“Battlestar Galactica: Razor” A Detailed Recap

Razor opens with a visual and a voiceover: someone’s dragging a knife blade up and down their arm, speaking to us in an accent we don’t recognize from any of the characters we know so far. “You’re born, you live, you die.” Flashback to Galactica‘s meeting with Pegasus, the Cylon we know as Six killing Cain, the murder of Cain’s successor, Fisk, and the heroic death of his successor, Garner. Lee is promoted to Commander. “You make your choices and you live with them. In the end, you are your choices.”

Opening credits: 49,579 survivors remain.

Lee addresses the crew of Pegasus and the public, telling them that “We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose the way we handle them.” A girl we haven’t seen before is injecting herself with something, and has flashbacks of dead bodies and people crying. She’s been summoned to Lee’s office, and we find out that her name is Kendra Shaw. Lee’s review of her file leaves him puzzled: Cain had nothing but the highest praise for Shaw, but each of her successors reprimanded and demoted her for insubordination and irresponsible behavior. “Who are you?” he asks.

Flashback: Shaw arrives on the Pegasus and passes *gasp!* Six in the hallway. This version of Six is named Gina and is the network administrator (uh-oh …) and points Shaw to the CIC. As soon as Shaw sets foot in the CIC, Cain lays into her for being late on her first day as Cain’s aide, and dismisses her. “A little mid-morning snack.” No sooner are those words out of Cain’s mouth than the ship is hit — fires break out, people are down, Shaw is bleeding in the hall and the ship is in chaos. Cain spots Shaw paralyzed with fear in the corridor and slaps her out of her daze. They go to the CIC, and learn that the Cylons are swarming Pegasus and pelting it with nukes, in violation of the armistice. Cain orders an emergency jump — a blind jump. Shaw reminds Cain that a blind jump could land them in the middle of a sun, but Cain repeats the order, and the ship jumps just before what would have been a fatal impact.

Present Day, back in Lee’s office: “Who am I? I’m a soldier. Neither Fisk nor Garner deserved my respect and they didn’t get it.” Lee asks her what she thinks of him, and she tells him he’s a step up, but he’s still an outsider and it’s hard to shake the feeling that daddy gave him a battlestar like a dad gives his son a car. Lee asks her to be his new XO, as a sign to the crew that he respects Cain’s legacy even though he really doesn’t, and as a means of giving the crew back its pride. She accepts, and gets right on task.

Shaw’s training the new kids at gun assembly, and her technique is … well, let’s just say that Bill Adama’s watching and he tells Lee, “I didn’t think it was possible to find an XO meaner than Saul Tigh.” Yikes. Bill and Lee have a father/son walk-and-talk, and Bill lectures Lee about the importance of trust between a commander and XO. He also has a mission for Lee: one of Galactica‘s Raptors has gone missing, with the science team that was on it. Search and rescue.

During the mission, Shaw has a flashback to ten months prior, just after the previous flashback’s attack. The damage report is given: 723 dead (a fourth of the crew), 12 Vipers were destroyed, 2 Raptors, and lots of busted stuff. Shaw tells Cain that the fact that the network was down at the time of the attack is probably what saved Pegasus. She apologizes for freezing when the attack happened, and Cain tells her to hold the anger she has now. Cain goes to the hangar to look at the bodies, and she actually cries. She leads strategy meetings, and gives the crew a pep talk. If you can call it that. “The colonies have been destroyed, the cities have been nuked, the fleet is gone, and there are no known survivors. What do we do now? War is our imperative. Victory may be impossible, but we can have revenge. We have no alternative. As long as Pegasus is around, the war the Cylons started will not be over.” The crew chants, “So say we all.”

