The Human-Cylon peace accords are a ruse by the genocidal Cylons, determined to exterminate all humanity. Only the battlestarGalactica and a ragtag Fleet survive, journeying across the galaxy in search of a long-lost sister civilization, Earth. On the first leg of their journey, the Fleet is lured to the planet Carillon for fuel and relaxation—and barely survives a trap by the Ovions, an underground, insectoid species in league with the Cylons.
Aboard Galactica, Lieutenant Zac, Apollo's younger brother, convinces Starbuck to let him take his patrol with Apollo so he can prove that he is a worthy warrior. Apollo, aware of the deception, agrees and Apollo and Starbuck reminisce of their younger days and Apollo teases Starbuck about his stomach (the "ailiment" that Starbuck uses in front of Zac and Apollo as the excuse to allow Zac to fly).
Aboard Atlantia, Adar congratulates Baltar on his work on the armistice. Adar later meets with Adama, who gives his misgivings about the peace treaty and the Cylon's hatred of humanity and freedom. Adar assures him that the Cylons have sued for peace.
On patrol, Zac notices two targets above the old moon of Cimtar. Apollo flies ahead and identifies one target as an empty Cylon tanker. On reaching the second ship, a freighter, Apollo's scanners are jammed. Suspicious that the freighter is hiding something, Apollo continues flying through the mist and encounters a huge armada of Cylon Raiders.
Apollo and Zac engage four pursuing Raiders, but Zac's top engine is damaged in the attack. Apollo assures him that they can easily handle four to one odds. Zac's scanner soon shows the odds are worsened to a thousand to one. Zac tells Apollo to warn the fleet of the impending Cylon ambush. Apollo reluctantly leaves his younger brother behind.
Commander Adama and Athena return to Galactica to find the whole ship on alert. At Core command, Colonel Tigh informs Adama that their patrol ran into some trouble but the reports are being jammed. Adama reports this to the President and asks to launch a patrol to intercept. Baltar convinces Adar not to launch fighters due to the delicate nature of the peace treaty. Adama then asks that the fleet be brought to a state of alert. Adar says he will consider it.
Tigh informs Adama that the patrol is under Apollo's command and that Zac is with him. Adama now realizes the gravity of the situation.
Zac continues his journey home ahead of the Cylon fighter fleet, but his damaged Viper is slowly losing ground.
Ignoring orders, Adama begins a battle station drill to avoid direct violation of the President's orders while allowing him to scramble his fighters for an initial defense.
Starbuck enjoys a game of Pyramid with some Gemonese warriors. His hand, a full Pyramid, wins. The alert klaxon sounds just as he tries to collect his winnings.
Zac's Viper is destroyed by the Cylons in sight of the fleet. When Adar asks what that explosion was, Adama sadly answers, "That was my son, Mr. President."
The Cylons commence their attack on the battlestars. Only Galactica is in a sufficient state of readiness to fight; none of the other battlestars can launch their fighters.
Apollo returns to the bridge and reports on the Cylon ambush and asks to go back to escort Zac back in. He is informed of Zac's death.
Apollo informs Tigh and Adama that he found no basestars in the area that supported the fighters. They realize that the tankers were used to re-fuel the fighters, allowing the basestars to be elsewhere.
Adama realizes the basestars are gathering to attack the Colonies themselves. Adama contacts Adar and requests permission to leave the battle in order to attempt to defend their home planets. During this transmission the Cylons bear down on battlestar Atlantia and destroy her.
The Imperious Leader, on a basestar near the Colonies, orders the planetary attack to begin.
Adama orders Galactica to head for Caprica to defend the colony. Viper pilot Greenbean and other pilots notice the battlestar leaving the battle zone.
As Galactica closes in on the Colonies, the jamming clears to allow them to view a news report from the surface of Caprica from Serina. As the attack begins, Serina ends her report abruptly to find her son Boxey, whose daggit is killed. Galactica's crew watch helplessly as the destruction of the colonies continues. Even the outer colonies such as Sagitara are not spared.
