Season one, episode four, titled "Act of Contrition, aired 01/28/2005: Summary" After a flight deck accident kills thirteen of their best pilots, Adama orders Kara to train a new squad, forcing her to confront painful memories of the death of the commander's son.
This episode focuses on Kara "Starbuck" Thrace.
Although in hindsight BSG was known for the complexity of the stories it told, and the first three episodes and first miniseries were multi-layered, this episode was the first really complex story to be produced. Recall from the original miniseries that Kara admitted to Apollo that she passed his brother through his Basic Flight class when it was clear to her that she should have failed him. Because she passed him Zak later found himself in a situation while at the controls of a Viper that he could not control, and died in a training accident. Part of the sadness of Starbuck's character is the guilt that she walked around with after that happened. Telling Apollo was of course a big deal, but only because Starbuck had a love/hate relationship with him. The person she was very reluctant to tell was Adama, Zak's and Apollo's father, who was also a stand-in father for Starbuck, who we will learn later grew up in a split and abusive home.
The action in Act of Contrition began after the 1000th Battlestar landing by Flattop, one of faceless Viper pilots who managed to survive the war. While celebrating on the flight deck a pilotless drone broke free from the rack that held it, impacted the ground, ignited and flew into a pack of celebrating pilots. The impact killed 13 of them and put 7 more in sick bay. After the funerals were concluded Adama asked/ordered Starbuck to make a list of everyone in the fleet who had any flight skills, and train them to fly combat missions in Vipers. Starbuck resisted at first, fearing the possible confrontatin with Adama over what happened the last time she trained novice pilots, or "nuggets," (I love it - that's what I call my kids), but relented once Adama made it clear that he wanted her to do the job. Most of the episode is told by abrupt segue between scenes where Starbuck is training the nuggets, scenes from her past where she is making love to Zak (this episode really blended eros and thanatos very well - it was practically classical the way they did it), and scenes from her future where her Viper is burning up as it enters an atmosphere and she ejects before it crashes.
Starbuck began training the next day. Since the Galactica had no training device, the nuggets were put right into the hot-seat. After their first landing run Starbuck washed them all out. Apollo confronted her and she stood up to him, so he went to his daddy and revealed that Starbuck had a secret that she had not revealed to him about Zak's death. Adama called her to his quarters and got it out of her. Enraged as he was, he told Starbuck to get her ass out of his quarters, give the nuggets another chance, and to DO HER JOB. Adama saw that she was going to let her past failure push her to fail to do her job yet a second time, so he set her straight and told her that the only important thing was that she do it, no avoid it out of fear. Starbuck gets right back up in the saddle, and while out training the nuggets a group of Cylon raiders (with no Base Star nearby) attack. Starbuck takes on all eight with Hotdog, who ignored orders to return to the Galactica, and was downed over a nearby planet.
Other important bits:
During a card game Boomer overhears another pilot ask Gaeta about the "cylon detector" that he is helping Baltar with. Recall that Baltar was given his nuclear device in the last episode so that he could complete the project. Gaeta played dumb, but Boomer was all-a-flutter after hearing about the program. She must have become convinced after the episode Water, despite Galen's placation, that she is a Cylon. Of course, we all already know that she is.
On Cylon Occupied Caprica Sharon and Helo located an abandoned restaurant with medical supplies, food, fuel . . . the whole shebang. It was a fallout shelter, and Sharon lured him to it to give him a sense of safety, and to begin the breeding/love experiments that are to come.
This episode also gave Doc Cottle some real lines. They were doozies. I think Cottle is actually my favorite supporting character. When he enters an examination "room" to tell Roslin that she is a dead woman, he lights up a cigarette. Roslin asks "do you mind," and the good doctor replies, "actually, I do." Then he goes on to call her a fool for refusing Deloxin for her cancer and asking for Kamala Extract.
Tigh reveals that the Galactica has 40 Vipers and 21 pilots after the accident.
Act of Contrition introduced Hotdog (played by Bodie Olmis, Edward James Olmos' son), Kat (who would spend many of the next few seasons vexing Starbuck's character) and Chuckles (who is doomed).