Shaw remembers an officer’s dinner with Cain, at which it becomes obvious that Cain and Gina/Six are a couple. At the dinner, Cain assures everyone that she told the crew what they needed to hear, but that she would never risk lives on a mad quest for vengeance. She wants to start a guerrilla war against the Cylons. Sometime after the dinner, Shaw and Gina are working on a computer, and they discuss Gina’s relationship with Cain. Shaw is shocked that Cain would need anyone in her life, since she appears so self-sufficient. Gina replies, “In the end, we’re all just human.” Mwah-ah-ah … Gina needs an access code to make some changes to the network, and after a moment’s hesitation, Shaw gives it to her. D’oh!

Present Day: Pegasus‘ DRADIS detects radar contacts and Starbuck and the other pilot are called in from their scouting mission. Starbuck says the ships look weird, and they’re not breaking pursuit. Shaw wants to attack them, and Lee wants to jump. Navigation’s down, of course, making a jump next to impossible. Shaw orders a barrage of weapons fire, and in the process nearly kills Starbuck, who yells at Lee for it once she’s back onboard. Lee defends Shaw’s actions, so Starbuck yells at Shaw, who tells her that “Questioning orders is not a good idea on this ship.” Why not? You may ask. A flashback will tell us!

Flashback: Cain’s got Vipers in trouble — a Cylon ambush. The network locks the CIC out of the weapons grid, proving that it’s a total trap. Cain wants to stay and kick some ass, but her XO questions the wisdom of that plan. He refuses to carry out her orders, saying that he cannot do so in good conscience. Cain’s pissed. “Give me your sidearm.” “What?” “Give me your sidearm.” He gives it to her, and she shoots him in the head with it. “Fisk — you’re the XO now.” What’s a guy to do but launch all remaining squadrons? Meanwhile, Pegasus is being boarded by Cylons, so Shaw leaves the CIC to investigate. She sees Gina in the hall and sends her to the CIC to be with Cain. While Shaw’s out shooting toasters, she sees someone in the corridor: Gina? But this one has blonder hair and is wearing a white coat, like the Six we’re used to seeing. Shaw shoots her, and makes sure the body lands in front of a security camera.

She runs back to the CIC and tells Gina to step away from the Admiral. “She’s a Cylon spy, take her into custody. They look like us now.” Gina denies it, and Cain’s totally confused until Shaw has someone bring up the camera feed from the hallway. “Get that thing off my bridge.” Gina grabs a gun and starts shooting people, and Shaw pistol-whips her, knocking her out cold.

Present Day: Lee brings one of the attacking raiders onboard, and everyone notices that it’s a really old version. Sharon tells them that it looks like a Guardian, one of the models that guard the first human/Cylon hybrid, which may still be alive. Bill flashes back to the events we saw in the mini-sodes, in which he found the Cylon hybrid lab during the first war, and saw their secret weapon. This Guardian is protecting the hybrid that’s holding Bill’s science team hostage, so Bill’s going with Pegasus to find the hybrid and get his crew back.

Shaw presents her plan to Lee, who wonders whether he can trust her. He refers to an incident on the Scylla, a civilian transport on which ten people were executed under Cain’s orders. “Is it true?” Shaw offers to resign, but Lee refuses to accept and approves her mission instead.

Flashback: The battle’s taken a toll on Pegasus, and the ship needs a ton of repairs. Cain and Shaw are in the holding cell with Gina. Cain tells the interrogator, “I want you to interrogate our prisoner. Pain? Yes, of course. Degradation, fear, shame — really test its limits. Be as creative as you feel you need to be.” And we all remember from Sharon’s experience what the Pegasus crew means by “creative” …

In the CIC, colonial ships are detected: civilians, 15 ships in total. The crew’s ecstatic to have found other humans alive, and everyone’s laughing and excited. Cain tells her crew that she wants those civilian ships stripped for parts. Marines will be sent to deal with resistance. Um … ???

