This Is The Correct Order In Which To Watch Battlestar Galactica - Looper (2023)

ByKristi Roe-Owen/June 13, 2022 11:17 am EST

When the 2003 re-imagining of the original 1978 "Battlestar Galactica" series premiered, it was immediately clear that this was far more sophisticated than most sci-fi fare. More than a simple reboot, the series follows the last remaining human survivors of a genocide committed by the sentient androids they once created and enslaved. They struggle to stay a step ahead of the Cylons as they search for a planet of legend known in their religion as Earth. The show is deeply grounded in realism, serving as a complex exploration of the War on Terror, one infused with layers of mythology. The Ronald D. Moore series would elevate the science fiction genre, paving the way for shows like "The Expanse" and HBO's "Westworld."

With a miniseries, several films, a few web-series, and a spin-off, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to "Battlestar Galactica." You may find yourself overwhelmed trying to decide what to watch first, but we're here to help. If you want to check out everything while avoiding spoilers, then this is the viewing order we recommend.

1. Battlestar Galactica Miniseries

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NBCUniversal Television

Released in 2003, the "Battlestar Galactica" miniseries served as a backdoor pilot for the re-imagined series. The remake would come after decades of failed attempts to revive the series, including the 1999 Richard Hatch-helmed pitch trailer "The Second Coming," which the original Captain Apollo actor wrote, starred in, and directed. When David Eick and Ronald D. Moore came together to pen a "Battlestar Galactica" miniseries for Universal in 2002, Moore developed a story that could easily translate to a weekly series should it get picked up.

The three-hour miniseries had a lot of ground to cover, effectively setting up the story for the series and introducing the show's engaging ensemble cast. Four decades after a devastating war between the Twelve Colonies and the Cylons ended with an armistice, the Colonials have become increasingly complacent about their technology and security. When the Cylons launch a surprise nuclear attack, laying waste to the planets the Colonials called home, only the space vessels not connected to the network survive. Led by the basically decommissioned Battlestar Galactica under the charge of Commander Bill Adama (Edward James Olmos), the roughly 50,000 human survivors go on the run — but there are secret Cylon operatives hiding in their ranks.

While the story does take a while to get to the point, it's easy to become fully immersed in the Colonials' reality and the peril they face. As Sonia Saraiya of AV Club would observe, the miniseries offers "a type of world-building best-suited to endless franchises — the multi-book series, the film trilogy, the serialized television show."

2. Battlestar Galactica Season 1

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NBCUniversal Television

Released in 2004, the first season of "Battlestar Galactica" picks up almost immediately where the miniseries left off — with the Colonials on the run from the Cylons, who are hellbent on the total annihilation of the human race. Season 1 opener "33" (which saw the Colonial fleet mercilessly pursued by Cylons who inexplicably found them every 33 minutes no matter where they jumped to) would prove to be one of the best episodes, winning a Hugo Award for best short-form drama.

The first season follows the Colonials through weeks of fighting the Cylons while plagued with sleeper Cylon operatives, a suicide bomber, and internal political turmoil that threatens to tear the fleet apart. When they stumble upon a long-abandoned planet from their religious text, some among them begin to believe that the gods are directing their destiny, driving them toward the promised land of Earth.

3. Battlestar Galactica Season 2

After the success of "Battlestar Galactica" Season 1, a longer second season was released in two parts. Season 2 did not disappoint, with critics praising the writers' ability to pack each episode with plenty of action and drama, gradually ramping up the stakes for the human race while bringing the divisions within the fleet to a head. Although the season has a few episodes that are less essential to the overarching storyline and could be skipped (the infamous "Black Market," for example), there are plenty of powerful moments and big revelations.

The second season picks up after a key moment at the end of Season 1. The fleet is stunned, emotionally and physically shattered by those events. As an impending election and accusations of religious zealotry threaten Roslin's presidency, it becomes clear that human division may be a bigger threat to the race's survival than the Cylons.

4. Battlestar Galactica: Razor

Not every "Battlestar Galactica" fan agrees on the best viewing placement of "Razor," since it originally aired long after the events it details. This mid-series movie focuses on the journey of the Battlestar Pegasus during the first Cylon attack, so it fits best when viewed after the end of Season 2 (or, if you're really pressed for time, after Season 2, Episode 17).

