"The Return of Starbuck"
Written by Glen A. Larson
Directed by Ron Satlof
Original air date: May 4, 1980
Dr. Zee recounts to Commander Adama a startling and vivid dream
he had...about a Warrior named Starbuck.
Read the synopsis of this episode at the Battlestar Wiki site
This was the final episode of Galactica 1980 and widely
acknowledged as the fan favorite episode of the series, with a
tone much closer to the original BSG series than any other. The
story is based on the 1968 film Hell in the Pacific,
about one American and one Japanese soldier marooned on an
uninhabited Pacific island and forced to work together to
survive. The 1979 novella "Enemy Mine" also has a similar
premise and was turned into the 1985 film of the same name.
The exterior scenes on Planet Starbuck were shot at
Red Rock State Park in the Mojave Desert of California.
How is it that Dr. Zee does not already know he was not born in
the fleet? Did Adama (and others) lie to him about it or did he
just never care to learn about it (which seems unlikely)? Why
would Adama conceal the infant boy's arrival in a
cobbled-together life boat? And if he was lied to, what was Zee told about who his parents were?
How could Dr. Zee not have been aware of the past existence of
one of the fleet's greatest Warriors, Starbuck?
Many of the shots of Boomer and Starbuck's battle with the Cylon
Raiders are from past episodes of BSG, with the older, one-seater
Vipers being flown. But, there are several moments when it is
clear that new footage was shot in the dual-cockpit of the
newer Vipers of
The planetary system seen at 5:47 on the DVD, where Starbuck
finally crash lands on one of the planets, is a shot of one of
the Colony worlds from
Planet Starbuck is seen to do Tatooine one better, having three
At 8:03 on the DVD, we can see
that Starbuck's ejected Viper
cockpit is really just a reuse
of the stage cockpit normally
used for filming the actors as
they act in piloting the craft;
the parachute covers the small
portion of the engines built
into the back of the cockpit and
metallic debris obscures the incomplete lower half of the module.
In fact, at 9:11, we can see through a gap in the module (about
the middle of the screen) when Starbuck reaches in to grab his
At 8:39 on the DVD, a strange beep/whine tones twice. What is
it? Is it supposed to be some kind of noise from the escape
At 10:34 on the DVD, we see behind Starbuck as he approaches the
downed Cylon Raider, the cluster of rocks and boulders that he
will turn into his shelter with the help of pieces of metal from
the Cylon wreckage.
On his first night on the planet, Starbuck notes that "the
astral winds were increasing the bite of the cold." I'm not sure
what he means by the term "astral wind". There is a known
phenomenon called the solar wind, a stream
of charged particles (protons and electrons) emitted by the sun,
but it does not have a known appreciable effect on planetary
temperature or pressure systems causing aerial disturbance.
At 12:48 on the DVD, the Cylon
body in the background is
obviously just an empty Cylon
costume propped into a chair, as
the cloth around the knee joint
is seen to be empty and twisted
to the side. Of course, it could
be argued within the story that
the centurion's leg was broken
in the crash.
The centurion Starbuck reconstructs from the parts of the three
inoperative ones, henceforth known as Cy, has a different tonal
quality to its voice than the typical Cylon, possibly due to a
damaged vocal simulator. Cy's voice is provided by well-known
voice actor Gary Owens, while evidence suggests that regular
centurions were voiced in both G1980 and BSG by voice actor
Arguing with Cy after his reactivation, Starbuck remarks that
the Cylon has the mentality of a two-year-old. Shouldn't that be
Worrying about Cy's march into the night to find him a wo-man,
Starbuck remarks on the cliff edge's treacherous fall of thousands of
metrics. Here, "metric" seems to represent something similar to
"meter", but in past episodes of BSG, seemed to represent
Here, Starbuck uses the term "day". In BSG, this was normally
referred to as a "time cycle".
Starbuck seems to indicate that he had seen Angela in his dreams
before Cy found her on the planet and brought her to him. Might
this be an indication that he had actually encountered her
before? Might he have been abducted by the Ship of Lights at
some point prior to crashing on the planet, where he met her
and, indeed, impregnated her at the wish of the Beings of Light?
This would make more sense, from an adult perspective (remember
the Galactica 1980 series was aimed at kids), than Angela's
suggestion in the episode that he is the "spiritual" father of
the baby (Dr. Zee); if my speculation is true, he would be the biological father as well.
Near the beginning of the episode, Starbuck states that he has
only a few days rations. Yet, he later states that his rations
are growing low by sharing them with Angela, after at least a
few weeks have passed!
On Earth, human pregnancy generally lasts about 9 months.
Starbuck refers to the gestation period as about 9.5 months. Is
there a difference between Earthling and Colonial pregnancy, or
is it just a difference in the estimation of generalities? (Not
to mention the Colonial term for "month" is "quatron").
We do not see a scene in which she reveals her name, but, in the
final act of the episode, Starbuck refers to the woman as
Angela; whether she told him that name or he simply applied it
to her is unknown. On Earth, the name "Angela" is derived from
the Greek word "angelos", which means "messenger of God". An
appropriate name for one who is a representative of the Beings
of Light, who seem to be somewhat analogous to "angels" of
Earth's western religions.
Watching this episode as an adult, I realize that Starbuck was
sacrificing himself to let Angela and the baby escape. But at
the time it originally aired, I remember I was like, "That
bitch! She took off and left Starbuck on the planet against the
Cylons!" Okay, I probably wasn't thinking "bitch" as a
13-year-old at the time, but it sure seemed like Angela had
launched the escape craft and left Starbuck behind on her own
While greeting the investigating trio of centurions near the end
of the episode, Cy refers to himself as "Group Leader Cyrus",
implying that he had the name of "Cyrus" before his
crash-landing on the planet.
What happened to Starbuck? At the end of the episode, he is left
alone on the planet after the death of Cy and the escape of
Angela and the baby with little or no food.
But there is, presumably, a fully functional Cylon Raider nearby
(the one that brought the Cylon trio at the end), which Starbuck
might be able to escape the planet in. A
follow-up teleplay, "Wheel of Fire", was written but never
produced as an episode due to the cancellation of the series. In
the follow-up, it would have been revealed that Angela was one
of the Beings of Light from the Ship of Lights and Starbuck was
being tested in our current episode for his worthiness to become
one of them, which he does.
Is Cy truly dead for good? Might Starbuck be able to repair him
again with parts from the other fallen centurions?
How was Dr. Zee able to have such a clairvoyant dream? Is it a
previously unknown ability of his? Or did the Beings of Light
send the dream to him?