Act of Contrition is an episode of the TV series, Battlestar Galactica, and aired during the show's first season.
During a celebration of Flat-Top's 1000th landing, a recon drone is accidentally launched (due to metal fatigue and old age of the components) into a crowd of pilots, killing thirteen and seriously injuring seven more. Starbuck is assigned to quickly train replacements (who are referred to as "nuggets") from among the civilians, who have little to no flying experience. The senseless losses are a blow to the morale of the remaining Galactica pilots.
Elsewhere, President Laura Roslin has a checkup with the ship's medical officer, Dr. Cottle. Cottle tells Roslin her cancer is inoperable and gives her a few months to live. He recommends a powerful medication that can help her, but having watched her mother suffer from using it, she knows it is not without its side effects. Roslin wishes to explore alternate treatment with an unproven plant extract, "Kamala," a request that Cottle receives skeptically. In a rare moment of emotional openness, he suggests she try prayer as an alternative.
Meanwhile, Starbuck's training assignment brings back painful memories of the unfortunate death of her fiancé, Zak Adama. Starbuck feels responsible for Zak's death since she had passed him for Basic Flight despite knowing he wasn't good enough to be a Viper pilot. She temporarily escapes the feelings with a card game between Lt. Crashdown, Lt. Felix Gaeta and Dr. Baltar, during which Boomer catches word about Baltar's "Cylon Detector".
Starbuck takes aggressive control of her class of nuggets, seemingly driven out of anger and regret over the loss of not only the thirteen pilots, but also her guilt in having been lax in training with Zak Adama. The nuggets include Louanne "Kat" Katraine and Brendan "Hot Dog" Constanza. Because of the lack of flight simulators, the nuggets are thrown into the cockpit of actual Vipers on their first day. Though all of them manage to survive, Starbuck flunks them all. Lee Adama inadvertently reveals to Cmdr. Adama that Starbuck may have had something to do with Zak's death. Cmdr. Adama confronts Starbuck, telling her to "Cut the BS," and finally Starbuck confesses what she did for Zak. As a result, Cmdr. Adama and Starbuck's relationship is seriously strained. Hurt and angered by her actions, he orders her to return (saying "while you still can..." in a veiled threat he makes out of his tremendous grief) the nuggets to flight status and complete their training.
- Skirmish over the Red Moon
During a training exercise, a Cylon Raider patrol shows up and attacks. Starbuck orders the trainees back to Galactica while she holds off the entire patrol. However, Hot Dog disobeys and stays to help her, referencing her earlier instruction to "Never leave your squad leader." The last surviving raider is damaged by Starbuck at the last moment, leaving her with a heavily damaged Viper. Both craft hurtle out of control towards a nearby planet and enter the atmosphere. Starbuck goes into a flat spin and she punches out, free-falling along with the Viper.
- Story By: Bradley Thompson & David Weddle
- Directed by: Rod Hardy
Guest stars Edit
- Tobias Mehler as Zak Adama
- Colby Johannson as Flat Top
- Bill Meilen as Caprica Cleric
- Bodie Olmos as Constanaza/Hot Dog
- Lucianna Carro as Katrine/Kat
- Terry Chen as Perry/Chuckles