On the Scylla, the first ship to be boarded, the passengers are ecstatic to have found the Pegasus — they see the military as their saviors. Fisk gives them a list of parts and personnel that will be delivered to the Pegasus immediately, a list that includes all of Scylla‘s FTL drives. Blank stares abound. No one can grasp what’s happening. Once the full meaning of the situation sinks in, the Scylla crew resists. Fisk calls Cain, who is observing the effects of Gina’s interrogation. Fisk tells Cain that there are whole families on Scylla — it’s not just about individuals. Cain says, “Fine, then shoot the families of any crew member who refuses to comply.” Fisk lines up the family of the first person on the list who has been selected to transfer to the Pegasus. The Marines hesitate. We don’t get to see what happens next, only the result of it: the family members were all shot, and the whole civilian fleet heard what happened and will not resist.

Present Day: Shaw’s back to injecting herself with drugs, and Starbuck — who’s stealing booze — catches her. She promises to keep Shaw’s secret if Shaw will return the favor.

Flashback: Shaw is recognized as a Razor — a human weapon — by Cain. It’s the highest form of praise she could receive from the admiral. Cain says, “Sometimes we have to do things we never knew we were capable of, just to show the enemy our will. You have to drop all natural inhibitions and become a razor for as long as you have to be.”

Present Day: Bill’s mission isn’t going well. Shaw and Starbuck lead a team to recover the science team. They come under attack, and we see a closeup of those old-school Cylons. The team ejects and floats over to the hybrid’s ship on thrusters. Once aboard, they find the science team, and it ain’t pretty. The hybridization experiments have been started on them. The Cylons attack. One team member’s shot, and Shaw kills him before the Cylons can do anything to him. Starbuck is pissed. A Cylon shoots Shaw. Starbuck calls Pegasus and reports the status of the mission: two science team members recovered, one dead, the XO is wounded. The detonator on the nuke they’ve brought over to destroy the hybrid ship is fried. Communications are down. Lee loads a ship-to-ship missile to fire in case they can’t get the comm back. Bill questions Lee’s decision. Lee readies nukes. Bill says “Belay that order!” Funny how he’s always telling Lee to grow a set and make his own decisions, but then questions/undermines them at every turn.

Anyway, the comm comes back online and an evac team is launched. Lee tells Starbuck to set the nuke and go. But the detonator’s fried, so it’ll have to be done manually. Someone has to stay and detonate it. Bill tells Lee, “This is your team. You make the call.” Sure, NOW you let him make a tough decision … make up your mind, Admiral! Lee tells Starbuck to do it. Shaw overrides Lee’s order and decides to do it herself.

As soon as the rest of the team is off the hybrid’s ship, Shaw hears a man’s voice, “All this has happened before and it will happen again.” She walks down the hallway and finds the hybrid in a tank of liquid, and he’s been expecting her. He says that everything she’s done has led up to this moment. “Do you want to be forgiven?” “Yes.” Shaw flashes back to the Scylla, and we learn that she’s the one who pulled the trigger. She executed that man’s family.

The hybrid has something to tell her. “Kara Thrace will lead the human race to its end — she is the herald of the Apocalypse, the Harbinger of Death. They must not follow her.”

Back on Pegasus, the team’s returned and Lee hears Shaw’s voice over the comm, “I’ve got to warn you about Captain Thrace …” Comm is jammed by the Cylons.

On the hybrid’s ship, the hybrid repeats, “All this has happened before and it will happen again and again and again …” Shaw detonates the nuke.

Back on Pegasus, Lee goes to see Bill. Starbuck’s recommended Shaw for a posthumous commendation. Bill says he’s been through Cain’s logs, and can find no tactical fault with either Cain’s or Shaw’s actions. He’s had Roslin, Tigh, and Lee to turn to and to give him advice and perspective, but Cain and Shaw had no one. He believes that history will judge whether Cain and Shaw were right, and history will start with whatever Lee says in his report.

Starbuck has Shaw’s knife — the knife from the beginning of the episode. It’s all that remains of Shaw. Starbuck’s asked to be reassigned to Galactica. She tells Lee she has a destiny, and goes off to break in the new CAG.

Roll credits.

Seriously, is it April yet? If Season 4 is even half as good as Razor was, we’re in for the perfect ending to a perfect series. And P.S.: The Old School Cylons? Way to go, Sci Fi Channel. Coolest thing you possibly could have included.