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Flight of the Phoenix

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Flight of the Phoenix
"Flight of the Phoenix"
An episode of the Re-imagined Series
Episode No. Season 2, Episode 9 (discuss)
Writer(s) Bradley Thompson
David Weddle
Story by
Director Michael Nankin
Assistant Director
Special guest(s)
Production No. 209
Nielsen Rating 1.9
US airdate USA 2005-09-16
CAN airdate CAN 2006-03-11
UK airdate UK 2006-03-07
DVD release 20 December 2005 US
28 August 2006 UK
Population 47,853 survivors (No population change.)
Extended Info {{{extra}}}
Episode Chronology
Previous Next
Final Cut Flight of the Phoenix Pegasus
Related Information
Official Summary
R&D SkitView
Podcast TranscriptView
[[IMDB:tt{{{imdb}}}|IMDb entry]]
Listing of props for this episode
[[frakr:{{{frakr}}}|Satirical view of this episode on WikiFrakr]]
Promotional Materials
Watch this episode's promo (on-wiki)
Online Purchasing
Amazon: Standard Definition | High Definition
iTunes: USA | Canada | UK


Contents

Overview

Chief Tyrol throws himself into the task of constructing a new Viper from scratch, despite the Galactica crew's misgivings and apprehension. Helo must deal with the repercussions of his relationship with Sharon on Caprica. A Cylon computer virus long thought deleted reasserts itself in Galactica's computers, putting the ship and the crew in danger.

Summary

  • Laura Roslin's illness has reached a critical level. While she is still well enough to walk, Dr. Cottle gives her approximately one month to live.
  • Helo has become persona non grata to many of the crew who distrust him due to his romance with the Caprica copy of humanoid Cylon Sharon. Helo and Chief Tyrol have a fight over Sharon's love.
  • Many of the crew, even the generally level-headed and reliable Lieutenant Gaeta, are showing the strain of the apparent futility and fatigue of running from the Cylons.
  • Chief Tyrol, with also little else to do with scrapped Vipers, begins a project to craft a new fighter. Initially, many crew are very skeptical, but they and others help Tyrol.
  • Helo suggests carbon composite material for the skin in lieu of the scarce metal plating normally used for Vipers. As a result Tyrol's new ship has stealth capabilities; it is nearly invisible to DRADIS.
  • Kara Thrace, Brendan Costanza and Lee Adama nearly suffocate when the life-support systems on the firing range malfunction.
  • A Cylon logic bomb has studied all ship's systems. It will fully control Galactica once an expected Cylon force arrives to activate it by infiltration. Gaeta and Baltar work together to figure a way to rid the ship of it by erasing the hard drives of all computers. Doing this, however, will leave the ship a sitting duck for an attack while time is needed to restore function and data to the computers.
  • Adama, after asking the advice of the President, allows the Caprica Valerii to connect herself to the ship's mainframe and communication systems while Gaeta and Baltar erase the hard drives of all computers.
  • A Cylon fighter armada consisting of hundreds of Raiders and Heavy Raiders attempts to activate the bomb. However, Valerii responds by transmitting a version of the same bomb to the Cylon fleet, disabling it as the Cylons did the Colonial fleet during the Fall of the Twelve Colonies. The Viper squadrons annihilate the helpless Cylon fleet in a joyous moment of payback.
  • Kara Thrace takes the new fighter, dubbed the Blackbird, for a initially ungainly test flight. This fighter is designed for speed, and soon delivers it. Lee Adama, in a Viper chase plane, is horrified when the Blackbird disappears, but Starbuck rises above to face his ship quietly, proving the new fighter's stealth ability.
  • In a ceremony similar to the one given to Commander Adama in the Miniseries, President Roslin inspects and christens the new fighter. Many sign the ship. Tyrol reveals the name of this first fighter: Laura.
  • The mere work on the new fighter renewed the creativity and hope of the crew--a reason why Adama allowed its construction to continue, despite the logic bomb crisis.

