beautiful female prisoner to rescue..." He responds back that that's crazy, but then notice the look on his face, as if that might be a pleasant possibility! Cassie's remark is probably a reference by writer Don Bellisario that the Starbuck-centric stories in the series have tended to pair him with a beautiful damsel who falls for him.

Boomer warns Apollo and Starbuck not to lose the transmitter that will identify their Cylon Raider as friendly when they return to the fleet. Starbuck responds, "Well, if we do, we'll just waggle our wings." On Earth, airplane pilots have been known to waggle their wings as a sign of greeting to people on the ground.

As Apollo and Starbuck prepare for their mission, notice they are each wearing two holstered laser pistols, not just one as usual.

As Cassie and Sheba watch Apollo and Starbuck's Cylon Raider leave the Galactica from the celestial chamber at 31:33 on the DVD, notice the background noise sounds like a slightly deepened version of a mechanical daggit sound! Listen: celestial chamber  mechanical daggit

I like the chemistry between Laurette Spang and Anne Lockhart in this episode. A moving exchange between the two actresses occurs as they watch Apollo and Starbuck's Cylon Raider leave the Galactica and Cassie says, "Why did I ever have to fall in love with a warrior?" and Sheba responds, almost, but not quite, crying, "I don't know." Notice Cassie's head turn to her as she realizes by that response that Sheba is in love with Apollo.

On their way to the basestar on the Raider, Starbuck complains that he's having trouble with its scanner, "I don't get anything but blips." Most likely he's not having any trouble with it at all...the blips are the approaching Cylon Raider patrol that soon engulfs them!

Notice that, for some reason, a couple of the shots of Apollo and Starbuck are flipped to a mirror image from 32:14-32:35 on the DVD; you can tell from the parts in their hairstyles!

The scan of a Cylon Raider chasing a Viper at 39:38 on the DVD looks like a vector graphic version of a piece of pre-production art by Ralph McQuarrie!
Viper scanner McQuarrie Viper and Raider

At 41:05 on the DVD, notice that the shot is flipped, as evidenced by the name "GALACTICA" being reversed on the hull!
Acitcalag

As Omega reports another Cylon Raider approaching at 43:43 on the DVD (Apollo and Starbuck's Raider), we can see on the monitor behind him that the ship is indeed waggling.

At the end of the episode, Apollo laments that Wilker's lab was destroyed in the battle, along with the earlier recording of the Earth transmission. It seems odd that there are no other copies of the transmission in the Galactica's computer banks by now.

The final message that comes in to the celestial chamber at the end of the episode makes it clear that it is from the Apollo 11 NASA mission from Earth, the first to land men on the moon. The transmission as we see and hear it here is highly edited though, to show us the most dramatic moments. Also, notice that as astronaut Neil Armstrong is announcing "the Eagle has landed," we see on the monitor an external shot of the lunar landing module sitting on the moon. Who is shooting the footage?! Since the astronauts had not yet debarked from the lander, there was no one to take the shot; later, after debarking, the astronauts did leave an automated video camera on the surface, pointed at the lander.

Although the overall mission was known as Apollo 11, the lunar landing module was called the Eagle.  

Battlestar Galactica: The Law of Volahd #1 Notes from the partial comic book adaptation in Battlestar Galactica: The Law of Volahd #1
Battlestar Galactica: The Law of Volahd #1 (Season II) (Realm Press)
Written and Illustrated by Chris Scalf

The first 8.5 pages of this issue are a slightly modified retelling of the destruction of the basestar near the end of "The Hand of God".

The narration on page 1 seems to indicate that some cosmic beings are watching the war that is playing out between the humans of the fleet and the Cylons. Possibly this is a reference to the Beings of Light (and their adversaries, of which Count Iblis is a part). This interpretation seems supported by events in the later Richard Hatch novels, beginning with Armageddon.

On page 1, Sheba says that the basestar Starbuck spotted was hiding behind the first planet in the system. But in the episode, she says "the third planet". 

It appears that Realm Press did not have rights to use the actors' likenesses in the comics. Here, it looks like artist Chris Scalf was using models for the faces of the characters rather than photo references of the actors. (Although on page 7, panel 2, Apollo and Starbuck do look like Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict in profile.)

During their time on the basestar on pages 2-3, Starbuck is carrying a standard issue Colonial laser gun, but Apollo is carrying a different model. In the episode, they both have the standard laser.
Laser pistols Apollo's laser pistol

On page 2, the door of the control room suddenly opens to reveal a silvery Cylon centurion. In the episode, it was a gold Command Centurion. (The Command Centurion does appear on page 3, however.)

Unanswered Questions

In exchange for his knowledge of Cylon basestars, Adama promises Baltar freedom on an uninhabited world, with supplies and shelter. Does Adama truly intend to free Baltar? We don't see Baltar set free in this episode, nor in the comic book issues that follow, but he (probably) escapes from the prison barge at the end of "Prison of Souls" Part 3.

When Apollo and Starbuck blew up the control center of the basestar, they took out the vessel's scanners. But what about communications? Did the ship get a message out to the Cylon Empire that it had encountered the fleet?

After successfully destroying the basestar, Adama orders all Vipers recalled to the Galactica. At least some of the Cylon Raiders are said to have made suicide runs against the battlestar, but did all of them? Did some of the Raiders escape, assuming they have faster-than-light capability?

Was Apollo recording future transmissions picked up by the sensors of the celestial chamber? If so, he should still be able to view the Apollo 11 moon landing transmission seen at the end of the episode. 

Memorable Dialog

where in Heaven's name.wav
the hand of God.wav
taking in the view.wav
it's a Cylon basestar.wav
that's what I like about the Colonel.wav
one drink, on the Commander.wav
I should know better than to ask.wav
you really want to get yourself killed.wav
you think you have the corner on loneliness?.wav
I've thought about it quite a bit.wav
why does it always have to be you?.wav
you're probably gonna find some beautiful female prisoner to rescue.wav
I'll be back.wav
we'll just waggle our wings.wav
you know how to fly this thing?.wav
why did I ever have to fall in love with a warrior?.wav
maybe I should get myself a Cylon copilot.wav
Starbuck!.wav
they're waggling!.wav
did I say us?.wav
the Eagle has landed.wav

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