Battlestar Galactica: 33   Rewatch 
November 10, 2015 5:53 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Having fled the besieged Ragnar Anchorage, the convoy of refugee spaceships is relentlessly pursued and attacked by Cylon Basestars. The colonial fleet must execute a faster-than-light (FTL) jump every 33 minutes to escape the Cylons, who consistently arrive at the new jump coordinates 33 minutes later. After over 130 hours and 237 jumps, the fleet's crew and passengers, particularly those aboard Galactica, have been operating without sleep while facing the strain of nearly constant military action.

Welcome to the Battlestar Galactica rewatch! Spoilers are totally allowed!
posted by 256 (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I remember being so excited for this to first air and at the same time being well prepared to be disappointed. The miniseries had just promised so much and it was hard to believe the show could live up to it.

Going back to it now, I really think that 33 stands out as one of the best episodes of the entire run. It is just so perfect at setting up all the themes of the series and almost plays out as a version of the entire first season in microcosm. No rest, ever.

My only real complaint is that I wish the writers had exercised a bit more restraint with their use of Head Six, but that remains a complaint through much of the series. I think she is a great device, and she is definitely meant to grate on us (at least at this stage), but I feel like they could have done what they were trying to do with about half the screen time.
posted by 256 at 6:09 AM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love this whole series bar some of the last season's glurge, but I wonder; has their ever been another show where the first episode was arguably the best? Lost?
posted by selfnoise at 6:28 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Alias's first episode is also probably its best.

I didn't watch BSG when it aired, saw it for the first time a couple of years ago. I remember people complaining about the mysticism and god stuff in the last season, but it's right there from the beginning.

I just started rewatching BSG a couple of days ago, intending only to watch the first season or two. I can't think of another show that I love and am so intensely irritated by at the same time.
posted by Mavri at 6:45 AM on November 10, 2015


Such a good episode. It just really gets across the gruelling pace they're forced to flee at.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:03 AM on November 10, 2015


I didn't watch BSG when it aired, saw it for the first time a couple of years ago. I remember people complaining about the mysticism and god stuff in the last season, but it's right there from the beginning.

I think it's the same issue with Lost, where at the beginning you have this cool mystery that could lead to anything! And then eventually you realize that it just leads to a bunch of poorly realized bullshit. So it's not so much about the mysticism as much as it just not leading anywhere.

I think I was most intrigued by that stuff around the episode where they reach Kobol, and then it was sort of a slow downhill slide. With the single greatest issue being the Cylons having a "plan", where obviously they don't and aren't really even characterized consistently. Eventually all that stuff becomes exhausting, particularly when you've been previously invested in the ongoing story.
posted by selfnoise at 10:17 AM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


From Ronald D. Moore's blog, circa January 2005, courtesy of Archive.org, "Why 33 Minutes?"
The truth is, there's no real answer. It's just a random number that felt right when I came up with the idea that our people were under continuous, relentless attack since the end of the pilot. I wanted it to be a short interval, just long enough for them to grab a bite to eat, jump in the shower and maybe try to catch a catnap before dragging themselves back to their duty stations and begin the whole tedious, terrifying ordeal all over again.

A deeper truth is, I was never interested in coming up with an explanation for Why? Never. I mean, I suppose I could've come up with a sufficiently important-sounding bit of technobabble that would've made sense (you see, the Cylon double-talk sensors tracking the Olympic Carrier's nonsense drive signature needed 15 minutes to relay the made-up data wave through the pretend continuum, then the Cylon navigational hyper silly system needed another 10 minutes to recalculate the flux capacitor, etc.) but what would that have really added to the drama? How does explaining that 33 minute interval help our understanding of Laura's terrible moment of decision, or bring us to any greater knowledge of Dualla's search for her missing family and friends, or yield insight into Baltar's morally shattered psyche?

It doesn't, of course. The answer, however artfully it may (or may not) have been crafted can only subtract from the experience we have in watching the episode. Not knowing the how's or why's of the Cylon attack puts us in the same seat as the characters we're watching. They're in the dark, and we're in the dark. The relentless attack is unfathomable in its origin and unstoppable in its execution. It's mortality coming at you on a loop. If you only had 33 minutes before the next time you could die, what would you do? And what about the time after that? And the time after that? At a certain point, you stop caring about why it's happening, all you know is that it is happening, and it's happening to you.