Notes

  • Population count is 47,853. This is the first time this season that there has been no net change in the count from the previous episode (Final Cut).
  • Flight of the Phoenix is the title of a 1964 novel where survivors from a plane crash in the middle of a desert attempt to rebuild the plane from the wreckage. Two movies, one made in 1965 and the other in 2004, were also made following a similar story line inspired by the book.
  • The phoenix is an animal from Egyptian mythology (and those derived) that, at the end of its lifespan, burns into ashes from which another arises.
  • The Blackbird, a new stealth fighter craft, has been constructed by Chief Tyrol with help from the crew.
  • There is a wide shot when apparently all of Galactica's Vipers are deployed where it's possible to count how many they have: there are 42 Vipers visible onscreen. Oddly, the current count says that there should be no more than 34, and even with Joe Palladino (unrealistically) on parole after "Final Cut" and Helo in a Viper, Galactica shouldn't be able to muster more than 25 pilots.
    • There are at least 7 Viper Mk. VIIs visible in this shot. This agrees well with the events of "Scattered".
  • This is the first episode without an appearance by Number Six.
    • Her two scenes were ultimately cut; they are available on the Season 2.0 DVD set.
  • When Chief Tyrol reconciles with Cally (regarding her killing of Boomer), she reaches into a Viper and fixes something he couldn't reach, and he responds "Nice to be small, huh?" This is reminiscent of the scene at the end of the Miniseries, when they have almost the exact same exchange. In that scene, they were reconciling after Cally got angry that Tyrol was having a relationship with "Boomer" Valerii.
  • President Roslin returns the book Dark Day to Commander Adama, which he gave to her back in the second episode, "Water".
  • Chief Tyrol and Boomer were planning to leave the military together and get married before the Cylon attack.
  • There is a goof just after the fight between Tyrol and Helo: at timecode 0:07:02 in the shot of Helo and Tyrol in front of the Raptor. To the left of the screen a camera operator and another man can be seen.
  • This is the first episode of the Re-imagined Series that does not involve any characters appearing on a planet. Further, "Flight of the Phoenix" is the first episode whose story is contained entirely on Galactica (or its Vipers) and doesn't even visit another ship in the civilian Fleet, such as Colonial One.
  • In one shot after Apollo states "weapons free" there is a shot of a Heavy Raider getting hit, then the Blackbird flies by, does a 180 degree turn and stays there, before an explosion covers it up and the scene changes (time index 35:18-25:21). This is a visual effects goof.
  • Despite Helo being a Raptor ECO, he wears a Viper patch during the Blackbird's first flight and christening ceremony.
  • Roslin christens the Blackbird with a bottle of Leonis Estates Sparkling Wine.

