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Recap / Battlestar Galactica 2003 The Plan

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Season 4, Episode 21:

The Plan

Two copies of Cavil are led through Galactica's hallways after one was discovered by Kara, Helo and the resistance on the surface of Caprica. One begins explaining to the other, John Cavil, how the attack on the Colonies was a mistake...

A few weeks before the attack, two copies of Cavil are reviewing their plan to destroy the Twelve Colonies. One is telling the other that the Final Five will be killed in the attack, and will have to apologize to the Ones for supporting humanity. One copy of Cavil says that he will be going to Caprica to meet with a contact, while the other says that he will be going to Picon to see the destruction first-hand.


The day before the attack, Baltar and Six are walking through a market on Caprica, and he tells her how the Command Navigation Program has been wildly successful thanks to her help. She heads back to Caprica City and meets with Cavil. She gives him the access codes to the Colonial mainframe, and he suggests that she kill herself before the attack. The other copy of Cavil discovers Ellen flirting with men while waiting around in a strip bar, and strikes up a conversation with her.

Shortly after, a fleet of Cylon Basestars warps into Caprica's orbit and a Hybrid accesses the Colonial mainframe. At the same time, various individuals are going about their day - Tory Foster is driving to work, Anders and the Caprica Buccaneers are training in the Delphi mountains and Ellen begins talking to Cavil about whether humanity needs to change.


A trio of Battlestars move to intercept the Cylon fleet. The Cylons enact their virus and shut down the ships, causing them to float helplessly in space. The Basestars launch several waves of nuclear missiles, which split apart and impact the planet's surface.

Cavil shields Ellen as a shockwave rips through the bar on Picon, while Tory swerves off the road from the detonation on Caprica. All throughout the Colonies, more nuclear missiles are launched, destroying vast swaths of the planet and killing billions of people.

On Delphi, Tory escapes on an evac Raptor, along with a copy of Simon carrying a little girl, Cavil and an unconscious Ellen on Gemenon, and Shelly Godfrey on Canceron. On Colonial One, a woman named Giana exits an evac Raptor and asks Lee Adama if he's heard of her husband's whereabouts.


The events of Galactica's initial reports about the attack and escape are shown. As Bill returns to his office after jumping away from Ragnar Anchorage, he finds a note telling him that there are 12 Cylon models. It is revealed that Baltar left the note for him.

Five days later, Ellen wakes up onboard the Rising Star during the relentless Cylon attacks. She asks Cavil to look for Saul. After she goes back to sleep, he muses to himself about keeping her alive so she can understand her mistake of supporting humanity.

He heads over to Galactica and takes up work as a priest in the ship's chapels. He hands out flyers to interested civilians and eventually reunites with many of the Cylon infiltrators, including Shelly, a copy of Leoben and a Doral copy. Cavil muses over how the plan hasn't entirely worked, and that they will have to work together to sabotage the fleet.

Leoben creates a makeshift communications jammer, which he uses to tap into the fleet's wireless systems. As he listens to Kara's radio chatter during a Cylon engagement, he muses to Cavil that she's an angel. Afterwards, Doral is given a suicide vest with explosives to cause damage if he's discovered, and Shelly is told to discredit Baltar.

Cavil also meets with Boomer, who is unaware that she is a sleeper agent. He uses an elephant statue to trigger her Cylon identity, and orders her to kill herself after triggering the explosives. She expresses reluctance, but he wills her to do his bidding by using the statue.

All four agents fail their missions.

Shelly airlocks herself from Galactica after speaking about her failure with Cavil, and Leoben sees visions of Kara on New Caprica and her death while being interrogated onboard the Gemenon Traveler before he's airlocked too.

Giana O'Neill comes to work on Galactica as a deckhand, and it is revealed that her husband is a copy of Simon. Cavil visits the family aboard the freighter ship Cybele. When they're alone, Simon pointedly asks if Cavil has a plan. The latter tells him that he is frustrated by the human Cylons' failure to destroy the fleet, and says that he wants to have Simon blow up the Cybele.

When Cavil returns to his chapel, he finds a runaway who begs him to allow him to stay. Cavil forces him out. Simon also gets into an argument with his wife about her working hours and the safety of the fleet.

Boomer is asked to destroy a Basestar with a nuclear payload, and shoots Bill in the chest after completing her mission. Simon visits Cavil and tells him that he will blow up the Cybele if his family is allowed to live, but Cavil warns him not to take chances or leave witnesses.

Simon apologizes to Giana for his actions before. While she sleeps, he rigs an airlock on the Cybele and ejects himself into space outside of the range of a Resurrection Ship.

Afterwards, the surviving human Cylons weigh their options. One copy of Six rails at Cavil for his misguided attempts to destroy the fleet, and tells him that he can't fight a war on love. Giana is also questioned by Saul and Tyrol, and tells both of them that she believes Simon was a Cylon. They are eventually proven right when Starbuck returns from Caprica and tells the command crew of Simon's identity.

Cavil decides to take in the young runaway, and counsels Tyrol afterwards on his beating of Cally. Some time later, the young boy visits again and tells Cavil that his name is John. Cavil stabs the boy with a knife after telling him that friends are dangerous things, and hides the body...