Adama elects to go down to the surface of Caprica in his shuttle. Fearing for his father's safety, Apollo convinces Adama to accompany him in his fighter.
Rigel informs Tigh that 67 fighters returned from the battle; only 25 belong to Galactica. Omega informs Tigh that they are also the only surviving battlestar.
Starbuck returns with battle damage and crash lands successfully. Angry over Galactica leaving during the battle, Athena tells him of something more serious: the Colonies are destroyed.
On Caprica, Adama finds the ruins of his home. His wife, Ila, is presumed dead, and Adama's grief overwhelms him temporarily.
Apollo is confronted by angry colonists. Adama informs the colonists that only Galactica is left to guard the survivors.
Adama tells the colonists to assemble the people in every ship that will carry them. In all, 220 ships leave the ruined worlds to gather behind the last battlestar.
At a ship's representative meeting aboard Galactica, Adama tells them of their destination: The home of the Thirteenth Tribe on a planet called Earth.
Starbuck apologizes to Athena (who is in the process of taking off her pressure suit) for his behavior in the landing bay. Starbuck realizes they may have only tomorrow to live, for but Athena says she cannot commit to a relationship.
Boomer and Starbuck are on fleet maintenance on the freighter Gemini to check for battle damage. Apollo is also there, checking for solium leaks with Beta company.
They head below decks to find the sad condition of colonists living there. The warriors are told of food and water shortages.
As they attend to the wounded, one colonist, Cassiopeia, attempts to help by translating for an ill Geminese man, but is ridiculed for being a socialator.
The warriors learn that some people on board the Rising Star Liner are living in luxury with hoards of supplies.
Apollo re-routes the shuttle to the Rising Star and finds Jolly, who indicates most of the food there has Pluton poisoning. They try to salvage some of the food but are told to keep it quiet in fear of a mutiny.
The Cylons become aware of Galactica and her escape with survivors. Imperious Leader instructs flight leader Serpentine, a Centurion, to inform Count Baltar of his displeasure, ordering Baltar to deliver either Galactica or his own head.
Aboard the Rising Star, Serina asks Apollo to help cheer up Boxey. Apollo gives Boxey one of his rank insignia and promises to find him a daggit. Serina thanks Apollo for his help.
Boomer and Apollo find Sire Uri and his party. They are appalled by Sire Uri's gluttony and celebration. Ignoring Sire Uri's refusal to give up his supply of food, Apollo orders Boomer to instruct Jolly to gather a crew to distribute the food to others. Boomer asks Apollo if he hasn't overplayed his hand since Sire Uri is a newly elected member of the Council of the Twelve.
Cassiopeia's arm is healed by Galactica medical staff and Starbuck agrees to help her find somewhere else to go in lieu of the Gemini.
Rigel reports to Tigh that long range patrols report no signs of Cylon pursuit.
The Council of Twelve debate the Fleet's destination. Believing Carillon is too far to travel because of the food shortage, Uri suggests the planet Borallus, but Adama believes it too dangerous. Apollo suggests a shortcut to Carillon via the Nova of Madagon. However, the Cylons had mined the passage, so Vipers are needed to clear a path for the Fleet. Starbuck and Boomer are "volunteered" for the mission.
Apollo gathers Serina and Boxey. Apollo and Doctor Wilker surprise Boxey with Muffit Two, a mechanical daggit. Apollo and Serina share an embrace.
Cassiopeia and Starbuck spend some intimate time on the flight deck before a jealous Athena activates a steam purge in the area and burns Starbuck.
The Vipers launch with shielded cockpits to protect from the brightness of the nova. They succeed in destroying the mines, and the fleet reaches Carillon.
Aboard the main basestar, Baltar appears before the Imperious Leader. The Imperious Leader alters his bargain to spare Baltar's colony and orders Baltar's immediate execution, but stops short and orders him removed for public execution.
