Trouble comes to the fleet in two forms in this two-part episode written by series creator Glen A. Larson in the form of mysterious white orbs and some spectral looking beings, and the deceptive Count Iblis (Patrick Macnee).
This of all the series so far, has the most religious overtones with mentions of good and evil, a sacrificial death and resurrection of a main character, but also kind of ties in with the contactee UFO stories of the 50s and 60s.
While most of Silver Spur squadron is abducted by a strange collection of glowing orbs, and a massive escapee from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Apollo (Richard Hatch), Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), and Sheba (Anne Lockhart) discover the wreckage of a downed spacecraft on a mysterious planet (I say mysterious because there are some weird lighting and post production effects that only seem to occur in one area, while the rest of it looks fine), and discover the charming Iblis who returns with them to the fleet.
Once there, Iblis and Adama (Lorne Greene) seem to butt heads right away, as Iblis proposes taking over governing the fleet and leading them to Earth if only they will submit to him. But before they agree to do so, Iblis will be required to perform three tests of the Quorum’s choosing.
Through all of this, Sheba seems to be rather taken in by Iblis, and Starbuck points out that Apollo may be a little jealous…
Iblis shows telekinetic ability, but shortly afterwards, we learn Adama has some similar powers as he was involved in a study long before Apollo was born… (an odd throwaway that I don’t think was ever touched on again in the series).
The fleet decides on two tests right away for Iblis, the first being the deliverance of their enemy to them, and the way to Earth. The first episode ends with Baltar (John Colicos) arriving at the fleet with the revelation that he and the cylons have also come across the mysterious orbs, and is suggesting that the fleet and the cylons unite to fight what may be a common enemy.
Baltar also recognizes Iblis’ voice as that of the Imperious Leader, suggesting, of course, that Iblis has been behind the motivations of the cylon’s since the beginning of the thousand yahren war.
And when the discovery of Iblis’ true nature and names are revealed, that of course simply helps personify the cylon’s as the embodiment of evil!
Adama and Apollo believe the key to everything is on the planet in the wreckage of Iblis ship, so Apollo and Starbuck return, pursued by Sheba and the Count, where a final confrontation takes place, and Iblis’ truly monstrous visage is revealed, and Apollo meets his death.
Starbuck and Sheba leave the planet with Apollo’s body after Iblis vanishes, vowing to return. On their way back to the fleet, they are overtaken by the orbs and the massive spacecraft that abducted their fellows. The ship is overseen by the Beings of Light, who seek to bring truth and goodness to the universe. Iblis was one of them, but now, seeks to turn people to darkness instead…
They restore Apollo to life, and the trio return to the fleet as well as the other abducted pilots. But our heroes return with something more, though they can’t remember their entire encounter, they return with coordinates for the planet they are seeking… Earth.
This was a pretty epic episode, and I remember finding Iblis true face pretty scary when I was a kid, and the religious overtones of this story actually work to its benefit I think, and could have added more to the storyline if they had stayed with it…
It also marked the first appearance of the game Triad with its rather goofy looking costumes, which feature Apollo and Starbuck as a ubeatable team. It also saw another appearance of the agro ships, lifted again from Silent Running.
Next time is The Man With Nine Lives and Murder On The Rising Star!! Sadly, we are drawing very close to the end of the original series, but Bellisario is just getting started on influencing my imagination and viewing history!