On Caprica, the Buccaneers form a makeshift resistance movement led by Anders. They hole up in a high school and begin conducting sneak attacks on Centurions and Cylon supplies.

Their first mission is a mess, and results in the death of four people including their coach. Anders plans to leave the group, but Jean Barolay convinces him to stay and fight. Some time later, they find copies of Doral burning bodies in a mass grave, and realize that the Cylons look like humans.

When the group kills the Doral copies, they find a copy of Cavil in the grave, who pretends to beg for help. They bring him along with them back to camp, where a copy of Simon is working as the group's doctor.

Simon and Cavil discuss their plan to take out the resistance, but Cavil chooses not to do anything until Anders has made a full confession. Several weeks later, Cavil goes out on patrol with Anders and resistance fighters, and they find Kara and Helo traveling through the woods.

Cavil insinuates that both are Cylons, leading the two groups to fight it out. Simon calls out Cavil on not doing enough to destroy the resistance. When they go back to camp, Kara and Anders make love for the first time, and Cavil convinces Simon to send her to a breeding farm.

When Kara is shot and presumed dead, Anders readies a rescue mission. He goes to Cavil and confesses that he felt cowardly during the initial attacks on the Cylons, but when Cavil asks him to absolve the Cylons, Anders refuses and leaves.

The resistance members finally rescue Kara from the farm. Anders realizes that Simon is a Cylon, and orders his troops to go back to camp and kill him.

Several months later, Cavil is still trying to get Anders to forgive the Cylons and stop mourning the dead as the latter leads the dwindling resistance movement through a forest. Anders replies that death doesn't change his respect for the fallen. The group reunites with Kara and others, who have come to rescue them, and they are immediately onset by Cylon mortar fire.

At a distance, Cavil goes to shoot Kara and Anders, but realizes that Anders' argument is true. He walks off into the forest and finds a copy of Six, who tells him that the Cylons agreed to a ceasefire. Cavil delivers the message to the group the next morning after the bombings have stopped.

On Galactica, the Caprica copy of Cavil and "John Cavil" are both apprehended and ordered to be airlocked. As they are walking to the airlock, Caprica-Cavil tells John that the attack was a mistake and that the destruction has only caused the Final Five to love humanity more than they already do.

John tells him that there is a Resurrection Ship in range, and that Caprica-Cavil will be boxed and he will take charge of destroying the fleet. The airlock depressurizes, and both hold hands as they float into space...