Boomer and Starbuck come upon strange bright lights and startle a female Tauran coming out of what is apparently a chancery. The woman's excitement over her winnings make it apparent that she is completely unaware of the Colonies' destruction. Starbuck and Boomer enter the casino to investigate.
Apollo, Jolly, Serina, Boxey and Muffit travel to the old mine.
Boomer questions the validity of the chancery and is amazed that Starbuck can think about making money in light of their plight.
Boxey chases after Muffit when he escapes the landram, with Jolly not far behind. Serina and Apollo share a tender moment alone. Muffit and Boxey are "kidnapped" by the Ovions.
Jolly, Apollo and Serina search for Boxey but are also taken captive by the Ovions and brought below the surface to the Ovion's domain. They are re-united with Boxey, Muffit, Starbuck and Boomer. Apparently the Ovion Queen has offered her friendship and all that Carillon has to offer.
On hearing of the events on Carillon, Adama questions the Ovion's hospitality and notices that only small amounts of fuel are arriving from the surface.
Cassiopeia and Athena both attempt to rendezvous with Starbuck on Carillon. They discover each other, and Starbuck is left without a companion.
Some guests of the hotel enter an elevator to go their rooms, but the elevator takes them below to Ovions, who capture them.
Adama and Tigh realize that they have been deceived about the amount of tylium on Carillon, and suspect Cylon involvement.
Aboard Galactica, the council meets with Adama to discuss the dismantling of arms. During this meeting the history of the war and the humans involvement with the Hasari is discussed. Adama balks at the discussion of laying down their arms and leaves the meeting. The council decides to let the colonists decide their fate at a function to award Apollo, Starbuck and Boomer for their heroism in leading the Fleet through the Straits of Madagon.
Cassiopeia enters an elevator on Carillon and is also captured by the Ovions. She witnesses the three previous colonists being cocooned by The Ovions.
Aboard Galactica, Tigh meets with Adama in secret to devise a plan to keep their warriors battle ready while fooling Sire Uri and the Ovions, giving the impression that actual warriors are in attendance. To aid in the ruse, Adama decides to launch routine patrols to appease the Council, but will be used in truth to await a Cylon trap. Tigh is put in charge of gathering uniforms and people to fill them.
Starbuck, Boomer, and Apollo gather on the surface. Uri is satisfied that most of the warriors are in attendance. Boomer motions to Starbuck that there are three unknown men wearing the insignia from Blue Squadron. Starbuck goes to investigate and runs into Apollo. Starbuck reports the imposters, and all enter an elevator to head below the surface.
Uri impatiently informs Boomer to find Starbuck and Apollo.
Starbuck and Apollo continue their search for the imposters while a Cylon Centurion receives a report from an Ovion of the warrior count at the party.
Apollo and Starbuck jury rig the elevator to go lower below Carillon. They encounter the Ovions and Cylons.
Starbuck questions the connection between the surface and the Ovions below. Starbuck suggests that Apollo go back up and gather the colonists while he stays below to set fire to the tylium. Apollo refuses, remembering his abandonment of Zac.
Boxey comes out of an elevator in pursuit of Muffit. As a Cylon aims his weapon at Boxey, Apollo and Starbuck intervene.
In the battle, the warriors find the cocoons of the humans that the Ovions are feeding on, as well as Cassiopeia, who they rescue in the nick of time.
The Imperious Leader orders the springing of the Cylon trap.
Starbuck and Apollo, with Cassiopeia, Boxey and Muffit in tow, begin their escape, while the Cylons begin their attack run at Galactica and the Fleet.
Boomer joins in with Starbuck and Apollo as they escape back to the surface to warn everyone of the danger. Apollo and the others reach the surface and warn the others to leave. Uri balks at this idea until a Cylon appears, and hastily changes his mind.
Jolly and a series of Landrams arrive to help in the escape. Apollo and Starbuck find out that the Landrams were ordered in place by Adama.
Boxey tells Serina that he wishes Apollo could be his dad. Starbuck kisses Cassiopeia goodbye.
The warriors launch from Carillon as the attack on the Galactica begins, engaging the Cylons as Galactica takes heavy hits.
