"The Hand of God"
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
This was the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. The
series was canceled by its television network, ABC, after just
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.
"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.
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
Apollo implies in this episode that the Galactica is about 500
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
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
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
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:
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
At 41:05 on the DVD, notice that the shot is flipped, as
evidenced by the name "GALACTICA" being reversed on the hull!
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
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
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
Although the overall mission was known as Apollo 11, the lunar
landing module was called the Eagle.
Notes from the partial comic book adaptation in
Battlestar Galactica: The Law of Volahd
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
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.
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.)
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.