So the mystery of 33 will be permanent on this show. No explanation, not even the attempt. Let it just be a number that seemed like an eternity for five long days on the battlestar Galactica.
posted by cjelli at 10:34 AM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


I mean, I suppose I could've come up with a sufficiently important-sounding bit of technobabble that would've made sense (you see, the Cylon double-talk sensors tracking the Olympic Carrier's nonsense drive signature needed 15 minutes to relay the made-up data wave through the pretend continuum, then the Cylon navigational hyper silly system needed another 10 minutes to recalculate the flux capacitor, etc.) but what would that have really added to the drama?

I don't know. Star Trek's done pretty well with it...

(ducks)
posted by Naberius at 11:54 AM on November 10, 2015


I watched BG for the very first time only this year, and this first episode blew me away it was so unexpected, and the grottiness and tiredness so beautifully realised. I think I read something about a lot of it being improvised?
(tho the HeadSix/Balthar scenes are and remain tedious)
Also, and importantly, the Cylon ships: do the base ships irresistibly remind anyone else of some sort of (particularly pointy) patisserie? Am thinking something related to choux, piped in a y and baked, then cut round the outside, the two halves twisted round and then pulled apart just till all the goey strands within stretch out a bit. No?
posted by runincircles at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2015


the HeadSix/Balthar scenes are and remain tedious

I'm kind of amazed to hear people saying that. In the early days of the show Baltar and Six were the most compelling element to me, and later on when Head-Six kind of dropped out of the plot I really missed that aspect. Their interactions had a sexy, twisted crackle, and there was the question of whether she was a way the Cylons were messing with him or if he was going nuts or if HE was a Cylon or what the hell. The way she teases him along, his lover, his only ally AND his most feared enemy, that's juicy stuff.

I've always thought Moore made a terrible mistake, just calling this Battlestar Galactica. He may just as well have subtitled it I Mean, You, Know, the New One, because people often refer to it that way. As in, "Last night I binge-watched Battlestar Galactica... I mean, you know, the new one." (I guess you could call it Battlestar Galactica: The Reboot, but nobody ever does and just saying it aloud makes you feel like a tool.) And now the show isn't new anymore, and there are always rumors about another reboot, so someday we may have to refer to it as "the Battlestar Galactica from the 'aughts," or "Battlestar Galactica... I mean, the reboot. Well, not the NEW reboot, but the last reboot." If Moore had called it just Galactica or BSG or something, it would have saved a lot of geeks a lot of confusion.

At the time it bugged me that Boomer and Tigh, who were Black in the original series, were cast with non-Black actors here, eliminating two Black characters from the main cast and leaving Dualla as the only Black character with anything to do. But there weren't any Asian characters in the original BSG, so at least the cast was more diverse that way. (And the new Boomer and Tigh were so good I quickly stopped grumbling about the casting.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:52 AM on November 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love this whole series bar some of the last season's glurge, but I wonder; has their ever been another show where the first episode was arguably the best?

Walking Dead, for sure.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:02 AM on November 11, 2015


I love this whole series bar some of the last season's glurge, but I wonder; has their ever been another show where the first episode was arguably the best?

Maybe heavier on the "arguably" end of the spectrum, but the first episode of Friday Night Lights is my pick for best.
posted by telegraph at 9:31 AM on November 11, 2015


Oh hey cool, a rewatch.

I watched the miniseries and first couple of episodes this past weekend.
Loved the show from the beginning and have run through most of it a couple of times since it ended.

I find I watch it differently every time. This watch and I'm not sure why, I found the Baltar/Six scenes tedious and made me impatient. I fast forwarded a couple of them. Previously I found them compelling and interesting. Maybe I've just seen them too many times and they as interesting since I know what is going on. I'll have to see if this continues or if it was just the mood I'm in.

33 is one of my favourite episodes. I was so blown away when I first saw and at the time I was the only one I knew who had even heard of show and all I wanted to do was tell people about this amazing and surprising thing. When I did people thought I was a bit nutty. Then one day I drove a friend of the friend home and we discovered our BSG love and nerdery. It was such a relief to find some one else pre - it becoming a thing- to talk to about it with.
posted by Jalliah at 3:58 PM on November 11, 2015


The problem with Baltar at this stage of the series is that he is so unlikeable and pathetic and dense (despite his situational "brilliance") that Head Six's bullying of him comes across as just that, bullying. But we don't even like him enough to want to defend him.

The interesting thing is that, in many ways, Baltar seems to be the audience stand-in. Not only does he represent us as viewers of the drama that's unfolding, but he also represents humanity as a whole. This is us: Brilliant, yes, but sniveling, self-serving, amoral, and pitiable.
posted by 256 at 4:11 PM on November 11, 2015


This episode is the one with the Olympic Carrier, right? So haunting.
posted by lunasol at 5:25 PM on November 14, 2015


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