As happy as I am to hear "Battlestar Galactica" is back next season, I sort of hope it’s a leaner, meaner number of episodes. This season had the full complement, and for the past few weeks we’ve had to endure "character" episodes where said characters act based on the whims of the plot (Prez Laura brushing off Chief’s reports of child labor, Adama questioning Helo’s judgment about a homicidal doctor and elsewhere blithely ordering crew members be shot unless a strike is ended).

Is that enough intro? Then prepare to be spoiled.

Starbuck_240 "This has all happened before, and it will all happen again." The Cylons have been adamant about framing life as a big ol’ wheel, but never has the concept been so visually illustrated as in Kara "Starbuck" Thrace’s sudden immersion into a world of circles. First came the painting on her wall in New Caprica, of course, and then we saw the Eye it represented (both in the temple and as a supernova). This episode, "Maelstrom," surrounded Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) with the circular images of the giant planetary storm that eventually kills her, the ashtray that metaphorically kills her mother, Starbuck’s cycle of pilot to CAG and back to pilot, the melted candle at the wall of remembrance when she begins making peace with death.

Oh, yeah. Starbuck died. It was the worst-kept secret in showbiz, even if pretty much everyone refused to believe it.

I mean, how do you set up a character as having a capital-D Destiny — a main character, and one of the most important to the Galactica and its crew — and then blow her to tiny bits?

Starbuck didn’t die in a glorious heroic act, but because she wasn’t the borderline insane hot-dog she’d been since, it turns out, running away to keep from seeing her mother die. That crazy Starbuck was given a second chance, and when the wheel turned back and she did sit at her mother’s deathbed, she stopped being Starbuck. Her entire personality was the crazy, and when she voluntarily voided that, there was nothing left for her.

While it wasn’t a death of legend, it was a good death for Kara.

Dirkbenedict240 And now, the geek moment: "This has all happened before, and it will all happen again" is a humorously meta statement, considering the new series’ relationship to the original. That’s why I think we haven’t seen the last of Starbuck. First, the original series killed off Apollo, and then resurrected him on the Ship of Lights, which is more than a little the precursor (at least in set design) to the Final Five Cylons. Second, the geekiest among us will remember that in an unaired "Galactica 1980," Dirk Benedict’s Starbuck ascended to become part of the Ship of Lights. More pieces in the puzzle: The current incarnation’s writers have said they plan to re-imagine the originals’ Ship of Lights plotline, and have made noise about Starbuck returning as something more. Plus, Kara has that whole Destiny thing…

So, is Kara one of the Final Five? Should she have died better? And could Dirk Benedict fill Patrick MacNee’s shoes on the Ship of Lights?