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BSG Season 3: Maelstrom Ep. 16 February 14, 2008

Posted by Chris in Battlestar Galactica (Re-imagined).
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Kara’s “Special Destiny” as Foreshadowed by Her Mandala Obsession and as Interpreted by Leoben

Ahhhh…and then, just like that, we’re back on track.  Or so it seems.  The downhill slide starts to level off at this point in Season 3 (and none too soon) after many a stand-alone episode.  This episode starts with Starbuck suffering through nightmares about fraking Leoben, the mandala she painted in her apartment on Caprica and it’s duplicate they found in the Temple of Five, and her “special destiny” that are implied by both.  Driven to frustration and fear that her destiny may mean she’s a Cylon, Kara seeks insight from an oracle on Galactica.  Instead of providing comfort, the oracle tells her word-for-word quotes from past events with her mother and Leoben.  The upshot of what the oracle tells her is that her special destiny is in the process of revealing itself and the Leoben is the key — he will show her the way. 

Kara’s obviously shaken by this encounter and afterwards, while flying patrol in the atmosphere of a planet where the fleet is refueling, she sees a Cylon raider and pursues it into the eye of a storm — a storm that looks like a darker version of her Temple of Five mandala.  She pulls out of the storm just before she dives into the heart of the storm and is crushed by the dense atmosphere.  When no one else can confirm her sighting of the raider, we start to believe she’s hallucinating.  On a second mission into the clouds, she sights the raider again, and she gives hot pursuit.  This time she gets knocked out in flight (either by the raider’s gunfire or a lighting strike from the storm) and she finds herself in her home on Caprica with Leoben. 

He tells her that she’s drawn to the storm and the mandala — that she wants to fly into it, but she’s afraid of the unknown and death.  He takes her into the past to watch her as she finds out that her mother has terminal cancer.  She tries to comfort her mother, but is rejected.  She swears she’ll never see her mother again.  Leoben tells her that her mother died waiting for her to come back, but that it’s not too late — that she can still talk to her.  Kara comforts her mother as she dies, and Leoben tells here that now that she’s faced death, she understands that it’s not to be feared and that by facing it, she’s free. 

Her vision fades and she’s back in the cockpit, heading into the storm and toward a certain death.  Calm from the knowledge gained from her vision, she flies to her death (presumably).  While Lee sees her plane explode in a star-burst of fireworks, we’re left to question whether she somehow might have escaped since we are shown her fingering her eject lever just before the explosion. 

So passes Starbuck’s character from the series (?) and we’re left to wonder if we’ve really been given the full story.  Was her special destiny simply to face death and her fears, or is there some tie-in, as yet unrevealed, to the mandala and its role as a signpost for Galactica on it’s way to finding Earth.  Will the Humans have to face and accept death, just as Kara did, in order to reach their goal — to find Earth?  These questions remain tantalizingly unanswered even as we mourn the passing of a favorite character from the show.



1. Kym - February 16, 2008

okay, I got season 1. I’ll watch episode 1 tomorrow. It better be good.

2. Chris - February 16, 2008

I’m on pins and needles!

3. Kym - February 17, 2008

Hey, I’m betrayed. I went back to read your essay on the pilot episode—what do I find? No episode earlier than season 3!

I watched it. Now you write it!


4. Chris - February 17, 2008

You’ve been had!

No, actually, I’ve just about finished reviewing Season 3 and will be starting with Season 1 soon.

5. Kym - February 17, 2008


My take is:
a little too long
not enough humor to leaven the emotions (Now I know why everybody loves Starbuck. She’s from Firefly while everybody else is in something much darker.)
Too much grand scale not enough human

Still, my whole family is looking forward to watching #2 tonight.
The acting is good.
The story is believable.
Some moral dilemmas thrown in to incite conversation.

We’ll see but I think I will ultimately like it.

6. Chris - February 18, 2008

You’re reaction is similar to mine after I’d watched the first episode. The second episode is very good I thought. Around the 3rd or 4th, I was starting to wonder if I should keep going (it seemed to be going in a hokey direction), but once I got about 1/2 way through the first season, I started to really get into it.

Starbuck is cool, indeed. As the series progresses, they really start to develop the characters more, so some of the grand scale stuff is balanced out.

Cool that you’re family’s into it. Have fun.

I’ll be working to catch up…

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