Switching between the present-day Pegasus under Lee Adama's command and flashbacks of Pegasus crewman Kendra Shaw (Stephanie Jacobsen), the 81-minute movie paints a grim picture of life aboard the vessel after the initial Cylon attack. Under the hardline command of Rear Admiral Helena Cain (Michelle Forbes), who discovers someone close to her is a Cylon early in the story, the Pegasus takes a very different path from the Galactica. Cain's cruel command serves as a foil to Adama's, adding layers and depth to already complex mythology.

To avoid getting hit with spoilers, fans have recommended turning off subtitles and pressing mute at three key moments in the story's last ten minutes. First, when the hybrid touches Shaw. Unmute when the hybrid releases her. Next, mute immediately after Red One says, "This is Red One, come in," before Pegasus has a chance to respond. You can unmute as soon as Red One comes on screen. Finally, hit mute after Lee tells Starbuck, "Well, ever think you might deserve it?" Unmute as she begins to leave. Once you have finished watching Season 3, you can go back and watch the final ten minutes unmuted. Trust us, it's worth it.

5. Battlestar Galactica: Razor Flashbacks

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NBCUniversal Television

Originally released as a web series in 2007, "Razor Flashbacks" refers to seven webisodes that would later be reintegrated into the "Razor" movie, since they are essentially deleted scenes. If you watch one of the extended versions of "Razor," you'll see most of them, but completionists will want to watch the entire web series to make sure they don't miss anything. If you're into "Battlestar Galactica" then it's definitely worth doing, as the web series stands up well on its own.

Set during the end of the First Cylon War, "Razor Flashbacks" follows a young William Adama (call sign "Husker") as a fighter pilot aboard the Battlestar Galactica. While searching for a secret Cylon super weapon, Adama encounters the early stages of the Cylons' human experimentation. If you watch "Razor" on DVD, the complete "Razor Flashbacks" can be found under featurettes.

6. Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance

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NBCUniversal Television

Aired as a ten-episode web series with each webisode between two and five minutes long, "The Resistance" is set between the end of Season 2 and the beginning of Season 3. The action takes place on the Cylon-occupied planet New Caprica. Rather than telling ten distinct stories, the web series is actually one complete story split into ten parts. Beginning 67 days into the Cylon occupation with the Colonial fleet nowhere in sight, the series finds the Cylons — now convinced that they are meant to work together with humans — failing to realize that cooperation can never be forced.

As the title indicates, the plot follows the Colonial resistance against their Cylon oppressors as the Cylons struggle to maintain order and put down the insurgency with the New Caprica Police, a human police force that most Colonials see as Cylon collaborators. The series paints a bleak image of life on New Caprica while establishing the rampant paranoia and confusion that will color the start of Season 3.

7. Battlestar Galactica Season 3

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NBCUniversal Television

Like "Battlestar Galactica" Season 2, the critically acclaimed third season (it has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes) would be on the longer side. The season begins with the Colonials' suffering under Cylon rule and follows their exodus as Adama and the Colonial military come back for them. It's far from a happy reunion, however — the refugees and their rescuers are wracked by distrust and trauma and face a dwindling food supply to boot.

While the third season features a few episodes that get away from the central storyline a little, every episode contains some degree of insight into the overarching mythology and the search for Earth. Things start to pick up significantly around "Maelstrom," when a shocking moment kicks off a series of big revelations. It all leads up to a spectacular finale that changes everything for the Colonials. Once you've finished the third season, don't forget to go back and rewatch the final ten minutes of "Razor."

8. Battlestar Galactica Season 4, Episodes 1-11

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NBCUniversal Television

Season 4 of "Battlestar Galactica" was originally aired in two parts and featured some of the best performances in the history of the series. After all they've endured, the human and Cylon populations are still struggling with in-fighting and depreciating morale as they continue to search for Earth. Amid growing distrust from the Galactica crew, a changed Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff, who fought hard to secure the role) obsesses over the path to Earth amid a backdrop of tension and uncertainty.

The fourth and final season of the show sees many of the metaphysical elements begin to pay off. The meaning behind the mythology slowly comes into focus as new alliances are forged out of sheer necessity. A significant revelation in Episode 11, "Sometimes a Great Notion," serves as one of the most dramatic points in the series and sets the stage for the end of the story.

9. Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy

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NBCUniversal Television

Released during Season 4's midseason break, "Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy" is a ten-episode web series set between "Sometimes a Great Notion" and "A Disquiet Follows My Soul." The web series was a hit with fans and critics alike, winning several Streamy Awards and earning an Emmy nomination in the short-format live-action category.

