Battlestar Galactica Wiki

The Captain's Hand is an episode of the TV series, Battlestar Galactica, and aired during the show's second season.



The Fleet is passing a binary star system, in which Pegasus is conducting training exercises. The two training Raptors are flying as a pair, with Raptor 718 crewed by Lt. Richard "Buster" Baier and his ECO, Lyla "Shark" Ellway. As they depart the flight pod, Lt. Hoshi warns of electromagnetic interference caused by the binaries. On Baier's suggestion, the two fly out further than intended to a point where DRADIS can work.

On Galactica, Leland "Apollo" Adama gets ready for a temporary assignment to Pegasus, where he is to serve as Acting Executive Officer on behalf of Commander Barry Garner. He is reluctant to give Petty Officer Anastasia Dualla too much information, with her learning on her own his assignment has come with a promotion to Major. Their celebration irritates "Tucker 'Duck' Clellan", who is respecting their boot tradition but wants to go to bed.

On Galactica's hanger deck, a security alert is called when the crew unloading supplies from a storage crate spot something moving inside. Though Marines are on the way, Chief Galen Tyrol goes in to investigate and finds a pregnant teenage girl who has stowed away in search for Dr. Cottle.

On the exercise, Raptor 718 receives a garbled transmission and heads out to investigate. Shark soon sends out a message to Pegasus reporting the situation, but it too is garbled due to the EMI and Hoshi cannot tell if an emergency has been declared. Soon, both craft disappear from Pegasus' DRADIS.

Act 1[]

Apollo reports in to Garner in Pegasus' CIC where he is informed of the disappearance which happened roughly an hour prior. While Apollo is excused for not knowing of the incident, as the flight trainer Cpt. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace is accused of incompetence when she also admits not knowing. Starbuck storms down to one of Pegasus' washrooms and demands to know why none of the pilots reported the incident to her. To little surprise, she realises Garner himself had instructed the pilots not to talk to outsiders.

Apollo and Garner talk more in the Commander's office. Garner is dismissive of Apollo's attempts to "cut her some slack" due to her fighter experience. He makes clear his policy on board is to micromanage and treat each crewman as a finely tuned machine.

President Laura Roslin reluctantly begins her Presidential campaign meeting with Tory Foster, a civil servant set to replace Billy Keikeya. Foster's experience working for the Mayor of Delphi has given her insight into producing opinion polls. With favourable ratings from military and civilian voters, and the outright support from Gemenese religious leaders, Roslin looks set to beat Tom Zarek in a landslide. Zarek meanwhile has problems with his own campaign; knowing that his marketability as a man-of-the-people is trumped by Roslin's claim of prophethood, he instead seeks to run with the far more popular Dr. Gaius Baltar.

Apollo arrives at the pilot ready room to plan out a rescue mission for the missing Raptors. He finds the crew united behind Starbuck in mocking Garner after reliving Stinger of duty and shuts them up.

Adama meets with Cottle in Galactica's sick bay to discuss the stowaway, Rya Kibby, who's arrival has already caused a political storm in the Gemenese community. Cottle freely admits the situation - for the past few months a number of refugees have come on board seeking a termination, and Rya became aware of his services and stowed away to end her four month pregnancy. Rya fears punishment from her parents for seeking the procedure, and on the offer of Cottle applies for asylum to avoid being sent back.

Act 2[]

Roslin hosts an emergency meeting on Colonial One with Adama and the Gemenese Quorum member, Sarah Porter. Under Gemenese law, children are the property of their parents and, under their legal interpretation, Rya cannot apply for asylum and must be handed back to them regardless of her punishment. Sarah moves the topic onto the more pressing matter of the continued legality of abortion; while Roslin believes the constitution as it was under the Adar Administration should be upheld, Sarah warns her this will impact Gemenese support for her Presidential bid, and Roslin likewise agrees to review Rya's asylum petition, marking the end of Gemenese support in all but name. Tory prepares for an emergency conference call with the other delegates to avoid the dispute turning public. In private, Adama expresses his reluctant support for an abortion ban on the reminder that the fleet's population number is continuing to drop.