Apollo, along with Starbuck, goes after the lone basestar with Imperious Leader hidden behind Carillon. Adama refuses to authorize the warriors to chase the base ship but Apollo and Starbuck continue their pursuit using the Cylon frequency to give the impression of four squadrons (Blue and Green, Red and Yellow).
The Imperious Leader receives news of the counterattack and orders the baseship behind Carillon.
Adama is astonished at the ruse that Starbuck and Apollo are planning.
The Imperious Leader is given a report of the six squadrons approaching them and the destruction of their entire Raider complement. He orders the basestar lower to the surface but is warned of the temperature reaching critical points.
Starbuck and Apollo reach the baseship. Tigh reports the planet reaching vapor point.
The Cylons now realize that the plan is a deception and open fire on Apollo and Starbuck. Starbuck and Apollo escape just as the planet and basestar are destroyed.
Baltar is brought before another Imperious Leader, who explains he has examined Baltar's epistle and spares his life: Not to serve the Cylon Empire, but to serve his people. Baltar is given the task of extending the hand of truce to the humans. Baltar explains that the humans are not likely to be receptive.
The Imperious Leader gives Baltar command of a basestar with an IL-Series Drone named Lucifer to serve at his aide to accomplish this task.
The Cylons have a hierarchal imperical society, lead by an emperor referred to as the Imperious Leader.
The Cylons wish to exterminate human life as Colonials have interfered with Cylon efforts regarding the Hasari's "nation".
Nuclear weapons are not a technology used in the Original Series, instead "weapons of mass destruction", namely in the form of pluton bombs, were used on the Colonies. (The Cylons of the Re-imagined Series, however, do use these type of weapons against the Colonies, to devastating effect.)
Apollo points out to SireUri at their first meeting that "some 100 people have died since our deliverance from the Cylons", though not due to starvation. More people have died while on Carillon, however, when the Cylons sprang their trap.
There are three different versions of this episode. A theatrical release, a three part pilot and video release. The episode contained on the DVD box set is the complete episode with all the parts that were deleted or shortened or altered to some degree restored.
In the feature film version, Baltar is beheaded after his betrayal on orders of, and at the feet of, the Imperious Leader. But Baltar's demise is later removed and his character spared to lead an ongoing pursuit of the remnants of humanity for the series in the televised version of this episode.
The plot line pertaining to Serina's "space cancer", and thus a majority of Doctor Paye's scenes, were removed. Serina's illness occurs because she was affected by the pluton poisoning, which is briefly mentioned by Jolly on the Rising Star.
In addition, a subplot revolving around Adama's attempt to resign as fleet commander is dropped as well. All that remains of this in the final version is Adama's conversation with Athena, where he reflects on one event on a colony regarding a woman with a small child.
The original transmission of this episode was interrupted on the East Coast for more than an hour due to the signing of the Camp David Peace Accord between Israel and Egypt. President Jimmy Carter hosted the signing between Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egypt's President Anwar Sadat. ABC chose to continue the transmission from the exact point of the interruption since it had heavily promoted the show and was committed to the new series.
Adama asks if any of the other ships could launch their Vipers, to which he receives a report that they didn't. Yet Rigel reports that out of the 67 Vipers returning to Galactica, 25 fighters belonged to Galactica. Obviously, the other battlestars launched some of their Vipers, but in few numbers and not in time. Additionally, there might have been patrols from other battlestars that were deployed at the time, but returned to the main fight.
Apparently the Ovions have manufactured or acquired human food supplies, but prefer humans to eat over human food, or could not digest human foodstuffs.
Baltar's ascension in the Cylon ranks after the Battle of Carillon occurs after the succeeding Imperious Leader finds Baltar's ability to think like humans a valuable asset. The Cylons apparently realize that they are not able to outwit humans using logic, as humans were capable of feats of illogic and daring despite statistical odds. Since Baltar had already shown his willingness to destroy humanity for his own gain, the Cylons may have felt that Baltar would garner the Empire a second, final success in ridding them of the last of humanity for good. Perhaps, as well, with the bulk of the Twelve Colonies gone, the Imperious Leader considered the issue of humanity's existence virtually over, leaving Baltar to "mop up" the remaining mess.