In the wake of the bleak revelations of "Sometimes a Great Notion," Lieutenant Gaeta finds himself and several others aboard a transport raptor that makes a faulty jump beyond the Red Line, where they soon discover they're running out of oxygen. Through flashbacks, the web series reveals crucial insight into Gaeta's life aboard New Caprica as well as his current mental state, information that will play heavily into the second half of Season 4. Although this web series is not available on DVD, it is widely available to watch online.

10. Battlestar Galactica Season 4, Episodes 12-15

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NBCUniversal Television

The story arc that spans episodes 12-through-15 of Season 4 makes it essential that these four episodes are watched together (if possible, you should watch the 53-minute extended version of Episode 12). As the fleet deals with the fallout of "Sometimes a Great Notion," morale is at an all-time low, and the new alliance with the Cylons quickly starts to leave a bad taste in many Colonial mouths. With a Cylon pregnancy aboard the Galactica and the fleet plagued with worry, two important figures plan a mutiny.

These episodes showcase some of the best storytelling ever seen on "Battlestar Galactica," a culmination of all the pent-up hostility and distress many characters have been feeling. They have endured a lot on the path to Earth, and things were bound to boil over at some point. A soulful performance from Alessandro Juliani as Felix Gaeta highlights the countless losses the Colonials have suffered.

11. Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

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NBCUniversal Television

"The Plan" is a "Battlestar Galactica" TV movie that retells the events of the first two seasons from the perspective of the Cylons, adding extra insight to their motivations and many of the events that took place aboard the Galactica. Following two John Cavils (played by the late Dean Stockwell), "The Plan" begins with the destruction of the Twelve Colonies. Cavil intends to teach the Final Five a lesson by wiping out the entire human race. Aboard the Galactica, as every attempt to sabotage the Colonials fails or falls short, Cavil's frustration grows.

Although the movie doesn't add anything essential to the overarching story, it effectively demonstrates the pettiness that led to the Cylon genocide of the human race. The subject matter is heavy, but it's a lot of fun to retrospectively learn exactly how many Cylons were at work aboard the Galactica — and seeing them fail.

12. Battlestar Galactica Season 4, Episodes 16-20

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NBCUniversal Television

The final five episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" begin with the Colonials grappling with heavily thinned ranks from the mutiny and the arrival of someone long thought to be dead. For a select few, visions start to become clearer and more frequent as the war escalates and begins to prove too much for the aging Galactica. The series culminates in the three-part finale "Daybreak," which finds what's left of the Cylon-Colonial alliance working together to rescue the child Hera (the only known Cylon-Human hybrid) from whatever Cavil has in store for her on the Cylon Colony.

The finale would prove divisive among critics and fans alike. It was so divisive that some outlets (Entertainment Weekly included) argued that it potentially damaged the show's legacy. Some viewers hated it, but others found it a fitting end to a long and emotional journey and a beautiful tribute to the characters they had come to know and love along the way.

13. Caprica

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NBCUniversal Television

Both a spin-off and a prequel to "Battlestar Galactica," "Caprica" is a tonally different story set on the Twelve Colonies before the First Cylon War. Taking place 58 years before the attack that started the "Battlestar Galactica" series, the story recounts the events leading up to the creation of the first sentient Cylon. After the wealthy tech mogul Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) loses his teenage daughter to a suicide bomber, he becomes obsessed with recreating her through Cylon technology.

While "Battlestar Galactica" is more of a military drama, "Caprica" focuses on life aboard Caprica. It follows the Graystones and the mafia-connected Adama family against a backdrop of terrorism and social discord. It looks good, and it sounds great — Bear McCreary, who composed the music for "Battlestar Galactica," scored the series with the same complexity and nuance. Set heavily in a virtual reality world, "Caprica" explores themes of identity and existentialism that layer into the concept of Cylon projection.

14. Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

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NBCUniversal Television

The final installment in the reimagined "Battlestar Galactica" story, "Blood and Chrome" is a web series that was originally meant to serve as a pilot for a new series about young William Adama. The ten-episode web series takes place a decade into the First Cylon War. It follows Adama (Luke Pasqualino) as he joins the Battlestar Galactica fresh out of graduation from pilot academy and enters the war.

While the story doesn't necessarily add much to the overall "Battlestar Galactica" world, it makes for a fun watch for those who can't wait to revisit the Twelve Colonies. It's also an opportunity to finally see Husker's legendary viper pilot skills in action. At about 12 minutes each, the ten episodes add up to a total of 131 minutes — enough to tide us over until the long-awaited second "Battlestar Galactica" reboot finally comes to fruition.

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