Analysis

  • While humanoid Cylons appear human to the cellular level, Caprica-Valerii can control a fiber-optic connection inserted into her forearm. This suggests that the biological design of humanoid Cylons uses light-sensitive cells disguised as regular cells in their forearms as data access nodes. Based on Valerii's extreme discomfort in having to cut herself to interface with the data line in this way, it could be presumed that this is not a typical practice for humanoid Cylons.
  • Tyrol's comment to Lee Adama on the lack of miracles, and his answer to the problem, may remind some of another great miracle worker of television science fiction.
  • Despite Valerii's belief that she has become a "liability" to the Cylons, the previous episode made it clear that at least some Cylons considered the survival of her baby a paramount concern. The virus, installed before her arrival, was probably oblivious to this, but the massive fleet the Cylons deployed to interdict Galactica could not have been. Additionally, an earnest attack would almost certainly have included a basestar. It has therefore to be assumed that the Cylons have a more complicated motive in making such a massive material sacrifice.
    • It is likely (as shown later through the events of "Downloaded" to "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part II") that there are indeed different Cylon factions working at cross purposes.
    • The presence of Heavy Raiders suggests that the Cylons may have been planning to board Galactica in order to recover Sharon and her unborn child.
  • The Colonials pass up a major opportunity by destroying the Cylon fleet. Adama revoked Roslin's presidency on the basis of the misappropriation of a single captured Cylon Raider, yet they eliminate dozens of crippled-but-serviceable assets in the name of retribution. After all that work to create a single new fighter, wouldn't a squadron of superior Raiders be worth maintaining in the unused starboard flight pod?
    • A point against the idea of capturing a Raider involves the lucky manner in obtaining the first one. The Raider in "You Can't Go Home Again" was brain-dead from a lucky shot. The Raiders here are turned off by a virus, but it may be too difficult to remove all of their control mechanisms. Since these are in fact organic mechanisms that could still be fighting to survive, they may have their own ability of causing additional harm if captured alive.
    • Galactica had no idea how long until Cylon reinforcements could appear, or the effect of the virus would wear off. Further, the civilian fleet has jumped away from Galactica in anticipation of the attack, and Galactica probably doesn't want to leave them unattended too long. There is not enough time and it is too dangerous.
    • At this point, Galactica has as many as two Heavy Raiders already—the one that crash-landed into the starboard pod in "Scattered" and the one Starbuck, Helo, and Sharon returned with in "Home, Part II". The use of the FTL drive from one of these ships is mentioned by Lt. Gaeta as part of the planning of the Caprica Resistance SAR in "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I". Another factor would be the potentially still active Cylon Centurions, probably not affected by the virus transmitted by Sharon.
  • It is Helo who suggests the use of carbon composites for the Blackbird, and Racetrack says "Good call, Helo" after it is finished. Despite everything, Helo's opinions are still respected, perhaps symbolic of his redemption in the eyes of his crewmates.
  • Some viewers may express confusion over the amount of time necessary to build the new fighter as well as the time it took to fight off the logic bomb and the Cylon attack. All in all, the whole episode may seem like a series of deus ex machina events to close up the episode. For more analysis on these events, see this section of the article Science in the Re-imagined Series.
    • In his podcast for this episode, Ron D. Moore acknowledges the build-time dilemma for the Blackbird, and notes that the vagueness of time elapsed to build the machine was intentional so as to allow it to be built and done with in one episode, instead of drawing out the building into two or three episodes.
  • Order and discipline on Galactica may be starting to break down. In the Miniseries, Starbuck was put in the brig for striking a superior officer. Now, Starbuck assaults Racetrack but there is no visible punishment (although Racetrack does not outrank Starbuck), and Tyrol gets into a fight with Helo (who outranks him), also with no apparent punishment. The deck crews aren't bothering to hide the still they built as much as before, going to far as to have a large "Welcome Back Cally" party with its products in public. Tigh makes a halfhearted verbal chastisement of Tyrol when Tigh finds the still, but doesn't do anything about it and ends up taking a jar of booze for his own use. Also, even Lt. Gaeta is now snapping back at the command officers, shouting and even cursing.
  • The christening scene suggests that the ceremony may be conducted differently in the Colonies. Roslin jokingly moves to smash the bottle across the Blackbird -- as the ceremony is conducted here -- but then says she's joking and instead the bottle is opened and Tyrol takes a drink. It's unclear whether this is truly a variant of the ceremony, or if it was modified either a) out of concern for damaging the Blackbird or b) the scarcity of champagne.
  • The decision by Tyrol and his shipmates to build the Blackbird parallels a similar subplot on Star Trek: Voyager in which crew members build a similarly high-tech vessel, the Delta Flyer which, like the Blackbird, also immediately becomes an asset to the mother ship.

Questions

  • Is Dualla attracted to Apollo (or vice versa)? Dualla seemed to "check out" Apollo's "backside" in "Resistance", and now she's in close physical contact with him (Answer).
  • Helo gets angry at Chief Tyrol for calling Boomer a toaster. Is this a sign that Helo is thinking more sympathetically towards the Cylons than before? Like the Cylons, does he consider it an "offensive racial epithet"?
  • Where does Helo get the idea to use carbon-composite on the Blackbird? Is that something he thought up himself, or perhaps did Caprica-Valerii 'point' him in that direction?
  • If the Cylons are so interested and cautious about protecting Caprica-Valerii and her unborn child as stated by Aaron Doral in "Final Cut", why then are they willing to launch a massive assault against Galactica?
  • To what extent are Cylon knowledge and experiences shared? Humanoid Cylons can transfer their consciousness to other copies of themselves (Miniseries), but are other Cylon models interconnected?
  • Is the software code Helo shows to Caprica-Valerii only a virus or does it contain instructions outside the scope of destabilizing and controlling Galactica's systems? (Valerii's response to the code seems to indicate it affects her on some level).