  • Actor Allusion: The young boy who befriends Cavil is wearing an exact copy of the clothing Dean Stockwell wore in "The Boy with Green Hair".
  • All There in the Manual: The copy of Six who works as a prostitute is only given her nickname, "Tough-Six", in the film's script.
  • Apocalyptic Montage: The destruction of the Twelve Colonies.
  • Ascended Extra: After just having a few brief scenes in the opening miniseries, the character of Giana O'Niell comes back in a much more prominent role. Borders on Remember the New Guy?, as her part in the miniseries is largely forgettable, and we are led to believe that after that she was working on Galactica as a mechanic on Tyrol's deck crew up to at least "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I", even though she was never seen in any regular episodes of the series.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Inverted - the attack on the Twelve Colonies is scored to the rock song "Apocalypse".
  • Becoming the Mask: A copy of Simon has a wife and child (hers, from a previous marriage) and tries to resist pressure from Cavil to commit sabotage.
  • Big Bad: Cavil, who is the one to spearhead the attack on the Colonies.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up
  • Call-Forward: The Battlestar Pegasus can briefly be seen during the attack on the Scorpion Fleet Shipyards.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Galactica-Cavil calls out a copy of Doral for walking around in the fleet after another Doral was already found and outed by the Galactica crew, the one Cavil is talking to says that no one will recognize him... because his jacket is teal, not burgundy.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Simon, who gets much more development than any of his appearances in the series.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Edward James Olmos directed the movie.
  • Dirty Old Man: Cavil makes out with Boomer after ordering her to kill Adama.
  • Dissonant Serenity: The Hybrid's readout of the destruction of the Colonies, delivered in a cold and uncaring voice.
  • Driven to Suicide: The copy of Simon airlocks himself rather than carry out his orders to destroy the vessel he was on, as he wanted to save his human wife and child.
  • Everything Is Online: The Colonial mainframe, which the Cylons exploit to disable the Battlestars and eliminate almost all resistance.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Galactica-Cavil is genuinely confused (and frustrated) at how easily the other Cylon agents come to sympathize with the humans they are supposed to be wiping out.
  • Fix Fic: The plot attempts to make sense of the Cylon's actions over the course of the series and work it into a semi-coherent narrative, after the production team was accused by fans of not answering the most important questions about the Cylon's plan for the fleet.
  • Framing Device: The entire episode revolves around one copy of Cavil (implied to be the one in charge of the Colony and the events of the series) explaining the Cylons' plan and actions over the last year to another copy who is much more remorseful.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: This episode shows that the priest version of Cavil was secretly running the various Cylon plots in the Fleet throughout seasons 1 and 2.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Caprica-Cavil comes to believe that trying to wipe out mankind was a mistake, and vows to preach this to the other Cylons after resurrection. Unfortunately, Galactica-Cavil doesn't want to give him the opportunity, and plans to box him when they get back.
  • Heel–Face Turn: "Caprica-Cavil", who is merciful and expresses remorse for the Cylons' actions before John Cavil boxes him.
  • Humiliation Conga: John's attempt to rally the other human Cylons to destroy the fleet turns into one disaster after another, leading to him getting chewed out by a copy of Six afterwards.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: Averted. Cavil suggests to many of the Cylon infiltrators that they kill themselves in various ways (Caprica-Six by poison, Doral by using a suicide vest, Shelly by airlocking, etc).
  • In Medias Res: The episode uses a framing device from "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part 2" to explain the genesis behind the Cylon attack on the Colonies and Cavil's actions.
  • Karma Houdini: John Cavil seemingly gets away scot-free with killing a child, as no one ever remarks on the latter's disappearance for the rest of the series.
  • Kick the Dog: Cavil murdering John.
  • Logo Joke: The planet in the Universal logo (originally Earth) is replaced by Caprica itself.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Discussed. John Cavil wants the Final Five to admit that they made a mistake when they decided to embrace humanity. It doesn't work - he later learns that the only thing the attack did was strengthen the Five's love for humanity.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Discussed (and seen) in detail, via the MIRV missile launches that destroy the Twelve Colonies.
  • Morality Pet: Subverted. A young boy attempts to befriend Cavil. Cavil seems to be warming up to him, but immediately after agreeing that they're now friends, Cavil stabs the boy to death, telling him "Friends let you down."
  • No Delays for the Wicked: Subverted. The movie shows what the Cylons were up to behind the scenes during the events of the series. Although in the latter, they were seen as a nigh-omniscient, unstoppable army, here it is shown that, in essence, Cavil has the worst luck in the world. Not that you pity him, vile wretch that he is.
  • Nuke 'em: The Cylons launch nuclear batteries to destroy the Twelve Colonies.
  • Older Than They Think: In-universe; while Boomer's voting to lobotomize the Raiders was thought to be the first time that an individual Cylon had refused to vote with its line, we find out here that Caprica!Cavil would have voted against his own line in favor of offering a truce to the Colonials, had he been given the opportunity to vote (not that it would have changed the outcome of the vote).
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Several scenes throughout the series are reshown, with additional context and/or dialogue that clarifies the Cylons' plan and actions of other characters.
  • P.O.V. Sequel
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Tough-Six delivers one against the Cylons as a whole when Galactica-Cavil asks her to deliver a progress report.
    Tough-Six: You want a progress report? I'll give you a frakkin' progress report.
    Galactica-Cavil: Oh no. Please don't.
    Tough-Six: Oh, come on, it is spectacular. Doral blew himself up, causing minor damage to a minor hallway. And Boomer jettisoned the water, and then, she personally found loads more water. And then she shot Adama, but not very accurately, since she loved him. And then, Leoben, he got obsessed with Kara Thrace, and then was captured and airlocked. And my sister Six utterly failed to discredit Baltar and his dreamy hair and destroyed our frakkin' cover in the process. And now Simon... Simon killed himself, really killed himself, out of resurrection range, without blowing up the ship that he lived on because he couldn't imagine life without his little human wife and his little human daughter because he loves them...
  • Redemption Equals Death: The copy of Simon that's married to Giana vents himself into space after refusing to destroy the ship his family are living on. He did this in the knowledge that the Colonial Fleet was out of range of a Resurrection Ship at that moment, so his death would be permanent.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: We see the Caprica resistance try one of their literal Hollywood Tactics against the Cylons. It fails.
  • Space Is Cold: Simon's airlocking results in his skin freezing just after he's ejected from the Cybele.
  • Stock Quotes: The nonsense babbled by a Hybrid as they're about to nuke the 12 Colonies includes the line, "The centre holds; the falcon hears the falconer." (the actual quote from Yeat's poem The Second Coming is "the centre cannot hold" and "the falcon cannot hear the falconer"). Presumably a statement that, for the Cylons at least, their plan is coming together, as opposed to things falling apart (which happens later on).
    Counting down all functions nominal. All functions optimal. Counting down. The centre holds. The falcon hears the falconer.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Cavil's opinion of the other Cylon models, especially after Simon defies his orders and offs himself instead of blowing up the Cybele.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Shelly and Simon do this to themselves deliberately. Also the fate of both Cavils at the end.
  • Title Drop: On Brother Cavil's religious flyers, and subsequently in spoken lines by the Cylons.
  • Together in Death: The two copies of Cavil hold hands as they're ejected out of Galactica's airlock.
  • Villain Episode: The film mainly focus on Cavil's activities during the series.
  • Villain Protagonist: Cavil.
  • Watching Troy Burn: Anders and Tory watching the destruction of Caprica City and Delphi, respectively.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Giana's whereabouts after the events of the film are unknown.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Cavil stabs a boy to death just after learning his name.
  • You Have Failed Me: Cavil says this to Shelly just before airlocking her.


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