Starbuck and the pilots continue their investigation into the disappearance of the Raptors. Working with Cpt. Marcia "Showboat" Case, they attempt to fill in the gaps of Shark's last transmission: "Eve... distress... bearing... reek--... shuns... emerge-". Rather than assuming the obvious, that it would be Shark making a distress call, Starbuck's note of "eve" leads her to theorise the crew had received a distress call and were reporting in their intent to investigate. Starbuck reports their findings to CIC, but is instead reprimanded by Garner who accuses her of plotting a mutiny after her mockery as reached his ear. Starbuck is formally relieved of duty pending charges. Apollo heads down to talk to Starbuck, and lets slip he is still angry at her over being shot.

Pegasus has sent out Raptors to search for their missing crew, headed to various positions deemed likely for them to be. Lt. Steve "Red Devil" Fleer is successful in picking up a transmission from Shark 40AU from where they went missing, revealing they are alive but low on Oxygen. Apollo delivers the good news to Garner, but warns him they may have been lured into a trap by Cylon forces seeking to ambush Pegasus. Garner dismisses this as Starbuck's theory.

Lt. Steve 'Red Devil' Fleer flies out in a Raptor headed to the training mission's last known position, where he picks up a plea for help from Shark, who's suit is low on Oxygen. When Apollo reports the discovery in, he raises Starbuck's theory that the two Raptors were lured into a trap by Cylon forces and are bait for Pegasus. Garner dismisses the theory owing to the source, and notifies Adama of his intention to send Pegasus to investigate. Adama is sceptical, and suggests five Raptors be sent out to investigate instead after asking for Apollo's own thoughts of the situation. Garner is hurt by Apollo's public betrayal.

Roslin meets with Baltar in Galactica's morgue to discuss his mathematical calculations on demographic projections. Baltar is easily manipulated by Messenger Six, who reminds him of her hatred of him. Either fraudulently or legitimately, Baltar claims to have already done the projection soon after the Fall, which estimates human extinction in 18 years based on the same rate of population change. Following the impromptu meeting, Roslin publicly announces a new executive order which makes it illegal for an expecting mother to seek an abortion.

While Apollo meets with Starbuck, Pegasus goes into Condition One seemingly without explanation, revealing Garner is now preventing the crew from talking to him too. Rushing past the pilot ready rooms, he learns from Case that Pegasus is set to jump towards the missing ships and conduct the rescue mission as Garner originally intended. Apollo orders Starbuck into a Viper and reports in to CIC, where he orders Garner be placed under arrest for wilfully disregarding a direct order from the Admiralty. Garner's influence still holds, and the Sergeant-of-the-Guard instead takes Apollo into custody. Pegasus then jumps away, having failed to notify Galactica.

Pegasus jumps in and, as expected, Thornton identifies the two missing Raptors close-by. Red Devil heads out to investigate, finding the Raptors are radio silent. Moving closer to investigate, he confirms the crews are dead, having been shot at through the window. Three Cylon Basestars jump in close to Pegasus.

Act 3[]

Pegasus is being battered by Cylon fire from seemingly all directions. Two nuclear missiles have struck the stern, knocking its FTL drive out and preventing a quick escape. Starbuck meanwhile leads the air battle with Showboat and Catbird. Apollo returns to CIC, having persuaded the Sergeant-of-the-Guard to release him from custody; he finds Garner out of his element, unable to lead and desperately trying to explain to his engineering team how to perform a critical repair job while a third nuclear missile detonates. Reluctantly, he hands over control of Pegasus to Apollo while he sorts it out. Apollo orders Pegaus focus its firing power on one of the Basestars.

Garner meanwhile heads down into Pegasus' stern, which has been severely damaged by the missile strikes. DC teams have put out the fires, though they are low on respirators. Garner meets with the engineering team who apprise him of the situation: the primary coolant pump has been destroyed, and due to a hull breach they cannot simply enter the chamber to open the auxiliary valve. Against advice, Garner goes into the chamber alone with a spanner to open the valve himself. To keep Pegasus safe from atmosphere depletion, he orders the hatch shut, trapping him in a chamber with ever dropping pressure. Garner is successful in his operating of the valve, but due to the lack of air he dies from oxygen deprivation before anyone can get to him. Back in the battle, the damaged Basestar begins retreating, but is covered by the other two Basestars, while the Vipers have run out of ammo. As soon as the FTL becomes operational, the Vipers land and Pegasus retreats back to the Fleet.

Apollo meets with Adama on Galactica, having submitted a report on the battle. While his report is sympathetic to Garner over his sacrifice, Adama has already read a more critical report from Starbuck which details his paranoia. Having put Garner in command over the surviving line officers, Adama wants to know what made Garner such an unfit Commander; having had time to think over the day, Apollo marks it down to his expertise in machinery rather than with people. Adama tells Apollo to remember that failure, and promotes him to Commander.