It is difficult to imagine that only five battlestars would be the only means of defence for a race made of twelve planets or colonies, especially when there is mention of the Fifth Fleet in "The Living Legend, Part I". In addition, given the length of the Thousand Yahren War, it is very likely that many battlestars and other warships were built. Over time, attrition left the Colonials with fewer (albeit stronger) battlestars, with fighters that outmatched the Cylons even when the Colonials were outnumbered 10 to 1, according to Apollo.
The only way to ensure complete destruction is total planetary annilihation. Humanity's destruction is like the ridding of a nest of cockroaches in a home. While it is possible to destroy most of them, a house is so large (with nooks and crevices to hide that cannot be found by pesticides) that complete removal of them is impossible unless the house itself is destroyed. The same is true for the humans scattered in non-urban areas, in shelters, or off-planet. (This is also shown in the Re-imaged Series, as the Caprica Buccaneers pyramid team was able to survive the planetary bombing in the mountains outside of Delphi.)
Richard Hatch discusses reshooting a scene in the episode depicting Ovions eating human flesh:
Richard Hatch: "Most companies have to continuously cut corners, settle for less than the best. Not Galactica. We still have to work quick, and there's only so much money, but the producers are determined that everything be the best it possibly can be. They know it's the little places that count. For instance, we have these alien creatures that feed on human flesh. In one shot of them, the lighting wasn't quite right, and their walk was just not convincing. They could have let that go, but they went back and reshot the entire sequence to get the right look, the right texture."
"Glen [Larson] didn’t like the way the exterior of the casino was shot, just didn’t have any great feeling of murder and escape and such. That was my first night of shooting, and everybody’s looking at me like I’m the new kid on the block and they’re going, ‘you want me to do what?’ And I’m screaming through the megaphone and people are running back and forth and this and that and the cameras are racing from here to there…well, I wore everybody out, but it turned out to be a good sequence. It did kind of put a feeling of respect for me in people’s minds as to what I was after."
Adama: Forgive me, Mr. President, but they hate us with every fiber of their existence. We love freedom. We love independence—to feel, to question, to resist oppression. To them, it's an alien way of existing they will never accept.
Adama: Yes, we are going to fight back. But not here. Not now. Not in the Colonies. Not even in this star system. Let the word go forth to every man, woman, and child that survived this holocaust. Tell them to set sail at once in every assorted vehicle that will carry them.
Adama: Our recorded history tells us that we descended from a mother civilization, a race that went out into space to establish colonies. Those of us here assembled now represent the only known surviving colonies save one—a sister world far out in the universe, remembered to us only through ancient writings. It is my intention to seek out that remaining colony, that last outpost of humanity in the whole universe.
Serina: Commander Adama... This Thirteenth Colony—this other world—where is it and what is it called?
Adama: I wish I could tell you that I know precisely where it is, but I can't. However, I do know that it lies beyond our star system, in a galaxy very much like our own, on a planet called... Earth.
After being chastised by Apollo:
Boomer: Just keep it up, old buddy. You're going to get us into real trouble.
Starbuck: 10,000 light years from nowhere, our planet shot to pieces, people starving, and I'm going to get us in trouble?
Boomer: All I'm saying is—
Starbuck: What's the matter with you? I tell ya, may as well live for today. We might not have many left.
Adama: You didn't see them down there. Their faces—the old, the young—desperate. Begging, screaming for a chance to come aboard—a chance to live. And there I was like God, passing out priorities... as if they were tickets to a lottery. There was one—one woman... with a child in her arms. She tore at my arm as I was boarding the launch to come back.
Adama: Guard came up. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and tried to stop him. He shoved her away, pushed her. He didn't see the child. I don't know what happened to that woman. But, God, I don't want it anymore. Let someone else do it.