Dwight “Flat Top” Saunders landing his Raptor, making this his 1000th landing. Celebration turns to grief and loss when a communication drone falls to the deck, and launches towards the group of celebrating pilots. The resulting explosion kills thirteen pilots and puts seven more in sickbay.
After the funeral for the pilots killed in the accident, Adama gets Starbuck to teach the combat flight class for a new group of Viper pilots. At first, Starbuck resists. Adama states that if it has something to do with the death of Zak, Starbuck ins’t at fault for his death. This, we know, is untrue…something Starbuck had already confessed to Lee. Starbuck passed Zak, even through he failed basic flight. This was due in large part to the relationship going on between Starbuck and Zak.
Starbuck washes out the pilot trainees, or Nuggets, on their first day, saying in would be, “criminal to let them near a Viper again.” Lee confronts Starbuck and orders her to reinstate the trainees because they need the pilots. Starbuck stated that she “will not pass another student who isn’t ready.”
Lee takes his case before Adama, who at this point thinks Starbuck is right. During the conversation that follows, Lee get confused as to what Starbuck and Adama actually talked about regarding Zak, and let’s too much slip by saying that Starbuck is working through some guilt about what she did to Zak.
In the confrontation that follows between Starbuck and Adama, Starbuck comes clean and confesses that she passed Zak through basic flight, even though he should have failed. Adama orders Starbuck to do her job and reinstates the Nuggets to flight status.
While out in Vipers with Hot Dog, Kat, and Chuckles, eight Cylon raiders show up out of no where. Starbuck takes on all eight, with the help of Hot Dog. During the course of the firefight, Starbuck’s Viper is damaged and she is pulled into a planet’s atmosphere, forcing her to eject.
‘You Can’t Go Home Again’
This episode picks up immediately after the events in “Act of Contrition”. The search for Starbuck begins after the rescue of Hotdog.
On the planet, a banged up Starbuck fights for survival as her oxygen tank is running low and the planet’s atmosphere is not breathable.
Starbuck finds the Raider that she shot down and sets about the task of fixing it up so she can fly it off the planet.
In a confrontation with Adama, Roslin all but orders the Commander to terminate the search. Meanwhile, Starbuck has figured out how to fly the Raider and heads back towards the fleet. The appearance of Starbuck’s Raider sends the Galactica into full alert. Apollo launches his Viper and engages the Raider. During the dogfight, Apollo sees some markings that Starbuck left on the Raider.
I posted these episodes together because of the similar themes that run through these two episodes: repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and penance. Starbuck was taking her guilt over the death of Zak on the rookie pilots. We see after Starbuck confesses to Adama that things get tense between them, but when she goes down, things change and they move on.
These two episodes are among my favorite from season 1.