Act 4[]

Back on Colonial One, Sarah arrives after hearing rumour in the fleet that Roslin intends to grant a pardon to Rya after her abortion. Roslin confirms Rya has indeed undergone an abortion and her asylum application has been accepted, though due to careful writing of the executive order Rya's abortion was grandfathered in. Apollo meanwhile packs up his gear to move to Pegasus permanently, and patches things up with Starbuck who has herself received a promotion as Galactica's CAG. Later, Roslin holds a press conference to address the abortion ban. Baltar initially comes to Roslin's aid, rationalising the ban as an extreme measure needed for an extreme time, but reveals this to be a ploy to announce his own bid for the presidency after declaring the ban to be an attack on human rights.



While it had long been agreed upon that Season 2.5 would show the deterioration of Pegasus' hierarchy, having effectively been pirates under Admiral Helena Cain already, the exact progression was determined during writing and in some cases re-writing. Commander Jack Fisk was intended to survive past Epiphanies, but was instead killed off in Black Market instead. His replacement, Commander Trenell, was to cause a collapse in authority by being too focused on preserving his image amongst the crew, ultimately leading to his own death during the episode's crisis situation. Due to concerns from the legal department the character was too similar to a real person, Trenell was replaced with Garner and scenes mentioning him were ultimately cut out of that episode. When it came to writing The Captain's Hand, the idea Moore had of Trenell was replaced with the paranoid micromanager role as seen in the episode, as it was seen that Apollo becoming a Tigh-esque "hardass" did not fit his character. While Moore enjoyed writing Garner's aggression, he felt he went too far and made it ridiculous that Apollo would take so long to realise he was unsuitable to command; a scene where Garner relieves Hoshi was re-written to be less abusive, and ultimately cut.

While the crisis was always anticipated, the nature of the crisis was decided on during writing, and was in part a vehicle to develop the Apollo/Starbuck relationship and see how it had developed after Apollo was shot in Sacrifice. At one point Apollo was to reluctantly come back to Starbuck after overseeing a number of failed attempts to find the missing Raptors. During the battle itself, Apollo was forced to take over the role of CAG to replace Stinger, which would end in him giving the order to jump the ship as soon as he landed, leaving behind a number of pilots. This idea was disliked by Moore, who felt it was too familiar of Tigh ordering DC teams to fight a fire on Galactica only to flush them into space in the Miniseries. Instead, it was decided Starbuck would take over responsibilities informally while Apollo remained on board and arrest Garner for disobeying orders in a scene inspired by Crimson Tide. Garner's death scene meanwhile was intended from the start to be reliant on low-tech solutions, as Moore disliked the reliance of technobabble solutions on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The episode's B plot, that of an abortion debate and its political repercussions, was pitched during Season 1 but was left unwritten. Moore went back to the pitch for Season 2 to show Roslin's slow movement towards authoritarianism and subvert her original role as the "dove" to Adama's "hawk". This also became the impetus of Baltar's bid for the presidency, with a scene with Messenger Six making it clear he is being pushed into getting back at Roslin.

Deleted scenes[]

  • Extending from the scene where Starbuck is relieved of duty, Commander Garner relieves Hoshi for not giving him notice of a Raptor launch.
  • Prior to Pegasus going on Condition One, Lee meets Starbuck in her quarters, where he reveals he is dealing with anger towards her for having shot him in "Sacrifice".
  • In an extension of the scene where Sarah complains about Rya's abortion, it is revealed she attempted to kill herself with an overdose of painkillers. Dr. Cottle restores her heartbeat through CPR.
  • In an extension of Lee and Starbuck's goodbye, Dee walks in on the two hugging and, hearing about Lee's new promotion, believes their relationship is over. Lee promises he will find a way to make it work.


The Captain's Hand - wrong Raptor numbers.png
  • Ronald D. Moore recorded a podcast, which can be found here.
  • An error in the Teaser has the two Raptors identified on DRADIS as 17 and Raptor 314. However, Shark identifies her Raptor as 718.
  • Mary McDonald had problems doing the episode and needed help with her motivation for Roslin banning abortion.
  • The writers had conceived of the idea that pilots have a special signal of hanging boots over a hatch when they are having sex.


External links[]