Season 1, Episode 04:
Act of Contrition
On Galactica's flight deck, a group of Viper pilots are celebrating Dwight Flat Top Saunders 1000th successful deck landing. As they cheer and lift Flat Top up in the air, a communication drone begins to slip out of its aging harnesses. As the celebration reaches a fever pitch, the harnesses break and the drone falls to the floor, activating it. The drone then flies across the hangar and smashes right into the group of pilots holding Flat Top.
As a result, thirteen people are killed and several more are injured. The crew mourns for their fallen pilots and prepares funeral rites, while Kara (who found out about the incident) has a flashback to her first meeting with Bill Adama after the death of his son, Zak.
During the memorial service, Kara flashes back to her telling Zak that he's cleared to become a Viper pilot, and in a separate flashback with Bill and Lee at Zak's funeral. After the memorial service concludes, Bill goes to Kara and asks her to oversee the training of new pilots via rookies from the fleet.
Kara initially hesitates to take the responsibility, which leads Bill to reassure her that he remembers what happened with Zak and that it wasn't her fault. She remembers that Zak's death was the result of her clearing him for Viper piloting when he clearly wasn't ready. However, she accepts the job anyway.
Later that day, she sits in a poker game with Baltar, Gaeta, Crashdown and Boomer, and tries to shake her memories of Zak. Meanwhile, Crashdown tells Gaeta about Baltar's Cylon detector, which leaves Boomer feeling very uncomfortable.
In the ship's infirmary, Doctor Cottle arrives from one of the other ships in the fleet, and looks over Roslin, who has asked to be examined. He informs her that she has inoperable cancer, and that her time may be limited. He does support Roslin's request to try alternative therapies, including Chamalla root extract, before advising that she should also try praying as well.
Kara meets the recruits who've volunteered for the pilot roles, including Louanne Katraine, Brendan Costanza and Donald Perry. She realizes that there are no simulators onboard Galactica, so she takes them out for a training run. The resulting run occurs without any major issues, but Kara is not impressed with their skills and tells them they are not fit for duty.
Soon after, Lee confronts her and asks her to explain why she washed out all the trainees. He realizes that she is still being affected by Zak's death, and it is clouding her judgement. However, Kara refuses to reinstate the trainees, and Lee goes to his father to explain the situation. When Lee slips up and tells Bill that something else contributed to Kara's decision, Bill asks to speak with her.
On Caprica, Helo and Sharon are still trying to locate the source of the transmission they heard in the forest, and come upon a restaurant that appears to be broadcasting the signal. As they investigate, they discover a fully-stocked shelter that has beds, supplies, anti-radiation medication and more. As they thank their good luck, a copy of Six looks on from nearby.
In Bill's ready room, he confronts Kara and asks her to explain why she felt guilty about Zak's death. Left with no choice, Kara explains that Zak failed basic flight school, and that she cleared him because they were engaged at the time. Angrily, Bill orders her to reinstate the trainees and do her job, then tells her to get out while she still still can. Kara walks away with her hands over her head.
Soon after, Kara takes a handful of the newly-rechristened recruits (Katraine is now "Kat", Costanza is now "Hot Dog" and Perry is now "Chuckles", along with another woman nicknamed "Stepchild") on another training run, and tries to teach them about a weaving maneuver. Suddenly, Galactica picks up a number of Cylon Raiders on DRADIS, and Kara orders the trainees and goes to face them alone, but Hot Dog follows her and assists her with fighting the Raiders.
In the ensuing battle, Starbuck and Hot Dog destroys the Raiders, but not before Hot Dog's Viper is seriously damaged and her Viper loses its transponder and flight control. As she and a lone disabled Raider fall into a nearby planet's atmosphere, she is forced to eject as the Viper is ripped apart from the damage
- Affectionate Nickname:
- Trainees are called "nuggets".
- Kara gives all of the trainees a nickname, including "Hot Dog", "Chuckles", "Kat" and "Stepchild".
- Armor-Piercing Question: Bill asking what she did for Zak that caused her to feel guilty.
- Broken Ace: Kara, due to still feeling guilty over what happened to Zak and her lie to his father.
- The Cavalry: Hot Dog, who goes back to help Kara when she decides to take on the squadron of Raiders alone, despite him having nowhere near the experience she has.
- Cliffhanger: Kara ejecting from the Viper as it disintegrates in the moon's atmosphere.
- Conveniently Close Planet: Kara's Viper and a Cylon Raider are sucked into the atmosphere of one.
- Death Glare: Bill gives Kara one as she walks out of the room after telling him that she caused Zak's death.
- Death Seeker: Kara goes into battle against a squad of Raiders alone as a way to both protect the trainees and come to terms with her guilt over letting Zak die, despite knowing full well that she'll die. However, Hot Dog gives her backup and they manage to take out the squadron.
- Establishing Character Moment: Doc Cottle walks into Galactica's sickbay while puffing away at a cigarette and gives wry observations about Roslin, which establishes him as the crotchety doctor with a charming bedside manner.
- Eye Lights Out: The damaged Raider that falls to the moon's surface along with Kara's Viper.
- Love Makes You Dumb: As Back Story. Kara's engagement to Zak two years earlier led her to clear him for active duty, despite the fact that he screwed up during Viper training. She tries to justify it to Bill as letting love get in the way of her job.
- New Meat: The trainees (referred to as "nuggets").
- Oh, Crap!: Lee talks to his father about Starbuck assuming he already knew about her role in Zak's death. When he realizes he didn't
- Tranquil Fury: Bill, when he learns about Zak's death. The only thing he can do is speak in a low voice and warn Kara to leave "while she still can".