Official Statements

"Q: In the battle scene with the Cylons in "Flight of the Phoenix", some think they see more Vipers than pilots, there is the presence of many Mark 7 Vipers, and the Blackbird is in flight before its maiden voyage. Was this effects shot the victim of a script change or something in the editing room? Was the episode originally intended to appear after the Pegasus encounter?
RDM: To be honest, I don't recall the exact number of Vipers in the shot or where we were in the continuity at that point. I do recall the topic coming up in various VFX and production meetings, and I think there was at least an initial rationale for the number on screen -- but it's entirely possible that we cheated a bit in Post in order to make the shot a little sexier. Sorry. It happens."
  • In issue #348 of Starlog magazine, p. 32, Nicki Clyne (Cally) said:
"It was an honor that the writers let Cally shoot Sharon; that was a big moment in the show...but then Cally is locked away in a jail cell, and that was pretty boring. When she gets out, everyone gives Cally an anti-climactic little party and she goes back to work. That's one of the funny patterns about my character: She has all of these crazy, intense, traumatic experiences, and then in the next episode, you'll see her back on the ship, turning a screw. There's a lot going on, obviously, that you don't see, and as actors, we do our best to fill in those blanks. But yes, essentially, after whatever horrible things happen to Cally, in the end, she just goes back to work!"

Noteworthy Dialogue

  • On the flight deck:
Apollo: Nobody's expecting a miracle.
Tyrol: Maybe that's the problem.
  • Discussing Helo's return to Galactica:
Duck: So he's the Cylon lover.
Starbuck: You know what? I don't care who or what he fraks. He saved my ass down there, all right?
Duck: How could anyone fall in love with a toaster, though?
Starbuck: Same way I hear everyone was high-fiving our Sharon right before she put two in Adama's chest. The bastards frak with your head.
Hotdog: Yeah. Just ask the Chief.
  • Card game in the Viper pilot's locker room:
Racetrack: Been playing with these cards for so long, I know every fold.
Starbuck: So life's a bitch. What do you want to do, cry about it?
Racetrack: No, I just want it to end, okay? The bad food, the endless rotations, pretending that a card game is the high point of our day.
Starbuck: It's not going to last forever, all right? Earth is out there.
Racetrack: Right. We could all be chasing our tails over some half-assed planetarium show.
Starbuck: And you guys can all go to hell. I'm going to go find Helo.
Racetrack: Good idea. Maybe that Cylon whore taught him a few tricks.
(Starbuck politely turns around, walks over to Racetrack and grabs her by the neck and slams her head into the card table).
  • Helo is sitting in Sharon's old Raptor when the Chief walks up:
Helo: Hey! Look, Chief. I never intended for Sharon and I to-- You know, it just kind of evolved.
Tyrol: Just a couple lovesick kids, huh?
Helo: I know how she felt about you, okay? She loves you.
Tyrol: Did she fill you in o­n the rest of the plan? She and I were going to muster out at the end of our service. You know, then we would get married. Maybe we would have children. I guess I'm just a big frakkin' idiot, though, huh? Probably that goddamn toaster's plan all along.
Helo: Don't call her that.
Tyrol: Sucker some moron into giving her a kid. Hey, you know, but you know what? I should probably be grateful to you. Probably be grateful. You know why? Because that freak in her belly could have been mine! (Helo and Tyrol fight)
  • Lt. Gaeta is starting to lose his composure under constant pressure:
Gaeta: Sir, I'm running every diagnostic we've got. Checking each line of code could take days.
Tigh: I am not interested in excuses. Fix it!
Gaeta: (shouting) It's not an excuse, sir. It's a frakking fact!
  • Speaking to Tigh:
Commander Adama: Months o­n the run, and what do we have to show for it? Casualties. Deteriorating conditions. This crew needs a rest. It's finally hitting them, that's all. Our old lives are gone. The o­nly thing we have to look forward to is this.
  • Tigh walks into the tool closet on the hangar deck
Tigh: What's this, Chief?
Tyrol: I'm making solvent, sir, to clean machine parts.
Tigh: Solvent my ass. I know a still when I smell it.
  • Starbuck is taking the Blackbird on its first test flight while Apollo follows:
Apollo: Starbuck, Starbuck, where are you? Starbuck, come in. Starbuck, do you read? Kara, are you okay?
Starbuck: (Starbuck turns the lights of the Blackbird on; she's actually got her ship feet away from Apollo's, facing it) Of course you lost contact. It's a damned stealth ship, remember?
  • At the unveiling of Laura:
Roslin: Oh, you're much too modest. After what we've been through, it would be very easy to give up, to lose hope. But not here. Not today. This is more than a ship, Chief. This is an act of faith. It is proof that despite all we've lost, we keep trying. And we will get through this, all of us, together. I promise.

Guest stars




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